‘By your side’ – the positive impact of Home-Start’s new partnership for naval families Family life can be challenging at the best of times, but when adding a parent working in the armed forces, at home or overseas, it can bring with it additional struggles. At the beginning of September, Home-Start UK announced their new partnership with Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) and Naval Families Federation (NFF). Alongside the Royal Navy, Kings Active Foundation, and Relate, Home-Start UK are excited to launch ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’. This project is supported by funding over the next three years from the Armed Forces Covenant. Read about our partnership with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity and Naval Families Federation, here Charlotte Bailey, People in Crisis Lead for Home-Start Central Lancashire is aware of the challenges being a military family can have all too well; “My husband of 15 years is in the Royal Navy and I have recently relocated back to the North West closer to our family”. Across the UK and overseas, there are a network of HIVEs with the Royal Navy as a valuable point of contact for serving personnel and families during assignment relocations. The staff members work closely with family welfare during these stressful times. “They’re really useful as a community space for people in similar situations [living on base]. Community centres sit in the centre of these where they can run groups and meet and greets” “Everybody is going through similar circumstances” However, not every military family lives on base. “Lots of families stay in their local area and their partner commutes – we had the choice of moving to Portsmouth but the reality is he’s deployed for a lot of the time so we decided not to. For me, Monday through Friday we have a routine and are now surrounded by family support. I don’t have the community support of the camps and bases, but do have my community - I’ve got mum around the corner now!’ “If I’d have been able to have this at the time, I would have definitely tapped into it’. Charlotte continues, ‘I struggled after maternity leave, there just weren’t enough hours in the day… although you’re not, sometimes you are acting as a single parent. Having support from people who ‘get it’ – whether that’s on base or other parents, is so important’. When talking about the launch of ‘Strengthening Families – By Your Side’, Charlotte explains, “I think it is a great partnership, I can think of many families that would really benefit from Home-Start support.” “With the partnership, support is now available for families who do not have direct access to HIVE or community centres so having excellent support for children, isolation and loneliness is so important.” Home-Start service can help support with the impact at home. "My husband was deployed five weeks after our daughter was born. I was okay – I had my baby, we had a routine together. He found it really hard to leave us and couldn’t always receive regular pictures and updates and he was missing the bonding moments and a lot of firsts. We were worried she wouldn’t know him when he came back but the second he walked through the door, she lit up! She started giggling. We had recordings of him so she would see his face every day. She did know who he was”. Working for Home-Start, Charlotte explains the importance of support for families. She knows the importance even more so from her experience as a military family. “I know how remote having a family can be – and even more so as a military family”, she explains. “Many people may not know what support is on offer which is why this partnership is such a good idea.” If you are a military family and would like to find out about the support that is available, please call us on 0116 464 5450 Click here to get in contact with your local Home-Start today.