Families in the Armed Forces not only face the usual pressures that families experience but there are also unique challenges including regular relocation, living away from family and dealing with the tensions of loved ones working in dangerous or stressful conditions. 

Forces families have received support from Home-Start volunteers in the United Kingdom as well as on bases in Cyprus and Germany over many years.

However, British Armed Forces will withdraw from Germany by 2019 in accordance to the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2010 commitment, and families who had been living in Germany will be relocated to the UK.

Many families who will be new to the areas they move to, and may even be living in the UK for the first time. Lots of families don’t have the local support network already in place when moving to the UK. ‘Moving In, Moving On’ is a project being run by Home-Start Kennet in Wiltshire specifically for those families’ with parents in the armed forces who are relocating to the area.

With an estimated 50 new families a day moving to the Wiltshire area, working closely with the Army Welfare Service and Unit Welfare Officers, the ‘Moving In, Moving On’ has been developed to ensure that the forces community is at the heart of the project and providing support for the families. The project, funded by the Royal British Legion and ABF The Soldier’s Charity, is an eight-week programme, which provides group support for military families.

The weekly sessions, led by a Home-Start Family Group leader and supported by volunteers, have specific themes such as coping with parent/child mental health, support with stress caused by family conflict, handling household budgets and managing children’s behaviour.

Reports from the ‘Moving In, Moving On’ pilot has shown an 88% improvement rate in parent’s coping scores across the specific areas of need.

“[I] loved being able to talk to people going through the same thing.”

Jane* talked about how with the support of the programme and her volunteer helped her get back on her feet after experiencing bereavement and was struggling to cope with her children “[my volunteer gave] me the help I needed to go out with my kids. Helping with my oldest [child’s] anger. Getting me to go out and helping with my grieving and my children.”

Working in partnership with Home-Start South Wiltshire, the sessions at Home-Start Kennet are continuing into their second year with five different groups all undergoing a nine-week rota focusing on getting to know and supporting one another as well as integrating into the local area – all with vital coffee mornings, of course.

*not their real name.