19th June 2020

A letter to military families from the Ministry of Defence

The letter below was published on 18th June 2020 by the Ministry of Defence:

Dear Service spouses and partners,

In these challenging times, we are writing to you to provide some reassurance that we understand the concerns you may have regarding your employment and wider family dynamics. We are engaging regularly with charitable organisations, the Families Federations and academia to improve employment opportunities for Service partners and spouses. We are keenly aware of the impact that Service life may have on your careers and employment opportunities, and in turn that the current crisis we as a nation find ourselves in, may have further compounded some of these difficulties.

We’d like to thank you for the continued support you give to our Service Personnel which ensures we can maintain operational readiness and also that we can play our part in helping the Nation’s fight against COVID-19. We know that this sometimes comes at a cost to family life and your own career particularly at a time of additional home-schooling responsibilities, without the presence of trusted family members and indeed extra caring responsibilities for elderly relatives to consider. For families with additional needs the changes to routines and difficulty accessing support you have previously relied upon will make this even tougher. The transition of easing the lockdown may also present difficulties in the form of new routines depending on your employer’s policies and interpretation of government advice. We would like to inform you however that under new regulations as part of a ‘support bubble’ for those Service families, with a partner deployed, you are allowed to visit and stay with one other family with your children. This ‘support bubble’ would only apply to one other household.

The MOD’s Partner Employment Steering Group which includes representatives from the single Services, Families Federations and academic experts in the field of partner employment, continues to meet virtually to discuss what support we can provide to you and to ensure that it is coherent and meets your needs. The group understands that the current crisis will for many of you exacerbate some of the difficulties you already face. Acknowledging this they asked that we as Minister for Defence People and Veterans and Director of Armed Forces Personnel Policy, write to you to emphasise this and to signpost you to existing resources and organisations that may be helpful. The annex included with this letter provides details of the employment support that is available to partners and spouses. For example, information about Families Forces Jobs: a job platform specifically for Service families.

Finally, we urge you to keep looking after yourselves and keep on supporting each other as you are so good at doing, whilst adhering to the Government’s latest guidelines.

Yours sincerely,

JOHNNY MERCER MP

Helen Helliwell – Director Armed Forces People Policy

Also shared in the letter are details below of organisations providing support to military families especially linked to employment.

Employment support by your Families Federations

Your single Service Employment and Training Specialists can help advise with any issues or concerns:

Naval Families Federation: lucy.heaver@nff.org.uk https://nff.org.uk/employment/

Army Families Federation: employmenttraining@aff.org.uk https://aff.org.uk/advice/employment/

RAF Families Federation: enquiries@raf-ff.org.uk https://www.raf-ff.org.uk/employment/

Single Service HIVEs

Army HIVE Information Service – employment information and signposting – www.army.mod.uk/hives

NS FPS Information Support: https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/community-and-support/advice-and-support/local-support

RAF HIVE Information Service – Employment & Training Information  https://www.raf.mod.uk/serving-families/hive-finder/

X-Forces Enterprise

X-Forces Enterprise has launched a fully funded programme that is exclusively designed to help businesses, sole-traders, free-lancers etc from the armed forces community in the quest to support them during COVID 19.

With over 800 businesses supported from grassroots that are spouses or partner led and many more that are part of the XFE community (2000>) we felt we needed to help and provide a further handrail at this time.

The trigger to design this programme was through demand from beneficiaries wanting to understand better (in-addition to sign-posting) the support available to them from government initiatives such as Small Business Grants to Bounce Bank Loans; from Furloughing to Self-Employment Income Support schemes.  But what does this all mean if lockdown is 3-6-12months? What does this mean to individual business sectors post the initial funding support? and more importantly to well-being and not feeling alone when isolation is part of the strategy.  Of course, business owners often say it is lonely at the best of times and so at this time of crisis that feeling can perhaps be even more heightened with the added weight of financial insecurity.

For this reason, the Directors at XFE have put together a programme to help the community with bespoke support at this time of uncertainty and provide a network for business continuity strategies for the coming months, or at least that’s the aspiration so no one is feeling alone and get a sense of reassurance and belonging through XFE facilitating but more importantly with each other on the programme post event.

*NB It is important to note this is for business owners who are already up and running and not a business start-up programme.

Forces Families Jobs(FFJ)

Forces Families Jobs is the go-to place for training and employment for family members of currently serving UK military personnel.

Apply for jobs and access employment and training opportunities with companies and organisations who are forces family friendly. You can use this website with confidence in knowing that employers have signed the Armed Forces Covenant or are able to demonstrate their commitment to the Armed Forces.

This is your gateway to accessing information about acquiring new skills, upgrading your existing skills or applying directly to employers who are understanding of the unique challenges that come with being a family member of a serving person.

Over 35 different training courses and programmes, virtual events and job opportunities are available on FFJ.  Training courses are delivered by organisations such as RBLI Lifeworks, the Unsung Hero, X-Forces and many more.

The Milspo Business Network

The Milspo Business Network is a global friendly network that supports all UK military spouses, partners and other halves building their own business whilst living the ‘magnolia walled life’. With weekly online meet- ups, to help with the isolation of lockdown, and online international networking opportunities, the community provides peer support to those creating posting-proof businesses that complement their modern military life. Hear inspirational podcasts, access business support from our partner Small Business Britain, and make new contacts and friends not limited by location.

Covid 19 Employment and Benefits support from DWP

This webpage provides information about coronavirus and claiming benefitsht https://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/tps://www.understandinguniversalcredit.gov.uk/employment-and-benefits-support/

Overseas postings

Claiming your National Insurance Credits on your return from overseas postings

How spouses and civil partners of armed forces personnel posted overseas can fill gaps in their National Insurance record: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-insurance-credits-for-partners-of-armed-forces-personnel-overseas and RAF FF’s Envoy magazine shares an article on how they can help: https://www.raf-ff.org.uk/news/national-insurance-credits-and-dwp-how-the-raf-ff-can-help/ with equal support available through all three families federations.

Education funding available

The women’s section of the Royal British Legion offers two separate bursaries for eligible beneficiaries: Educational Scholarships and Educational Grants.

Other useful links:

The Warrior Programme: https://warriorprogramme.org.uk/families-of-serving-personnel/

RFEA: https://www.rfea.org.uk/our-programmes-partnerships/rfea-families-programme/

NHS Employers: https://www.nhsemployers.org/retention-and-staff-experience/supporting-the-armed-forces-in-the-nhs

Recruit for Spouses

Recruit for Spouses (RfS) is a specialised recruitment agency bridging a gap between employers and military spouses. RFS create work with companies that offer home based flexible roles for military spouses

During the pandemic, the RFS Career Academy have teamed up with a top Global employer to create the first military spouse focused Mentoring Programme. The programme is developed specifically for spouses who have been impacted by COVID19 and who find themselves furloughed, out of work or unsure of how to pick up their job hunt.

The bespoke mentoring programme offers one-to-one support and guidance as well as providing an insight into a large corporate organisation. It will provide spouses with an opportunity to ask for and be shown well-trodden career paths. Email: coaching@recruitforspouses.co.uk for more information.

RBLI Lifeworks Families

RBLI’s LifeWorks team remain here to support the military community during these difficult times and it’s important for everyone to know – LifeWorks Still Works! Our understanding career coaches and vocational assessors are on call to support remotely and via our online portal. All you need to do is register, call 0800 319 6844 or send us a quick email to lifeworks@rbli.co.uk and we will do the rest. Military families are positive, adaptable and hugely resilient and as a result, will continue to play a vital part in supporting those around them during and after this trouble has passed.

RBLI LifeWorks Families: https://www.wearelifeworks.org.uk/families/

The Military Coworking Network

What is the Military Coworking Network?

The MCN is a community of military spouses working together to create a network of coworking office spaces on military bases, supported by an online community for spouses everywhere.

Whether you are employed, furloughed, run your own business or are studying from home, our online coworking community allows us all to network, share contacts and ask each other for help and ideas about different ways of maintaining careers and businesses that work around our transient military lifestyles.

Having a dedicated space where we can go to work and study together not only reduces social isolation; our off and online communities offer help and support to enable us to maintain flexible jobs which work around our military lifestyle.

With the current lockdown restrictions all of our hubs are closed at the moment, but our online community is thriving.

Join our Facebook Military Coworking Community group to share insights into professional training, business skills and job opportunities, all focused on remote, flexible working and provided by our members, for our members.

What are Military Coworking Hubs?

The coworking hubs are fully equipped office spaces on bases throughout the UK and Europe.

They provide the facilities that you would expect in any office (a quiet workspace that isn’t the kitchen table, fast Wi-Fi, printing & good coffee!) but more importantly they can give you access to local professional networking opportunities for your career or business, information about employers in the local area, higher education opportunities and the chance to meet new people and make friends.

Join our community:

/militarycoworkingcommunity                 @militarycoworkingnetwork

@militarycowork                                      Military Coworking Network

Contact point: Laura Moore

Marketing & Communications Manager
UK Mob: +44 (0) 7720 062 540

Joint Education and Training Services (JETS)

JETS Gibraltar is part of the MOD military learning and development network. The centre is a friendly and welcoming environment providing a range of education opportunities to support your personal development and life-long learning.

For further information please see below:

Joint Education and Training Services (JETS)
Devil’s Tower camp
Gibraltar
BFPO 52

Phone: Mil: 94110 3359  Civ: +350 2005 3359T homas, Fiona D (NAVY TRG HQ-Thomas, Fiona D (NAVY TRG HQ-LDO SLO) h LDO SLO)

55 AEC Group Cyprus

The 55 AEC Group Cyprus offer British Forces Cyprus community learning services for Spouses, partners and families of Service Personnel in Cyprus.

55 AEC Group also offer Employment support to spouses.

Contacts:

Facebook: 55 AEC

Twitter:@OC55AEC

YouTube 55 AEC

Telephone #3800 (000357 2596 3800)

Jobcentre Plus – Job Help

Find out about the sectors that are still recruiting and get hints and tips on applying for jobs on the

job help site: https://jobhelp.campaign.gov.uk/

Search thousands of vacancies; create an account and apply for jobs:  https://www.gov.uk/find-a-job

University of Wolverhampton

suh@wlv.ac.uk

Business guidance from partners at the chamber of commerce: https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/coronavirus