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I just want to say publicly that I think the RAF Families federation are

(17 Posts)
Saltire Wed 12-Aug-09 13:14:36


LadyOfWaffle Wed 12-Aug-09 20:21:10

I have been getting a hell of alot of very much needed info from their website

madwomanintheattic Wed 12-Aug-09 21:40:17

i'm pleased they exist... their 'briefings' focus rather too much on the 'we are there to support serving family members too' for my liking... all very important, but statistically odd, and ignores the extremely relevant fact that serving family members have a telephone directory and an inside knowledge of the system to utilise when they need info... and they are stuffed to the gunnels with ex-service. and they are not paying enough attention to the reserves and families...
..but i'm a reet miserable old bag lol. glad they are treating you well! grin

Saltire Thu 13-Aug-09 11:51:57

madwoman - my thoughts of them are based on the fact they do help me as the wife of a serving member becasue there is F* all welfare or support down here - I was even told by a local HIVE "Oh we are a navy HIVE, we just deal with naval issues".

The welfare set up where we are is aimed entirely at students of the RAF section that DH teaches in. There is nothing for the long term staff and their families.
Sorry I am ranting, we are trying to get a PT application in and are banging our heads off a brick wall, and the RAFFF are the only ones who have been any help.

madwomanintheattic Sat 15-Aug-09 01:23:47

small comms problem lol - i have no issue with any families federation helping spouses/ families of serving personnel lol - at their briefing they were focusing on helping serving personnel themselves - ie wives who are serving and married to serving personnel, or serving fathers of serving sons iyswim (ie - those exact people who can pick up the telephone directory and ring the guy in the next office to sort a problem - who know the system). it was their big 'unique selling point', that they help out families where they are all serving. weird. i just didn't like the way it was prioritised - i can see that they would be useful in this context, but not at the expense of helping out those with family members who are serving but aren't serving themselves... the ones with no access to any knowledge of the system, except that which they may or may not have gleaned from their spouse, who may or may not be deployed at the time of a problem...

i have no problem with anyone who provides help where it is needed grin but i found their priorities for help a bit weird... glad you are getting somewhere, anyway smile

Saltire Sat 15-Aug-09 10:38:02

I see now what you are saying. Anyway, SSAFA are involved now so lets see how it goes

RAFFF Fri 28-Aug-09 14:39:47

Hi, spooky but we (Chris and Nick) of the RAF Families Federation were looking at websites where we are mentioned to see if we can create links to them and perhaps reach RAF families through links with other sites, when we chanced across Mumsnet and this thread. It's nice to see that we have helped Mums but also important to find out that we have not been clear in our message to 'Madwoman' and perhaps many others may well have picked up that we are not for them; our mistake and sincere apologies for that. I thought a few lines of explanation might help - and if not you would be most welcome to call or e-mail us.

I guess the simplest way to think of it is that we represent anyone (wife, husband or children) who has a link to a member of the RAF or Royal Auxilliary Air Force, including the serving member (which could see both parents as serving in some cases). It could also be a single serviceman (with a partner or child, or both) or the extended family of mum, dad, brother or sister. In the main it is probably an even split between serving personnel and family members in terms of those approaching us. We also have a lot of people who do not fit the broad outline above and we have never turned anyone away but often the best experts lie elsewhere and we always try to keep in contact until they find what they are looking for. The key to it all is that the question must be 'family-related. In short, we will speak to anyone and enjoy doing so but our evidence is drawn from the those with a relationship with someone serving. I hope that helps explain it a bit better than we obviously did before.

How we help people really does differ with every question, we can often help and solve a problem, just listen and offer advice, or put people in touch with an organization better placed to help, which might even be back to the RAF if that is best - sometimes it is the least best and not an option. However things unfold, the evidence of the problem remains and that is what we report to the RAF, MOD and Government - there are no middle-men between us and the top. It is true that we have a fair bit of experience of the RAF but that unlocks doors and often gives us a better understanding of the problems and pressures that military families face in this increasingly turbulent and comlicated world. However, our views of the RAF are immaterial and it is the views of RAF families alone that we present upwards. We hope we provide an impartial, honest, friendly and helpful service to anyone irrepsective of the rank or relationship within a Service family. This week (among others) I have been helping 2 families where the husband is soon to join the RAF; technically not within our remit but the spouse has little information to draw on so we have helped as best we can.

Jenny and I visited and gave a presentation to RAF Aux AF Nottingham Squadron in June and I know Dawn, our Chairman, has presented at the Reservist Conference this year. We also have some information for Reserves on the website but we find that families of the Reservists tend to be settled within their own communities but that does not mean they cannot contact us; however, we have no means, through data protection, to contact them directly. We distrubute our magazine to the Sqns and you can subscribe, free, to our Envoy magazine by using the form on our site. We hope to visit more Reserve Sqns but reaching the families remains a challenge because of the distances between family and unit.

I hope this all helps to paint a slightly different picture than the one painted at the presentation - if not and I have failed again, Madwoman, do call me (01780781650) and I would welcome another chance! By the way, although you may not want to say here, it would be useful to know where you heard us. We haven't done too many presentations since last year as we have now introduced interactive workshops (which reduces the chat from us and concentrates on evidence-gathering) but I will check the wording again based on what you have said to see if we need to rethink. One last thought, although Service persnnel do come towards us, it is the Mums who usually get things sorted out and done!
Best Wishes.

Saltire Sun 30-Aug-09 11:48:54

Can I just ask why you only ever visit RAF bases? What about those of who are on Army run Tri service bases? Some of us even have DH/DP or work ourselves in tri service establishments but live in, such as me, MQs on a predominantly Naval estate (by predominantly I mean 97%) who gets no communication at all from anywhere, and am told by the local HIVE that they just deal with naval issues?
Can you address that?

RAFFF Tue 01-Sep-09 13:09:20

Hi Saltire

Our remit to the RAF is to visit a certain number of RAF bases (big and small) a year visiting most if not all over a 3-year period; a step taken because the weight of RAF personnel and their families centre around these bases.

You are right about a large number of personnel not being based on stations; some 25% of RAF personnel and their families we think (plus all the RAF families in their own homes) and we have tried to include other additional venues as well. However, we are a small team of 6 full-time and 2 part-time staff and we have at least 2 out most weeks on evidence-gathering visits (that is specific evidence from personnel and families rather than Q&A after presentations where only a few get chance to speak) or attending meetings where we can best use the evidence we gather from families to influence organizations. The remainder of the team field the questions that come toward us by phone and e-mail etc. We hope that families will find it easier to contact us directly rather than wait for a visit to ask us a question which, we have found from experience, even if we try to arrange on an evening, is not easy for families to attend. You can subscribe for free to our Magazine as well if you don't get a copy - again, let us know because we had thought we now aimed our Magazine at all units that parent RAF personnel, although some units deliver to SFA, many do not have the resources to deliver magazines of any description to SFA; we hope the DH/DP might bring them home from work.

Please contact us if you have a problem with HIVE, perhaps we can help, and if the unit are not supporting you then we can talk that through with the RAF Community Support Team - no doubt the DH/DPs will have raised their concerns through the chain-of-command.

Perhaps if the RAF element of the unit your DP/DH works on, or you, could guarantee us an audience on the families side, we could consider weaving it into the itinery for next year's programme. Hope this explains some of the background.

madwomanintheattic Wed 09-Sep-09 01:55:42

hi chris! (and nick)
apols for delay - it is a holiday w/e here and you may have picked up by now that 'threads i'm on' is time limited, so i just noticed this. smile

i suspect it was the reserves conf at cranwell blush which is why i was a tad perplexed at the 'regular' angle and the prioritisation of that particular usp...

i wear a number of hats (am ex-reg RAF, RAuxAF and an army spouse lol, as well as having spent recent time mobilised in the UK working for both reserve and regular units) and so sometimes am a little perturbed by the difference context makes... grin

anyway - as i think i cleared up earlier blush i fully support any organisation that aids any member of the service community in need, it was rather the angle of the briefing that i found a bit odd for that audience. as you rightly suggest, most reservist spouses are well-esconced in their civilian community and have little or nothing to do with the serving member's unit. during and post deployment this can leave the spouse and family isolated in a (remote) community with no experience of such a situation and no comprehension of what, if any, help and support may be required. as you are no doubt aware, the aff have made huge inroads into these issues, and employ a member of staff with this particular remit. (not me, lol) that said, i have no doubt that the rafff would provide fantastic support should a reserves family require it, i was merely being a bit of a grumpy old bag about the apparent lack of 'tailoring' (for want of a better word) for such a specific audience. blush grin

(<admission> blush i'm also a social researcher looking at formal and informal support for military spouses, with a particular interest in reservist families, which leads me off down another contextual path completely grin)

so, having got that off my chest grin, please be assured that i would not hesitate to recommend families get in touch, and i have no qualms about the quality of service you provide. i'm also really interested in the information packs that were handed out, and the obviously inclusive nature of your brief. given your remit to support single sex partners, are you also monitoring the chat on proud2serve?

<fascinated by the internet dimension btw - a couple of (service) organisations have been recently using mn and attempting to 'set the record straight' grin and i can't decide if i like it or not, lol. i can understand monitoring and addressing the results through policy change and pr, but the jury is still out on direct intervention in forum chat grin
.... you can convince me though. grin

saltire - apols for massive hijack grin

RAFFF Wed 09-Sep-09 15:26:53

Hi Madwomanintheattic, thanks for your message; hope you had a good break. Couldn't agree more about families of Reserves being isolated when spouse detached. As you point out, the popular assumption is that the families know what is going on (from the RAF-side) and have support in their respective communities but this may not always be the case.

I can also understand how the presence of people like us using sites such as MumsNet to intervene (with good intent I hope) might not be well received. We spent some time thinking about putting a post here for that very reason and also why I used our names which is a departure from usual forum-practice. It was by chance that we saw the thread and we replied because reaching families is our big challenge (the Service element is not easy but at least there are communication channels we can use) and we didn't want to lose anyone through the wrong information from us. Further, I don't see us trying to do more here as the threads appear to work well and people find their way to the various organizations and one of those might be us if there was a link or recommendation from here. Again I agree that 'pushing a line' might be more divisive than helpful in such a public space where a helpful (but different) view might alienate or anger the MumsNet community and switch off people who take the time to help others here - it would take someone braver than me to do that here smileLOL. I can also see that arriving to a thread late in the day to offer sage advice is also counterproductive for members and we probably couldn't match the speed of response or monitor the site sufficiently often, so it is best that people contact us if they feel the need or just to get some aspect angry of Service life off their chest to add to our evidence. We are trying to set up links on sites where RAF mums and families, or those with a link to the RAF, could contact us if they wish.

If, through your research, you discover some way to reach the families of RAF Reservists we would love to hear about it. Chris

madwomanintheattic Thu 10-Sep-09 18:53:42

i'm guessing you are well in touch with the aff reserves and ta rep in any case, but she had some very interesting things going on, and i know some units have successfully set up message boards or forums for the use of (reserve/ta) families esp during deployment. rauxaf can have potentially more complicated deployment routines than the ta (egg to suck? wink), often as singletons rather than unit/ regimental moves, so much more difficult to replicate similar systems, and far easier for families to fall between the cracks... at the moment it is very dependent on the people skills/ prioritisation of unit welfare staffs as to the level of contact/ information and support that families receive...

in an ideal world, of course, the trigger would be the issue of the call-out notices, and a letter sent from the centre automatically introducing the spouse/ nok to your organisation if they had not received that information prior. i'm also assuming that the reserves cell are incorporating your information into the mandatory annual mobilisation brief... (but that's just a guess grin - not my remit to present it any more lol)

anyway, rest assured the rafff are still on my 'interviews to do' list grin, as well as interesting to watch how you develop in comparison to the more established fed.

congratulations on your good work so far, and long may it continue.

Saltire Thu 10-Sep-09 20:58:02

RAFF people, it's not just families/spouses/partners of reservists who feel isolated. As I stated ealier, we are on a Army run Tri service place, live in predominatnely Naval mqs and when DH was away recently I felt very isolated as I ahd none of his colleagues nearby (they all live in Henlow and travle at weekends) and no RAF people nearby at all

RAFFF Sat 12-Sep-09 12:07:03

Hi Madwoman, sorry about delay in replying (confirming my own prediction on likely of speed of response!). We now have links with the RAF Reserves HQ and the Sqns (hopefully then out to families) so developing nicely and making progress but, as you say, always more to do. As for cascading information, I think with both Regulars and Reserves the information is good to the point of the serviceman - whether it then reaches the family is probably where the main gap lies; add to that the different expections (some take exception to any approach by the Services and do not want or need any support and others would dearly love it). Chris

RAFFF Sat 12-Sep-09 13:36:02

Hi Saltire. Again, can I add to Madwomen's apology for taking your thread away from its original intent. My message to Madwomen, which prompted your last reply, was specifically about Reserves but I can assure you we do recognize the issues of all those not on main bases. I am not sure if it is you has called us but we intend to approach HIVE regarding one particular tri-Service office but we are waiting to aim the question at a good contact very senior in HIVE on return to work (this coming week) to seek her advice.

I am conscious that in setting out a reply I am likely to leave out the very element which is causing you concern but it is difficult to be sepecific about welfare support as it varies so much, whether it is day-to-day facilities that a big base might offer and yours doesn't, or the services and friendship you might expect when your DH goes overseas, I will have a go.

While in the RAF I managed a large number of small offices around the country and the families of those personnel (based at Portsmouth and Plymouth for example) had families accommodation on RN units (others found themselves on Army bases or in cities and towns unfamiliar to them). Their experience was mixed as was their definition of welfare, many had great neighbours, some did'nt, some loved being away from the married patch and others hated it. Some dived straight into the clubs and societies on the tri-Service units and made friends that way, that route did not suit others and they travelled home at weekends (if possible) or found their support and entertainment in different ways. What the experience taught me is that there is no one answer although every family should have the same access to information and access to welfare support as a family whose home is on the parent unit. Also, your comments can often be mirrored on the big bases as well because the days of everyone being neighbourly (not looking through rose-tinted spectacles here) is not always the case and perhaps reflects society where neighbours can live in a small group and never say hello. Those on big units may also tell you that there are few volunteers these days to run clubs and societies any more due to the pressures on personnel and families. Some individuals tell us of efforts to run Sunday lunches for those fmailies of personnel overseas and no-one turns up. It's a heady mix!

Your DH's parent unit should be ensuring that any welfare support offered to those on the big unit is mirrored or offered at the remote unit (not always practicable but a good starting point) and it may be that elements on the tri-Service unit that should be providing the service are not and that should be highlighted by DH to his OC. The social side is more difficult as all families on a particular patch may be missing a families club or clubs and societies; can the RAF element start their own group - better to integrate perhaps but if all else fails?

Anyway, I have rabbited on as usual and again invite you to contact us if you think Henlow(?) isn;t providing that which it should and DH can't sort it. I am away myself for a few days but will e-mail the office and advise the team that you might call - you would need to make the connection to MumsNet, as I will. Chris

herbietea Thu 05-Nov-09 20:43:37

Message withdrawn

RAFFF Fri 06-Nov-09 15:35:27

Hi Herbietea

Glad to be of help and we will still keep a look out as events unfold over the next few weeks. Chris

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