Welfare Staff Section
The AFF promotes the establishment of Family Support Groups in Army Reserves Units. These groups could include all the soldiers and families attached to an Army Reserves unit. The aim of the groups is to empower the families with greater knowledge, self-reliance and confidence to cope with the demands of mobilised service. A permanent support group would enable expertise and experience to be passed on as well as being particularly useful when only a small number of soldiers are mobilised from a unit at a time.
Easy steps to creating a Family Support Group
AFF fully understands that Army Reserves Unit Commanding Officers and their welfare staff may have very different ideas about the best ways to support their families and about the merits of creating an FSG in their unit. AFF hopes that the following ideas and examples of best practice could form a basic level of support that units could build on over time and through experience.
Guide for the families of mobilising members of the Army Reserves
One of the best sources of information available to the families of mobilising soldiers is the Army guide. Unfortunately it is not officially distributed until shortly after mobilisation. It would be more useful if families received it earlier. Unit Welfare Staff can bid for as many copies as they need through Bicester using order reference DIN 027/08. The Guide could also be included in a unit Welcome Pack so that families are made aware in advance of the support that will be available if their soldier mobilises. The booklet can also be downloaded from this page.
Create a Unit Families Page and Unit Families Forum on ArmyNET
ArmyNET is the best tool to securely reach the widespread community of families connected to an Army Reserves unit. Some units have created an Operational Support page specifically directed at families. The page is full of relevant information as well as links to useful sites. They are able to include regular updates from theatre and they alert their families of news via SMS messaging. Several units also moderate a families forum on ArmyNET to enable their families to share their experiences. If they wish, families can use personal messages (PM) to make contact with each other in a less public way. In order to run a unit webpage on ArmyNET, a unit moderator has to attend the ACMS course at Blandford.
Whatever information is available on ArmyNET is only useful if the unit puts considerable effort into a registration drive and does all they can to encourage their soldiers to register their quota of guests (up to five).
Produce a Unit Newsletter
Regular family friendly newsletters are an excellent way of keeping families informed and involved in their soldier’s Army Reserves unit. More and more units are now producing these. The very best – from a family’s point of view – cover topics that interest them, have minimal acronyms and abbreviations and are attractive and readable. Sharing experiences in a families newsletter that has been produced by the unit community for the unit community can provide great comfort and support.Back to top
AFF has received feedback from Regular families attached to Army Reserves units who have found the experience challenging. AFF has found that many Regular families are surprised at how different a posting with the Army Reserves can be. At the same time, many Army Reserves families have little or no prior knowledge of military life and customs before their soldier enlists. They gain much of their knowledge of present conflicts from the media and the idea of having a soldier in a family, let alone a mobilising soldier, can be a source of bewilderment. AFF feels that a Welcome Pack for all new families would help to inform families of how life will change and give advice and information and sources of support to help the families get the most out of the experience.
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