AFF held a successful 2020 Vision event in London for influential guests on 28 January to share our key messages with policy and decision makers, including the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith, and Johnny Mercer MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans.
Our aim for the evening was to push the family agenda higher up decision makers’ list of priorities to ensure that army families have the proper resources and support available.
We were delighted that our patron, Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Gloucester, was able to attend and support this event.
Unique army life
The event gave our Chief Executive Sara Baade a vital opportunity to speak directly to those making decisions that affect families. She gave an overview of 2019, revealing an 8% increase in enquiries, and outlined the priorities for 2020.
In her speech, she said: “If we want to build a sustainable and operational army we need to retain the families. We need to ensure not only that our policies, procedures and the overall package is the right for the soldiers, but also for the modern army family.”
She revealed that housing is still the top area of enquiry, and that we had received a significant 2,500 enquiries from our Foreign & Commonwealth community, whohad come to us for support and information in 2019.
She also focused on mobility in army life and said: “The army is more mobile than the other services and that makes us unique. To retain soldiers and their families we need to ensure that all policies relating to army families take into consideration the unique challenges very mobile army families are faced with.”
Families sustain the army
Also speaking at the event, General Carleton-Smith addressed the importance of families and AFF. He said: “AFF underpins and sustains the absolute lifeblood of an army that’s fit to fight. It enables us to recruit and it supports us to retain those who we have recruited.
“Our families sustain the operational output of the army. People are the army and today’s army is made of flesh and blood and beating hearts and that should influence us all in how we treat them.”
Forces Families Jobs – transformative for spouses
Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Johnny Mercer MP, mentioned the success of Forces Families Jobs and said that for spouses and partners “having a job is transformative”.
He also touched on childcare issues and said: “We are acutely aware of the challenges that exist around that and what it means for our families.”
Find out more
Look out for our childcare survey, which will be launching next week. The evidence we collect from army families will help us push for change and influence those making decisions to ensure their voice is heard and considered.
POSTED ON 30 JANUARY 2020