AFF Study on support to TA/reservist families

#1
The Army Families Federation have commissioned Tina Thornber to carry out a six month study looking into ways that AFF might be able to help and support the families of TA soldiers in the future. If you would like to talk to Tina on any issues regarding the TA and Reservists, please call her on -
(tel and email details in latest edition of Army Families Journal, page 4 of pdf copy at http://www.army.mod.uk/linked_files/AFJ_58_March.pdf )

An excellent move in my opinion, please consider contributing your family's thoughts to Ms Thornber. In this forum, too.

hackle
 
#2
Hackle,

Many thanks for bringing this to our attention. I will make it sticky in the hope that we can get some interesting and useful feedback. I will be keeping a eye on the postings to ensure this thread stays relevant.

Here is the excerpt from the pdf:

AFF have commissioned Tina Thornber to carry out a six month study looking into ways that AFF might be able to help and support the families of TA soldiers in the future. If you would like to talk to Tina on any issues regarding the TA and Reservists, please call her on 01743 353403 or email kkthornber@yahoo.com

msr
 
#4
On a related note has any TA soldier's family actually received any support from the military system while they were deployed ? There was the square root of SFA for mine while I was deployed for Veritas but I'd hope things have improved since then.

I'm not knocking the AFF (quite the opposite in fact) but I'd hate to see them rushed off their feet because the system thinks they don't need to bother as a result.
 
#5
I got a Christmas card from the unit while PapaSmurf was on Telic3. Does this count? I'll be interested to know if this study bears any fruit. Do keep us posted.
 
#6
Anything for the families will be good. The only thing mine got was a monthly newsletter on all things IRAQ put together by my reg.
Always thought it would be a good idea for someone in theatre to talk to the TA units to let them know what's going on
 

OldSnowy

LE
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#7
We had/have good support, in that one of our PSAOs was made full-time Welfare Officer, with a good team, car, etc. Mind you, we had to pay for it out of Bn budget. There was f-all financial support from the Heirarchy until after the event. There was simply no plan in place for dealing with the welfare aspects of mobilised TA peronnel.

I do hope this Study helps to change this but, given that it will cost £££££, I very much doubt it :cry:
 
E

error_unknown

Guest
#8
The lovely Mrs chickenpunk heard sod-all from my unit whilst I was on Telic, a fact which didn't actually surprise me at all.
 
#9
Hope something good comes of this. This is one of biggest concerns when I get the call, I'd be fine but Mrs Polar a rough thou she is, isn't that strong.

Not sure if a regular army group is the best to start this off but that they are trying is great. Maybe a AFF(V) is needed?

Anyone know how you get a proper copy of the AF Journal, Mrs Polar may be interested

thanks
 
#10
Something has just occurred to me as I thought back to going through Chilwell and conversations with those of my colleagues who've been through since.

The system allows those whose departure would cause an admin nightmare to apply for an exemption. Therefore ( and I use the logic of the system not what anyone else would necessarily use) if the reservist does not apply for an exemption then their absence will not cause an admin nightmare. Hence no funding to cope with same is required.

Or am I paranoid ?
 
#11
Thanks, moderator, for making this a sticky.
polar said:
Hope something good comes of this. This is one of biggest concerns when I get the call, I'd be fine but Mrs Polar a rough thou she is, isn't that strong.

Not sure if a regular army group is the best to start this off but that they are trying is great. Maybe a AFF(V) is needed?

Anyone know how you get a proper copy of the AF Journal, Mrs Polar may be interested

thanks
Thanks, polar.

Re an "AFF(V)", v interesting thought. My own approach has always been to treat people the same (Reg/TA/reservist) unless there are good reasons to the contrary. In other words, encourage AFF to be more inclusive, which seems to be the direction they want to take. Not suggesting that mobilisation is the only issue which concerns TA families, however their interest in AFF issues is likely to be greater while husband/wife is mobilised. Difficult, perhaps, to maintain continuity in a separate organisation.

I don't know the exact remit of AFF, which is a registered charity. Tina Thornber who is doing the current study is one of five AFF specialists who deal with particular areas of concern (Education and Childcare; Employment; Housing; TA and Reserve Forces; Special Needs).

Re getting hold of a proper copy of the magazine, there are contact details in the pdf copy and I imagine they would be only too pleased to send out a one-off copy. As to how TA & reservist families can get copies on a more organised basis, that is perhaps one of the questions we should think about and let Tina Thornber know what we think.

Might I suggest some copies to TA units, ie not just for PSIs' families, and a copy of the latest issue enclosed with mailings from Chilwell to spouses of mobilised personnel.

The AF Journal is an excellent read in my opinion, much better/more relevant than what I remembered from years gone by - either the Journal has improved, or I am a sadder barstard then before! :wink:

To take just one example, the Chairman's article in the latest edition very neatly encapsulates the dilemma which has often challenged us on ARRSE between wanting more coverage of the Army, and being concerned about sometimes intrusive reporting.

hackle
 
#12
I have been in touch with Tina Thornber. She is ex-TA herself, so is ideally placed to conduct this study. She has been on arrse before and is aware that there is a thread relating to her study in this forum.

Cheers,
msr
 
#13
hackle said:
Re an "AFF(V)", v interesting thought. My own approach has always been to treat people the same (Reg/TA/reservist) unless there are good reasons to the contrary. In other words, encourage AFF to be more inclusive, which seems to be the direction they want to take. Not suggesting that mobilisation is the only issue which concerns TA families, however their interest in AFF issues is likely to be greater while husband/wife is mobilised. Difficult, perhaps, to maintain continuity in a separate organisation.

I don't know the exact remit of AFF
I think I was thinking about along the lines of TA partners supporting themselves and being a full part of AFF.

Some problems at the moment centre around support coming from units, where say in Leeds it'd be better if my wife was in touch with other wives in Leeds (from all units). The current HIVE locations are not going to be suitable for a few TA partners, I'm not knocking AFF just stating fact - plus I'd have thought HIVE centres in cities should really be run by TA wives as it would be mainly helping them.

Tried looking at what AFF do but still a little unsure

Army Families Federation Website
 
#14
One issue here is that the average TA partner is unlikely to need the AFF when their SO is not deployed and hence will not go out and contact them. If the AFF do actively go out and recruit then unless the meetings are fairly close by and during the evenings - as most people work these days - they won't be able to go in any case.

The difference in attitudes between civvy street and the Regs also needs attention. I suspect it applies more to stuff organised through the chain of command rather then the AFF but all it takes is one stupid "I'm Major Smith's wife so I'm in charge" busybody and the average civvy spouse will:
a. Laugh;
b. Tell them to get bent;
c. Walk out and never return.

If your spouse's pension does not depend on the Army then people don't put up with that nonsense any more.
 
#16
While (now) Mrs Roadki11 was at Shaibitha I got boozed up at her mess on a regular basis..... all the support I needed was to a taxi afterwards... :p
 
#17
Currently mobbed to provide "Welfare Support" to my blokes. Before departure I visited all (only 12 families this time, central briefs before) my deploying soldier's spouse/partner/mam and dad and briefed them on "What, Why, Who, How much, Where, Task etc" Laptop, PP show and info booklet a la Regs, tempered towards TA. Initial reluctance. Much more up take after first one or two visits. It aint hard and they derserve to know. Leaflets and newsletters help during the tour. I also go to RTMC on Mob and De-mob to speak to the chaps, also try and provide tpt from Brize etc on R&R. I had 20 odd years of Reg Welfare Support. Why not the TA? Also attending AFF Conf to ask about long term welfare support to TA. Much of my work is now post tour. Have also provided feedback to Tina Thornber on my current issues.
 
#18
Still ongoing, for those who like to voice their opinion:

Since 1995, nearly 18,500 TA and Reservist soldiers have been mobilised to serve alongside the Regular Army in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Sierra Leone and other places. They are usually mobilised for ten months at a time, and can be mobilised for up to one year in
every three. Their families stay behind at home and face similar problems to Regular spouses but often without the same support. The AFF Op Telic survey highlighted the fact that support to TA & Reservists families was not as good as it could have been. Because of these factors the AFF have appointed me to see how the AFF can help TA and Reservist families.

The TA has its own idiosyncrasies that make applying traditional Army welfare practices pretty ineffectual. Most of the Regular Army welfare support originates from Unit Welfare Officers. However the TA only qualifies for a Unit Welfare Officer when more than 30 soldiers are deployed. Any less and the welfare role is taken on by other staff such as the RAO, PSAO, Adjutant or RSM, in addition to their normal role. With TA Units usually being spread over large areas this makes face to face contact with families very difficult. Think of the UWO of a TA Infantry Battalion based in Cardiff trying to look after families
in Anglesey!

There are a myriad of problems facing these families, not least the fact that they may have no knowledge of the Army system. Whilst they may be in their own homes with their own jobs and friends around, they often feel isolated because they don’t know anyone else in the same situation. If this is the first time their partners have been
deployed, they also might not be aware of basic things like pay, leave, compassionate procedures; knowledge that we “old hands” take for granted.

For the foreseeable future the TA will probably be required to maintain its current high level of operational commitment. TA Units are trying hard to look after the families of deployed soldiers and are putting a great deal of effort into setting up welfare structures. The larger TA Unit is caring for its families in the widest sense; addressing concerns of parents and siblings, as well as the traditional partner. There are well established links between Units and civilian employers, supported at regional levels by an organisation called Supporting
Britain’s Reservists and Employers (SaBRE). The Army Welfare Service is also being very proactive and helpful at local levels.

There are well established links between Units and civilian employers, supported at regional levels by an organisation called Supporting Britain’s Reservists and Employers (SaBRE). The
Army Welfare Service is also being very proactive and helpful at local levels.

Some of the difficulties arise due to the way the families’ and soldiers’ welfare support is divided. After mobilisation the TA soldier will be attached to a Regular Unit for the duration of their tour. This Unit could be based hundreds of miles away from the family, so there will be little the Regular UWO can do for the family. The welfare of
the family therefore stays with the local TA Unit who may not always have access to information available to the Regular Unit. This problem can be exacerbated if the soldier is posted individually, rather than as part of a larger group.

Another problem is that many of the TA deployed are specialists and administered by a Central Volunteer Headquarters (CVHQ), not a local TA Unit. Each CVHQ mobilise their TA Specialists from all over the country. Regional SaBRE’s are unlikely to know about the employers affected in their area and AWS will probably only get to know of these families in times of crisis. These families, I suspect, really go it alone.

So what can we do?
Well, the AFF have started by contacting TA Units, CVHQs, the Chain of Command at Regional level, and local Army Welfare Services. We would love to hear from TA families direct, so any TA UWOs out there please pass this article on. AFF are here to feed families’ views and problems to the policy makers.

What can you do?
Are there any TA attached to your deployed Unit? How about asking their families along to your Unit family functions? What about the local TA Unit? Could your UWO find out if there are any local TA families who could do with some friendly contact? By chatting to someone in the same situation who understands what they might be going through, you could make a real difference to a TA family.

our TA Specialist
Do you have concerns to raise, or feedback to give us on TA issues? Then contact the
Army Families Federation TA Specialist!
Tina Thornber
Tel: 01743 353403
email: kkthornber @ yahoo.com
 
#19
Thanks, MSR, well worth reading. Glad to see this thread ongoing. TA/reservists and their families have much insight and experience to contribute on these matters. I hope people will give Tina Thornber their views/suggestions and not just leave it all to 'the system'.
 

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