There are many ways to get the help and support you need, before, during and after the operational deployment of your serving family member.
Even if deployment may feel like a long way off, it's a good to start preparing.
What will happen?
- you will receive your RAF HIVE Deployment Pack
- your partner's unit will normally post the details of people and organisations ready to support you (to your family address)
- your partner's unit may arrange deployment briefs for you and your family to attend
- your family will be given a single Point of Contact (POC) on the unit, nominated by your serving family member, to maintain regular communication – this person will be your first port of call for any queries during the deployment
Practical advice (months before deployment)
- make or update wills for you and your partner
- consider being appointed Lasting Power of Attorney (for your partner)
- update all household utility accounts into your name (so you can deal with them), like electricity and phone companies
- list important renewal dates during the deployment, like car tax, MOT, TV licence, and insurances
Practical advice (weeks before deployment)
- check you know where all important documents are kept, such as insurance policies and wills
- check you have all account names and passwords for utilities and services
- do you know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity?
- do you know how the heating system works?
- make a note of your partner's Service Number and the emergency contact number if anything happens once they are deployed: 01452 51 99 51
- install Skype on your partner's laptop
- ensure you are part of the Point of Contact Scheme and know the name and details of your assigned POC
Deployment is undeniably a very emotional experience for everyone, whether you’re the family holding the fort at home, or you’re the one being deployed.
At this stage it’s advisable to start recognising and acknowledging that certain emotions will start to come to the surface. Feelings of anger, resentment and underlying tension commonly characterise this part of the pre-deployment period. It’s important to remember that these feelings are perfectly normal and are felt by the people around you.
This is therefore the perfect time to start making connections (if you haven’t already) with the people like you who are in a similar situation. Building a strong support network that will be invaluable during deployment.
In a family emergency call 01452 51 99 51
For non-emergency enquiries you can contact your assigned single Point of Contact (POC).
How to keep in touch with your deployed partner
There are now many methods of communication which are getting better with time and technology.
Full instructions on sending mail (including parcels) to British Forces Post Office (BFPO) addresses is on the GOV.UK website.
Blueys (Forces Free Air Letters)
Obtained from the Post Office or the HIVE and can be sent FREEPOST to most British Forces Post Office (BFPO) numbers.
Full instructions on sending Blueys is on the Royal Mail website.
Your deployed partner will be able to receive and send emails from dedicated email terminals on most deployments.
Skype can be used by most deployed personnel depending on bandwidth restrictions or sensitive areas of operation.
Returning from deployment
To prepare for their return, your partner can download and share our Coming Home or Return & Reunion booklets, available here (internal users only).
Should you and your partner find that you are struggling to adjust to their return, you may wish to consider some relationship counselling. The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund has a contract with Relate, to provide up to 6 free sessions with a Relationship Counsellor; full details are on the RAF Benevolent Fund website.
Where to find practical and emotional support
Your local HIVE
HIVE staff are there to provide support and practical guidance before, during and after deployments.
Soldiers', Sailors' and Airmen's Families Association (SSAFA)
The RAF has a contract with SSAFA to provide a Personal Support and Social Work Service. This ‘one-stop shop’ is for Regular, Reserve Personnel and their families.
They are ready to offer emotional or practical support during your partner’s deployment, wherever you live, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Phone: 03000 111 723
If you would rather not talk to somebody, but want to ‘sound off’ to a trusted member of SSAFA staff, please email them on [email protected].
As well as the products for children provided by your local HIVE, there is a selection of useful information and links on the RAF Families Federation’s site.