'Living In Our Shoes': 110 Recommendations To Improve Forces Families’ Lives

The Prime Minister is being asked to personally spearhead a national drive to improve the lives of forces families.

The recommendation for Boris Johnson is among dozens contained in a new report called ‘Living in Our Shoes’ which calls for improvements in military housing, education and employment opportunities for military dependents.

Andrew Selous MP, the lead reviewer of the report, told Forces News it was “really important to do this report”.

He said: “Armed Forces families have had a pretty tough time for many years now.

“I don’t think there is a group of public servants in the whole country that have to put up with as much separation mobility and danger as Armed Forces families do.”

The authors of ‘Living in Our Shoes’ spent 18 months interviewing families living across the country.

Compiled by the Forces in Mind Trust, the report makes 110 recommendations.

Among them, it is highlighted that the Ministry of Defence (MOD) should make a significant investment in forces housing.

One of the other recommendations suggests the number of times families are relocated should be reduced to allow children more time in one school.

The non-serving partner’s job should also be considered when families are moved around.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being called on to make the care of the forces families a national priority.

“I think there is a broad acknowledgement by military families that the cost of housing is reasonable," Maria Lyle, director of RAF Families Federation, said.

"What they would like is that reliable level of service when something goes wrong and the surety that they’re moving into a well-prepared and cleaned house,” she added.

The MOD says it is investing £200m in forces accommodation and it has launched a Partner Career Support Programme to help non-serving family members.

A wraparound childcare pilot is also under way at several bases in the UK, aiming to provide service children with free breakfast and after-school care.

Ray Lock, chief executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “Too often we’ve seen great strategies that actually amount to nothing, but I think in this case there is a real willingness amongst the Ministry of Defence and officials to make things happen [and] to make them happen quickly.”

Both the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace have voiced support for the findings of the report, acknowledging the vital role families play in supporting the military.

A formal response by the Government is expected by the end of March.

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