What Support Should You Expect During Deployment?
When your loved one deploys on operations, it can be an unsettling experience, no matter if it is your first experience or if you have been through it several times over. There are a wealth of agencies at RAF Marham and Air Force wide to support you and your family through this time, not to mention a number of entitlements that can make things that little bit easier.
NOMINATED POINT OF CONTACT
When your partner completes the preparations to deploy, they are asked whether they wish to nominate a point of contact (POC). If nominated, the POC will maintain communication with you and your family and ensure that you have someone that you can raise any concerns or issues with whilst your partner is away. They will ensure that the Station provides assistance where necessary and direct you to appropriate welfare agencies if needed.
You can decide how much communication with your POC you will have, but it can sometimes be a comfort to know that someone is only a phone call away. If no POC has been nominated, there are a number of ways to alert us to the fact you need some help: you can contact your partner’s line manager, the Station Community Support Officer, the HIVE or just come into Personnel Services Flight located in the Station HQ.
You may already be familiar with the Community Support Hub, located near the main gate. It is a focal point for a number of welfare amenities, including the HIVE, the Station Community Support Officer (SCSO) and the Sandringham Centre. The Community Support Squadron is responsible for managing the hub and is constantly improving what can be found there and all personnel are encouraged to visit the Hub with their families early in their tour to meet the team and see the vast range of support available to them. The team can be contacted on 01760 337261 Ext: 7425.
They support and advertise numerous events and activities that are happening at RAF Marham every week, from craft days to a mobile skate park, there is something for everybody. Details can be found at the RAF Marham Community Support Events Homepage – ‘What’s on’ can be found through the RAF Marham web page on the Internet and at the HIVE. The easiest way to find all the online connections is through the online edition of the Marham Matters magazine which is at www.marhammattersonline.co.uk. If you join the RAF Marham community Email list, you can receive regular emails giving information on what is going on.
The HIVE is the Station’s key information provider on community and welfare matters. HIVE prides itself on the level of support and range of information it provides but when answers are not immediately to hand the HIVE Information Officer (IO) will either find the information out for you or signpost you to the most appropriate person or organisation to answer your question. The HIVE also provides a deployment information pack; just ask for one from the IO. The HIVE IO can be contacted on 01760 337261 Ext: 7425 or 01760 446121.
STATION COMMUNITY SUPPORT OFFICER (SCSO)
The SCSO is responsible for a range of community issues including assisting with problems with SFA that are not being resolved satisfactorily by DE Ops Housing or MODern Housing Solutions, assisting with neighbour disputes, the management of the Sandringham Centre and other community-related facilities and activities, liaising with the local police and PCSOs and working with the RAF Families Federation to represent the concerns of our families to higher authorities. The SCSO can be contacted on 01760 446052 or Ext: 6052.
There are a number of ways to access information regarding deployments, communicate with other partners/families and maintain contact with your partner, but perhaps one of the most comprehensive is by using RAFCOM, the RAF Community Website (www.rafcom.co.uk). In particular, the Deployment Toolkit has information on an array of issues, from how will your children cope with your partner’s deployment, to practical tips and guidance concerning who to contact when you have administrative issues, such as with your partner’s pay. Both these websites can be accessed through the links page on the RAF Marham Internet site: www.rafcom.co.uk/information/toolkit.cfm
The Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Air Forces’ Association – Forces’ Help (SSAFA-FH) is available to provide advice, support, encouragement and assistance, to Service personnel and their families, whenever or wherever possible. SSAFA at RAF Marham can be contacted on 01760 446051 or Ext: 6900/6051 or you can visit them near the SPAR. There is also Forcesline, a confidential service that is available 365 days a year, open 1030 – 2230: 0800 731 4880.
The Stn Chaplains are here to help and will do so at any time – you do not have to be a church member to get help from the Chaplains. Please be assured that ANY welfare, pastoral and spiritual matter will always be handled privately. Walk in or contact them on 01760 337261 Ext: 7101 or Ext: 7244 or at the Chaplaincy Centre.
CITIZENS’ ADVICE BUREAU (CAB)
The CAB offers free advice on all financial and legal matters. The CAB visits the Station weekly, on a Thursday. Please contact the HIVE for an appointment on 01760 446121.
SCHOOL HEAD TEACHERS
Head teachers have a wealth of experience in dealing with problems associated with deployments, as they impact upon children. If you have any concerns with how the deployment may affect your children, please consider engaging with your children’s school.
MODern HOUSING SOLUTIONS
This organisation is responsible for the maintenance of Service Families’ Accommodation. The central helpdesk for all SFA repairs is 0800 7076000. Alternatively, the Stn Support Officer (SCSO) can be contacted on 01760 446052 or Ext: 6052.
PERSONNEL FUNCTIONAL AREAS (PFA)
The Personnel Services Flight or Personnel Functional Area in the Station HQ can provide advice and guidance for a range of issues, from allowances to compassionate cases. If they cannot directly help, they will be able to signpost you to someone or an agency that can. OC Personnel Services Flight can be contacted on 01760 337261 Ext: 7489.
DUTY CORPORAL / ORDERLY OFFICER
Should no assistance be available from the normal welfare agencies or through the Line Management or Nominated Point of Contact, then the Duty Corporal or Orderly Officer can assist. This may be especially useful out of normal working hours. They can be contacted via the guardroom on 01760 337261 Ext: 7312.
There is a non-emergency contact number for Norfolk police: 0845 4564567
Part 2 will look at what entitlements are available and things to consider when your partner deploys.