The Armed Forces Covenant
What does the Armed Forces Covenant mean for Service Personnel? Dawn McCafferty, Chairman of the RAF Families Federation gives the Federation’s view on what it now means for Service personnel and their families.
As active members of the External Reference Group tasked with informing the debate regarding an Armed Forces Covenant, we welcome the publication of the Covenant and its supporting documents.
Recognising that there could hardly be a worse time to publish a document that attempts to capture the way in which the Government and wider society values and recognises the contribution of the Armed Forces Community, we acknowledge that this is a step in the right direction and that legal reference to the existence of a Covenant is an important starting point.
We are aware that others seek even tighter legal definition of the Covenant but we are content with the balance that has been achieved in terms of agreeing core principles and ensuring that Parliament is required to assess, on an annual basis, the progress made in delivering across the very broad spectrum of measures which the supporting documents describe.
The frequent mention of the input of the Service Families Federations in identifying the needs of military families is very welcome and we are pleased to note the range of measures aimed at enhancing family life. We would like to thank all RAF family members who have provided evidence to the Federation over the past three years as this has all helped shape our input into the Covenant work, influencing its outcome to ensure appropriate recognition of the family as a key element of the Armed Forces constituency.
As you would expect, the RAF Families Federation’s focus will be on the specific family-related measures that are described in the supporting documents. Some are already in place, others are aspirational. Few have funding attached, but many are perhaps achievable without money – a change of process or policy to address identified disadvantage could deliver the effect required without the need for scarce Government funding.
Our priority is to examine the comprehensive published publications to ensure we understand exactly what is being promised for families. We encourage all RAF family members to take the time to read the detail and to then get in touch if they have evidence they wish to share. Family members can certainly highlight where the measures require further work but can also provide feedback as to where local delivery is already working well. We will continue to represent the views of RAF families via the new Covenant Reference Group and we will be seeking the views of RAF family members as to their understanding of the Covenant and its impact on their daily lives.
RAF family members will be pleased to learn that the Covenant Reference Group will be undertaking an RAF Familiarisation Day, aimed at ensuring that all members have a sound appreciation of RAF life. This visit will now be conducted against the background of a published Covenant and there is provision in the programme for them to hear more about RAF life from a family perspective. Such engagement is very positive and is welcomed.