Apart from all the usual strains of family life like money worries and parenting concerns, we know that serving RAF couples have to cope with additional pressures, like maintaining a long-distance relationship and frequent moves.
Serving RAF couples may have to cope with long stretches of time apart from each other on top of all the tensions of keeping their work and family life together. That's why the RAF Benevolent Fund has joined with Relate to provide a bit of extra support.
Online relationship support
Our free online Building Stronger Families course gives you the skills and knowledge to deal with common relationship issues facing couples and families. This easily accessible course is designed to provide support before serious problems begin, you can choose to only do the topics which apply to your situation and you can do this in the privacy of your own home.
Topics covered include communication, resolving conflict and family life. The course is supported by the Armed Forces Covenant (Libor) Fund.
The RAF Benevolent Fund is offering to pay for up to six counselling sessions (or more if the nature of the issue is of a psychosexual nature) with Relate for serving personnel and their partners. Additional sessions can be funded on a financial needs basis and can be applied for via the counsellor.
Whether married, living together, in a same-sex relationship, separated, divorced or single, Relate's confidential service can help.
Face-to-face counselling, telephone counselling and advice via web-based live chat are now available, giving the opportunity to talk to a trained Relate counsellor in the most convenient way.
Mediation support for RAF couples
It can be stressful when a relationship breaks down but the RAF Benevolent Fund can help if you need mediation to resolve any issues. Mediation can help to settle disputes over living arrangements, child maintenance, property and money. We can assist towards the cost of mediation services with an approved provider, including paying the full cost of an initial session and subsidising the cost for a standard package of further sessions. For more information call 0845 077 5556.
Is the service confidential?
Everything you say to a Relate consultant or counsellor will remain completely confidential. You will need to give your, or your partner's, service number to Relate, but this is simply to confirm eligibility. No one in the RAF will be told that you have accessed these services unless there are safeguarding issues which may need acting on.
To access live chat or to find out more visit the Relate website or call 0845 077 5556 and a trained counsellor will be able to talk you through the available options.
How the service works
Alan Burkinshaw, manager of the Relate service at RAF Brize Norton, tells us more about the service:
"We've been going to RAF Brize Norton, seeing three or four clients a month. We're often helping people to deal with regular periods of separation and the impact that has on their relationship.
"For example, a father may come back from Afghanistan and may not engage with his family because he's struggling to come to terms with what he has experienced. Or perhaps he's ready to talk, but his children aren't interested and that causes him to feel angry or upset.
"Coming to see us, confidentially, gives people a chance to talk, be listened to and not be judged. You can raise difficult topics, and there's someone there who can make sure you get a fair hearing and who can mediate. You can start to see things from a different perspective. People have told us it has saved their marriage."