Military community experiences extensive family separation

07 December 2020

  • SURVEY FINDS 81% OF MILITARY FAMILIES SAY SEPARATION IS STANDARD, AND CHRISTMAS IS NO EXCEPTION
  • WHILE 51% OF THE UK GENERAL PUBLIC HAD NEVER BEEN SEPARATED FROM THEIR LOVED ONES
  • COVID-19 HAS NOW GIVEN THE NATION A FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE OF BEING KEPT APART FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY
  • THIS CHRISTMAS SSAFA, THE ARMED FORCES CHARITY ASKS THE PUBLIC TO DONATE TO HELP SSAFA BE THERE FOR ANYONE FACING SEPARATION OR NEEDING SUPPORT

As the festive season fast approaches and lockdown is being eased in most areas, families are counting down until they can be reunited with their loved ones. SSAFA is asking the British public to remember that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ of families and friends everywhere being kept apart due to COVID-19, are simply the norm for the Forces community.

Due to training, overseas deployment or simply geographical distance, 81% of the military community surveyed have been separated from their loved ones throughout the year and over Christmas. With anywhere between a month and nine months being a typical duration of time apart (said 67% of those surveyed).

51% of the general public surveyed have never been separated from their loved ones at all, and 31% of those only have experienced it for the first time this year. The impact of separation can be damaging, with 72% of civilians saying that they have felt lonely and isolated because of time apart.

Positively though, it seems that through time spent apart this year, the civilian population is now just as well-practiced as the military community at finding ways to stay connected. The top methods of contact during recent times include:

  • Phone calls (used by 53% of the public and 52% of military)
  • Video calls (used by 39% of the public and 40% of military)
  • WhatsApp (used by 37% of the public and 34% of military)
  • Social media (used by 35% of the public and 33% of military)

The thought of spending Christmas apart from family makes 70% of the civilian population surveyed feel sad or lonely. But this exact scenario has been a previous reality for 73% of those in the military that SSAFA surveyed. It’s not new or different, just something that Forces families realise goes with the territory.

This year we will all understand the value of being together, more than ever. Now is a fitting time to appreciate the dedication of the men, women and children of the Armed Forces who regularly sacrifice this special time as ‘part of the job’.

Antony Cotton, SSAFA Ambassador and Corrie star, said: “I think we have taken time spent with our loved ones for granted in the past – but, as a result of the COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions, I hope that this will change now. We have all experienced time without this valuable support network over the last nine months but imagine if this kind of separation was a standard part of your life.

“This pandemic has given us a chance to take stock of the things that truly matter to us – but also it should be a chance for us to show our gratitude to all of those forgotten heroes who sacrifice precious time with loved ones every year to ensure that we are safe and protected.

“I urge the public to support SSAFA’s work ensuring that no member of this community is left feeling alone. We owe a huge debt to the men and women of our military, as well as their families and now is a time to turn gratitude into positive action.”

Please feel free to call our Forcesline if you need any support.

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