This sought to further understanding of how non-operational family separations influence family functioning and well-being among Royal Navy/Royal Marine families. Utilising pre-existing studies, online surveys, interviews and focus groups, the report found that spouse employment, family roles and relationships, spouse and child health and well-being could all be affected by non-operational family separations, however it also found access to family resources could alleviate adaptation to separations.
Military families can experience a variety of different separations due to the occupational demands of Service personnel. The most prominent of these is the deployment of personnel on operational and combat missions. Previous international research has demonstrated how separations related to deployment can negatively affect the functioning and health and wellbeing of military families. However, little is known about how this might compare to shorter, but more frequent separations unrelated to operational deployments – non-operational family separations. This form of family separation is more common among the UK Naval Service community, many of whom do not live near military bases or move with personnel but instead reside within local civilian communities across the UK. An estimated 24% of UK Armed Forces families live separately from personnel during the working week, increasing to 36% among Naval Service families (Ministry of Defence 2016). While this can have benefits for Naval Service families in providing increased stability to support spouse/partner employment and the education of children, it often results in serving Naval personnel living away from the family home during the working week - referred to as “weekending”. Such separations can also occur in additional to operational deployments, increasing the time Naval Service families may be apart. To help understand non-operational family separations and how they influence family functioning and well-being among Royal Navy/Royal Marines (RN/RM) families, a research project was commissioned by the Naval Families Federation, with funding from Greenwich Hospital. This report presents the findings of this study and makes recommendations for future research and potential interventions to support military families experiencing this type of separation.
Gribble, R. and Fear, N. T., 2019. The effect of non-operational family separations on family functioning and well-being among Royal Navy/Royal Marines families. Final report. King's Centre for Military Health Research. Available at: <https://nff.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Non-Operational-Separations.pdf>.