As Dawn McCafferty, hands over the Federation to her successor, we look back on the first five years of the RAF Families Federation and assess how far it has come in meeting her original objectives when she was selected to be the first Chairman of this new organisation.
At her initial interview for the job in July 07, Dawn stated her intent to create a Federation that would be ‘seen as a friend to all members of the RAF family – a listening ear, a guiding hand and an independent voice, willing and able to translate the day-to-day irritations of RAF family life into action plans aimed at influencing policy and strengthening the bond between the RAF and its families’.
Dawn wanted the new Federation to: ‘provide an independent voice for RAF families, working alongside the RAF staffs and RAF families to provide essential two-way communication’.
She recognised early on that evidence would be at the heart of the organisation’s work and that the Federation would need to devise effective ways of gathering evidence from as wide a range of families as possible. Dawn said,
“By gathering evidence of the issues being raised by families, the Federation could represent their views and aspirations to those who could make a difference – the policy makers and the senior staffs, be they in the RAF, MoD or in Government.
“Work from evidence-based reports in a non-emotive manner, earning the trust and confidence of families and those in authority, so that the Federation could speak out on a wide range of family-related issues and be a valuable instrument for change”.
Finally, Dawn expressed a strong desire to: “Ensure that RAF families are represented at the highest levels in terms of policy development and provision of support. The Federation can deliver a powerful network to RAF families, signposting them to the many expert agencies that exist, whilst preserving their right to confidentiality.”
It’s fair to say that the Federation hit the ground running in 2007 and hasn’t slowed down since. Every year has seen new challenges for the RAF and its families and every year has seen the Federation respond to the best of its ability and within its limited resources to deliver just the type of high-level engagement and representation that Dawn envisaged from the outset.
Working in close collaboration with key players in the other Service Families Federations and creating strong links with MoD and Air Command staffs, the Federation was soon making its voice heard in the corridors of power and has taken every opportunity to represent RAF families on a wide range of topics.
The advent of the Service Personnel Command Paper, which morphed into the Armed Forces Covenant, provided unprecedented opportunities for the three Families Federations to influence the policy agenda right across Government and into the Devolved Administrations.
The Strategic Defence & Security Review created a whole new set of challenges for the RAF and its families to contend with, and the deteriorating economic climate throughout the last five years added greater urgency to the evidence provided to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body on pay, allowances and pensions. Moreover, the enduring high operational tempo, covering Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya alongside standing commitments overseas increased the pressure on separated families and caused many to question their long-term future in the Service.
Finally, in a long list of factors impacting on the RAF and its families, the DIO Transformation programme began to really take effect this year and the Federation has been at the forefront, representing the interests of RAF families and ensuring that evidence-based feedback was provided to those responsible for delivering accommodation services.
There is a very long list of achievements accomplished since the RAF Families Federation’s humble beginnings in 2007 and believe it has more than lived up to Dawn’s original intent.
As the Federation team wish Dawn every success in her new appointment as Commandant of the Air Cadets they take this opportunity to welcome the new RAF Families Federation Director, Gp Capt (Retd) Bill Mahon who left the RAF in February 12. Under Bill’s leadership, the RAF Families Federation will continue to strive to provide RAF Serving personnel and their families with the independent voice and confidential service they deserve.
Notes to Editors: The RAF Families Federation represents the concerns of RAF personnel and their families. It operates entirely outside the RAF chain of command, so can always promise an independent and confidential service. Evidence-based reports are sent by the Federation to senior RAF staffs, Government Ministers and those who can make a difference.