Happy April Fools’ Day!
As much as we’d love our partners to be called ‘dependants’ we’re not sure they’d ever forgive us. But, we do know that just as we are very proud of the very important work they do in the Armed Forces, they are just as proud of us – but we could do with some help.
The careers of the partners of serving personnel (we like to call ourselves Milspo’s = MILitary Spouses, Partners and Other-halves) are sometimes hidden behind the impressive work of our serving parters. We would like to change this…
Milspo is a global network that supports UK military spouses, partners and other-halves to build successful and resilient businesses that can endure the nomadic forces life. Although the Milspo Network has its roots in business support, its strength and true meaning lie in the fact that it connects an isolated and dispersed community, and inspires them to achieve something greater for themselves.
The partners of serving military personnel face unique challenges not encountered by their civilian counterparts. Armed forces life means that families are regularly moved, often with little notice, to different parts of the UK and world for operational needs. This makes partner employment and continuity of career almost impossible. Such a transient way of life means that partners often find themselves separated from their support network. The military partners are usually the only source of childcare when their partners are deployed on operations. Because of this, they find it challenging to find work, which in turn isolates them further and has a detrimental effect on their mental health.
Many in this predominantly female community have found a solution in self-employment. They often do not start their own businesses purely for the traditional reasons of enterprise, but to give them a sense of identity and community. However, here yet again military life poses challenges. It is difficult to build a client or customer base when you are forced to move every few years. Valuable business contacts and networks are lost with each posting. And there is little in the way of support for this often-overlooked part of the community. If a business fails, it just reinforces feelings of isolation and low self-worth. That is where the Milspo network comes in. It provides vital support to military-spouse run businesses, but more than that, it provides a place to belong.
Digital solutions currently provide hugely successful free virtual meet-ups, networking opportunities, workshops, expert training, annual events, and resources that are not limited by location, enabling Milspo members to share experiences and champion each other to achieve their dreams.
During the pandemic, the stresses of military life have become a catalyst in an already difficult time. With troops’ extra deployment to the front line on covid response and the usual operations continuing, military partners have found themselves even more pressured. In the same way that the general population were homeschooling and adapting to the ‘new-normal’, military families had the added strain of location moves, both in the UK and abroad as lockdown spread throughout the world. In response, Milspo stepped up their online meet-ups to cater to all partners posted worldwide, giving our members an essential link to ‘home’.
The next stage of Milspo focuses on growing the 1,000-strong membership from across the military family and providing more support through a new website. As well as spreading the work about the organisation, the plans include an online members area within the website and a public area that will consist of both an online directory and a “Not On The High Street” style shop for people wanting to support military businesses. These new areas will allow Milspos to showcase their products and services, grow their customer base, and create businesses that help them retain their identity and support their serving partner.
Milspo currently has sponsorship from the Royal British Legion for the podcast (the Independent Spouse, which is planning its fifth series and celebrating over 11,500 downloads), but otherwise it has been run on an entirely voluntary basis that is not sustainable in the long term due to the fantastic growth of the group.
Although there are members from across the military, there are two aspects that I was wondering whether you could help with. These are:
- Funding – Money is needed for the future growth of Milspo. A budget has been put together to illustrate the funds that Milpso needs to be able to continue this vital support to the growing number of military spouses in business and to ensure that this community continues to support our military families; and
- Collaboration – Milspo is looking to have conversations with various welfare and other organisations.
The Milspo Network is not like any usual business network; it’s about giving the partners of our brave personnel the means to live a better version of their military lives, with greater support, so that in turn, they can support their serving personnel and our UK’s defence mission.
If you can help, or have any suggestions on where Milspo could go for support just email us – email@example.com