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The MCN – Delivering Social Impact to the Armed Forces Community

Updated: 18 hours ago




The Military Coworking Network is all about people.

 

It is a project which seeks to have a positive impact on the partners of military personnel by improving their quality of life and wellbeing and thereby strengthening the military community.

 

What makes military life so different? 

 

Military life is unique in many respects with regular postings across the UK and abroad, sometimes as often as every two years. For the partner of serving personnel, these moves can often mean leaving behind jobs and established networks of colleagues, friends and families. Postings can hinder career progression and personal development. Partners are often deployed for months at a time, leaving spouses holding the fort and juggling numerous, complex plates, leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and a sense of overwhelm.  

 

77% of military spouses and partners reported feeling lonely or isolated at times. * 

 

Coupled with the fact that many employers are still not sympathetic to the military spouse's cause, life can be really tough.  

 

In short, military life can hinder the career progression and personal development of military spouses and partners. 

 

50% of military spouses reported that military life has had a negative impact on their careers, with one in six stating they’ve had to leave a job or education to allow their serving partner to pursue their careers. * 

 

Community is vital to survival 

 

In these circumstances, community becomes vital.  

 

Coffee mornings, military wives' choirs, and other leisure or networking activities all help, and for many spouses these touchpoints are enough.  

 

But for those military spouses and partners who choose or even need to work, it requires a different type of community to meet their needs.  

 

Working from home is not always an option 

 

Often, Service Families Accommodation (SFA) is small and limiting, offering little to no scope for effective homeworking.  Home distractions are the number one complaint, followed by lack of space. But Wi-Fi can also be an issue, with many homes offering inadequate connectivity to support remote or home working. 

 

Military spouses and partners need somewhere to go to work, where they can feel like professionals, and regain a slice of normality. Somewhere where they are not defined by their military partner (the spouse of xxx) but have their own identity and purpose.  

 

They need to be surrounded by like-minded people with whom they can build connections based on common ground - perhaps through business, working in the same industry sector, or studying – so they can grow and thrive. 

 

A different solution is required for this faction of the Armed Forces community.  

 

Coworking as the solution 

 

Opening up professional facilities where like-minded military spouses and partners can co-work or co-study is vital for adding social value to this community.  

 

Because coworking spaces offer more than a place to work or study, they are also a connecting point for military spouses and partners.  

 

A place to network, socialise, and build professional and strategic relationships. A place to share expertise and learn from others. A safe forum to troubleshoot business problems and find appropriate solutions. A place where individuality counts, where personal identity is king.  

 

A place to belong to that provides fulfilment on all levels. 

 

The MCN – a social value project 

 

The MCN operates a network of coworking hubs across the UK and abroad on a not-for-profit basis. Often located ‘behind the wire’ on military bases, they are exclusively for this group of the Armed Forces community.  

 

The MCN is instrumental in adding social value to the military spouse and partner cohort. 

 

Enablement 

 

It has and continues to enable this group of the Armed Forces community to create and maintain professional careers alongside the challenges of military life. It achieves this through the provision of its low-cost, affordable coworking hub network, which is effectively complemented by its online community, which gives free access to a wide range of resources and opportunities to connect and grow. 

 

“Our coworking hubs give the partners of serving personnel a place where they can go to work, outside of the home, make friends and a network which they can use to enhance their career.  So many people tell us that they “feel like themselves again” once they start using a hub.  Being with other people is such a simple thing but it can make such a difference.  The opportunities to socialise are increasingly limited so having somewhere where you can go to work and meet like-minded people can be hugely powerful.  The impact on the people who use them has been profound”, says Sarah Stone, Founder of the MCN.

 

 61% of military spouses/partners who had used a hub reported a positive impact on their career, including 26% stating they were able to keep their job thanks to the hub, 16% receiving job offers, and 13% getting to know potential employers as a result of working in the hubs. * 

 

Connection 

 

It has enabled them to feel better connected to the wider Armed Forces community, changing their perceptions of military life.  

 

Historically, military spouses and partners haven’t felt valued, respected, or adequately recognised for the role they play and the contribution they make to the sustainability of the wider Armed Forces community.  The MCN project, specifically, the message it sends out, is changing that perception. 

93% of all hub users feel more recognised by the MoD as a consequence of its support of the MCN project (93%), 83% feel more valued by the military, and 73% feel part of the wider military community. * 

 

Community 

 

The hubs have also provided more opportunities to meet new people, both at a social and professional level, allowing military spouses and partners to grow their professional networks and make more meaningful friendships. This in turn has positively impacted their social lives and quality of life on base, and reduced loneliness and isolation, often a symptom of military life. It has also significantly improved their wellbeing by giving them access to a community of like-minded people within an environment that meets their holistic needs. 

 

73% stated that they had more opportunities to meet new people through the hubs. 59% of hub members said they had been able to grow their professional network through the hubs, and 60% had made more friendships through the hubs. 60% confirmed that the hubs had improved their wellbeing. * 

 

Conclusion 

 

The MCN project is a great example of how you can add social value to a community. As a not-for-profit initiative, it is entirely focussed on the people it serves and on building and maintaining a community that meets their unique needs within the context of military life. 

 

* Source: Military Coworking Network 2023 Evaluation Report 



 

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