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The MCN - From Zero to Hero

Updated: Jun 12

An infographic depicting the evolution timeline of the Military Coworking Network (MCN) from 2017 to 2026.
Infographic showing the MCN's Story Timeline

The story begins in 2017 on a military base in Leuchars, on the northeast coast of Scotland. 

Struggling to maintain their careers and craving a space where they could meet and connect with professionally like-minded people, escape the confines of the kitchen table, and go to work outside of Service Family Accommodation (SFA), a group of determined military partners, led by our Founder, Sarah Stone, convinced the military to give them an unused space on base to set up the very first coworking hub. It was rudimentary. It was simple. But it met a need, and it was a success. The seed for the MCN was sown. 

“At the beginning I thought it was just me who was finding it difficult to maintain a career alongside military life – I felt very alone, and it was putting a lot of strain on my marriage.  I asked around and soon found hundreds if not thousands of other military spouses who felt just like me – and who were equally as unhappy with their situation.  As soon as I started talking to other people about it we decided to come together and change things.  Military coworking was inspired by so many people – it really was a movement”, explains Sarah.

News about this new coworking hub spread fast, and soon other military spouses and partners from bases around the UK and abroad were knocking on the door wanting the same on the base they were stationed at. 

By 2019, five further hubs had opened. But it was a random setup, with no two hubs the same. There was no central management. No consistency. No funding. Just an abundance of passion, enthusiasm, and ambition. 

In 2020, an application was submitted to the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, which is sponsored by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for funding. The funding was to be used to transform this grassroots initiative into an international network.

The funding for a two-year pilot project, ending October 2022, was approved, the MCN was founded, a small central team was put in place, and the work started. 

When Covid19 hit British shores all the coworking hubs were forced to shut down and sit out significant chunks of the pandemic. The detrimental impact on the project was huge. Three of the existing hubs never recovered and remained permanently shut. And with continued posting cycles and moves during lockdown, the impact on communities was also significant.

By the beginning of 2021, the MCN was back down to just three coworking hubs. There was a lot to do. 

Sheer grit and determination prevailed, and by September 2022, the MCN had successfully opened six further coworking hubs, including the first one abroad at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. It was now going from strength to strength. 

But the clock was ticking. The impending deadline was fast approaching. The final countdown had commenced. 

But the pandemic had effectively shortened the evaluation window.  More time was needed. 

An application for a project extension was made and approved, and the project was extended until the end of 2023

October 2023 was now the new D-day for the MCN project. 

A detailed, independent evaluation of the coworking hubs and online community was commissioned and duly submitted to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for scrutiny and feedback. 

And the final project extension was approved.

The project today 

Although the results were positive and very encouraging, it was felt that the number of military spouses and partners making use of the MCN coworking hubs was still low based on the potential size of this group at each military base. 

The MoD needs to see more evidence before they can fully commit to adopting the MCN as a firm addition to the Armed Forces Family Provision offer. 

And that’s where we are now. More funding. More time. But higher targets. 

We have until March 2026 to make the final business case for the MCN.

We currently have ca.150 hub members and ca. 1,500 online members. 

We will be opening further hubs at new locations across the UK - we recently opened one up at HQ Hereford Garrison, which has proven a huge success with the local spousal community.

And we will be looking to further grow the online community and expand our online membership too. 

But we could do with some help.

Be a hero. Do your bit!

If you have a skill, resource, or opportunity you’d like to share, a story to inspire, or would like to be a guest speaker, or even host an event for our members, please get in touch.  We’d love to talk. After all, giving back is the greatest reward. 

Spread the word. Share with your networks. Help us grow. Help us thrive.

In the words of some great men: 

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill 
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”  – Muhammad Ali 


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