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You'll Never Be Alone Again - This is Katyia's Story

Photo of Katyia Johnson, a military spouse and hub member sat at a desk working in the Bovington Coworking Hub
Katyia Johnson, Military Spouse & Hub Member

Meet Katyia – This is her Story

As a “pad brat” – Katyia’s Father served in the British Armed Forces – Katyia was more than familiar with the challenges of military life, both at home and abroad. She grew up in it and has nine school changes in the bag as proof.

After her father left the military, she enjoyed a sprint on civvy street until she met her now partner, and former childhood sweetheart, and became a military partner.

Her story begins again in Bovington.

When her partner was posted to Bovington, Katyia and her son followed without complaint, without hesitation. She readily gave up her social, professional, and family networks to be with the man she loves. But it wasn’t all chocolates and roses.

Military life is a lonely existence.

Katyia works from home as a Business Development Coordinator for an IT Consultancy company based in Telford.

In the past, Katyia would frequently combine working from home with trips to the office, allowing her to stay connected with her team members whenever the need or desire arose. The move to Bovington and a 5-hour commute separating home from work, meant this option quickly became a thing of the past. She suddenly found herself trapped in a virtual environment, with no physical touchpoints - isolated and disconnected from her colleagues.

A posting to Aldershot quickly followed.

Katyia’s partner was then posted to Aldershot. But this time, due to acute Service Family Accommodation (SFA) shortages with long waiting lists, Katyia and her son were unable to follow. They remain in Bovington

Her sense of loneliness and isolation soared to new heights, when her partner was then sent on a 6-month deployment this year, leaving Katyia and her son to cope with life on their own, far away from all her support networks.

Katyia ‘s son suffers from ADHD. Without the support of her partner, and wholly reliant on weekend visits, she found her situation increasingly overwhelming and challenging.

And then she hit breaking point. The date – the anniversary of the death of her eldest son. Her whole world was collapsing all around her. She couldn’t cope. She was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. She sought urgent medical support.

She discovered Bovington Coworking Hub, and it changed her life forever.

Katyia was already a member of the MCN Online Community, so she was familiar with the MCN brand

A photo of three hub members in our coworking space at Bovington Camp, Dorset
Bovington Coworking Hub

and purpose. What she hadn’t realised was that there was a coworking hub at Bovington.

“I joined the MCN Online Community in 2021 and have attended several online events. In fact, it was through the MCN that I discovered Bounce Forward, an organisation that provides resilience training to children and parents – something that helped me immensely when it came to dealing with the challenges of my son’s ADHD and separation from my partner. It also introduced me to Families Forces Jobs (AFF) and pointed me in the direction of the Army Families Federation (AFF) for support with more personal matters. I’d heard about their coworking hubs. I just didn’t realise there was one on my doorstep.”

Katyia walked out of the Doctor’s Surgery and straight into the Hub.

“Walking into the hub that day saved me. Sarah Stone welcomed me with open arms, and with one simple embrace and some kind, supportive words, changed my life forever. I joined up that very night and haven’t looked back since. Nowadays, for so many people, community can only be found online on social media. But sometimes we need physical connection, a friendly word, a shoulder to lean on, even a simple hug. The coworking hub delivered on every level for me just when I needed it the most.

“I’ve made so many new friendships through the hub – some are still based here, others have moved on, but the friendships remain. I no longer feel lonely. I have a network. A place to go to where I can be with other like-minded people. People to talk to and laugh with, share problems and learn from. Sometimes, I don’t even go there to work, but use it as a base purely to socialise and connect.

“But there’s also a practical side to it, too. Free heating in the winter – a great way to save on those ever-increasing energy bills. Free printing – I used to spend over £60 per year on printing alone. I even spend less money on coffee beans now! And all for just £30 per year. Amazing value for money.”

A flexible approach meant Katyia could make sure her son’s specialist educational needs were met, and she could work without any impact or interruption.

Because of his ADHD needs, Katyia’s son needed to attend a school that provided specialist education. This school is based in Blandford. Initially, there was no transport options available, which meant that Katyia had to take him to and collect him from school every day. The MCN allowed Katyia to temporarily change her coworking hub location from Bovington to Blandford, so she could do this without interrupting her work commitments. Katyia no longer needs this arrangement – a proper transport arrangement for her son is now in place - so she’s now back at Bovington.

A photo of three members working in our coworking hub at Blandford in Dorset
Blandford Coworking Hub

“Being able to use the hub at Blandford until I could secure an alternative travel arrangement for my son, was a real bonus for me. It made my life so much easier.

"Without this option, I would have had a two-hour commute each day, which wouldn’t have been sustainable, and would have impacted my ability to continue in my job. And it was so straightforward, too. The MCN put my name on the list at the Guardroom, and whenever I turned up, they gave me a pass, and I was straight in.”

The difference the hub has made.

“Through the hub, I have rediscovered myself. The old Katyia is back – I feel so much happier. Even my partner has seen the difference in me.  My social life is better. My quality of life overall has improved. I’m less lonely. I feel better connected. I’m part of a brilliant community, and loving life again.

“Being able to get to know people, has also allowed me to get to know my location better too. I know where the best restaurants are, the best pubs, and the top places to visit. It has allowed me to widen my horizon and opened so many doors and avenues for me.”

Final words

“I’d recommend to every military spouse or partner living on or near to a base where the Military Coworking Network operates a coworking hub, to join. The hardest thing is walking through the door. It takes courage to join a new network and meet new people. But it’s a step worth taking.

“I firmly believe that every military base should have a coworking hub. It’s a vital part of every base’s infrastructure, and key to supporting the physical and emotional wellbeing of military spouses and partners. Having access to a coworking hub means you’ll never be alone again. It certainly saved me.”


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