Capital International Group had the pleasure of meeting Cathryn Floate, a passionate Forces Wife that is raising awareness about the Forces Wives Challenge; an initiative that brings the community of British Armed Forces wives and partners together through a series of physical and mentally challenging expeditions.
As proud sponsors of the FWC, we at Capital International recognise that independent charities and communities initiatives rely tremendously on private funding. Should you wish to contribute in any small way to this noble cause, please do reach out directly to the organization via this link.
The Q&A below covers the beginnings of the FWC and the obstacles and challenges that forces wives face and overcome.
Your brochure details the story of how the FWC came about, but how did things develop after the initial idea? What is your story up to now and how have you gained traction as an organization?
Heather, our founder, openly recalls being sat at the kitchen table with another FW who lived next door. They were chatting over a glass of wine when heather pitched the idea and unsurprisingly it was received with great enthusiasm! Heather then shared her vision with FW friends and contacts, who offered their support and time to get things moving. An initial meeting was held within the wider community to pitch the idea and since then momentum has organically took its course. Others have come forward to volunteer with many seeing it as an opportunity to drive change, make a difference in other people’s lives but also improve their own – that’s certainly how it was for me.
You are aiming to grow to a national level. This is a huge target! What kind of responses have you been receiving from those you have approached? What are the biggest challenges you have faced in gaining support so far?
From the early days it was clear there was definitely a need for an organisation like the FWC. This has facilitated natural growth and as FWs move up and down the country from one posting to another, they spread word of what the FWC is about and what we’re hoping to achieve.
The response so far has been overwhelming to some extent, but in the most rewarding way and it’s all positive. People are excited, energised and keen to get involved – we couldn’t have hoped for a better response. So many people have come forward to offer support, including ex- and non-military individuals; it has been hugely encouraging.
How did you meet the other members of the team to get the project going? Outside the team shown in your brochure, how many members have you accumulated so far? Where did these members hear about FWC?
As a new FW in a new location, I was keen to make friends and settle into military life. Fortunately I happened to stumble across the FWC meeting where the team initially pitched the concept.
I got chatting to a few people, made some friends and very swiftly I found myself on the committee working on various projects to get the concept truly off the ground.
From there, some great friendships have grown and many an hour has been spent working with the committee to deliver our promises and organise the events. Membership is currently around the 150 mark, and they either came across us through friends or via Facebook. We have had such a fantastic response given that we haven’t really put ourselves out there just yet – mainly to ensure we can cope with the volume!
There is a current focus on the activity launch challenges for FWC but how do FW that aren’t doing the activities get involved behind the scenes of these challenges?
There are so many opportunities and most of the FWs come forward as they want to get involved where there can. For example, we have organised mini fitness challenges such as putting together a tough-mudder team or meeting up to do the Yorkshire 3 peaks. As we’ve mentioned, everything is organised for the wives by the wives, we have fashion designers who’ve designed and sourced t-shirts, drivers to ferry people to different locations, event organisers – the list goes on!
The FWC is seeking to combat loneliness by uniting the community through adventure and challenge – how do you plan on doing this?
With partners away for such long periods of time and often living far from friends and family, loneliness is something that can affect many people in our community. FWC strives to combat loneliness by providing opportunities to experience the same teamwork, sense of belonging and achievement our partners experience in the Armed Forces. Facing adversity together generates comradeship and a safe and understanding community where people feel comfortable sharing their struggles openly. We hope that FWC will raise awareness of the issue and break the stigma surrounding loneliness. It will make people realise that they are not alone and there is always someone reach out to when they are struggling.
The Ojos del Salado flagship event will be looking to gain media interest. What kind of media interest have you had so far, and what, ultimately, would be the best kind of coverage you would hope to get? What would be the best outcome of such coverage for the FWC outside raising general awareness?
We are excited that a media production company, Intrepid TV, have heard about our story and are filming our journey with the goal of releasing a documentary. Loneliness affects all sectors of society, not just the military community, so we hope that people across the nation will really connect with our message and see the power of uniting through adventure and challenge.
FWC is an official partner of the Royal British Legion’s Thank You 100 campaign. How did this come about?
RBL were introduced to us via a contact and they immediately understood our concept and wished to offer us their support. They are hugely experienced in understanding and relentlessly working on behalf of the military community and we are very excited about working alongside them. It is an honour to be an official partner of the Royal British Legion’s Thank You 100 campaign. While many things have changed, there are still those who serve, sacrifice and change our world and we wish to recognise and support them along our journey too.
The FWC provides a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging to FW. Could you give some example stories of members who have experienced this?
Many of the FWs talk of a boosted confidence to get out there and take on other challenges, whether they be physical, career-based or in life in general. Setting their sights on one goal has only driven them to seek more.
Our challenges, events and regular meetings have created a sense of community and an opportunity to make new friends. Human contact and friendship are essential for a sense of belonging and the FW facilitates access to these in more challenging circumstances. For more examples please follow our #ThisIsMe stories where Forces Wives share their FWC journey.
How does the FWC go about supporting the FWs to overcome personal challenges such as raising children alone, or providing support on ‘lonely’ days? Do you have any examples of smaller networks brought together by the FWC? Alternatively, are there other networks for this?
FWC has generated a community of like-minded people who support each other through tough times. Life as a FW can be like a roller-coaster, some days you feel on top of the world maybe your partner is around, work is going well and family is on top form - on those days you have the strength to ‘Reach In’ and help others. Some days are more of a struggle and you need to ‘Reach Out’ and ask for that help. FWC has facilitated friendships to be made across the country from Scotland to the south coast.
Outside sponsorship, could you give a brief overview of other ways people could get involved in supporting the FWC?
Spreading the word about us is a great place to start. We’d love people to join our community, simply follow us on social media and spread the word. Then there is of course time. Time is of huge value, whether it is volunteering at events, offering to help out with marketing or baking a cake for the finish line!
Watch their story here
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