Anne Miller-McCaffrey at Northern Power Futures 

At Northern Power Futures Anne Miller-McCaffrey was joined by the Armed Forces Diversity Engagement Team (AFDET) to myth bust about gender roles and the wider diversity strands within the British Armed Forces. We sat down with Anne to talk about the Forces For Inclusion campaign and how the British Armed Forces is more inclusive than ever.
Can you introduce yourself for our NPFs readers?

My name is Anne Miller-McCaffrey and I am the Royal Navy element of the armed forces engagement team.

What are the Armed Forces doing at Northern Power Futures?

Today we’re hoping to engage with communities that we haven’t engaged with before. We’ve got representatives from the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force. We’ve all got lots of different backgrounds that we can talk to people about. It’s about speaking to people in a safe space, where we can myth-bust about what the armed forces do. It’s more about raising awareness of what we do and how we do it, and challenging stereotypes.

I was speaking to the Queen’s Own Yeomanry. (The Queen’s Own Yeomanry is a light cavalry regiment in the Army Reserve. It involves operating in front of other friendly forces to gather intelligence on the enemy and the environment). I didn’t realise that volunteering for the forces was a paid role.

What people traditionally think about the armed forces is you’ve got people who join from a young age and stay for quite a long time, up to 22 or 24 years, and they are regular soldiers, sailors, men and women. We also have the reserve forces which is a volunteer forces but they also got paid. They are a really good link into society and businesses. That does the myth busting for us as well, in respect of the individuals will advocate to their colleagues that the forces are a force for good – or as our hashtag is, #ForceForInclusion.

How would you sum up NPF?

Forward Thinking because I think what NPF is trying to achieve is to look to the future and listen to the people that are going to be shaping that future. Instead of people now making decisions for people in the future, which we’ve found through history has not worked all the time. Listening to young people and how they want the future to be is really important. Their opinion is valid and they are the ones who are going to be living in that future.

Can you tell us more about #ForceForInclusion?

We were having a bit of a think about how we could portray the messages that we wanted to get across. our message focuses on people being the asset to the armed forces. Not the equipment, not the hardware or software, but the actual people. The armed forces diversity and engagement team, one of our engagement pieces is through a presentation about Being Your Authentic Self. No matter what you’re background is, what your gender is, what your sexuality, race or ethnicity is, it doesn’t matter. The Armed Forces is an inclusive employer, and that’s changed a lot of the years. We’ve come a very long way in a very short time.

Force For Inclusion came around because we wanted the inclusion message to be there. We did a little bit of thinking about what that would look like and came up with a few variations and Force For Inclusion really sat well with the message we want to achieve.

Whenever I’ve spoken to the Armed Forces at Northern Power Futures, it is so accessible and everyone is really friend. Which is maybe people something don’t think with the forces.

Everybody thinks that the armed forces is just the army but its not. It’s the Army, Navy, Air Force – those three elements and other elements. Whether that be full time regulars, reservisits, and the wider picture that connections and comes under our banner as well. the armed forces family is quite a big one.

What are you doing at NPFs to encourage people to speak to the Armed Forces?

We are here to create a safe space for people to come and ask us questions. They can ask us anything from, do you really have to wear those types of shoes? to do you really have to have your hair tidied up in a naff bun? to what do you think about cyber warfare? Can I see my family at weekends? and can women be in the armed forces – which some people don’t think women can. Which in fact every role apart from one, which is a Roman Catholic Priest, is available to women. We’ve came a long way in a short time. Today is about creating that space to come and ask us questions, we’ll do the myth-busting side of things. It’s more engagement than recruitment but we do get asked recruitment questions. We have got some recruiters here today so if people did want to find out about a career in the armed forces, they can come and ask. We are here mainly to be accessible to society and anybody to ask us questions.

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Northern Power Futures photographs taken by Thomas Jackson at TyneSight Photography

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