New Portsmouth flats give single parent sailors a lifeline

Mark Lancaster MP, Commodore Jeremy Rigby RN and  Robert Robson CEO of RNRMC.
Mark Lancaster MP, Commodore Jeremy Rigby RN and Robert Robson CEO of RNRMC.

Police promoting safety messages at Guildhall Walk in Portsmouth

  • Three new homes open at Portsmouth Naval Base
  • They are designed to give a space to parents struggling to see their children because of their military service
  • Defence minister Mark Lancaster says he is committed to providing service personnel with the best accommodation
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A NEW block of flats has been unveiled at Portsmouth’s Naval Base, giving single parents a ‘home from home’.

The three new homes offer senior service sailors a chance to spend quality time together with their families.

We wanted to provide somewhere where these parents can have a feeling of normality rather than a hotel where they can cook and eat together, read together, play together and bond in a home environment

Commander Martin Evans

Named Navy Mews, the self-contained units can be hired for short periods – such as weekends or up to two weeks.

Priority will be given to single parents who often struggle to maintain quality time with their children while serving in the military.

Leading Seaman Andy Till was the first member of the navy to use the facility and was thrilled by the chance.

He said: ‘I stayed here with my daughter for two days and it’s just like being at home.

‘It really is fit for purpose, it has everything you need and my daughter really enjoyed it.

‘She’s asked to come back but I think we should let other families enjoy it before coming back ourselves.

‘I’ll definitely recommend it to other guys I know in my situation and encourage them to use it as well.’

The new site was officially opened this week. As well as being fully furnished, there are also a range of toys and family games.

Defence minister Mark Lancaster was one of those to cut the ribbon on the flats and said he was ‘committed’ to giving service personnel the best possible accommodation.

‘These flats will allow naval personnel with children, and single parents in particular, to spend more family time together,’ he said.

Commander Martin Evans, the naval base’s executive officer, said single parents struggled to maintain contact with their children and that the navy had identified this needed to change.

He said: ‘We wanted to provide somewhere where these parents can have a feeling of normality rather than a hotel where they can cook and eat together, read together, play together and bond in a home environment.’

The project was the idea of the base’s accommodation and facilities team, backed by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity (RNRMC) which granted £250,000 for the scheme. Further cash came from the base’s leisure and amenitites fund with help also given by BAE Systems.

The flats come ahead of the arrival of the navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, later this year.