Some postings like Iraq and Afghanistan have to be unaccompanied for security reasons, others are unaccompanied through choice. If as a partner you are in a job you just don’t want to leave, have elderly relatives to support or children who don’t want to board, there is a real possibility that you’ll be staying at home while your BC partner sets off for a new post.
In a recent article in the DSFA magazine ‘Carousel’ on overseas allowances, a new category was introduced for FCO staff, Voluntary Unaccompanied Postings, recognising that ‘dual careers are increasingly common and we need to offer more flexible options to staff so that they can adapt these to their individual needs.’ Partners will get two additional APEX journeys to post for visits per year.
Our situation is that the British Council currently offers one air fare per year for partners and two fares for children still at school in secondary education. My husband is working in Pakistan and we have yet to visit; so far he returns home for visits every 6-7 weeks. It is not always easy but manageable. Having a permanent base in the UK while our children progress through the later stages of education is the best option for now.
I suspect that unaccompanied postings may be on the increase;if anyone would like to recount their own experiences, do contact Claire la Niece.