Sort out the big practical issues
There are a host of practical things you will need to plan and hopefully you’ll have some experienced friends to advise you, but if you haven’t, here’s a list of some of the principal things you will need to take care of.
Flights – These should be arranged as early as possible, so they’ll be cheaper. It’ll also focus your attention on planning as you will now have a deadline. If possible, book through a specialist in missions travel so that you can get an extra luggage allowance. We recommend Key Travel or Siama.
Shipping – Arrange for those essential items you need to bring back with you. Some people rent a complete container but for many a few crates will suffice. While you will want to bring your personal possessions, books and souvenirs, remember that some of your clothes, while interesting, may not be entirely practical in your home country. Your local furniture and wall hangings however, while not necessarily being worth much, could be of great interest back home and create an emotional link reminding you of ‘home’. A list of shipping agents is available on Oscar.
Accommodation – Some of us may be fortunate enough to own a house we can move straight back into, but for many of us accommodation will be the biggest headache. Staying with family is not a serious option either for families or singles, as you will need some space to be yourselves and deal with the issues going on in your lives. You may need to find support from your church or friends to rent a property, at least until you get settled. Properties are occasionally advertised through the OscarActive online community of mission workers, and Oscar also have a list of housing associations which make special provision for mission workers. Syzygy also knows of one or two other options – email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Transport – When you arrive, transport is the second biggest headache. If your church, agency or family is unable to help you, Syzygy has three cars available for mission workers – see our page The Syzygy Cars for more details. Alternatively, Ichthus Motors lease cars to mission workers and Trust Vehicles sell cars at reasonable rates to mission workers, with a promise to buy them back again.
Schooling – This is often a challenge to arrange, and it’s best to find a parent in your target area who can help advise you on this. It’s easiest to get your children into a school if you plan to live nearby, have already had your children in the school while on Home Assignment, or have relatives there. Applications are made to the local authority, so you will need to check their website, but an informal approach to a head teacher first through a trusted intermediary will help a lot.
University – Admissions for children who have grown up abroad are the subject of much misunderstanding, but should not in theory be a problem if you plan ahead. For more detailed information on entitlement to a UK university education, visit our briefing paper on the subject.
Health – This is an important issue which should be sorted out as quickly as possible. You should register with a GP at the earliest opportunity. For information on how to do this visit the NHS website. Don’t forget to find a dentist at the same time. For further guidance see our Healthchecks page.
Social services – These are something you may need to tap into on your return, so it’s important to visit your local Jobcentre Plus when you get back. They will explain what benefits are available to help support you and your family, and help you get back into work. Find them through the government website.
Employment – You may have come back home with some employment or ministry already lined up, but if you haven’t, unemployment and financial need can add to the pressure of transition. It’s good not to hurry back into work if you can avoid it, but to take time to find your feet and adapt to the new culture. If possible, get help from your church or agency to help fund you through the first three months. You may also be able to claim benefits from the government so you should contact your local Jobcentre Plus without delay so that they can advise you on this. Find them through the government website. When you are ready to get back to work, they will be able to help you identify local vacancies. Many professional institutes have programmes for getting their members back into work, so if you are a member of one of these it would be good to get in touch with them. Job opportunities in the missions sector are advertised on Oscar and on Christian Vocations.