Army&You – Summer 2022

Page 1

&You Summer 2022

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

WHO’S WHO IN HOUSING?

armyandyou.co.uk

OUT OF SERVICE

Meet the new team caring for your military quarter

YOU’RE HIRED Read our apprenticeship mythbuster

Families on heading to civvy street overseas

6

things non-UK families need to know about their right to work

CAREER

CONUNDRUM How do you progress on the job front as an army spouse?

PLUS: PENSION PLANNING // MATERNITY MATTERS // YOUR BLOGS // AND A CHANCE TO WIN A SEASIDE BREAK

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION


Co-educational state boarding & day school for students aged 11-18

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The boarding school provides highly effective services that consistently exceed the standards of good. The actions of the school contribute to significantly improved outcomes and positive experiences for children & young people. OFSTED

ers and Students

The Wellington Academy, Tidworth, Wiltshire, SP11 9RR T: 01264 405060

BOARDING HANDBOOK www.thewellingtonacademy.org.uk 2021 - 2022 E: admin@thewellingtonacademy.org.uk

Proud to be a part of The Royal

For Parents/Carers and Students

Wootton Bassett Academy Trust

Visit our welcoming primary schools to meet our Leadership team & enjoy a guided tour of the facilities on offer. Other features of our school include: Children’s University • School for the Curious Child Lovely outdoor environments, including Forest schools • Nursery facilities for 2-4 year olds. Wellington Eagles Primary Academy Wellesley Road, Ludgershall, Andover SP11 9LT

Wellington Lions Primary Academy Oatway Road, Tidworth, Wiltshire SP9 7FP

T: 01264 316400 admin@wellingtoneagles.org.uk wellingtoneagles.org.uk

T: 01264 310780 admin@wellingtonprimary.org.uk wellingtonlions.org.uk

To make an appointment for a tour, contact the school directly by phone or email.

Proud to be a part of The Royal Wootton Bassett Academy Trust


FROM THE EDITOR

Army&You {for everyone with a soldier in their life}

www.armyandyou.co.uk

EDITOR Lisa Youd editor@aff.org.uk // 01264 554004

CONTACT AFF ENQUIRIES TEAM 8am to 6pm Monday to Thursday 8am to 3pm Friday contact@aff.org.uk // 01264 554004

MANAGERS DEVOLVED NATIONS devolvedmgr@aff.org.uk ENGLAND englandmgr@aff.org.uk OVERSEAS overseasmgr@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL LEADS UK NORTHERN IRELAND contact@aff.org.uk

Holding down a meaningful career as an army spouse or partner is no easy feat. How many of us have changed course, downgraded, or simply taken whatever job we could get? In our main feature Careering on (pages 14-17), reporter Jill Misson asks whether it’s really possible to have a career and live military life? The good news is that the number of support organisations and initiatives designed especially to support military families into the workplace, has multiplied in recent years, putting spousal employment firmly on the agenda. We showcase some of them on pages 18 to 19. An overseas posting can often result in your career being interrupted, but there are ways to keep up your professional development and training requirements, as we find out on pages 26-27. For non-UK families, just proving the right to work can be a challenge in itself. The world of work... your rights on page 23 runs through the rules and regulations. Away from employment, meet Max Survival, a nine-year-old vlogger who’s got a lot to teach us about nature on page 45, and the heart-warming story of a young man who found focus with the

local cadets following the loss of his mum, page 41. We hear from two families who have decided to settle outside of the UK, adding a little extra complication as they transition to civvy street (page 28), and as the new repairs and maintenance contract for army quarters kicks in, we meet some of the people you’re likely to come across (pages 30-31). Don’t miss your chance to win a beachside seaside break in Brighton in our giveaways on page 47. Good luck! LISA YOUD, EDITOR

CONTRIBUTIONS If you’ve got a story to tell about army life, then let us know – email editor@aff.org.uk

any time by emailing unsubscribe@aff.org.uk or visiting armyandyou.co.uk, where you’ll find our privacy policy and T&Cs

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PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission

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AFF Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered

WALES wales@aff.org.uk NORTH north@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST southwest@aff.org.uk SOUTH contact@aff.org.uk CENTRAL contact@aff.org.uk

OVERSEAS CANADA canada@aff.org.uk CYPRUS cyprus@aff.org.uk EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT ejsu@aff.org.uk REST OF THE WORLD overseassupport@aff.org.uk

SPECIALISTS EDUCATION & CHILDCARE educationsupport@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING✪ employment@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcsupport@aff.org.uk HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ healthsupport@aff.org.uk HOUSING housingsupport@aff.org.uk MONEY & ALLOWANCES✪ moneysupport@aff.org.uk

in Scotland with registered charity number SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 14 August 2022. ADVERTISEMENTS Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 / Web: ayads.co.uk

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summer 2022 Army&You 03

Posts generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

The job lot

SCOTLAND scotland@aff.org.uk

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An education that lets you discover the courage and freedom to learn Whole School Open day Saturday 17 September 2022 Register at: www.lvs.ascot.sch.uk/admissions/open-days Discounts available to Armed Forces and Diplomatic families


follow us on Don't forget to agram and Facebook, Inst d more news an Twitter for lots ree th tails on page features – de

SUMMER 2022

CONTENTS INSIGHT

23 World Of Work... Your Rights Exploring employment for non-UK families 25 Breaking Through Barriers The difficulties faced by disabled job seekers 34 Preparing For Tomorrow Pension planning guidance for forces families 35 Cash For Childcare? A lowdown on potential sources of funding 41 Finding Your Stride How the Army Cadet Force can provide a positive focus 42 A Postcard From... What's life like for families in Ottawa, Canada?

FEATURES

14 Careering On Why supporting your soldier need not stall your career 19 Cutting It In Business Meet the spouse styling her own job opportunities 20 You're Hired! We reveal the truth about apprenticeships 26 Overseas Openings How to make the most of time spent abroad 28 Out Of Service What's it like heading to civvy street overseas? 30 Who's Who Of Housing An introduction to the new faces on the block

REGULARS

06 AFF Needs You A chance to share your news and views 09 A Word From... AFF Chief Executive Collette Musgrave 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 46 Book Club Young readers enjoy some trainspotting 47 Giveaways Brighton rocks: Win a seaside hotel break 48 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life

ON THE COVER

A lesson in the impact supporting your soldier can have on your career – teacher Caroline Rimmer shares her family's story (page 14).

CAREERING ON

or When your partner it can spouse is serving job feel as if your own take a aspirations have to g back seat. But supportin your soldier’s career have to you shouldn’t mean your own, wave goodbye to

apply for more have a chance to senior roles.” & Training AFF Employment says: Specialist Lucy Ritchie more junior “Having to take a and can make post is frustrating as if your you feel devalued, was for hard work and training

“At short notice my husband can be deployed away for long periods so having an employer who completely understands and is open and flexible is utterly invaluable.”

Policy responsibilities. AFF’s Michelle & Research Director is a complex Alston adds: “This raised with area which AFF has time, leading the MOD for some being to some interim guidance continue to published but we to ensure push for clear FAQs informed families can make decisions.”

FEATURE

Anna Culver

Limited options

an option in all Although it isn’t boom in homeprofessions, the beneficial for working has been an many. Emma Slade-Jones, working in the RAF veteran now says: “I work education sector, in a job remotely from home me when that can move with It gives my husband is posted. the one employer, with me continuity with development.” opportunity for career faced awkward Emma previously interviews with employers questions at job of an understanding who didn’t have asked says: “I have been military life. She history, why I have about my employment to and when I’m likely moved so often need sometimes felt the move again. I’ve

nothing.” in the This issue was highlighted Strategy Armed Forces Families not the which stated: “While are non-serving case for all, there who do partners and spouses maintaining experience difficulties with their loves her job as AROLINE Rimmer a career commensurate spent more experience.” a teacher but hasn’t skills and level of since school one report in Shoes than 18 months The Living in our has asked the She says: “The nomadic on military families getting married. my work and the consider the need single services to life has really impacted two years. new jobs is exhausting. for postings every process of finding with and who I started out I look at friends I’m career progression. Bridging the gap feel jealous of their to for long enough Maintaining just never anywhere a career can this is tutoring online so become even more teachers who are family Caroline Rimmer and complicated in something I will consider.” where your Esther Thomas is another country AFF’s Manager Overseas not be number of questions qualifications may receiving an increasing Culver employment whilst recognised. Anna from spouses about are trying hopes to She says: “They is a teacher who posted overseas. up when and cons of giving continue working to weigh up the pros to years.” posted is two-three for her husband their jobs in the UK a “I will work remotely for the USA. She says: If you’re hoping to to teaching overseas you’ll need investigate supply UK company whilst gaining a implications, regulations but I understand research the tax a lengthy and your UK employer’s work visa can be in the host nation many process. I know of

Jill Misson reports…

C

spouses, recruiting military employers about they support them once and about how to are on the payroll. direct DRM says: “As a Nat Haynes from with employers, we result of our engagement being set up – from have seen programmes schemes to specific guaranteed interview programmes. military spouse recruitment by and is being adopted This is so promising more and more companies.” Recognition The Defence Employer the UK’s most Scheme (ERS) rewards starting at Bronze supportive employers, pledging to be supportive for those who are the Silver and Gold where and going up to

military spouses. RFEA, The Forces Lee Johnston from explains: “Some Employment Charity, that genuinely feeling people come to us over. their careers are whatever steps “We take them through their goals with a they need to achieve services, from career range of support sets, to job recognising skill diagnostics and interview preparation, searches, CV reviews, to and signposting self-esteem building

to be dishonest.” has Jobs, which now Forces Families registered job seekers, more than 11,500 and partners with wellbeing support.” connects spouses to live apart in signed the Armed Many of you choose employers who have in your stability of living demanding. Administrator Sarah exchange for the criteria get more Forces Covenant. with the site Sykes was able to having to move schools. own home and not Retail recruiter Romy Johnson says: “Registering d postings don’t with a Silver awardemployers to promote However, unaccompanie continue her career is a great way for to find a job. B&Q when her husband and showcase their always allow you winning company their organisation of really alone with two community. Many says: “They were “I have always been was posted. She commitment to our flexible helped offering of week, more during value of my situation and children during the them recognise the to understanding to a role they had a spouse or partner can’t rely on my husband deployment, so I match my experience working and enabling to do who had move, grateful to be able them when they says Camille Allen, with really I’m work assistance,” their for available. take as the sensitive in the care sector role.” company who are to give up a career a job I love for a or transfer to another with weren’t compatible unsociable hours to our lifestyle.” ding Fujitsu employs Anna solo parenting. Gold award holder Employer understan a me on zero-hours Management has integration engineer. She adds: “It left Stone as a principal Defence Relationship to balancing I was over-qualified managers who speak contracts doing jobs She says: “It is challenging network of account progression.” Camille and a full-time career. for and no career military family life an husband can be as a singing teacher decided to retrain “At short notice my having so Razzamataz for only long periods now works term-time deployed away for of belonging because completely understands have a real sense an employer who as invaluable. “I role where I’m treated flexible is utterly and permanent open a is it’s and just a much more than capable and reliable.” Employment is so of belonging, a support job, it gives a sense all a ts times and most of Army adjustmen ways to fit yo network in stressful you find Although many of feeling of achievement.” soldier’s job, policies your around career which could track Getting back on to a lack of self- have now been developed future. Flexible Service can lead make it easier in Being out of work can You loss of identity. confidence and a summer 2022 Army&Y

“I have been asked ent about my employm history, why I have moved so often and move when I’m likely to es again. I’ve sometim felt the need to be dishonest.”

@ArmyandYou

com Picture: rawpixel.com/freepik.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

2022 14 Army&You summer

ensure the quality maintained. YOUR HOME

THE NEW WHO’S WHO IN HOUSING? for e and repairs contracts now HE new maintenanc (SFA) are Accommodation Service Families have already noticed bedding in. You might here, we look at a few changes and across… some significant you’re likely to come of the key roles that

T

team Home Services in Liverpool, Under the National Based at the NSC Management team Accommodation the Home Services contract, run navigate the Services (NAMS) works with you to have a single including by Pinnacle, you allocations process, – the National point of contact booking your move-in/move with the Service Centre (NSC). out appointment to log any This is your place Officer, as well as Housing repairs The e1132 any queries, request permission requests. Your in place, but and access information. system is already on passed be team may enquiry will then the Home Services following, to work to any one of the contact you directly you need. what on depending through any challenges. Housing Officers Officers Pinnacle’s Housing UK. The operate across the move in, team helps you to you with move out and support They’ll any queries or issues. at some local also be available mornings, events and coffee to visit if you as well as coming need extra support.

Repairs team the Repairs You can contact

Regional Managers are supported Housing Officers Managers – by four Regional East and North, Central, South South West. of support They are a point and escalation, driving and continuous improvement with other areas closely working to ensure consistency.

30 Army&You

“We strive to deliver excellent service and centre put families at the of everything we do, focussing on enhancing the lived experience.” – Ed Rigby, Pinnacle for Regional Manager South East

24/7 to log team at the NSC passed to repairs, which are VIVO DIO's delivery partners also be able or Amey. You will request to complete a repair when online through HomeHub year. it launches later this and Additional Needs Disability Adaptations (ANDA) Manager Pinnacle has a dedicated prioritise ANDA Manager to and disability additional needs work closely adaptations. They Therapists with Occupational to or medical practitioners requirements – understand your page 32. find out more on Customer Solutions NSC, a team Working from the Advisors of Customer Solution handles your complaints. Solution Pinnacle’s Customer them, and Managers review relevant then work with the or families teams, companies, a better themselves to get the issue. of g understandin to resolve They will then help and it, feeding back issues the central lessons learnt to continue teams, so they can

The four Regional Maintenance Accommodation contracts Services (RAMS) and maintain homes If you’re in community spaces. South West, the South East or VIVO, and you’re covered by regions the North and Central are serviced by Amey. Operatives have fully Both VIVO and Amey Operatives trained and qualified to keep to do the works required properly. homes safe and running plenty of time They should have job is done to a to make sure the happy with. standard that you’re ask you At the visits, Operatives jobs you if there are any other will complete need to raise and if they have the additional works to do so. skills, tools and time survey A customer satisfaction following any will be sent to you to ensure works carried out, and all feedback is captured be taken on improvements can board. The VIVO team… Works Supervisors are VIVO Works Supervisors the responsible for managing conducting delivery Operatives, postsite visits, undertaking scheduling works inspections, are more works where they present complex, and are

Skilled Chris Tyrell, Multi Operative, VIVO

of

The Amey team… Estate Custodians Amey’s Estate Custo gro undertake basic s maintenance, and r Operatives where including attending to make sure home p They also help to a properties, such is the outside area you move-in and

up Amy Phillips heads Amey’s CCEO team

final confirmation l and ready to be look after empty too, and also do maintenance to k streets looking n

Customer and Engagement O Amey’s CCEOs relationships w contractors and Members the VIVO

throughout the move-in oversee any process. They also and handle complaints raised completion to these through to resolved. ensure they are fully Delivery Managers of day-to-day The management by Delivery activities is done everything Managers to ensure

team

to maintain is running smoothly provide property assets and and grounds repairs, servicing, to all SFA. maintenance services Area Managers oversee The Area Managers management all aspects of the rs of VIVO’s sub-contracto teams to and direct delivery

your experienc military commu gather your vie

Amey to ensu matter are add

l Your first p always be th Service Cen 8628 (+44 1 overseas), o

pinnacleser

NG AW NO MORE WALKI

important “One of the most is to aspects of the role they support families when out of are moving in and often a their home as it’s I very challenging time. to like supporting families as smooth make the process as possible.” – Sophie Stockdale, Housing Officer, Pinnacle has to improve. Pinnacle Managers Customer Solution that they can in each region so work closely with Amey.

VIVO and

on to have two quarters you t point. In the old days, 14 days to enable be a good starting in used to offer a guaranteed out of one and move some companies would offer to pay impac being financially move-out clean and as a result of poor your that you speak to for any charges arising if ha might be worth asking any entitlement you cleanliness, so it to do this. accommodation. they would be prepared less lo is always easier and If you’re moving a An empty house scratch? book your possible, if a pr clean, so out appointment may need to use time consuming to At your pre-move the for a few days su Officer will go round house, so do make your move-out appointment Pinnacle Housing exactly You’re allowed know left. you have any let and you trust. Discuss after your removals house with you movesh done to meet the 14-day report and what needs to be any be in terms of repairing you go – they will out standard, both th off the property at damage and for cleanliness. or hire clean it yourself, and you don’t want You can choose to If you decide to bring The Pinnacle web an external cleaner. make sure that they pinnacleservicefam in the professionals, standards and agree issues, email housin read the move-out is – a company which to meet them in full s y cleans would experienced in end-of-tenanc

the the option to use There’s no longer out scheme when moving official walkaway ensuring responsibility for of your home. The is down move-out standard your quarter is at to you ensure it’s up to you, so how can

www.armyandyou.co.uk

@ArmyandYou

summer 2022

ion SURVIVING TO THE MA YoungGenerat YOUNGE FOR THE

F

ER R MEMB

FA M I L Y R ARMY S OF YOU

exit Postings beyond Br

post-Brexit, OR SOME locations challenging for it’s become more classed as army family members adults who are NEETS – young education or not in full-time employment, Europe when and work in training – to live parents. accompanying their Manager Overseas, AFF’s Thomas, Esther tightly is that families are explains: “The issue to ‘dependancy’ regulated with regards linked with status as this is fundamentally to accompany, immigration, eligibility and the right to work entitlements to services in another country.” policy only recognising With current MOD 18-24 in full-time young people aged dependants, families education as full seek to had have always posted overseas with to take their NEETS prior permission year, are taking a gap them, unless they of or mentally incapable or are physically

for your it actually means understand what an overseas tour.” family before accepting

OF IT MAKING THE MOST is making the most In the meantime Martha After starting of her overseas experiences. in the UK, she decided a language degree returned to her parents’ it wasn’t for her and focus, Looking for a new home in Cyprus. as a fitness instructor she decided to qualify completing her course and personal trainer, in this location family Martha – Catalyst online. Fortunately, apply Fitness Cyprus or limited status may members with full must jobs on camp but for UK Dependant of Cyprus if wanting Republic the register with Sovereign Base Areas. to work outside the the set up her own business don’t always have On qualifying she their first jobs and .” business licence. and now has a local funds to live independently entitlement, we’re delighted of housing Esther adds: “Whilst For Terri this lack are young adults their for of command that some chains along with restrictions plus some other degree of flex in demonstrating a to get jobs or volunteer, not applications for resulted in the family continuing to consider family dynamics, families overseas, the overseas posting. NEETS to accompany actually taking up to push for improved AFF will continue supporting themselves. of Brexit. Families comms on the impact KNOWING THE RULES to is and what’s who was posted understand what In contrast, Justin, NO GO so need to fully have had all family members “It wasn’t a preference, few families who not available to enable Belgium, told AFF: Esther spoke to a given but were willing to of an overseas posting.” a surprise. I hadn’t to make the most it came as a bit of to make tough decisions, of EU for updates. to help others. the possible impact l Head to aff.org.uk much thought to share their experiences when it became circumstances.” exit on our family Terri contacted AFF would had lived with them two eldest children Melissa, Corbin His two eldest children apparent that her and Jensen on a the UK, so their intention the family’s overseas in their quarter in recent day trip to not be counted in army in Belgium, but they She feels that the Dinant, Belgium was for this to continue housing entitlement. by current climate, were not covered the they “In that outdated: soon realised policy is and out; they of Forces Agreement not able to move the NATO Status young adults are right had no automatic school, are starting in a post-Brexit world, have only just finished There is no right to work. of residency and visa process to allow Terri and her family currently no alternative To work legally either. them to reside or 21, of Justin’s sons, aged overcome this, one course online university has enrolled for an a full-time education which puts him into move at 26, has had to bracket. Their eldest, due grandma live with his back to the UK to visit mean he could only to restrictions which period. for 90 days in a 180-day by are no longer covered Justin says: “We it’s a must to those EU-wide agreements,

fam from other military da When I’ve gone into it his friends said ‘wow,

M

EET Max – nine years old, army kid, adventurer and vlogger. When he Max was just six, he started all things Survival, a blog about shares on outdoors which he by mum social media, vetted and dad of course. pandemic hit, the the When and the vlog picked up pace it as a tool family enjoyed using during their for home schooling He’s often posting to Wales. brother, joined by his elder has lots of Wild Will, who also nature. We knowledge about now living caught up with Max, out more… in Scotland, to find

and your Tell us about yourself army family… and I was born in Yorkshire Brecon, have lived in Mansfield, I like Chepstow, and Edinburgh. going Warhammer, taekwondo, swimming outdoors, canyoning, for yummy in rivers and foraging nettles! like food free vlogging? Why did you start me to get Bear Grylls inspired for wild outdoors, go foraging tips on food and share my surviving in the wild. you to Do you think it helped first moved settle in when you to Scotland? to more I was excited to go

Survival!’ In Chepstow, I wa already knew who as I got there because which seen my videos, easier to make friends g People have been outside to the places think to because they go is really cool and

to explore it themselv

What do your friend They think it’s epic.

Have your teachers g Yes, they think it’s I’m getting outside actually quite impre a how much I know wilderness.

What are your pla future? I hope I can go to rainforest and lea

where there’s remote countries, In Scotland more wilderness. When I there’s lots to explore. lots of moved here we found forage. new wild food to

in my garden sponsored camp sold sunflower in lockdown. We raised £300 seeds recently and people. I’m for Ukraine to help followers for thankful to all my money. helping me raise

learn so you had Your followers must What feedback have videos, you much from your must do lots of research… useful tips Yes, Bear Grylls has Backshall has on survival. Steve about animals interesting facts globe. I hope from all over the get to meet one that I eventually I’m a huge fan of them because all the and I want to squeeze them. juicy facts out of

amazing wildlife. can spread what the world. I hope a job for when I’m

an actual surviva animals in South

Follow Max at @ on Instagram, F and YouTube.

things for You’ve done some do you think charity too – why that’s important? I raised It’s good for the world. protect four enough money to by doing a acres of rainforest

2022 44 Army&You summer

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summer 2022 Army&You 05

summ


Picture: tirachardz/freepik.com

HOME SPACES With working from home the new normal for many roles, AFF would like to hear about what options would help you work best from your quarter, such as: partitioned spaces; better broadband; more community working hubs. Watch out for our quick poll on social media @armyfamiliesfederation

AFF needs you!

Here's where you can share your views and experiences of military life. We use this evidence to get things changed for all army families, wherever you are in the world… Holiday cover We know childcare is key to maintaining employment and that covering the school holidays can be difficult – check out our mini survey about how you manage school holiday childcare – coming soon at facebook.com/ armyfamiliesfederation

Many of you will be posted this summer and with the new housing repairs and maintenance contracts bedding in, we’re keen to hear about your move-in/moveout experiences. Did your move-out go smoothly? Did you find your new quarter up to standard? Did any issues get resolved quickly and satisfactorily? Email housingsupport@aff.org.uk putting MIMO in the subject line. Not sure what the standards are? Go to pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk

NEAT & TIDY?

ik.com m/freep Vectoriu Picture:

FINANCIAL RESEARCH AFF is working with the Forces in Mind Trust and The RAND Corporation to better understand the potential issues service families may face building financial resilience. We want to know more about how being an army family might uniquely affect you. Keep an eye on AFF’s social media to take part in this important research, which is going on throughout the rest of this year – @armyfamiliesfederation

Universally accepted You’ll see on page 10 of this edition that AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist, Claire Hallam has made some inroads with the Department for Work & Pensions to ensure that families overseas can claim Universal Credit. This is after some of you had contacted AFF to tell us that your claim had been refused because of not having a UK address. We hope that the new process will run smoothly, and we’re keen to monitor its progress, so do feedback any issues with UC or any other benefits that you’re claiming from overseas to moneysupport@aff.org.uk Overseas obstacles AFF would like to hear more about how an overseas posting affects spousal employment. We’ll be asking about how those of you who are professionally qualified maintain your career whilst overseas (more on pages 26-27), as well as understanding about whether you decided not to accompany your serving partner overseas due to your career. We’ll be asking some questions on our social media soon – @armyfamiliesfederation

Picture: d3images/freepik.com

Have you moved to or from Scotland in the last three years? Were you on a post-16 further education course? Did you have any problems transferring the course due to different funding rules in different countries? We’ve been asking these questions on AFF’s social media recently. It’s not too late to let us know your experiences – employment@aff.org.uk

TEACH

US!

Photo Mix from Pixabay

@ArmyandYou


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‘WE’RE WORKING HARD SO THAT YOU CAN TOO’ A WORD FROM... AFF CHIEF EXECUTIVE COLLETTE MUSGRAVE

W

E’VE been hearing for a long time about the employment challenges that army spouses and partners face. We’re all familiar with frequent moves and the choices that we need to make; do I try to change jobs, or work out how to keep this one going, or take the opportunity to do some training? You may have had to apply for jobs at a lower level than the one you had previously, or change your career entirely. In fact, AFF research conducted by the University of Warwick in 2018 highlighted that 70 per cent of military partners interviewed had changed career path. It also suggested that many non-serving partners of service personnel are ‘underemployed’, and recommended the creation of a central portal for employment and training opportunities for military spouses and family members – this became Forces Families Jobs (FFJ), launched in 2019.

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Picture: Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Bridging the gap

FFJ is a platform that bridges the gap between spouses, partners and family members, and employers who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant. ​ It also provides access to training courses and helps us to educate the employer community about what army spouses can offer and the difficulties they face. One of those difficulties is working remotely overseas for a UK-based firm. It would be easy to think this was as simple as packing your laptop, but it’s not always straightforward, particularly if your employer does not already employ people based outside of the UK. There are many things to navigate, including tax residency rules, rights to work, and employer liabilities as well as local business rates and permissions to work from home. Each host nation has different agreements with the MOD, many of which were written in the 1950s with

no expectation of spousal employment, let alone remote working. Brexit has exacerbated these issues as, with tighter regulations now in force, you may need a visa or permit to work in EU countries. We are working closely with the chain of command and the MOD to push for more clarity in this area.

“We have recently Increased support created some new Here at AFF we have recently roles ourselves, to created some new roles increase the support ourselves, to increase the support we provide to you, we provide to wherever you live in the families, wherever UK or overseas. We now they live in the UK have a Money & Allowances Assistant and third Foreign or overseas.”

& Commonwealth Assistant to support our specialists in these areas. We’ll also be growing our Enquiries Team to provide you with more opportunities to connect with us. If you’re on the move this summer, FFJ has thousands of live jobs available for you to view and apply for – forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk. & summer 2022 Army&You 09


Picture: nakaridore/freepik.com

Picture: Pixabay

AFF IN ACTION

#GoodToKnow

CHEAPER COMPASSIONATE FARES We have recently discovered that some airlines offer bereavement fares for families overseas travelling for compassionate reasons which fall outside the criteria of the Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC). AFF’s Regional Lead Canada booked with Westjet to return to the UK for her grandmother’s funeral. She said: “I rang the airline to see if there was a bit of wriggle room on prices, which typically climbed on the days I needed. “When they knew my reasons for the flight, they told me about bereavement fares. They can reduce the cost on everything except taxes and you just have to book within ten days of the funeral. I used the search bar on their webpage and they came up immediately as bereavement or compassionate flights, so they are open to all.” #AFFwin

CREDIT WIN Several families contacted AFF at the end of 2020 as they were having difficulties claiming Universal Credit (UC) when posted overseas, as there was no way of inputting a BFPO address into the system. This resulted in some claims being stopped and in one case, a family being told they would need to repay £2,000. Whilst we were able to help individual cases get resolution, AFF recognised that longer term guidance was needed to prevent families having issues. Our Money & Allowances Specialist, Claire Hallam, took this up with the Armed Forces Covenant team, the MOD Families Team and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). As a short-term solution, a DIN has been issued which explains the process and gives a set postcode to use so that all claims are routed to a single Jobcentre. The next step will be for DWP to update its system to recognise BFPO addresses and for guidance to be added to UC forms.

10 Army&You summer 2022

#AFFteamwork

NEW CONNECTIONS AFF’s Regional Lead Wales & Borders, Sadie Baldwin, was invited to give a presentation about our work at the Nepalese welcome brief for families at the Infantry Battle School. It was a chance for new Gurkha families in Brecon to meet others already enjoying their posting, and also allowed them to learn more about what the unit and the area has to offer. Sadie said: “We chatted about the similarities and differences that Brecon had to Nepal and families asked about NHS dentists’ waiting lists, schooling and help with accessing additional needs assessments.” #OnTheCase

HEALTH IN FOCUS AFF’s Regional Lead North Kirsty Street popped along to the consultation event for the new Catterick Integrated Care Centre to view the plans. They include include an out-ofhours service and community dentist, as well as doctors and military health provision. She fed back the issues faced by army families and suggested that a central welfare hub be included so that all families can meet others in the garrison.

#GoodToKnow

CERTIFICATES MADE CLEAR AFF’s Overseas team has been talking to the Service Police Crime Bureau about Certificates of Good Conduct (CGC) for families who have been posted overseas. A CGC is a police and criminal check – you may need one if you’ve lived overseas for six months or more, especially if you’re planning on working with children or vulnerable people. It’s required in addition to a DBS check. The bureau has provided certificates as far back as 2006, and families are encouraged to make use of this free service. The process is simple, but can take up to 40 days. Details of how to apply can be found on the job hunting page at aff.org.uk The vetting team said: “Although it is a good idea to get this done before an employer requests it, it’s probably best to wait until you have arrived back in the UK. “If you apply before you have left your overseas posting, the certificate will only cover you for the period up to the date we complete the checks.” @ArmyandYou


#AFFteamwork

#AFFwin

TEAMWORK TRIUMPH

SMOOTHER SEPARATION

Two families who contacted AFF’s Enquiries Team recently had their housing issues resolved thanks to our teamwork on the ground. One family had their cooker condemned and, as they had complex dietary needs, using a microwave was not an option. AFF’s Regional Lead South West, Carol Morris, took up the case and got in touch with a housing contact, and a new oven was installed within 24 hours. Another family, who had health concerns, had been without proper bathing facilities for over a month, so she contacted the Military Housing Liaison Officer. Again within 24 hours, the shower was fixed.

Following AFF’s work with the chain of command, policy changes have been made which affect separating couples. When couples decide to separate and the service person tells their unit, both parties should now be offered an interview with welfare staff or the chain of command. A record of the interview should be signed by both parties before the personal status category (PStat Cat) can be changed. Previously, we were aware of instances where spouses and partners only heard about the change, and their loss of entitlement to Service Family Accommodation (SFA), when they were served with their 93-day notice to vacate (NTV). In addition, if the serving person is moving to a PStat Cat2 with full custody of children, they can now apply for another quarter in the area and will only pay for one SFA during the NTV period. #AFFwin

Picture: Karolina Grabowska for Pexels

COMPENSATION CLAIM Following advice from AFF, a family in the US successfully challenged a UK high street bank on its poor service and understanding of the fact that post had to go via the BFPO system. They had been having issues getting the bank to send post to a BFPO address so we advised putting in a formal complaint with reference to the Armed Forces Covenant. One of the family members told us: “I received a long apology email and compensation. I used the Armed Forces Covenant pledge they had made ‘not to disadvantage those serving overseas’ in my summary and told them I was disadvantaged by their poor service.”

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DOWNLOAD

NEWSY SNIPPETS ABOUT ARMY FAMILY LIFE

PHOTO FAVES While producing this edition of Army&You, we came across these fab photos from our military community… ‘This is what Gus thinks about getting his pic taken’ – @HorseBackUK, Twitter

12 Army&You summer 2022

‘That first embrace when they get home is honestly one of the best feelings ever! There’s also nothing better than seeing your children reunited with their hero and I’m pretty sure I cry every time’ – @londonlifetoarmywife, Instagram

‘I’m exceptionally happy to welcome our little human into the world & be her dad’ – @eamhale (Australian Army), Twitter Send your pic to A&Y – editor@aff.org.uk or PM on social media @armyandyou

@ArmyandYou


TIME TO THRIVE A free, interactive online platform to help schools boost their support for service children is now live! Underpinned by research and tested in schools, the Thriving Lives Toolkit, created by the Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance, is a framework of seven principles to assess, develop and implement a support structure to best allow service children to thrive. Schools can register at thrivinglives.scipalliance.org/signup

UNIVERSITY LIFE Picture: Liza Summer for Pexels

After launching The Funny Side column with @mynamessarah3 in our last edition, we asked you on social media about the strangest things that have happened to you when moving… l The removals company packing our car keys, including the spares, so when we went to the leave the empty house, we couldn’t get in the car! – Bernadette l I found a beefburger under the grill when we moved into Omagh. When I mentioned it to the estate officer marching us in he replied “lunch, don’t tell everyone”. Needless to say it was all downhill from there. – Susan l Snakes in the bedroom in Brunei! – Anne l My very first army quarter had mushrooms growing down the walls in the bedroom and when I questioned it, I was told it was either that or a quarter with no carpets, we settled for the mushrooms. – Trudy l When I moved into a house in Woodbridge, instead of the cooker being cleaned, someone had painted the hob white instead. – Ange l Arriving at new posting and realising I still had the welfare house keys in my pocket. I posted them back and realised I had also posted my own car keys. Oops! – Wendy l I once found 50 quid in £5 notes on top of a high cistern in a bathroom in a quarter in Northern Ireland. – Nikki l There was half a homemade chicken Balti on my kitchen blind at the last quarter. – Fern Follow A&Y on Instagram and Twitter @ArmyandYou or facebook.com/armyandyou

Picture: Yan Krukov for Pexels

THE FUNNY SIDE OF MOVING

Students applying for 2023 entry to higher education will be able to declare if they are from an armed forces family. The question has been included to help universities and colleges recognise and support service students. It’s not compulsory to enter this information, but the aim is to better understand your experiences. Head to ucas.com

THE NEW CEAS

ADDRESS REMINDER

In case you haven’t heard, Defence Children Services have made changes to the Children’s Education Advisory Service, splitting it into two separate teams. l The UK Education Advisory Team (UK EAT) deals with all UK-based educational queries including retention of Service Family Accommodation and admissions and appeals. RC-DCS-HQ-EAT@mod.gov.uk l The Overseas Education and Supportability (OES) Team advises on overseas education, coordinates the educational element of the MOD Assessment of Supporting Overseas (MASO) process, and issues educational clearance. This team also acts as the subject matter expert for SEND overseas, runs the Service Children’s Assessment of Need (SCAN) process and advises SENCos in MOD schools. RC-DCS-HQ-OES@mod.gov.uk

It’s essential that all online retailers or private senders who are posting items from the UK to overseas put a return to sender address on the parcel. This way, even if they are not compliant with the international regulations, BFPO can try to return the item to the sender – if not they just get discarded! More at gov.uk/bfpo

LOOKING FOR A JOB?

SMART MOVE

VISA FEE CHANGE

Join The Virtual Career Expo, which is running online until December, connecting the armed forces community with real vacancies. You can link up with lots of employers who are signed up to Forces Families Jobs, meaning they understand the unique challenges of military family life. Look out for a live date this September too, where you can hear from a number of speakers and visit manned virtual stands. Register at armedforcescareersexpo.co.uk

The Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre now has a virtual contact card. Your soldier can download the JCCC emergency contact details to their smartphone, add their service number and share the contact card with their families and loved ones should they need to call in an emergency. Go to gov.uk for more info.

Non-UK soldiers who are leaving the army with at least six years’ service no longer have to pay a settlement fee to stay in the UK. The waiver, introduced in April 2022, also applies to non-UK soldiers who are medically discharging with a condition attributable to service, regardless of time served. More at bit.ly/Visa_Fees

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 13


FEATURE

CAREERING ON

When your partner or spouse is serving it can feel as if your own job aspirations have to take a back seat. But supporting your soldier’s career shouldn’t mean you have to wave goodbye to your own, Jill Misson reports…

C

AROLINE Rimmer loves her job as a teacher but hasn’t spent more than 18 months in one school since getting married. She says: “The nomadic life has really impacted my work and the process of finding new jobs is exhausting. I look at friends who I started out with and feel jealous of their career progression. I’m just never anywhere for long enough to

have a chance to apply for more senior roles.” AFF Employment & Training Specialist Lucy Ritchie says: “Having to take a more junior post is frustrating and can make you feel devalued, as if your hard work and training was for nothing.” This issue was highlighted in the Armed Forces Families Strategy which stated: “While not the case for all, there are non-serving partners and spouses who do experience difficulties maintaining a career commensurate with their skills and level of experience.” The Living in our Shoes report on military families has asked the single services to consider the need for postings every two years.

Anna Culver

Bridging the gap

Caroline Rimmer and family

Maintaining a career can become even more complicated in another country where your qualifications may not be recognised. Anna Culver is a teacher who hopes to continue working when her husband is posted to the USA. She says: “I will investigate supply teaching but I understand gaining a work visa can be a lengthy process. I know of many

teachers who are tutoring online so this is something I will consider.” AFF’s Manager Overseas Esther Thomas is receiving an increasing number of questions from spouses about employment whilst posted overseas. She says: “They are trying to weigh up the pros and cons of giving up their jobs in the UK for two-three years.” If you’re hoping to work remotely for a UK company whilst overseas you’ll need to research the tax implications, regulations in the host nation and your UK employer’s

Picture: rawpixel.com/freepik.com

14 Army&You summer 2022

@ArmyandYou


responsibilities. AFF’s Policy & Research Director Michelle Alston adds: “This is a complex area which AFF has raised with the MOD for some time, leading to some interim guidance being published but we continue to push for clear FAQs to ensure families can make informed decisions.”

Limited options

Although it isn’t an option in all professions, the boom in homeworking has been beneficial for many. Emma Slade-Jones, an RAF veteran now working in the education sector, says: “I work Anna Stone remotely from home in a job that can move with me when my husband is posted. It gives me continuity with one employer, with the to employers about recruiting military opportunity for career development.” spouses, and about how to support them Emma previously faced awkward once they are on the payroll. questions at job interviews with employers Nat Haynes from DRM says: “As a direct who didn’t have an understanding of result of our engagement with employers, military life. She says: “I have been asked we have seen programmes being set about my employment history, why I have up – from guaranteed interview schemes moved so often and when I’m likely to to specific military spouse recruitment move again. I’ve sometimes felt the need programmes. This is so promising and to be dishonest.” is being adopted by more and more Forces Families Jobs, which now has companies.” more than 11,500 registered job seekers, The Defence Employer Recognition connects spouses and partners with Scheme (ERS) rewards the UK’s most employers who have signed the Armed supportive employers, starting at Bronze Forces Covenant. Administrator Sarah for those who are pledging to be supportive Johnson says: “Registering with the site and going up to Silver and Gold where the is a great way for employers to promote criteria get more demanding. their organisation and showcase their Retail recruiter Romy Sykes was able commitment to our community. Many of to continue her career with Silver awardthem recognise the value of offering flexible winning company B&Q when her husband working and enabling a spouse or partner was posted. She says: “They were really to take their work with them when they understanding of my situation and helped move, or transfer to another role.” match my experience to a role they had available. I’m really grateful to be able to do Employer understanding a job I love for a company who are sensitive Defence Relationship Management has a to our lifestyle.” network of account managers who speak Gold award holder Fujitsu employs Anna Stone as a principal integration engineer. She says: “It is challenging balancing military family life and a full-time career. “At short notice my husband can be deployed away for long periods so having an employer who completely understands and is open and flexible is utterly invaluable. Employment is so much more than just a job, it gives a sense of belonging, a support network in stressful times and most of all a feeling of achievement.”

“I have been asked about my employment history, why I have moved so often and when I’m likely to move again. I’ve sometimes felt the need to be dishonest.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Getting back on track

Being out of work can lead to a lack of self-

“At short notice my husband can be deployed away for long periods so having an employer who completely understands and is open and flexible is utterly invaluable.” confidence and a loss of identity. You can log onto Forces Families Jobs to find out about opportunities for training including programmes specifically tailored towards military spouses. Lee Johnston from RFEA, The Forces Employment Charity, explains: “Some people come to us genuinely feeling that their careers are over. “We take them through whatever steps they need to achieve their goals with a range of support services, from career diagnostics and recognising skill sets, to job searches, CV reviews, interview preparation, self-esteem building and signposting to wellbeing support.” Many of you choose to live apart in exchange for the stability of living in your own home and not having to move schools. However, unaccompanied postings don’t always allow you to find a job. “I have always been alone with two children during the week, more during deployment, so I can’t rely on my husband for assistance,” says Camille Allen, who had to give up a career in the care sector as the unsociable hours weren’t compatible with solo parenting. She adds: “It left me on zero-hours contracts doing jobs I was over-qualified for and no career progression.” Camille decided to retrain as a singing teacher and now works term-time only for Razzamataz: “I have a real sense of belonging because it’s a permanent role where I’m treated as capable and reliable.”

Army adjustments

Although many of you find ways to fit your career around your soldier’s job, policies have now been developed which could summer 2022 Army&You 15


Open Day

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make it easier in future. Flexible Service allows service personnel to reduce the number of days a week they work and limit the type of separation they undertake. This also includes Flexible Working which allows a soldier, with the support of their chain of command, to adjust working practices such as agreeing variable start and finish times, or changing their working location. Defence is also in the process of piloting the wraparound childcare initiative to provide funding for up to 20 hours a week of breakfast and after-school clubs for eligible service children aged 4-11. “These initiatives should have a positive impact on morale,” says Major James Boggs from the Personnel Directorate. “It should empower service personnel to engage with the chain of command to discuss their personal situations to find the best ways to support both their own career and that of their spouse or civil partner.”

More to do

AFF welcomes the developments. Michelle

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Camille Allen

Alston says: “We are pleased that the issue of wraparound childcare has been recognised by the MOD but this does not address early years childcare when a spouse may be looking to return to work, nor the significant challenges of covering school holidays. The Living in our Shoes report also asked the MOD to consider how the variations in childcare costs at different locations could be addressed so that mobile families aren’t disadvantaged.” Lucy Ritchie adds: “Employers used to focus on veterans and service leavers with very little recognition for families who have a very different set of challenges. “This has changed dramatically over the last few years due to the work of various organisations and their engagement with employers. That’s not to say there isn’t work still to be done.” With more support available than ever before, now could be the time to revive your career. Go to forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk and take a look at our employment & training pages 18 to 19 for inspiration. &

summer 2022 Army&You 17


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

CONNECTING OUR COMMUNITY

H

AVE you checked out the new online members’ area at the Military Coworking Network (MCN) yet? It’s a fantastic, free resource library that will help you to create independent, professional lives alongside military life.

How does it work?

The new members’ area is packed with knowledge, opportunities and inspiration across three core themes and sub-themes that MCN’s research identified as top priorities for military spouses and partners: l Create a Future – business and career l Improve Wellbeing – healthy you; family matters and life planning l Meet & Connect – physical and virtual events. Once registered, you can

As well as the online resources, MCN has a number of hubs in the UK and overseas – a great place to work or study. You must be a spouse, partner or adult child of serving personnel - membership starts at just £20 a year.

search the library across themes, resource type or keywords, you’ll also find relevant links and downloads.

What do MCN members say?

“There is so much information, from articles on wellbeing to

how to engage with social media to best promote your business. There are lots of live events to get involved in as well as virtual talks and get togethers. It’s just what our community needed and I love it!” says Zoe Teal. “The MCN is a brilliant

community to be a part of. It’s a great place to meet new people. It has provided my business with opportunities that would not have been possible otherwise,” adds Stacie Wildney. Membership is free to all military spouses and partners of serving personnel, veterans and reservists. As well as having access to its exclusive members’ area, you also get: l free member events l discounts on paid training and events l free listing in MCN’s online business directory l opportunity to join the private Facebook group l latest updates from the network l lifelong membership. Need any more reasons to join? To find out more or sign up, go to militarycoworking.uk

TAP INTO LIQUID WORKFORCE BUILDING YOUR FUTURE Recruit for Spouses (RfS) is an you can balance with military award-winning social enterprise life, and career-enhancing which exists to identify the talent opportunities that add real value hidden within the UK’s military to businesses who recognise the communities and connect benefits of employing from the partners of serving military community. personnel with You don’t need any employers looking for experience, all you their unique skillsets. need is the right Its Liquid Workforce attitude. employment RfS can train you model supports and provide you with our community to the technology you overcome outdated need, and help you perceptions and helps “I now have my to find a permanent confidence, self- role, no matter where to get you back into belief, and my in the world you’re the workplace. “Our Liquid Workforce independence.” based. places high-quality Flexible working military spouses with trusted has allowed military spouse Kim clients. We train, onboard and (pictured) to have a career. She employ these candidates with adds: “I never thought it would a focus on personal values be an option until my children and brand voice,” says founder were teenagers. I now have my Heledd Kendrick. confidence, self-belief, and my Joining the Liquid Workforce is independence!” an opportunity for home-based flexible working for blue-chip l To find out more, visit companies. It provides work that recruitforspouses.co.uk

18 Army&You summer 2022

Construction isn’t just what you see on site, there are more than 180 different jobs that make up the built environment industry. If you think it might be a career for you, Building Heroes can set you on your way. Recently awarded a Queen’s Award for Enterprise, its courses run at various locations across the UK and are open to service families, as well as those leaving the forces, veterans and their families, and reservists. Ivan Holme, whose father recently left the Royal Engineers, is taking a fully funded multi-trade course, learning practical and theoretical skills in areas such as plumbing, carpentry, brickwork, plastering, painting and decorating, and tiling. He’s also

gaining onsite work experience and access to employment opportunities. “I think the course is fantastic as a taster of the construction industry to work out which trade I would like to progress in,” explains Ivan. “I like the fact that I can learn different trades whilst gaining a professional City & Guilds qualification.” Ivan was surprised by the array of pathways available. “There are a range of opportunities in trainee site/project management, traineeships in all the multi trades we are learning, selfemployment opportunities with Building Heroes Property Services, property maintenance roles, as well as logistics and Health and Safety.” l Sound good to you? Head to buildingheroes.org.uk

@ArmyandYou


KEEP CLIMBING YOUR CAREER LADDER ARE you ready to take the next step in your career? RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity can help you reach your goal. It has already seen around 700 spouses and partners through its programme, and now it’s expanding further. Delivered by a team of specialist families employment advisors, the service offers career diagnostics, help with job searches, CV reviews, interview preparation and technique, mentoring, confidence and self-esteem building, and wider advice including signposting to wellbeing support. Now, RFEA also provides help to those of you interested in tech and cyber careers through its TechVets programme, as well as offering new coaching sessions for free. Kirsty Thomas (pictured above left), whose husband Colin is serving, sought help from RFEA’s Families Programme. She says: “I lost my previous job as a temp owing to COVID and I simply didn’t know what I wanted to do. “I’m so grateful to my RFEA Families

Advisor. She gave me the confidence to try something new, which was to apply for a maternity cover position as a pre-school assistant – something that was completely out of my comfort zone. “She pointed out that the role would fit with my lifestyle and gave me the confidence to go for it, helping with my CV, application and interview technique. “This job has changed everything for me – my work/life balance is the best it’s ever been and has made me the happiest I’ve been in a long time.”

Families Programme Advisors are all partners of serving personnel, with first-hand understanding of the issues you face like frequent moves and a lack of social support and employment networks. Lee Johnston, RFEA Families Employment Advisor (pictured with husband Liam), explains: “The good news is that there is help available, and RFEA is there to support you with finding an opportunity that’s right for you. Everyone has skills and the key is recognising what they are and how they can be transferred to a role.” Lucy Ritchie, AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist adds: “The programme provides such an important source of support, and we receive great feedback about it. I’m not exaggerating when I say that for many members of this community, the support offered by the team is life-changing.” l Find out more at rfea.org.uk/families

CUTTING IT IN BUSINESS During the pandemic, the hair and beauty industry was hit hard, but this didn’t deter army spouse Danielle Corcoran. She optimised her time during lockdowns to write her business plan, arrange building work and create digital resources, ready to launch Marques Hair Salon in Lichfield in 2020 with help from X-Forces Enterprise (XFE). Danielle ran two successful salons with her mum in Sussex, until a huge life change in 2019. The family decided that the regular weekend commute between their home in Brighton, her husband’s posting in Colchester and his daughter in the Midlands had become unmanageable. “Something had to give if we were to have a

closer relationship with my stepdaughter, so we moved to be nearer. The thought of opening my own salon was still a dream, but then lockdown hit. I thought, what am I waiting for?”

Getting established

Danielle was granted a start-up loan for £5,000, facilitated by XFE, which she used towards re-fitting the premises. XFE allocated her a personal Business Advisor who closely supported her through planning and launch. “I was almost starting from scratch to establish my brand. There were sleepless nights worrying if the builders would complete on time, and bringing the website together, but it

was a great self-development opportunity. The first months of trading were hard, navigating restrictions, but XFE was really helpful, with monthly support to check in on me, and resources about different aspects of business ownership.” There’s no looking back now for Danielle as she manages a team of three and hopes to expand. “I love making people feel happy. When they leave the salon smiling, it puts a smile on my face.”

Got a business idea?

XFE supports service leavers, veterans, spouses, cadets and forces family members to start their own businesses with training, finance, networking

and mentoring. Head to x-forces.com


FORCES FAMILIES JOBS

You’re hired! The truth about apprenticeships

W

E'VE all heard of apprenticeships, but do you actually know what they are? There are many misconceptions, so Sarah Johnson of Forces Families Jobs is here to dispel a few myths… Myth 1: Apprenticeships are just for school leavers. Wrong – as long as you’re over 16, age is no barrier to becoming an apprentice. So if you are considering a new career but aren’t able to take time out of work to become a full-time student, an apprenticeship could be exactly what you’re looking for. This route offers you the chance to ‘learn while you earn’. Myth 2: Apprenticeships only offer a basic level of training. Incorrect – apprenticeships offer various levels of study up to master's degrees. This means that you work as a paid employee, whilst studying for a qualification which your employer is paying for. Ultimately, with an apprenticeship you can get a degree whilst continuing to earn and build up vital on-thejob experience. Myth 3: Apprentices attract low rates of pay. Whilst this can be true, it’s not always. We have employers registered with Forces Families Jobs who offer up to almost £15 per hour, which is more than the minimum wage. Also, once qualified, you’ll see your pay increase and, as an extra bonus, you won’t build up any student debt – amazing!

forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk

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l FFJ’s apprenticeships page has a selection of employers who are keen to offer roles, and the list is growing. Helen Hobson is the Apprenticeship Manager for Amazon, and she’s also a military spouse. We asked her about the company’s programme…

warehouse team leaders and much more.

What levels of study does Amazon offer? We offer more than 40 different schemes such as engineering, broadcast production,

What is it about recruiting apprentices that appeals to a business like Amazon? Apprenticeships allow us to grow and develop skills required for the growth of our business, and hire a diverse workforce with a passion for learning and development who will grow into our future leaders.

What kind of salary could I receive? The roles pay a minimum of £10 or £11.10 per hour depending on location, and up to £32,000 a year for degree-level apprenticeships.

How would Amazon be able to support me as a military spouse? You would be enrolled into the Military Spouse Affinity Group which is a network of military spouses working across Amazon in the EU. This group is there for networking and support but also represents military spouses. You would be invited to regular networking events, both in person and virtual. l Anna Dunkley is Talent Programme Manager at Hilton, which offers levels 2–5 apprenticeships in all areas of hospitality, including a management programme. Anna says: “Apprenticeships allow us to give current team members a better understanding of the hospitality industry, they gain confidence and it strengthens their skills whilst supporting individual career goals.” Across the UK, Hilton works with one of the leading hospitality training providers in the UK, so wherever you’re posted to, you can take advantage of mentoring support from peers and line managers.

“You learn lots about business, hospitality and developing yourself.” – Diyana Vasileva, breakfast manager at Hilton London Waldorf

l York St John University offers level 6 apprenticeships in management, project management, data science and bioscience, and a level 7 apprenticeship for senior leaders with the opportunity to top this up with a Master’s in Business Administration. “Starting salaries will vary from programme to programme and employer to employer,” says Business Development Manager Zoe Wilde. “You are guaranteed a job for at least the duration of the course but often this is just the start of a career progression route.” YSJ offers apprenticeships as a blend of online and face-to-face workshops (available from its York and London campuses). You are supported by academic and module tutors throughout the programme, in addition to a dedicated Work-based Learning Tutor, who will monitor your progress and provide tailored support. @ArmyandYou


DISCOVER the Royal Alexandra and Albert School, a state boarding school for boys and girls aged 7-18.

Situated in 260 acres of parkland near Reigate, Surrey, within 20 minutes from Gatwick Airport and 40 minutes from Heathrow Airport. With boarding from Year 3, children experience important continuity of education. Gatton Park, Reigate, Surrey RH2 0TD admissions@gatton-park.org.uk Tel: 01737 649000 @RAASchoolGatton www.raa-school.co.uk

Considering a UK Boarding School? We can help you

Anderson Education has a wealth of experience and up to date knowledge of UK boarding schools; we have visited over 350 UK boarding schools, can answer your questions and help you through the process. Our education service is unique, personal and FREE to Forces and FCDO families.

www.andersoneducation.co.uk Contact: diane@andersoneducation.co.uk +44 (0)7442 222 075

Leading UK Boarding School Specialist SINCE 1999

Great stories begin here ‘Boarding lies at the heart of this Somerset School’ - Tatler Schools Guide

BOOK YOUR SCHOOL VISIT TODAY #Gre a t St o r ies B eg inH ere

Co-Educational Boarding Prep School Outstanding Extra-Curricular Activities Forces Discount

01963 442 606 | www.hazlegrove.co.uk admissions@hazlegrove.co.uk | Sparkford, Somerset, BA22 7JA

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 21


POSITIVITY | PRIDE | NURTURE | INTEGRITY | EXCELLENCE

Queen Victoria School Dunblane, Scotland Aiming to provide a unique, thriving boarding and educational community in which all pupils and staff work to support and respect one another in realising their full potential

Set in 45 acres of countryside, our co-educational boarding school supports the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are either Scottish, have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The main entry point is Primary 7, which is broadly equivalent to Year 6 in England. Places are fully funded by the MOD, with a parental charge for some aspects of boarding life. Open Morning is the 3rd Saturday in September and applications for admission to QVS close on the 15th January each year. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 or email qvs.admissions@modschools.org www.qvs.school

TRUST | INDEPENDENCE | RESPONSIBILITY | RESPECT | EQUALITY Creative Media Design ADR007786


F&C

Picture: macrovector/freepik.com

THE WORLD OF WORK

...YOUR C HRISTOBELL Kamdaya contacted AFF after being suspended by her employer because her visa had expired. She had made an in-time application so was, in fact, eligible to remain working. She contacted AFF and we wrote to her employer, but received no response. She’s now found employment elsewhere. Similarly, Samjhana contacted us after her employer asked her for evidence of her right to work. Her Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) had expired, but she had submitted an in-time application to extend it so was eligible to continue working. AFF contacted the employer to explain the verification process and Samjhana returned to work.

These are just some of the employment-related issues that are highlighted to AFF on a regular basis. What’s more, the rules around your right to work in the UK as a non-UK spouse www.armyandyou.co.uk

have recently changed. AFF F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston, tells you what you need to know… Your spouse visa gives you a right to work in the UK. If you don’t have the right to work, your visa or BRP states this. Spouses on visit visas cannot work.

1) Can I work if I have Indefinite Leave to Enter/ Remain as a stamp in my valid passport? Yes. Your employer should accept this as proof of your right to work. However, if your passport has expired they will need to conduct an online check. You no longer need to apply for a BRP first.

2) How does an employer check my right to work if I have a BRP?

From 6 April 2022 it’s no longer possible for your employer to conduct a manual right to work check if you have a BRP. They have to check online. Request a ‘share code’ at gov.uk/proveright-to-work to pass on to them.

3) I’m an EEA national,

RIGHTS

how can I prove my right to work?

If you have settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme your employer will need to conduct an online check as in step 2. If you applied for leave under the EUSS but it has not yet been granted, your employer will need to see your Certificate of Application and will have to request a Positive Verification Notice (PVN) through the Employer Checking Service.

4) Can I still work if I submitted an application to extend my leave prior to my BRP expiring?

Yes, but in these circumstances it’s a different check that is required. Your employer cannot use the online service in step 2, they need to contact the Employer Checking Service and will receive a PVN, usually within five working days. It’s very important that your employer understands this is a different check. If they use the check in step 2, it will say that you don’t have a valid BRP – gov. uk/employee-immigrationemployment-status

5) Can my employer suspend me?

Not if you’ve made an in-time extension. It’s your employer’s responsibility to do the checks on time. They are able to continue to employ you for up to 28 days without a PVN. The guidance to employers says: ‘To ensure that you do not discriminate against anyone, you should provide every opportunity to enable an individual to prove their right to work’.

6) Can I still work even if I didn’t submit an application before my leave expired?

In most circumstances you’ll be considered an overstayer. You are therefore not legally allowed to work until you have been granted valid leave. Please get in touch with us if you are in this situation. AFF is keen to ensure that employers are aware of their responsibilities towards nonUK employees. Get in touch if you have further questions: fcsupport@aff.org.uk summer 2022 Army&You 23


24 Army&You summer 2022

@ArmyandYou


HEALTH

BREAKING THROUGH BARRIERS

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ATA from disability equality charity Scope suggests that disabled people aged between 16 and 64 are almost twice as likely to be unemployed compared to non-disabled people. Often people with disability face greater employment barriers. Add a mobile military lifestyle into the mix and it can become an even bigger issue. Many army parents also care for their children with an additional need/and or disability, which can also be a hurdle to overcome when looking for work. Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, spoke to Amanda and Hannah about their experiences. Amanda has cerebral palsy and for the majority of the time uses a wheelchair. She is married to Matthew, a serving soldier, and they have two children, Dennis and Olivia. Amanda was a learning support assistant, something she really enjoyed. However, when the school was in the process of becoming an academy, she was put into a redundancy pool. Amanda says: “Employers always seem to assume that I’ll be moving on as I’m married to a soldier.” Amanda has also felt that being a wheelchair user is a barrier. “People often judge me before they get to know me as a person, as all they see is my wheelchair,” she adds.

Amanda and her children

Career goals

Hannah, who is married to Darren, also found that starting her own business has enabled her to shape her career alongside military family life. She previously found it challenging to transfer her role in the NHS. “I was often offered posts that meant demotion,” she says. When children Grace and Adam were both at school it become more challenging to find suitable employment. At this time Adam was exhibiting some autistic traits and challenging behaviour and Darren was deployed, “I was constantly being called into school, so there was no way I could work.” After their third child Jacob was born, Hannah was very unwell and it took her over a year to recover, which prompted her to start her own business so that she could work flexibly from home. “I did the Supporting the Unsung Hero course, which was brilliant. It gave me the confidence to start a different and more viable business using the skills I’d gained in my previous career.”

SOURCES OF SUPPORT

Access to work Help to find or remain in work if you have a physical and/or mental health condition and/or disability: gov.uk/access-to-work

Main picture: denamorado/freepik.com

Flexible working

In 2016, Matthew had an accident at work which the couple thought may lead to him being medically discharged. So that she could help the family financially, Amanda set up an online business, Bonsai Body Jewellery. She says: “Having my own business means I don’t have to look for work when I move as I can take it with me, so it’s flexible and transferable. “I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved and I also find it a great way to meet others. It’s a good conversation starter, especially when I’ve just moved to a new posting.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Hannah went on to start Hi!Virtual, which provides operational management to small businesses, with four virtual assistants providing admin support, including two military spouses. Hannah says: “Whilst owning my own business was not something I had ever considered, it has been the perfect solution to enable me to have a career that fits around the needs of my family and military life. I need the mental challenge that having a career brings and, whilst being a business owner isn’t easy, seeing it grow has made all the effort worthwhile.”

Autism at Work Programme Run by the National Autistic Society: autism.org. uk/what-we-do/employment Carers’ Passport scheme If you’re a carer, you may be eligible: carerpassport.uk Disability Confident Employer Scheme gov.uk include a list of signed-up employers

Hannah and Darren with Grace, Adam and Jacob

Support to Work Scope’s employment support programme for people with disability aged 16 or over: scope.org.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 25


Picture: Drazen Zigic/freepik.com

OVERSEAS

OVERSEAS OPENINGS

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NE of the biggest considerations for those of you accompanying your soldier overseas is “how can I make the most of my time when employment opportunities are limited?” A big question for which there is no one answer. AFF’s Manager Overseas, Esther Thomas investigates… For many of you it will depend on the specific location, or what stage of life you’re at. Whilst some may view it as a great opportunity to take a career break, gain qualifications, start a family or trigger a new career path, others may have to take whatever employment they can get for financial reasons. Some of you may need to consider how to keep your professional qualifications current so you can continue your career when you’re back in the UK. When chatting with army spouses overseas, we’re never surprised at your resourcefulness…

26 Army&You summer 2022

Ceilidh left a high-profile sales job in 2013 to follow her husband to Germany. Whilst lucky enough to ‘pick up a job on the base’, she fell pregnant and didn’t return to work after maternity leave. By 2015 she was back in the UK. Having spent almost a year out of work and expecting again, she recognised her options were limited. Benefitting from free further education in Scotland, she started a Psychology degree which kept her busy during a short 10-month stay north of the border. Whilst the degree was mainly online, a new posting to Canada threw up 5am lectures and some residential components in the UK which she had to manage, often with two kids in tow and funds to find for long-haul flights. Nonetheless, she successfully graduated in 2020.

Now back in the UK with another addition to the family, Ceilidh is employed in pastoral support at her children’s school: “This will be something wonderful for my CV moving forward in my future dream career of school psychology.” She’s just started a MSc in Counselling Psychology, despite a posting to Cyprus this summer. She says: “I’m aware that I may have to move during the practicum part of my MSc and that the chances of my placements leading onto a permanent role are very much dependent on future postings.” Her advice to others is: “Jump at any volunteering opportunities for experience – sometimes it will lead to a job! Keep an eye out for courses in your location, often the MOD runs them for very little or no cost, it keeps the brain alive and is brilliant on your CV.”

“Keep an eye out for courses in your location, often the MOD runs them for very little or no cost, it keeps the brain alive and is brilliant on your CV.” @ArmyandYou


Helen was an English teacher in a secondary school before accompanying her husband to Naples. Unfortunately, there is no British MOD secondary school there, and her professional qualification isn’t valid in Italy. “I would only be able to work if I retrained or accepted work as an unqualified teacher,” she says. “Since EU exit, I require a visa to work so would need to find an employer willing to sponsor it.” In Naples, there are very few employers prepared to go through this process, with all the attached costs and delays, to employ someone for a maximum of three years.

Suzie’s first overseas posting was to Cyprus, where she gained an admin role whilst studying biology through the Open University. Seven years later she returned to the island as a qualified diagnostic radiographer specialising in mammography. But as Cyprus doesn’t have a breast cancer screening programme, there were limited opportunities to gain work. She told AFF: “I resorted to getting a locum job in the UK and had to travel back every three months to tie in 7-10 days’ work, this kept my registration current.” Currently in Saudi Arabia, she’s unable to work as a

Trying to maintain professional qualifications has also been a hurdle.

“Most CPD and teacher training is delivered as part of all-staff training in schools, or by local authorities/ academy chains for employees.” To keep up her skills, Helen has worked as a freelance English as an Additional Language teacher and took the opportunity to learn Italian. With her husband leaving the military next year, she should be able to reenter teaching when back in the UK. Her advice to others is: “Think very carefully about the potential ramifications. Have a plan to keep yourself up-to-date with developments in your professional field.”

“Don’t turn down an overseas posting just because you can’t work. It gives you alternative experiences and family time and adventures that you don’t often get in the UK.” mammographer easily as her qualifications are not recognised and she would need to change her visa type at personal cost. Luckily, she still has a locum job, but due to flight times and costs, she returns less frequently for longer periods. To fill the gaps when in Saudi, she has set up her own company, working ‘virtually’ to help military

spouses and veteran business owners introduce new systems. Suzie’s advice to others is: “Don’t assume you won’t be able to work, you’ll be surprised what you can do. If you know you can’t, speak to your professional body about how long you can go without working. Talk to your employer about a sabbatical or what

they can offer as alternative employment.” Suzie’s final comment is great advice: “Don’t turn down an overseas posting just because you can’t work. It gives you alternative experiences and, in many cases, family time and adventures that you don’t often get in the UK.”

TAXING TRAVEL QUESTIONS WITH working from home now commonplace in the UK, AFF receives a steady stream of enquiries from those of you wishing to become self-employed or work remotely for a UK company whilst overseas. Most of the questions centre around whether there are any tax or dependancy status implications. In our 2021 Overseas Survey, three quarters of respondents stated that their non-serving spouse had a job before their overseas posting, and yet 85 per cent of these felt that they did not receive the support and advice needed to make an informed choice about maintaining their employment overseas. AFF has raised the issue of spouses working overseas having access to clear advice. We have since received some interim guidance from the MOD, but we www.armyandyou.co.uk

Picture: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi for Pexels

will continue to push for answers to some of your most frequently asked questions.

Misunderstandings

We have come across some spouses who believe that they are exempt from tax responsibilities due to accompanying their serving partner overseas. This is not the case. The MOD has confirmed that

there are no tax protections or exemptions offered to spouses and partners under any Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) or host nation agreements. “Tax responsibility for spouses on overseas postings depends on the individual circumstances and the statutory residence test,” explains Claire Hallam, AFF Money & Allowances Specialist. “AFF can’t provide tax or financial advice but we recommend that you contact HMRC for advice on UK tax and also get in touch with the relevant tax authority in the overseas location to find out if there are any tax obligations for your individual circumstances.” You can find the interim guidance by searching ‘guidance on working remotely overseas’ at aff.org.uk – keep an eye on our social media for more updates. summer 2022 Army&You 27


OUT OF SERVICE YOUR FAMILY

L

EAVING the army is a unique experience for everyone – what to do and when to do it will vary depending on your family’s needs. The more proactive you are about seeking information and support, and the earlier you start planning, the more successful your move to civvy street is likely to be. Some families choose to settle outside of the UK, adding an extra layer of complication, but as we find out here, it’s definitely do-able…

The Clarke family – Meghan, Jamie and their daughters – are heading to the United States...

What have been your priorities? Being close to my family, so that really narrowed down the area where we wanted to settle. After that, it was where I was able to find a job that determined our exact location.

When did you start planning? Moving back to the US was always our plan as that’s where I’m from. I met Jamie when he was stationed at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, and before he even proposed we discussed eventually settling in the States. He told me that if I was willing to spend 10-15 years following him around Europe that he’d then happily retire in America. 12 years later, he’s making good on that promise!

How did you find the process? My daughters and I are all American citizens, but it was quite a lengthy process to get Jamie his visa. We had heard it could take 12-18 months, especially given all the delays since COVID, so we started early and filed the first petition in February 2021. Over $1,000, three trips to London, and lots of paperwork later, we finished the process in April. Obtaining a visa via a spouse is given priority

status, meaning that it was easier. It’s much more difficult and can take a lot longer to get visas through other relationships. What have you found most challenging? Sorting out logistics – especially with kids in the mix. There’s a lot of second guessing as to whether you’re doing the right thing. What’s the most exciting part of leaving the army? We’re excited about a new sense of freedom and control. Being able to make our own decisions about where we want to live feels very liberating. We’re looking forward to living closer to family and Jamie having a job that doesn’t require him to be away.

What do you wish you’d known earlier? That it would all work out. It’s easy to get caught up in what ifs and worry about things that are outside of your control. What would be your one piece of advice to other families? Start early. It takes a lot longer than you might think to sort visas and shipping etc.

WHERE TO GET HELP... l Defence Transition Services (DTS), part of the MOD’s Veterans UK, provide information and support for those service leavers and their families who are most likely to face challenges as they adjust to civilian life. If you require support with your transition and have ongoing welfare needs they can support you overseas, but as a UK-based organisation they

28 Army&You summer 2022

don’t have expert knowledge of local support available for each country. DTS caseworkers will research available options on a case-by-case basis in line with location. The Royal British Legion also provides support or links in with overseas organisations in some areas. If you live abroad you can also approach your local British Embassy or British

Consulate for assistance. Search ‘Veterans UK’ at gov.uk for more information. l The Career Transition Partnership will help your soldier with skills workshops, training and routes to employment – ctp.org.uk l SSAFA’s mentor programme helps recent departees, and their families, with the transition to civilian life – ssafa.org.uk @ArmyandYou


The Munson family – Linda, Col, Muse (15), Lincoln (11) and Peggy the Doodle – recently began their new life in Canada… When did you start planning? In 2012 following the redundancies, we thought about what would we do in that situation. We agreed that our love of travel and open spaces would lead us to emigrating but we weren’t sure where. After 23 years’ service, Col decided on a new career path in 2019, so we left it rather late to actually start doing anything! What were your main priorities at the time? Housing, but it had to be the right community. We were confident that we’d find work and our children, being resilient military kids, would settle in easily. We spent six months scouting Alberta

What’s the best part about leaving the army? The stability we are able to offer our children. For the first time, Muse knew she would finish Junior High and start High School with the same gang of friends. Oh, and no magnolia walls!

for our ideal community and found it in Gibbons. What have you found the most challenging? It was difficult to get assistance to do the most basic things because of COVID. We had to wade our way through most of the leaving process with no guidance. There were lots of arguments and tears, but we stuck together, making sure we were always listening to each

other. Col didn’t really contact anyone other than AFF to talk to about the worries he had. Post leaving, we settled into our new life quite easily. It’s in our nature as a seasoned army family to move, fit in and carry on. Col initially struggled with losing the daily camaraderie. Leaving during a pandemic meant that there were none of the usual farewells so it was challenging not to have that closure.

What do you wish you’d known earlier? From Col’s point of view, a more streamlined approach on how to support those leaving under difficult circumstances. I wish that we’d started saving earlier. We don’t regret all of the opportunities and travelling that we had in lieu of savings. However, getting a mortgage would have been much easier with a larger deposit. What would be your one piece of advice to other families? Talk openly. Not just with your partner, but your children too if you have them. Be honest about what you feel and want.

THE first awards evening especially for military families took place in London at the end of April. The Celebrating Forces Families awards were organised to give thanks for the huge contribution that UK military families provide to the armed forces community, and the MOD supported the evening through its Partner Employment Steering Group. The headline award, Inspirational Family Member of the Year, was won by Heather Sharp [pictured right], who set up Forces Wives Challenge. The social enterprise has united more than 900 armed forces spouses through its challenges, such as the recent

Ellie O’Gorman (right) with her sister

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Heroes of Telemark expedition in Norway. She said: “It was a lovely evening and winning was a big shock, especially as mine was the first award to be announced. I was completely speechless!” Ellie O’Gorman, who started youth dropin sessions at 3 SCOTS, won the Young People’s award. She said: “I started the drop-in when my dad was deployed to get us out of the house. It now runs two nights a week and has really brought the community together. Thanks to the welfare team for having faith in me and to mum and dad for all their support.” With the other families federations, AFF sponsored the Family Volunteer of the Year award, which was won by Chair of Trustees of the Military Wives Choirs Maggie Pedder. The other award winners were: l Overcoming Adversity – Nikki Scott, who set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity which supports bereaved armed forces children. l Military Charity of the Year – Fun First, which delivers online sessions and a place for families to meet in Scotland. l Social Media Influencer of the Year –

Picture: Helen Holt Photography/Al Topping Photos and Film

FORCES FAMILIES HONOURED

Charlotte Harker, who shares the highs and lows of being a military wife on Instagram. l Armed Forces Advocate of the Year – Nadine Monks, who set up Forces Family Finance to help military families gain access to financial advice. l Small Business Owner – Simone Riley, who set up Elite Forces Mortgages so that armed forces families can achieve their dream of owning their own home. l Exemplar Forces Friendly Employer – Barclays, whose Military and Veterans Outreach initiatives have supported families to build their careers. summer 2022 Army&You 29


YOUR HOME

THE NEW WHO’S WHO IN HOUSING? T

HE new maintenance and repairs contracts for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) are now bedding in. You might have already noticed some significant changes and here, we look at a few of the key roles that you’re likely to come across…

Under the National Accommodation Management Services (NAMS) contract, run by Pinnacle, you have a single point of contact – the National Service Centre (NSC). This is your place to log any queries, request repairs and access information. Your enquiry will then be passed on to any one of the following, depending on what you need. Housing Officers Pinnacle’s Housing Officers operate across the UK. The team helps you to move in, move out and support you with any queries or issues. They’ll also be available at some local events and coffee mornings, as well as coming to visit if you need extra support. Regional Managers Housing Officers are supported by four Regional Managers – North, Central, South East and South West. They are a point of support and escalation, driving continuous improvement and working closely with other areas to ensure consistency.

30 Army&You summer 2022

Home Services team Based at the NSC in Liverpool, the Home Services team works with you to navigate the allocations process, including booking your move-in/moveout appointment with the Housing Officer, as well as any permission requests. The e1132 system is already in place, but the Home Services team may contact you directly to work through any challenges. Repairs team You can contact the Repairs

“We strive to deliver excellent service and put families at the centre of everything we do, focussing on enhancing the lived experience.” – Ed Rigby, Pinnacle Regional Manager for South East

team at the NSC 24/7 to log repairs, which are passed to DIO's delivery partners VIVO or Amey. You will also be able to complete a repair request online through HomeHub when it launches later this year. Additional Needs and Disability Adaptations (ANDA) Manager Pinnacle has a dedicated ANDA Manager to prioritise additional needs and disability adaptations. They work closely with Occupational Therapists or medical practitioners to understand your requirements – find out more on page 32. Customer Solutions Working from the NSC, a team of Customer Solution Advisors handles your complaints. Pinnacle’s Customer Solution Managers review them, and then work with the relevant teams, companies, or families themselves to get a better understanding of the issue. They will then help to resolve it, feeding back issues and lessons learnt to the central teams, so they can continue

“One of the most important aspects of the role is to support families when they are moving in and out of their home as it’s often a very challenging time. I like supporting families to make the process as smooth as possible.” – Sophie Stockdale, Housing Officer, Pinnacle to improve. Pinnacle has Customer Solution Managers in each region so that they can work closely with VIVO and Amey. @ArmyandYou


The four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts maintain homes and community spaces. If you’re in the South East or South West, you’re covered by VIVO, and the North and Central regions are serviced by Amey. Operatives Both VIVO and Amey have fully trained and qualified Operatives to do the works required to keep homes safe and running properly. They should have plenty of time to make sure the job is done to a standard that you’re happy with. At the visits, Operatives ask you if there are any other jobs you need to raise and will complete additional works if they have the skills, tools and time to do so. A customer satisfaction survey will be sent to you following any works carried out, to ensure all feedback is captured and improvements can be taken on board. The VIVO team… Works Supervisors VIVO Works Supervisors are responsible for managing the delivery Operatives, conducting site visits, undertaking postworks inspections, scheduling works where they are more complex, and are present

ensure the quality of service is maintained.

Chris Tyrell, Multi Skilled Operative, VIVO

Amy Phillips heads up Amey’s CCEO team

Members of the VIVO team

throughout the move-in process. They also oversee any complaints raised and handle these through to completion to ensure they are fully resolved. Delivery Managers The management of day-to-day activities is done by Delivery Managers to ensure everything

is running smoothly to maintain property assets and provide repairs, servicing, and grounds maintenance services to all SFA. Area Managers The Area Managers oversee all aspects of the management of VIVO’s sub-contractors and direct delivery teams to

The Amey team… Estate Custodians Amey’s Estate Custodians undertake basic grounds maintenance, and support Operatives where required, including attending emergencies to make sure homes are safe. They also help to prepare empty properties, such as making sure the outside area is ready before you move in and providing final confirmation that it’s clean and ready to be lived in. They look after empty properties too, and also do simple garden maintenance to keep homes and streets looking neat and tidy. Customer and Community Engagement Officers Amey’s CCEOs build relationships with families and contractors and work to improve your experience while living in military communities. They will gather your views and work with Amey to ensure the issues that matter are addressed. l Your first port of call will always be the National Service Centre 0800 031 8628 (+44 161 605 3529 overseas), or by email hello@ pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk

NO MORE WALKING AWAY... There’s no longer the option to use the official walkaway scheme when moving out of your home. The responsibility for ensuring your quarter is at move-out standard is down to you, so how can you ensure it’s up to scratch? At your pre-move out appointment your Pinnacle Housing Officer will go round the house with you and let you know exactly what needs to be done to meet the moveout standard, both in terms of repairing any damage and for cleanliness. You can choose to clean it yourself, or hire an external cleaner. If you decide to bring in the professionals, make sure that they read the move-out standards and agree to meet them in full – a company which is experienced in end-of-tenancy cleans would www.armyandyou.co.uk

be a good starting point. In the old days, some companies used to offer a guaranteed move-out clean and would offer to pay for any charges arising as a result of poor cleanliness, so it might be worth asking if they would be prepared to do this. An empty house is always easier and less time consuming to clean, so if possible, book your move-out appointment for a few days after your removals have left. You’re allowed

to have two quarters on the books for up to 14 days to enable you to clean and move out of one and move into the other without being financially impacted. AFF suggests that you speak to your unit admin to discuss any entitlement you have for food and accommodation. If you’re moving a long distance away you may need to use a proxy to hand back your house, so do make sure that it’s someone you trust. Discuss anything which was on the 14-day report and show them round before you go – they will be responsible for signing off the property at the move-out appointment and you don’t want any surprise charges! The Pinnacle website has full details – pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk. If you have any issues, email housingsupport@aff.org.uk summer 2022 Army&You 31


ADAPTING TO NEW SURROUNDS

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submit an e1132 and tick the additional needs box. In the larger information box state that you have sent supporting medical information or an Occupational Therapist report to the Pinnacle ANDA Manager. For all ANDA requests, ask your OT or medical professional to complete the DIO ANDA assessment form, but these professionals can choose to use their own documentation if preferred. Once you have the supporting medical/OT report send it to HomeServicesConfidential@ pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk, including your e1132 application number, for the attention of the ANDA Manager. The DIO ANDA team will either agree to the works or ask the ANDA Manager to

Picture: freepik.com

HERE have been some changes to the Additional Needs and Disability Adaptations (ANDA) process under the new accommodation contracts which kicked off in April. Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, explains… If you or your family member requires new adaptations or further adaptations to your current quarter you should go to the ANDA page on the Pinnacle website. You’ll then be asked to complete the form, accessed through the link at the bottom of the page. If you or your family member require ANDA to your new Service Family Accommodation (SFA) on assignment, or you are required to move to a more suitable SFA in your current location, you should

seek further clarification of requirements if this isn’t clear. Once the work has been agreed the Pinnacle Regional Managers will be responsible for all the ANDA case updates and communications.

Moving back to the UK

If you’re moving back to the UK from overseas and need ANDA it’s important to ensure the Pinnacle National Service Centre is aware so they can make sure that the most suitable SFA is identified and that any adaptations meet your family’s needs. Call +44 (0) 161 605 3529 Option 2 or email hello@pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk as soon as you can. An Occupational Therapist’s report or medical report will always be required when you submit your e1132. Send it to HomeServicesConfidential@ pinnacleservicefamilies.co.uk You may be entitled to a publicly funded return journey to visit the SFA and meet the OT. More information is available in JSP 752, Chapter 6. Please do not book your removals or a move-out date unless you have a confirmed date for move-in from the ANDA Manager or Pinnacle Regional Managers. This process can take some time or unforeseen problems may occur. If the timings overlap, your unit welfare officer (UWO) and/or chain of command should be able to help. AFF is keen to monitor this new process and would welcome your feedback – healthsupport@aff.org.uk

SPACES AND PLACES: HOUSING OVERSEAS Depending on where you’re posted, you’ll find that service housing overseas isn’t the same as in the UK. Here, we look at a few of the differences… You don’t pay Contribution in Lieu of Council Tax. You get an automatic twoband reduction in your CAAS. If a family member has a medical, additional need and/ or disability, which needs to be actively supported, or needs adaptations to Service Family Accommodation (SFA), this may not be provided in certain

32 Army&You summer 2022

locations. Your soldier is strongly advised to speak to their unit HR admin before accepting such a post. All family members must be cleared as supportable in the overseas environment. Those of you in established long-term relationships cannot cohabit in overseas SFA – and eligibility to surplus SFA is not within current policy at any overseas posting. However, in Cyprus it’s possible to apply to have your relationship recognised as ‘common law marriage’. This, with permission to live out by your soldier’s chain of command, will allow

you to live in privately rented accommodation at your own cost. The partner will then have Limited Dependant Status. If your children are over 18 and not in full-time education or training but still living with you and financially dependent on you, there are some locations where you may apply for your adult child, under the age of 24, to be recognised as a Limited Dependant. Whilst this allows them to live with you, it doesn’t increase the family entitlement for housing, so you won’t get any extra bedrooms. It also comes with limitations

to allowances, access to healthcare, education and the right to work in the host nation. As the ability to occupy SFA overseas is closely linked with ‘Dependant Status’, retention of a quarter has become much more challenging since Brexit – only in extraordinary circumstances is an application likely to be approved. l If an overseas posting is on the horizon, make sure you discuss the specific incountry arrangements with your local housing provider via your overseas unit. @ArmyandYou


GORDON’S SCHOOL BOARDING IN SURREY

Years 7, 9 and 12 boarding places available. ‘Students who attend the boarding school provision exceed their predicted outcomes and consistently reach, and further, their potential’. OFSTED BOARDING INSPECTION REPORT 2019

BESPOKE RESIDENTIAL BOARDING HOUSE FOR YEAR 7 STUDENTS

CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION ALLOWANCE (CEA) ACCEPTED

CLOSE TO LONDON AND ITS AIRPORTS BY ROAD AND RAIL

For Open Events, visit www.gordons.school

Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing

BOOK YOUR VISIT ONLINE

We’re proud to offer girls from families across the Armed Forces a supportive and nurturing home from home. QM offers a generous discount on boarding fees to supplement the CEA for children of personnel serving in the Armed Forces.

queenmargarets.com/book-a-visit Winner in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2021.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 33


MONEY

Picture: Pixabay

PLAN FOR THE ROAD AHEAD

P

ENSIONS. Not the sexiest of topics as, let’s face it, none of us want to think about getting old. Switching jobs regularly makes it more difficult for army families to plan for a secure financial future. But plan you must! It’s not wise to just rely on your soldier’s pension as your circumstances could change. We spoke to Paul Fox at the Money and Pensions Service, who outlined how to deal with your pensions when you’re always on the move. Keeping up to date with your pensions can feel challenging, especially if you’ve had multiple jobs. Maintaining a file of pension scheme paperwork, including contact details, will help, as well as keeping schemes updated with changes to your address. It’s a good idea to review the pensions you have and plan ahead, the earlier the better. The new full state pension is £9,627 a year but, according to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, the suggested moderate income for a couple

34 Army&You summer 2022

is £30,600 a year, so will your pension savings be enough for retirement? If not, consider increasing your contributions. You can contribute up to 100% of your earnings and get tax relief. However, the total amount paid into your pension, or benefits built up each year, must normally be below the annual allowance of £40,000 to benefit from tax relief (see page 35 for more). Even if you’re not working, you can get tax relief on contributions up to £3,600 gross (or £2,880 net) a year, so you can continue paying contributions to build up your own pension, or a member of your family’s, making it a tax efficient way to save for retirement. What if I change jobs? You can usually leave your pension in the scheme until you reach retirement age, or you may be able to move it to your new employer’s pension scheme. If you’re considering transferring an old pension, check what type you have.

If your pension is defined contribution (you have a pot invested with a pension provider), it’s likely to be easier to transfer, but whether this is the best thing to do will depend on a number of things, such as the provider’s fees, the investment options and performance and whether there’s a penalty for transferring out. If your pension is defined benefit (such as a final salary or career average pension where you get a guaranteed income at retirement), there are more restrictions in place, and you may need to seek independent financial advice. Most people will normally be better off staying with the defined benefit pension. What if I’m out of work? Make sure that you’re building up National Insurance (NI) contributions towards your state pension. Since 2016 you need 35 years of NI contributions to qualify for the full state pension (currently £185.15 a week). If your NI record started earlier,

it’s best to check your forecast at gov.uk If you’re not working, you will receive NI credits if you are claiming child benefit for a child under 12. What if we’re posted overseas? If you have UK income you can continue to pay into a pension and get tax relief up to the limits mentioned earlier. If you don’t have any UK income you can still contribute up to £3,600 a year gross into a pension and get tax relief for up to five years. You can also claim NI credits for time you’ve spent accompanying your soldier on an overseas assignment. Search NI credits at aff.org.uk

More information

Check your state pension forecast and find contact details for pensions you may have lost track of at gov.uk MoneyHelper provides free, impartial help backed by the government, including a pension calculation. See moneyhelper. org.uk or call 0800 011 3797. @ArmyandYou


DO THE MATHS... ANNUAL ALLOWANCE ADVICE The total amount paid into a pension pot must normally be below the annual allowance of £40,000 to benefit from tax relief. If your soldier’s pension contributions, or benefits accrued, exceed £40,000 then they will be liable for a tax charge on the amount above that. The groups most likely to breach this are officers at OF4 (Lieutenant Colonel) and above; officers on promotion from OF3 to OF4; late entry officers when they have completed their five-year return of service, and where their AFPS 75 pension is calculated as an OF3; and medical and

dental officers in receipt of professional supplements. If they go over the £40,000 limit, they will receive a letter from Veterans UK, usually between October and December, telling them of a possible tax charge. If the limit is exceeded in any given tax year, then the unused allowance from previous years can be used to offset the excess. However, the rules allow only the previous three tax years’ unused allowance to be considered. To learn more about the annual allowance

a 10-minute audio clip from the Forces Pension Society is available at bit.ly/ FPSannualallowance You may also find the MOD’s ‘Armed Forces Pension Scheme: step by step guide to the pensions savings taxation notification letter’ on gov.uk helpful. If you’re a member of the Forces Pension Society and have any Armed Forces pension-related questions, email pensionenquiries@forpen.co.uk. If you would like to know more, visit forcespensionsociety.org

CASH FOR CHILDCARE?

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Picture: anncapictures /Pixabay

F

OR families with children we know that your priority is their happiness and welfare. Childcare is a large financial consideration for all and a question we often hear at AFF is: “What childcare funding options are there for me?” Although childcare can be a problematic juggling act, there are avenues open to help ease the burden. A good first port of call is the government website childcarechoices.gov.uk Input your location in the UK and the ages of your children and it will list what may be available to you. Remember that childcare is governed by each of the devolved nations independently and therefore there may be differences in what is offered in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Financial boost

One of the most frequently used options for working families is tax-free childcare. This scheme enables you to open an online account and pay money in which you then use to pay for your childcare with a registered provider. For every £8 you pay in, the government will add an additional £2. It’s for families with children aged 0 to 11 (or 17 if your child is disabled). This type of support helps you to stretch your funds that little bit further. Working mum Natalie, whose son is pictured, says: “Being married unaccompanied in the military, tax-free childcare helps us offset the extra costs we experience by having to use additional childcare which we

might not need if we were living together on the patch.” Is tax-free childcare right for you? The government suggests that you use its childcare calculator tool to check if it is the best option for your family: gov. uk/childcare-calculator

Overseas options

For many of you there are extra concerns about the availability of childcare when posted overseas. However, there are options to access funded childcare when you are in a location with an MOD childcare facility. In these circumstances you’ll still be entitled to 15 hours of funded care for your three and four-year-olds and if you’re eligible, you could still access the full 30 hours too.

If you have a tax-free childcare account, you can use this to pay for childcare in overseas locations with MOD approved childcare providers. Full details are in the tax-free childcare DIN available on the Defence Intranet. Where there is no overseas childcare setting, you can claim Overseas Nursery Authority for either 15 or 30 hours for your three to four-year-olds or older if the school starting age of the country is later. Once you’ve applied and confirmed your eligibility your soldier can claim back the expenses via JPA. If you have any enquires about childcare or problems accessing provision, contact educationsupport@aff.org.uk summer 2022 Army&You 35


Girls and Boys, Day and Boarding, Nursery to Sixth Form

We have a long tradition of working closely with Forces Families

Pay only 10% of the fees, around £1,000 per term* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2022/23. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA. Charity No. 525616

www.habsmonmouth.org/forces

Home away from home Co-educational day and boarding for 0-18, in the heart of Bristol. Alongside outstanding academic results, Clifton College provides exceptional pastoral care, fostering a supportive atmosphere to ensure each child feels confident, happy, safe and secure. Our unique House system creates a welcoming environment in which each pupil is cared for in a close-knit community that promotes friendships, security, and a sense of identity and belonging. The wide range of co-curricular activities and clubs available encourages every pupil to discover their niche, and to develop interests and talents beyond the purely academic.

Visit cliftoncollege.com to discover more. 36 Army&You summer 2022

@ArmyandYou


MATERNITY MATTERS

I

F you’re not eligible for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) as you have recently moved or changed job, you may be able to claim Maternity Allowance (MA) instead. You could claim if you’re employed but cannot get SMP, have recently stopped working or are self-employed. You’ll need to have worked 26 weeks in the 66 weeks before the baby’s due date – it doesn’t matter if this is with two different employers. You also need to have earnt £30 a week for 13 weeks in this period. What if I’m moving overseas? Always apply for MA via the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in the same way as in the UK. If you don’t meet the criteria because you weren’t living in the UK at the time of the application, or your qualifying work was undertaken in the European Economic Area (EEA), or in a country where there is a reciprocal benefit agreement, your claim may be transferred to that country. DWP will write to you about this. If you’re moving outside of the EEA and to a country with no reciprocal agreement, then you may receive a notification from DWP that you could be entitled to the MOD ex-gratia payment in lieu of MA. What is the MOD ex-gratia payment? The serving person may be able to claim

MA from the MOD on your behalf. Defence Instructions and Notices 2018DIN01026 provides further information – this is available to serving personnel and unit admin staff on the Defence intranet. Claire Hallam, AFF Money & Allowances Specialist, says: “It can be very difficult to navigate the process of applying for MA, particularly if you’re overseas or recently returned. Some families who have contacted AFF are in the process of challenging DWP but are unaware that they can claim via the MOD for the ex-gratia payment, or they are in an EEA country and don’t realise their claim may be transferred to another country. By helping families understand this we can ensure the correct process is followed, so eligible families receive their claim.” Let us know about any issues with maternity allowance by emailing moneysupport@aff.org.uk. For more info, see gov.uk

Picture: analya /freepik.com

Have you heard about Discover My Benefits? The website is a great source of information on the benefits, allowances and support available to military families. A lot of the benefits that you may be interested in can be found by going to the Army families category. For instance, did you know that as well as getting help to access employment or start a business, you can also get advice on how to make up for missed National Insurance payments when you’re unable to work because you have been posted overseas with your partner? If you’re saving to buy your own home, you might find the Forces www.armyandyou.co.uk

Picture: Liza Summer/Pexels

RICH RESOURCE FOR SAVINGS SEEKERS

Help to Buy scheme useful – your family could borrow up to £25,000 interest-free. Under the Relocation category, you can find out how the MOD can help when your soldier is

posted to a new location and you have to move home, whether it’s in the form of your partner being given extra leave to help you settle in, or help with the some of the costs involved.

If you’re looking to save money, then the Service benefits category shows you how to sign up for the Defence Discount Service which offers access to over 12,000 online and high street discounts from large national retailers and local businesses across the UK. Or how about getting your partner to sign up for Tickets for Troops, so you can attend a whole range of events for free with them? For those times you might need some extra advice, the website has lots of information about charities and organisations that provide impartial support and independent advice to you and your family, including AFF. Go to dmb.mod.gov.uk/army summer 2022 Army&You 37


A TASTE OF SCHOOL LIFE Army-friendly schools and colleges share some of the secrets of their menus...

M

ATCH tea, always

too, for the busy parent who skips

evocative of the sound

lunch and looks forward to a mini

of willow on leather

meal at school!

and heady with the promise

For the children, something

of balmy summer afternoons

healthy and sustaining but still

filled with English tea and neat,

delicious is on the menu. This term,

crustless sandwiches, may have

the catering team have settled on

evolved but we like to think it’s

flapjacks as the perfect post-match

still as much of a spirit-raiser as

treat.

it ever was. At Farleigh School, near

“We try to make it fun and interesting for the parents, and

Andover, executive chef manager,

tasty but healthy for the children,”

Nick Wright, puts his own spin

Mr Wright explains. “Serving match

on it (pardon the pun) with an

tea is a good way for the catering

imaginative combination of

team to get out and interact with

tempting bite-sized treats for

the parents. We spend a lot of

grown-ups and healthy, sustaining

time hidden away behind closed

energy boosters for the pupils.

doors, so it’s nice – especially in the

Today’s post-match offering is

summer term – to feel part of the

more pick-me-up and less ‘supper’

school and to talk to our families.

than the traditional version.

“As for the food, if there is one

For the parents, tall glass mason

item that is synonymous with

jars of elderflower, laced with fresh

match tea at Farleigh, it’s our

mint and lemon, and wooden boxes

Farleigh-branded shortbread

of teas of all varieties perch happily

biscuits. We make them with a

on gingham tablecloths alongside

special cutter that was created

jolly painted crates of delicious,

by Farleigh’s head of design and

freshly baked cakes and cookies,

technology and they are always a

catering for all comers. Small

sure-fire winner with current and

sandwiches usually make the cut,

prospective parents!”

farleighschool.com

THE WELLINGTON ACADEMY

thewellingtonacademy.org.uk

HELLO, my name is Sophie, I am a prefect,

smoothies and tiramisu to puff pastry pizza

military kid and boarder at The Wellington

and Spanish omelette. I like learning different

Academy.

skills, as it makes me more independent for

Our week begins with tidying our rooms. The

when I have to cook for myself. It also means I

tidiest boarders get rewarded with a meal at

get to hang out with different boarders, many

our chosen restaurant.

6th formers like to eat our creations, however,

Before school I have cereal with hash

we usually encourage them to make them

browns and orange juice. I’m studying History,

with us!

Geography, Ethics and Media Studies on top of

On weekends, we wake late and have a

my core subjects. Lunch at school changes all

brunch of cereal, full English breakfast and

the time, but Friday is fish and chips day!

pastries. On Saturdays we normally go on

After school, I attend clubs such as Film

a trip. My favourites include Thorpe Park,

Studies, the Holocaust Project and Cadets.

Splashdown and go-karting.

When I return to boarding, I grab a snack, my

Sunday House Competitions also help

favourite is home-made cheese twists! Then I

bring all the boarders together. I am pretty

have an hour of prep to complete homework

competitive as the House winners get first dibs

and revise for my GCSEs.

on the food at our termly Award Dinners! My

At dinner time, we eat together as a House.

favourite house competitions have included

No phones at the table means we can bond

a Harry Potter scavenger hunt and a virtual

over food and catch up. There is a real feeling

escape room.

of family here. My favourite dinner so far has

Normally before bed, I call my mum and

been a BBQ. After dinner staff normally put on activities; my favourite nights are Fridays when I have

38 Army&You summer 2022

then my dad who has been deployed. At swimming club and cooking club. In cooking

lights out, our House Parents come and say

club, we make all sorts of recipes, from cakes,

goodnight to us.

@ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION FETTES COLLEGE AS past winners of the Independent School of the Year Award for Healthy Eating, the catering team at Fettes College pride themselves on making and serving food which is wholesome, varied and flavoursome – creating over 2,000 daily meals on-site with great care, and crafted to reflect best nutritional practice they also embrace pupil feedback and opinion.

fettes.com

the finest ingredients. “With fruit and vegetables, we have visibility of exactly which farms supply our products. Our fish supplier is a member of the Marine Conservation Society, and the fish is rated 1-5, with 1 being the most sustainable. Not only does the fish species determine its sustainability, but also the waters in which it is caught or farmed.

It is important to the team that they

“About 90 percent of the fish we use

continually introduce new ingredients

on our menus at Fettes is rated 2 and is

and flavours into our students’ diet,

from the North East Atlantic.”

always keeping the menus fresh, seasonal and interesting. Head of catering, James Wood,

Each term pupils from the Prep School get involved in the preparation, cooking and serving of a tea service.

explains: “Our boarders dine with

This gives them good insight into what

us over 20 times each week, so it is

is involved in the food that goes on to

paramount we offer a balanced plate,

their plates and to have some fun in

with a creativity to stop menu fatigue

the kitchen.

setting in. “We also change our three-week

Regular menu favourites include chicken katsu, sushi platters, smoked

menu cycle seasonally, to get the best

cauliflower soup and of course Fish

produce in season.

Friday, when fish and chips are served!

“We like to create a friendly, family

At Fettes, we are proud of our long

atmosphere in the dining hall, as this

history with the forces and these links

is an important part of the students’

are as strong today as they ever were.

dining experience, relaxing with

We have a number of former members

friends. We regularly run food theme

of the forces working at Fettes

days to celebrate different countries

and a strong network of current

and cultures – helping to educate

forces families. We look forward to

students about a range of foods and

welcoming you to Fettes for a visit

their traditions.

and an opportunity to sample our

“Having the autonomy to select local, quality suppliers whom we can work

delicious food. Contact admissions@fettes.com and

closely with to meet our requirements,

let us know you saw this article in

gives us the opportunity to use some of

Army&You.

Picture: freepik.com

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 39


QUEEN MARGARET’S SCHOOL FOR GIRLS

queenmargarets.com

G

OOD food is a top priority for the girls at Queen Margaret’s School for Girls in York (QM).

Having previously been awarded the title

of ‘Best School Food in the UK’ in the Tatler Awards, the school believes a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand. Girls engage enthusiastically in a range of activities at QM. Whether that be academic, sport, extracurricular or social, they get stuck in and have fun, so being properly fuelled is essential. The school’s in-house catering team creates menus which rotate on a tri-weekly basis with valuable input from the girls. Menus are also adapted for the seasons, for instance in the summer term, Wednesday’s much-loved ‘roast day’ gives way to a weekly barbecue supper. In addition to providing breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis, the school’s talented

They are also well versed in catering for the

calendar for the catering team, not least when it

catering team provides supplies for the boarding

more prestigious occasions which take place

provides the chance to meet Dame Mary Berry,

houses, as well as well-balanced packed lunches

at QM, such as the much-anticipated annual

who recently attended proceedings as guest of

for the many school trips which take place.

Speech Day. The date is a special event in the QM

honour and judged QM’s Year 7 and 8 bake-off!

GORDON’S

gordons.school

SUCH is the popularity of school

need to produce fayre for vegans,

meals at Gordon’s that when

vegetarians and those with allergies.

lockdown closed the school in

While Paul is prepared to

West End, Surrey, not only were

occasionally pander to the typical

lessons delivered online (as

teenage diet of hamburgers; chips

well as co-curricular activities

and pizzas, the hamburgers are

such as CCF, art and music) but

handmade using good quality beef

recipes from the school kitchens

and the pizzas are also homemade

were posted weekly, allowing

using “as many vegetables as

students to enjoy their favourite

possible” in the tomato sauce

lunches and evening meals with

topping with quality mozzarella.

their families!

The steak night, popular with the

Butternut squash and chorizo

residential boarders provides them

risotto, chicken katsu curry,

with the finest beef.

blackcurrant and white chocolate

He and his team serve up 2,400

frozen roulade featured alongside

covers every weekday to students

results but those on the sports

feature, the brownies will contain

popular dishes such as sticky toffee

and staff at the Surrey school. In

fields and drama studios. The

beetroot and the muffins filled with

pudding and lasagne in the weekly

addition, they’re producing match

catering is no different.

carrot and courgette. The yoghurts

mail outs and many lockdown

teas, ad hoc BBQs, black tie dinners,

meals were made by students

formal lunches and breakfasts

staff who are encouraged to develop

smoothies and bread. Everything is

at home – to the delight of their

and weekend grub for nearly 300

and extend their expertise, in the

fresh, nothing frozen.

siblings and parents.

residential boarders.

kitchens, staff are inspired to test

The kitchens are run by award-

A new sideline to conjuring

excelling not only in its academic

In line with other members of

And although cakes and desserts

are also home-made as are the

Evening meals are based around

their culinary talents and have

street food and contemporary

winning chef and executive chef

up meals for students, parents,

entered Salon Culinaire, competing

cuisine to make the food more

manager, Paul Hopkins. With a

staff and guests is a fundraising

against the best chefs in the country.

interesting. To this end, students

background in fine dining including

arm ‘Gordon’s to Go’, which sells

the Michelin-starred Glasshouse

premiere cooking goods, appliances

biggest test! All students have input

at Kew, Paul brings a wealth of

and wine, as well as creating teas

into the food committee that meets

Should the school be celebrating

sophisticated cuisine to the school’s

for delivery on Mothering Sunday

regularly with Paul, as part of their

an event or country, this will also be

dining hall. His mantra is that

and periodic Supper Club evenings

Student Council duties. Students

reflected in what is served up in the

while the menus should provide

to raise money for the school.

are also invited to complete weekly

dining hall. So Chinese New Year

surveys on the meals they are

features an oriental feast and the

Satisfying hungry youths is the

might expect Mexican; Thai and West African cuisine on the menu.

sustenance to fuel energy on the

Gordon’s prides itself on being

sports pitches as well as enhance

officially listed as one of Britain’s

served. It’s not just a case of dishing

upcoming week focussing on South

concentration, they should also be

outstanding schools by Her

up menus with the right balance

America will feature a daily dish

delicious, and educate palates!

Majesty’s Chief Inspector and

of food groups, there is also the

from that region.

40 Army&You summer 2022

@ArmyandYou


Finding his stride T

HE transition to a young adult is not always an easy pathway. As a service child who lost his mother to cancer at the age of 12, James Budding has had to cope with more than most. Here, his dad Jason, who serves with the Royal Corps of Signals, takes up the story… James has faced more challenges than any parent would wish. The upheaval of our family following the diagnosis of cancer in 2014 shouldn’t be underestimated. We were in Germany; both of my sons were of an age where they were enjoying the posting and everything that came with it. Fast forward 18 months and we returned to England, mum had been taken far too early and it was me and the two boys on our own. The support we received from Defence Medical Welfare Services both in Germany and on our return was outstanding (Ann McKenzie you were amazing); but

The ACF has given him focus, belief in himself, confidence in abundance and a sense of purpose. Such was his obsession, wild horses couldn’t keep him away. I’m not quite sure I needed his mentoring on how to conduct drill, noting that I’m in my 35th year of service, but the enthusiasm from him is immeasurable. Budding officer: James assumes the role of RSM and (below) dad Jason and Lt Col Mick Boyle – HQ Royal Signals Cadet Desk Officer, representing the Corps HQ – flank the Sandhurst-hopeful cadet

the time had come to go it alone.

Steps to success

The changes forced upon James took their toll and his behaviour became challenging, it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. He needed his own focus and escapism, and eventually he found it in the Dorset Army Cadet Force (ACF). Once in, nothing has

stopped his passion for it. In his own words: “I needed the cadets; it gave me focus and kept me away from trouble.” From his first nights under the stars on exercise to his completion of the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and progression up the promotion ladder, his success has made me so very proud.

Bright future

Now James seeks to secure a place at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst as he completes his college course this summer. His application to securing the right grades continues to amaze me. As he came to the end of his time as a cadet, he received the best accolade I could imagine and was selected as the Dorset County Regimental Sergeant Major. I thought it only appropriate to say publicly well done, you make me so proud!

l If your youngster would like to find out more about the cadets go to armycadets.com to find a detachment in your area. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 41


A D A N A C , A W A T OT

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk

A POSTCARD FROM... Jim (serving), Clare, Theo (10) and Alice (6), who arrived on their posting with elderly dog Macy and will be leaving with new puppy Maple

How long have you been an army family?

many, but we love the location and it has served us well.

Time in Ottawa?

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

Since 2007.

We arrived in August 2020.

How many other military families live there?

There are 11 exchange officers in Ottawa, but we are spread out all over the city. Because of COVID restrictions we only met one other British military family in person during the first year, but with regular meet-ups at the British High Commission we have met nearly all of them now.

What’s your quarter like?

We have a private rental that we chose. Housing in Ottawa is expensive and we wanted to live close to schools and have a good-sized garden for our dog, so our house is smaller than

42 Army&You summer 2022

Ottawa is a bilingual city so many of the local jobs will ask for fluency in French, however Clare works remotely as a podcast producer.

What about schools/ childcare?

With the pandemic schooling has been a little crazy! The kids went back in late January 2021, but were back to virtual learning in March and didn’t return to school again until September, 152 days later! That said, we have been very happy with the schools.

Where do people tend to get together and who supports you?

We have a community liaison

officer at the British High Commission who organises a weekly coffee morning in the centre of Ottawa. I know coffee mornings are a bit of a cliché, but I’ve really enjoyed them and found them very useful for sharing information.

How do you find the cost of living?

Car insurance is really expensive – thousands of dollars a year. Food is a little more expensive too especially if you want quality, and of course if you do winter sports that can be pricey, but most outdoor recreation is cheap or free. As with all postings there is a trade-off between making experiences versus living more modestly.

What are the best and worst things about Ottawa? The outdoor lifestyle is

amazing. Ottawa is a bikefriendly city with a network of multi-use pathways which run along the rivers and canal. Gatineau Park is minutes away in Quebec and amazing for hiking, mountain biking and skiing. Skating is everywhere in winter, and free! Though it may be cold in winter the sun mostly shines, it’s definitely not like a grey English winter. The worst thing for us is we will leave without having done everything we wanted. We were under tight restrictions for the first ten months and the US border only opened 15 months after we arrived.

Would you recommend it as a family posting? I honestly can’t think of anywhere better to take your family and we’ve been to a few places! &

@ArmyandYou


#OurArmyFamily The Chapman-Dupont family – Camille and Will (serving) – originally tried long-distance love but have now bought their first home together…

We met during my year abroad in the UK and weathered long-distance until I moved to London seven years ago. I enjoyed the London life and carved my own path in communications and the media while Will lived in the mess, says Camille. We have been lucky enough that Will has been mostly posted in the south of England so far, apart from a few months in Iraq. It has made it easier on our relationship, and my career!

FOR BETTER OR WORSE We chose to buy our own home before Will’s deployment which was both the craziest and best decision for us. We moved in only two weeks before his flight from Brize Norton! It has provided me with muchneeded stability and enabled me

“Who better than army partners to understand what a crazy life we live?”

to keep connected to London for work and friends. But it has also meant being cut out from patch life and community. NEW CONNECTIONS One of the ways to break that solitude has been by joining the Military Coworking Network in Sandhurst. Creating new connections with other partners has been extremely helpful. Who better than army partners to understand what a crazy life we live? &

Whatever your relationship to your soldier, we’d love to hear about your army family. Email editor@aff.org.uk and follow @ArmyandYou for more stories

Picture: Joseph Galvin

Picture: jcomp/freepik.com

A DIFFICULT START Looking back, when Will announced he was joining the forces in 2014, the news didn’t fill me with cheer, to say the least. I knew nothing about the army and, living in France at the time, I was worried we wouldn’t make it.

The truth is, it was tough, especially the first term at Sandhurst. But it did give me a first taste of what it means to be part of the army family: I met three other girlfriends from that intake. We supported each other during the course by sharing the highs and lows, crucial information unevenly communicated by boyfriends, and more. I am very grateful to them, and one of them is still one of my closest friends.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 43


YoungGeneration MILY B E R S O F Y O U R A R M Y FA FOR THE YOUNGER MEM

F

Postings beyond Brexit

OR SOME locations post-Brexit, it’s become more challenging for army family members classed as NEETS – young adults who are not in full-time employment, education or training – to live and work in Europe when accompanying their parents. Esther Thomas, AFF’s Manager Overseas, explains: “The issue is that families are tightly regulated with regards to ‘dependancy’ status as this is fundamentally linked with immigration, eligibility to accompany, entitlements to services and the right to work in another country.” With current MOD policy only recognising young people aged 18-24 in full-time education as full dependants, families posted overseas have always had to seek prior permission to take their NEETS with them, unless they are taking a gap year, or are physically or mentally incapable of supporting themselves.

NO GO Esther spoke to a few families who have had to make tough decisions, but were willing to share their experiences to help others. Terri contacted AFF when it became apparent that her two eldest children would not be counted in the family’s overseas housing entitlement. She feels that the army policy is outdated: “In the current climate, young adults are not able to move out; they have only just finished school, are starting Terri and her family

44 Army&You summer 2022

understand what it actually means for your family before accepting an overseas tour.”

Martha – Catalyst Fitness Cyprus

their first jobs and don’t always have the funds to live independently.” For Terri this lack of housing entitlement, along with restrictions for their young adults to get jobs or volunteer, plus some other family dynamics, resulted in the family not actually taking up the overseas posting. KNOWING THE RULES In contrast, Justin, who was posted to Belgium, told AFF: “It wasn’t a preference, so it came as a bit of a surprise. I hadn’t given much thought to the possible impact of EU exit on our family circumstances.” His two eldest children had lived with them in their quarter in the UK, so their intention was for this to continue in Belgium, but they soon realised that they were not covered by the NATO Status of Forces Agreement and in a post-Brexit world, had no automatic right of residency and no right to work. There is currently no alternative visa process to allow them to reside or work legally either. To overcome this, one of Justin’s sons, aged 21, has enrolled for an online university course which puts him into a full-time education bracket. Their eldest, at 26, has had to move back to the UK to live with his grandma due to restrictions which mean he could only visit for 90 days in a 180-day period. Justin says: “We are no longer covered by those EU-wide agreements, it’s a must to

MAKING THE MOST OF IT In the meantime Martha is making the most of her overseas experiences. After starting a language degree in the UK, she decided it wasn’t for her and returned to her parents’ home in Cyprus. Looking for a new focus, she decided to qualify as a fitness instructor and personal trainer, completing her course online. Fortunately, in this location family members with full or limited status may apply for UK Dependant jobs on camp but must register with the Republic of Cyprus if wanting to work outside the Sovereign Base Areas. On qualifying she set up her own business and now has a local business licence. Esther adds: “Whilst we’re delighted that some chains of command are demonstrating a degree of flex in continuing to consider applications for NEETS to accompany families overseas, AFF will continue to push for improved comms on the impact of Brexit. Families need to fully understand what is and what’s not available to enable all family members to make the most of an overseas posting.” l Head to aff.org.uk for updates. Melissa, Corbin and Jensen on a recent day trip to Dinant, Belgium


SURVIVING TO THE MAX

M

EET Max – nine years old, army kid, adventurer and vlogger. When he was just six, he started Max Survival, a blog about all things outdoors which he shares on social media, vetted by mum and dad of course. When the pandemic hit, the vlog picked up pace and the family enjoyed using it as a tool for home schooling during their posting to Wales. He’s often joined by his elder brother, Wild Will, who also has lots of knowledge about nature. We caught up with Max, now living in Scotland, to find out more…

from other military families? When I’ve gone into dad’s work his friends said ‘wow, its Max Survival!’ In Chepstow, two kids already knew who I was as soon as I got there because they had seen my videos, which made it easier to make friends. People have been getting outside to the places I’ve been to because they think where I go is really cool and they want to explore it themselves. What do your friends think? They think it’s epic. Have your teachers seen it? Yes, they think it’s great that I’m getting outside – they are actually quite impressed with how much I know about the wilderness.

Tell us about yourself and your army family… I was born in Yorkshire and have lived in Mansfield, Brecon, Chepstow, and Edinburgh. I like Warhammer, taekwondo, going outdoors, canyoning, swimming in rivers and foraging for yummy free food like nettles! Why did you start vlogging? Bear Grylls inspired me to get outdoors, go foraging for wild food and share my tips on surviving in the wild.

remote countries, where there’s more wilderness. In Scotland there’s lots to explore. When I moved here we found lots of new wild food to forage.

Do you think it helped you to settle in when you first moved to Scotland? I was excited to go to more

Your followers must learn so much from your videos, you must do lots of research… Yes, Bear Grylls has useful tips on survival. Steve Backshall has interesting facts about animals from all over the globe. I hope that I eventually get to meet one of them because I’m a huge fan and I want to squeeze all the juicy facts out of them.

sponsored camp in my garden in lockdown. We sold sunflower seeds recently and raised £300 for Ukraine to help people. I’m thankful to all my followers for helping me raise money. What feedback have you had

What are your plans for the future? I hope I can go to the Amazon rainforest and learn about the amazing wildlife. Hopefully I can spread what I learn around the world. I hope this can be a job for when I’m older, to be an actual survivalist and study animals in South America. Follow Max at @maxsurvival151 on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and YouTube.

You’ve done some things for charity too – why do you think that’s important? It’s good for the world. I raised enough money to protect four acres of rainforest by doing a

summer 2022 Army&You 45


Win BOOK CLUB

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS

Trains and a Enter our giveaway to win a copy of Trains, Trains, rules. Reading Force scrapbook. See page three for entry You Already read it? Tell us your thoughts @Armyand

RAILWAY REVIEWS In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, service youngsters tell us what they thought of Trains, Trains, Trains! by Donna David and Nina Pirhonen…

ZOE (5) AND ROBIN (2)

Published by Macmillan Children’s Books

ARCHIE (3) AND MUM It’s Archie’s new choice for his bedtime story. He absolutely loves it and counts along, picking out his favourite trains. It’s an easy read book that rhymes and is great for him to learn how to count. His favourite part is where you have to go back and find certain animals throughout the book. For me it’s great that they’ve added a ‘tips’ page for parents to really get their child interacting throughout. A solid rf_a&y_advert_ART.pdf favourite inJ1846 our house, 10/10.

Both children really enjoyed the book. Zoe said: “I love reading this book, I wish there were books like this about other vehicles. We liked all the funny pictures.” Robin said: “I love the space rocket train, 15/03/2022 it1 goes zoom!” 17:09

&

Have fun with your family

BEATRICE (2) AND MUM We love this book! The illustrations are perfect for little eyes with all the colours to look at. As we flipped through the book seeing all the trains and numbers, Beatrice loved counting with us. Reading the book is easy and fun – the rhyming keeps her attention. Beatrice’s favourite part is the interactive section at the end (it’s a great addition and gives parents ideas on how to read it in a different way).

READING FORCE is the free shared reading initiative for forces families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or via video call if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Teens will receive a special journal. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or register online at readingforce.org.uk

d If your children woul for s like to review book email the A&Y Book Club, rg.uk hattie@readingforce.o d ages with their names an

f F ve or a R te ll EE ra se n rv fa in m g ili es

Share a book and chat

C

M

“I loved doing Reading Force with all my family because it brought everyone together!”

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

“The stickers and the theme of the journal are perfect.”

Sign up at

www.readingforce.org.uk and we’ll send you FREE books and resources for your children and teens

Follow our Facebook page for book giveaways ReadingForce

readingforce

ReadingForce

Reading Force is a registered charity No. 1159890

46 Army&You summer 2022

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Giveaways

Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk or scan the QR code on this page for your chance to win. Entries close on 14 August 2022 unless otherwise stated. One entry per household per giveaway. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Never a dull moment

BAG A BRIGHTON BREAK

Located in central Brighton with sea views, minutes’ walk from the pier and local attractions, the New Steine Hotel is the perfect location for your stay. Recently refurbished, it’s kept some of its Georgian features with modern, crisp décor and original artwork dotted around. Choose from a range of double, twin and family rooms – all en-suite with USB plugs, flat-screen TVs with up to 47 Freeview channels, tea and coffee. The hotel’s award-winning breakfast offers a selection of delicious homemade food using local produce, and the French bistro serves authentic food made by the best traiteur in France. Army families can claim a 10 per cent discount with code “CHECK” at newsteinehotel.com

One lucky A&Y reader will win an overnight stay for a family of up to four (two adults and two children), with dinner and breakfast. This prize is open to serving regular and reserve families only. Prize offered subject to availability and is available until 31 August 2023 (excluding Bank Holiday weekends).

In Life Wasn’t Boring, author Colin Groves relates the life, times, successes, failures and, most importantly, the personal interactions and loves of a professional infantry officer and his family, over more than three decades of service. Some parts are as serious as can be expected of a military account, while others might surprise you. From action in Aden and Northern Ireland, to faux pas with royalty, and the heavy demands the military makes on family life, this book reveals the human side of being a soldier. We have five copies in hardback up for grabs, worth £20 each.

Beautiful borders

Go wild for skincare

Following our popular article ‘Taking Pride in the Patch’ in the winter 2021 edition of Army&You, Marina Colville of Defence Estate Gardeners has continued to grow the concept. She’s teamed up with Garden on a Roll (gardenonaroll.com) – a team of passionate horticulturists that have been helping first-time gardeners plant their very own professionally designed borders since 2010 – to offer you a chance to win a border of your choice, worth £75. There are six border styles to choose from depending on whether your home is in a sunny or shady spot. You can also take advantage of a 15% discount by using 15OFFGOAR at the checkout – and if you’d like to treat someone, they have gift vouchers too!

Hedgewild skincare products are completely natural, plastic free, friendly to bees and have a minimal carbonfootprint – created by military spouse Kitty Campbell. Her products were born from a passion to provide honest, sustainable products that work. 100% natural, all the oils, botanicals and waxes that go into Hedgewild are grown and produced in the beautiful British countryside. So it’s not only good for your skin, but good for the environment too! Win a Hedgewild gift set featuring a Lavender Sea Salt Scrub (£25) and Double Cleansing Kit (£26). All A&Y readers can claim 10% off with code AFF10 at hedgewild.co.uk until 31 August 2022.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2022 Army&You 47


BlogSpot

Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about army life and send them to editor@aff.org.uk

BEST BLOG

Challenging but content we moved into our first quarter that year. Although tricky at times, we settled into patch life quickly and despite COVID overshadowing so much, I finally found the place where I belong.

By Stephanie Quintrell facebook.com/diaryofadisabledmum

When I met my husband, I never imagined moving my whole life 180 miles away to join him on his posting in the Midlands. I had a career, my horses, family and friends and always pictured myself living unaccompanied with my husband coming home for weekends until he completed his time in the army. This lifestyle suited our family, and we made the best of it.

I am a mum, housewife, I sit on the committee for the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum, sing in the Military Wives Choir and have been a part of the Forces Wives Challenge team for a year now. I’m responsible for administration and co-organising events and feel this connection has been instrumental in helping me to adjust to military life.

However, life had a different plan for us and in 2019 I suddenly became unwell and our world turned upside down. Since then I have been disabled and use a wheelchair full time, with limited use in one hand and managing many other complex symptoms. With the loss of my independence came the loss of my career and ‘normal’ life as I knew it. But this was the kick we needed to make changes in our lives for the better and

Times can be hard, and between co-ordinating my medical appointments, parenting our four-year-old son, and getting down south as much as we can to spend time with our horses and family, we are certainly kept busy. When I first became unwell, I felt I had lost so many parts of myself and didn’t truly feel like I had a purpose. But military life has given so much back to me and my family and we wouldn’t change our lives for the world!

“I am a mum, housewife, sit on the committee for the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum and sing in the Military Wives Choir.”

Stephanie is this edition’s best blogger. She wins an afternoon tea experience for two at a Classic Lodges hotel – a nationwide collection of exclusive hotels that all have their own charming character, whether that’s a peaceful country getaway or a city centre stay. Each of the hotels provides a friendly, relaxing atmosphere while maintaining Classic Lodges’ signature style, comfort and luxury – including the stunning Lakeside Hotel & Spa, situated in the heart of the Lake District or the magnificent grounds at Charingworth Manor in the Cotswolds. Afternoon tea includes dainty made-to-order finger sandwiches, sweet treats, homemade scones and a glass of Lanson champagne. To book your stay, visit classiclodges.co.uk/specialoffers

48 Army&You summer 2022

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Spouses are stronger together Having a small business and being a military wife has certainly not been easy. As we all know, army life can throw curve balls.

By Kitty Campbell, @hedgewild Once, I thought launching my own business as a military wife was a crazy idea: mum to a young baby, with an oftenabsent husband plus moving every two years. Fast-forward four years and I couldn’t have been more wrong. My skincare business Hedgewild was born in 2017 as I wanted to find a nappy balm for my daughter which met all my green credentials. I assumed, however, that with military life, having a business just couldn’t become a reality. That’s when I started discovering the amazing

WIN

Hedgewild products on page 47 business support available to military spouses and thinking, maybe I can do this! I joined several military spouse business groups on Facebook, which have been invaluable in providing information and

contacts. The most valuable support though has been through networking. I found an amazing brand designer, website designer, business coach and mentor through the military spouse community, all with military connections.

In the pandemic, going from nursery care and husband around, to two small children at home and a deployed husband was challenging (blending balms with a two-year-old hanging off my leg was quite interesting!). But the military spouse business network was wonderful. Running a business from a quarter also has its difficulties: I’m currently operating out of a magnolia cupboard. It’s not ideal, but it works around me, my family, and this mad, unpredictable military life! So, rather than seeing being a military spouse as a hindrance to starting a business, I now view it as a blessing. We are very much stronger together!

Chasing (rose-scented) dreams I started my business to earn some extra pocket money, but it’s become so much more than that. It’s my little creation, my chance to show my two girls that you can have babies, be a stay-at-home mum and still build something for yourself.

By Hannah Dimbleby, @hd_sparkle_aroma

I joined the NHS when I was 18 and it’s all I’ve ever known. When we found out I was pregnant again and I would be having another year off work during the pandemic, I wanted to try something for myself, so almost two years ago I started my own small business. The thought was scary, as I’ve never been my own boss and I wasn’t sure if it would take off. My youngest was eight months old and I was five months pregnant with our second. I started buying plain diffusers and candles and decorating them. I set up a Facebook page and shortly afterwards the orders started coming in! Suddenly, new ideas kept coming and I had such lovely feedback that I gained www.armyandyou.co.uk

As an army wife, moving around can be tough on your career, especially once you have children, but there’s no rule book on having to be the housewife and mother and then forget your own dreams.

Big fan of blogs? Read more at armyandyou.co.uk/blogspot regular, loyal customers. After the success of Facebook I set up an Instagram account and watched this snowball over the first year. I’ve worked with some amazing influencers and I was lucky enough to be featured by a beauty blogger for a review. I’ve also used my business to raise money for different charities.

To anyone thinking of taking the chance, I would say go for it, chase your dreams and never give up on them, and don’t be afraid to do something different. summer 2022 Army&You 49


THE FUNNY SIDE

SIZING UP THE JOB SCENE

Columnist @mynamessarah3 on scented candles, sweet treats and selling undies

M

Y NAME is Sarah and my husband is a senior Lance Corporal in the British Army. Being an army spouse is a tough gig, but thousands of us do it. We must need our bumps felt, which ironically is how some of us became army spouses in the first place. Moving home, schools, pets, kit and caboodle every few years is a breeze compared to the holy grail – finding a job. Finding work once you’ve unpacked your last MFO, got your kids into a suitable school and made the local takeaway aware of your existence, is top of the agenda for a lot of spouses. Many of you have set up your own cottage industries which follow you no matter where the army puts you. We’re not talking old school Tupperware, Ann Summers or Avon here. Spouses are branching out. We’ve got proofreaders, teachers, childminders, hairdressers, and I’ve accepted more offers of wax

50 Army&You summer 2022

melts than I can shake a lavender and vanilla candle at. If I buy any more, I’m seriously not going to be able to fit into my magnolia box. In my defence I have kids, dogs and a flatulent husband. The aromas that emanate from my Darren after a curry night at the mess would kill a civvy. We’ve even got a lady on our patch who makes bespoke sweet boxes for special occasions. I mean, come on! She’s seriously upped her game here. Never mind the kids! Gummy bears and Parma Violets posted through my door in a neat little box with a note saying ‘it’s Friday and you’ve earned these’. Yes please and yes I have. Rumour has it that there’s even one spouse on our patch that sells her worn knickers online. When my mum was an army wife in the decades that taste forgot (70s and 80s) spouses were limited to either getting a job in the NAAFI, the mess or cleaning – all noble professions

“I’ve accepted more offers of wax melts than I can shake a lavender and vanilla candle at.”

by the way and still popular today. But these days spouses are offered training programmes, employment fairs and job apps through social media. The modern spouse can network much more easily and has more strings and bows in their arsenal than the entire Love Honey lingerie collection. I’ve tried loads of different jobs where I could work from home. I ran a spray tan business once but when I accidentally sprayed a young officer’s wife the colour of a hangover pee I decided to give it up. I’ve started going to boot camp on a Wednesday which is run by one of the wives and she doesn’t take any prisoners, which is ironic as she’s an ex-RMP. For the first few weeks I was seeing spots and could taste blood. At one point I had sweat in my eyes that wasn’t even mine. Any road up, I’m going shopping this afternoon to purchase a 24pack of cheap knickers and some second-class stamps. & @ArmyandYou


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There’s so much more to SSAFA We are SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. We have been supporting the Armed Forces family for more than 135 years and not just during times of conflict. We help those currently serving, veterans and their families to regain their independence and dignity. Our services are diverse, and so are the people we help. Whether practical, emotional or financial we can get them the support they deserve.

Learn now about our support for families, visit

ssafa.org.uk/more Registered as a charity in England and Wales Number 210760 in Scotland Number SC038056 and in Republic of Ireland Number 20202001. Established 1885.

Regulars | Reserves | Veterans | Families