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Army &You WINTER 2014

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{for everyone with a sold

Married to the job? Find out whether dual-serving holds the key to a successful Service life THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

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FROM THE EDITOR

Life lessons

AFF’S BIG DEBATE IN NUMBERS

100 Percentage of the audience at AFF’s Big Debate who agreed that widows should be allowed to remarry or cohabit

I

T NEVER ceases to amaze us just how many Army families have an inspirational story to tell, how you cope with Army life, what you’ve done in your community to make a difference or your top tips on how you’ve handled a particular aspect of our unique lifestyle. In this edition we hear from some of those individuals: Nicky Clarke, who founded the Military Wives Choirs; Shellie Bell on being both an Army wife and mum; and one lady’s story of living through postnatal depression. And it’s not just individuals who Wiltshire, the council shares how it’s are making a difference. Units preparing for huge numbers of have been pulling their Service families rebasing to weight to support their the area (pages 42-43). families with brilliant There are lots of ways initiatives such as 27 to get involved in your RLC Regt’s Partner magazine: enter our A very happy Decompression giveaways, join our Programme (page new book club, follow Christmas and 43) and the Schools us on Twitter and best wishes Liaison Group set write to Postbag! up by the UWO at 19 The Army&You team for 2015 Regt RA (page 20). wishes you all a very More and more happy Christmas and county councils are best wishes for 2015. recognising the needs of Army families; under the Armed Forces Covenant we hear about support for Gurkha families in Kent CHARLOTTE EADIE, EDITOR and Hampshire (page 49) and in

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1.8

Billions of pounds set aside to build new accommodation and carry out upgrades to existing sites

6 Millions of pounds in the annual MOD support fund which schools can apply for a portion of

624 Members of the Armed Forces who have successfully applied for Forces Help To Buy

Charlotte

56 Emails one delegate had to send over six weeks before Modern Housing Solutions replaced a key

1 &Army You

WINTER 2014

iPad given away by the Army Families Federation in our Big Debate prize draw

WWW.ARMYANDYOU.CO.UK

On the cover...

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Married to the job? Find out whether dual-serving holds the key to a successful Service life

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

Does having the same job make married life easier? We spoke to dual-serving couples to find out (pages 32-33).

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@ArmyandYou

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ArmyandYou

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DID YOU KNOW? You can find out all about the key moments from AFF’s Big Debate in our AFF in Action special. Turn to pages 10-12 to read more. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 03


CONTACTS

CONTACT AFF

?

Do you have concerns, questions or feedback on any issues affecting you? Use this list to find your local co-ordinator or the relevant point of contact.

AFF UK

Find us on Facebook or tweet @The_AFF

CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 us@aff.org.uk

SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 southhants@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL

07824 534357 rmcentral@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 rmnorth@aff.org.uk

AFF VIRTUAL CO-ORDINATOR 07974 970696 coord@aff.org.uk

SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 salisburyplain@aff.org.uk

YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 yorkshire@aff.org.uk

SCOTLAND 07780 093115 scotland@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk

SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 southwest@aff.org.uk

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EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 eastmids@aff.org.uk

NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 ni@aff.org.uk

NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 northhants@aff.org.uk

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(0049) 05221 297 9644 germany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH (0049) 03221 214 9895 gutersloh@aff.org.uk

PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 paderborn@aff.org.uk

AFF OVERSEAS (0044) 07795 687930 overseas@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2110 rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

@affcyprus

ESBA (00357) 9932 4990 esba@aff.org.uk

CANADA (001) 403 544 4600 canada@aff.org.uk

WSBA (00357) 9789 2230 wsba@aff.org.uk

KENYA (00254) 07198 51834 kenya@aff.org.uk

YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS

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DID YOU KNOW? You can get your questions answered by the chain of command through our Postbag pages. Turn to page 64 to find out how!

04 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


OUR EXPERTS

OUR EXPERTS

We quiz our experts on what they have been up to over the last quarter. Their contact details can be found on the left, so please do get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

LUCY SCOTT, EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

KAREN ROSS, HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS

CAROLINE MAYNE EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCES & MONEY

Taking your children out of school in term time is high on my list. Families have been fined £60 per parent for a week’s holiday for R&R. AFF believes there are circumstances when family time is of the utmost importance. Absences are acceptable if your child is ill or you have permission from the school in advance. We would like all head teachers to understand the uniqueness of Service life and inflexible leave so they can make an informed decision. Having consulted with the Department for Education, we are putting together an AFF factsheet for you to take into your school for guidance.

Lucy Scott and I are currently investigating the new Special Educational Needs code of practice. Statements of education have changed to Education Health Care Plans and there is a local offer attached to this. We are concerned about how the local offer will be transferred from one Local Authority (LA) to another and what will happen when families straddle LA borders. AFF is looking at the impact these changes may have on mobile Service families. We are updating our Special Educational Needs web page and have asked you what information you would like to see included. Contact us if you want to comment.

I’ve been focusing on engaging with employers to highlight the issues that Army spouses can face. I’m delighted with the positive responses and examples of best practice we received for AFF’s Employer of the Year Award. Enterprise Rent-A-Car won this year – congratulations (see page 36). Our employment portal, Jobs&You, continues to grow and I encourage Forces-friendly employers to join. AFF works with the MOD, DWP, RBL, industry and other organisations to highlight issues and improve employment opportunities – whether it is getting a job, setting up a business or pursuing training.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? Scotland!

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? Germany – Das hat Spaß gemacht!

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? JHQ, Rheindahlen. Brilliant friends and frühstück.

KATHERINE HOULSTON, FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

CAT CALDER, HOUSING

JULIE LOWE, COVENANT LIAISON

I am researching and looking for evidence from families who are affected by the loss of a council tax reduction for your own home if posted abroad; issues for families getting the 50 per cent council tax reduction for their second home in Scotland; problems for Army spouses accessing social housing after a divorce; and families who have retained their SFA for spousal education reasons and have then had to pay for removals when they do move. If anyone has experienced difficulties with the above, or if you have a burning issue you think I should be looking at, contact me at housing@aff.org.uk

AFF continually monitors commitments made under the Armed Forces Covenant and identifies new areas where the Army lifestyle has caused you to be disadvantaged in comparison to civilians. We present evidence directly to the MOD Armed Forces Covenant Team. My recent focus has been identifying commitments we would like included in the 2014 Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report. One matter you have raised is improving support to divorced and separated families. The Covenant Team asks us for evidence, so tell us and we’ll tell them! Look out for our comments in this year’s Report.

I’ve met lots of F&C soldiers who are separated from their families as a result of the new minimum income requirement, particularly those at Deepcut who enlisted before this rule came into effect. The income threshold means that new recruits, especially those with one or more children, will have to wait a number of years before they are reunited with their families. AFF is working with RBL and a firm of solicitors with the intention of challenging this requirement. We believe that the threshold should reflect the full value of a soldier’s salary and should therefore be lower.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? Hameln – friends, parties, great memories.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? Fallingbostel – the best community spirit.

WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BEST POSTING? Experiencing the craic in Northern Ireland!

DID YOU KNOW? Got an inspirational story about Army life? Share it with Army&You’s readers by emailing editor@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 05


Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Admissions Deadline Thu 15 Jan 2015 Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

www.qvs.org.uk


IN THIS ISSUE...

CONTENTS SPOTLIGHT

Illustrating war

Army&You hears from two commissioned war artists who have spent time illustrating life on the front line…

After an Army officer spotted her painting for the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Anna Redwood was put forward to be the brigade artist for the Desert Rats. She spent a month in Afghanistan with them.

Linda Kitson was appointed the official war artist for The Falklands campaign in 1982. She was the first commissioned female war artist to accompany troops into battle and remained on the South Atlantic islands for three months.

WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO BECOME A WAR ARTIST? My father was in the Army and I moved regularly as a child. My husband was also in the Army for a short time. I grew up surrounded by soldiers and so have a love and respect for them. They make me feel safe and part of a family. However, I hate camping and am not a frustrated soldier. I have never been for a run in my life! I remember seeing soldiers training. From my child eyes looked like they were playing. When I then arrived in a war zone as an adult, I understood how vital that training is.

9 A WORD FROM...

CAN YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST DISCOVERED YOUR LOVE OF ART? My school proffered either Art or Latin and Greek. No contest! HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY TO THE FALKLANDS COME ABOUT? I was commissioned by the Artistic Records Selection Committee at the Imperial War Museum comprising artists, Armed Forces and MOD.

HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO AFGHANISTAN? I was away from my husband and five children who remained forefront in my mind the entire time. It was not a decision I took lightly.

Chief Executive Catherine Spencer reflects on AFF’s Big Debate

HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO DRAW IN A WAR SITUATION? As official war artist I was accepted in both classified and restricted areas – a very rare privilege. Regrettably, I was too censorious on myself and out of deference for the men and their families I chose not to draw the most harrowing sights.

IN THIS WORLD OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY , DO YOU THINK THE WAR ARTIST IS STILL RELEVANT? Yes. In a painting a war artist can capture the essence of the soldier and the emotion and rawness of the situation. A photograph captures just one fleeting moment. The most significant moment is when the gates open and there is a sense of excitement, but then the soldiers change, the banter disappears and they fall silent as they set off. This range of emotions is what I wanted to capture.

10 AFF IN ACTION

DO WE NEED ART WHEN WE NOW HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA COVERING ALL ASPECTS OF WAR? We need all possible mediums so that there is the broadest choice. Some people only react to one or two. The IWM’s Women At War exhibition showed poetry and verse, video, paintings drawings and sculpture. Images which can be taken home or exhibited publicly do make a precious contribution. We can “own” them for forever.

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE OF ART? When I was young I spent most of the time painting on my bedroom walls and loved painting portraits from a very early age, completing a portrait of my sister when I was 12. I now work from a studio at home in Somerset whilst juggling the needs of five children and a husband.

We bring you the key questions and comments from the Big Debate

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP THE ARMY ARTS SOCIETY (AAS)? I felt that it was indecent to make money out of war. I was paid £1,500 by the Imperial War Museum, so gave half to the Haslar Mental Health Unit and the other to the AAS. The AAS encourages its members whether serving, retired or families to showcase and promote their work. We also support injured and ill Servicemen and women through mentoring. The current AAS exhibition runs until 29 November 2014 at the Young Gallery, Salisbury. To find out more, visit www.armyartssociety.org n

DO YOU THINK ART HAS A TENDENCY TO GLORIFY WAR? Going to museums I have always felt moved by pieces brought back from the battlefield, [such as] a lump of breeze block from the Berlin Wall. I feel a strong connection to it and it brings the place physically to me. Hopefully my work connects the soldier’s story in Afghanistan to the public here.

18 LIFE FATHER, LIKE SON

28

What is it like for Service spouses when children follow parents into the Army? 28 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou

winter 2014 Army&You 29

www.armyandyou.co.uk

28 ILLUSTRATING WAR Two top war artists share their experiences of capturing conflict

30 VOICES OF THE FUTURE Army&You catches up with Military Wives Choirs founder Nicky Clarke

35

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X-FORCES’ AMBITION IS TO CREATE AN AMAZING COMMUNITY OF SERVICE BUSINESSES

32 MARRIED TO THE JOB Uncovering the reality of life as part of a dual-serving military family

36 ENTERPRISING FIRM Find out which company has scooped AFF’s Employer of the Year Award

42 WELCOME TO WILTSHIRE Discover the plans one council has put in place to prepare itself for rebasing

44 FLIGHT FRUSTRATIONS AFF’s Overseas Director outlines the case for an overhaul of Service Children’s Visits

50 DEALING WITH DEPRESSION

62

A Forces spouse shares her experience of living with postnatal depression

59 A BEAUTY AND A BEAST We put the Range Rover Sport through its paces – on and off road

61 STAR ACT Former Forces sweetheart Claire Sweeney reveals her admiration for Britain’s soldiers

62 ASK THE EXPERTS From legal issues to beauty tips, our experts answer your burning questions

64 POSTBAG Your views about every aspect of Service life

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MY FOCUS WILL ALWAYS BE ON THAT WE NEVER FORGET OUR ROOTS

SPOTLIGHT very vividly. I was sitting on the sofa, looking out of the window at about 3pm when it was already dark and thinking “what about a choir?”. I had run one before and really missed it. It would be a good way to meet other people and something for us, not the boys or the children.

VOICES Choir master: Nicky Clarke has been awarded the MBE for her work with the Military Wives Choirs

of the future Earlier this year, Nicky Clarke received a richly-deserved MBE for her pivotal role in the phenomenal success of the Military Wives Choirs. She spoke to Army&You about how it all began and her vision for the future…

32 WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUND? I have always loved music, having played the piano from when I was five. My mother and grandfather were my musical inspiration. I also spent many years in our church choir and found great solace in the rhythm of weekly singing – much as I do now! 30 Army&You winter 2014

www.armyandyou.co.uk

WHERE WAS THE MILITARY WIVES CHOIR IDEA BORN? My husband, Hugo, and I were posted to Catterick. It was the autumn of 2009 and the brigade was deploying to Afghanistan in the spring. I found my new life there quite a challenge as I knew no one, we didn't have children at the time and Hugo was

continually away training. I had given up my job as a psychotherapist in Wiltshire and found myself hundreds of miles from family and friends. At times it felt quite isolated. I noticed that so much of the welfare, understandably, was focused on children and I thought “but what about us, the wives?”. While friends and

family try to help and military welfare has its role, I had a really strong sense that as military spouses we are best placed to look after each other – because we have all shared experiences and can understand better than anyone how we might be feeling at any given point. I can remember the moment @ArmyandYou

HOW DID GARETH MALONE GET INVOLVED? To do this properly, we needed someone with great musical experience and I thought about Gareth Malone. Through his agent I outlined my ideas and suggested doing a concert at the end of the tour for charity. I hadn't thought about doing it for TV, I just thought he might be able to get us up and running. Although they were hugely supportive, the timing didn't work out. However, he was hugely excited about the idea and with backing from the MOD, they ended up filming at Chivenor and Plymouth. In the meantime, my friend Caroline Jopp and I set up our own choir with the help of a wonderful lady called Carol Gedye. The choir proved to be a huge support to us all during Herrick 12 and at the end of the tour we sang at a charity concert; proud and excited that our soldiers could see what we'd been doing while they'd been away! The choir is still going strong, providing the support and friendships that I had always hoped it would for those living a life that isn't always easy. HOW DO YOU FEEL SINGING HAS HELPED SERVICE COMMUNITIES? Music is a great leveller; it helps to bridge divides in a way that I think is unique. When we sing in a choir, we are just an alto or a soprano. It doesn't matter what job our soldier has, where we live or how old we are – we are all there united in singing because we're all part of www.armyandyou.co.uk

one community. As someone once said to me: “Once you've sung with someone, your relationship is never the same again.” The sole purpose of the choirs is to provide support and friendship – it's just we're doing it on a bigger scale with 75 choirs, rather than one! Although there have been amazing opportunities that we have taken part in, if we didn't have that support and friendship we wouldn't have an organisation that really means anything. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS? It’s hard to choose but one of the best days we had was when we launched the Military Wives Choirs Foundation at Wellington Barracks with more than 650 ladies from all over the UK, Cyprus and Germany coming together to sing Stronger Together. To see ladies meeting again having moved choirs was a joy; that sense of connectedness is truly wonderful. We've achieved more than we thought which is testament to the resourcefulness of military wives! MWCs HAVE HELPED RAISE AWARENESS OF SERVICE FAMILIES TO THE PUBLIC. HOW DO YOU HOPE TO KEEP THAT GOING? Our vision for the MWCF was always to set it up for the long-term; we want the choirs to be here for our children and grandchildren. Given the transient nature of Service life, choirs could easily come and go as quickly as they were set up and if we didn't have the infrastructure behind them, there’s the risk they would just fade away. So we hope that we've given ladies the tools to keep the choirs going and made it as

Get involved: To find out how to join your local Military Wives Choir, visit www.militarywivescho irs.org

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My focus will always be on ensuring that we never forget our roots – that we are “Stronger Together”

easy as possible to set up and run wherever they are posted. We are also delighted to be asked to sing at so many events around the country and we hope to keep this going to continue to raise awareness of the lives we live and the support we provide to the Armed Forces. HAS GARETH CONTINUED TO SUPPORT YOU ALL? Gareth (pictured below) is our patron and a huge supporter of all we do. He understands the origins of the MWCF and knows that without its roots as a community organisation, we would not have succeeded as we have. That’s why he hosts our Musical Directors’ workshop each year, attends the annual meeting and is on hand to talk through ideas on how things are progressing. He continues to help us with some wonderful opportunities such as the Prom we recently performed at. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN THE FUTURE? My focus will always be on ensuring that we never forget our roots – that we are “Stronger Together”. That doesn't mean we sob into our teacups every two minutes – it means that we can achieve so much more together than if we brave things out alone. n winter 2014 Army&You 31

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A WORD FROM

A WORD FROM...

CATHERINE SPENCER, AFF Chief Executive Follow Catherine on Twitter @AFFChiefExec

Picture: Dominic Turner

cohabit in the event of the soldier’s death.

The calm before the storm?

O

UR 2014 conference was a day of debate and discussion. Regarding rebasing plans, we heard assurances that the big move for families rebasing from Germany and around the UK has been meticulously planned. From discussions on the day it seems that all things have been considered, but we will not see whether this is the reality for some months and AFF will continue to highlight the need for sufficient housing in the right areas with access to school places and medical facilities. HOUSING Housing continued to be a main theme. Defence Minister Anna Soubry was adamant that families should not be told that mould is their own fault and that structural issues should be

AFF’s Big Debate included our first jobs fair attended by: l Skanska l Annington Homes l HSBC l CTP l Serco l CarillionAmey l Barclays l Irwin Mitchell l Asda l SORTED! l RBLI Lifeworks l X-Forces l Brook Street l Enterprise Rent-A-Car l Cranfield University l Sodexo

addressed. This is welcome, but AFF will be asking what money will be available to fund remedial work. The audience was promised that when the new housing contract rolls out many of the enduring housing issues will be resolved (see page 25). Once more, it’s too early to say whether housing will be improved but AFF is monitoring the progress and will continue to engage with command and DIO to push for the best solutions. PENSIONS After a passionate question from the floor, the Minister suggested positive news on the Justice for Widows campaign; that the issues could be resolved by using the Armed Forces Covenant – which may see widows of those soldiers who were on the 1975 pension scheme being able to remarry or

OVERSEAS Living overseas also came under scrutiny, with assurances from the Adjutant General that the Army aims to remove “disincentives” of taking up a posting abroad. One delegate said that current School Children’s Visit flights were insufficient and it was agreed that this will be looked at. Spousal employment and the lack of second income was raised and understood by the panel and AFF’s Overseas Branch will continue to engage with you and command on the issues which make overseas postings problematic. EMPLOYMENT Our session gave families the opportunity to ask for advice on how to improve employment prospects or start their own business. WATCH THIS SPACE As we look forward, many of the changes that the Army has been working towards are on the cusp of fruition and it’s too early yet to measure the success of these projects. In some ways, AFF’s Big Debate was the calm before the storm. We know that our work is not done and that changes to Army life bring more challenges which continue to need representation. AFF is here, ready to listen, act on your concerns, help answer your questions and hear your ideas – whether you are a family of a Regular or Reserve soldier. Get in touch at us@aff.org.uk n

DID YOU KNOW? AFF’s Big Debate 2014 was hosted by Patrick Eade of BFBS and chaired by journalist Jill Misson. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 09


A day of debate Passions ran high at this year’s AFF Big Debate – our Conference held in October in London – as families aired their frustrations about decisions that affect their everyday lives. We round up some of the key questions and answers raised during the day…

HOUSING Housing dominated the early part of the day, with issues including mouldy quarters, cleaning standards, shorter appointment times and a request for better communication from DIO. One delegate, who has been married to a soldier for 30 years, said: “Why can’t we get it right on housing? Nothing ever changes.” Representing DIO, Air Cdre Ian Tolfts said: “The new housing contract will offer a one-stop-shop for repairs and allocations,” going on to promise more ways for families to communicate with DIO, a better repair service so less repeat call-outs and flexible appointment times. He said that if If there is a defect on move-in, there will be a 24-hour window to get [minor] faults fixed, adding: “We are striving to get as close to perfect as we can.”

Pictures: Dominic Turner

Any money in the pot for quarter upgrades? Air Cdre Tolfts revealed that

£90m was spent on upgrades last year, but admitted DIO is coming from a “low baseline” in some areas. He promised that every property will reach the “decent homes standard” by 2019. Why can’t unmarried dual serving couples in a longterm relationship and with children live in a quarter? Adjutant General (AG) Lt Gen Gerry Berragan said: “We have been wrestling with this. It’s one we need to resolve because the trend is going away from marriage.” He explained that the Army doesn’t have the capacity to suddenly open the door to those who are not in legal partnerships. The audience gave an overwhelming thumbs up for couples to live in SFA regardless of marriage/civil partnership. We have heard that SFA charges are increasing to be the same as civilian rates. How can this be fair? AG reassured the audience that the MOD will continue to subsidise SFA. There is a new system for charging but it will not be more than the current top rate. If there is an increase within the new bands, it will be graduated over a number of years. Other issues included the lack of SFA in some areas; living on isolated patches; and whether

families will continue to live in SSFA (hirings). There was also a request for a more logical approach when allocating quarters. Summing up the housing session, AFF Chief Exec Catherine Spencer said: “There’s a willingness to resolve housing issues.” EMPLOYMENT How do spouses persuade employers to take a chance on them? Catherine confirmed that AFF receives lots of enquiries from non-serving partners who feel they have missed out on jobs as a result of their chequered CVs. Stuart Tootal, from Barclays, advised: “If you’ve not worked for a long time, see where you can access support to ready you for work. Build your story; be proud of yourself and how you support your soldier.” One delegate pointed out that it’s more difficult to get a job in Northern Ireland because of the security issue. Stuart said: “If it’s a big national brand it shouldn’t be an issue.” What plans are in place to lift work restrictions for spouses posted overseas? Catherine said: “We have set up an overseas branch to look at this issue,” with AG adding: “If you are contemplating an overseas tour, find out what the rules are [in that country] to make

DID YOU KNOW? Other issues raised at the Big Debate included PTSD support; Ebola concerns; JPA access abroad; Financial support for adult learning;

10 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


AFF IN ACTION

Involved audience: Our “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” cards captured delegates’ views as the key players outlined how the Army of the future will be shaped

an informed decision.” A delegate also asked the panel to look at the whole overseas package. Catherine agreed: “It’s been a great concern for many years. The Army is not doing enough to make up for the lack of spouse’s salaries. The benefits of being overseas are reduced because families don’t have enough money to enjoy it.” AG agreed to look at the overseas allowances including Disturbance Allowance, School Children’s Visits and resettlement. He said: “In some places we’re asking people to subsidise overseas postings.” EDUCATION Why don’t some schools understand that R&R and POTL should come under authorised absences? Mike Cooper, from Directorate Children and Young People, said: “The Department for Education (DfE) has issued guidance to head teachers. We’re looking at getting authorisation for

families through the chain of command.” David Fugurally, from DfE, added: “Some head teachers and schools don’t know enough about Service life.” Anna Soubry, Minister for Defence, Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, commented that she would like to know of any cases where families have had a problem with this. Is there guidance on how schools should spend their Service Premium? Mike pointed out that Ofsted now requires schools to publish how they are using the money, while David confirmed that heads often ask the DfE for advice on how they can make a difference. REBASING What is the MOD doing to ensure that there are enough school places, dentists and doctors in rebasing areas? There were assurances from the panel that all those things will be in place. Maj Gen Alastair Dickinson

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said: “There are three areas of concern – North Yorkshire, Wiltshire and Hampshire. We’ve had detailed discussions with the county councils and public consultations and we now have a master plan.” Catherine added: “Families are used to moving but it’s the fear of the huge numbers involved – it will affect the whole population.” The 1975 pension states that Army widows cannot remarry or cohabit without losing their pension. What’s being done? Anna Soubry agreed the situation is unfair. She said: “Governments have problems changing rules retrospectively; the argument is if you do it for one you do it for all. However, women ‘married to the Army’ were disadvantaged in their career because of their service. It’s a Covenant issue.” l A comprehensive roundup of the day can be found at www.aff.org.uk n

Child Support Agency rules; Female generals; NHS waiting lists; Running a business from your quarter; Adaptations to SFA; Covenant issues. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 11


AFF IN ACTION

Family affairs JILL ABRAM

VICKY MACGREGOR I am interested in how the transition [of Service children] between schools is going to be addressed. It is an issue for lots of families with young children. If people are going to be staying put in one location then the infrastructure needs to be built.

The top issues are definitely housing and the mobility of families. For me, it is the ability to form a career whilst moving every 18 months. There are questions to be answered but I appreciate all the work that the AFF does.

SGT MARTIN STAPLES It is the same questions every time – regarding the quarters and lack of them. The biggest thing is housing – getting faults fixed, overpriced bills when it comes to utilities (certainly on the Canadian Estate in Bulford) and it is about all the agencies working together.

AMY NEALE My question regards education and why there is no support for spouses seeking Level 4 qualifications who have been unable to obtain them because of their husband’s career.

SARAH MACIVER We’ve just done a big move from Edinburgh and I got a letter saying that I am being charged £35 for a watermark on a door and a rust mark under the sink from a can and another £30 to vacuum a house which was vacuumed. How can they justify that? SARAH HILTON I was here two years ago and it’s the same again – it’s always about accommodation and it doesn’t seem to get resolved. Will the new company deliver? They’ve made a lot of promises so hopefully they will. We’ve got to give them the benefit of the doubt.

EMMA BARRY One of my questions is why, given the amount of money that needs to be spent on quarters, are we not allowed to provide our own capital upgrades – even if it is within the rules. If someone is prepared to pay £600 to put in a better shower, why can’t they do it? LYNN BRAITHWAITE It is the housing issues which have been ongoing for 30 years now. [The MOD] is putting great faith in this new housing contract but I don’t believe it unless they’ve got pots of money. I think as an Army wife that spouses and housing come last in the pecking order. NICOLA DUGMORE I hope the new housing contract delivers. I’ve lived in quarters for the past 15 years and it can’t be much worse than it has been. Things can only get better so my fingers are crossed.

TRACEY DOWALL-LYNCH

I came for the jobs fair. When wives move away, they lose their jobs. There is employment out there if you have the time and energy to look but I don’t think a lot of the wives have. If there were more job-specific adverts in Army&You targeting wives that would be amazing.

READ MORE ONLINE Scan this code with your smartphone to view extended interviews from the AFF Big Debate. Alternatively, visit http://bit.ly/1owHEq2

SUPPORTING THE UNSUNG HEROES CONGRATULATIONS to the University of Wolverhampton, winner of AFF’s Community Award for outstanding work supporting Army families. The University’s free business start-up programme “Supporting the Unsung Heroes” has already helped more than 150 dependants of serving soldiers, veterans and Reservists and

Big Debate delegates share their key concerns about modern military life...

has expanded across the UK, Germany and Cyprus. The four-day course followed by on-hand advice and group mentoring, helps you build confidence and knowledge to start or grow your own business. Email mod-enquiries@wlv.ac.uk for more information. The award was kindly sponsored by Irwin Mitchell.

EMMA PLEWS I think the big questions surround the settling in of recent changes. We’ve been through the redundancy bit, but the New Employment Model, the changing of the pension and the uncertainty over whether they will penalise us are definitely concerns.

YOUR BIG DEBATE PANEL Jill Misson, Panel Chair Anna Soubry MP, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Lt Gen Gerry Berragan CB, Adjutant General Catherine Spencer, AFF Chief Executive Mike Cooper, Director MOD Directorate Children & Young People Air Cdre Ian Tolfts, Head of Service Delivery Accommodation, Defence Infrastructure Organisation Maj Gen Alastair Dickinson, DG – Basing and Infrastructure Ren Kapur, Founder & CEO, X-Forces Stuart Tootal, Barclays Fleur Thomas, Dir Engagement, CRFCA

DID YOU KNOW? You can find out who won our first Employer of the Year Award by turning to page 36.

12 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


GRAPEVINE Really useful bits about Army life

GRAPEVINE GET INVOLVED

Have you got a story you would like to share with Army&You? If so, contact the Editor at editor@aff.org.uk

TAXING TIME

X marks the spot: Register now to have your say in 2015’s General Election

Register now to have your say

T

HE next General Election is not far away and registering to vote is now easier than ever for Army families. As part of the move to Individual Electoral Registration, a new system of online registration has been introduced. This means that if you’re based in the UK, you can register to vote at www.gov. uk/register-to-vote

Army families can also register as a “Service Voter” which allows you to be registered for five years at a fixed address in England, Scotland or Wales even if you move around. It’s particularly handy if you’re already based overseas or think that your soldier may be posted abroad in the next year. Log on to www.gov.uk/ register-to-vote/armedforces to register.

Top tweets As our troops return from Afghanistan they should know their country is proud & we owe them a debt of gratitude

@Liam_Walker

Paper registration forms are still available if you prefer – contact your local authority. POST YOUR VOTE Due to a new Parliamentary Bill, ballot papers will be sent out earlier to overseas postal voters to give you more time to ensure your vote is counted. You can also appoint a proxy. l www.aboutmyvote.co.uk

What you’ve been saying about Army life on Twitter. Follow us @ArmyandYou and @The_AFF...

Great day chairing panels @The_AFF #BigDebate with @Anna_SoubryMP and military top brass. Back home to our quarter with broken boiler now. @JillMisson

#bigdebate I’m a milspouse in business for 9 yrs; it’s the only solution to work for my family’s needs (and I love being the boss!)

@OutdoorMarketer

The Driving Vehicle and Licensing Agency (DVLA) is no longer issuing paper tax discs. If you have been posted overseas, you may not be aware that the changes came into effect from the beginning of October. You still need tax to drive or keep a vehicle on the road, but instead of using paper discs to spot tax evaders, police cameras automatically check a car’s number plate. If you are selling or buying a car, the tax is no longer transferrable so the onus is on the seller to inform DVLA when they sell their vehicle. You could face a fine if your vehicle is not taxed. For full details on the new rules, go to www.gov.uk

SOUND ADVICE DID you know that Citizens Advice has a dedicated section on benefits and concessions for Armed Forces families and veterans? There’s information on how you can get financial help in areas including: l Benefits in the UK and abroad l Council Tax relief l School fees and childcare costs l Travel costs l Military discounts Just visit www. adviceguide.org.uk and search for “Armed Forces”.

DID YOU KNOW? The 2015 General Election is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 7 May. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 15


GRAPEVINE

Snap shot Our selection of the best images we have come across during the production of Army&You...

1. Transatlantic teddies Bears Bill and Ted joined a trip to the USA to raise funds for the Royal Hospital Chelsea

Picture: My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures

Choirs’ Christmas cheers 2. Back together Two youngsters are reunited with their soldier dad after nine-and-ahalf months apart.

The Military Wives Choirs Foundation THE festive season is a busy time for was created following the enormous Military Wives Choirs, both across the success of the number one single country and overseas. DID YOU KNOW? Wherever You Are, which If you’re not already a raised more than half-a-million member, why not go along to The Military Wives Choir network pounds for SSAFA and The an event near you? includes groups from Royal British Legion. From village halls to concert as far afield as Brunei Visit militarywiveschoirs. halls and schools to stadiums, and The Falklands org/events to see performance the ladies are certain to be dates in your area or turn to page singing their hearts out at a venue 30 for more MWC news. in your community.

Check your cover carefully 3. Next generation @missymaimie’s son sports a Poppy in honour of his great grandpa, a Great War veteran

4. Never forget A closer look at the poignant poppy field installed in the grounds of the Tower of London

THERE’S more to arranging vehicle breakdown cover than you might think. It is worth considering what suits your finances – either automatic (pay up front) cover which gives you piece of mind that any call-out is free, or pay-and-claim cover, which is normally cheaper but requires you to pay for a local service in an emergency and then

claim the money back. Most companies will try to fix a problem at the roadside or tow you to the nearest garage, but you may need to include onward travel or home assistance. Consider: l Can anyone help you get home if you break down? l Is your soldier away? l How old or reliable is your vehicle?

l Are you posted in a rural area? l Do you need to get to work and/or children to and from school? l Have you already got cover through your bank account or as part of a new car deal? l Do you need cover for driving overseas, towing a caravan or trailer? l What happens if you’re travelling with pets? Go to online comparison websites or www.which. co.uk for further details.

DID YOU KNOW? You can put your own photos forward to appear in Snap shot! Tweet your snaps to @ArmyandYou

16 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


WHATEVER YOU THINK OF YOUR ARMED FORCES PENSION, WE’LL HELP YOU GET THE MOST FROM IT.

The 2014 Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey shows dissatisfaction with pensions has continued to rise across all three Services. But you can protect your interests and find out how to get the most from your pension by joining the Forces Pension Society.

remarry to be allowed to retain their pension. Our role also includes holding the government to account to ensure the Armed Forces Covenant recognises the vital importance of pensions. FPS LEGAL & FPS HEALTH

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HOW WE CAN HELP Armed Forces Pensions are complex and we can help ensure you get the most from your pension by advising when to leave (and when not to), commutation, how to deal with pension troughs, the impact of AFPS2015, the implications of redundancy, divorce, how you might be able to top up your pension, and if you are a reserve, what the new pension rules mean for you. Help is available from our acknowledged Pension Advisory Service experts.

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Like father, like son e and Shellie Bell shares her experience as an Army wif itary… mum as her son follows her husband into the mil

I

HAVE been an Army wife for almost 16 years now. Dave was already in the military when we met through my brother, who he served alongside in the Royal Green Jackets, now known as the Rifles. We have three amazing boys – Jacob (17), Charlie (12) and Billy who is five – and are currently living at Catterick Garrison where Dave is part of the Infantry Training Centre and our eldest is a recruit. Jacob first told us he wanted to be a soldier “just like his daddy” at a very early age. I thought it would be a phase that all little boys go through and was awaiting the next one, be it “I want to be a policeman” or “I want to be a fireman”, but they never arrived and he was determined he was going to join the Army. When the time came for Jacob to seriously think about his

18 Army&You winter 2014

career path, he still insisted on joining up. I had spent years worrying about Dave as he went off for tours of Iraq and Afghanistan and have to admit I didn’t want to spend more years worrying about my son too. I’m his mum, he’s my first born and it’s my job to protect my kids and keep them from harm, so why would I want him to go to war zones? With persuasion from Dave, I agreed to let him join the Army Foundation College Harrogate. It was a good compromise as he balances military training with his education. JOINING UP The day he left for Harrogate was heart-breaking. I wasn't allowed to take him as he told me I would embarrass him @ArmyandYou


YOUR FAMILY so it was the job of Dave and Charlie. Life was strange, adjusting to making meals for four not five and smaller washing piles, although he now makes up for it when he’s on leave! We went to visit him six weeks into his training and I could see how happy he was and he had made some great friends. I’ve seen Dave and Jacob’s bond get stronger as they have so much in common now – there’s always lots of talk of Army life when they are together. THE PROUDEST WIFE AND MUM The worst thing about being an Army wife and mum is the goodbyes. The constant worry if they’re okay and safe, and if they’ve had a decent meal. But I am the proudest wife and mum. I love telling people about “my boys” – they do the bravest job and I am so lucky to be able to say “he’s my husband” and “he’s my son”. MY ADVICE Over the years I have learnt to cope with what Army life throws at you. If I was to give advice to any new spouses or parents, I would say support your loved one as much as you can. For couples, always talk to each other; it’s a tough job being a soldier but it’s also a tough job being a partner of a soldier. You spend your life following them around the world and being at home with the kids while they are away but it’s important to find time for yourself too. I have a great career and it’s just what I need to keep my independence and to be someone my boys and Dave can be proud of. For mums and dads, you have to keep the contact going. These lads and www.armyandyou.co.uk

lasses are hopeless with that stuff. Although they have probably texted a dozen friends that day and not thought about dropping you a line, they need to know we think about them. Be prepared for them spending most days catching up with their friends when they come home on leave. They might be at home less than you expect and it’s usually to be fed or to sleep, but knowing they have a supportive family waiting for them is enough. Once they start their Army training, our babies become men and women. They are soldiers, prepared to fight for their country. Jacob may be a young man but he will always be my boy and will always need to be told I love him. n

winter 2014 Army&You 19


YOUR FAMILY

CUTE CALENDAR GET your hands on the gorgeous 2015 calendar from My Daddy Is A Soldier Adventures. It features photgraphs capturing the special moments between soldiers and their children and every purchase will directly support Little Troopers everywhere. The winning photo (pictured), is of Declan Jones, aged seven, and his dad Sergeant Mike Jones, who serves with the REME. My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures supports children of Regular and Reserve soldiers. Visit www. mydaddyisasoldieradventures. org to find out more or order a calendar for £9.99.

THE Working Parent is an advice and information portal, with up-to-date news and a members’ forum for all mums and dads that are juggling work and family life. Parenting can be difficult and being a working parent throws in a new set of challenges, so the site is full of information and advice about money, work, childcare, lifestyle and families. With everything from your finances, returning to work or planning a career change, through to your child’s health, The Working Parent helps you find that work/ life balance and supports you through the minefield of parenting, all the way! Check out theworkingparent. com for more details. 20 Army&You winter 2014

Ready for rebasing: Maj Evans and his team supported an open day at Woodford Valley Primary in Salisbury, one of the schools that is benefiting from the Schools Liaison Group

Rebasing ace

A

FTER a survey of families in 19 Regt RA in Tidworth, Welfare Officer Maj Taff Evans was amazed to discover that the unit had children in 24 different schools and nurseries across Wiltshire and Hampshire. Armed with this information, he set up a Schools Liaison Group to keep head teachers updated as the Army transitions towards its major rebasing programme. With around 4,300 people expected to relocate to the Salisbury Plain area, the group will also be the civilian link into the military community and parents are encouraged to volunteer as school liaison officers. Maj Evans explained: “Gone are the days that regimental families were housed in catchment areas whereby the children attended the same school. “Since its launch last year, the Schools Liaison Group has been a huge success. The number of schools contacting me for information, predominantly about rebasing, has increased – clear evidence that they’re speaking to each other and passing on my contact details.”

Most of the schools now meet in clusters every quarter and Maj Evans is on hand to answer any questions that may arise. He recently helped two schools prepare bids for funding which both ended successfully. He’s had some great feedback too, with one school writing: “Thank you for coming to our meeting and giving us valuable information about the families rebasing to this area. “This will obviously impact on our school and in addition to our new classroom, we are already looking at future plans to cope with these additional pupils.” AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott, said: “Schools Liaison Groups help to promote better understanding of Army life and build relationships between the military and the local community. “AFF would like to see this adopted in other garrisons where similar schemes do not already exist.” If you’re moving to a new area, find information on schools through your local HIVE (www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support) or get in touch with Lucy at ec@aff.org.uk n @ArmyandYou


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YOUR FAMILY

Reassured: Former soldier Peter Williams and daughter Jess have been able to call on the expert services of Blind Veterans UK

Bright future for the blind Sight loss can be devastating at any age, not only for the person losing their sight but also for those around them. Thankfully for those affected, organisations such as Blind Veterans UK are on hand to provide the dedicated support required to overcome the challenges of blindness…

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X-ROYAL Signalman Peter Williams lost his sight after leaving the Army and he and his family struggled to cope. Peter said: “I gave up. I thought I was on the shelf and there was no one who could help me.” The veteran’s four children noticed a huge change in their father. Peter’s daughter, Jess, said: “It was a miserable household. Dad just faded into the background, he was so depressed. It was difficult.” The family heard about Blind Veterans UK and made contact. A welfare officer from the charity visited Peter 22 Army&You winter 2014

Scan this code with your smartphone to visit Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone website

at home to talk through how Blind Veterans UK could help and arranged for him to visit a training and rehabilitation centre. “After Dad came back from the Blind Veterans UK centre we could see he was more confident and just that bit more independent,” Jess explained. “Before he couldn't leave the house and then suddenly he was going up to the shops.” Peter has received IT training and specialist equipment to help him live independently at home, as well as emotional support from other vision impaired veterans which

has helped him to regain his confidence. Blind Veterans UK has also assisted with education grants for his children and welfare grants when the family moved. NO ONE ALONE Blind Veterans UK’s No One Alone campaign is reaching out to the estimated 68,000 vision impaired veterans in the UK who could be eligible for support, but are not currently aware of it. If you have a blind or vision impaired veteran in your family and would like to find out more, call freephone 0800 389 7979 or visit www.noonealone.org.uk n @ArmyandYou


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YOUR HOME MILLIONS TO FIX MOULD The Defence Infrastructure Organisation, which takes care of all quarters, has been taking our damp houses seriously and has put in place an action plan – plus £6m to spend over two years – to help eradicate the issue. Here at AFF, we welcome this news and, with our database of evidence, have helped the organisation to pinpoint hotspot areas for investigation. As the winter weather hits, please continue to fill in the AFF mould database at www.aff.org.uk and if you experience any further problems with damp and mould, remember to report the issue to MHS/CarillionAmey.

Noisy neighbours: New houses being built in Wilton paved the way for excess sound, dust and traffic

REMOVALS REMINDER AS soon as you get your posting order you need to book your removals through Agility Logistics. However, this should just be provisional – don’t book a firm date until you have a movein date to your new SFA! AFF has heard from families who have organised removals but then don’t have a house to move into at the other end. Go to https://grms.agilitylogistics.com for more information.

ONE-STOP SHOP FOR SFA LIVING in Service Families Accommodation? CarillionAmey, working on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, is the new company offering a one-stop military housing service throughout the UK. It will help with applying for and allocating quarters; move-in appointments; furniture; maintenance; improvements; pre move-out appointments and move-out appointments. Changes take effect from 1 November in Scotland and Northern Ireland and from 1 December in England and Wales. Keep an eye on aff.org.uk and listen to broadcasts on BFBS. You can also visit carillionamey. co.uk or call the helpdesk on 0800 707 6000. As with any new contract, there can be hiccups, so email housing@ aff.org.uk with your concerns. www.armyandyou.co.uk

Rent reduction follows AFF action

O

N THE the old plot of Army HQ Land in Wiltshire, the local council gave permission for 320 civilian properties to be built. Surrounding the building site are around 100 military homes and little did the Army families know how much disruption the demolition would cause. Residents raised their concerns to AFF’s Salisbury Plain Co-ordinator, Carol Morris, who meets them once a month at a coffee morning. They explained that disruption goes on six days a week, from 7am until 7pm. Young children and soldiers who have been on night duty can’t sleep, washing can’t be hung outside and there’s been an increase in theft from the

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Families agreed that without the help of their AFF Co-ordinator, nothing would have been done

site where people are cutting through fences. Carol’s AFF Volunteer, Julie Knoller, put together a letter on behalf of the residents to request a rent reduction. After a visit to the site, 43 Wessex Brigade and DIO confirmed that the quarters would be temporarily downgraded until the works finish and that it would be backdated to when it began. CONTACT AFF At their latest coffee morning, families agreed that without the help of their local AFF Coordinator, nothing would have been done. If you have an issue affecting your Army life, check our contacts on page 4 for your nearest AFF Co-ordinator. n winter 2014 Army&You 25


The Royal Hampstead Education Fund DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEES FOR ANY SCHOOL, COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY IN THE UK? The Royal Hampstead Education Fund provides financial assistance to help with the education and training of the dependents (up to 25 years of age) of members or ex-members of the UK Armed Forces. For more than 150 years we have helped to provide betterment through education for thousands of the needy dependent children of members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force. If you require assistance with fees for any school, college or university in the UK, please visit our website and follow the steps outlined to have your request considered by our grants committee.

Contact us through: www.rshtrust.com PRIDE

• SELF-DISCIPLINE • CHARACTER • SPIRITUALITY • SPORTSMANSHIP • LEADERSHIP • RESPECT FOR OTHERS

An independent school style education at an affordable price The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a full state boarding academy for children aged 11 to 18. Historically established for military families, we now welcome applications from any student who wants to study at our unique school with its strong military ethos and traditions. The School has recently been graded Good in all areas by Ofsted.

Why study with us? • We are in the top 100 non-selective state schools for GCSE results. DfE 2013/14 • Every student is actively encouraged to achieve the very best they can - developing their self-confidence, teamwork

“One of the strongest parts of the Dukie community is having your friends around you all the time. One of my proudest moments of being a Dukie was watching the school marching band play the anthem for the England rugby team at Twickenham.” Bryony Y13

and leadership skills while living and studying in a friendly and supportive community.

• Our military ethos, ceremonial parades and Combined Cadet Force will help your child to develop essential life skills including character and resilience.

• They will enjoy an active independent school lifestyle with sport, music, drama and activities all playing a key role while studying for their GCSEs and A Levels.

• Our

£24.9 million School refurbishment will be completed by September 2014. Your child will benefit from purpose-built classrooms, a new Sports Centre, new and refurbished boarding houses, and a drama studio.

For 2014/15 our fees are £3,665 per term. We are competitively priced because the education is free. Please call us to arrange a hosted tour of the School.

Sixth Form Open Day, 15 November Contact us for details

www.doyrms.com admin.office@doyrms.com Tel: 01304 245073 26 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


YOUR HOME

Property pinch: Social housing can be hard to come by for military families, so proper planning is essential

Looking for social housing?

L

ONG gone are the days when you could expect to walk out of the Army and into a council house – there just isn’t enough social housing to go around, writes AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder. To give you an idea, Redbridge Council in London has a waiting list of up to seven years for a threebedroom property according to its website. Rushmoor, which covers Aldershot and Farnborough, currently has 1,191 families waiting for social housing; it only allocated homes to 213 families last year – and only 37 of those were three- or fourbedroom properties. REMOVING DISADVANTAGE The Armed Forces Covenant was put in place to remove disadvantages faced by Service families compared to civilians and in housing terms www.armyandyou.co.uk

this means that councils can’t penalise you for not having a local connection – but that doesn’t mean you go to the top of the housing list. Local councils prioritise families in need and whilst they have a duty of care to put a roof over your head if you are homeless (after your 93day Notice to Vacate has run out in your quarter), this could easily be a hostel or a B&B – not ideal if you have a family. Many local councils won’t give you social housing if you have more than £16,000, so if your soldier has had a redundancy pay out or a lump sum at end of Service this may well affect you. ENOUGH DOOM AND GLOOM – WHAT ARE THE POSSIBILITIES? l Plan ahead – even if your soldier has only just joined up, it’s worth thinking about civilian housing options as

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Councils can’t penalise you for not having a local connection – but that doesn’t mean you go to the top of the housing list

soon as possible. l Do your homework – SFA is subsidised so you will always pay more to live in civvy street. Find out how much civilian housing is likely to cost and work out your finances. l Talk to the council where you want to live – even if they can’t house you they can give you advice on local options. l Talk to the people at the Joint Service Housing Advice Office – they are the gurus on civilian housing for Service families. l Think outside the box – there are options available such as private rental, housing associations, MOD referral scheme, rent to buy schemes and shared ownership to name but a few; JSHAO will be able to advise you. If you need any further information, contact me at housing@aff.org.uk or JSHAO on 01252 787574 or AWSJSHAO-Mailbox@mod.uk n winter 2014 Army&You 27


Illustrating war After an Army officer spotted her painting for the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Anna Redwood was put forward to be the brigade artist for the Desert Rats. She spent a month in Afghanistan with them. WHAT INFLUENCED YOUR DECISION TO BECO ME A WAR ARTIST? My father was in the Army and I moved regul arly as a child. My husband was also in the Army for a short time. I grew up surrounded by soldiers and so have a love and respect for them. They make me feel safe and part of a family. However, I hate camping and am not a frustr ated soldier. I have never been for a run in my life! I remember seeing soldiers training. From my child eyes looked like they were playing. When I then arrive d in a war zone as an adult, I understood how vital that training is. HOW DID YOU FEEL ABOUT GOING TO AFGH ANISTAN? I was away from my husband and five children who remained forefront in my mind the entire time. It was not a decision I took lightly. IN THIS WORLD OF DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY , DO YOU THINK THE WAR ARTIST IS STILL RELEVANT ? Yes. In a painting a war artist can capture the essence of the soldier and the emotion and rawness of the situation. A photograph captures just one fleeting moment. The most significant moment is when the gates open and there is a sense of excitement, but then the soldiers change, the banter disappears and they fall silent as they set off. This range of emotions is what I wanted to captu re.

Background image: Raul Taciu

WHEN DID YOU DISCOVER YOUR LOVE OF ART? When I was young I spent most of the time paint ing on my bedroom walls and loved painting portraits from a very early age, completing a portrait of my sister when I was 12. I now work from a studio at home in Some rset whilst juggling the needs of five children and a husb and.

28 Army&You winter 2014

DO YOU THINK ART HAS A TENDENCY TO GLORIFY WAR? Going to museums I have always felt moved by pieces brought back from the battlefield, [such as] a lump of breeze block from the Berlin Wall. I feel a strong connection to it and it brings the place physi cally to me. Hopefully my work connects the soldier’s story in Afghanistan to the public here.

@ArmyandYou


SPOTLIGHT

Army&You hears from two commissioned war artists who have spent time illustrating life on the front line… Linda Kitson was appointed the official war artist for The Falklands campaign in 1982. She was the first commissioned female war artist to accompany troops into battle and remained on the South Atlantic islands for three months. CAN YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST DISCOVERED YOUR LOVE OF ART? My school proffered either Art or Latin and Greek. No contest! HOW DID YOUR JOURNEY TO THE FALKLANDS COME ABOUT? I was commissioned by the Artistic Records Selection Committee at the Imperial War Museum comprising artists, Armed Forces and MOD. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE WHAT TO DRAW IN A WAR SITUATION? As official war artist I was accepted in both classified and restricted areas – a very rare privilege. Regrettably, I was too censorious on myself and out of deference for the men and their families I chose not to draw the most harrowing sights. DO WE NEED ART WHEN WE NOW HAVE SOCIAL MEDIA COVERING ALL ASPECTS OF WAR? We need all possible mediums so that there is the broadest choice. Some people only react to one or two. The IWM’s Women At War exhibition showed poetry and verse, video, paintings, drawings and sculpture. Images which can be taken home or exhibited publicly do make a precious contribution. We can “own” them for forever. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP THE ARMY ARTS SOCIETY (AAS)? I felt that it was indecent to make money out of war. I was paid £1,500 by the Imperial War Museum, so gave half to the Haslar Mental Health Unit and the other to the AAS. The AAS encourages its members whether serving, retired or families to showcase and promote their work. We also support injured and ill Servicemen and women through mentoring. The current AAS exhibition runs until 29 November 2014 at the Young Gallery, Salisbury. To find out more, visit www.armyartssociety.org n

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2014 Army&You 29


VOICES Choir master: Nicky Clarke has been awarded the MBE for her work with the Military Wives Choirs

of the future Earlier this year, Nicky Clarke received a richly-deserved MBE for her pivotal role in the phenomenal success of the Military Wives Choirs. She spoke to Army&You about how it all began and her vision for the future…

WHAT IS YOUR MUSICAL BACKGROUND? I have always loved music, having played the piano from when I was five. My mother and grandfather were my musical inspiration. I also spent many years in our church choir and found great solace in the rhythm of weekly singing – much as I do now! 30 Army&You winter 2014

WHERE WAS THE MILITARY WIVES CHOIR IDEA BORN? My husband, Hugo, and I were posted to Catterick. It was the autumn of 2009 and the brigade was deploying to Afghanistan in the spring. I found my new life there quite a challenge as I knew no one, we didn't have children at the time and Hugo was

continually away training. I had given up my job as a psychotherapist in Wiltshire and found myself hundreds of miles from family and friends. At times it felt quite isolated. I noticed that so much of the welfare, understandably, was focused on children and I thought “but what about us, the wives?”. While friends and

family try to help and military welfare has its role, I had a really strong sense that as military spouses we are best placed to look after each other – because we have all shared experiences and can understand better than anyone how we might be feeling at any given point. I can remember the moment @ArmyandYou


SPOTLIGHT very vividly. I was sitting on the sofa, looking out of the window at about 3pm when it was already dark and thinking “what about a choir?”. I had run one before and really missed it. It would be a good way to meet other people and something for us, not the boys or the children. HOW DID GARETH MALONE GET INVOLVED? To do this properly, we needed someone with great musical experience and I thought about Gareth Malone. Through his agent I outlined my ideas and suggested doing a concert at the end of the tour for charity. I hadn't thought about doing it for TV, I just thought he might be able to get us up and running. Although they were hugely supportive, the timing didn't work out. However, he was hugely excited about the idea and with backing from the MOD, they ended up filming at Chivenor and Plymouth. In the meantime, my friend Caroline Jopp and I set up our own choir with the help of a wonderful lady called Carol Gedye. The choir proved to be a huge support to us all during Herrick 12 and at the end of the tour we sang at a charity concert; proud and excited that our soldiers could see what we'd been doing while they'd been away! The choir is still going strong, providing the support and friendships that I had always hoped it would for those living a life that isn't always easy. HOW DO YOU FEEL SINGING HAS HELPED SERVICE COMMUNITIES? Music is a great leveller; it helps to bridge divides in a way that I think is unique. When we sing in a choir, we are just an alto or a soprano. It doesn't matter what job our soldier has, where we live or how old we are – we are all there united in singing because we're all part of www.armyandyou.co.uk

one community. As someone once said to me: “Once you've sung with someone, your relationship is never the same again.” The sole purpose of the choirs is to provide support and friendship – it's just we're doing it on a bigger scale with 75 choirs, rather than one! Although there have been amazing opportunities that we have taken part in, if we didn't have that support and friendship we wouldn't have an organisation that really means anything. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE HIGHLIGHTS? It’s hard to choose but one of the best days we had was when we launched the Military Wives Choirs Foundation at Wellington Barracks with more than 650 ladies from all over the UK, Cyprus and Germany coming together to sing Stronger Together. To see ladies meeting again having moved choirs was a joy; that sense of connectedness is truly wonderful. We've achieved more than we thought which is testament to the resourcefulness of military wives! MWCs HAVE HELPED RAISE AWARENESS OF SERVICE FAMILIES TO THE PUBLIC. HOW DO YOU HOPE TO KEEP THAT GOING? Our vision for the MWCF was always to set it up for the long-term; we want the choirs to be here for our children and grandchildren. Given the transient nature of Service life, choirs could easily come and go as quickly as they were set up and if we didn't have the infrastructure behind them, there’s the risk they would just fade away. So we hope that we've given ladies the tools to keep the choirs going and made it as

Get involved: To find out how to join your local Military Wives Choir, visit www.milit arywiveschoirs.org

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My focus will always be on ensuring that we never forget our roots – that we are “Stronger Together”

easy as possible to set up and run wherever they are posted. We are also delighted to be asked to sing at so many events around the country and we hope to keep this going to continue to raise awareness of the lives we live and the support we provide to the Armed Forces. HAS GARETH CONTINUED TO SUPPORT YOU ALL? Gareth (pictured below) is our patron and a huge supporter of all we do. He understands the origins of the MWCF and knows that without its roots as a community organisation, we would not have succeeded as we have. That’s why he hosts our Musical Directors’ workshop each year, attends the annual meeting and is on hand to talk through ideas on how things are progressing. He continues to help us with some wonderful opportunities such as the Prom we recently performed at. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE IN THE FUTURE? My focus will always be on ensuring that we never forget our roots – that we are “Stronger Together”. That doesn't mean we sob into our teacups every two minutes – it means that we can achieve so much more together than if we brave things out alone. n winter 2014 Army&You 31


Married

to the job There are more than 1,300 married couples serving together in the British Army. Does having the same job make it easier to deal with the demands of Service life? Or is it hard to switch off when the boots come off? Army&You talks to dual-serving families…

M

ANY of us struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance but for couples who work together, it’s even harder, writes Kate Viggers. Sharing an office and a bedroom can be complicated! “Maintaining external interests and good communication is really important for any couple in the same job,” explains Relate counsellor Christine Northam. “They need to be disciplined about boundaries, to ensure work doesn’t take over home-life and emotions don’t spill into the workplace.” For married soldiers, juggling the professional and the personal brings unique challenges including anti-social working patterns, limited joint leave and the consuming nature of military service. “Sometimes it’s hard to switch off,” says Bulford-based Unit Welfare Officer Rachel Willis, whose husband is currently serving unaccompanied in Plymouth. “At home we try to concentrate on [domestic] life and our son.”

lengthy tour only for his wife to leave immediately on her own deployment; inevitably, waving goodbye to first mum, then dad – or vice versa – has an emotional impact on children. “As my son gets older it’s starting to affect him more,” Rachel says. “Deployments are on the one hand easier to cope with because I understand it more – but on the other not, as I know what’s going on out there!” Some spouses find, however, that their own experiences as serving soldiers make it easier to cope when their partner deploys because they do not dwell on the danger. It is “just part of the job”. “I can appreciate the frustration of delayed R&R flights, the buzz of deployment and the sense of achievement that accompanies any tour,” says Clare Sapwell, who met husband Jeremy in Bosnia in 2000. More recently, the couple served together – albeit in different departments – at Army HQ in Andover.

❝❞ Deployments are easier to cope with because I understand more

HOME & AWAY For dual serving families, the challenges of working in the same job are combined with managing their relationship long-distance. Both are likely to be absent from home for extended periods, which can make it difficult to secure adequate childcare. One couple A&Y spoke to had no option but to send their daughter to live with relatives when they were both posted abroad. And one husband recalls arriving home from a 32 Army&You winter 2014

COMMUTING & CAREER FOULS Logistics can make it difficult for dual serving families to find suitable accommodation or to follow individual professional goals. Rachel’s husband commutes at weekends and she is struggling to manage work and parenting commitments alone. They are seeking an early return posting and, having bought their own house, will aim for local postings in future. The Sapwells have also endured lengthy daily commutes and unaccompanied postings in order to maintain a family home @ArmyandYou


FEATURE

centrally located between their jobs. In addition, Clare – who retired in November last year – has had to take a “professional back seat” during her service. “Since having children, I had to select jobs based on location rather than careerenhancement,” she says. The Army says it is “almost inevitable” that dual serving couples will experience separated service and that realistic expectations need to be set by advising officers. A spokesperson for the Army Personnel Centre explains: “The management of serving couples’ careers is on a caseby-case basis. “Every attempt will be made to assign them together into the most career-enhancing appointments – or at least within a reasonable commuting distance where possible, particularly if they have children.” Soldiers with a posting www.armyandyou.co.uk

conflict must declare in writing to Career Management Branch which of them is to have priority. Workable solutions are found where possible, with the general rule being for the higher rank to take precedence unless the soldiers specify otherwise. Rachel believes an understanding chain of command makes a difference, although she feels a policy for dual serving families would “support them and back them up”, going some way to alleviating obstacles she and others have encountered. WHAT TIME DO YOU CALL THIS?! There is no doubt that combining duty with domesticity can be complex. But dual serving couples can also reap the benefits of a shared career path, such as greater empathy and having plenty to talk about. One husband told A&Y that

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Understanding the nature of the Army and what it requires of you has made us more accepting of Service life as a family

the best thing about being married to a soldier is that his wife understands the job, so he won’t get a hard time if he comes home late! Clare agrees: “Understanding the nature of the Army and what it requires of you has made us more accepting of Service life as a family.” “It can put you through the wringer,” adds Rachel. “But if you can survive that, you can survive anything!” n

TAKE OUR SURVEY! AFF wants to make sure that the views and experiences of dual serving families are shared and considered. Our dual serving survey aims to gather your opinions on Army life. Visit www.aff.org.uk and click the link. winter 2014 Army&You 33


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34 Army&You winter 2014

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EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

Happy family: Ren (second left) with sons Arun (left) and Vin and stepdaughter Hannah

Driving force X-Forces supports Service leavers, veterans, Reservists, spouses and dependants to start businesses by providing loans, mentoring and support. The company’s founder and CEO Ren Kapur (pictured centre left) reveals the inspiration behind her latest venture to Army&You…

I

HAVE always been an entrepreneur even as a youngster. I can remember turning my bedroom into a sweet shop and selling to the other local children where I grew up in Birmingham – I’d have to say that it is in the blood. It seems a long time ago, but I wanted to join the Army when an arranged marriage at 16 took me in a direction that I just did not want to go. I guess, in the way of an entrepreneur, I spent the next four years fighting to have control of my own life.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

appointed by the Government as an Ambassador for Youth in Learning and Enterprise, which I greatly enjoyed. My upbringing fuelled my passion to create opportunity for others and, in what my spiritual side would describe as “an alignment of the stars”, a discussion about my vision at a dinner sat next to a senior director at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills is what led me to start X-Forces. It has been great fun – incredibly hard work, but great fun. Me and my business partner, a military man, and our team have now launched some 200 entrepreneurs from the exService community, including spouses and dependants, into their own businesses. The demand created by the perfect opportunity that selfemployment presents to these disciplined, hard-working and responsible people continues to grow. X-Forces’ ambition is to create an amazing community of Service businesses that can support each other and become a real power-house for the British economy. l Ren attended AFF’s Big Debate as a guest speaker and panellist, offering advice to audience members on business start-ups. n

KEY FACTS role and as an investor and In the end, I had to run away, founder. which allowed me to strike I am an ideas person and am out in the face of family and told that I operate at a million cultural pressures and pursue miles an hour; I don’t like to my ambition of success in the sit still! world of business. In the first 24 years of During this time I also my career, I have had my two sons, created my own one at 17 and the businesses and second at 19. X-Forces’ ambition helped others I have had a to grow theirs varied career is to create an since those amazing community whilst shaping new ideas for days, shaping of Service both clients and creating businesses and our own innovative ventures. businesses, both Latterly I was also in an executive

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✓ There are approximately 100,000 military partners in the UK ✓ Fewer than 3 per cent are currently in business, far below the 8 per cent national average ✓ Families often feel isolated behind the wire and find it difficult to make the first step into business X-Forces can help spouses into their own businesses by providing: ✓ Advice and training ✓ Access to loan funding ✓ Peer support ✓ Post launch support and signposting ✓ Role models ✓ Increased public awareness ✓ Sales and marketing support Have a business idea? Contact admin@x-forces.com or call us on 0207 811 3238.

winter 2014 Army&You 35


Friend of the forces: Enterprise Rent-A-Car is crowned Employer of the Year at AFF’s Big Debate. Pictured, from left, are: Caroline Mayne (AFF Employment Specialist); Marwan Bateh (Assistant Vice President of Finance for Enterprise); HRH The Duchess of Gloucester; and Marco Bardino (Enterprise Talent Acquisition Manager) Picture: Liz Rhodes

Excellent employers

T

AFF’s Employer of the Year Award celebrates organisations that support and recognise the value of employing Armed Forces spouses. Here, we reveal our 2014 winners... 36 Army&You winter 2014

HIS year’s nominations helped us to identify bestpractice employers and share initiatives that benefit employees with a Service connection. Barriers to employment have been a key concern for AFF for many years. You have been telling us about the issues you face, with comments such as: “Most employers are discouraged by my CV as there is a lot of employment over a small period of time” and “Apparently I was not suitable for the post as it would cost too much both financially and time-wise for them to take me on and train me up when I would only leave anyway.” IMPORTANT QUESTIONS We asked employers how

they attracted and recruited spouses and how they supported flexible working opportunities, for example during periods when your soldier is deployed. We explored home working opportunities, flexible hours, unpaid leave, career breaks and portable careers that enable you to maintain your employment when your soldier is posted. Importantly we wanted to know how employers support spouses during times of uncertainty which are unique to Army life. AND THE WINNER IS… Many congratulations to Enterprise Rent-A-Car for winning AFF’s first Employer of the Year Award. In second place was SSAFA, with NAAFI coming third.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car supports home-based working in existing roles and any employee is able to request alternative arrangements – with special consideration being given to Armed Forces employees. Enterprise offers national opportunities, meaning there will be a high possibility that spouses who are posted can maintain their existing career or take up an alternative post, and there are plans to offer jobs in Europe in the future. Marco Bardino, Talent Acquisition Manager at Enterprise, explains: “We recognise that behind every successful soldier’s career there has to be a support mechanism in place in the form of a spouse or loved one. “As an employer [which] really prides itself on diversity @ArmyandYou


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

❝❞ The Employer of the Year Award is a very encouraging initiative from the AFF

and attracting great people into our workforce, it makes sense to forge strong relationships with the Armed Forces to help us attract the best people into our business.” SECOND: SSAFA SSAFA demonstrated that it understood the complications many spouses face while their soldier is away. It works to provide flexible working hours and unpaid leave. Progression is encouraged, with all vacancies advertised internally, and the charity actively works to retain talented staff. Training opportunities are provided to give military spouses and dependants transferrable skills, enabling them to find work wherever they are posted next. SSAFA recognises the skillset military spouses have and often welcomes them back to employment. THIRD: NAAFI NAAFI’s flexible working www.armyandyou.co.uk

FLYING THE FLAG

There were many other employers nominated who deserve recognition for their support of Army spouses in their workplace, including: l CarillionAmey l Defence Medical Welfare Service l Seen2Help l Service Children Support Network

policy helped secure a commendable third place with ideas such as smart rostering around childcare and school timetables, support of unpaid leave during holidays and job share and career break options. OUR JUDGES We invited Heledd Kenrick, CEO and founder of Recruit for Spouses; Fleur Thomas, Director of Engagement for Defence Relationship Management; and Caroline Mayne, AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, to judge this year’s nominations. Heledd said: “It’s wonderful to see employers realising the value of employing military spouses. This award demonstrates the nominees’ understanding of military life and willingness to support us as valued employees.” Fleur Thomas agreed. “The Employer of the Year Award is a very encouraging initiative from AFF,” she said. “It is heartening to read of so many

organisations recognising the skills of Service spouses and embedding such positive commitments in their HR policies. Seeing examples of the support given to spouses by businesses has been inspiring and I hope that more organisations will follow suit.” Many of those nominated will also be eligible for the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. More details at ers.sabre.mod.uk LOOKING AHEAD AFF is delighted with the response to the Award and we aim to engage with even more employers next year. Get in touch if you believe your employer should be nominated – etam@aff.org.uk Along with the MOD and Recruit for Spouses, AFF will continue to work with employers to educate them and remove disadvantage. Spouses are a unique, resourceful and resilient breed of employee who can add value to any organisation. n winter 2014 Army&You 37


Scottish schooling structures Moving to or from a Scottish school can be daunting. Changes in curriculum and class groups are among parents’ key concerns. National Transitions Officer – and Army spouse – Carolyn MacLeod delivers a masterclass in teaching traits north of the border...

I

WORK with the Scottish Government, local authorities, schools and support networks, Education Scotland and Armed Forces organisations to look at what is in place to support Service children. My role encourages understanding of the various life experiences that may be challenging to a child with a serving parent. So what should you bear in mind when moving your child to or from a school in Scotland? Firstly, for those concerned about what is taught in classrooms north of the border, the Scottish Curriculum is in place in every nursery, primary and secondary school. It’s designed to equip children with the skills, knowledge and experiences that they will need to play a full part in their world. When it comes to school years, in Scotland children learn with their age-

appropriate peer group. Teachers plan programmes to suit the learning of each of their students and encourage them to achieve their potential. So even if the number on your child’s classroom door is different, be assured that they are in the right class for their age. As a parent, you can do the following to ease your child’s educational move:

l Bring Special Educational Needs information to the school

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Even if the number on your child’s clasroom door is different, be assured that they are in the right class for their age

l Visit your child’s prospective

school. Parents often report that their fears have disappeared when they have spoken to the school and seen it for themselves. To share your experiences of moving to and from Scotland, get in touch with AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott via ec@ aff.org.uk or contact AFF’s Scotland Co-ordinator, Zoe Teale, at scotland@aff.org.uk

l Start planning early l Research the new school

and area online l Involve your child

USEFUL LINKS

l Gather information and

evidence about your child’s achievements and progress l Ask for a copy of the school

handbook l Check what support or

arrangements can be made if exams are looming

Encouraging understanding: Carolyn MacLeod, who works for the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland

AFF www.aff.org.uk Parent Zone www.educationscotland.gov.uk Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) enquiries@ceas.uk.com or 01980 618244 Guide for Service families www.gov.uk

Time to engage with English education 300

THE date to let your English state school know that your child has a parent in the Armed Forces is 15 January 2015. This is to enable the school to claim the Service Premium – extra funding for military children. The money is for social and emotional support for your child in school and amounts to £300 for 2015/16. It’s time to take action. Parents – let your

the amount in pounds schools can claim per Service child

school know that you are a Service family before 15 January. Schools – make sure you check you have all your Service children included. To find out more about the scheme, go to www.gov.uk/school-census You can also view further information on the Service Premium and how it can be spent on our website, www.aff.org.uk/excellence

RELOCATING? Whether you’re returning from overseas or just moving from Larkhill to Catterick, family relocation specialists Parental Choice can provide you with free, impartial advice on childcare issues. The company provides tailored searches and also offers a payroll and nanny contract service. Call 020 8979 6453, email info@parentalchoice.co.uk or go to www.parentalchoice.co.uk for more information.

38 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

Appealing answers Didn’t get your child into the school of your choice? Don’t panic. Follow Army&You’s 10-step guide to appeals… 1. 2. 3.

Your allocation letter will have a date by which to tell the admissions authority that you wish to appeal. Save it!

4.

Write your appeal letter. Include background, reason for appeal, impact and summary. Explain why your preferred school is better for your child than the one you have been allocated.

5. 6.

Read guidance and information available from AFF, CEAS and the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

7. 8. 9.

Don’t be put off by the number of people at the appeal hearing – they will not all want places at your school.

10.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly or been given the wrong information, contact the Local Government Ombudsman to make a formal complaint.

Appeal hearings happen throughout the year including in school holidays. Contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). It has experienced Parent Support Officers who can help.

The Armed Forces Covenant, the School Admissions Code and Appeals Code 2012 do not offer guarantees for military families to get places in their preferred school. The appeal panel is completely independent and you should hear the result within five working days. You can appeal to more than one school but only to each school once, unless there is a significant change in your circumstances.

For more info, contact AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott at ec@aff.org.uk; visit lgo.org.uk (Local Government Ombudsman); download Coram Children’s Legal Centre’s appeals leaflet from childrenslegalcentre.com; or get in touch with CEAS via enquiries@ceas.uk.com

Your ABC guide to CEA FOLLOWING lots of enquiries from families asking for information about Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), our Education Specialist Lucy Scott talks you through the scheme’s ABCs…

A

Allowance CEA exists to help mobile Forces families with the costs of boarding school, aiming to reduce the number of schools their children attend.

B

Boarding If you decide that schooling is the non-mobile aspect of your children’s lives and choose boarding, do your research. Visit the school, check out how many boarders there are, what the pastoral care is www.armyandyou.co.uk

like, whether there are other Service children and how many exeats (weekends at home) they have.

C

Certificate The MOD’s Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) gives advice, has application forms for CEA and a database of approved schools. Paperwork is assessed by the chain of command and the Governance Team. If you qualify, you’ll receive a CEA eligibility certificate. Don’t sign up for a school until you have this!

D

Details CEA is for Regular Service personnel. Your soldier can access up-todate details via the Defence Intranet in JSP 752.

❝❞

The contract is between you and the school, not the MOD and the school

E

Expense State boarding schools charge for boarding only, so they’re likely to work out cheaper. Independent schools may offer bursaries; read the small print to find out exactly what you are signing up to. Bursaries can include percentage deductions of advertised fees or sibling discounts. The contract is between you and the school, not the MOD and the school. CEA is an allowance; you are expected to pay a contribution.Consider extras including uniform.

F

Further help Contact Lucy at ec@aff.org.uk, CEAS at enquiries@ceas.uk.com or call +44 (0)1980 68244. winter 2014 Army&You 39


nt ou es ili isc r D f o am sF

e rc Fo

Chafyn

Grove salisbury

A world-class education in the heart of Bristol.

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Education is Inspiration

Education is Inspiration

Open Mornings held in October, March and May

If you would like to find out more about our 20% Fee Discount for Forces Families or our forthcoming open mornings, please contact our Admissions team.

Education is Inspiration

Education for Life...

T: 0117 905 5271 • E: admissions@badmintonschool.co.uk • www.badmintonschool.co.uk

Co-educational Day & Boarding from 3 - 13 44 (0)1722 333423

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Independent day and boarding school for girls aged 3 to 18

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Chafyn_Army&You_Winter.indd 5

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Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 4 to 18

School fees fixed at CEA +10% of the school fees – there is no more to pay.*

“Emily started at Wycliffe Preparatory School in September 2011 as a boarder in Year 3. We chose Wycliffe because of its family atmosphere and the ethos of the Head, Mr Palmer; “if a child is happy then they are able to learn.” The pastoral care is second to none and, for Emily, Wycliffe has become her second home.” Warrant Officer Andy Kerslake, RAF Police and Flight Sergeant Emma Kerslake, RAF M Emily Year 5 and Billy Year 3

Full boarding available with an exciting weekend activity programme. Small class sizes.

Entrance Test Days 31 January 2015 – Years 3 to 10 7 February 2015 – Sixth Form For further information on our competitive fees and Forces Discount please contact Julia Simpson, Admissions Secretary, telephone: 01833 696030 or email: admissions@barneyschool.org.uk barnardcastleschool.org.uk

Wycliffe makes

the difference

Wycliffe Nursery, Preparatory, Senior School & Sixth Form For more information please call Charlotte Phillips on 01453 820412.

Wycliffe, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 2JQ Twitter @WycliffeCollege www.wycliffe.co.uk * Terms and conditions apply ** We accept Childcare Vouchers

40 Army&You winter 2014

BARNARD CASTLE SCHOOL | BARNARD CASTLE | COUNTY DURHAM DL12 8UN

@ArmyandYou


GERMANY

GERMANY

Gearing up for the big move

N

O ONE living in BFG can escape the fact that we’ve started the process of rebasing to the UK – unless you have been in hibernation, writes AFF Germany DIrector Diane Weir. And your enquiries to AFF about the big move are on the rise. Many of you with children about to take public examinations have contacted

working with families to find a AFF with concerns about sensible solution. moving house, school and location at such an WHAT SHOULD important time in END YOU DO? your child’s life. OF TERM If you do find Our team has You can find an yourself in this found that not up-to-date list of all SCE school closure dates situation you one size fits for the next few years may be able all when this at www.aff.org.uk to remain in happens, and Germany while we have been your soldier returns well supported by to the UK, or apply to the chain of command in

move before your posting date under the Early Movers Scheme. It will depend on your family’s circumstances but the important thing to remember is that where possible the system tries to be flexible. Speak to your Unit Admin Office or your local AFF Co-ordinator (see page 4) for more advice or email germany@aff.org.uk n

Illustration: Lianne Plamondon

Free school meals for kids overseas GREAT news! If your child attends or is due to enrol into a Service Children’s Education (SCE) school overseas, from reception class through to year two they will be eligible for free lunches. For schools in warmer climes where a hot meal may not be ideal, packed lunches will be provided too. The policy has been introduced in line with the Government’s decision to provide free school meals in England. SCE schools comply with Schools Food Standards which govern all food and drink on offer. It’s hoped that it will help your children get the nutrition they need across the whole school day – as well as saving you money. For more information, contact your school’s head teacher or our Education Specialist, Lucy Scott, by email at ec@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

Just the ticket: all change for German bus services IF you rely on public transport to get you out and about in Germany, you will notice that there have been some changes to the current service. Journeys to places such as your local medical centre and the NAAFI will now be tailored to meet the demand of the local garrison population and will only run when you need it, meaning that some garrisons will no longer have regular buses.

Depending on where you live, transport may need to be booked at least 24 hours in advance – check your garrison Facebook pages for details. All other services, such as transport to youth clubs, after-school activities and airport transfers for trooper flights remain the same. If you have any problems, do get in touch with us here at AFF Germany by emailing germany@aff.org.uk winter 2014 Army&You 41


UNITED KINGDOM

Welcome to Wiltshire

Picture: MoD Crown Copright, CPl Dan Wiepen

Increasingly my role sees me liaising with local authorities on routine matters, writes AFF Director UK Jill Baines. This work is of great benefit to us both – I am able to keep them updated on current issues faced by families, and they are able to discuss new initiatives planned for communities, both civilian and military. A recent visit to Wiltshire Council’s headquarters at Trowbridge opened my eyes to the scale of the rebasing programme and just how much the local military population is being considered and consulted. Mark Gwynne, Head of Corporate Support, spoke to me about his work...

42 Army&You winter 2014

@ArmyandYou


WHO LEADS ON YOUR COMMUNITY COVENANT WORK? Our drive and passion starts at the top. Our Chief Executive, Jane Scott, takes the lead and is totally dedicated to making sure we meet our commitments and more. As part of our plans to ensure Service families rebasing are integrated into the community quickly and efficiently, Jane has visited Germany to talk with families and the chain of command. HOW DID YOU FIRST ENGAGE WITH WILTSHIRE’S MILITARY POPULATION? We carried out a countywide assessment and visited locations, including Salisbury Plain, where we heard views from both the local military and civilian population. What struck me was how keen the population are to take part in events “behind the wire”. Work is done to encourage military families to take part in community events, but little is known by civilians about “patch life”.

Picture: MoD Crown Copright

UNITED KINGDOM

ranging projects including a skate park at Colerne and replacing the Scout and Guide hut at Lyneham. The work at Lyneham shows our continued support in this area prior to the arrival of the new military families here. Our Corporate Covenant is also about to be signed to demonstrate our commitment to staff members who are part of the wider military family.

WHAT DO YOU THINK FAMILIES CAN DO TO FEEL AT HOME IN WILTSHIRE AFTER THEY ARRIVE? Alongside seeking work and joining local groups, there are If you’re based in also plentiful Wiltshire or moving there volunteering HOW MANY soon, go to wiltshire.gov.uk to find out more. opportunities. PEOPLE IN Our AFF Co-ordinator, I know people WILTSHIRE Carol Morris, is available at need paid work, DO YOU salisburyplain@aff.org.uk or for Covenant issues, contact but volunteering CONSIDER AS Julie Lowe at covenant@ can help build ‘MILITARY’? aff.org.uk CVs, encourage We estimate that 10 networks and often lead per cent of Wiltshire’s to a job. population are serving military personnel and their families, IF YOU COULD GIVE with another 10 per cent ONE MESSAGE ABOUT being veterans and military WILTSHIRE’S WORK TO extended families; they are ARMY FAMILIES WHAT a large group and make a WOULD IT BE? considerable contribution to I would say grasp every the life of Wiltshire. opportunity offered to you, both through your military HOW ENGAGED HAS THE and local communities. COUNCIL BEEN WITH THE Wiltshire is a fantastic county COMMUNITY COVENANT and we are committed to GRANT SCHEME? supporting our military We have been successful in personnel and families. n securing funding for widewww.armyandyou.co.uk

Partners partake in end-of-tour treat

A

DVENTUROUS training has always been a great way for the Army to ease soldiers back into normal life when they return from deployment, so one unit welfare officer thought it might work for families too. Capt Mick Peters and his team at 27 Regt RLC in Aldershot introduced a Partner Decompression Programme (PDP), taking 12 people for an activity break in Newquay at the end of their soldiers’ tour. It helped them to adjust when their loved ones returned home and gave them respite from the

pressures of Army life. While making new friends, they also gained an insight into what their soldiers get up to on adventurous training. Families took part in two days of coasteering and surfing, and they were overwhelmed by the emotional and physical benefits of the PDP. One Army wife said: “It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It really made me feel valued for the sacrifice we make.” Another added: “I have missed my husband loads but he has driven me mad over leave. “I think the Army forgets the adjustments we make as a family while our partners are away. “They have their decompression time, which they deserve, however, we just carry on.” autumn winter 2014 Army&You 35 43


Picture: Liz Rhodes

OVERSEAS

Overseas aid: Forces families separated by service feel they should be entitled to six fully-funded flights per child, per year

Overseas and out of pocket Families from all over the world have asked AFF to campaign for an increase in the number of Service Children’s Visits (SCVs) to reflect modern-day boarding. AFF Overseas Director Phil Robertson highlights the issue…

C

URRENTLY families posted overseas whose children are at UK boarding schools are entitled to claim up to three return journeys per year. The allowance is designed to help families to see each other when they are many miles apart. However, families have reported having to find substantial funds to pay for extra trips, especially when there is no second income coming in.

Grandparents have to get them to the airport – sometimes involving a pricey overnight stay – and the flight cost is only partly covered by the MOD so has to be topped up. When the full expense of return flights has to be borne by the family at half-terms, it can end up costing as much as £3,000 per year. This has put them under huge financial strain and they have had to forfeit being able to spend time together.

THE TRUE COST For one family, each time their child uses an SCV to Kenya, there’s an additional cost.

IMPROVING THE OFFER AFF believes the current policy leaves families bankrolling the MOD’s need to have Service

❝❞

AFF believes the current policy leaves families bankrolling the MOD’s need to have Service personnel overseas PHIL ROBERTSON, AFF OVERSEAS DIRECTOR

personnel overseas. We realise that a change would have financial implications, but the MOD must support the overseas offer to ensure that children do not miss out on vital family time because their parents cannot afford the travel costs to see them. Families feel that it would be fair and reasonable for the MOD to grant them six fullypaid flights for each child, one for each of the school holidays. Addressing this issue could go some way towards improving the overseas offer. If you have concerns about access to your children from overseas, contact me at overseas@aff.org.uk n

BASED OVERSEAS? HAVE YOUR SAY ON AFF’S UPDATED WEBSITE HAVING listened to families from all over the world about what you would like to see on the AFF website – www.aff.org.uk – we have been revamping our overseas pages with your ideas. 44 Army&You winter 2014

They are now packed with top tips, pre-move information and much more. If you would like to see anything else added about your location, get in touch by sending an email to overseas@aff.org.uk @ArmyandYou


OVERSEAS

Cars key to trouble-free tour FOR Cyprus-based Army wife Gail McNeil, having a driving licence is a crucial life skill. When she lived in the UK, Gail grew used to her husband being able to ferry her about and could also rely on frequent and convenient public transport. But fast forward to her arrival in Cyprus and the Army spouse’s lack of a licence became a distinct disadvantage. “Living at the top of Episkopi camp with two kids and constant walks in 35 degree heat, learning to drive became a necessity,” she explained. “After many lessons in Cyprus, I returned to the UK to take my test and passed after eight hours of

L

DRIVING IN CYPRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

✓ Anyone aged over 17and-a-half can apply for a provisional licence by taking a theory test on the Hig hway Code, but you must be 18 to take your practical test ✓ You must be resident on the island for six months before app lying for a provisional licence or dri ving test. British provisional licences are accepted so we recommend you get one before you arrive ✓ Vehicles drive on the left side of the road, same as the UK ✓ There are Cypriot dri ving schools on most camps which offe r European standard tuition ✓ Average costs of les sons are €30 per hour and the test is aro und €120

refresher sessions. “It’s had a real impact on my life. I’m able to shuttle the kids to all their clubs and I can go shopping without dragging my husband with me. “I wonder how I ever spent eight years married to a soldier who has constantly been away without being able to drive. I would recommend it to any spouse.” Esther Thomas, AFF’s Regional Manager Cyprus, said that the ability to drive will become even more important as a review of transport across Cyprus may lead to a reduction in the number of school buses. She added: “Coupled with the lack of public transport, it means that being able to drive in Cyprus will become a valuable skill for families in the future.”

MOVED OVERSEAS? AFF NEEDS YOU! IRRESPECTIVE of where you are moving to or from, families receive the same amount of Disturbance Allowance (DA). Many of you have told us that the true cost of moving overseas is one of the reasons that you might choose not to serve outside of the UK. DA is currently £1,036 (plus £81 per child at school) and although that sounds like a lot, relocating abroad or returning to the UK has left lots of you out of pocket. This could be down to the expense of items like cars, white goods, kitchen equipment and mobile phone contracts. What you take with you differs depending on location and what is supplied in your overseas quarter.

BATUK Welfare in Kenya took children aged seven to 18 on an action-pa cked 24-hour trip to Camp SWARA, north of Nanyuki. After setting up base, the adventurers enjoyed rounders, football, game drives around Ol Doinyo ranch, a game walk and river swimming. They also learned about the area and its wildlife from the ranch manager. After supper and a sing-song, the group slept under the stars, listening to the hyena circling and lions roaring in the distance ! www.armyandyou.co.uk

AFF INVESTIGATES In AFF’s recent survey on DA, 1,000 of you from almost 50 countries worldwide voiced your opinion. A staggering 91 per cent of you said that DA is not enough for an overseas posting. We provided the chain of command with your comments and excellent examples of just how much moving abroad costs. As promised, we will report back to you via aff.org.uk with updates about how we are representing your views and pushing for a reasonable and much-needed change to DA. autumn winter 2014 Army&You 35 45


HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS

Preparing for life’s journey

PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £850 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2014/15. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

MONMOUTH SCHOOL AND THE GRANGE

HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS AND INGLEFIELD HOUSE

Currently Archant Best British Boarding School BOYS 7 - 18 with boarding from 9 Tel: 01600 710433

GIRLS 7 - 18 with boarding from 7

Tel: 01600 711104

www.habs-monmouth.org

Co-educational, day & boarding school for 3-18 years in South East England

Boarding from 7 to 18 years Strong academic results Warm and supportive ethos Outstanding modern facilities Full weekend programme for boarders Generous Forces Bursaries

T: 01843 572931

E: admissions@slcuk.com

St Lawrence College, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 7AE

46 Army&You winter 2014

www.slcuk.com

@ArmyandYou


OVERSEAS

OVERSEAS l Jordan £669 l Brunei £1,763 l USA £773 (east) or

Fair funding: AFF would like children of divorced personnel to be able to visit their families in the same way as those at boarding school can

£831 (west) l France £156 l Gibraltar £327 l Saudi Arabia £577

These rates are determined by the MOD based on the actual cost of travel. AFF’S VIEW Funding overseas travel for children is currently tied to the Continuity of Education Allowance, but we would like to see that changed so that children of divorced personnel can visit their family in the same way that children at boarding school can. If you’re facing this issue or it has put you off applying to serve abroad, get in touch with us at overseas@aff.org.uk n

YOU TOLD AFF

Overseas equality for far-flung families

I

F YOU are a divorced parent serving overseas who does not have full custody of your child or children – PStat1 in Army speak – then you will not receive financial assistance for them to visit you. It’s not an uncommon position to be in, and leaves you with three options: l Pay for your child to

travel overseas l Pay to travel to the UK to

see your child l Not see your child – not, in www.armyandyou.co.uk

reality, an option at all.

❝❞ Divorced parents in the Middle East, Cyprus and Kenya have already contacted AFF about this issue

Divorced parents in the Middle East, Cyprus and Kenya have already contacted AFF about this issue. To illustrate the financial impact it can have, this is how much families can claim by way of Get You Home Allowance from various locations: l Cyprus £341 l Canada £845 (east) or

£1,024 (west) l Kenya £775

“My husband has three children from his first marriage aged 13, 15 and 19. “Although he has joint custody, the Army does not recognise this in the same way as if he had parental responsibility. “Therefore, we need to buy their passports, pay for vaccinations, visas and flights at a cost of roughly £1,200 per child in order to maintain contact with them while posted in Kenya. “Travelling back to the UK to see them is just as cost prohibitive because although his flight may be covered, he needs to hire a car and pay for a hotel as we don’t have any relatives near his children to stay with. “He’s not seen his youngest children in ten months and we’ve paid more than £1,000 for his older daughter to visit.” autumn winter 2014 Army&You 35 47


FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

Coming together: Nepalese families attending an open day at Maidstone Skills Plus Centre

Community spirit AFF’s work with local authorities has highlighted excellent initiatives in many areas to help Army families settle into communities. Our Covenant Liaison Julie Lowe found out more about the work being carried out by two county councils in support of the Nepali community…

T

VOLUNTEER WITH AFF

HE Gurkha and Nepali community has been a part of Hampshire for many years. Recently, a new group of ex-Gurkhas and Nepali citizens have moved to the county, in particular to the Aldershot area. Melissa Juniper, Gurkha/ Nepali Strategy and Community Co-ordination Officer at Hampshire County Council, explains: “We pride ourselves on being able to provide specialist support and services to all residents of Hampshire. Sometimes this requires a targeted approach. “We have supported integration with the wider community. For example, the Maddhat Shamua social group

USEFUL LINKS AFF F&C Assistant Michelle Prince-Burnett: fcassist@aff.org.uk gurkhapeacefoundation.org www.nepalesehelp.co.uk www.migranthelp.org www.gwt.org.uk Kent County Council: stephen.meades@kent.gov.uk Hampshire County Council: www.hants.gov.uk

AFF is seeking spouses to work within the community to ensure that F&C Army families are aware of how we can help them. Your job will be to encourage use of the website and Facebook page, organise get-togethers, help publicise presentations, signpost enquiries and ensure that F&C families are aware of any changes which may affect them. We want F&C families to receive support but also we need to know about the issues that are affecting the community in your area, so regular liaison with AFF’s F&C team and the local AFF Co-ordinator will

www.armyandyou.co.uk

has been set up which focuses on self-help.” Kent County Council has also improved support for Gurkhas and their families in Ashford, Maidstone and Shepway. Funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has helped launch: l A community development worker to help families settle into their new communities. l A face-to-face support programme offering information and guidance and a new helpline. l A co-ordinator to recruit and train volunteers from Nepali communities to signpost local health services. l Training to support the transition into civilian life,

ranging from the language skills required for job searching, house hunting, medical and community facilities, to the higher-level skills required to pass the B1 English Language test as a route to citizenship. Stephen Meades, Gateway Operations Manager and Customer Relationship at Kent County Council, says: “The funding provided by DCLG is being used to full effect with a range of projects which, over the next 12 months, will deliver better community integration, increased cultural awareness and enhanced access to public and third-sector services. “But to deliver these four key projects just wasn’t enough. Working with the voluntary community we were able to offer community grants which will enhance the work of the core projects.” One example is the BBQ and party held by the Gurkha Peace Foundation in Ashford and attended by 500 people. Katherine Houlston, AFF’s F&C Specialist, says: “These projects sound brilliant. These two local authorities are definitely leading the way in the support they are providing for Gurkha families on discharge. “I would love to see these projects expanded to other local authorities that have large numbers of families settling in the area, and for them to be opened up to other nationalities such as Fijian families.” n

be important. You won’t need any in-depth knowledge of immigration law but a general interest in the issues affecting families would be expected. Ulamila, an AFF volunteer from Catterick (pictured left), explains: “I decided to volunteer because I wanted to support the work of AFF in reaching out to families within my community. “I was looking for an opportunity to do something else apart from my part-time studies and being a stay-at-home mum. It will really help to boost my skills and knowledge and also to enhance my CV.” Interested? Check out www.aff.org.uk/volunteer winter 2014 Army&You 49


Picture: iStock

It gets better: Perinatal depression can affect more than one-in-ten women, but support for sufferers is available. Picture posed by models.

Dealing with depression Having a baby is supposed to be a happy time, but it’s common to feel down in the first few days after giving birth. For 10-15 per cent of new mothers, those initial “baby blues” can turn into a deep, longer and more frightening experience. One Forces spouse told Army&You her story of living through postnatal depression…

W

HY am I writing this? I suppose if it makes a difference to just one person then I will be happy. My sister suffered from postnatal depression and I will admit to wishing that she would pull herself together so we could all go back to normal. A friend described the day when a black cloud came to

50 Army&You winter 2014

hang over her head following the birth of her second child. Mine felt more like a small crash after the euphoria of my perfect daughter arriving into our lives. I knew pretty quickly something was wrong – I knew I was in a dark place. My very loving soldier husband was working long hours and commuting so he could live at home. I knew I frightened him.

❝❞ Some people are battling every day to be normal

Heck, I was frightening myself. I still believe he was glad to have his job as an excuse. NOT COPING Being home alone most of the time with two young children who really needed me was terrifying and yet that was also the thing that saved me. I prayed hard that I would die in my sleep; that way my husband and children would @ArmyandYou


CONTACT KAREN ROSS, AFF HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS SPECIALIST, AT ADDITIONALNEEDS@ AFF.ORG.UK

HEALTH

SEEK SUPPORT

IT IS estimated that more than one-in-ten women suffer from a mental health illness during the perinatal period. Recent data suggests that almost 50 per cent do not receive the services they need. Talk to your midwife, health visitor, GP or friends and family and if you think you know someone who may have PND, encourage them to seek professional medical help. SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS l Mind: www.mind.org.uk or 0300 123 3393 l NHS: www.nhs.uk l The Royal College of Psychiatrists: www.rcpsych.ac.uk AVENUES OF SUPPORT l Army Welfare Service in the UK and Germany: 02072 189000. In Germany visit www.patientwise.de for 24/7 medical advice l Action Postpartum Psychosis: www.app-network. org or 0203 332 9900 l The Association for Postnatal Illness: www.apni.org or 0207 386 0868 l PANDAS: www.pandasfoundation.org.uk or 0843 2898 401 l Mothers for Mothers: www.mothersformothers.co.uk or 0117 975 6006 l Big White Wall: www.bigwhitewall.com HEALTHY LIVING l Netmums: www.netmums.com

not blame me for leaving them. What scared me? Everything. The washing pile, untidiness. You name it, I was unable to cope with it. My daughter’s cry would make me physically stiffen. I would hold my breath and stay perfectly still in the hope she would stop. Yet she was such a good baby. HIDING FEELINGS Friends were complimenting me on losing my baby weight so quickly. I was unable to tell them the real reason why. My ability to hide my feelings surprised me. Inside I was screaming to be found out, rescued, and yet to the outside world I was a busy mum of two with a busy husband and a tidy house. My sister was to be my confidant and I will never www.armyandyou.co.uk

forget her kindness. We built a new relationship based on her experience of the hell I was suffering and my clinging to someone who understood. My GP advised me to bring my mother over (she lives a flight away), but I was determined not to tell her the truth and I didn’t want to appear weak in her eyes, so I returned to the doctors. Confessing my feelings was monumental, so going for the second trip was excruciating. She reassured me that this was something which others suffered from and wrote out a prescription for an antidepressant. You would think I went immediately to the pharmacist. Oh no, that would have been too easy. I hid the prescription in a drawer, partly from myself but mostly from my husband –

someone else I didn’t want to admit defeat to. ON THE MEND Eventually I did pick up the pills, then had to wait to notice any signs of them working. My sister was on the phone every day encouraging me through it. I scraped through and popped the pills. I exercised to the point of pain; punishing my body for letting me down, but it helped. My husband tried his best, but I think the anti-depressants added to his fear. He later admitted his greatest worry was that I would have to take pills to keep me “right” for the rest of my life. I took them for six months and then reduced my dose until I stopped altogether nine months from my first prescription.

l National Childbirth Trust: www.nct.org.uk l Home-Start: www.home-start. org.uk or call 0800 068 6368 (UK);028 90 460772 (NI); 0049 5251 101 866 (Germany); 00357 2472 4977 (Cyprus ESBA); 00357 2596 3748 (WSBA) l SSAFA Forcesline: 0800 731 4880 (UK); 0800 1827 395 (Germany); 800 91065 (Cyprus); #6111 (Falklands); +44 (0)1980 630854 (rest of the world) HELP FOR FATHERS l Fathers Reaching Out: www.fathersreachingout.com l Dadzclub: www.dadzclub.com The Royal College of Midwives and the Maternal Mental Health Alliance is calling for specialist mental health midwives in every maternity service through the “Everyone’s Business” campaign. For more information, visit www.everyonesbusiness.org.uk

GROWING STRONGER My daughter is now four years old and I still look at baby pictures and feel sadness at the precious time I missed – the feeds and bath times I wished away. Has every day since I popped the last pill been fine? No. Like the rest of the population I get sad, angry and a bit low on occasions. But I also know I am incredibly strong and have the ability to keep going. I remember reading something on Facebook recently which said: “You never know how someone is feeling on the inside, so be kind – always.” The friend who posted it will never know how I felt all those years ago. Some people are battling every day to be normal. n winter 2014 Army&You 51


GIVEAWAYS Get set for Christmas with this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

HOW TO ENTER Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 11 January 2015. See page four for competition rules.

Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names are published on the Army&You website.

AMAZING AQUARIUM LOOKING for a great year-round attraction? Then dive into The Deep, in Hull, one of the world’s most spectacular aquariums and home to 3,500 fish. Journey through a unique blend of marine life from tropical waters to cold Antarctic seas and enjoy interactive and audio-visual presentations. Visitors can watch divers handfeed sharks and rays each day and meet smaller critters including bumpy starfish, velvet swimmer crabs and spikey sea urchins. To find out more, visit www.thedeep.co.uk Army&You has one family ticket for four (up to two adults and children age 3-15 years) up for grabs.

CHOCOLATE HEAVEN DISCOVER a world of chocolatey fun and enjoy an action-packed day out at Cadbury World in Birmingham this Christmas. You’ll be treated to a special pantomime of Snow White and the Chuckle Beans and Santa will be handing out free gifts to children visiting his magical grotto. Join Freddo and a host of Cadbury characters in a 4D cinema experience, dive into a bowl of liquid Cadbury Dairy Milk, ride the Crunchie Rollercoaster and take to the skies in a Cadbury Creme Egg airship. With 14 zones, there’s something for everyone! Find out more at cadburyworld.co.uk We have one family ticket (two adults and two children) valid until 30 June, 2015 to give away.

52 Army&You winter 2014

Flawless break for Forces foodies READY for a romantic break or some midweek me-time? Then the Montagu Arms is the perfect place. Located in the idyllic New Forest village of Beaulieu, this country house hotel is steeped in 17th century history. Its unique charm is captivated in 22 luxurious individually-designed en-suite bedrooms. During the winter, roaring log fires in the elegant lounge area invite you in, whilst summer evenings

can be enjoyed al fresco before retreating to the stylish conservatory. Army&You has teamed up with Pride Of Britain Hotels (prideofbritainhotels. com) to offer two people: l Overnight accommodation in a luxurious suite l Three-course dinner at the Michelin Star Terrace Restaurant with a bottle of sommelier’s choice wine l Complimentary morning newspaper, tea and coffee in your suite l A full New Forest breakfast l Reserved car parking. The prize can be used SundayThursday and excludes Bank Holidays, Christmas and New Year. It is valid for 12 months from January 2015.

Cause some Kaos ALL the family can enjoy a high-ropes experience at Kaos Adventure in Lytham, Lancashire. Children as young as five and adults will love clip-n-play, tree climbing sessions and bouldering. It’s all indoors, there’s soft play for babies and toddlers too and if

you prefer to watch you can relax in the comfy seating area and café. Find out more at www. indoorhighwireadventure.com Army&You has a family clip-n-play session for four people to giveaway.

@ArmyandYou


GIVEAWAYS

FURBY FRIEND FURBY Boom lets you play, chat, dance and interact with an electronic pet like never before. Featuring crazy new designs, your Furby Boom will react to you and other Furbys. How you treat it will shape its personality. It’s available, priced £64.99, from The Entertainer, which has more than 90 stores in the UK and stocks thousands of products at www. TheToyShop.com We’ve teamed up with The Entertainer to offer two readers a Furby Boom.

GREAT GIFTS

New-look club IT HAS been an exciting year at the Union Jack Club, London’s friendly venue for Service families. A new restaurant, with a superb menu, offers stylish dining, complemented by carefully-selected artwork that reflects our Armed Forces. The separate buffet breakfast area ensures a relaxed atmosphere and, if you don’t have much time, there is also a popular Espresso Bar. The beds are reportedly so comfortable that getting up in the morning is especially tough – so make sure you pack your alarm! All this in the heart of London, next to Waterloo Station – perfect for exploring

all the capital has to offer. Go to www.ujclub.co.uk to book or find out more. You could be heading to the big city with Army&You. We have a two-night stay in a family room (two adults and two children) with breakfast, worth £320, to give away to a lucky reader.

YOU could win a superb Season’s Greetings food and wine hamper from Virginia Hayward to enjoy with family and friends or send to a loved one. This wicker basket is full of treats such as cherry chocolate-chip biscuits, chilli rice crackers, oat crumbles, luxury mince pies, chocolates and a fine bottle of red Montepulciano Folonari.

View the entire range of more than 150 hampers and gifts at www. virginiahayward.com. Army&You readers can claim a 10 per cent discount by entering the code ARMYANDYOU at the checkout. We have one Season’s Greetings hamper, worth £50, to give to a lucky reader. This giveaway closes on 7 December.

Season’s eatings

www.armyandyou.co.uk

CHRISTMAS? Already? Fear not; help is at hand. The Great Gift Company has more than 1,000 unusual presents. With everything from groovy gadgets to stocking fillers, there’s something to suit every taste and budget. The Great Gift Company ships worldwide, including BFPO, so visit www. thegreatgiftcompany. co.uk and start shopping. Four lucky readers will each win a £30 voucher to spend.

GET YOUR SKATES ON WITH one of the biggest ranges in the UK, Skates.co.uk has everything a skater could want. Scooters, Heelys, rollerskates, skateboards, BMXs, ice skates – not to mention protective gear. Skates.co.uk is also proud to offer a Forces discount. Just enter “Forces5” to receive 5 per cent off your order. Roll over to www. armyandyou.co.uk and you could win £100 to spend.

MADE FOR MESSES WHATEVER they get up to, your little ones won’t come home as clean as they left! Messy Me tunics (£9.50, www.messyme.com) save on wash loads thanks to their wipe-clean oilcloth covers. Kit your kids out with one of three tunics in our giveaway.

winter 2014 Army&You 53


outdoor adventure weekends for youth groups Inspire, motivate, change perspectives and widen horizons with a PGL adventure! You’ll see your youth group meet challenges head-on, work as a team, have fun, develop their self-confidence and sense of achievement.

Price includes:

◾ full board accommodation ◾ adventure activities ◾ activity instruction and supervision ◾ varied evening entertainment programme ◾ generous free places for group leaders ◾ free leader preview visits ◾ extensive insurance cover

Weekends from

£47

+VAT

Residential adventure centres located across the UK find your nearest at www.pgl.co.uk/youthcentres

For further information call 08703 800 258 or visit www.pgl.co.uk/youth

WOW!

Boundary Oak School

Boarding in a top Surrey school for £4,640 per term. l Boarding and Flexi Boarding for boys and girls aged 7-18 l Huge range of extra-curricular sports and activities l Excellent academic results l Situated in 260 acres of parkland near Reigate, Surrey l Thriving Sixth Form

OPEN MORNINGS

Sat 14th March and Sat 16th May 9.00 – 10.30am Gatton Park Reigate Surrey RH2 0TD www.raa-school.co.uk 01737 649001 @RAASchoolGatton

54 Army&You winter 2014

Boundary Oak is an independent coeducational boarding and day prep school for children age 2 – 13 years. All of our boarders are from the Tri-services and the houseparents are experienced on the particular care of children from forces families. Conveniently situated 15 mins from Portsmouth with easy access to all major routes via rail, road and air. Please contact: registrar@boundaryoak.co.uk

Roche Court, Wickham Road, Fareham, Hampshire PO17 5BL Telephone: 01329 280955

Armsy and You ad.indd 1

@ArmyandYou

05/11/2014 09:56


YOUNG GENERATION

Picture: MOD Crown Copyright

i Get involved: The ACF is open to those aged 12 (and in school year 8) to under 18. For more information, visit www.armycadets.com

Appetite for adventure With more than 46,000 cadets in almost 1,700 detachments all over the country, the Army Cadet Force (ACF) is one of the biggest and best teams around. When it comes to action, excitement and adventure, it’s hard to find anything to beat it. Army&You meets two teenagers who have come into their own after joining up...

F

OURTEEN-year-old Lance Corporal Shamsher Sultan described himself as a shy person who was nervous and quiet around other people. Since his father recommended joining the Warwickshire and West Midlands (South Sector) ACF, he’s never looked back. “At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to join, but it has been the most successful decision I ever made,” he told Army&You. “I love doing all the activities, including taking part in a St John Ambulance first aider course, the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award and the Corps of Drums. It’s extremely fun and challenging and my favourites are shooting and drill. “I really want to go to Welbeck Defence College and go on to The Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. Thanks to the help and support of ACF I can follow my dreams. “I would definitely recommend it, especially for anyone who lacks confidence and self-belief because this organisation has changed my life.” n www.armyandyou.co.uk

C

OMPANY Sergeant Major Chris Phillips (17) was attracted to the ACF after seeing a poster at school. A visit to Shropshire ACF detachment confirmed that it was for him. “I was quickly into my recruit training and soon achieved my basic certificate,” he explains. “The annual camp is always the highlight of my year. We complete a range of packages, from adventure training to shooting, [while] developing our skills and meeting new people. “My favourite activities have been the Duke of Edinburgh Award expeditions; we pulled together as a team and had so many laughs along the way. “The extra skills I’ve gained will hopefully make me stand out from my peers. But it’s not all about qualifications; I have developed as a confident leader and communicator, skills which I severely lacked before. I’d recommend the ACF to anyone. Give it a try!” n winter 2014 Army&You 55


Battle Station

FORCES TV ON AIR NOW There’s a unique new television channel about Britain’s armed forces and all that they do. It’s full of news, documentaries and compelling stories about the men and women of the services.

From the battlefield to the home front, from weapons to welfare, Forces TV brings you the inside story of Britain’s military and the world of defence, 24 hours a day.

© Crown Copyright

S KY 2 6 4 | V I RG I N 2 4 4 | www.forces.tv

Forces TV

F R E E S AT 6 5 2

@Forces_TV

+ForcesTV


RETAIL THERAPY

FESTIVE FAVOURITES Children’s Christmas lists are rarely delivered to adult-friendly deadlines. With rewrites often continuing throughout Advent, buying early can be a fraught tactic. For those still awaiting a final edit, A&Y takes a look at some of the most likely contenders for a place under the tree...

W

ITH a record number of us set to shun the high street in favour of HD tablets when it comes to Christmas shopping, it should come as no surprise that many children will be hoping to find tech-toys beneath the tinsel. Among 2014’s must-haves are Cayla (£59.99), a state-ofthe-art doll who uses speechto-text software to look up answers to questions online, and the Kiddizoom Smart Watch (£39.99), which can take photos and videos and be used to play built-in games. However, hotly-tipped to be the biggest seller is Teksta’s T-Rex. Following in the paw prints of 2013’s hit – a robotic puppy – the digital dinosaur responds to your voice, actions, motions, lights, sounds and an Apple and Android-friendly app. Sensors and clever AI combine to let T-Rex roar, cry, whine and change his eye patterns to communicate. For those with a family member due to deploy, Sparkup: The Magical Book Reader is an ideal gift for those set to miss out on having a loved one read them a bedtime story. The innovative device clips onto any picture book and reads it aloud in your voice. While recording, Sparkup’s tiny camera takes a picture of the book’s cover MINECRAFT and each ARTICULATED page so ANIMAL that when a MOBS

£19.99

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Of course, child connects it, SPARKUP: when it comes it immediately THE MAGICAL to building recognises what BOOK READER blocks, is being read. £39.99 Minecraft LEGO is likely to may lack monopolise the digital stocking dynamism space of many this Christmas. Whether toys but, as a a console copy of the PC blockbuster movie testifies, the phenomenon or a handbook, appeal of the multi-coloured the brick-based behemoth bricks is enduring. The brains has spawned a plethora of behind the blocks have products. Among the cheaper also found a way of mixing options available for “Steve” technology and traditional play supporters is a six-pack of with their latest product range, Animal Mob action Ultra Agents. In an bid figures. to take play “beyond 3D Bridging the the build”, kids can PUZZLE gap between download a free £19.99 construction app featuring a six-episode toys and more interactive traditional graphic novel. playthings are The centrepiece Ravensburger’s of the range is the 3D puzzles. Ultra Agents Mission The jigsaw-based HQ – a hi-tech truck sets allow aspiring complete with missile architects to piece shooters and ontogether a range of board buggy. famous landmarks – Bricks also provide the including the Eiffel Tower and bedrock of Flair’s WWEEmpire State Building – which themed construction toys. An once complete light up like ideal purchase for those tired Christmas trees. of policing bedroom bouts, With a new movie out, the Stack Down Ring allows Teenage Mutant Ninja budding wrestlers to recreate Turtles will undoubtedly also their favourite encounters on a feature on lists. Available more manageable scale. alongside the usual array of The set includes a action figures is the Jumbo Tron screen, ULTRA Billboard Breakout an entrance ramp AGENTS playset, which and three figures. MISSION HQ features a series £79.99 of zip lines that allow the SCHLEICH Turtles to KNIGHTS perform

perpetual motion TURTLES acrobatic BILLBOARD combat BREAKOUT moves. £29.99 And finally, for those purists who prefer to see their children engage in imaginative play without the aid of gizmos, Schleich continue to set the standard. A new horse stable with accessories and selection of Dragon and Griffin Knights feature among the figurine maker’s latest range. n Courtesy of Vivid, Army&You has three Sparkup: Magical Book Readers to giveaway. Click the giveaways tab on www.armyandyou.co.uk to enter.

TEKSTA T-REX £59.99

WWE STACKDOWN RING £49.99

£5.99

winter 2014 Army&You 57


RANGE ROVER SPORT

THRILLING PERFORMANCE IN EVERY SENSE landrovermilitarysales.co.uk

Created around the driver The all-new Range Rover Sport is the most dynamic, agile and responsive Land Rover ever. And the inside is impressive too. Using only the finest materials, the quality and finish exude luxury. However, nothing has been lost in performance. For instance, the 5.0 litre LR-V8 Supercharged goes from 0-60mph in just 5.0 seconds. Benefits to armed forces personel include:

– Up to 13% discount available across the full Land Rover range, finance packages available* – Personalised specification designed around exact requirements, including injury – RHD or LHD depending on your posting demands – Dedicated experienced military sales support – Tax Free / Tax Paid pricing options – Military agents in both UK and Germany

Land Rover Military Sales

To find out more please contact our dedicated Military Sales team visit www.landrovermilitarysales.co.uk/rrsport or contact us at salesmanager@landrover-militarysales.co.uk or call +44 (0)1733 213231 Vehicles supplied tax free for export are subject to the relevant HMRC Regulations. Model shown is a 15MY Range Rover Sport HSE Diesel 3.0 SDV6 in Firenze Red. Official fuel consumption figures for the all-new Range Rover Sport in mpg (l/100km): Urban 15.4 (18.3) – 42.0 (6.7), Extra urban 29.1 (9.7) – 45.0 (6.3), Combined 22.1 (12.8) – 44.1 (6.4). CO2 emissions g/km: 426 – 165. The figures provided are as a result of official manufacturer’s

tests in accordance with EU legislation. A vehicle’s actual fuel consumption may differ from that achieved in such tests and these figures are for comparative purposes only. *Finance is subject to status and only available to serving members of HM Forces only, aged 18 and over resident in Mainland UK and N.Ireland. Indemnities may be required.


MOTORING

MOTORING REVIEW: RANGE ROVER SPORT

'

We hit the open road in the Sport HSE Dynamic. Find out more at www. landrover.co.uk/vehicles/range-rover

A beauty and a beast

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IVEN the company’s distinguished military pedigree, it was only a matter of time before a member of the Land Rover line-up graced the pages of Army&You. With the manufacturer’s 4x4 vehicles already familiar to those in and around the Services, we climbed into the refined cabin of the all-new Range Rover Sport HSE to see what the premium marque has to offer civilian customers. The Sport’s exterior pulls off a neat aesthetic trick in softening the muscularity one would expect from a twotonne vehicle with flourishes such as a sloping roof, slimmer lights and pleasingly rounded corners. Its ability to do two things at once extends to the luxurious interior. Although the additional height afforded to drivers is noticeable, the vehicle’s geometry makes the jump between a conventional car and the Range Rover easy to handle. Whether you are behind the wheel or in one of the soft leather passenger

www.armyandyou.co.uk

seats, comfort and customisability are all around. The ergonomic steering wheel is intuitive and places everything from cruise and voice control to paddle shifting within easy reach. The front seats are heated and can be adjusted in a multitude of ways at the touch of one of a cluster of buttons attached to their sides. The ability to manually select your prefences and then save the settings to one of four memory positions is a particularly nice touch. A central screen handles a wealth of audio/visual options, with in-car entertainment including digital and analogue radio, CD and aux and USB inputs. Learning how to switch between the various options takes a bit of familiarisation, but it is well thought out and ultimately very user-friendly. So far so luxurious, but how does the Range Rover cope on the open road? The answer is exceptionally well. We tested the vehicle on motorways, through a busy town centre and across a particularly

lumpy field and found the ride smooth and fluent. The automatic gearbox and threelitre diesel engine are capable of rapid acceleration, while fuel economy – aided by a stop/start feature – is very good for a vehicle of this size. Noise from the powerplant is noticeable but unobtrusive. There is, of course, a rather hefty elephant in the room in the size of the Range Rover’s price tag. With the basic model weighing in north of £60,000, this certainly isn’t a vehicle for all wallets. But for those who do aspire to own a British-made classic, the Range Rover Sport’s winning combination of growl and grace make it an investment that few motorists will ever regret. n

Design Performance Value Overall rating

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winter 2014 Army&You 59


THE FAIR FIGHT Proving you should never judge a book by its cover, all five of our group who read this title gave it a thumbs up. Lucy enjoyed it because of the “unusual subject matter” and unconventional “heroine”, although she found the story quite disjointed at times. Both Karen and Jane felt the ending was a little abrupt and left the reader wanting more, but would still recommend the book to others. GHOST MOTH The consensus among those members of our group who read Ghost Moth was that it is a book of two stories, neither of which is properly developed. Becks and Louise found it “depressing” and “a failed love story”. In contrast, Jane considered it beautifully written, although she didn’t click with Ghost Moth as either a title or overarching theme. Nominate your club to receive copies of the titles opposite and feature in the next issue of Army&You by emailing books@armyandyou.co.uk

60 Army&You winter 2014

Season’s readings and welcome to the second meeting of the A&Y Book Club. This issue we have three Christmas crackers to help you wile away the long winter evenings...

Emma is a struggling mother who has put everything on hold. Nina is sophisticated and independent. When the pair meet, Nina draws Emma into her life. But this isn’t the first time their paths have crossed. Nina remembers Emma and what she did. But what does Nina want and how far will she go to get it?

Thomas Post is an expert on coincidences. He’s an authority. Every coincidence, he says, can be explained by the cold laws of chance. But why then do coincidences so afflict the life of Azalea Lewis? And why has Thomas Post’s orderly life been thrown into such disarray by the coincidences of Azalea?

Welcome to Midnight, Texas: a dried-up Western town and the latest creation of celebrated crime novelist Charlaine Harris. Located at the crossroad of Witch Light and Davy Road, the settlement is home to a limited cast of full-time residents including an internet psychic, a new age magic store manager and a pawn shop owner.

Her is a deeply affecting psychological thriller, drawing on forensic social observations, the sinister side to unlikely friendships and disturbing insights into English obsessions with class and status.

The Coincidence Authority is a love story set in a random universe, which explores the mysteries behind fate, circumstance, destiny and coincidence.

Midnight Crossroad is a novel of mystery, intrigue, domestic drama and supernatural adventure.

Best-selling author and journalist Amanda Craig describes this edgy pageturner as “the best-written novel about a toxic friendship since Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal”.

Praise for the title includes “[it] twists like a pretzel and it’s delightfully unexpected” (The Times) and “an absorbing novel suffused with intelligence, charm and humanity” (Bookseller).

A perfect example of what Charlaine Harris – the author of four consecutive number one Sunday Times bestsellers – does best: chilling small town murder mysteries with a jawdropping twist.

TITLE: Her AUTHOR: Harriet Lane PUBLISHER Weidenfeld & Nicolson

TITLE: The Coincidence Authority AUTHOR: John Ironmonger PUBLISHER Phoenix

TITLE: Midnight Crossroad AUTHOR: Charlaine Harris PUBLISHER Gollancz

Readers of Army&You can order copies of The Coincidence Authority for the special price of £6.99 (rrp £7.99) by calling 01903 828503 and quoting ref no: PB109; Her for £10.99 (rrp £12.99) by quoting ref no: PB112; and Midnight Crossroad for £16.99 (rrp £18.99) by quoting ref no: PB111. UK postage and packing is free, for overseas add £1.60. @ArmyandYou

SYNOPSIS

THE WOMAN IN THE PICTURE Attracted by the cover, three of our group opted to tackle this title. Sian particularly liked the historic descriptions of London, while Beth felt the central characters were strong. Conversely, Jane found it a long novel that could have developed the characters more. All would recommend this book but with reservations.

Good titles we bring

KEY THEMES

The RMAS/Camberley book club volunteered to run the rule over our autumn offerings. Host Karen Ross shares the group’s assessment of the titles below...

WHY THIS?

CAMBERLEY CRITIQUE

DETAILS

A&Y BOOK CLUB


ARMY&ME CLAIRE SWEENEY Entertainer

You’re more qualified than most to comment on the trials and tribulations of Service life. Remind us why a former star of Brookside knows so much about the British Army? I was part of a military family and was also the Armed Forces sweetheart for a number of years. I went to Afghanistan and have done quite a bit of work with the British Army. My brother joined the cadets when he was younger and went on to serve in the King’s Regiment for many years. He got very badly injured in Northern Ireland and was medically discharged, which was a shame because it had been his life, but he is OK now and has a lovely family.

Mill Hill and spoke to the wives and girlfriends of soldiers and [being separated by service] just becomes a way of life. It is hard when they are not there for Christmas but I was so used to him being away. Some may argue that time apart from a brother or sister is no bad thing. Was it not a blessing on occasions? No, not at all – he’s a great brother and I’m really proud of him. One of my proudest moments was when he was in charge of [his] cadets and during a presentation all the kids came forward and gave a little speech about how my brother changed their lives; how he’d got them off the street and how he had influenced them.

was an amazing trip – I went to Kabul when they were just building the camp; there were no showers and everyone was sleeping in tents.

Did a star turn in uniform not appeal to you? As a kid I used to have a poster above my bed for the Wrens and I thought that was what I wanted to do, but then I discovered dance classes and that was that. I went to dance school, so I’d be tap dancing round the house and my brother would be putting spit and polish on his boots with a spoon.

Did your brother’s military career influence your decision to accept the role of Forces Sweetheart? Yes, it was a great insight into my brother’s life and a huge compliment to be approached. I was asked if I would get a show together to entertain the troops and be the first entertainer into Afghanistan. I was very flattered and honoured. It

Were you nervous about visiting a war zone? I’m not one of those people who worries unnecessarily about stuff like that. When we reached Kabul the airplane had to land in darkness because aircraft had been getting shot at but I just thought I’m in the safest hands possible – those of the British Army – and if anything is going to happen, it is going to happen. I was very philosophical about it all as you can go outside and get run over. I focused on enjoying the experience.

What was it like having a soldier as a brother? We kind of got used to it and I think that is the case for most military families. I spent time with him at www.armyandyou.co.uk

Claire is appearing as the Genie of the Ring in Aladdin at the Liverpool Empire from Saturday 13 December to Sunday 4 January. Tickets are priced between £10 and £30.40 and are available from the box office at www. atgtickets.com/liverpool or 0844 871 3017

Your career has taken in everything from Brookside Close and a hit solo album to appearing on Celebrity Big Brother and presenting Loose Women. What’s been the highlight to date? That trip [with the military] was one of the highlights. Singing in a lovely hotel for the Navy in Dubai, on a stage in the desert in Oman and on the back of a truck in Afghanistan was great. It was a brilliant experience. This Christmas you are appearing on stage alongside Ray Quinn in Aladdin at the Liverpool Empire. How does being in pantomime compare to treading the boards of the West End? It’s my home crowd isn’t it – I’m coming home. My first ever panto was when I was 17 and it was at the Liverpool Empire and this is the first time I’ve been back. The cast are all Scousers and I’ve known them for years – it’s like working with family. n winter 2014 Army&You 61


OUR EXPERTS LEGAL MANDEEP GILL Consultant solicitor Mandeep is here to answer all of your lawrelated queries

BEAUTY GRACE BROWN From top tips on new products to looking good on a budget, Grace has the answers

MENTAL HEALTH CAT WILLIAMS Counsellor and Army wife Cat can help you cope with the stresses of life around the military

NUTRITION ALEX COOK If you want to maintain a healthy diet, Alex is here to help. Find out more at www.diet360.co.uk

Q How can I sparkle this season? A

Q&A SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS! Whatever your query, send it in to us and we’ll find an expert to give you an answer. EMAIL editor@aff.org.uk

THE winter often seems so dull and grey, but of course the party season always adds a bit of sparkle! For me, it’s a chance to really experiment with my make-up. If you fancy a fresh look, but without the drastic change, eye shadow is your new best friend. I always tend to

use a matte finish, as shimmery or metallic powders can highlights lines and age the eyes. For a truly flattering look, a lovely brown shade blended well to just above your eye socket can really warm up your whole face. Eyelashes are a perfect way to glam up this season.

Adding strip lashes completely transforms everyday make up into evening, in just two minutes! If you find them uncomfortable, don’t just give up and take them off. You can always remove them, snip them to size and re-apply to just the outer eyes. You can get a smaller volume

lash if you want the more natural look too. Eyelash newbies, go and grab a pair to try – you have nothing to lose! GB

Q How do I access legal services overseas? A

IF you are posted overseas, depending on the issue, you may be able to access legal advice and take action if required, whilst you are abroad. If you are unable to deal with an issue as you need to be present in the UK, for example, a court appearance, you should initially write to the parties involved – and the court – to inform them of your situation. Remember, original documents can be scanned and sent via email. The Law Society provides an online “Find a Solicitor” service which enables you to find a solicitor by postcode

62 Army&You winter 2014

and specialism if you require advice. For useful information on a range of legal issues please refer to the following links: ] Citizens Advice Bureau www.citizensadvice.org.uk ] Step Change (debt help) www.stepchange.org ] Resolution (family issues) www.resolution.org.uk ] Law on the Web lawontheweb.co.uk/criminal_law ] Law Society (find a solicitor) www.solicitors. lawsociety.org.uk ] Queen Mary University (free advice) www.lac.qmul.ac.uk MG @ArmyandYou


ASK THE EXPERTS

Q How can I stay healthy while my soldier is deployed? A

WE ALL know how easy it is to let your healthy eating routine go when your soldier is away – hands up if you’ve tried to survive on wine and crisps! You’ll be pleased to know that despite being an expert in nutrition, even a dietitian has slip-ups. When left alone for months with two small children, a career and a house to maintain, I come last of a long list of priorities. When my husband Martyn deployed earlier this year I was determined not to get into the habit of snacking for meals. I decided to set myself some rules, which I hope you can follow to give you the energy needed to survive the tour: ✓ Keep a full fridge – if you’re busy, shop online and have it delivered. ✓ Weekly plan – we all get stuck in a rut, so plan your meals for the week; it will save time and money too. ✓ Five a day – more if you can! Five fruit and veg a day ensures a good boost of vitamins and

minerals. Three tablespoons of carrots counts as one portion, as does one medium apple. That’s two already! ✓ Three meals a day – don’t skip. Eating little and often will keep energy levels up and hunger at bay. ✓ Eat your evening meal together – if you have children, avoid cooking twice by eating with them. It’s also a good time to discuss the day’s events. ✓ Don’t pick – lots of extra calories can be consumed picking at leftovers so busy yourself with something else. ✓ Bulk cook – you can freeze the leftovers and have instant dinners at your fingertips. ✓ Limit comfort foods – quiet nights in have most of us reaching for the chocolate but if it’s not there, you can’t eat it. Don’t buy it! ✓ Have breakfast. Evidence shows that those who skip breakfast end up consuming more calories during the day so wake your metabolism up. AC

Q How can I survive the festive period? A

WHETHER you are travelling to see your family, have in-laws visiting, your soldier is away or there is just not enough time or money, there are some simple steps to help you: l Watch your own expectations – you can't do everything. Be gentle on yourself, especially when you feel under pressure. Prioritise

and let some things go. l Find somewhere to be alone. Lock the door and practise “toilet seat therapy”, closing your eyes and imagining warm light pouring in so that all stress and self-doubt is replaced by calmness. See YouTube for a demonstration by me. It works! l Be kind to yourself by

keeping time for favourite activities. Ask others for help and appreciate their efforts. l Talk to a friend – share how you feel with the person you’re comfortable with. They are likely to be feeling the

strain of Christmas too and will support you. Cat’s “Stay Calm and Content” service (staycalmandcontent.com) is available on telephone and Skype. Funding may be available. If you have a mental health question for Cat, email editor@aff.org.uk CW


POSTBAG

Get in touch – you don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be published or revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission.

CONTACT US

To have your say on the issues affecting you, send your letters to the Editor at editor@aff.org.uk

‘I’M NOT A DEPENDANT’ I CONSIDER myself as a pretty independent person who is able to cope with a considerable amount on my own without the physical presence of my soldier husband. I therefore find it a derogatory term when I am labelled a “dependant” – defined as “a person who relies on another person for support, aid, or sustenance”. Army spouses and children are some of the most independent people I have ever met. This antiquated label is an insult to what we do whilst we remain at home holding the fort. For two years I refused on principle to obtain a dependant’s ID card on the basis that I am not dependent on my husband for anything. Circumstances have forced me to make the shameful trip to camp to fill out the necessary form which states that he is “responsible” for me. If we must be labelled, surely there is a better term that more accurately represents the role we play. Just because it’s widely used by the MOD doesn’t necessarily make it the right term. With morale at such a low, perhaps the Service should recognise an overall shift in the roles families play and not merely see them as a bolt-on to the soldier they recruit, but as an integrated part of Army life.

Name & address supplied. Response from AFF Chief Executive, Catherine Spencer: I agree. If the Army is serious about equality and diversity this offensive term must be removed from all policy documents. I raised this question when I was Director AFF Germany. At that time I was given the response that “dependant” was a legal term used in the Status of Forces Agreement and as such could not be adjusted. However, with the closure of BFG it is time for a new phrase – Entitled Family Member (shortened to EFM) is my suggestion. It may not be as catchy but it certainly doesn’t carry the same negative connotations of dependence.

64 Army&You winter 2014

No quarter given to unmarried partners I RECENTLY sat through a 90-minute welfare presentation (mainly about mould) and not once was the word “partner” mentioned. My partner and I are not married, although we have bought a house together within 15 minutes of camp. This decision, however, could pose a problem when my other half is posted in 2016. When I asked the speaker about the lack of provision for military partners, I was rebuffed and told that we would never get a quarter. I wasn’t asking for one but some kind of concession would be welcome. Given I have been with my man for three years and bought a house with him, you would think there would be some kind of sliding scale regarding benefits. I appreciate there needs to be a cutoff point to stop every Tom, Dick and Harry trying to claim a quarter and other associated perks afforded to military spouses, but I have less rights than someone who may have met and married a soldier within three weeks.

I communicated this to the speaker, who told me (again) that I couldn’t get a quarter and suggested that if I didn’t want the expense, I should just go down to the registry office. As you can imagine I left feeling rather deflated and like I have no option but to get married to be recognised as a partner by the military.

Name & address supplied Response from AD PS4 (Army): Defence recognises that it needs to remain informed by societal changes and trends; in respect to this particular issue, concerning the potential to widen the eligibility for subsidised Service accommodation and allowances, it will be taken forward under the work that is currently supporting the New Employment Model. The issues and complexities of 21st century living will be incorporated into a strategic long-term perspective of the future accommodation offer which will encompass supporting allowances.

@ArmyandYou


POSTBAG

Same old system WHEN we received our posting order we were really impressed with the housing allocation system. You could pick your future home based on the information you supply; the selection of houses appears on the screen and you can also see if anyone else is interested as their first, second or third choice. We picked three houses in one area due to several factors such as jobs, friends and schools. Our first choice had no other interest on the day we submitted the application. A full 15 working days later, we were allocated a house which was not even in the area we chose. Furthermore, the nearest school has no places available and the Armed Forces Covenant does not apply as 90 per cent of the children there are military. I understand that there are lots of families coming and going but why give us the choice if you just get what you are given regardless of preference? We rang the HASC and were told we could reject that offer but would have to wait a further 15 working days. My husband has to be at his new unit in 11 weeks and I had already organised visits to schools. Why introduce a new system which is meant to give you a small amount of control of your future when in fact it’s the same old system that’s always been in place? And why does it take 15 working days to allocate a home? Name and address supplied

Response from DIO: It is not always possible to allocate preferred choices to applicants. This can be for a number of reasons, primarily as other applicants may not have expressed a preference. In these cases, staff are then required to make the choice for them and allocate properties according to requests from other applicants, availability of accommodation to meet requirement dates, the wishes of the chain of command and other factors. In relation to the 15 day period that is given, these rules are laid down in JSP 464 Tri-Service Accommodation Regulations and allocations staff are required to adhere to them. AFF comment: It can seem unfair if you don’t get any of the SFA you select. Unfortunately, selections are only a preference and not a choice. Whilst it is difficult to comment on individual cases, AFF is aware that in some areas there are local agreements in place which mean only those posted to that specific location are to be allocated there. This is not currently reflected in the options which the system shows as it displays everything which is available to your entitlement within a ten mile radius. AFF has already brought this to the attention of the new contractor and will continue to lobby for local agreements to be reflected so that families are not given false hope.

‘THERE’S NOTHING ROUTINE ABOUT A MILITARY MOVE’ I AM told that under the new Service housing contract there will be no more “routine” pre move-out inspections. We have relocated several times and not once have we had a move-out that could be described as “routine”. In our experience, the inspection provides an opportunity to iron out any issues so that we don’t receive any surprise bills later on. We are about to move again and our quarter has very old carpets and lino which we’re pretty sure will be ripped

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up and replaced. How do we ensure this is the case and we don’t waste time and money cleaning them?

Name and address supplied Response from AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder: If there are issues like this that you need to discuss you can still request a pre move-out inspection, it is only routine ones which have been suspended. If you have any problems getting an appointment, contact me at housing@aff.org.uk

HOMEOWNERS LEFT ALONE I AM a military wife with two children aged six and six months and work full-time with an hour commute from my own home. My husband has been deployed for almost 450 nights out of bed over the past three years. During his six-month tour of Afghanistan, I received no information from the welfare office, not even a phone call to see if there was anything I needed. During his six-month deployment to the Falklands I was heavily pregnant, but only received one call which came after my husband complained that no one had been to check up on me or my daughter. I was also going through a redundancy process at work. My daughter did find support from the charity My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures, which supports young children with separation packs and events, but we should not have had to rely on a charity to step in. In the current climate – where it looks increasingly likely that there will be more deployments not less – there needs to be better support for families from the Army.

Name and address supplied Response from PS4 (Army) Welfare: Army policy clearly states that prior to deployment, units should inform all families, regardless of their location, of the level of support that will be provided to them whilst their soldier is away as well as offering an option of follow-up support if required. Whilst I would not always expect the welfare staff to phone a spouse of a deployed soldier during the deployment, I would expect the unit to initiate the correct support, as this would ensure the spouse held all the requisite welfare contact details. Units should also be seeing if families in their own homes would like visits from a support organisation such as SSAFA Forces Help. PS4(A) does support greater selfreliance and resilience, encouraging individuals to initiate contact as and when required, so I would at least hope that you received an information package when your soldier arrived at their unit with all the relevant welfare specialist contact details and advice on what to do in given circumstances.

winter 2014 Army&You 65


POSTBAG

Career put ‘on pause’ WE are moving for the third time in four years and unlike previous moves I am feeling sick with worry and don’t know where to turn. My husband was informed that he was to be posted a year earlier than planned. I am a qualified social worker currently on maternity leave. As usual, and as expected of an Army spouse, I have again handed in my notice and will be moving to our new posting. I knew that by marrying a soldier I would have to put my career on hold and that every move and job change would be to the detriment of my CV and employment prospects. However, I think the “powers that be” should recognise the financial impact every move has, particularly on those families who rely on two incomes. We knew it may take some time following a move to find a job and so we put money aside each month to ensure there are enough funds to cover the bills whilst I look for work. However, I have recently had my first child and savings accrued are easily spent on things for the baby. We did so expecting we would have another year to save to alleviate any financial burden. Consequently, we’re facing the stress of yet another move and the reality of financial hardship and mounting debt. We will once again lose a second income and I must find and pay out for childcare before I am able to work. Most child minders want at least a month’s fees upfront and the garrison nursery will charge £905 per month for three-and-a-half-days a week. Whilst we will be provided with Disturbance Allowance and have access to childcare vouchers, this does not come close to covering a second salary. I often read how the Forces want to support spouses into employment and prevent families from being disadvantaged as a result of Service life, but this cannot be achieved without consideration and action being taken to address the impact of regular moves.

Name & address supplied

66 Army&You winter 2014

Response from Directorate of Personal Services (Army): The circumstances described are clearly frustrating for you and other families who have to manage difficult choices between mobility and stability and the impact that has on accompanied service and family unity. Our surveys tell us that the effect of frequent moves on children’s education and spousal employment remain key concerns for the majority of Army families. We recognise these concerns and are working to address them as part of the New Employment Model. There are no easy answers, as the military lifestyle creates a number of challenges. However, they are reflected in X-Factor and in the allowances that support mobility. X-Factor is a pensionable addition to pay and covers a range of issues that are unique to the Armed Forces, including “turbulence” and “support to personnel and families”, and the effect on spousal employment is taken into account by these two components. Last year X-Factor was increased to 14.5 per cent for Regular personnel. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) and MOD both recognise the importance of two incomes to Service families and the effects that frequent moves can have on a spouse’s ability to gain, and keep, appropriate employment. The AFPRB intends to make spousal employment a component when considering levels of X-Factor.

I appreciate that you are already qualified for your chosen field of work, but for those less fortunate the Government, as part of the Armed Forces Covenant, is committed to removing or mitigating any disadvantage Service partners face in employment. The Corporate Covenant enables all businesses to formally support our Armed Forces community and to help overcome Service-related disadvantages. As part of the New Employment Model’s Partner Employment Project, the MOD has been sponsoring two programmes designed for Service spouses and civil partners: The Royal British Legion Industries Lifeworks employability workshops and the University of Wolverhampton’s Supporting the Unsung Hero business start-up courses. The cost of childcare is an issue for many families, civilian as well as military. I appreciate that the MOD childcare voucher scheme does not replace a second income, but it can provide savings of up to £1,866 per year. Childcare costs vary across the country and Army families face additional difficulties when living away from their home town and family support networks. The garrison nursery you mention (run by a private company) has said that it would accept two weeks’ fees in advance, as opposed to four, and your husband’s commanding officer can authorise an advance of 14 days’ pay where an individual (or family) is experiencing hardship.

@ArmyandYou


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ARE YOU SPENDING YOUR TIME WISELY? We’re looking for people to volunteer a little of their time to help the Armed Forces family.

There are many ways that you can support the Forces and veteran community living near you. If you want to help, we’d love to hear from you. Text MYTIME and your name to 82055 Or visit ssafa.org.uk/time Registered Charity No. 210760 and SC038056. Est. 1885.

Army&You Winter 2014  

The Winter issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

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