Page 1

&You Summer 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

armyandyou.co.uk

PEAK PERFORMANCE Spouses seize the army’s sense of adventure

CELEBRATING HEALTHCARE

The nation’s heroes

BREAKING POINT

What to do when service relationships hit the rocks

PLAYGROUND PARADE: Meet the ex-military personnel drilling schoolchildren in self-discipline, confidence and teamwork

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION


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FROM THE EDITOR

Army&You

Get social! Want to keep abreast of the latest

news and views about army life? Make ive sure you follow us online for exclus content! Find us @armyandyou on Twitter and Instagram, search for

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

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EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314

ArmyandYou on Facebook or visit armyandyou.co.uk

AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk

The storm before the calm As we were putting the finishing touches to this summer edition of Army&You, all our lives were turned upside down with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. We know that many of you, and your soldiers and loved ones, have been involved in supporting the nation during this testing time. It’s affected service families in so many ways from delays in postings and the rebasing plans to schooling and employment. Our thoughts are with you all. If you’re in need of any advice and support, there’s now a special COVID-19 section on the AFF website – aff.org.uk As for this edition, we have many articles that will be useful for when normality returns, which we all hope will be soon. It’s a read-and-keep edition with lots of initiatives and advice that will come in handy for when things are up and running again. We’ve tackled relationship resilience and how army families keep their relationships on track. We’ve talked to organisations that offer great ways to build your resilience such as the Warrior Programme, Give Us Time and Relate (pages 22 and 25). Here at AFF, we also take a lot of calls from families who haven’t been able to make their

relationship work, so we’ve asked our specialists to provide a useful cut-out and keep section on housing, money, education and foreign & commonwealth information, for those who need it. Elsewhere we have brilliant best practice examples of schools going the extra mile to support service children and there’s the wonderful Commando Joe’s who can bring fitness and motivation to your child’s school. Long before COVID-19, we decided to celebrate army spouses and partners who work for the NHS, as part of 2020’s Year of the Nurse (pages 26-27). With all that the NHS has been doing for the nation, it seems very fitting that we hear from some of the army spouses and partners who juggle postings, deployments and childcare to pursue their healthcare careers. Now has never been a better time to volunteer – definitely one to think about when social distancing restrictions are lifted. We hear from families using their time overseas to volunteer (pages 58-59), as well as young people helping others in their communities (pages 60-61). There are lots more stories to get stuck into, from our inspirational volunteer firefighter, our intrepid trekkers who climbed Mount Kenya, to our brilliant blogs. Finally, a big thank you to all frontline staff for their amazing care and work to save lives and keep the nation going. Stay safe and keep well.

REBASING 07542 270358 // rebasing@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // rmsouth@aff.org.uk OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // oxfordshirem4@aff.org.uk HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // hampshire@aff.org.uk WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // wiltshire@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // southwest@aff.org.uk SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH & CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmnorthcentral@aff.org.uk NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // northeast@aff.org.uk NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // northwest@aff.org.uk WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // westmids@aff.org.uk EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // eastmids@aff.org.uk EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SCOTLAND, WALES & NI

07585 333115 // rmscotwalesni@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // ni@aff.org.uk

AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // rmoverseas@aff.org.uk BRUNEI 00673 (0) 8990701 // brunei@aff.org.uk CANADA 001 (0) 403 9280436 // canada@aff.org.uk CYPRUS 00357 9991 3136 // cyprus@aff.org.uk EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT 0032 (0) 47738 4054 // ejsu@aff.org.uk GERMANY 0049 (0)176 351 87 774 // germany@aff.org.uk KENYA 07743 186634 // kenya@aff.org.uk WSBA 00357 (0) 9789 2230 // wsba@aff.org.uk YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS

CHARLOTTE EADIE, EDITOR

Image: © MOD Crown copyright

HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk

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PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission AFF Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered

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summer 2020 Army&You 03


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A nation's hero: We salute centenarian and man-of-the-moment Captain Tom Moore (soon to be Sir Thomas Moore) on page 56. The fantastic fundraiser is the subject of a poem by a fellow veteran and was recently presented with a replacement Second World War Defence Medal and The Yorkshire Regiment's prestigious annual Regimental Medal, which is awarded to members of the Yorkshire Regiment family who are considered to have made the greatest contribution in the last year. Image: © MOD Crown copyright

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for lots more news and features – details on page three

SUMMER 2020

CONTENTS INSIGHT

20 Routes And Rules Advice on navigating visas in the wake of a break up 22 How To Keep Love Alive Top tips from an awardwinning marital therapist 28 Celebrating Healthcare A salute to the services available to forces families 35 Community Champions Meet two spouses going above and beyond 43 Excellence In Education We take a tour of schooling initiatives for service children 53 Celebratory Cuisine How food brings forces families together

&You

guidance on lots of detailed AFF website have via aff.org.uk F&C pages on the FOR HELP: The contact the team WHERE TO GO specific advice, divorce. If you need separation and to public funds (NRP have no recourse support in ord income and outgoings. housing and/or financial showing all of your Service or destitutio depend on your notice to vacate to prevent homelessness A spouse with a n n (SFA), who is not there’s a child in This applies where Family Accommodatio or the no other income the child is homeless to work and has (because able bas WILL I BE meet the family’s be able to meet this HAVE BRITISH CHILDREN, cannot afford to or savings should

legislation but it will circumstances.

IF I LEAVE ELIGIBLE FOR INDEFINITE OR BRITISH CITIZENSHIP?

FEATURES

14 It's Good To Talk Why communication is key to relationship resilience 16 Breaking Point What support is on offer to those couples who split 26 Dedicated To Their Duties Meet the military wives working in healthcare 38 The Grass Can Be Greener Service spouse’s eco crusade in Kinloss 55 Creating Highlights Meet those making the most of military life 58 The Gift of Time How volunteering enriches your own life as well as others

take their toll strains of army life If the stresses and a Foreign & Commonwealth as to consider if on your marriage lots of extra things couple, there are the UK after you’ve gone your in e you want to stay F&C specialist, Katherin steps… separate ways. AFF’s through your next Houlston, talks you

REGULARS

06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... AFF's chief executive Sara Baade 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 63 Giveaways Win stress-busting aromatherapy tins 64 Book Club Young readers' verdicts on Evernight 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life

life}

armyandyou.co.uk

Meet the military partners hitting new heights in Kenya by exploiting the army's sense of exploration and adventure (page 55).

RMANCE PEAK PERFOsense of adventure Spouses seize the army’s

CELEBRATING HEALTHCARE

The nation’s heroes

ON THE COVER

BREAKING POINT

What to do when service relationships hit the rocks

ex-military personnel drilling PLAYGROUND PARADE: Meet the and teamwork schoolchildren in self-discipline, confidence

your status does not affect your relationship in the UK. ability to remain

MY CAN I REMAIN HERE AFTER DOWN? RELATIONSHIP HAS BROKEN the leave to remain in If you have limited valid if your relationship UK, your visa is only you make another is subsisting. Unless in the UK on a different application to remain to you’ll be expected immigration route, of nationality. You return to your country leave apply for indefinite won’t be able to forces route regardless under the armed If you route. that on time of your length of then (either ILR or ILE) have indefinite leave

but on your circumstances This will depend applies: in general, the following due has broken down l If your relationship eligible (DA) you may be to domestic abuse leave to remain under to apply for indefinite of your length of the DA rules regardless at aff. are more details time in the UK. There

ME CAN MY PARTNER HAVE UK? REMOVED FROM THE is informed of your No. If the Home Office saying will send you a letter breakdown, they will for a new visa. They that you should apply this. least 28 days to do usually give you at you should have a valid visa, Even if you don’t to remain, as having still make an application a requirement. a valid visa isn’t always

org.uk; and children in the UK l If you have British able carer, you may be you’ll be their primary as the parent of British to apply to remain on the further information children (there’s

opposite page); for in the UK legally l If you’ve lived for be eligible to apply ten years you may route; the long residence indefinite leave on apply then you l If none of the above under human rights may qualify to remain @ArmyandYou

requirement.

and limited leave visa No. If you have a as a remain in the UK you’re applying to will only British child, you primary carer of a leave on a ten-year be eligible for limited a visa You’ll be granted route to settlement. expected years and will be for two and a half two and a half years to apply again every years in the UK for ten until you have been for ILR in the residence (unless you qualify this time). long route during

HOW MUCH IS THE APPLICATION? to however, it’s possible It’s currently £1,033, that if you can prove apply for a fee waiver you are destitute.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? for more than six months It’s likely to take be processed. the application to

CAN I REMAIN I AM AN EU NATIONAL; BREAKS DOW UK IF MY RELATIONSHIP

not possible to extend In most cases it’s to date, so you’re likely your notice to vacate have occupant’ and will become an ‘irregular court charges. to pay rent and any speak to your local You’re advised to you your options, but authority regarding apply for alternative won’t be able to You have a valid visa. housing until you Team of Entitlement must keep the Loss

to be eligib Yes, but you’re unlikely authority support benefits or local the UK or are eli you’re working in through for permanent residency settlement scheme.

informed.

BENEFITS WILL I BE ELIGIBLE FOR WITH THE NEW VISA?

HOW CAN THE LOCAL

prove that you’re Not unless you can and a separate application destitute. This is evidence to be submitted requires detailed

AUTHORITY HELP ME?

which require local There are provisions some people who authorities to provide

RELATIONSH WHAT HAPPENS IF MY OVERSE DOWN WHILST I’M POSTED

UK visa, you’r If you have a valid in line with the p return to the UK applies to all spouses. a UK visa you If you don’t have contact AFF. summer 2020

www.armyandyou.co.uk

AIMING HIGH

CARE CELEBRATING HEALTH

from health which can range the Nurse to Craig Johnson is promotion sessions absence data Advisor for the MOD’s generating health & Young Directorate Children to help reduce preventable might sound evidencePeople (DCYP). It absences through I a nurse working unusual to have based support. Ultimately, organisation, all pupils with in an educational aim to empower multi-agency to live healthy, but he’s part of a the health tools is to ensure team whose aim lives. happy the best service children have spoke to Craig I was a opportunities. We : In a previous life out more… although (pictured) to find school nurse, and school I don’t provide direct single focus a offer do provides I DCYP nurse services, to service for our for all issues related additional support covers four children, my role schools and community in the UK and key areas: health providers

HEALTH

and as army families, our biggest priority to loved ones is arguably after us, specific initiatives and physical – of professionals looking health & The health – mental to services. AFF’s there are lots of healthcare we get fair access it’s reassuring to know the scenes to ensure at military families… going on behind the projects aimed help us, and work highlights some of specialist, Karen Ross, additional needs PLANS ABROAD

BABY

can Not all overseas locations care offer equivalent maternity the UK, so to that provided in

the location it’s wise to check to for more you’re being posted if you’re detailed information a baby. planning to have Kenya, for example, has recently changed its confinement policy and all pregnant women are to be

HIDDEN WOUNDS

Army’s Check out the British Healthy recently refreshed which Soldier Cookbook, 40 recipes offers more than and dinner, for breakfast, lunch Free to as well as smoothies.

MIND

have a home is serving. You can South Yorkshire If you’re living in or pop along to meetings confidential visit venues or at you can access free, in local community a qualified counselling from their office in Sheffield. Sheffield support therapist through They also run monthly in Mind Yorkshire Mind’s Keeping Families groups across South events. (KFiM) initiative. and other one-off to all armed visit KFiM is available For more information, of age the forces families over sheffieldmind.co.uk your soldier 18, no matter where

directives : Developing policy, to the and guidance relating children and health of service young people. : Support for MOD

schools

download via army.mod.uk, recipes features family-friendy vegetables packed full of fruit, are balanced and protein that sugar with fat, carbohydrate, and salt.

Women The Wellbeing of (WoW) study is investigating in the how having a partner the health armed forces affects women during and wellbeing of birth. It pregnancy and following particularly can be a tricky time, is away or when your soldier home. The you have to move during the information gathered run by the study, which is being Military Mental King’s Centre for be used by Health, could then as the NHS, organisations such charities to MOD, and service Look out help improve support. and for updates at aff.org.uk follow @wow_study

@ArmyandYou

overseas.

me to : My role requires specific develop and lead of DCYP. activities on behalf leve I also work at a national of key supporting the work as the stakeholders such Publi Department of Health, NHS Englan Health England, Engla and Health Education child advocating for service and families.

and pass Ultimately, my aim health is to improve the children outcomes of your posted, w wherever you’re o reducing any inequalities that you barriers to ensure regard disadvantaged with health support.

24/7 SUPPORT

WOW FACTOR

meet other women that are at a similar stage of pregnancy of being or in the first throes change a new mum. Details Facebook monthly, so check / for details facebook.com mumborneveryminute

that no veterans, to ensure times of family goes through crisis alone. DMWS’s free service visits and includes bedside help with telephone support, care resolving any medical such as issues, practical help personal providing essential support for items, emotional more. much your family and the UK or Whether you’re in get in touch overseas, you can 999 3697. with DMWS on 0800

HY CHOICES MAKING HEALT it

anxiety, who is living with or wishing depression, anger habits. to change your drinking visit For more information helpforheroes.org.uk

and she also runs bumps and brunch a every month. It’s wonderful way to

GOOD FOR THE

or Any hospital treatment healthcare intervention, or whether planned stressful unplanned, can be feelings of and can bring on which may isolation and worry, hamper recovery. Defence That’s where the Service Medical Welfare help. can (DMWS) provide Its welfare officers injured support to sick or frontline staff including reservists and service families,

Heroes’ Tap into Help for service if you’re Hidden Wounds or a veteran, a family member,

MADE FOR MUMS three and Midwife, mum of McGarry military wife Katy the knows only too well be faced challenges that can in the new in pregnancy and stages of motherhood. guidance She offers support, t for and empowermen and beyond pregnancy, birth yminute Mumbornever her with courses in Tidworth, online. Ludgershall and There’s free information Instagram every day on Katy’s eryminute, feed @mumbornev

BY YOUR SIDE

no later than returned to the UK pregnancy 24 weeks into their earlier for – this may be even You higher risk pregnancies. are then and your new baby reviewed at the four-month you’re postnatal stage before allowed to return. also will Other countries If have different policies. contact us at you’re unsure, do additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

a safe space. guided support in connected called wall Need to talk? Anyone Trained clinicians, can tap into environment to the armed forces guides, monitor the an anonymous and Big White Wall – to ensure compliance and Head to community who help risk management. through for more. support each other bigwhitewall.com in their lives. challenging periods of day or No matter what time thoughts night, you can share questions, take and feelings, ask and find selfself-assessments

summer 2020 Arm www.armyandyou.co.uk

2020 28 Army&You summer

isolating at If you’re still socially this or just inspired home as you read are some of the to do your bit, here recommends, small changes Amanda trying: that might be worth laundry capsules l Change to SMOL for the environment, – they are better and are cheaper; contain no plastic

to and other flowers l Plant lavender year butterflies. This support bees and seeds too; I’m planting wildflower

station and water l Create a feeding bath for birds; consumption by l Reduce plastic bars and moving to hair conditioner soap bars; as a local farm shop, l Source meat from veg vegetables – their well as eggs and that plastic. For some is not wrapped in healthy I do feel making will be costly, but even if it’s just choices can be beneficial, night a week; having one meat-free wipes and cotton l Replace baby removal with cotton pads for makeup washable face pads; of disposable l Use cloths instead cleaning wipes; up liquid, toilet l Use Ecover washing and bathroom cleaner; with hand soap bottles l Replace liquid

THE GRASS CAN BE GREENER

soap bars; who delivers l Use a local milkman, and collects to milk in glass bottles recycle;

Mason has earned spouse Amanda We entalist and army to clean up Kinloss. Budding environm ace’ for her efforts Earth... the nickname ‘Greenpe more about her embrace of Mother to find out caught up with her so a combined effort

MY HUSBAND Ed and I have been my lucky – this was

quarter and first move into a for six years, we’ve been here unheard of,” which is almost

Amanda told us. good “We’ve seen many go as well as friends come and for Ed. many deployments here and “We both love living head down most evenings we our rescue to the beach with top right), dog, Bruce (pictured walks and it’s through these picking and that I started litter nickname, where I earned my

Greenpeace Mason work colleagues.”

amongst

From small acorns

making Amanda has been around her minor alterations general home, garden and of watching habits on the back as the documentaries such BBC’s Blue Planet. small “I believe it’s the can all make changes that we positive that will have a big she impact on the environment,” the statistics says. “I don’t know make up a but military families of the reasonable proportion

“Military families make up a reasonable proportion of the population so a combined effort could really make a difference.”

population a difference.” could really make three pieces Amanda collects she walks of plastic every time on the beach. any dog “This could be on the beach,” she walk, not just on I am advises. “In the summer bottles and forever picking up around the food wrappers from all do a little estate. I feel we can bit to help. open space of “We have a lot I’ve been on our estate and trees being pleased to see some need some planted – we just on them.” bird boxes to put @ArmyandYou

nappies; l Move to cloth cup; l Use a menstrual an loose leaf tea was l My move to use epic fail!

Amanda believes there’s lots of things we can do

to attract wildlife to our gardens, even there if we’re only living

for a short time. box, bath “Introducing a bird quick, easy and and feeders are to do. inexpensive things will come,” “If you build it, they a bee- or she adds. “Planting or making insect-friendly plant your little an insect hotel with ones all helps. highways, “Making hedgehog space in which allow enough

have a look at: For more ideas, plastic free shop hydrophil.com – conservation mcsuk.org – marine – eco-friendly laundry smolproducts.com capsules

or under a fence to allow a hedgehog access to your garden for water an and food, is also easy step to take.”

Influencing others

on social By sharing posts to spread media, Amanda hopes the word. a plastic-free “When I’ve made friends how change, I tell my not – in the well it’s gone – or others. hope of inspiring positive “Friends have made

www.armyandyou.co.uk

2020 32 Army&You summer

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

www.armyandyou.co.uk

living needs). contact your local To request help, social services council’s children’s you can re department. Alternatively, a housing advi an appointment with support. to talk about available

THE QUARTER WILL I HAVE TO LEAVE IS ISSUED? BEFORE MY NEW VISA

2020 20 Army&You summer

Summer 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their

IF WHAT CAN I APPLY FOR THE UK? I WANT TO REMAIN IN

summer 2020 Army&You 05

Facebook groups: gardens Wildlife friendly Sustainable living forum Wildlife gardening Sir David Attenborough

my changes, including who planted neighbour Donna, a border of wildflowers. and “They were stunning bees and attracted so many following suit butterflies, so I’m this year.” to a Amanda is a contributor her work Yammer group with

is generating colleagues, which ideas. a stream of green we “We discuss how our can better care for as environment such rubbish reducing energy, she and use of plastic,” had concludes. “We’ve

some great discussions will small changes that big impact.” &


AFF IN ACTION

Our experts

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out about their key pieces of work over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.

Claire Hallam

Karen Ross

Cat Calder

Jenna Richardson

Emma Long

Katherine Houlston

Money & Allowances

Health & Additional Needs

Housing

Employment & Training

Researcher

Foreign & Commonwealth

If you’ve ever been posted to the US and had a child while you were there, there could be tax implications for them once they turn 18. This is because any child born in the USA receives dual citizenship. The MOD has produced new guidance on this, and we’ve added more detailed information on this issue on our website – aff.org.uk. If you’ve faced any disadvantage, either commercially or financially by being an army family, or you’d like to talk about an issue with state benefits or a military allowance, please email me at moneyallowances @aff.org.uk

In the autumn, AFF will be focusing on ‘family lives’ and as part of this theme I will be exploring the role of carers and young carers. NHS England and NHS Improvement will also be holding their third armed forces carers event in London and this will be an opportunity to share your lived experience, focus on the support you receive and share best practice. If you or a member of your family is a carer, I’d be interested to hear your experiences, so please contact me – additionalneeds @aff.org.uk

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot is now live in Aldershot and I’d love to hear from anyone, either at the site, or due to be posted there. Let me know if you have changed your housing option and why but, just as importantly, we need to know if you haven’t changed your housing option and the reasons for this. Please get in touch and let me know your experiences, why you made your choices and, if you have opted to use the private rental market, your experiences of finding a property and dealing with agents and landlords. Keep an eye out for AFF's Big Survey coming soon, which will focus on FAM.

As the new E&T specialist, I’m continuing AFF's brilliant work supporting you to find employment by working with the Forces Families Jobs team and agencies. Contact me if you encounter difficulties gaining employment or if you’ve been disadvantaged due to being a military family. I’d also love to hear from those of you who’ve overcome difficulties, especially through enterprise and innovation. My passion lies in training and development and I’ve worked with colleges to bring distant learning opportunities to army families, which are compatible with military life. I’d love to hear from those of you who are interested in learning opportunities. Email me – employmenttraining@ aff.org.uk

This month I’ll be attending the Confederation of Service Charities Research Cluster – virtually of course! The cluster is made up of representatives from charities, universities, the MOD and other organisations all working to better understand issues experienced by the armed forces community. At AFF, we know how important it is to work collaboratively to enhance programmes and policies to support you. Working with the cluster is one of the many avenues we use to ensure that your voices are heard, by discussing overall findings from our surveys. So, thank you for sharing your experiences with us!

The team has produced a report covering 34 ongoing issues faced by F&C families, which has been sent to senior command and the MOD. We hope this will lead to progress, which has stalled recently. It covers issues faced by potential recruits during the assessment phase, as well as those faced by you and your soldier during their service and on transition. While many issues could be resolved by an improvement in policy and guidance, there are also areas where Home Office policy and procedures are directly disadvantaging many of you. We’ve requested a meeting with the Home Office armed forces policy team and hope to update you with positive news soon.

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day?

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day?

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day?

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day?

Go on a dog walk and then yoga.

It’s a walk with the dog, otherwise he gives me sad eyes until dinner.

In the summer – sit in the garden and read!

Clear away the mountain of cups, plates and crisp packets that I’ve accumulated.

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day? It's straight on the school run for me!

What ’s the first thing you do when you’ve finished work for the day? Search for recipes to give me inspiration for something yummy for dinner!

INTRODUCING... AFF’s new education & childcare specialist Anna Hutchinson is brand new in post and looking forward to helping you with your enquiries. Contact her at ec@aff.org.uk

06 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


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Model shown is a Focus ST-3 5-Door 2.3L Ford EcoBoost 280PS with a 6-Speed Manual Petrol transmission with optional Full LED Headlamps. Fuel economy mpg (l/100km): Combined 35.8 (7.9). CO2 emissions 187g/km.

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CO-EDUCATIONAL PREPARATORY SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN AGED 3 TO 13

08 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


A WORD FROM AFF CHIEF EXEC, SARA BAADE

HOW ARE YOU?

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HEN I first came to the UK about 20 years ago, I thought it was the kindest country in the world because everyone kept asking me how I was. Little did I understand at the time that it was just part of the British culture to politely ask after someone as a greeting – and people didn’t actually expect you to tell them how you really were! However, the concept of asking after one another’s wellbeing has taken on a completely new meaning in the last few months. With COVID-19, society has changed, and we genuinely want to know how our friends and families are coping. The same goes for the work that AFF has done over the last few months. The enquiries and concerns that are coming into AFF have changed dramatically and the vast majority are linked to the pandemic and families’ wellbeing. Many of you are trying to work out how new COVID-19 rules and regulations will affect you and your next posting, allowances and/or schools.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Over the last few months, we have worked on trying to untangle the impact the assignment freezes have had on families by pushing for answers and information on issues such as schooling, adaptations and housing. We’ve also worked with the team responsible for ‘unfreezing’ postings to ensure the same elements are considered as and when we try to resume normality again. Another area that many of you have contacted us about relates to those of you who are key workers, and consequently who takes priority, and what childcare support can a soldier provide when you, as a key worker, need to do your job. We have also asked for more information on operations and training and worked closely with command in the repatriation of families from Kenya and Nepal. We’ve been working hand-in-hand with the army to ensure that as much information as possible has gone out to you relating to all these changes. We’ve set up our own

Sara (and her twins in the background), working from home

“You may not always have felt it, but the amount of consideration and care taken to ensure families are on the agenda has been truly impressive.” COVID-19 webpage, which is updated regularly, so if you’ve not had a look yet do check it out – aff.org.uk It has been a busy few months for us, but it has also been interesting to see how all the different elements within the army have pulled together and supported each other

in this unique situation. You may not always have felt it, but the amount of consideration and care taken to ensure families are on the agenda has been truly impressive. I hope that as we start to go back to ‘normal jogging’ that momentum and those partnerships will remain. &

summer 2020 Army&You 09


AFF IN ACTION

#AFFWIN

#ONTHECASE

#AFFINVESTIGATES

FUNDING BOOST

CORONA COMMS

STATS THAT MATTER

AFF has received £25,000 from the Annington Trust to directly support families during the COVID-19 crisis. The money has been used to provide garden games, and dongles where families have struggled with their wifi connection during lockdown.

Here at AFF, we understand that COVID-19 has had a direct impact on many areas of your army family life. That’s why we’ve created a dedicated coronavirus information section on our website to answer your questions on how housing, schools and allowances have been affected. We’re continuing to work closely with the chain of command to ensure you get the very latest news and updates as the situation evolves – go to aff.org.uk

AFF’s latest Families’ Concerns report, where we collate all your evidence and statistics into an easy-to-read summary, is now available on our website. Mobility was a key theme in many of our enquiries, with families seeking information, advice or support on issues resulting from the impact of postings, such as access to additional needs or mental health support, the ability to find school places, and spousal employment. Go to aff.org.uk to read the full report.

focused on evacuating more than 100 families. AFF acted as a critical friend to senior command to ensure that those who may just be arriving with whatever they could carry in a suitcase, would be able to set up new ‘homes’ and resume family life and commitments, like home-schooling, within days. AFF’s chief executive, Sara Baade, helped broker a ‘get you in' food package via the Army Central Fund and helped to reassure families that a robust package of support and financial allowances was in place. All the families are now settled back in the UK and we’ve

received some really positive feedback not only about how the army has supported them through these unique times, but also the support offered by the local community in the Salisbury

#GOODTOKNOW

BUSINESS AS USUAL Although we’ve not been out and about meeting army families face-to-face due to lockdown, our AFF co-ordinators, specialists and regional managers continue to be on hand to give you support. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to resolve your issues, so if you’ve got a question or concern about any aspect of army life, UK or overseas, just get in touch – see page three for details.

#AFFTEAMWORK

SWIFT EXIT As army families, we’re all used to upheaval, but when families in Kenya and Nepal were given ultra-short notice to move back to the UK during the COVID-19 crisis, it was a worrying time. AFF was on hand to help. Through our local BATUK coordinator and our volunteer in Nepal, we were able to monitor and present collective ‘dayto-day’ concerns of families to both the local chain of command and wider command back in the UK, when they were

10 Army&You summer 2020

#AFFTEAMWORK

EXCELLENT EGGS-ERCISE Families in Germany enjoyed their daily exercise with an added twist by taking part in an Easter egg hunt – with social distancing – organised by the welfare hub, AWS, NAAFI and AFF’s co-ordinator Lindsay McCran. Nearly 50 children helped to solve the clues around the patch in Sennelager and they all received an Easter egg from the NAAFI when making their next essential shopping trip. It was a welcome distraction during lockdown, according to one family. “Thank you very much for all your help and effort. It is very much appreciated. The children loved it all and we thoroughly enjoyed the walk too.”

Plain Training Area. Look out for more updates on Kenya and Nepal in the next Army&You as it’s expected this temporary evacuation may last a few months. @ArmyandYou


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SENIOR SCHOOL

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www.frewencollege.co.uk @frewencollege www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 11


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SAFETY NET

We probably didn’t realise how much we relied on the internet until we found ourselves in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Whether it’s social media, banking, home schooling, catching up with the news or downloading our entertainment, the internet is a fantastic resource that’s very much part of our everyday lives. But you’re also undoubtedly aware of some of the negative aspects of being online, such as fraud, inappropriate content and even abuse. Anybody can be affected. Army counter-intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance branch, says: “The internet isn’t policed, so it’s everybody’s responsibility to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our bank accounts from harm. For personnel and families, there are some additional risks that could affect the army and even our national security. “The army has partnered with Get Safe Online to bring your family the tools you need to help you stay safe. “You’ll have access to the most comprehensive information and advice around, explained in a way that’s easy to follow and practical to put into practice, without hindering your online experience. “Also, every month, there’ll be a focus on a chosen topic, from safe and responsible social media to Christmas shopping, phishing and fitness trackers. “There’ll also be events organised in conjunction with your welfare centre where you can ask questions and get advice from Get Safe Online experts. We will soon be launching a specific army site, but in the meantime, visit getsafeonline.org if you need advice.”

12 Army&You summer 2020

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2 3 #SpouseHour

#SOCIAL INTERACTION If you’re finding you have a bit more time on your hands at the moment, why not take part in #SpouseHour every Monday at 8pm on Twitter. It was started by military spouse Chris Keen, who is a freelance presenter and producer. His aim is to bring together service spouses and partners to talk and connect. Follow @SpouseHour and join the conversation.

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VIRTUAL STRENGTH

Recent events have meant that Military Wives Choirs’ rehearsals in community venues have paused. However, despite being apart, this incredible network of women have taken their rehearsals to the virtual world. Their campaign #virtualMWC has seen choirs from Naples to Nottingham share their rehearsals on their social pages. Their followers and the public have been inspired by the continued acts of camaraderie and friendship that the Military Wives Choirs are renowned for. Whilst many choir members are also working on the frontline of the NHS, they’ve also managed to create an original song, Together, using classical compositional techniques and lyrics. Go to militarywiveschoirs.org for more.

SUPPORT FOR SCHOOLS Service children are set to benefit from a £3 million funding pot as the Education Support Fund (ESF) has been extended to 2021. The money has been secured by the MOD’s Directorate Children & Young People to help publicly funded schools, academies and free schools in the UK to mitigate the effects of exceptional mobility and/or deployment, particularly with future rebasing moves still in the pipeline. The 2021 bidding round is now open and closes at 12pm on Wednesday 7 October 2020. Go to gov.uk for details.

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TUNE IN

Have you tuned in to BFBS Radio’s Team Talk series yet? The show focuses on what family life is really like, when one, or both parents are serving members of the armed forces. Featuring interviews and inspiring stories, presenters Jill Misson and Charlie Fife – who both have first-hand experience of military life – hear from service families about issues that affect them. Everything from the upheaval of being posted to a new home, finding the right help with special educational needs and time spent apart from loved ones is up for discussion. AFF’s team of specialists drop in from time to time to share their expert knowledge with listeners, and Team Talk also shines a spotlight on the achievements and positive aspects of life for military children. Catch up via bfbs.com/ podcasts

@ArmyandYou


NEWS IN BRIEF

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WELCOME NEWS

There’s good news if you’re hoping to get on to the property ladder soon. If your soldier has completed 12 months’ service, they’re now eligible to apply for the Forces Help to Buy scheme, which can help you to buy your own home. Eligibility used to be set at two years’ service but now your soldier can apply providing they’ve completed 12 months’ service from their date of enlistment and Phase 1 training. They can borrow an interest-free deposit of up to half their annual salary. The loan, which must be repaid over ten years, is capped at £25,000. For more information see the money pages at aff.org.uk

ACCURATE ACCOUNTS

All children born between 1 September 2002 and 2 January 2011 received a government voucher for between £50 and £250, which was used to open a Child Trust Fund (CTF) on their behalf. These CTF accounts start maturing on 1 September this year, when the first children turn 18. Some CTF providers have received mail that has been returned from BFPO addresses – around 25,000 in total – so they don’t have up-to-date contact details. If you have a child born between the dates in question and haven’t received a statement in the past year, it’s worth checking with your CTF provider that your details are correct. If you don’t remember who your child’s CTF is with, you can contact HMRC – you’ll need a Government Gateway account to do this. Check gov.uk/child-trustfunds for more.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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EDUCATION UPDATE

During this unprecedented time, service children’s education has been affected in many ways. To help navigate the changes, the MOD’s Directorate Children & Young People (DCYP) has added a COVID-19 section to its website. You can find all the latest information on things like Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), the assessment of supportability overseas, assignment freezes and the impact on school placements and scheduled exams, and special educational needs. Search gov.uk/guidance/dcyp-covid-19 for more.

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LESSON LIBRARY

If you have been home educating your children, you’ll know how important it is to find free and engaging content online. The army has recently introduced a fantastic new online learning platform called the Lesson Library – ideal for kids aged 11-18 – and adults too! There’s a range of fascinating resources to explore, perfect for a whole school class or individuals alike. There are lessons from Camo Chameleon, which brings together biology and design by exploring how camouflage works, to Stop and Drop, where pupils develop their knowledge of basic circuitry and light to enable them to communicate using Morse code. There’s lots more to explore – visit army.mod.uk/base/lessons

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YOUNG LOVE

loverespect.co.uk is a website that helps young people to have healthy relationships. It’s been created by Women’s Aid, the charity working to end abuse against women and children. The site features questions that help you learn what a healthy relationship should look like, advice on how to spot unhealthy behaviour and signs of control or abuse, and where to seek help. There are also lots of teens and young people talking about their own experiences.

HOUSING HELP

To help ease anxieties over housing during the coronavirus crisis, Amey has published a question and answer section to help you during this uncertain time. It’s being updated frequently so it’s worth checking regularly. Search the coronavirus section under ‘service family accommodation’ at gov.uk. If you need to contact Amey regarding Service Family Accommodation applications, allocations, house moves, licence or charges, it’s worth noting that they are currently using their digital services, rather than phone. Contact them through the website, email occupancyservices@ ameydefenceservices.co.uk or text 07860 063410.

summer 2020 Army&You 13


FEATURE

Service life can place unique pressures and challenges on even the strongest relationships. Whatever happens...

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IT’S GOOD TO TALK

N THE first flush of love, nothing will stop you from being with ‘the one’, however, the reality of a relationship with a serving partner can prove challenging, writes Jill Misson. “Deployments are hard and living unaccompanied can be overwhelming,” army spouse Camille Allen told Army&You. “The children and house are my sole responsibility and resentment can set in. I’ve been told I knew what I was getting into and that if my husband loved me, he wouldn’t keep doing this but none of us are in a fairytale and sometimes love must take second place.” Since moving into their own home, Carolyn Aggar’s husband has endured a long commute to work and she looks after baby Isaac alone without the support of the army community. Explaining how the couple stay strong, she said: “Patience, compromise, organisation, love and making the most of our family time. It helps that we are best friends as well as husband and wife.” Zoe Goodey, whose husband is in the

14 Army&You summer 2020

Household Cavalry, added: “Another spouse told me I wasn’t a real army wife because my husband hadn’t been in a warzone and he only looked after a horse. “He may not get deployed but that doesn’t mean he’s back for dinner every night. They have to bounce guard and ceremonial duties, which means being away from home for weeks.”

Reach out early Knowing that your soldier puts themself in harm’s way can have a considerable emotional impact, according to Lt Col Robert Corrigan, the senior chaplain in Aldershot Garrison. He recommends reaching out for support as early as possible if you’re struggling. “Padres are there for anyone, no matter whether they have a faith or go to church,” he explained. “Many people do not realise they are available for partners to speak to in confidence. “They’re used to dealing with personal issues in relationships like trust, guilt, forgiveness, suffering and finding purpose.”

Unit welfare officer, Capt Lorraine Dotchin is well aware of the strain service life can put on relationships. She added: “With the busy pace of army life and the need to respond to short-notice taskings, personnel can end up going away repeatedly.” Soldiers can approach their UWO without feeling worried, she continued: “Everything I hear falls within the welfare code of confidentiality. There’s absolutely no shame and they should never feel embarrassed.” A commanding officer can offer breathing space to a married couple of up to three months when a soldier moves into single accommodation for a period of reflection to help resolve problems. A referral can be made to the Army Welfare Service, which has military and civilian welfare workers who use their professional skills to support individuals or couples in a safe, non-judgemental environment. The focus is on improving wellbeing and encouraging you to explore coping mechanisms to manage your problems more effectively. After an initial assessment, @ArmyandYou


Army engagements: Carolyn Aggar and baby Isaac (right); Camille Allen’s service clan (below)

“Patience, compromise, organisation, love and making the most of our family time. It helps that we are best friends as well as husband and wife.”

Help is at hand... Army Welfare Service: 01904 882053 Relate: relate.org.uk SSAFA: ssafa.org.uk AFF: aff.org.uk [AFF can also help put you in touch with your UWO or the local padre if you don’t know where to find them]

a further referral can also be made to Health Assured, who will deliver six counselling sessions. An equivalent publicly-funded counselling service is provided through Staffcare in Northern Ireland.

AFF at the ready In cases where marital breakdown occurs, AFF can offer advice. “It’s always sad and difficult but separation can be even more complex for army families,” said head of policy and research, Michelle Alston. “Our specialists can support your queries on housing options on leaving a quarter and your entitlements. We can signpost you to organisations who can make you aware of financial help and how to make child maintenance arrangements.”

Avenues of support When an overseas posting comes up, it can cause friction whether the spouse chooses to stay in the UK or the family moves together. Dee Holmes – a counsellor for Relate, which offers face-to-face counselling as well as services via telephone, live chat and webcam to help couples in different

“I’ve been told I knew what I was getting into and that if my husband loved me, he wouldn’t keep doing this but none of us are in a fairytale and sometimes love must take second place.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

locations – said: “When you can’t see your partner for long periods it can be difficult to resolve differences and maintain open communication. “You may build up expectations for your time together to be perfect so if issues arise, it can feel more upsetting as you feel you should be cherishing it.” SSAFA runs Solutions in Cyprus, a free and confidential relationship support service. Senior social work practitioner Chris Leahy said: “At the beginning it can feel like you’re on holiday, but adjustments have to take place to the roles we play in our relationships. “If you’re used to living separately during the week and find yourselves in each other’s pockets this can create stress. Resentment can build if a partner has given up work and moved away from family. Often what people need is space to talk and explore contentious issues. It’s a chance to press the pause button, take stock and do some thinking with the aim of increasing satisfaction and happiness.”

Building resilience Aside from counselling, courses are available for serving personnel and spouses. The Warrior Programme (page 25) uses coaching techniques to enable you to take active control of the way you live your life, boosting confidence and self-esteem and improving communication. Its regional co-ordinator Rebecca Gallimore says: “It will give you the tools you need to future-proof yourself and your relationships to weather any storms.” For Zoe Goodey, the key to keeping her relationship happy and healthy is being open and honest. She recommends: “Make time for yourself, whether it’s going for a bath, a run or a hobby and just keep talking, about the good things, the bad things, just talk.” & summer 2020 Army&You 15


BREAKING POINT

If you’ve sadly reached that stage in your relationship where your only option is to separate, you may be unsure of what to do next. Families often contact AFF to find out where they can receive support and what they may be eligible for. Our specialists have a wealth of knowledge to help you through…

A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD AFF receives a number of enquiries from army spouses worried about where they’ll live when they can no longer stay in a quarter. Our housing specialist, Cat Calder, looks into your options… Your soldier’s local service commander may allow a ‘cooling off’ period of up to three months where your soldier can move into private or Single Living Accommodation (SLA), but continues to pay the Service Family Accommodation (SFA) charges. After this, or as soon as it becomes apparent that there won’t be a reconciliation, your soldier needs to

16 Army&You summer 2020

change their Personal Status Category (PStat Cat) and inform the unit and Amey. The DIO Loss of Entitlement Team (LOET) will then issue you and any other occupants over the age of 18 with a Notice to Vacate (NTV). This gives you 93 days in which to leave the quarter – your soldier will continue to pay for it during this period.

Getting the right information Each unit welfare office will be different, but all should provide support to families transitioning to civilian life, including information on vacating your quarter and @ArmyandYou


removals. The welfare team should speak to both halves in person to discuss ways forward – there’s a template interview for them to follow. If this isn’t offered and you feel it would help, do ask for it. Once the NTV has been issued, the accommodation officer will carry out a condition assessment; any issues raised are the responsibility of your soldier, but anything then raised at move-out will be the responsibility of the person moving out. You’ll be expected to leave the SFA at move-out standard.

What if I’m overseas?

l Your NTV should be taken as proof of impending homelessness l Email the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) who can offer information on your housing options and the MOD referral scheme – RC-PersJSHAO-0Mailbox@mod.gov.uk AFF’s website has lots of useful information, just search for ‘separation and divorce’ at aff.org.uk and, if you need to chat any of this through, call me on 07789 551158 or email housing@aff.org.uk

If you’re returning to the UK after separating in an overseas location and don’t yet have anywhere to stay, your soldier should apply for temporary SFA in the UK for you. Once you’ve moved in, the LOET will then issue an NTV to both parties for a 93-day period. This should at least give you a little more time to make arrangements. Do speak to your welfare team, who should help you move back into a quarter in the UK before there’s a change in PStat Cat. Some local authorities may see an allocation of SFA after a change in PStat Cat as rehousing and will no longer consider you to be homeless, so it’s important to follow the process.

Nowhere to go If, for any reason, you think you may not be in a position to leave the SFA at the end of the 93 days you’ll need to complete a ‘proportionality exercise form’ and return it to the LOET requesting extra time – this isn’t guaranteed and SFA charges will be at a rate broadly comparable to social housing. Remember, it’s imperative that you keep the LOET updated on your future housing plans along with any changes in circumstances, so these can be taken into account before legal action is considered.

What next? Other housing options could include private rental, housing association and social housing, but do consider all possibilities and locations as social housing is limited in many areas. Local authorities have a duty to house homeless people, but it may be in a B&B or hostel rather than a permanent house. l Talk to your local authority and register as homeless www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 17



MONEY, MAINTENANCE AND MOVING ON During this very stressful time, it’s wise to think clearly about your future finances. Our money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, highlights some of the cash considerations… You may be able to plan how you want to divide your finances and assets together, or you could try mediation to help you come to an agreement. If you can’t agree or the relationship is acrimonious, seek professional legal advice.

Managing your money If you’re worried about how you can support yourself going forward and not sure what help or benefits you would be eligible for, then benefits calculators are a good starting point. If you need help to pay bills or other costs while awaiting your claim, you may be able to get an advance of Universal Credit. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus for more information. AFF has discovered that it’s not possible to claim the housing element of Universal Credit if you’ve separated from your soldier but are still living in your quarter after the 93 days’ notice to vacate has been given. We’ve raised this issue with the Department for Work and Pensions and are awaiting an outcome. There’s more information on our website, do contact me if this affects you (details below right). MoneyForce also offers some good information on dividing the mortgage if you’re living in your own home.

Calculations for the kids If you need to discuss how child maintenance will be paid, the online calculator at gov.uk gives you a starting point, and it will show you the amount the government would calculate for you. If you can’t agree, you could try mediation, or contact Child Maintenance Options for further advice – bear in mind that service fees may be added.

What about pensions? Separating spouses often ask me if they can claim some of their

soldier’s armed forces pension on divorce. In order to split the pension fairly, the first step is to find out what the pension is worth. Your soldier can get a valuation and cash equivalent transfer value (CETV) from Veterans UK. It’s important this is settled before the divorce is finalised as it will be very difficult to access any of your spouse’s pension after you’ve received your decree absolute. Each settlement is unique to each couple, so it’s best to seek legal advice from someone with specific knowledge such as The Law Society.

Contact us If you find yourself in this situation and don’t know what to do next, we can help. Get in touch with me at moneyallowances@aff.org.uk

Useful links Separation and divorce pages – aff.org.uk Child Maintenance Options – 0800 083 4375 The Law Society – lawsociety.org.uk Jobcentre Plus – gov.uk Turn 2 Us – benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk MoneyForce – moneyforce.org.uk Money Advice Service – moneyadviceservice.org.uk Forces Pensions Society – forcespensionsociety.org

CLAIMING CONTINUITY What happens if your marriage or civil partnership goes wrong and you have a child at boarding school? Here’s our guide to the rules on Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)… If you’ve agreed that as the non-serving spouse, you’ll be the primary carer for your child following your relationship breakdown, then unfortunately your service person will no longer be eligible to claim CEA. Once they have changed their Personal Status Category (PStat Cat), they will only be able to claim CEA for one further academic term following that in which the change of status www.armyandyou.co.uk

takes place. You’ll be entitled to receive CEA if your child has started the two academic years leading to public exams, i.e. GCSEs, A-Levels and the regional equivalents.

Claims can continue until the end of that stage of education. Clearly this can be an emotional time for both the parents and the child, so do seek advice and support from the school or the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). They should be able to talk you through your next steps, including what to do about moving schools. If you’re the service person and have become the primary carer (PStat Cat 2), don’t forget that you’ll need to submit an application for a new eligibility certificate and evidence needs to be provided that you are the child’s primary carer to retain CEA. AFF’s money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, is on hand if you have any questions or concerns, or you can email CEAS at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.gov.uk summer 2020 Army&You 19


Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

If the stresses and strains of army life take their toll on your marriage as a Foreign & Commonwealth couple, there are lots of extra things to consider if you want to stay in the UK after you’ve gone your separate ways. AFF’s F&C specialist, Katherine Houlston, talks you through your next steps… CAN I REMAIN HERE AFTER MY RELATIONSHIP HAS BROKEN DOWN? If you have limited leave to remain in the UK, your visa is only valid if your relationship is subsisting. Unless you make another application to remain in the UK on a different immigration route, you’ll be expected to return to your country of nationality. You won’t be able to apply for indefinite leave under the armed forces route regardless of your length of time on that route. If you have indefinite leave (either ILR or ILE) then

20 Army&You summer 2020

your relationship status does not affect your ability to remain in the UK.

CAN MY PARTNER HAVE ME REMOVED FROM THE UK? No. If the Home Office is informed of your breakdown, they will send you a letter saying that you should apply for a new visa. They will usually give you at least 28 days to do this. Even if you don’t have a valid visa, you should still make an application to remain, as having a valid visa isn’t always a requirement.

WHAT CAN I APPLY FOR IF I WANT TO REMAIN IN THE UK? This will depend on your circumstances but in general, the following applies: l If your relationship has broken down due to domestic abuse (DA) you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain under the DA rules regardless of your length of time in the UK. There are more details at aff. org.uk; l If you have British children in the UK and you’ll be their primary carer, you may be able to apply to remain as the parent of British children (there’s further information on the opposite page); l If you’ve lived in the UK legally for ten years you may be eligible to apply for indefinite leave on the long residence route; l If none of the above apply then you may qualify to remain under human rights @ArmyandYou


WHERE TO GO FOR HELP: The F&C pages on the AFF website have lots of detailed guidance on separation and divorce. If you need specific advice, contact the team via aff.org.uk legislation but it will depend on your circumstances.

IF I HAVE BRITISH CHILDREN, WILL I BE ELIGIBLE FOR INDEFINITE LEAVE OR BRITISH CITIZENSHIP? No. If you have a limited leave visa and you’re applying to remain in the UK as a primary carer of a British child, you will only be eligible for limited leave on a ten-year route to settlement. You’ll be granted a visa for two and a half years and will be expected to apply again every two and a half years until you have been in the UK for ten years (unless you qualify for ILR in the long residence route during this time).

HOW MUCH IS THE APPLICATION? It’s currently £1,033, however, it’s possible to apply for a fee waiver if you can prove that you are destitute.

WILL I BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS WITH THE NEW VISA? Not unless you can prove that you’re destitute. This is a separate application and requires detailed evidence to be submitted www.armyandyou.co.uk

showing all of your income and outgoings. A spouse with a notice to vacate Service Family Accommodation (SFA), who is not able to work and has no other income or savings should be able to meet this requirement.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE? It’s likely to take more than six months for the application to be processed.

WILL I HAVE TO LEAVE THE QUARTER BEFORE MY NEW VISA IS ISSUED? In most cases it’s not possible to extend your notice to vacate date, so you’re likely to become an ‘irregular occupant’ and will have to pay rent and any court charges. You’re advised to speak to your local authority regarding your options, but you won’t be able to apply for alternative housing until you have a valid visa. You must keep the Loss of Entitlement Team informed.

HOW CAN THE LOCAL AUTHORITY HELP ME? There are provisions which require local authorities to provide some people who

have no recourse to public funds (NRPF) with housing and/or financial support in order to prevent homelessness or destitution. This applies where there’s a child in need (because the child is homeless or the parent cannot afford to meet the family’s basic living needs). To request help, contact your local council’s children’s social services department. Alternatively, you can request an appointment with a housing advice officer to talk about available support.

I AM AN EU NATIONAL; CAN I REMAIN IN THE UK IF MY RELATIONSHIP BREAKS DOWN? Yes, but you’re unlikely to be eligible for benefits or local authority support unless you’re working in the UK or are eligible for permanent residency through the EU settlement scheme.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY RELATIONSHIP BREAKS DOWN WHILST I’M POSTED OVERSEAS? If you have a valid UK visa, you’re entitled to return to the UK in line with the policy which applies to all spouses. If you don’t have a UK visa you will need to contact AFF. summer 2020 Army&You 21


FIVE-STAR APPROACH TO KEEPING LOVE ALIVE Last year, Relate helped more than four million people of all ages, backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities to strengthen their relationships. Here we share their article on research by award-winning marital therapist and author Dr John Gottman, who observed that couples who stay together have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions in their relationships…

A

RE YOU getting your five a day when it comes to the good stuff that will nourish and sustain your relationship? A positive interaction might be a thoughtful action, asking questions, showing empathy, a kind word, a hug, a gift, a shared joke, a romantic gesture. And a negative interaction could be a criticism, a disagreement, hurt feelings, anger and hostility.

relationship healthy, make sure that for every negative interaction you have with your partner, make up for it with five positive interactions to keep you in credit. As long as you have five times as many good interactions with your partner as bad ones, your relationship will be more capable of withstanding your rockier patches and be more stable overall.

Daily diet

Couples who come to Relate have often been focusing so hard on their problems that the joy and happiness seems to have disappeared from their relationship and they have become problem saturated.

Negative interactions hold a stronger emotional charge and have more power to damage your relationship than positive interactions have the power to heal. So, to keep your

Get your five a day

Their positive to negative ratio count is dangerously low and this is putting their relationship into a very vulnerable state and they often feel they are at crisis point. If this sounds familiar, try to park your differences for a while and put your focus back on building up some positive credit in your bank. Have some fun together, plan a romantic date or just make some time to connect with each other. Up the positive interaction count so you remember why you are together, what you love about each other and make your relationship one that’s worth fighting for.

Conflict is healthy One negative interaction is

just as important as the five positive, because conflict and arguments are also necessary to keep our relationships healthy and honest. Couples who never argue or complain aren’t doing themselves any favours, as conflict avoidance is not the answer either. If you’ve got something you want to talk to your partner about it’s healthier to express what’s on your mind. That doesn’t mean bringing up every little thing – just not bottling up your emotions unnecessarily. Need further help? Go to relate.org.uk for lots of useful tips to help keep your relationship on track.

MORE THAN JUST A HOLIDAY... IF YOUR family needs some quality time together, then Give Us Time might be the answer. The tri-service charity offers commercially-let accommodation donated by owners of holiday groups, hotels, holiday homes and timeshares, and matches it with military families. You might be in need of rest, rehabilitation and reconnection due to bereavement, physical or mental injuries, financial need, or much-needed time away to reconnect following periods of separation due to deployment.

One of its beneficiaries Zabina (pictured left), a serving soldier in the RLC, booked a holiday after going through a difficult time. Her partner, also serving, was posted away, so Zabina was living on her own in their quarter trying to balance life with a new baby whilst struggling with post-natal depression. “We went on a break to Italy where we were finally able to switch off from the stresses and strains of daily survival and properly spend time with each other again,” she said. For some families the breaks are a chance to be a ‘normal’ family and make memories together. SSgt Claire Gloyne, who went away to Center Parcs, says it brought her closer to her son and restored her confidence.

“As a single mother my world was turned 360 degrees when I had my son. Having time away together just made the love for my son grow more and more,” Claire (pictured right) said. “When he first arrived at Center Parcs he couldn’t stop saying ‘wow Mama look at lights’ and this was the first time I’d smiled in months.” To find out more about how Give Us Time is structuring its holidays following the coronavirus pandemic or to register for a future break, visit giveustime.org.uk @ArmyandYou


Enter a

virtual challenge & change children’s lives

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receive your medal

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woodenspoon.org.uk/virtual-challenges Wooden Spoon is a registered charity in England and Wales (Reg No: 326691) and in Scotland (Reg No: SC039247)



ENGAGE YOUR WARRIOR SPIRIT MILITARY service can offer fantastic opportunities for couples and families to live an exciting and varied life but with the highs sometimes come the lows – extended periods of separation, multiple house moves and struggles to find employment. The Warrior Programme offers training and education designed to equip you with the tools you need to live life to the full and weather the storms. “Our programme teaches how to build your resilience, confidence and an ability to manage unhelpful negative emotions,” explained regional co-ordinator, Zoe Teale. “The benefits of engaging with this kind of personal development can have a widereaching positive impact on all areas of life.”

Interpersonal relationships “In the military, as in all walks of life, there are no easy answers as to why some relationships endure the most stressful times and others don’t,” said Zoe. “However, there are certain factors which seem to foster resiliency in relationships and increase a couple’s likelihood of survival.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Sarah, who attended The Warrior Programme last year, added: “My marriage has definitely improved for the better. “I don’t think my husband realised how trapped I felt. “I hated him at times because I felt his life was perfect at the expense of mine. The children were happy because I focused on them – everyone was fine apart from me. “I was worried I would spend the course just complaining about my husband and the army, but I didn’t. “I spent three days focusing on myself and afterwards I couldn’t wait to get home and give him a massive hug. “I realised that every couple has challenges. It’s still not perfect but whose relationship is? I feel like I have more control over my life than I thought I did. I have come to terms with the choices I made that have led me here, which makes me happier.” During the COVID-19 situation, The Warrior Programme is offering free online resources and weekly Zoom calls. They are also piloting an online course for future attendees. Go to warriorprogramme.org.uk

TOP TIPS

❤ Take control - not of the other

person – of yourself. Be the driver of your own bus! Be optimistic, be confident that the things you do will result in the outcome that you want;

❤ Take responsibility for your actions and be prepared to

face the consequences. Forgive

others and perhaps even more importantly forgive yourself;

❤ We all know that open

communication is essential for a relationship to flourish but lots

of people find it difficult. Often

the conversation you’re not having is the one you need to have;

❤ Be a good listener and

always look at the situation from the perspective of your partner.

summer 2020 Army&You 25


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

“Thank you to all NHS staff from AFF for all you have done and continue to do.”

DEDICATED TO THEIR DUTIES

2020 is the ‘Year of the Nurse’ and never has it been more apparent how crucial healthcare professionals are to all of us. If you’re an army spouse facing frequent moves and long periods apart from your soldier, it can be tricky to continue your career path in nursing, but many of you do just that. AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, herself a former nurse and midwife, spoke to some of you about your experiences… Name: Ami White Job: General nurse Army family since: 2010 How did you complete your training? I started in 2013 at the age of 27 and as a mother of two children under two! I completed the access to higher education course first, which was twice-aweek for a year in the evenings. Once I had gained my credits I applied to the University of Southampton. Fortunately, we were posted to the same area, which meant that I could complete my degree in 2017. If we hadn’t been I may have had to take a gap year or not finish at all. How does your role fit with army life? The biggest challenge is finding the correct career path to fit with my children’s school and my husband’s hours – the main concern is him being away. Working shifts is more difficult living away from family, but as luck would have it, I now live opposite my brother, his wife and their daughters. They’ve helped us so much. I haven’t lived this close to him since he joined up nearly 20 years ago.

26 Army&You summer 2020

Name: Abigail Wilkinson Job: Mental health nurse Army family since: 2013

Have you moved jobs on posting? I’ve just moved and I do have to switch roles. However, I don’t see this as much of a negative as I will gain different nursing experience. How supportive is your employer? Most are understanding, the only negative is they know you’re in a forces family and may have to leave at any point. My previous employer was understanding and flexible. I worked as a community nurse in the Stafford area with a very supportive team. Would you recommend a career in nursing to others? Yes, absolutely. I don’t see nursing as a job, to me it’s something inside you as a caring person. I meet so many people and become part of their lives by caring for them. That’s a big privilege in their time of need.

How did you complete your training? I completed my training in 2013 prior to my husband joining the army. I’m currently teaching mental health awareness classes aimed at the military and their families, whilst completing my Masters in medical education. How does your role fit with army life? I‘ve always worked a variety of long shifts and been on call. When it was only my husband and I, we managed to fit in quality time, however, after having our daughter, it’s not as simple due to childcare. It’s especially difficult when he’s deployed or on exercise. Have you moved jobs on posting? Every single time. In some cases, it has been relatively easy with minimal stress and I’ve been able to transfer. I look at available positions in the new area prior to our move and arrange phone interviews. I’m lucky that due to the nature of my work and varied experience I’ve been able to find a suitable position on each posting.

How supportive is your employer? Those with military connections are often more supportive. Some are sceptical to offer employment knowing that I may be relocated at short notice, however, my role is fairly flexible and set shifts and hours can be agreed if required. Would you recommend a career in nursing to others? Learning to balance life between university commitments, placements and family time is no easy feat, but for me the positives far outweigh the negatives. There are so many areas of speciality, ample possibilities for progression and, once qualified, it opens up a new world of career opportunities, many of which are flexible. Not to mention the feeling of pride; the reward is immense knowing you have done something amazing for someone. @ArmyandYou


Name: Lorraine Dooley Job: Health visitor Army family since: 1996

Paediatric nursing is often sought after, so I’ve never had a problem getting a job.

How did you complete your training? I qualified before joining the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps for four years and then getting married. I think it would have been difficult to have trained after we were married. How does your role fit with army life? When my husband was around, I worked nights and weekends, so we didn’t have to rely on childcare – it’s difficult with the long unsocial hours. Even when he was home, we spent a lot of time apart which wasn’t ideal. I had the added challenge of a child with special educational needs, which made standard childcare more problematic. I’m now a health visitor and the hours work well for my family. What happens when your soldier is away from home?

“As a career, nursing has been ideal. I’ve always worked in every posting all over the world.” It has been tricky. Thankfully I had supportive parents that always came to stay to look after the children. When the children were small, I mainly worked as a bank nurse so I could do extra shifts when

my parents were able to help. Have you moved jobs on posting? I’ve had a series of nursing jobs rather than a career. My CV is long – I’ve had a number of sister or staff nurse roles.

How supportive is your employer? Employers know you’ll only be with them for a limited time, so training courses are often difficult to access as they know they won’t benefit from it. When I took my emergency nurse practitioner course, I managed to complete it and left quickly afterwards so a different hospital benefitted from a qualification paid for by another Trust. Would you recommend a career in nursing to others? As a career, nursing has been ideal. I’ve always worked in every posting all over the world. Whilst abroad I worked in medical centres. My dual qualifications in adult and paediatric nursing and A&E made this possible – it may not have been so easy if I’d had different specialities.

INTERESTED IN NURSING? If you’d like to find out more about training and nursing careers, the Royal College of Nursing has some useful advice and information at rcn.org.uk Returning to nursing? NHS Health Education England is offering free ‘return to nursing’ courses around 40 sites across the country. You’ll receive £500 towards books, travel and childcare. You will also be able to transfer the course if you’re posted during it. More at healthcareers.nhs.uk Find a job in healthcare Look out for nursing and other care roles, as well as training details, at forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk Step into Health Members of the armed forces community can access NHS employment and other career development opportunities at Step into Health. The programme recognises your transferable skills and cultural values and how these are compatible with working in the NHS. Go to nhsemployers.org/sstepintohealth Working in the NHS If you’re a military spouse already working in the NHS, there’s specific support available to you. Trusts have armed forces champions and you can also sign up to a regular email bulletin. Search armed forces at nhsemployers.org www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 27


HEALTH

CELEBRATING HEALTHCARE The health – mental and physical – of loved ones is arguably our biggest priority and as army families, it’s reassuring to know there are lots of healthcare professionals looking after us, specific initiatives to help us, and work going on behind the scenes to ensure we get fair access to services. AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, highlights some of the projects aimed at military families…

BABY PLANS ABROAD Not all overseas locations can offer equivalent maternity care to that provided in the UK, so it’s wise to check the location you’re being posted to for more detailed information if you’re planning to have a baby. Kenya, for example, has recently changed its confinement policy and all pregnant women are to be

returned to the UK no later than 24 weeks into their pregnancy – this may be even earlier for higher risk pregnancies. You and your new baby are then reviewed at the four-month postnatal stage before you’re allowed to return. Other countries will also have different policies. If you’re unsure, do contact us at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

HIDDEN WOUNDS MADE FOR MUMS Midwife, mum of three and military wife Katy McGarry knows only too well the challenges that can be faced in pregnancy and in the new stages of motherhood. She offers support, guidance and empowerment for pregnancy, birth and beyond with her Mumborneveryminute courses in Tidworth, Ludgershall and online. There’s free information every day on Katy’s Instagram feed @mumborneveryminute,

and she also runs bumps and brunch every month. It’s a wonderful way to meet other women that are at a similar stage of pregnancy or in the first throes of being a new mum. Details change monthly, so check Facebook for details facebook.com/ mumborneveryminute

GOOD FOR THE MIND If you’re living in South Yorkshire you can access free, confidential counselling from a qualified therapist through Sheffield Mind’s Keeping Families in Mind (KFiM) initiative. KFiM is available to all armed forces families over the age of 18, no matter where your soldier

28 Army&You summer 2020

is serving. You can have a home visit or pop along to meetings in local community venues or at their office in Sheffield. They also run monthly support groups across South Yorkshire and other one-off events. For more information, visit sheffieldmind.co.uk

Tap into Help for Heroes’ Hidden Wounds service if you’re a family member, or a veteran, who is living with anxiety, depression, anger or wishing to change your drinking habits. For more information visit helpforheroes.org.uk

WOW FACTOR The Wellbeing of Women (WoW) study is investigating how having a partner in the armed forces affects the health and wellbeing of women during pregnancy and following birth. It can be a tricky time, particularly when your soldier is away or you have to move home. The information gathered during the study, which is being run by the King’s Centre for Military Mental Health, could then be used by organisations such as the NHS, MOD, and service charities to help improve support. Look out for updates at aff.org.uk and follow @wow_study

@ArmyandYou


AIMING HIGH Craig Johnson is the Nurse Advisor for the MOD’s Directorate Children & Young People (DCYP). It might sound unusual to have a nurse working in an educational organisation, but he’s part of a multi-agency team whose aim is to ensure service children have the best opportunities. We spoke to Craig (pictured) to find out more…

BY YOUR SIDE Any hospital treatment or healthcare intervention, whether planned or unplanned, can be stressful and can bring on feelings of isolation and worry, which may hamper recovery. That’s where the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS) can help. Its welfare officers provide support to sick or injured frontline staff including service families, reservists and

veterans, to ensure that no family goes through times of crisis alone. DMWS’s free service includes bedside visits and telephone support, help with resolving any medical care issues, practical help such as providing essential personal items, emotional support for your family and much more. Whether you’re in the UK or overseas, you can get in touch with DMWS on 0800 999 3697.

MAKING HEALTHY CHOICES Check out the British Army’s recently refreshed Healthy Soldier Cookbook, which offers more than 40 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as smoothies. Free to

download via army.mod.uk, it features family-friendy recipes packed full of fruit, vegetables and protein that are balanced with fat, carbohydrate, sugar and salt.

24/7 SUPPORT Need to talk? Anyone connected to the armed forces can tap into Big White Wall – an anonymous community who help and support each other through challenging periods in their lives. No matter what time of day or night, you can share thoughts and feelings, ask questions, take self-assessments and find self-

www.armyandyou.co.uk

guided support in a safe space. Trained clinicians, called wall guides, monitor the environment to ensure compliance and risk management. Head to bigwhitewall.com for more.

DCYP provides a single focus for all issues related to service children, my role covers four key areas: : Developing policy, directives and guidance relating to the health of service children and young people. : Support for MOD schools

which can range from health promotion sessions to generating health absence data to help reduce preventable absences through evidencebased support. Ultimately, I aim to empower all pupils with the health tools to live healthy, happy lives. : In a previous life I was a school nurse, and although I don’t provide direct school nurse services, I do offer additional support for our schools and community health providers in the UK and overseas. : My role requires me to develop and lead specific activities on behalf of DCYP. I also work at a national level supporting the work of key stakeholders such as the Department of Health, Public Health England, NHS England, and Health Education England; advocating for service children and families. Ultimately, my aim and passion is to improve the health outcomes of your children wherever you’re posted, whilst reducing any inequalities or barriers to ensure that you’re not disadvantaged with regards to health support.

summer 2020 Army&You 29


PROUD TO BE A PART OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY NSC has a proud history of supporting the British Army through the provision of simulation, visualisation and training design expertise. As the provider of UBVT, a key Army Collective Training system, we bring the training to your soldier – negating the need for travel and reducing time spent away from their loved ones. Want to know more? Find us on Forces Families Jobs.

River View, 2 Meadows Business Park, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 9AB Tel: +44 1276 678867 | E-mail: nsc@nsc.co.uk | Web: www.nsc.co.uk


FIRST-HAND EXPERIENCE Forces Families Jobs is the place to search for your next role. Why? Because all the employers and training providers who advertise have made pledges to support service families. Our latest FFJ business to be featured in Army&You was founded by service spouse Nadine Monks… FORCES FAMILY FINANCE Location: Kent, with clients UK and BFPO-wide Number of employees: 5 Industry: Financial services Employer Recognition Scheme award: Bronze

SUPPORT FOR OUR ARMED FORCES Being part of a forces family myself, supporting the armed forces is at the core of everything I do. My company has social aims, as well as commercial. One of the main ones being to provide fully mobile and professional careers for spouses and service leavers. As a spouse of many years I understand firsthand the disadvantage this can create in your career. I designed my company model to help remove this. We do this via a comprehensive training package with support from an accredited training provider, in addition to a host of other benefits.

GOOD INITIATIVES The business model has been tried, tested and developed over the years to account for deployments (both planned and last minute), going unaccompanied and remote postings etc. We also have specific HR policies in place for reservists. All our roles are flexible in work patterns and location, and fully transferable if you have to move. We would very much like to extend the invite to others to join our family.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Visit forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk and take a look at the employer directory, which features hundreds of employer profiles which all demonstrate their individual support to service families. If your employer is going the extra mile to support the armed forces, why not tell them about FFJ?

RECRUITING THROUGH FFJ For us, the FFJ website is perfect as we are passionate about offering opportunities to the military community. We know the talent pool is out there, it’s just finding them! It gives us a great platform to scout you out.

A SPOUSE’S VIEW Employee Anna Harrison says: “As a family, we endure long periods of separation, inconsistent work schedules that change as frequently as the wind and live miles away from family support. This makes it almost impossible to hold down a normal job. Being selfemployed and part of Forces Family Finance means I can work around my children and my husband’s career and still be able to achieve my work and life goals, which are so important to me as a working mum.” summer 2020 Army&You 31


Employer Profile

Tesco Links with the Armed Forces stretch back to our founder, Jack Cohen who Served in the Royal Flying Corps in the Great War. In 1919, demob money in hand, he began selling groceries from a stall using the dedication and commitment he had learnt from his Service life.

Fast forward 100 years and the company he founded, Tesco, still retains proud links with the Military. In 2015, we launched our Armed Forces Network which brings together former and current members of the Armed Forces, and their families, supporting them and helping them to develop as colleagues. From small and humble beginnings this has grown steadily to be one of the largest networks within Tesco. Indeed, Tesco Group, were the first retailer to sign the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. At the time of signing, we made a commitment that we will always look to do more for our heroes who regularly put their lives on the line to defend our country. Around 300 Tesco colleagues are members of the supermarket’s Armed Forces Network, who regularly get together to assist and support the lives of those linked to the Services, through network brunches and coffee mornings and our larger summer event, as well as supporting local and national charities like Walking with the Wounded. Here, two of our ex-Service colleagues talk about resettlement and the role Tesco has played…

32 Army&You summer 2020

Martin Weathers

Tesco Express, Retail, Customer Assistant In a nine year Military career, Martin Served with the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in roles including training clerk, movements controller and Headquarters Squadron Clerk that took him to Europe and Canada and saw him deployed with 7th Armoured Brigade in Saudi Arabia prior to the Gulf War in 1990. He joined Tesco in 2016.

On leaving HM Forces…

When you leave the Armed Forces (which everyone must at some stage), you don’t just lose a job, but a vocation, which you were not only trained to do, but have been continually ‘conditioned’ to do throughout your Service. You also lose your income, your home, your work clothes; friends and colleagues (who are nearer to being family than friends), a medical, social and welfare system tailored for your distinct needs. You lose your identity in many respects. In short, your entire way of life has to change. It isn’t called ‘Service life’ for nothing. Leaving Service life is a dreadful time, especially for those that may have been in this chosen career path for a long time, and may have associated psychological problems, such as Combat PTSD.

Tesco founder, Jack Cohen

The majority of Veterans are not so drastically affected, working and supporting families, but they were once part of a cohesive, professional team for which the Military had conditioned them, and may be struggling with feelings of isolation in their communities. This is often greatly magnified if the individuals have experienced combat.

Advice for Serviceleavers…

Prepare! When you relocate, check out the area for doctors’ surgeries, dentists, schools (if applicable), etc. Find your closest Veterans’ breakfast club and join it. Alternatively join your closest Reserves Unit. Don’t expect your neighbours to understand Military life. Most think Veterans are Second World War ‘old and grey guys’. Start to prepare at least a year before you are due to leave and think about resettlement courses carefully. Keep in touch via social media with your Regiment and friends.

I started to run my local combined Armed Forces and Veterans’ breakfast club, which is very successful locally and I also volunteer part time for The Veterans Charity, alongside my Tesco job and both my manager and peer staff are very supportive of my efforts.

Ahmed Gamil

Stores Gamil was in the RAF for 12 years as an aerospace systems operator. Most of his time was spent in the north east at RAF Boulmer but he also completed a tour with No.1 Air Control Centre (1ACC) in Lincolnshire working with the deployable radar unit. He completed overseas detachments in Afghanistan working with the US Marines and two tours in the Falkland Islands.

@ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE

On leaving the RAF…

Leaving the RAF was a difficult decision. I enjoyed being in the RAF but not necessarily the available roles. It was also difficult as I had a young family and we were finding it hard to balance my wife’s career, family life and the requirements of the RAF. The decision to leave was hard but was the right choice. After I left the RAF I continued studying part time for my degree and working as an apprenticeship assessor. Once I completed my degree I started looking for graduate opportunities. I applied for a number of graduate roles, choosing Tesco in 2019 as it offered a challenge and the opportunity to work locally and achieve a better work-life balance.

Joining Tesco…

With Tesco I got exactly the challenge I was looking for! Working in the store on the graduate programme has been great. I’ve received a lot of support and encouragement and given a great deal of responsibility. There’s a different challenge every day and no two days are the same.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

I’m currently on my placement as a team manager and worked through my first Christmas with Tesco. It has been a real eye-opener to see what has to go in to running a store on a daily basis and has given me a greater appreciation into the complexities of retail.

Advice for Serviceleavers…

If someone was leaving the Military my advice would be to give yourself plenty of time to plan what you want to do. Take full advantage of your resettlement time and build up your civvy qualifications. Network as much as possible; it really surprised me how complicated and different the job applications had become since I’d joined the RAF. It is easier securing a job through a network connection than going through the normal application process. My final bit of advice would be not to get disheartened if you don’t get a large number of replies or interviews. There’s a lot of competition and employers may have very specific requirements for the role.

New Commitments…

The re-signing of the Covenant in 2018 commits Tesco to uphold its key principles, including: • Supporting Veterans who have left the Armed Forces with employment at Tesco. • Aiding spouses and partners of Serving personnel to get jobs at Tesco stores. • Promoting the Reserve Forces to Tesco colleagues. • Ensuring flexibility around life changes due to partners’ Military service so colleagues are not disadvantaged. Tesco is already one of the biggest employers of Serving and former Service personnel, with thousands of Veterans working in roles across the business. The retailer is also one of the biggest employers of Reservists and has a record as a Forces-friendly organisation. Find out more at: www.tescoplc.com/careers

summer 2020 Army&You 33


FLYING THE FLAG Almost a year since its creation, the Marama Alliance UK (MAUK) is going from strengthto-strength, empowering women in the Fijian community across the UK, and it’s particularly supportive of those connected to the military... “Marama means woman or lady in Fijian,” explains committee member and army spouse Suliana Tuiteci. “Our main aim is to create a network so that together, we can encourage, assist and advise each other on life in the UK.” One of MAUK’s biggest achievements has been organising networking events in Larkhill, Catterick and Inverness, which have brought together women in the Fijian community to support one another. “Through these events, women can share their personal struggles, speak about their businesses and also have girl time,” adds Suliana. “By creating a safe and open space, our hope is that we will empower Fijian women.”

Audrey Hicks, who attended one of the events, says: “Thank you MAUK for always creating a safe space for us to simply be us. Yesterday was a day full of laughter, food, tears and inspiration.” The Alliance also runs a voluntary mentoring programme and is looking for more women to sign up to be mentors and mentees throughout this year. In addition, through its blog, it aims to encourage Fijian women to be proud of who they are. “We feature blogs on various topics relevant to our members such as the challenging and rewarding work of carers, women entrepreneurs, education and

young people, military life and career goals, domestic violence and mentoring,” adds Suliana. “We’ve had a great response from women who have attended our events and on our social media. This is the first time we’ve had something like this for Fijian women and it’s been very humbling to see how much it was needed.” Want to know more? Go to maramaalliance.com, join the Facebook group ‘Women’s Talanoa’ or follow on Instagram @marama_alliance_uk

THIS JULY, JOIN US FOR A VIRTUAL CODEBREAKING CHALLENGE LIKE NO OTHER.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: WWW.OPERATIONBLETCHLEY.SOLDIERSCHARITY.ORG/ EMAIL. EVENTS@SOLDIERSCHARITY.ORG

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) and Scotland (039189).

34 Army&You summer 2020

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN THE HISTORY OF THE 1940’S, MEET WITH SECRET AGENTS AND DECIPHER CODED MESSAGES. DO YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES TO FINISH THE JOB BEFORE TIME RUNS OUT? WITH TWO MISSIONS TO CHOOSE FROM (50 OR 100 MILES) AND THREE LEVELS OF DIFFICULTY (JUNIOR, CODEBREAKER AND CYPHER EXPERT), THERE IS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. IT CAN BE COMPLETED ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, ALONE OR WITH MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY. OPERATIONAL BLETCHLEY IS THE PERFECT WAY TO USE YOUR DAILY EXERCISE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. PLEASE FOLLOW CURRENT GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES ON SOCIAL DISTANCING TO REMAIN SAFE.

@ArmyandYou


COMMUNITY CHAMPION

A

BURNING AMBITION

RMY spouse Sophie Hodgson had always wanted to help people but could never put her finger on precisely how. That changed when she turned up the heat on her interest to join the fire service. “I first applied to be a firefighter six years ago in Berkshire but failed as I was not fit enough,” Sophie tells Army&You. “You can’t apply again for at least 12 months, so I waited, built up my strength and hoped they would run another recruitment drive. I applied again but failed the fitness tests that time too.” Sophie was devastated but life had also changed and she put her dream on hold to move into her first quarter in London as an army spouse. The following year she became a mother to baby Hugo. “We then moved three times over the next two years and ended up in Worthy Down,” she explains. “I noticed our local station was recruiting for on-call firefighters, so I jumped at the opportunity. This time I passed the physical tests and was ecstatic – something I had worked for for so long had finally happened out of pure determination.” Sophie went on to complete her inaugural course and was then ready to ride as a firefighter with her new crew at Sutton Scotney. “I cannot begin to describe the feeling of my first call,” she adds. “A deer in the headlights springs to mind. My watch manager said get on the truck. I was petrified as I had no idea what I would experience in the coming minutes. Adrenaline was in full force, something I had never felt before. I dropped all my

If you know a person with a military connection who works hard to improve your local community, tell us about them – email editor@aff.org.uk and read more stories at armyandyou.co.uk

rings in the back of the truck – lesson learnt quickly! From automatic fire alarms to a road traffic collision, I became part of the team straight away and have a bond that’s like no other. They’re my brothers I never had.”

Being part of a team Sophie believes that she brings something a little different to her watch: “Not because I am the only female but because my personality and drive brings a different approach and willingness to always develop. Male or female, we are firefighters and one team. I don’t arrive at the station thinking I’m the girl – it never crosses my mind.” As well as fire calls, Sophie has worked at Winchester Have a Go, which invites potential firefighters to do just that and have a go at some of the tests they would need to pass to become a firefighter. “I attend training, drill nights and make ‘safe & well’ visits to those in the community who are more vulnerable,” explains Sophie. “It’s tough some weeks when my husband is working late but I’ve always managed to do my minimum cover.

“The feeling of running into the station, throwing my kit on the truck and heading out of those doors is just so fulfilling.” As our summer community champions, Sophie and Kelly (page 36) win a signed print from The War Poppy Collection by artist Jacqueline Hurley of POSH Original Art. Jacqueline’s collection is her personal thank you and tribute to our armed forces, veterans and www.armyandyou.co.uk

Most nights I can be on-call as my husband is there with our son and I just run out the door when the alert goes off, trying not to wake anyone else in the house.”

Balancing act Juggling her role with army life, a full-time job and a two-year-old son can be tough but Sophie believes it’s worth it. “The feeling of running into the station, throwing my kit on the truck and heading out of those doors is just so fulfilling, not knowing where we are going or who needs our help,” she says. “I cannot recommend it enough. It’s really simple to get involved and many counties are looking for on-call firefighters. You don’t need previous experience as you’ll get full training, but you do need a good level of strength and fitness.”

Future plans Due to a posting, Sophie’s time at Sutton Scotney is coming to an end but she’s determined to carry on in the fire service in the future. “As a military wife, it’s sometimes hard when it comes to employment, but change can mean opportunity and for me, this has resulted in me launching my own business,” she concludes. “However, my long-term goal is still to become a full-time firefighter one day and I will pursue this no matter how long it takes.” &

their families; and a commemoration of those who have fallen or been injured in past campaigns. She paints to evoke emotion, reflection and remembrance in her unique and expressive style. To view the collection, visit poshoriginalart.co.uk summer 2020 Army&You 35


FORCES SCRUB HUB COMMUNITY CHAMPION

T

HE Forces Scrub Hub was started by army spouse Kelly Pollard, team leader at the Sandhurst Military Coworking Hub; an initiative set-up to support military spouses working from home. With many members of the hub furloughed, or finding their businesses slowing down due to COVID-19, Kelly (pictured with her children, top right) decided to temporarily convert the group into the ‘Forces Scrub Hub at RMAS’.

Wanting to help Kelly, who set up her own embroidery business in 2017, explains: “When the lockdown started, we obviously had to stop using the hub. I was finding that my business was quieter than usual and I was looking for a way that I could use my skills to help. I saw on Facebook that Scrubs Glorious Scrubs was doing an amazing job of getting people to sew scrubs for Frimley Park Hospital and realised that the medics on the camp at Sandhurst were probably facing the same problem. I approached the station to ask if we could use the hub to make scrubs for the army medics and they said yes.”

In just two weeks the Forces Scrub Hub grew to a team of 250 cutters, sewers, washers and drivers; all pulling together to produce scrubs, hats, visors, and scrub bags. RMAS is home to Robertson House, where newly-qualified doctors go to complete the army phase of their training, and many medics working at Frimley Park Hospital, where there has long been a close relationship between the MOD and the NHS. With the new regulations meaning that doctors can no longer wear their regular clothes, and are required to wash scrubs after every shift, military medics have faced the same worries about scrubs shortages as other healthcare professionals. The items made by the team are designed so that everything can be removed at the end of the shift, put straight into a bag and into the washing machine to reduce the risk of contamination at home.

Building momentum “Initially we started out with just five sewers and five cutters, but the project really captured the attention of people in the community, both military and civilian. It’s been overwhelming,”

says Kelly. “We started by asking people to donate old bedsheets and covers that could be washed at 60 degrees, but we’ve also received two substantial donations from Scrubs Glorious Scrubs, a national sewing project supported by Noah Evans, son of TV and radio legend Chris Evans, who camped out in his back garden to help contribute to the nation’s fundraising efforts, which have topped £1.2million.” “Some of our volunteers are still finding their own materials and have used all sorts of fun and imaginative patterns and designs from camo to Disney princesses and Peter Rabbit,” explains Kelly.

Community spirit The response from the local community has been overwhelmingly positive, with one sewing volunteer commenting: “It’s been an amazing team effort – thank you for letting me be part of this. I cannot tell you how much making these scrubs has helped me to pass my time in this current crisis; time is flying by!” An active Facebook group means Kelly can co-ordinate everyone from cutters to sewers and delivery drivers to take the scrubs to the hospital.

36 Army&You summer 2020

“Audrey Meek, from TC Tech Repairs in Sandhurst, has also kindly allowed us to use the shop as our community hub for people to drop-off and pick-up materials and scrubs which has been really helpful,” says Kelly. “The Military Coworking Hub is all about bringing people together and helping military spouses overcome social isolation. This has enabled us to keep that community spirit alive. So many people have told us that it has given them a real sense of purpose and something to focus on whilst in lockdown, and made people feel like they are not powerless; they can do something that really helps their local community fight this battle,” she adds. The project has also been supported by Tom Baker at Snow Windows, who has given the shop window a scrub hub theme, and Dave Richardson, who has produced more than 100 visors on his 3D printer for the team of volunteers to use while driving around collecting and delivering. “At this point, we don’t know how long we’ll be needed for and how big the group will grow, but as long as the medics need new scrubs we’ll keep sewing,” concludes Kelly. To find out more, visit facebook.com/ForcesScrubHub @ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE

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W

HETHER you are a technophobe or

a new concept for PLS Solicitors. The law

gadget-loving geek, there is no doubting

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that technology has transformed the way we

transactions for a decade, and over the past

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five years has actively invested in technology to

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technological advancements have been thrust

“When we first created our online portal, PLS

into the spotlight by the global grapple to adjust

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to the coronavirus crisis.

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actioned at the push of

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systems that enable us to do so

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and team leader to discuss any legal jargon,

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closer together at a time of

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times, our technology has come

Things once considered to be

Technology is certainly no longer the preserve of the ‘young’. Lockdown has introduced all ages to the advantages afforded by the digital world, with Zoom, Facetime and Skype calls becoming as common as talking on the telephone. Online platforms have provided households with smiles and shopping and have

into its own.”

“Everything that the customer was required to do could be actioned at the push of a button.”

even been used by one former Serviceman to raise a significant sum of money.

PLS Solicitors is an advocate

“Whilst strictly following the Government guidance, as a prop-tech law firm, PLS is

of technology in the sector and

continuing to exchange contracts and complete

continues to promote change.

on behalf of our customers where this is

More recently it has invested

possible and safe to do so,” he concluded.

in Robot Process Automation and Artificial Intelligence to improve security and efficiency – reducing errors, risk of fraud and speeding up the home move process. Last year, the firm launched its PLS Portal 24/7 on the

App Store (Android/IOS) with great success,

The funding page set up by the family of war

providing customers with more flexibility to

veteran Captain Tom Moore, who successfully

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conquered 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden

case from the comfort of their home on their

ahead of his 100th birthday in April, has

smartphone or tablet.

amassed more than £32 million for the NHS.

Dean was also quick to highlight that PLS Solicitors remain open for new instructions.

However, Dean Carruthers, Head of

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In addition to mobilising a centenarian,

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months depending on the build programme

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summer 2020 Army&You 37


THE GRASS CAN BE GREENER Budding environmentalist and army spouse Amanda Mason has earned the nickname ‘Greenpeace’ for her efforts to clean up Kinloss. We caught up with her to find out more about her embrace of Mother Earth...

MY HUSBAND Ed and I have been lucky – this was my first move into a quarter and we’ve been here for six years, which is almost unheard of,” Amanda told us. “We’ve seen many good friends come and go as well as many deployments for Ed. “We both love living here and most evenings we head down to the beach with our rescue dog, Bruce (pictured top right), and it’s through these walks that I started litter picking and where I earned my nickname,

38 Army&You summer 2020

Greenpeace Mason amongst work colleagues.”

From small acorns Amanda has been making minor alterations around her home, garden and general habits on the back of watching documentaries such as the BBC’s Blue Planet. “I believe it’s the small changes that we can all make that will have a big positive impact on the environment,” she says. “I don’t know the statistics but military families make up a reasonable proportion of the

“Military families make up a reasonable proportion of the population so a combined effort could really make a difference.”

population so a combined effort could really make a difference.” Amanda collects three pieces of plastic every time she walks on the beach. “This could be on any dog walk, not just on the beach,” she advises. “In the summer I am forever picking up bottles and food wrappers from around the estate. I feel we can all do a little bit to help. “We have a lot of open space on our estate and I’ve been pleased to see some trees being planted – we just need some bird boxes to put up on them.” @ArmyandYou


If you’re still socially isolating at home as you read this or just inspired to do your bit, here are some of the small changes Amanda recommends, that might be worth trying: l Change to SMOL laundry capsules – they are better for the environment, contain no plastic and are cheaper; l Plant lavender and other flowers to support bees and butterflies. This year I’m planting wildflower seeds too; l Create a feeding station and water bath for birds; l Reduce plastic consumption by moving to hair conditioner bars and soap bars; l Source meat from a local farm shop, as well as eggs and vegetables – their veg is not wrapped in plastic. For some that will be costly, but I do feel making healthy choices can be beneficial, even if it’s just having one meat-free night a week; l Replace baby wipes and cotton pads for makeup removal with cotton washable face pads; l Use cloths instead of disposable cleaning wipes; l Use Ecover washing up liquid, toilet and bathroom cleaner; l Replace liquid hand soap bottles with soap bars; l Use a local milkman, who delivers milk in glass bottles and collects to recycle; l Move to cloth nappies; l Use a menstrual cup; l My move to use loose leaf tea was an epic fail – but it’s worth a try!

Amanda believes there’s lots of things we can do to attract wildlife to our gardens, even if we’re only living there for a short time. “Introducing a bird box, bath and feeders are quick, easy and inexpensive things to do. “If you build it, they will come,” she adds. “Planting a bee- or insect-friendly plant or making an insect hotel with your little ones all helps. “Making hedgehog highways, which allow enough space in www.armyandyou.co.uk

For more ideas, have a look at: hydrophil.com – plastic free shop mcsuk.org – marine conservation smolproducts.com – eco-friendly laundry capsules

or under a fence to allow a hedgehog access to your garden for water and food, is also an easy step to take.”

Influencing others By sharing posts on social media, Amanda hopes to spread the word. “When I’ve made a plastic-free change, I tell my friends how well it’s gone – or not – in the hope of inspiring others. “Friends have made positive

Facebook groups: Wildlife friendly gardens Sustainable living Wildlife gardening forum Sir David Attenborough

changes, including my neighbour Donna, who planted a border of wildflowers. “They were stunning and attracted so many bees and butterflies, so I’m following suit this year.” Amanda is a contributor to a Yammer group with her work colleagues, which is generating a stream of green ideas. “We discuss how we can better care for our environment such as reducing energy, rubbish and use of plastic,” she concludes. “We’ve had

some great discussions around small changes that will have a big impact.” &


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40 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

Switching with SEND As an army family, moving home can be a particular worry if you have a child with special educational needs and/or disability. The good news is that work is going on behind the scenes to help make the process run smoother. Ed Harris, from the Directorate Children & Young People (DCYP), tells us more… WHEN it became clear that the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) code of practice didn’t fully meet the needs of service children moving between local authorities, the MOD Local Authority Partnership (MODLAP1) set to work. Unlike the school admissions code, the SEND code doesn’t require local authorities to secure a place before your family arrives in your new location, so some SEND children have ended up without a school place for long periods of time.

What’s been done about it? MODLAP has developed a set of principles to support your child’s transition: / Each MODLAP local authority has committed to reducing to the absolute minimum the amount of time your child with SEND is out of education following a move to a new area. / Local authorities have agreed that consultation with schools for placement of your child with SEND will take place prior to your arrival into the area. The new local authority must arrange the special educational provision set out in the Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan. Bear in mind that your child may have to be placed in a school other than the one named on the plan if the distance makes it impractical. / A key point of contact in each local authority will co-ordinate and oversee the transition of service children with SEND between local authority areas. / Each MODLAP member will seek continuity of provision for all service children moving in and out of local authority areas, including MOD schools. This includes the transfer of EHC plans which are not yet finalised.

Further work This has been promoted to other local authorities and several of them are already adopting these principles as good practice. Since their introduction, the Department for Education’s SEND team is considering how this work will influence the planned refresh of the current SEND code of practice. If you’re finding it difficult to find a school place for your child with SEND, do contact us. Our health and additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, will be happy to help – additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

✂ In 2017, DCYP created MODLAP, a group made up of senior local authority officers who work together to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of service children. 1

They develop solutions to the most common challenges faced by you and your children when engaging with local authorities. The membership includes 15 local authorities, which covers two thirds of the service child population in England. The group has become an increasingly powerful influence on local government policy.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 41


During the coronavirus crisis, Commando Joe’s has continued to support schools and key worker children. Find out more at commandojoes.co.uk

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND M

IKE Hamilton OBE spent nine years in the army, serving in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s had a multitude of roles from bomb disposal, physical training instructor, training and mentoring, to delivering the army’s recruiting programme in schools. Whilst working in education Mike realised that there was a lack of funding for schools and a real shortage of role models in primary schools, specifically male teachers. He founded Commando Joe’s in 2009 and has supported more than 3,000 schools

42 Army&You summer 2020

across the UK with developing behaviour change and character education. Army&You caught up with Mike to find out more… “We utilise the expertise of former service personnel by using the core values associated with military such as self-discipline, confidence and teamwork, to help improve educational outcomes for pupils,” explains Mike. WHOLE SCHOOL APPROACH Using its ethos ‘no child left behind’, Commando Joe’s provides early intervention for those disengaged with their

“To have someone in school who can reassure [service children] that everything will be okay and that they understand, is a massive benefit to the young person.” education, alongside pupils who excel academically. Mike adds: “A contributing factor to our success is that our programme is a whole school approach and supports all staff, pupils and parents in any educational setting.” The programme has been developed through evidencebased research and has been endorsed and part funded by the Department for Education. The head teacher of Kingsland C of E Primary says: “Commando Joe’s is having a very positive impact on pupils’ attendance and punctuality. “Pupils, particularly boys, are keen and enthusiastic to get into school before the start of the day because they see Commando Joe as a positive role model.”

SERVICE PUPIL SUPPORT Although programmes are designed for all pupils, Mike recognises that service children sometimes have extra challenges. “Having a parent away and moving every couple of years can have a huge impact. An operational tour can bring another set of challenges,” he explained. “To have someone in school who has experienced these challenges and can reassure them that everything will be okay and that they understand, is a massive benefit to the young person.” TEAM LEADERS Commando Joe’s involves the whole school so that young people don’t feel like they have been targeted or singled out. @ArmyandYou


However, Mike says: “We may ask a service child to be the team leader or take a role that we know would support their self-esteem and confidence. “We can mentor a number of young people and get them to talk about how they feel and any anxieties they may have. “It may be as simple as placing pins on a map where they have travelled in the forces or helping them write a letter or email to mum or dad who is away.”

EXCELLENCE IN EDUCATION Does your child’s school go that extra mile to support service children? With schools all currently closed at the time of going to print, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the best practice initiatives that have supported your service children. This edition, we head to schools in Nottinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire…

BUILDING STRENGTH The Chetwynd Barracks homework club near The programme includes an Nottingham was set up to help bridge the online portal for teachers to attainment gap between service children and access the resources and their peers at one of the local schools, Chetwynd enable them to map and Primary Academy. One of the governors who assess character traits such helped to identify the need was Vicki Fuery, who as resilience, empathy and was brought up in a military family and is now a self-awareness. Mike varies military parent. the activities for the different “The aim was to help parents struggling to do age groups and has been homework with their children due to a variety supported by many explorers of reasons, but often because of lone parenting and adventurers including Sir with spouses away,” explains Vicki. Ranulph Fiennes, Ed Stafford “For the first meeting, two teachers came and recently Levison Wood. along to the base to speak to the organisers, Pupil Mohammed (10) loved volunteers and interested parents about how taking part: “Our work has been to run the after-school club and support the key really fun. We have learnt about areas – reading, writing, maths etc.” lots of brave people. Ernest Shackleton never gave up – Happy times even when he failed, he would Now successfully up and running, parents and try again. That inspires us!” volunteers support the children at the club to Mike has designed a series of do homework and extra activities designed to top-secret missions for schools encourage a love of the core to take part subjects; they also have topic in. “One of days and special activities our topics for such as art and baking. Year 5 is Tim “We find that many of If your school is great at supporting Peake and the pupils the children work more service children, tell follow in his us about it. Email footsteps to ec@aff.org.uk be a fully, fledged astronaut,” he says. “In our secondary school programme students have to survive for 24-hours in school, because there has been a catastrophic cyberattack on the UK’s national grid.” A secondary school parent has seen the benefits for her son: “I never get anything out of Craig about his day at school, but he got a postcard about his curriculum work and how he has improved his resilience. That’s exactly what I want for my child.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

enthusiastically for other adults and enjoy spending time with other army children – and we also have biscuits and drinks,” says Vicki. Tina Mason says her girls Olivia (7) and Lillie (4) love coming to homework club: “There is a vast choice of resources for all the children which cover all subjects and topics. “I feel it definitely has an impact on their learning.” Mum Vikki Love agrees: “It has helped me learn new ways of helping Hanna with number bonds and phonics. “She can interact with her friends whilst completing her homework in a relaxed, friendly and fun atmosphere.” The club is managed by Jackie Ross with support from AWS community development worker Karen Deakes, volunteers and parents. “Jackie is the heart and soul of the club and without her it would not be the success it is,” adds Vicki. “We feel passionately about finding ways to support army children and the homework club is proving to be a real success; we’d love to see this idea roll out across other camps. If the club only achieves an hour’s peace for a single parent or helps one child a little further along their educational journey, then it’s worth it.”

summer 2020 Army&You 43


Dallam School

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ONE BIG FAMILY SERVICE children from Barton Stacey School’s Base Club had a visit from the Army Flying Museum in Hampshire recently to design and decorate kit bags. AFF’s Hampshire co-ordinator, Alison McLeish, tells us more… The aim of the ‘community kit bag project’

is for community groups to create something that represents them, inspired by the museum’s stories, collections and artefacts. Thirty groups are taking part, from scouts to older people’s lunch clubs. I asked Dan Ball, the museum’s outreach worker who ran the session, if he had noticed anything unique

COMPLETE COMMITMENT STEPH Fawdry loves being a teacher, and ten years ago, she became head at RAF Benson Community Primary School which has almost 100 per cent service children. From the moment she got the role, she’s been determined to ensure the children have the best experiences they can… “I just adored the school, the changing nature of its population and especially how spirited and resilient the children were,” says Steph. “Not having a military background, I had to quickly come to terms with the acronyms and military way of life.” The school has around 200 pupils with an average mobility rate each year of 54 per cent. It presents Steph with challenges for the budget, staffing and resources. “It also has an impact on planning as we don’t actually know how many children we’ll have in school until they turn up in September!”

Good feedback It’s clear from parent feedback that the school is well drilled when it comes to supporting service youngsters. “This school provides unique opportunities for the children of service families and we feel privileged our child attends here,” says one parent. Another adds: “My child has settled in well after moving schools three www.armyandyou.co.uk

times in four months. The care given to military families is of great benefit.” The effects of deployment are very much taken into consideration. Steph adds: “It can often be a barrier to learning and to help ease this we have a pastoral support officer who runs our ‘social circle’ group specifically for children who have a parent away. “She’s also on hand to speak to children and parents regarding emotional issues.”

about working with service children, he said: “They seemed to have a real identity with the artefacts and they immediately knew what I was talking about when we were discussing military badges.”

Support sessions Service children make up 17 per cent of Barton Stacey School’s population and they are supported in a weekly lunchtime session called Base Club led by Mrs Cobb, the school’s emotional literacy support assistant. She told me that the club has helped ensure a smooth transition for children into and out of the school. Each session begins with a circle time where children can share their news with each other. “You’re kind of stuck with it as a service child and so the more you can do to make it a positive experience for them, the better,” said Mrs Cobb. A Year 2 pupil added: “Base Club makes me feel special and it feels like we are one big family together.” A Year 6 pupil added: “Base Club is helpful for children who move around and makes you feel happy.” You can see the kit bags on display until the end of the year, once the museum reopens – armyflying.com

Steph’s time at the school also led her to begin working for SCISS (Service Children in State Schools), where she is now chair. “The organisation provides a strong voice in supporting schools with service children and offers advice and support in various ways,” she concludes. l For lots more examples of best practice in schools with service children and news on SCISS’s work, go to sciss.org.uk summer 2020 Army&You 45


BUILDING RESILIENCE IN SCHOOLS

T

HE powerful stories of how injured veterans tackled adversity are helping children to cope with the pressures of lockdown during the COVID-19 crisis. The Making Generation R programme of workshops, created by Blesma, the limbless veterans’ charity, has been made available for free as a digital resource for schools. It features 30 veterans talking about their experiences and is designed to help young people aged 11-18 manage their anxiety and develop coping strategies. The veterans have filmed themselves at home and their testimonies are accompanied by exercises that explore adversity

and self-esteem. Participants include former Royal Engineer Josh Boggi, who won five Invictus Games medals after becoming a triple amputee aged just 23 in an IED blast while serving in Afghanistan.

Blesma’s operations director, Ian Waller, says: “Our members are empowered by using their personal stories of how they overcame life-changing injuries and dark days. This resource is much needed during these

tough times and we hope that as many schools as possible take advantage of it.” Mat Armitage, an amputee veteran and Making Generation R speaker, adds: “By listening to the stories you’ll learn about what it means to be resilient and how we can use resilience to overcome the adversities we may face in our lives. Millions of people have experienced adversity as a result of the coronavirus. Many of us haven’t been able to visit loved ones, go to school or hang out with our friends. It has been a really challenging time.” l For further information, visit makinggenerationr.com

DIGITAL HOME FOR SCHOOL SUPPORT Is your child at school in Wales? There are lots of new resources at your fingertips to ensure they get the right support, created by SSCE Cymru – Supporting Service Children in Education Wales. They work with schools, children and young people, local authorities, the Welsh Government, education professionals, forces families and support organisations to gather their views, build networks and raise awareness and understanding of the experiences of your children. Its new-look digital resources are a great place to find everything you need to help your child overcome any challenges and include the following: l Website – a one-stop-shop of information and resources for schools, education settings, local authorities, service children and service families. l Schools toolkit – information, advice and signposting in eight key areas:

46 Army&You summer 2020

n The armed forces in Wales n Service children’s experiences n Education in Wales n Data and school admissions n Mental health and wellbeing n Youth provision n Funding n Research l SSCE tools – can be downloaded and tailored for schools, parents/carers and service children.

l Directory of support – details of 100 organisations that support service children. l Welsh films – celebrating service children learning Welsh. l Case studies – good examples of how schools and local authorities are supporting service children. Visit sscecymru.co.uk to read more about and explore the resources. @ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION

LOCKDOWN LEARNING

How the forced closures of schools and colleges to most pupils at the end of March delivered a lesson in resilience to the education sector, students and parents-turned-teaching assistants SALISBURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL

salisburycathedralschool.com

F

OR the vast majority of service schoolchildren, distance learning

will forever characterise life under lockdown during the coronavirus crisis. While a day away from the classroom was once something to cherish, it became the “new normal” for students at the height of the pandemic as contact with teachers became restricted to digital dialogue. And although battling for broadband with siblings and workfrom-home parents may have posed a headache for some, the frustration of slow download speeds was nothing compared to the challenge faced by Salisbury Cathedral School students Ella (Head Girl, Year 8) and

their body clocks to synch with

schooling for us. The internet is a big

so if we are stuck, they are there to

Lily Dupuy (Year 6).

Salisbury.

help to us all during these times and

answer all of our questions. They

we’re all going to get used to this

also recognise that it’s important

new way of life soon.

for us to exercise, so they have

The sisters, daughters of a serving

“At three in the morning when

member of the Armed Forces,

our parents come in to wake us up,

found themselves locked down in

remote learning doesn’t seem like

Washington DC – thousands of

such a great idea,” the girls reported

notice, they have been able to set

miles and many hours behind their

from the USA. “However, we really

up a reliable way of doing long-

Wiltshire peers.

enjoy being able to speak to our

distance lessons. The work posted

annoying that we have to wake up

friends and teachers easily.

on Google Classroom is really easy

early in the morning to access the

for us to access.

lessons at the same time as our

However, determined to remain dedicated to their studies, the

“Our school has been really

Dupuys compensated for being

supportive and is currently doing

stateside by dramatically shifting

many things to help improve remote

DALLAM SCHOOL

dallamschool.co.uk

THROUGHOUT the period of forced closure, Dallam School in Milnthorpe, Cumbria has also been supporting its students online, with those without access to a computer at home being provided with laptops. Pupils in Years 7-10 and Year 12 are set tasks on a daily basis by teaching staff based on achieving a weekly objective in each subject and teachers are available throughout the day via email and other

“To begin with, at very short

“During the entire lesson the teacher stays online in a video chat

created a concise timetable for us to work by.” The sisters concluded: “Yes, it is

classmates, but, we believe that overall it’s worth it.”

DIRECTORY ANDERSON EDUCATION andersoneducation.co.uk

FREWEN COLLEGE frewencollege.co.uk

BISHOP’S STORTFORD COLLEGE bishopsstortfordcollege.org

ROYAL ALEXANDRA AND ALBERT SCHOOL raa-school.co.uk

CHAFYN GROVE chafyngrove.co.uk

SALISBURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL salisburycathedralschool.com

learning platforms to provide guidance to those struggling. Dallam’s pastoral co-ordinators have made routine calls to parents to check on their child’s welfare and ensure that students are coping with the workload and shift in routine. Students in Year 11 – including those not intending to remain at the school for Year 12 – have been sent enrichment activities based on

DALLAM SCHOOL dallamschool.co.uk

their A-level choices and encouraged to complete tasks for up to six subjects in preparation for the academic challenge ahead. Vulnerable students are receiving consistent additional support from Dallam’s safeguarding team to ensure that they stay safe and well during their absence from school.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL doyrms.com

WELLS CATHEDRAL SCHOOL wells.cathedral.school Advertise: info@tylerbale.co.uk summer 2020 Army&You 47


CHAFYN GROVE

chafyngrove.co.uk

T

HE lockdown has imposed

meet but instead of face to face

many changes. Home-

this is done online, group chats

schooling is by no means

occasionally have a theme – for

the most severe, but at times it

example, wear the silliest headgear.

will have felt so for those doing it,

Fresh air is such an important part

writes Simon Head, Headmaster

of our school day, so we set weekly

of Chafyn Grove School.

challenges to encourage exercising

Whilst there are natural overlaps

from home combined with a bit of

between school and home, there

healthy competition. These have

are also areas where confusing the

Without that, commas become

happens between lessons and

included exercising with your pet

two is counter-productive. I cannot

full-stops. If a child at home is

at lunch or break-times. Breaks,

through to recording running/

teach my sons in the same way

stumped by a task, the trick is to get

snacks and chatting all have a

cycling miles over the course of the

that I would teach my pupils. To

them back into the flow. If you give

role to play in the structure of

week and have been thoroughly

try to do so would be unrewarding

the answer or permission to skip,

any learning environment. Social

enjoyed by our children.

for all involved, yet many parents

that does not remove the snag. If

contact is vital for all children;

have had those boundaries blurred

you start to work the problem out

older ones are likely to have better

they can to minimise the home-

since schools closed. Thus the

in a way that they can complete

access to communication tools

school gap, but teaching is

first tactic to get the best out of

for themselves, you’ve eased them

than younger and this probably

inherently personal and technology

home-schooling is not for parents

back into the learning. This does

requires compensation. At Chafyn

is 2D.

to become teachers, but pupils.

not mean that you need to take the

we are one big community and

Schools enjoy the considerable

lesson alongside of them, simply

maintaining special bonds between

now being appreciated more, I hope

benefit of a critical mass of children

that your child will respond to you

children and teachers has played

the same is true for homes. A home

getting on with the task in hand.

better as a fellow-learner rather

a big part in how lessons are

can accommodate some schooling,

This creates a current which

than a role they do not want you

structured for home learning;

but that must always remain

guides everyone, especially when

to take.

ensuring we boost morale as much

subordinate to providing a safe and

as possible. Tutor groups still

happy place for your children.

individual momentum falters.

A great deal of learning at schools

Our teachers are doing everything

If the importance of schools is

BISHOP’S STORTFORD COLLEGE

bishopsstortfordcollege.org

WITH a longstanding tradition for putting

continued to cover aspects of well-being, healthy

their community at the heart of what they

lifestyle and the world of work and relationships

do, Bishop’s Stortford College is recognised

– albeit via Firefly and a variety of formats – and

as a leader in Mindfulness and Well-being by

provides pupils an opportunity to ask questions

UKBoardingSchools.com

or seek advice.

During the enforced lockdown one of

As an accredited Mindfulness in Schools Project

their key objectives has been to preserve, as

school, the College continues to support pupil

much as possible, the very special College

well-being: Housemasters remain the first point

community they enjoy and provide continuity of

the undergraduate experience of detailed

of call for all matters pastoral, parents and pupils

spiritual, moral, social and cultural education.

academic research, coupled with one-to-one

may contact them if they need support, guidance

Academically, the Senior School in particular

supervisions, as well as weekly seminars on

or just a chat and the School Counsellor is also

has developed a twin strategy for ensuring

subject specific topics, designed to explore and

available by appointment. Pupils who may be

maximum progress for its pupils. One strand

expand their understanding of their chosen

worried about themselves or a friend, are urged to

has concentrated on ensuring the ‘non-exam

subject. The College hopes this will place their

get in touch and not to struggle alone. The College

classes’ (Years 9,10,12) still get the high-quality

Upper Sixth ahead of many of their peers when

are keen to stress that staff are there to help,

teaching needed to keep them firmly ahead of

they arrive at university in October.

day-in, day-out, just as in normal times and will be

the curriculum, so they are in an excellent place to start in September 2020. The second strand has focused on developing

Teaching and learning has largely been conducted by Zoom, which has been enthusiastically embraced by the College

making regular contact with individual pupils to check how they are getting on. So, while life appears very different during

a bespoke 10-week curriculum for Years 11

community through a stimulating package of

the global pandemic, Bishop’s Stortford College

and 13 which looks to inspire and maximise

lessons, created for all by their committed and

is successfully supporting their pupils with as

their progress this term. In the case of the Year

hardworking staff. Sticking with a familiar

near normal a regime as they can provide with

11s, this has meant creating a special Sixth

routine and timetable provides much needed

community and well-being at its very centre.

Form skills package in each subject, whilst

‘normality’ too. House, year group and College

providing them all with a new Sixth Form

assemblies are taking place as normal via Zoom

commented: “Socially distant, but never far away,

timetable, enabling them to develop skills and

with Housemasters/Housemistresses and via pre-

our strong community will prevail during these

understanding, a whole term ahead of previous

recorded video on Firefly from the Headmaster,

challenging times by using technology wisely,

years. In Year 13, this has meant a specialist

Chaplain and other senior members of staff.

staying connected and supporting one another

research curriculum which attempts to mirror

48 Army&You summer 2020

The College’s Empower programme has

Jane Pawulska, Deputy Head (Pastoral),

as we navigate this new landscape together.”

@ArmyandYou


IS EDUCATION REALLY A RESULTS BUSINESS?

A senior member of Wells Cathedral School’s staff reflects on academic anxiety and what exams and grades really mean for the graduates of tomorrow

F

IRSTLY, I’d like to get

a publicly competitive world in

something off my chest.

which we are shoe-horned into

Stress is a word that we

a self defined rank order of how

have become all too familiar

useful we are on this planet of

with in society and it is largely

ours. From the age they turn up to

regarded as an enemy, writes

their first class, children learn to

Martin Ashton, Deputy Head

compare themselves with others

(Pastoral) and Designated

around them – in every way and

Safeguarding Lead at Wells

also academically.

Cathedral School. We know that too high a

Whilst we do our best to tell them ‘not to compare yourself with

sustained level of stress can cause

who someone else is today but to

harm to our mental health, but it is

compare yourself with who you

essential that we allow our young

were yesterday’ (thank you, Jordan

one in that there’s only so much

and success. The ability to work at

people to experience normal levels

Peterson, I use this a lot these days),

traffic that any of us can withstand

something over a lengthy period

of stress – to feel it, learn to live

we live in a relative world and

over our bridge until the bridge

of time should not be overlooked

with it and view it as normal and

teenagers are hard wired to compare

collapses. There are two options,

when pupils reflect with pride at a

something we can control.

themselves with the market – and

strengthen the bridge or remove

job well done.

mainly with their peers.

some of the traffic – a balancing act

As a school we try hard to value

that the teaching profession is well

our pupils for who they are and the

versed in, and increasingly so.

qualities that they are developing.

What is education really about when all is said and done? I would

I took a straw poll when I stood in

argue that it is primarily about

front of the whole of Year 11 as the

giving young people the tools and

revision period came into view this

equipment they need in their ‘bag

year (those were the days – the days

those young people heading towards

to apply themselves to their studies,

for life’ so that they’re ready to live

before we realised the pandemic

exam halls to hear the message,

of course. But more significantly it

a life that is confident, purposeful

would change quite a lot of things,

because it is true, that grades are

helps them to put their grades into

and contributes to the world and

including exam grades). Amongst

not important in themselves. They

some sort of perspective and thereby

the lives of others.

other things I asked them who puts

matter practically because they

reduces stress levels. Of course we

them under the most pressure when

take us to the next step whatever

lay on extra revision sessions and

communities, we need to have

exams are looming – teachers or

that might be and they bring us

deliver workshops about revision

helped our pupils to be resilient, to

parents. The hands up response

choice. They are effectively tickets to

techniques, help them to plan their

overcome hardship, to cope with

revealed that parents, by a short

some kind of freedom. With those

time effectively and extol the virtues

a sense of failure, to be self aware

head, placed the most external

tickets they can metaphorically buy

of fresh air, exercise and sleep. Of

and possibly, above all, to learn to

pressure onto their young shoulders.

successful applications to courses

course we extend them academically

accept and move through periods

Teachers weren’t very far behind. In

and institutions which will in

and set work outside the classroom

and moments of stress and anxiety.

my experience, pupils facing public

turn lead to a set of job prospects.

to consolidate their knowledge

exams put themselves under enough

As an aside, we know that a high

because we know that recall is the

normal levels of stress really is

pressure and rarely do we gain any

percentage of jobs that currently

most effective way to revise (there

good for us in the long term. Being

extra effort by adding to it (a small

exist will not exist by the time our

are no easy shortcuts!). Of course we

an adult is a stressful business,

proportion of boys in particular,

pupils find themselves entering the

give them mock exams and practice

so we need to allow our teenagers

research and experience suggests,

job market. This is why we place an

papers to test their knowledge and

to start flexing those fledgling

do not fall into this category). If

emphasis on qualities like creativity

allow them to rehearse something

muscles so that they are ready for

anything, we can tip the balance and

and team skills because they can be

of the pressurised ambience they

the inevitable challenges when they

make things worse for them, if not

applied fruitfully whatever the task,

are heading towards. Of course

arrive further down life’s road.

in the present, then at some stage in

whatever the job.

we have highly trained medical

By the time they leave our school

Navigating our way through

Let’s not kid ourselves that public exams are the only source of stress

the future. A former Headteacher at Wells

In my view it is important for

The other, hidden bonus to

This indirectly impacts their ability

nurses and counsellors, tutors

‘doing well’ in academic results

and houseparents, teachers and

in a teenager’s life. Yes, they are a

used to keep it simple when

terms is that it helps to instil an

mentors waiting in the wings to

big deal. But when you’re fighting

advising parents on how to deal

inner confidence and to reinforce

help when the balance has tipped.

tooth and nail to find your identity,

with their children as they faced

a useful mantra for life: hard work

But most importantly, we want our

to fit in and to build meaningful

public exams: “Keep the fridge full

and diligence offers reward. This

pupils to know that there is a world

relationships, exams are just one

and your mouth shut,” she would

is particularly true in a world

waiting for them regardless of their

piece of the jigsaw. So what are

say. And it’s hard to argue with that.

that seems to increasingly offer

academic results and a world that

schools doing about it? We live in

The bridge analogy is a very helpful

take-away and instant gratification

will value them for who they are.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 49


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50 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


y l a t i , s e l p na

A POSTCARD FROM... The Richardson family – Scottie, Kelly, Harrie (14) and three-year-old Border Collie Zac – nail down the pros and cons of army life in Naples, Italy…

How long have you been an army family?

Local Overseas Allowance helps and if you like to eat seasonal fruit and vegetables, they can be significantly cheaper in the local markets.

We live in an unfurnished house on four floors near the base. Properties tend to be much larger than in the UK, although gardens tend to be smaller – many are on parcos (estates) and some have swimming pools.

There’s an MOD primary school close to the NATO base, and secondary age children either board back in the UK or attend the US secondary school. Buses are provided from the parcos to both schools. The Italian nursery takes children from six months old; the staff speak three languages and there’s a walking bus, which has recently been introduced from school.

houses the HIVE and the community liaison officers. It’s a great space, which has a children’s play area as well as a bar and a pool. There’s also a Facebook page, book clubs, Bunco, walking groups, tennis, an excellent gym and 50m pool on camp, which we can use during the summer months. There’s also an active international club, which provides a multitude of events and activities, from cookery groups to days out. In the last 12 months, I’ve been to a chocolate factory, pasta factory, Christmas markets, underground tours of Naples and to the beautiful town of Sorrento.

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

Where do you meet and who supports you?

How do you find the cost of living there?

There are opportunities such as supply teachers and bus

We have a wonderful community centre, which

Some items are very expensive, such as car insurance but the

Yes – for independent families who love to travel and eat Italian food! &

20 years.

Time in Naples?

escorts at the British forces school, vacancies at the British post office and admin staff at the medical centre, to name but a few.

Since January 2019.

How many other military families live there? There are around 150 other families here – it’s a tri-service environment.

What’s your quarter like?

What about schools and childcare?

What’s the best thing about living in Naples? The opportunity to discover Italy is by far the most exciting part about being here. You can be in Rome in an hour on the fast train and the Amalfi coast is beautiful. Summers can be spent hiring a boat to explore the islands and in winter I walk the dog on the beach – a mile from our house.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?

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

summer 2020 Army&You 51


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Celebratory cuisine

What’s the ideal recipe for relationship resilience for couples who endure extended periods of separation? Our culinary queen AJ Sharp has found out how food plays an important role in bringing forces families back together… “After being away we make sure we have a lovely threecourse meal and wine.” – Becci Quarmby “Definitely a take-away, as it’s not something I have when I’m on my own.” – Charlotte Harmer “We love a baked Tunworth to share. Also dim sum and party canapes just for us.” – Fiona Amstutz “Gareth learned how to cook awesome curries on tour in Pakistan, which I eat now he’s home.” – Nell Light, Larkhill “Our ‘exeat foods’ tend to zone in on it being fun and a family activity rather than just me stuck in the kitchen and then putting it on a table. So, homemade pizza, fajitas and our new ‘hot rock’ are huge hits.” – Viv Thurston “It’s my husband that cooks. Food features heavily in our time together because it’s our opportunity to sit at a table with no gadgets or activities. It’s the perfect time www.armyandyou.co.uk

to chat and catch up. We have two boys, aged 13 and 14, who are at boarding school – and when they’re home, weekends are family time and home-cooked food is important to them. We offer to take them out for a meal but they genuinely prefer home-cooked food. Typically, Friday evening is something easy like fajitas, Saturday breakfast is always boiled eggs, and the rest of Saturday is determined by whatever activity we do. Sunday breakfast is always big, either a fry-up with all the trimmings or home-made waffles with either bacon and maple syrup or fresh fruit and cream.” – Paula Jayne Searle

SOME FOOD ITEMS TO CONSIDER

When you already have a lot on your plate and you want to take the stress out of cooking, why not consider a Hello Fresh box? The home delivery meal kits include ingredients and step-by-step recipe cards and start from £5. Kids love the simplicity of working together to create a meal. Fajita packs are fab, as is Gressingham’s duck pancake kit. The shredded duck is very easy to prep – just pop it in the oven and then serve with the pancakes and sauce. If your family is more into snacking then Fairfields Farm Crisps and Ten Acre popcorn – which comes in big 150g bags – are perfect for sharing whilst catching up. l To hear more from AJ, follow @ajsharpflavourfanatic summer 2020 Army&You 53


EXCLUSIVE

#OurArmyFamily Meet Sergeant Alastair Smith-Weston, a member of Second Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, who married in 2002 and had four children with his wife. After the relationship broke down, he came out as gay and – in 2016 – tied the knot in the first same-sex marriage held on a military base. Alastair – who is a single parent to his son whilst his daughters live with their mother – tells us about his army family… “But dad, you’re gay! You’re supposed to like shopping!” I don’t know who had a more stunned look, me or the woman stood nearby. I guess this is what me and my family take for normal – parents are parents! I love my children and they love me – I hope. I’m their best friend and their worst enemy; a bank, a taxi, a dresser and a fashion critic. What makes more of a difference to us as a family is my time in the army, more so than my sexuality. Sometimes it’s easier coming out as gay than it is telling people I’m a soldier. Civilian society knows more about sexuality and gender than they do about the army. Civilian knowledge of the army’s values is outdated and understanding is skewed by Hollywood. Whilst 2020 marks the 20th anniversary of the lifting of the

Alastair and Private Denice Webb (AGC) during filming for PinkNews’ LGBT History Month last year and (above) his four children

ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual personnel serving, it also highlights changes in the army’s understanding of a soldier’s whole family unit. The army has worked tirelessly to support and evolve its care to the family as much as it has the soldier. The only difference I face as a gay parent is making people aware. I’m not overly precious about forms or paperwork asking for information about ‘wife’ or ‘mother’, I just make my unit and my welfare chain aware so if I do encounter homophobia or unjust treatment, they understand my circumstances and can address them. As a gay soldier and single parent, within my unit I often find myself used as a point of contact to advise and steer welfare chains. I work as the army LGBT forum’s diverse

families lead, so I have all the up-to-date information on policy and agencies that can support any unique needs. When my children were younger and I was still married to their mother, we coped well. My unit always had a robust and active welfare chain that supported families. When I became a single parent to my son, he was ‘semidomesticated’ and was a great pasta chef! We coped as best as we could – I was lucky that we had family nearby to provide support when my son needed it – or when the pasta ran out! We spent three years in Cyprus and I found that harder than my son did. Trying to work and run a house in the heat was a challenge. Going shopping with his friends and taking sneaky trips to Napa as a 15-year-old

“I’m their best friend and their worst enemy; a bank, a taxi, a dresser and a fashion critic.” was a lot easier for him! My daughters missed me and I couldn’t visit them as often. The rise in mobile communications and online banking has helped – and I can now become the ‘bank of dad’ and a tech expert all with a simple text or FaceTime! I once heard the phrase ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. I didn’t realise how true that was until I started a high-intensity role within my unit. If my son needed picking up, the offers of help from other families were a great relief. I would say to others, never be afraid to talk about yourselves and your challenges as a family. The army wants to be able to help you to be your true self and a happy family unit, and the people around you want to know how they can help and support you. If there’s anything you’re struggling with, your unit will always be willing to help, and I’m here as an experienced wannabe diverse families’ expert. & You can follow the army’s LGBT forum on Twitter @ArmyLGBT

GET INVOLVED: Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your army family? Send your details to editor@aff.org.uk / #OurArmyFamily 54 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


CREATING HIGHLIGHTS One thing army life encourages is a sense of adventure and exploration and a posting to Kenya certainly offers lots of opportunities. With the notion that she may never return, Dawn Fitzsimmons, AFF’s Kenya co-ordinator, seized the chance to trek to Mount Kenya on the BATUK spouses’ and partners’ annual expedition. Here Dawn and her fellow explorers chart their incredible journey…

T

HE TITANIC mountain, the highest in Kenya, lies south of the equator and means God’s Resting Place. It’s an impressive sight and visible from Nanyuki, BATUK Main. “After much training and preparation, me and eight lovely ladies – Pam Todd, Sian Boyd, Elena Charles, Sandie Mutch, Mary Gutkowski, Jackie Mayne, Lois Rudling and Ashleigh Ellis – embarked on an adventure,” says Dawn. It was, as Sian put it, “a feel-good group”. The six-day trek via Chogoria, said to be the most scenic of routes, didn’t disappoint. Their objective was to summit Point Lenana, named in honour of a Masaai chief and the third highest point of Mount Kenya at 4,985m, which is certainly not for the faint-hearted. The

“The mountain held a stillness that allowed you to pause, reflect and reconnect.”

group formed a close bond and provided much needed encouragement for the highs and lows along the way. “We fed off our shared experiences, both strengths and struggles,” adds Dawn. Sandie says: “It was definitely emotional, but we had great times too.” Day four was R&R at Lake Michaelson, one of the mountain’s iconic glacier lakes. It was Dawn’s favourite part of the expedition. “An amphitheatre of impressive cliffs surrounded our campsite and it was stunning,” she recalls. “We awoke to the sunrise, took part in group yoga, basked in the sunshine, and for a few of us brave enough, plunged into the icy lake.” Spectacularly on day five, the big day, the entire group reached the summit.

It was a proud moment with a profound sense of achievement for everyone. “It was also the longest trek, with around 11 hours of hiking,” explains Dawn. “The advice ‘hydrate or die’ has been forever embedded into my memory!” “It was one of the best experiences ever and I’d love to do it all over again,” says Ashleigh. “The views, when I was able to gather myself together, were breath-taking,” adds Dawn. “The mountain held a stillness that allowed you to pause, reflect and reconnect.” The group’s advice to other families is wherever you are and whatever your focus: learn, grow and develop. “When opportunities come your way, seize them. And if they don’t, seek them out,” concludes Dawn.

At the time of going to print, service families in Kenya have been repatriated to the UK because of coronavirus. In normal circumstances, there’s a proactive Community Engagement Team and there are a variety of different volunteering opportunities, from children’s orphanages to animal rescue centres. Contact Dawn at kenya@aff.org.uk for details. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 55


OUR HAPPY GIRL O

UR youngest daughter Emma has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, not heard of it? We hadn’t either. We were living in Germany when I fell pregnant and all seemed okay until my development scan at 19 weeks. The consultant said that she was too small and from then on, I was scanned every two weeks but no one suggested what may be wrong. The healthcare was amazing, but I think a lot was missed in translation. She was born by c-section and surprised everyone by her birth weight, still tiny at 6lb 3oz compared to my other girls though. She looked different to her sisters and had lots of struggles with feeding and losing weight. I admit, I was in denial however, I just knew something was different.

Test results It wasn’t until we saw a new health visitor for her 12-month check that her lack of progression was taken seriously. We were due to move again within Germany and were worried about starting investigations in a different area, so we travelled back to the UK for genetic testing. This all came back normal, or so we thought. When we moved back to the UK, we were surprised to receive a letter asking us to go back for more testing. Our genetic consultant was sure Emma had some form of syndrome, but she wasn’t sure which.

Getting a diagnosis Emma was now two-anda-half and drastically behind her peers with both

“She’s awesome and such a happy child - the cheekiest, happiest mischief maker you will ever meet!” physical and cognitive delays. We were so lucky to meet some amazing NHS staff, especially physio and speech therapists. They picked up a few things that led me to search online and I came across Cornelia de Lange Syndrome. My husband Matt was away at the time and as always, he told me to stop Googling! But Emma’s genetic consultant revealed that she thought it may be CdLS – most children are diagnosed clinically through facial features and symptoms.

Finding support

I found the CdLS Foundation and went to one of their conferences where we met other families and spoke to doctors and other professionals who work alongside the foundation. Emma was clinically diagnosed at almost three years old. As a family we would be totally lost without the CdLS Foundation, and the support and friends we have made through them. Matt was away on tour at the time, so it was hard receiving a diagnosis and being apart. Emma stars Having CdLS causes Emma to have in the latest film from learning and physical delays, selective the CdLS Foundation mutism, glue ear, global hypermobility, to raise awareness – social anxiety issues, silent reflux and go to facebook.com/ skeletal abnormalities. She has very cdlsukireland limited sleep, behaviour issues and she’s a wheelchair user when out and about. But she’s awesome and such a happy child – the cheekiest, happiest mischief maker you will ever meet! Having a child with a rare syndrome and being a forces family can be extremely hard due to lack of support from close family and friends, frequent moves and deployments. I’m so glad I had the CdLS Foundation and the amazing support from them. & If anyone is experiencing anything similar and needs advice or support, contact AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross – additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

56 Army&You summer 2020

Image: © MOD Crown copyright

Army life can be challenging for most of us, but it can be even more difficult for those families who are caring for a child with additional needs. Here, Andrea Baker tells us how her family have coped after their youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare genetic syndrome…

CAPTAIN MARVEL We couldn’t let this edition of Army&You pass without acknowledging inspirational war veteran Captain Tom Moore, who was appointed Honorary Colonel of the Army Foundation College, Harrogate, on his 100th birthday in recognition of his incredible fundraising efforts. Capt Tom (who is to be knighted) raised more than £32 million for NHS charities after completing a sponsored walk of his garden and in doing so, captured the nation’s hearts. Clive Sanders, also a veteran, wrote this wonderful poem as a tribute… Captain Moore We watched him each morning On breakfast TV, Approaching one hundred He started his plea. He’d march with his frame For one hundred long laps And the nation responded with money and claps. His target, one thousand Was soon quickly met, But he carried on marching Like a good army vet. The money he raised Was soon over a mil And the nation applauded And encouraged him still. This morning we watched As he completed his quest, The money for nurses And the NHS best. Captain Tom marches on With his trusty old frame Now entrenched in our hearts And with national acclaim.

@ArmyandYou


A NEW PLACE TO PLAY IN GERMANY

A

TTENBOROUGH Nursery is the new setting in Sennelager camp for children up to three years old. Although the nursery, like so many facilities, has recently had to shut its doors due to the government’s COVID-19 response, before its closure it was already proving popular with families. Mum Rosa was among those to welcome the new addition: “I’m in the middle of a masters programme. I had to put it on hold when I moved and now want to re-start it. For me, having a nursery facility like this is essential. Without it here, I couldn’t continue with my studies.” During the closure the nursery has still managed to support parents, as AFF’s Germany co-ordinator Lindsay McCran explains: “Lynne, the nursery manager, has been very proactive, engaging with the community, providing activities online and craft packs for the children.” One such activity was to create little gardens using things from the children’s own backyards. The gardens were then displayed on

www.armyandyou.co.uk

families’ doorsteps for everyone to enjoy on their daily outing. Parents have appreciated the continued support, with one commenting: “We have absolutely loved the craft packs and are very grateful for the effort to get these to us.” Ailsa, who has an eight-month-old baby, agrees: “We are isolated from our families,

so this kind of support is needed.” Nursery manager, Lynne, says: “We’re happy to be flexible to meet the needs of our community. “Thank you to AFF for supporting the nursery. We are very much looking forward to re-opening as soon as it is safe to do so.”

summer 2020 Army&You 57


THE GIFT

OVERSEAS

Volunteering can mean many things to many people. We caught up with some of you to find out where in the world you’ve been making a difference… Lindsay Federation of Army Wives and HIVE in the ‘80s and more recently organised a community fair and ran 17kms, while wearing bunny ears, during COVID-19

Laura (far right) A girl guide leader for British Guides Overseas in Cyprus

Why volunteer? It may seem a weird fit for an American with no kids, but volunteering has been a lifesaver while being overseas with my husband so busy and then deployed. It’s got me out of the house and interacting with a unique group of people. During a leadership development week for women aged 18 – 30, which took place in multiple locations around the world, I worked as part of an international team to help women from 14 different countries not only improve their own leadership skills, but also to give them the tools to run events for girls in their own communities. I’ve now made friends in lots of far flung places and it’s given me confidence to stand up in my community and say, ‘I can do that’.

What skills have you learnt? The skills I’ve learnt are invaluable and the opportunities have been life changing. Event planning, programme design, virtual collaboration, advanced facilitation and cross-cultural communication will keep my CV fresh and help me get back into work when we return to the UK.

Advice to others These skills are all buzzwords that could make you stand out in job applications and will give you strong examples to use during interview questions.

58 Army&You summer 2020

Why volunteer? I like to volunteer as a way of tapping into my local community and that’s never been more important than when I’ve been overseas. I started out in Germany in the ‘80s, and the roles led to paid employment. I’ve lost count over the years of how many committees I’ve sat on; I must have baked at least a squadron’s weight in cakes whilst having huge amounts of fun at so many events. Fast forward to Germany now and although patch life is very different, there’s still a chance to share your time and skills. When my children were very young, I did loads of hands-on stuff. I had a background in early years project management and wanted to put this to good use. Since then, work has changed and I no longer have this time; but I do have experience, resources and contacts to enable and support others.

So I’m still volunteering but time-limited with a clear beginning and end.

Advice to others We sometimes worry that volunteering will become all-consuming. You don’t have to say yes to everything and I think that’s important. One-off voluntary ‘jobs’ often come with benefits, whether that’s a friendship made or simply learning a new German phrase. Take the plunge and do what you can to support your community.

Liz Chair of SSAFA fundraising committee in Canada

Why volunteer? It can be hard to find employment for the first couple of months of any new posting, but I have found that volunteering has often led to employment once people have seen how dedicated you are. I’m in awe of the commitment, time and dedication that everyone involved with SSAFA Canada gives. At every meeting the table is full of willing volunteers happy to give up their time to benefit our community. The group is fun, inclusive and makes you feel as though you’re a part of something that can make a difference. I feel valued and hope that we in turn make all of our committee members feel valued as it’s that feeling of belonging and being appreciated which makes an individual want to squash yet more stuff into already busy lives. Being elbow deep in paint dust and water bombs for the infamous annual Ralston Colour Run fundraiser (pictured) or rushing

to distribute ‘welcome back from exercise’ ice-creams to 800 troops before they – the troops and the ice creams – melt in the 30 degree sunshine are great teambuilding exercises and I love that.

Advice to others Getting stuck into events together builds relationships and breaks down barriers. Every year SSAFA holds a conference for volunteers where representatives from around the world come together in London for a few days. It’s a chance to network and receive training in areas such as safeguarding. @ArmyandYou


OF TIME Nicola Home-Start, Cyprus

Why volunteer? I had never volunteered for anything apart from organised litter picking. I didn’t have the time after working, running my children around and generally keeping on top of everything else that family life demands. I used to think that volunteers were saints. How do they do that? Why do they do that? Now I know why… On moving to Cyprus, I knew there were very limited job opportunities but as the months went by, I felt I was missing something and that I needed to feel useful, so I started volunteering for Home-Start. It’s a charity that supports families with children under the age of five who are struggling to cope for various reasons, providing non-judgemental practical and emotional support. I feel passionate about empowering people to overcome their problems so that they can live better lives and being a volunteer helps me to help those people.

What skills have you learnt? I’ve met lots of like-minded people on the various training courses and I’ve used my skills and experience to help others. Yes, it can be challenging as I don’t have a magic wand however, the rewards by far outweigh any doubts I have when you see a family blossoming following the support you have given them.

Advice to others If you’re posted abroad, it’s worth looking at volunteering roles to make you feel like you’re contributing to your community. www.armyandyou.co.uk

HELP YOUR COMMUNITY ESTHER Thomas, AFF’s Regional Manager Overseas, often receives questions about employment prospects for families in overseas locations. Here she gives her advice on what you can do if paid employment isn’t an option where you’re living. “Whilst some may not entertain the idea of working without financial reward, if you change your mindset and see volunteering, or getting active in your community, as a two-way street then it becomes more appealing,” she said. “Think of volunteering as a free way to feel better about your life, develop new skills and self-confidence.”

Health benefits If you want to improve your physical and mental health without paying gym or counselling fees, try volunteering for an environmental or gardening building project such as a turtle watch, recycling clean-ups, or anything which gives you a

break from your normal routine.

Skills If you want to gain new employment skills and experience without paying for courses, try volunteering with a local group for a specific role or a specific project.

Self-confidence If you want to socialise and be a more active citizen without it costing a fortune, try volunteering in a community café, a thrift shop, school or with Home-Start etc. Volunteering in your community will not only help a good cause, it could help you gain friendships with people of different age groups, ethnicities or social groups, especially if you are assigned overseas. l Explore current volunteering roles with some of our registered employers on Forces Families Jobs – forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk summer 2020 Army&You 59


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

The value of volunteering

For our young people, making a positive difference in their community can boost confidence, expand social circles, enhance life skills and future employability, and – importantly – also bridge the gap between service and civilian communities. Army&You spoke to three teens doing just that… Name: Arwen Thomas Age: 14 Location: Catterick, Yorkshire Whilst I love living, learning and taking part in all the activities that boarding school offers, one of my frustrations has been the lack of opportunities to gain work experience. After several rejections due to my age and requiring supervision, I was fortunate enough to do some volunteering with Help for Heroes (H4H). At first, I was a little daunted to volunteer in a completely adult environment and I wasn’t sure how I would cope with people with physical and mental injuries, but this was one of my personal challenges that I wanted to overcome. David, one of the volunteer managers, gave me a chance to do several activities such as fundraising in our local Tesco, supporting a charity motorbike event selling

H4H merchandise, and attending the Valiant Games – a warm-up to the Invictus Games. My role was to help encourage the beneficiaries to try new sports. It was awesome, and I even got to try out a few disciplines like velodrome cycling and seated volleyball. It was incredible to see the guts and determination of some of the beneficiaries and equally good for them to

see me facing some fears too. H4H also invited me to a volunteer conference at Phoenix House, Catterick, which was interesting as I felt I could offer a younger person’s view to the discussions. Now working towards my silver Duke of Edinburgh Award, I feel much more confident assisting in a residential nursing home. I’ve learnt to appreciate how important good communication skills are and to be non-judgemental. Having grown up in a family where both my parents have volunteered, I know how important it is to help within your own community. So, when my dad, currently a volunteer for Swaledale Search & Rescue team, asked my sister Morgan and I to help out clearing debris off the roads following the floods in Yorkshire, we didn’t hesitate to put on our wellies, high vis vests and get stuck in.

who are younger than I am, rather than just my age group, and have become more comfortable working with children and understanding their needs. I also feel part of a team and have learned

the responsibility of regular commitment. I’ve recently become ‘Little Owl’ and attend planning meetings, which is helping me learn more skills. I hope to start some of the leadership training available through girlguiding soon. My confidence in my own abilities and how I interact with others has grown and I enjoy the independence it gives me. I’m able to get out of school life, have a change of pace and give back to the local community that otherwise I wouldn’t have much contact with. I would definitely recommend volunteering to others. I feel that I’m learning lots, it gives me another outlet other than school and I come away feeling that I have helped, even if it is only one child – plus it costs nothing to do.

Name: Oleander Hall Age: 15 Location: Cheltenham, Gloucestershire I wanted to contribute to my community as I felt I took without giving. I came across girlguiding, which seemed perfect as I had enjoyed being a rainbow, brownie and guide in the various countries we have lived in around the world and there was a brownie pack ten-minutes’ walk from my boarding school. I now volunteer and really enjoy it. I help with setting up and overseeing activities, supporting the brownies with their tasks and leading activities. I am another person that the girls can interact with and a listening ear; hopefully I inspire them. I’ve learnt how to lead and help people

60 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


Name: Sam Judge Age: 14 Location: Ralston, Canada For the last three years I’ve been lucky enough to have the chance to play ice hockey, which is one of Canada’s main sports and one of the best sports I’ve ever played. I play for a team called the Ralston Wildcats, which is spilt into two groups, seniors (ages 9-16) and juniors (4-8). Each season I feel like I’ve improved so now in my third season, it’s the ideal time to pass these skills down to the younger players. I wanted to volunteer because ice hockey is a hard sport to learn so I thought it would be fun to help teach the younger ones. They were also short of coaches, so it’s a good way of supporting the community. Over the past six months I’ve seen the juniors massively improve their skills and have bonded with many of them. I help set up the equipment and get the younger ones into their kit and then on to the ice to do the drills. I love helping because each session is different, and it’s great to see the kids improve their skills each time. I’ve also been a member of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets for the last two years. We do many volunteer activities in the community including fundraising, selling poppies and laying wreaths on Remembrance Day. I think other service children should volunteer and do activities that contribute to the community because it improves your skills and teaches you things you never thought you could do. You also get to meet new people, make new friends, and at the end of the day you feel good about yourself if you’ve made a difference.

USEFUL LINKS ukyouth.org step-together.org.uk childrenssociety.org.uk volunteeringmatters.org.uk vinspired.com volunteering-wales.net volunteerscotland.net

www.armyandyou.co.uk

‘YOU’VE GOT THIS’ Young entrepreneur Charli has just turned 13 but is already contributing to the family business. Charli’s dad Matthew is in the army and mum Andrea runs her own business, bsclothingandgifts.co.uk “I have one older sister who is nearly 18 and one annoying little sister who is six who has Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS). I also have a tortoise called Toby and a gerbil called Pippa,” explains Charli. “I’ve wanted to design autism and anxiety awareness t-shirts for a long time. “I get very anxious because of my autism so this first design means a lot. I create the designs and my parents do the printing.” Charli used to joke about having a t-shirt that told people to ‘read my band’ so that she didn’t have to try to explain how she was feeling, and she used that as her inspiration. “Each of the t-shirts I’ve designed come with a green/red band, so that people can wear them too – the green side of the band means I’m feeling okay and the red means I’m not,” Charli continues. “Being an army child is hard for me as it means lots of changes, which I find really difficult, but my teachers are proud of me and what I’ve achieved with my designs.” She has more designs that are almost ready to be printed. “I’m excited to see them all on the website. In the future I’d love to be able to help my mum have a shop, so that my t-shirts could be sold there too.” Her message to everyone is: “Be yourself and display your words and thoughts for all to see. You’ve got this!”

summer 2020 Army&You 61


Ride e

swings and roundabouts

Discover how build resilience and bounce back from e ugh times Give it a try day at www.mymindpal.com


Giveaways

Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links. Entries close on 5 July 2020

POCKET PICK-ME-UP Who can you turn to when you’re feeling stressed or anxious? Your Little Helper. Created by military spouse Clare Hilton, Little Helpers pocket aromatherapy tins contain pure essential oils encased in natural wax for inhalation as and when you need them. Simply pop open the lid and breathe in the scent. The tins sit discreetly in your pocket or bag until you need them and come in seven different blends. Go to @littlehelpertin on Instagram to find out more. We have three boxes to giveaway. Each one will contain four tins – sleepyhead, headache, sunny disposition, and stress & anxiety blends.

Gorgeous gardening gifts

Go Wacky! Would you and your little ones like to jump, duck, run and squeeze through a high-adrenaline inflatable arena? Wacky World is a giant, indoor touring activity event which came to more than 50 venues across the UK last year, with 150,000 kids and parents having brilliant bouncy fun. We have a family pass, worth £48, to give away for a 90-minute session at a venue of your choice when Wacky World reopens after lockdown – go to facebook. com/wackyworlduk

Jonny’s Sister is a British brand selling personalised gifts designed and made in its Somerset studios. They’ve been making personal things for more than a decade, ranging from children’s gifts, including their awardwinning letter cushions, to popular products for adults and your home. View the full range at jonnyssister.co.uk One lucky reader can win a personalised garden gift bundle, worth more than £100. You’ll win a tray and pot planter, a garden tool and apron gift set and a cream watering can, all with your choice of personalisation. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 5 July 2020 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website – armyandyou.co.uk

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2020 Army&You 63


Win

a Reading Enter our giveaway to win a copy of Evernight and Force scrapbook. See page three for entry rules. yandYou Already read it? Tell us your thoughts on social @Arm

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS

BOOK CLUB

ENCHANTING EVERNIGHT In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views on Evernight, written by Ross MacKenzie...

Paperback price £7.99, published by Anderson Press

ELLA JONES (11) This enchanting and magical story is about a young girl called Lara, who is forced to leave home in order to save her kingdom and hide away from the Evernight. On her journey to escape, she discovers the truth about her parents’ past, her hidden talents, and forms bonds that will never break. I couldn’t read fast enough, but I never wanted the book to end! I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for an irresistible fantasy. This is one of my favourite books of all time that I hope everyone will read!

HONEY FLEMING (11) Evernight is a magical adventure with original and unique characters. Witches, hags and a man with no shadow all feature in this story based around a strange box and the release of Evernight, a mysterious and powerful creature. This book kept my interest as the story was unpredictable and original. I would recommend the story for children aged 10 to 13 because some parts are slightly frightening but very exciting!

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

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

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WWW.TOPSDAYNURSERIES.CO.UK 64 Army&You summer 2020

@ArmyandYou


BlogSpot

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

BEST BLOG

Still a team!

By Hannah Houston, @londonlifetoarmywife

I often joke about elements of military life that frustrate me. Whether it’s the posting lottery, the state of our latest quarter, the relentless change of plans or the long periods of time alone. It’s by no means easy and not for everyone but it’s definitely unique. Despite the frustrations that come with being a military spouse, the overarching feeling I have is pride for my partner’s choice of career. I’d certainly find it more difficult to accept this way of life if I didn’t recognise his commitment to the job. At times, the relentless exercises and long deployments have really tested my resolve. Externally I seemed to be coping whilst being a single parent for six months, but

underneath have felt really lonely and hard done by that I had to make it all work until he returns. Don’t get me started on having to pick up the dog poo in the garden and take out the bins!

other whatever the circumstances. It’s about compromise and understanding and never taking each other for granted. It’s the ability to laugh at yourself and each other and know through the chaos that everything will be alright in the end.

Somehow through a lot of strength, resilience and support from family and friends I got through it one day at a time until we were reunited again. The important thing to remember is we’re still essentially a team. It’s fundamentally about supporting each

We have a mat at our front door that says ‘home’. It may sit in front of our magnolia quarter, away from close friends and family, but it’s still our home because the people we love the most live in its walls. What being a military family means to me is that no matter where you live, no matter what your house looks like, as long as you are with your family, nothing else matters.

Hannah wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — gillianjonesdesigns.com — for our best blog. Artist Gillian, a former Royal Navy officer and military spouse, specialises in vibrant and contemporary military art and design. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, she’s also happy to create bespoke commissions. Follow @gillianjonesdesigns on Instagram and Facebook, and @GillAJones on Twitter.

No matter what Separation has certainly made me appreciate the strength required for this military life.

suitcase through London’s rush hour to get to the airport. It was filled with the enormous shopping list of UK treats she’d been craving. I’d have butterflies for the entire journey but, from the moment I saw her on the other side, I would feel calm. I’d feel like I was home – everything just felt right.

The first time I experienced it was when my wife received a posting to Germany in 2017. Unfortunately, we weren’t due to get married until spring 2019, which meant I couldn’t go with her. My heart sank the day she left for her new unit. Some would call me lucky as it was only a

Once those short nine days were through, my heart would break all over again. Having to say goodbye at the airport and head back to the UK was pure torture, and it never got any easier no matter how many times we parted ways. But as soon as I was through security, it was time

By Chloe Petrylak, @chloemaywrites

www.armyandyou.co.uk

short flight away, but it felt like she was on the other side of the world. I’d never quite realised just how much I’d miss being able to say goodnight in person. Despite living in different countries, we made it work. Once a month, I would lug my

to focus and plan for my next visit. During the weeks we were apart, we were still able to talk on the phone every day. That’s something I’m so grateful for – thank goodness for technology! Fast forward to today and those days seem like a distant memory, even though she’s now waiting to go on tour. We’re finally living together and just being able to do the little things, such as take our dog for a walk, is wonderful. At least we know that whatever happens, we’ll get through it, no matter what. summer 2020 Army&You 65


Stepping off the rollercoaster By Julie Boyle I met Owen almost eight years ago and I knew then that life would be a rollercoaster! Living more than two hours apart meant we saw each other at weekends and when Owen was on leave, when other army commitments didn’t interfere. At times it was hard to make the distance work but somehow we muddled through. In 2014 we married and moved into our first quarter in a camp, miles from anywhere; I was officially living behind the wire. It was my first proper taste of army life, armed guards greeting me on the gate and signing-in processes for guests. Funnily enough, this is one thing I’ll miss as we move into civvy street. Life in quarters was full of ups and downs, you spend large amounts of time alone while the other half is away – on courses, exercise, ops and the various other ways in which they get sent off for days, weeks or months at a time. I didn’t know anyone other than people Owen worked with, and I didn’t go to any of the coffee mornings as I was working – my job meant I was able to meet people and build a network for myself.

Family were a few hundred miles away, so it was important I forged some friendships. Although I never minded the isolation of camp, I wonder how I would have felt if I hadn’t had a job. In 2016 our lives changed with the birth of our baby girl, Chloe. I wondered how I was going to spend the 12 months of maternity leave stretching before me, but I’d made some lovely friends at antenatal classes and I started to go to the tots’ groups and coffee mornings on camp. I now count some of the ladies I met amongst my closest friends. Once Chloe had arrived, Owen going away became more of a challenge. Having the groups to go to made me feel more secure and gave structure to our days. You get into a routine and it sort of works. I think it hit Owen harder as he missed out on some of her ‘firsts’. As Chloe has got older the times away have been harder as she understands that he isn’t here. I stumbled across Reading Force

Big fan of blogs? Read more at armyandyou.co.uk/blogspot 66 Army&You summer 2020

(page 64) and we began spending time together reading and crafting – it was great to then talk to Owen about the books and activities we were doing at home while he was away. Our time as a military

family is coming to an end and we’re moving onto a new chapter. Life in the military has been filled with highs and lows, and although I’ve only been in it a short while I will miss it, particularly the friendships, the support, and the

understanding from others about what this life can be like. I’m very proud of Owen and the sacrifices he has made to serve. It’s now time for us to turn to what’s next on our journey.

@ArmyandYou


REGULARS | RESERVES | VETERANS | FAMILIES

STRUGGLING WITH ISOLATION? WE ARE STILL HERE FOR YOU At times of crisis you may feel more isolated than ever. But we are still here for you. Health, family, loneliness, debt or addiction problems - don’t keep quiet, talk to us. Forcesline, a free, independent helpline, outside the chain of command for the Armed Forces and their families.

0800 731 4880 Open weekdays, 09:00 to 17:30 Or get in touch online at

ssafa.org.uk/forcesline

Registered as a charity in England and Wales Number 210760 in Scotland Number SC038056 and in Republic of Ireland Number 20202001. Established 1885.


Buying a new home is now as easy as 1... 2... 3...

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Are you in the market for a new home and looking for the best purchase package out there for Armed Forces personnel? Now is a great time to think about moving as The Government has extended the Forces Help to Buy scheme until the end of 2022! Bovis Homes has developments throughout England, including a number that are close to major military bases, where we have a range of homes from 2 to 6 bedroom properties in attractive locations.

For further information about the schemes and where we are building, please go to – bovishomes.co.uk The Armed Forces purchase scheme is listed within the ‘Need help to Move’ section and you can find the nearest development to you through our ‘search for a new home’

Service personnel can be advanced up to 50% of annual salary (maximum £25,000) interest free!

The Bovis Homes Armed Forces Discount Scheme has specific terms and conditions. Help to Buy Equity Loan and Forces Help to Buy have specific terms amd conditions and are subject to affordability criteria as prescribed by Homes England and the Ministry of Defence. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Please ask your sales advisor for further information. Photograph shown depicts a typical Bovis Homes interior. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT. *Flooring to be chosen from the Bovis Homes Select range.