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Army&You Autumn 2015

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}


Celebrating our 100th edition



KEEPING YOU IN TOUCH WelComE (Welfare Communications Everywhere) - providing communication services to link entitled UK Service personnel on operational duty with their families and friends back home.

Free* voicemail Family and friends based in the UK, Germany and Cyprus can leave voicemail messages for entitled UK Service personnel currently serving on operational duty overseas. Entitled deployed personnel can retrieve voicemail messages for free in-theatre. Entitled deployed personnel, family and friends can top-up WelComE Account Cards via the Online Account Manager. Visit www.mywelcome.co.uk for details.

WelComE Customer Contact Centre customer.support@mywelcome.co.uk www.mywelcome.co.uk * Free when calling from a UK, German or Cypriot landline Mobile and international call costs may vary. Check with your mobile/service provider

10255 - Š Paradigm. All rights reserved. WelComE is a Registered Trademark of Astrium Limited.

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

Celebrating a century


REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 // oxfordshire@aff.org.uk NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 // northhants@aff.org.uk SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // southhants@aff.org.uk SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 // salisburyplain@aff.org.uk


© All MOD British Crown Copyright images courtesy of Defence News Imagery CONTRIBUTIONS We love to hear from you. If you’ve got a story you would like to share, let us know – deped@ aff.org.uk DISTRIBUTION Are you getting it four times a year? A free copy of Army&You should reach every Army family every season. It’s posted to all UK SFA and sent overseas via BFPO. If you are not receiving a copy, contact your AFF Co-ordinator or call the Distribution Team on 01264 382313 or Andover Mil 2313.



PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation (AFF). Editorial content © AFF (Registered Charity 291202). Not to be reproduced without permission from the Editor. ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising opportunities in Army&You, contact the team at TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 Web: www.ayads.co.uk

SOUTH EAST 07733 147001 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmcentral@aff.org.uk YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 // yorkshire@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 NORTH 07585 333115 // rmnorth@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) 07795 687930 // overseas@aff.org.uk CANADA canada@aff.org.uk KENYA kenya@aff.org.uk

GUTERSLOH (0049) 0176 254 85 762 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2110 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk


Email opcomms@aff.org.uk

SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // southwest@aff.org.uk

GERMANY (0049) 01744 946209 // rmgermany@aff.org.uk



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

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

r Army&You’s Ask the Experts panel (pages 58-59) is here to answe s Familie e Servic your your questions, from how to brighten up Accommodation through to how to set up a business plan if you are an preparing to start trading. Just send us your queries and we’ll find expert to share their knowledge. Read a soldier’s first-hand account of successfully overcoming the ne symptoms of PTSD to continue his Army career. If you know someo 30-33. pages see – who needs support, help is out there can Discover the facts behind the Armed Forces Covenant and how it on help you and check out our new #OurArmyFamily feature (page 35) n, autum into head we as And what makes up your unique Service family. find out how to prepare your SFA for the colder months. h There’s our regular postbag covering questions on pensions throug lists Specia AFF’s to CEA concerns (pages 63-66); we have news from (pages 4-5) and some fabulous giveaways up for grabs including an . opportunity to sail away on a fantastic three-day break (pages 56-57) Happy reading!


EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk

Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 2, Zone 3, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ

ELCOME to this bumper edition as we celebrate the publication of our 100th magazine. We look at all aspects of what it’s like to be a new pupil in a new school in our back-to-school feature (pages 18-19), exploring the support that is out there for your child, how schools prepare to welcome Service youngsters and how children adapt to their new educational environment.




ESBA esba@aff.org.uk WSBA wsba@aff.org.uk

COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 11 October 2015. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website. SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit www. armyandyou.co.uk for details.

YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07552 861983 // additionalneeds@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // ec@aff.org.uk HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcassist@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING & MONEY✪ 07799 045955 // etam@aff.org.uk COVENANT LIAISON 07833 448352 // covenant@aff.org.uk ✪ Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

autumn 2015 Army&You 03

We asked our experts what they remember from their first day at school...







Families are telling AFF that they are having multiple repairs done to their boilers. AFF is running a boiler survey to find out how many of you have experienced this within the last two years. So far, 10 per cent of families who’ve taken our survey have had more than 10 boiler repairs in the last two years. If you’ve experienced boiler issues, please visit www.aff.org.uk and fill in the survey. Remember to check that your SFA is winter ready before the cold weather sets in (see page 33 for more), and contact CarillionAmey to arrange any necessary repairs.

The Covenant Reference Group (CRG) monitors the progress of the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) and ensures its principles are upheld. Chaired by the Cabinet Office, the CRG is made up of government departments and representatives from Forces charities, including AFF’s Chief Executive. For some time AFF has campaigned for personnel and their families living overseas to be included within the AFC. AFF is delighted that the CRG has now agreed that the principles of the Covenant should apply to those abroad. We will continue to drive discussions about a number of specific issues and work with Covenant colleagues to resolve them.

I’ve been working with organisations to commission some research into Service children’s emotional wellbeing; I also raised this potential issue at the AFF Research Symposium in June. Your enquiries have provided us with some valuable evidence which indicates that some Service children may need extra support. We need more robust evidence to effectively lobby for specific support and provision. Please contact me at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk if you’re having an issue with provision for your child or young person.

Our experts AFF’s Specialists provide families with trusted, expert knowledge. We find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch. 04 Army&You autumn 2015

What life is all about

OPEN MORNING Friday 2 October 2015 9.30am - 12noon

Cricklade, Wiltshire










The Immigration Health Surcharge was introduced in April this year and it’s great news that Armed Forces F&C families have been made exempt from paying (a saving of £1,100 per person). However, AFF is aware that very few people who work for UK Visas & Immigration seem to know about this exemption and families have been told that, unless they pay for the surcharge, their application will be cancelled. AFF has raised the issue, but in the meantime the F&C team is emailing the visa application centres to inform them of the policy.

Schools often tell me that they would like more input from Service families, and that new or mobile families can be difficult to reach. One way to give Service families a voice at your child’s school is to become a volunteer parent governor. If you feel your school could benefit from more information about Army families, why not share your experience and knowledge by registering – more details are on the National Governors’ Association website at www.nga.org.uk

Looking at funding streams for training to help spouses achieve sustainable employment is a key objective for me, as is employment for spouses that benefits both spouse and industry – such as flexible working. On the money front, families have told me about the financial worries they face when compulsory deductions are made from their soldier’s salary to pay back any overpayments. Your soldier must be left with half of their net pay after compulsory deductions have been made, however, this can still be a massive blow to a family’s finances, especially when the spouse doesn’t work. Please let me know if you’ve been affected by this issue.

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autumn 2015 Army&You 05

Queen Victoria School

Raising to Distinction Open Morning Sat 19 Sept 2015 Admissions Deadline Fri 15 Jan 2016 Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY


Contents AUTUMN 2015

insight 37 SFA Masterclass AFF’s guide to Service Famlies Accommodation 39 Maintenance Basics Can you do it? Yes you can with our handy DIY guide! 46 A Postcard From... An Army family tells us about life in Turkey 47 All Change in Cyprus The latest news on the island’s childcare provision 49 Citizenship Concerns Visa advice for F&C families transitioning to civvy street 50 Forging Friendships How you can build your network on new postings

features 18 Back to School A&Y finds out what life is really like for Service kids 20 Premium Prize Celebrating supportive schools with AFF’s award 27 A Common Bond We learn about the work of the Army Widows’ Association 30 Back From the Brink An Army officer shares his battle with PTSD 35 Our Army Family We meet the Browns as we launch our new feature 45 Myth Busters Discover the facts behind the Armed Forces Covenant

regulars 04 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 11 AFF in Action Celebrating the 100th edition of AFF’s magazine 13 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 56 Giveaways Win a sailing holiday, vouchers and more 58 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with craft, kids, business and more 63 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here!

ON THE COVER CENTURIONS AFF’s flagship magazine reaches its 100th issue with this edition of Army&You PAGE 11

Army&You Autumn 2015

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}


Celebrating our 100th edition



Back to school: Find out about the unique challenges that face Service children at the dawn of each new term, starting on page 18


autumn 2015 Army&You 07



Full and weekly boarding from September 2015 The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a state boarding school for students aged 11 to 18. We welcome applications from any student who wants to study GCSEs and A Levels at our unique and iconic school with its strong traditions.

Open Morning: Saturday 10 October 2015 Contact us to book a place or to arrange a personal tour and interview

Why choose us?

‘Good’ in all areas by Active lifestyle including • Graded • sport, music, drama and Ofsted. activities. GCSE success rate is • Our significantly higher than the £24.9 million refurbishment • national average. has delivered a new sports centre, high-quality student is encouraged • Every accommodation and to achieve their potential in

a supportive community.

teaching blocks and a performing arts centre.

ethos helps develop • Military have the flexibility • Students character and life skills. of full and weekly boarding 2015/16 fees are just £11,820* per year.

from September 2015.

If you qualify for CEA, you will only pay £1,182 per year.

Enquiries: 01304 245073 admin.office@doyrms.com

www.doyrms.com *Fees are reviewed annually




A privilege to have served you


HAVE been hugely privileged to be AFF’s Chief Executive for the last three years. It’s been immensely rewarding as well as enormously hard work and I have been fortunate to be supported by an amazing team of dedicated and inspiring colleagues. I’m off to Bangladesh in November, where I’ll face many of the compromises





Since working for AFF in 2008 as Director Germany, followed by two years as Director of Communications, I can really see how much progress has been made in encouraging the Army to change its thinking

and challenges familiar to all Army spouses. AFF has been exceptionally busy and we have been reshaping our organisation to meet the changing needs of our families. Since working for AFF in 2008 as Director Germany, followed by two years as Director of Communications, I can really see how much progress has been made in encouraging the Army to

Follow Catherine on Twitter @AFFChiefExec

change its thinking. We now have much greater recognition of the need for spousal employment and a second salary, not least because of the soldier’s declining financial package after a sustained assault on pay and pensions, but also the cost of living and difficulty getting on the property ladder. There’s also a real drive to accept and embrace diversity; work is ongoing to ensure that dual-serving and same-sex couples and single parents’ needs are better accommodated – the modern Army family has many different forms. Army housing continues to need significant modernisation – we persistently highlight the need for the MOD to invest heavily in upgrading SFA. AFF works face-to-face and online with families and we also survey families for their views. Our most recent Big Survey asked “what keeps you in, and what drives you out?”. You told us that sacrificing your career, loss of independence and lack of second income are the biggest compromises you’ve made. We’ll ensure command is aware of all the findings. Finally, I would like to congratulate Army&You on its 100th edition – we are immensely proud of our publication and will continue to communicate to Army families wherever you live. n



1. The impact on the spouse’s career 2. Loss of spousal independence 3. Lack of second income

l 72% said having a second household income was important l Only 10% would definitely recommend Service life to others l 62% said subsidised SFA meant they were happy to stay in the Army l 23% were unhappy with their soldier’s current pay

GET INVOLVED: There’s still time to fill in AFF’s overseas survey – www.aff.org.uk – closes 28 September. www.armyandyou.co.uk

autumn 2015 Army&You 09

TOP TIPS FROM THE MILITARY MUTUAL How to Maintain a Good Credit Record When You’re In the Military Are you a good or a poor credit risk? You may not know until you submit an application for a loan or credit. The result can sometimes be surprising. Moving around with the Armed Forces doesn’t always help your credit score, so here are some useful tips to help maintain a healthy credit score regardless of your location.

How does a credit rating score work? Your credit score measures you as a financial risk. A poor credit score can make it difficult to borrow money. This can affect your application for credit cards, motor finance, a mortgage and other services such as mobile phone contracts.

How is your credit risk measured? All lenders want different things and have their own ways of scoring but are likely to take into account details such as occupation, address history, length of employment and annual income.

How to help your application for credit when on the move

What is likely to make you a poor credit risk?

• • • •

State you are a member of the Armed Forces when applying for credit Provide a full postal address including postcode Register to vote in the UK, which will put you on the Electoral Register Manage your debts and pay your bills on time Check your credit report before you apply for any credit

• •

Excessive debt with no spare income to support more credit Too many credit searches within a rolling two-year period Poor credit history such as missed or late payments

For the full article go to: themilitarymutual.com/magazine Tel:0800 088 22 83

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editions of Army family life


APPY anniversary to us! AFF’s flagship magazine has reached its 100th edition and we are proud to say it is still as vital today as it was when the first issue rolled off the presses. The magazine has moved with the times over the years, starting out as Neighbours then the Army Wives Journal, Army Families Journal and now winning awards as Army&You – serving all those with a soldier in their life. Whilst Army life has changed over the years, many of the issues families experience remain the same.


CATHARINE MOSS, FORMER EDITOR “Army&You has grown from its humble newsletter origins to a glossy musthave in three decades. My proudest moment was getting the magazine delivered direct to the door of families living in the UK; a big step forward in enabling AFF to communicate directly with its audience.” SUE BONNEY, FORMER EDITOR “Many congratulations on your 100th edition! The magazine has gone from strength-to-strength. Long may it continue to inform, entertain, help and support all Army families wherever they are in the world.” LADY KITSON OBE, AFF FOUNDER From the very start the magazine was most important. I felt that there was a need for the families to have a voice. The magazine has done fantastically well. As well as responding to families and giving them information, it has also involved them in its production. Old issues like housing and employment will always be around but new matters will arise and there will be new challenges. By listening to people’s problems and helping even when no solutions seemed to be in sight, you have done a great service. As the saying goes, ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Congratulations – you are so important.”

Today the magazine is delivered to 55 countries with a circulation of almost 50,000. It has a huge presence on Twitter and Facebook and a fantastic website which receives around 4,000 unique views each month. We have had many famous supporters over the years from royalty – Diana, Princess of Wales – through to politicians and celebrities including Michelle Keegan, Bear Grylls,

Carol Smillie, Alan Titchmarsh, Oz Clarke and Russell Watson. Current editor Charlotte Eadie said: “It’s the stories of Army life from you, the families, that have been key to the success of AFF’s magazine over the years. “We’ll continue to celebrate Army life where there is best practice and highlight things that can be improved. “Thank you for your continued support.” n

autumn 2015 Army&You 11





FIRST AID FAMILIARITY DO you have what it takes to deliver basic medical treatment to someone in need? St John Ambulance, the nation’s leading first aid charity, offers a range of useful advice and guidance on its website to equip you with the knowledge you may one day need. Whether head, heart, breathing or bleeding, each section features a simpleto-follow guide as well as a handy video showing you what to do. You can even

test your knowledge to see what more you need to know. With sections for young people and schools, there really is something for everyone including a chance to watch this year’s annual Big First Aid Lesson, delivered earlier in the year by Claudia Winkleman to more than 410,000 young people in England. l Why not log on and improve your first aid awareness? Visit www.sja.org.uk

MY Daddy is a Soldier Adventures, a charity that provides support to British Army children, is launching its annual competition to find the best images that show what “me and my soldier” means to them. Twelve photos capturing tender moments between a soldier and their family will be chosen to feature in the calendar, which will be sold to raise money to help even more children and Army families. Everyone who enters an image will have the chance to win some great prizes. Pictures and photos should be emailed to competition@ mydaddyisasoldieradventures.org Mark your entry “Calendar Competition” and include your name, age and contact details. The closing date is 20 September 2015. The 2016 calendar will be on sale for £9.99. The charity also has a selection of Christmas cards. l For more details, visit www.mydaddyisasoldier adventures.org

CHARITY TO SEND CHRISTMAS CHEER TO TROOPS REGISTERED charity uk4u Thanks! provides Christmas boxes full of presents – affectionately known as the Square Stocking – as a gift from the nation to all those away from their families and loved ones on Christmas Day while they serve on overseas operational tours. Since 2005, www.armyandyou.co.uk

uk4u has delivered more than 210,000 boxes each containing 20 different fun and useful items. The initiative was inspired by the 1914 Christmas Gift Fund, established by Princess Mary, the daughter of King George V. l To find out more and support this valuable initiative, visit www.uk4u.org

Cute choice: One of last year’s winning images

autumn 2015 Army&You 13


Snap shot

Picture: Cpl Tracey Dobson, Crown Copyright

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

1. Horsing about A soldier from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment rides on the north Norfolk coast

GROWING BELIEF PLANT for Peace helps rural communities and smallholder farmers in conflict and post-conflict areas to become selfsufficient through sustainable farming and trade. The initiative enables communities to participate in the global food industry by creating demand for locally-grown produce, through developing products such as tasty Plant for Peace bars as well as establishing local production facilities and organising supply chains. More than 70 per cent of ingredients for the fruit bars are purchased from Afghanistan and, for every fruit bar purchased, a tree is donated to the Afghan farming community. Pick up your Plant for Peace snack at Waitrose or Holland & Barrett, or find out more about the work of the organisation at plantforpeace.org

Picture: Sgt Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright

2. Proud day Adrian Dunn and Harley enjoying Armed Forces Day (@Adrian765Dunn)

Picture: Sgt Rupert Frere, Crown Copyright

3. Flying visit The Red Devils put on an Armed Forces Day parachure display

Picture: Cpl Michael Strachan, Crown Copyright

4. Day out Pamela and Glen Leckie enjoying Armed Forces Day in Guildford

5. Welcome home A soldier from 34 Field Hospital returns from serving in Sierra Leone

14 Army&You autumn 2015

Appetising addition to mobile marketplace WE like this new money-saving kitchen app which claims to save users up to £700 every year and help reduce food waste – great for Army families on a budget. EatBy is free to download and use with an optional shopping list. In the UK, around £1.7 billion is wasted each month on uneaten food – an average of £65 per household. But the real cost is to

the environment, with 1.3 billion tonnes of wasted food contributing ten per cent of greenhouse gasses. This app helps manage the food in your kitchen and lets you know when items expire, while the shopping list can help reduce buying too much food in the first place. l Find out more by logging on to www.eatbyapp.com @ArmyandYou

If you think membership of the Forces Pension Society isn’t relevant to you, read on



As the pension watchdog for the Armed Forces community, we’re here to assist families and help them through the pension maze. The three pension schemes in operation are complex and that’s where our Pension Advisory Service can help.

Our Members also have accessFINANCIAL to a range of valuable through-life services with significant discounts from trusted Affiliates.

It can provide information about when to leave (and when not to), how to top up your pension, commutation, re-employment and much more. Our 45,000 Members have access to our acknowledged experts who deal with hundreds of enquiries each month from all ranks in all Services.

INDEPENDENT, NOT-FOR-PROFIT The Forces Pension Society is an independent, not-for-profit organisation, serving the interests of Members, holding governments of the day to account, campaigning for better pensions and correcting unfairness in the schemes. For example, our 2015 campaign won the right for all widows to retain their pension on re-marriage.










JOIN ONLINE NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE £100 CITY BREAK VOUCHER Simply visit our website at www.forcespensionsociety.org quoting Promo Code AMY2015 (T’s & C’s apply). Membership for you and your partner costs just £35 per annum.

JOIN US AND PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S INTERESTS Forces Pension Society 68 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL Tel: 020 7820 9988 - email: memsec@forpen.co.uk - www.forcespensionsociety.org

A member of

Cobseo The Confederation of Service Charities

‘ Boarders feel safe and well cared for’ ISI report, October 2014

Our vibrant boarding community offers full-time and flexible boarding for 7–18 years

Forces parents pay no more than 10% of fees in Prep and 15% of fees in Senior

01823 703700



Girls 3 - 18

A life-changing education is closer than you think. PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £850 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2015/16. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

www.habs-monmouth.org/forces 16 Army&You autumn 2015




Poetic licence Service spouse Ruth Fry contacted Army&You to share the heartfelt poem she wrote about – and for – her son Reuben...

THERE IS A HERO There was a hero in the recruiting office; He swore an oath of allegiance, when he had only just become a man. There was a hero on the battlefield; He wore camouflage and carried a weapon, into dusty warzones far from home. There was a hero on the parade ground; He had medals pinned to his chest, as he stood silent remembering the fallen. There is a hero in my home; He is called “Daddy” here, Her Majesty’s soldier, my husband, your hero.

HAPPY FAMILY: Ruth Fry with her husband, Ben, and children, Miriam and Reuben

There is a hero in my bed; He is crying because we are moving… again, he has to say goodbye to all his friends. There is a hero in the playground; He is wearing his new school uniform, ready to start again at another new school. There is a hero on the doorstep; He is waving goodbye to his big sister, she is leaving to go to boarding school. There is a hero you have forgotten; He did not choose this life, his Daddy is a soldier, his Daddy is your hero.


autumn 2015 Army&You 17

Back to school As this edition reaches you, hundreds of Service children will be starting a new school and some will be waving goodbye to their families as they pack up to board. Army&You spoke to a teacher, children and parents to discuss the unique challenges that military children face in their school lives…


FSTED recommended in 2011 that children with a parent in the Armed Forces should receive extra support. It recognised that frequent moves and having mum or dad away can impact on pupils’ emotional wellbeing. The report said: “Education is disturbed, social networks are disrupted and parents left behind have to cope with the effects of being a single parent.” Moira Leslie, Education Progamme Manager at the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, which raises awareness of these issues in Scotland, agrees. “Often, schools overlook the need for a child to have time to not only come to terms with the loss of their previous school, home and friends but also to establish a sense of belonging to their new environment,” she said. The good news is that the introduction of the Service Pupil Premium, the £300 per Service child given to schools to assist with pastoral care, has gone some way to help in English state schools when put to good use (see pages 20-21). Northern Ireland has a similar

18 Army&You autumn 2015

scheme and support in place (see She said: “In Germany, I attended page 22) and SCE schools overseas Kings School in Gütersloh and found are experienced in dealing with they were used to dealing with ‘new common issues. kids’ constantly coming and The latest available going. I settled in really statistics from the well and liked the fact Department for that everyone had Often, schools Education show that moved around and overlook the need for Service children experienced the same a child to establish a perform at least equal things as me. sense of belonging to their peers. AFF is “Having friends to their new working with research across the globe environment organisations to review and moving often these statistics. has helped develop my


BUILDING RESILIENCE Cameron Samuel is just beginning Year 10 in his eighth school. He highlighted how important it is for schools to understand the challenges of Army life no matter how many Service children they have. “One school I attended only had one other Army child,” he explained. “At that time my dad deployed and they were completely unsympathetic towards anything Army related, how I might have moody days or sad days. In fact, during that time was when I got my first detention!” Sixth form student Siobhan Thurgood has lived in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Wiltshire and Germany following her dad’s Army career.

confidence with new people and surroundings. I am very proud to say my dad is in the Army.” SETTLING IN Le Cateau Primary School in Catterick is taking in more than 100 new Service pupils this September with families rebasing from Germany and Cyprus. With more than 70 per cent of children from Service families, the school is already well-drilled in welcoming the military population. “Upon arrival, the main aim is to get the children settled in, ensure they are paired up with a buddy and that they feel a part of the school,” said headmaster Ian Mottram. “A number of staff members are from Service families, which aids the understanding of what the children



STABILITY THROUGH BOARDING is outstanding. Children at boarding school are “It’s clear that many schools grasp less likely to have these worries as the unique needs of a Service child most of their peers will stick around and offer comprehensive pastoral throughout their school life. care and we have many examples But being away from your to share for those schools parents brings added which are not yet so pressure, particularly experienced.” Having friends if they are stationed across the globe overseas. Diane WHAT CAN and moving often Weir’s children, PARENTS DO? James, 13, and has helped develop Wherever you’re Henry, 10 (left), travel my confidence with based, tell your school back to Germany new people that your child has during school holidays. a parent in the Armed Henry admitted the long Forces and inform them journeys were a test at first. when your soldier is away, even “Travelling without your mum and if it’s only for a short spell. If the dad is a bit strange,” he said. “I get school is aware, it will help staff to really excited when I have holidays understand your child’s background, off school and love spending time support them through transition and with all my own things.” recognise any changes. “Being a boarder has meant I get If you have any concerns or to keep my friends for longer,” said questions about your child’s James. “Living in a different country education, contact Lucy at to my parents is fun but I do get ec@aff.org.uk n homesick at times. School treats us the same as every other overseas student.” SUGGESTED READING


are going through. I have appointed five new members of staff who have rebased to Catterick too,” he added. Both parents and pupils agree that Le Cateau sets a good example of best practice. One parent, whose child has special educational needs, said: “When my daughter, who suffers with anxiety, came home and said ‘I feel like I have been here forever!’, I knew I had made the right choice.” LOSING FRIENDS Families who have enjoyed the stability of remaining in one place for longer can still find their children unsettled. Nine-year-old Henry (pictured right) hasn’t moved primary schools since his dad took up a posting at Army Headquarters five years ago. However, his good friends have moved away due to Service life. He said: “It’s worrying because that person has been your best friend for a long time and you don’t know whether you’re going to find a new friend that’s like them.”


SUPPORT IS OUT THERE The MOD’s Department for Children & Young People works closely with schools to ensure Service children aren’t disadvantaged and is currently developing a Pupil Information Profile, which should help when children are transferring between schools by identifying their current and future learning needs. Its Education Support Fund also provides extra funding for schools who wish to bid for it. AFF’s Education Specialist Lucy Scott believes that, on the whole, schools now have better understanding of Army life. She said: “Based on the evidence from our Excellence Award over the last three years, I think the support for Service children in some schools

MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service +44 (0)1980 618244 Education Support Fund via www.gov.uk Service Pupil Premium information www.aff.org.uk Royal Caledonian Education Trust www.rcet.org.uk

autumn 2015 Army&You 19


Carterton Primary School wins £500. Prize kindly sponsored by Sodexo.

Excellent support in schools AFF’s Excellence for Forces Children (Service Pupil Premium) Award, sponsored by Sodexo, aims to highlight some of the best examples of how the extra money given to state schools in England with Service children is spent…


ROM this year’s 69 nominations, we received some fantastic ideas on how to spend the premium, which is mainly designed to provide pastoral support for children with a parent in the Armed Forces. Our judging panel included Adjutant General Lt Gen Gerry Berragan and David Fugurally, from the Department for Education. THE WINNER Congratulations to our 2015 winner

❝ ❞ 20 Army&You autumn 2015

Carterton Primary School, based close to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire with 75 Service children. The school’s Service Families’ Support Worker, Tess Broker, who is a military wife and mum, understands the issues Service children face. Tess provides welcome calls, letters, visits and packs for all families. Transition support includes three sessions out of the classroom using “My Passport” to help children settle in. When they move on, the sessions give leavers an opportunity to find out about

their new school, create a memory booklet, talk through worries and update their passport to take with them.

“We have made changes to the school website to make it easier for Service families to find out about us and our provision”

“Netbook computers are available for loan to Service children and their families. These are Skype enabled and can be used during deployments, exercises or courses” South Farnborough Infants, Hampshire

South Camberley Primary and Nursery School

SHARING WORRIES Tess also runs Keeping in Touch, a lunchtime club for children with a parent away from home. It’s a chance to write eBlueys or take part in craft activities and games. For younger children, the one-toone focus is essential for extra emotional support. Another lunchtime session, Time to Talk, allows pupils to have a one-to-one chat

or quiet time away from the hustle of the school day. BEARS THAT CARE Other initiatives included: l Brave the camo bear and Hero the RAF bear given to children who have a parent away so they can keep a diary of their adventures l Five hours of catch-up support per week – vital for new Service pupils who have missed parts of the curriculum l Membership of the HMS Heroes support group l Regular Service families

“Our summer outward bound course encourages team building, independence and resilience among Service children” Longfield Academy, Kent @ArmyandYou


Premium ideas (from top left): Poppy Bear at Oakham Church of England Primary School; Pupils at South Farnborough Infants School; Youngsters support Red, White and Blue Day at St Botolph’s School; Connor, from winners Carterton Primary School, poses with Hero Bear

coffee mornings l Taking part in Reading Force l Service families roadshow l Bespoke website information l Contributions to help cover the cost of residential trips and equipment. BE INSPIRED There are more great examples on the education pages of www.aff.org.uk If your child’s school is looking for ideas, show them this article and encourage them to go online for inspiration. If you have concerns or comments about the Service Pupil Premium, contact me by email at ec@aff.org.uk

“Talking tin lids have been sent to parents on tour – a soldier who received one out in Afghanistan was so grateful to hear his daughter’s voice!” Wavell School, Hampshire www.armyandyou.co.uk

CATEGORY WINNERS Under 10 Service pupils Turlin Moor Community School, Poole We loved their string bowls, each string representing family members.

Skyping friends, purchasing study guides, subsidised music lessons and up-to-date website information. REGISTER YOUR CHILD You should let your school

know that you are a Service family so that this can be noted on the January school census (or October for Northern Ireland) to enable your school to claim the Service Pupil Premium. n

10-20 Service pupils Oakham Primary, Rutland The Forces Friends Club, map wall display and parent meetings to discuss a beneficial support plan are great initiatives. 21+ Service pupils Idsall Secondary Sports College, Shropshire Special mention for the early intervention programme, a Service mentor, arrival and leaving programmes including

“We’ve recruited an ex-military teacher as the Service Children’s Champion to improve pastoral processes to ensure the best outcomes for Service children.” Wellington Academy, Wiltshire

“We’re launching a Gomer Junior App which will include a Service families feature.”

“We have appointed a Service Pupils Champion who is supported by a Governor who has Service pupils in their portfolio.”

Gomer Junior School, Hampshire

Scampton Pollyplatt Community Primary School, Lincolnshire autumn 2015 Army&You 21


FORCES KIDS ON FILM A FILM commissioned by the Royal Caledonian Education Trust is helping to promote understanding of Service life in Scottish schools. Forces Kids – This is my Life captures the emotional highs and lows experienced by military children when a parent is deployed to combat zones and how they deal with separation and loss. It also reveals the support that youngsters give to one another during such times and highlights the importance of talking over concerns with friends, family and teachers. The DVD features the experiences of more than 30 primary and secondary school children in Scotland who have a parent or family members serving in the Armed Forces. To order a DVD and support material, go to www.rcet.org.uk

HOP-A-CROC A board game has been developed to help Service children share their experiences of the challenges of military life with their civilian friends. Hop-a-croc, created by the MOD’s Directorate of Children and Young People, is a child’s version of its Strategy and Improvement Plan. The cards in the game are based on five of its six priority areas – staying safe, exciting learning, being heard, healthy lifestyles, moving and parents working away. There are no right or wrong answers and the questions are designed to generate conversation. It’s hoped that teaching staff at schools with a mix of Service and non-Service children will use Hop-a-croc to encourage discussions which may lead to a deeper understanding of Armed Forces life. To get copies, email Julie Muspratt at jmuspratt@ceas.uk.com including the name and address of the school. 22 Army&You autumn 2015

Welsh schools toolkit NEW guidance has been developed for parents and schools in Wales to support military children. The Supporting Service Children in Education Cymru (SSCE Cymru) project aims to raise awareness of the challenges some can face in school and provide Forces families moving to Wales with information and advice. The project has worked with AFF, schools, local authorities, parents and the Welsh Government to gain an understanding of the needs of Service children. SSCE Cymru Project Officer, Laura Bryon, said: “Through the course of the year we have met with many resilient children and families who cope really well with the multiple

moves and deployments. “The guidance seeks to highlight the simple things that can pose big challenges for these children such as missing a parent who is away in a dangerous part of the world, settling into another new school or missing parts of their learning because of different programmes of study in different countries. We have learnt a lot from the schools who are already working closely with their Armed Forces communities and from parents who have highlighted issues they would like more information on.” l Both guides for schools are available from www.sscecymru.co.uk and you can follow on Twitter @SSCECymru

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your family United by a common bond The Army Widows’ Association (AWA) is an independent, volunteer-run charity that offers support, friendship and practical help to widows and widowers who have lost their soldier – whatever the circumstances. We joined members at the group’s AGM to find out how sharing their stories with others in a similar situation provided great comfort...

YOU may be surprised to learn that of the AWA’s 250 members, almost 40 per cent are under the age of 40 and less than a quarter have lost their loved one in combat, with illness being the most common cause of death. Kate Spilsbury’s husband had served in the Army for 30 years when he died suddenly during a cycle ride last year. It was the first time she had attended an AWA weekend. She told us: “I’ve had lots of support from friends and family but they very seldom talk about it; here someone will open up to you – and you find that you might open up to them.” STRENGTH TOGETHER One of the AWA’s younger members, Emma Strang, is going through the process of moving out of her Army quarter. Emma has two small children and admitted that when she first came to the respite weekend, she needed a break. “Just having the independence to get here and then being in adult company was reassuring,” she said. “The Association helps with practical matters and you get a peer perspective on things from people who have trodden the path before you.” The AWA works closely with PS4 Army Welfare




and the Army Inquiries and Aftercare Support Cell. It’s moving with the times too, offering support to recognised unmarried partners as well as running a closed Facebook group to ensure members can stay in touch. SAFE ENVIRONMENT The Association works behind the scenes to facilitate a better quality of life for its members. Current chairman, Helen Townend added: “It’s about people finding support from others in similar situations, sharing experiences and problems, making new friends and finding inspiration from each other to laugh and to cry.” l See page 43 for advice on writing a will for both soldiers and spouses. Visit www.armywidows.org.uk if you know someone who could benefit from membership of the AWA or if you would like more information. You can also follow them on Twitter @ArmywidowsA n

Above: Kate Spilsbury (top) and Emma Strang have benefited from the AWA’s support. Right: AWA members socialise at the group’s AGM, which is one of three annual events


autumn 2015 Army&You 27

A hero to hug When Jo-Anne Lomax’s husband was away with work commitments, her two young children struggled to understand that this was just part of their daddy’s job. Jo came up with Huggable Heroes – cuddly fabric dolls to help young children get through difficult days. Army&You spoke to Jo to find out more…


O STARTED to make the cuddly concept for friends and it soon expanded to a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Personalised with your own photographs front and back, the handmade Huggable Heroes make a comforting keepsake. “The response has been amazing. Children love their daddy cuddles,” explained Jo. “Our Huggable Heroes helped my children enormously. My daughter, Charlotte, takes hers everywhere so daddy doesn’t miss a thing.

“He was there on her first day at pre-school and he’s often seen peeking out of her backpack at her swimming and gymnastics classes.” Jo realised how much Huggable Heroes could help children with a parent or loved one working away and decided to offer them to any family – not just those in the military. “It is fantastic to see Huggable Heroes helping children in hospital and those with additional needs,” she said. “I want them to help children from all walks of life.” Huggable Heroes have also caught the eye of a


I want them to help children from all walks of life

Someone to hug: Huggable Heroes help children retain a close bond with parents who have to work away from home

producer of a successful play at the Edinburgh Fringe which featured Army deployment through the eyes of a tenyear-old girl. The play has been adapted into a film, A Father’s Promise, and a Huggable Hero has been written into the script. Jo is proud of what has been achieved so far. “Huggable Heroes help to reinforce family bonds and reduce separation anxiety in our brave children,” she explained. “We’ve even made them for the serving mummy or daddy to take with them when they go away.

A FAMILY ON FILM The Giggles are an Army family in Wiltshire. Jules’ husband, Steve, is currently working at a different base and is only home at weekends, so she decided to make videos each week so he doesn’t miss out...

What prompted you to begin your blogs? Firstly, I had a health scare at the end of last year. It made me realise how life can change so suddenly and I wanted my son, Josh, to have a record of his relationship with me. I feel video gives a much stronger view of this than writing. Secondly, Steve was often away for weeks at a time and the new posting meant he would only be home at weekends. We had a hard journey becoming a family, so for him to miss out on Josh growing up meant even more. Making a video diary each week was a way of stopping him from missing out completely.

28 Army&You autumn 2015

What reaction have you had? I put them on YouTube for family and friends to see. Not long after subscribers came along and messages started coming in from other mums saying it helped them to see a glimpse of down-toearth family life. The videos have made subscribers smile and given them a new opinion of the military community rather than just the stereotype. Amazingly, I now have more than 1,000 subscribers. How has it helped you? It was especially helpful for me when we moved. I didn't know the area or anyone here, but YouTube

“We support three amazing Service charities – Forces Support Charity, My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures and Scotty’s Little Soldiers – and we aim to raise more money for them in the coming years.”

l Win! Army&You has one single-sided Huggable Hero with pink or blue fabric on the reverse, to give away. See page 56 for entry details. For more information about the dolls, log on to www. huggableheroes.co.uk n

was such a supportive community. Steve hasn't missed out on any important moments in Josh's life – and he sees I don't sit on the sofa all week. What do you hope to achieve? My main focus will continue to be a diary for Josh and Steve. I would like to add in videos specifically about parenting or military spouse issues too. What advice would you give other Army families living away from their soldier? Keep busy, record the memories, talk as often as you can and, when together, book days out to make the most of it. We book a date night out each month as well as family activities. It doesn't have to be costly – there are lots of free things around. n To view the Giggles family’s videos, visit www.youtube.com/thegigglesfamily



Canadian choir cohesion Earlier this year, 19 members of the Middle Wallop Military Wives Choir boarded a plane to Toronto to take part in the 24th annual Canadian International Military Tattoo. Choir member Sophie Huthwaite told Army&You all about it… TO help us finance our flights to Canada, we undertook fundraisers including a friends’ and families’ event, a 10km run and a Virgin Justgiving page which received an extremely generous donation from the parents of one of our ladies. INTERNATIONAL SINGING We came together with a sister group, The Canadian Military Wives Choir, and for four days we were hosted by a wonderful team of volunteers, who ensured we made the most of our time in Canada. We also had the added bonus of seeing a dear friend, who had been part of the Middle Wallop MWC from its conception, but who had emigrated two years previously.

Rehearsals gave us all the opportunity to watch the Tattoo’s other performers, which included a collection of bands, dancers, military reenactments and singers. Among the artists was Gary Chilton from the band The Soldiers and we supported him in two of his pieces. We gave two performances – an evening and a matinee. The atmosphere and the audience appreciation was wonderful. On a high, we were transported to the after party and there were many weary faces the next morning when we took a yellow school bus to Niagara Falls. BUILDING FRIENDSHIPS For those of us lucky enough to

be able to organise childcare and time away from work, it was a truly memorable experience that saw us make many new friends among the group of fabulous Canadian ladies. We shared laughter, stories and songs and both choirs

went away full of ideas for our future performances. CHOIR COHESION The trip was a wonderful opportunity for us to really get to know each other. So often with our busy lives, we rush into choir, sing together and then dash home to sort out family life. It gave us the time to chat and laugh and brought a feeling of togetherness and real cohesion to the choir. We are also very fortunate that the ladies who were unable to come to Canada were incredibly supportive of our preparations and fundraising. l To join your local choir, visit www.militarywiveschoirs.org n

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autumn 2015 Army&You 29

Spousal support: The love and support of Capt Taylor’s wife played a vital role in his return to health

Back from the brink

When the stress of a new posting compounded a lack of post operational tour leave, Capt Justin Taylor found his mental health faltering. In this candid piece, the officer relives his darkest days and explains how he found light at the end of the tunnel...


T IS three o’clock in the morning and I have just sent the most difficult email of my Army career. Sitting in the dark in my quarter in a far flung location feeling as low as I ever have in 26 years of service. Tears streaming down my face, I look up to see my wife looking confused. In our 20 years together she has never seen me like this. She is worried and wants to know what’s going on. I show her the email I have just sent to the Senior Medical Officer (SMO) titled “Please help me”. I think there is something wrong with me. I seem to have developed a range of symptoms since arriving here after relocating in short order following my return from Afghanistan, I wrote. I have an overwhelming sense of impending doom. 30 Army&You autumn 2015

I am constantly anxious. I am constantly on the verge of emotion. I have developed a whole body twitch/spasm most prevalent when in bed. I am drinking more alcohol than I should. I keep having a racing heart and shortness of breath, almost anxiety attacks. I have physical pain in my back and chest. I am not sleeping well. I am having a somewhat disproportionate reaction to every day occurrences. Routine work tasks that I have completed many times before now fill me with dread. I am having difficulty retaining thoughts and constantly lose the thread of a thought process. I am increasingly anxious about going outside. I am feeling increasingly frightened, I just don’t

know what of or why I am frightened of it.

at being stranded on a beach as the RAF were doing their best to get us home. I knew As she looks back at me, what was waiting for me. the tears well from I don’t mean my her eyes. She supportive and hugs me for a understanding I felt embarrassed; wife who had long time. We I thought I had let will talk about spent many it eventually, days, nights, everybody down but for now birthdays, and couldn’t knowing that I Christmases see a way out have her support and and understanding anniversaries on is the most important her own, but moreso thing in the world to me. the quick turnaround from Without it I could have very finishing an operational tour easily got lost never to recover. and relocating to another Three months earlier I was continent. A posting that on a beach in Cyprus with my should have been the reward mates. We had just completed for services rendered. an eight-month operational In the 20 days from landing tour of Afghanistan. It was fast at Brize Norton to embarking and furious and marked the on our next adventure, we had crossing of the 760 days I’ve countless things to do. Clear spent in theatre over the last from last unit, clean and hand nine years. back quarter, sell car, sort out I can’t say I was disappointed utilities, pack and send freight



HEALTH and storage, visit friends and family and visit new boss for pre-deployment chat. At no point was there time for Post Operational Tour Leave (POTL). A LACK OF LEAVE I have learnt that, occasionally, the needs of the Service have greater priority than those of the individual. With this in mind, I made the trip for an interview with my future second Reporting Officer. I wanted to understand whether my relocation was required so soon after returning from such a high tempo of operations. Five hours later, I slogged back with my head patted and my chin elevated. I was to take over the role as planned, allowing my predecessor some well-earned leave and giving me some time off after taking over. I was slightly disappointed and a little wounded that my concerns regarding POTL and time to reset after operations had not been considered. As a strapping six footer and a man of moral fibre, I could not have envisaged how it would bring about the darkest time in my life. The four weeks leave I did get was spent nipping in to keep the work flow manageable. Coupled with relocating, delays of our freight and not sleeping for the first month, my wife and I finally settled in to an appropriate SFA two days after I officially started work. I was more stressed than when I finished the operational tour seven weeks earlier! It was not the start that we had expected. www.armyandyou.co.uk

MEDICAL INTERVENTION On the morning of 21 October, I sat facing the SMO. My body wracked with physical spasms, I felt like I was in a dark tunnel from which there was no chance of escape. I did not know whether I had something physically wrong that was affecting my mental state or whether I was losing the plot. The SMO identified the symptoms of stress, anxiety and clinical depression which did little to lift my mood. I felt embarrassed; I thought I had let everybody down and couldn’t see a way out. The SMO started me on a course of anti-anxiety beta blockers and anti-depressants. He also scheduled an emergency appointment with the Department for Community Mental Health (DCMH) at RAF Marham. I felt lost, totally withdrawn and my previously unfaltering confidence had abandoned me when I needed it most. My medical flight was arranged by the MOD, but because I wanted my wife to accompany me and she was not entitled to travel at public expense, we had to use one of our Get You Home (Overseas) flights. Similarly the MOD had arranged for a hire car, but my wife was not allowed to travel in this vehicle so I cancelled it and paid for one myself. It seemed the medical services were bending over backwards to resolve the issue while other aspects

of the system were trying to counter their work.

The day we moved in and our furniture was delivered from storage, I finally felt NEXT STEPS settled enough to relax. I could Because we were stationed concentrate on getting better. overseas, my accommodation As the weeks passed, entitlement was to live in positive signs began to a mess. I was less than emerge. The physical enamoured at being symptoms began to alone in a strange subside and had mess for ten disappeared It had taken my weeks whilst after about six almost catastrophic weeks. undergoing mental collapse to treatment, so The journey trigger what should was long and we enlisted have been the help of tortuous but the J1 Cell at with the support the norm RAF Wyton. They of my family, offered up the welfare friends, colleagues house for the duration of our and people I had never met, I stay. My wife came with me for was on the way to recovery. my first appointment at DCMH. The process from going I was nervous. I seemed to to see the SMO to a final be getting worse, possibly assessment at DCMH took because I had lost the crutch 12 weeks. During that time I of working to blank out the was placed off work and on negative feelings. I was asked medication. My best mate to fill out a proforma that pointed out that ten weeks sick addressed how I was feeling. leave was almost the same as This acted as a gauge over nine weeks POTL. the next ten weeks and I saw Unfortunately, it had taken steady signs of improvement. my almost catastrophic mental The initial assessment is collapse to trigger what should supposed to last 30 minutes have been the norm. I spent – I emerged after two hours the next two months on a feeling like I had unloaded the return-to-work programme. world from my shoulders. A registered mental health LOOKING FORWARD nurse explained that what I As I write this, I am much was experiencing was almost better than I was, but still have textbook clinical depression some way to go. Time away and acute anxiety brought on from work and the support by operating above my upper of the DCMH team worked a stress tolerance level for a miracle. The most difficult part prolonged period. was asking for help. My “fight or flight” response I thank everyone who was had been switched on and instrumental in my recovery. would not switch off. I felt My wife who stood by me better knowing that I was not every step of the way, my boss, the first person in the world to my desk officer, the J1 Cell at have experienced this and that RAF Wyton, my RAO, my staff, medical science might be in a our best friends and the team position to help. at the DCMH who had the patience, skills and desire to fix GETTING BETTER what had become broken. Over the ensuing weeks I A sense of humour, a visited DCMH on a number of sense of perspective, some occasions. It became apparent honest talk and a lot of love that I was not fit to return to put me well on the road to a duty at my current far-flung successful recovery. n duty station so we requested SFA at RAF Wyton. l Turn over for helpful links >>


autumn 2015 Army&You 31

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Help at hand DOES the situation that Captain Taylor (previous page) describes sound familiar to you? Or have you noticed a change in your spouse or partner’s behaviour or recognised some of these signs mentioned? If you are still serving and can identify with any of the symptoms described, it’s important to speak to your medical officer. They can assess your mental health and either commence or, if required, refer you for treatment as early as possible. If you are the spouse or partner of a serving person and are finding it difficult to encourage them to seek medical help, don’t be afraid to talk to your partner’s chain of command, whether this is their medical officer, Unit Welfare Officer or the Army Welfare Service. If you are concerned for your or your spouse’s or family’s safety, you should call the emergency services on 999. Other organisations that can provide you with advice and support are: THE BIG WHITE WALL, bigwhitewall.com An online service offering safe, free, anonymous, early intervention psychological support for veterans, serving personnel and their families with 24-hour access to professional counsellors.

HEALTH COMBAT STRESS, 0800 138 1619 Operates a 24-hour helpline for veterans and serving personnel and their families who require advice. HIDDEN WOUNDS HELP FOR HEROES, 0808 2020 144 A new service designed to help equip you and your loved ones with the tools to manage and overcome the everyday challenges of living with anxiety, depression and stress. It is open to veterans and their families and for families of serving personnel. MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID, 020 7250 8062 Working in collaboration with Mental Health First Aid England, Combat Stress and The Royal British Legion to deliver mental health first aid training to veterans and the families of veterans and serving personnel throughout the UK. TIME TO CHANGE, www.time-to-change.org.uk An initiative signed by the MOD, which has pledged to end mental health stigma and discrimination.

If you are concerned about your spouse or partner and want more information or advice, please contact AFF’s Health Specialist, Karen Ross at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

The ripple effect widens Two mothers whose soldier sons were badly hurt in Afghanistan have seen their network of self-help support groups for the families of wounded, injured and sick Service personnel expand nationwide…


ULIA Molony and Sue Hawkins launched The Ripple Pond in 2012 after realising that they had no one to turn to for help. Sue said that there’s massive support available to families at first, but it’s often much later, when the injured are going through rehabilitation, that the relatives are hit by the ordeal. “When my son began his rehabilitation the shock of the previous months hit me hard. At this point I lost all confidence which stopped

me from phoning for help. “I will never forget how this affected me and vowed then that I would do anything I could to improve support for future ‘injured families’. “The Ripple Pond has helped me validate this traumatic experience and I am coming to terms with our new normality.” Through a chance meeting, Julia and Sue realised that they were experiencing similar emotions. Julia explained: “My son’s injury was the brick in the pond, but the whole family was affected by the ripples it caused.”

Julia’s son Anthony with his family

SPREADING THE SUPPORT Julia and Sue hoped that the idea behind their original group in Sussex would “ripple” around the country. They have certainly


achieved this as there are now self-help groups across England with many more starting up, including in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Groups are open to any adult family member who is struggling to come to terms with the injury of a loved one – whether physical or emotional – wherever it has been sustained. This includes Reservists and veterans as well as Regular Service personnel. Groups are kept small to establish a sense of trust and safety, which in turn helps members open up and express their feelings. Just being able to talk to someone who has been through a similar experience can be a major factor in recovery. l For further information, go to theripplepond.co.uk n autumn 2015 Army&You 33



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What we do is different. Specialising in Armed Forces car finance, we offer both lowest rate and lowest price guarantees on all our vehicles and finance - more details of which are available at www.mkcarfinance.co.uk. Whether you have good credit or have had credit issues in the past, with 5 branches, and over 3000 cars available at any time, we have something for everyone. We even give you 7 days to return the vehicle if you just don’t get on with it. For an informal chat with one of our specially trained Armed Forces car finance Account Managers, please call 0 3 3 3 5 7 7 5 5 3 3 , calls charged at standard landline rate. Alternatively, you can go to w w w . m k c a r f i n a n c e . c o . u k and fill in the straightforward application form 24 hours a day and we will get back to you during office hours.


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Meet... the Browns Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow our hashtag #ourarmyfamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories… Alice Brown lives with soldier Dave and pet dogs Lola and Bella... MY family nucleus consists of myself, my soldier and our two dogs. That’s not to say we don’t want children – we do – but not yet. I am 23, a year into marriage, and we are enjoying the freedom and exciting opportunities that being an Army family offers us. I work full-time and selfishly don’t yet feel ready to share my time. Plus, to be perfectly honest, the idea of having a baby with the possibility of my husband not being there to help fills me with terror.

Army life provides a different experience for each person. Some love the closeness and community feeling of “patch life”, others find it stifling. Personally, patch life isn’t everything; the majority of my social life happens outside of the military bubble and some Army events aren’t my cup of tea. I’m sure my view on this will change when we have children and the need for stability becomes more necessary, but right now we enjoy the freedom.

We have the luxury of being able to put the dogs in the Mini (an impressive feat with a springador and a pointer cross) and shoot off around the country at the drop of a hat. I’ve been with my partner for seven years and during this time we’ve been through six years of unaccompanied postings, one tour of Afghanistan, two winter deployments to Canada and countless exercises. Like many spouses, I have perfected my own coping mechanisms – I throw myself into work, spend time with my family, I bake and I have “Champagne Wednesdays”!

As Army spouses, the one thing that links us all is the separation. We come in all shapes and sizes, male, female, some have children others do not, some live in SFA and some own their homes. The differences between us are unending, but at one stage or another we have all experienced separation, whether in the form of a six-month tour or a two-week exercise. We’ve all picked ourselves up from the heart-breaking goodbyes and carried on with our lives as best we can. If I were to be described in my capacity as an Army spouse I think I would like it to be as resilient. It’s a trait I believe we all share. n

GET INVOLVED Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to editor@aff.org.uk


autumn 2015 Army&You 35

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


Contact us through: www.rshtrust.com 36 Army&You autumn 2015



How long can I stay in my SFA? SFA is provided to Service personnel at a reduced rate so that they can live close to their work and be married accompanied. Army&You spoke to Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, who told us how the system works…

SOURCES OF HELP SSAFA Stepping Stones Homes, 0207 463 9354 Temporary accommodation for separated Service and ex-Service families, plus support and assistance in finding a permanent home Services Cotswold Centre 01225 810358 Short-term self-catering accommodation between postings, on retirement or for welfare reasons Citizens Advice Bureau Contact your local centre to ensure that you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to


YOUR soldier can lose their entitlement to SFA when they retire, take redundancy, are discharged or if there’s a marital breakdown. All of these have different timelines to leave your SFA, called notice to vacate (NTV – see below right for details). If you stay on in SFA after your NTV has expired you will be classed as irregular occupants (IOs) and will be charged a broadly comparable rate to social housing and be responsible for council tax and water rates. WHO TO CONTACT IOs are managed by DIO not CarillionAmey so contact the IO team as soon as you know you aren’t going to be able to leave your SFA on time. WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET YOUR NTV? Do not stick your head in the sand! If you do nothing the MOD will take you to court to evict you; this will be expensive and could affect your ability to get housing if you are in arrears with charges. If you think there’s the slightest chance that you won’t leave your SFA on time, fill in the “proportionality form” which comes with your NTV, giving all the reasons why and include any evidence to show that you need extra time, e.g. you are in the process of completing on a house purchase or you have children in a critical exam period.

The IO team will ultimately make the decision whether to extend your stay in the SFA based on this information so do tell them everything. PLAN AHEAD It’s important to plan for leaving the Army and SFA well in advance of your soldier’s last day both for your finances and housing. Social housing is very hard to access due to the high demand so you may need to look at other alternatives. SEEK ADVICE JSHAO runs housing briefs which are open to both soldiers and their families and it is well worth going along to scope out your options. Call their advice line on 0800 3287641. There’s also help on the AFF website – aff.org.uk The IO team is there to help as much as they can but they can’t do that unless you talk to them. Make sure that you keep up good communications with them whatever your circumstances. Call 01904 418000. NTV TIMINGS Retirement: 93 days to coincide with last day of service Medical discharge or voluntary redundancy: an extra 93 days after last day of service at SFA rates Marital breakdown: 93 days for the non-serving partner at SFA rates once soldier’s PStat Cat has changed Discharge on disciplinarily grounds: 28 days Bereavement: 2 years for the non-serving partner at SFA rates. n

autumn 2015 Army&You 37

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It’s that time of year again – the nights are drawing in and the temperature is dropping. Before it gets really cold it’s a good idea to check that your SFA is ready for winter:

❄ Turn on the heating and make sure that all the radiators heat up properly – if they don’t, try to bleed them or check the thermostatic valve

❄ Take a look at the roof – are there any missing or loose tiles? ❄ Next time it rains, check gutters and down pipes for any leaks as this can cause mould

Maintenance basics

Want to fix common problems in your home yourself this winter and beyond? Let Army&You guide you through the basics...


AVE you ever called out CarillionAmey (CA) for a job you could probably have done yourself such as bleed a radiator or tighten some screws? A bit like the NHS, CA repairs and maintenance is a free service however, as with a GP, there are things that you might be able do before you call them. The response maintenance team get very busy in the winter months – so it’s worth trying to sort some basic issues yourself, if you can. It’s also a good learning process for when you eventually move into your own house and might help free up the contractors to do jobs which they are really needed for. Obviously AFF isn’t suggesting that you try to replace valves in the boiler, but the following are some simple suggestions: Radiators not heating up at the top Try bleeding them with a radiator key (available from most DIY stores)

Blocked toilet Try washing up liquid! Squirt a load into the bowl with a bit of hot water; leave for an hour and then pour hot water into the bowl from a reasonable height and it should all slip away!

Electricity off Is it only your property? Check if your


neighbours have power. Check the mains switch hasn’t tripped and try to reset

Smoke detector beeping periodically Try changing the battery

Constant sound of running water from the toilet? You need to isolate the water supply to the toilet by using the isolation valve on the supply pipe or for older toilets, the stop tap. Once the water is isolated, a plumber will be able to fix the problem with the overflow

Combi boiler not working? Error code showing? Have you tried re-setting the boiler? If an error code is showing, have you consulted the manual? If you have done all of this and the problem is still there, call the helpdesk

❄ If you have a mould issue in your house report it as it may get worse in colder weather ❄ If you have an open fire make sure it has been swept ❄ Check all your fence panels are secure ❄ If you have an outside tap turn off the water to it so that it doesn’t freeze

❄ Make sure that you know where the stopcock is in case you need to turn the water off.

See the CarillionAmey (CA) guide (www.carillionamey. co.uk/service-familyaccommodation) for specifics. If you can’t resolve any issues yourself, then call CarillionAmey on 0800 707 6000 to arrange a repair before the winter rush and ensure that you are sitting in a warm, dry house when cold weather strikes! If you have mould in your SFA which isn’t being resolved or have had repeated boiler repairs, AFF would like to know about it. Once you have reported it to CA, please fill in the AFF Mould Database or the Boiler Survey on the AFF website at aff.org.uk

❄ ❄

CA has lots of tips on their website and there are many self-help suggestions on YouTube. If you have tried to resolve things and it doesn’t work or if it is an emergency, call CA on 0800 707 6000. There’s more info on troubleshooting in the CA booklet at www.carillionamey.co.uk/ service-family-accommodation Make sure you give the helpdesk the most accurate information to ensure they send the correct tradesman with the correct parts. n

autumn 2015 Army&You 39



Women doing it for themselves Do you want to help inspire the next generation of female business leaders? Read on to find out how you can play your part...

IF you have a teenage daughter then you may Service spouses on both a voluntary and paid be very interested to learn about the Artemis basis. Network, a registered charity aimed at helping These spouses give invaluable advice and help young women to broaden their career horizons, run, facilitate and produce varied and diverse develop employability skills and make contacts in workshops for young women on issues such as an unintimidating and fun environment. raising personal brand awareness, increasing selfSponsored by major employers confidence, team working and leadership. including Credit Suisse, UBS and Military wife Hilary Pearce recently QA Apprenticeships, the Network went to Upton Hall FCJ in the Wirral provides career development as an ambassador. It’s great that events and an age-appropriate She said: “I think the Network employers are now social media platform for women is a great concept and a really seeing the value between 16 and 21 years old. It’s valuable opportunity for girls. and talents free and operates in both co-ed “It’s great that employers, like of military and girls’ schools. the Artemis Network, are now spouses Events include workshops, insight seeing the value and talents of work experience events and careers military spouses.” fairs. If you think your daughter’s school If you are interested in joining the Artemis would be interested, please get in touch. Network as an ambassador or volunteer and either come from a teaching background or A NETWORK FOR YOU have worked in the STEM sector, get in touch at Artemis has discovered the hidden talents of Catherine@theartemisnetwork.com military families and has so far recruited 12 For more details, visit theartemisnetwork.com n

40 Army&You autumn 2015




Employment law and you Caroline Mayne, AFF’s Employment Specialist, considers how workplace discrimination can affect Army families…


HEN they realised that I was an Army spouse the employer admitted that they don’t like to employ Army spouses because they tend to be unreliable. Thanks to more awareness amongst employers of the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant and organisations such as Recruit for Spouses, who have been working with businesses to raise awareness of the issues Service spouses can face, discrimination such as this has decreased. However, some of you are still

telling us that you are facing disadvantage when trying to get a job and that you feel discriminated against because you are an Army spouse. One Army wife told me: “I was asked in an interview if my husband was due to deploy or be posted away, what rank he was and what job he did. The job was between me and a civilian. I was turned down.”

or having a child; disability; race; religion; sex; and sexual orientation. These are called “protected characteristics”. Although AFF has explored this, being linked to the Armed Forces is not a protected characteristic. However, it can certainly be perceived to come under being married or in a civil partnership to someone in the military.

Contact etam@aff.org.uk – we may be able to engage with the Covenant team for you. The following organisations also have useful information:

DISCRIMINATION LAW It is against the law to discriminate against anyone for reasons including age; being married or in a civil partnership; being pregnant

FURTHER ADVICE If you believe you have faced discrimination or disadvantage, let AFF know as your evidence can help us change this culture.

workingfamilies.org.uk A work-life balance organisation helping working parents and their employers find a balance between responsibilities at home and work. n

acas.org.uk Provides information, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees to help prevent or resolve workplace problems.

Do you have a Forces background? – either as Serving Personnel, ex-Service Personnel, Service Spouse/Partner or a Service Child?

Are you a current or past Access to HE Diploma student? OR are you considering / have you considered doing an Access course? Bath Spa University is undertaking some research to develop recommendations that aim to ensure that Access to HE students are not disadvantaged by a Service-related background. We would like to hear from you, if you answered ‘yes’ to these questions and you would consider being interviewed for 30-40 minutes to share, in confidence, your experience as an Access student or potential Access student. As a thank you, those interviewed will receive a £20 High Street Voucher* * Due to restrictions from the MoD’s research ethics guidance, we are unable to offer the vouchers to any Serving Personnel

For more information or to express an interest in being involved, please contact: Dr Mel Macer, School of Education, Bath Spa University Email: m.macer@bathspa.ac.uk or Tel: 01225-875546


autumn 2015 Army&You 41

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Where there’s a will... Army&You legal columnist Mandeep Gill explains why making a will is about more than money...


ID you know that a will has the potential to do a lot more than simply distributing your assets and possessions in accordance with your wishes after you die? Among the top reasons to make a will are:

accordance with your wishes. Will-writing services may not be regulated by the Law Society, so there are few safeguards if things go wrong. If you decide to use a will-writing firm, consider using one that belongs to The Institute of Professional Will Writers which has a code of l If you die without making a will, there are certain practice approved by the Trading Standards Institute rules which control how money, property and Consumer Codes Approval Scheme. There is more possessions will be allocated. This may not be information on the Trading Standards Institute’s It is important to done in the way you may have wished for. website. make a will to l Unmarried partners and same sex couples Solicitors’ charges depend on the complexity who have not registered a civil partnership of the will. You may also have access to legal ensure that your cannot inherit from each other unless there is a advice in your home insurance policy. Trade loved ones are will in place. unions may offer a free service to members. taken care of l A will can include arrangements for your Will Aid is a charity which has set up a children, in circumstances where both, or either partnership with certain solicitors. Every November, parent dies. participating solicitors will write a basic will free of l If your circumstances have recently changed, you may wish charge, in return for a donation to Will Aid. to make a will so your assets and your possessions are still It is important to make a will to ensure that your loved ones are distributed according to your wishes. If you have separated and taken care of, whether financially or by ensuring arrangements your ex-partner lives with a new partner, you may wish to alter are made for your children. your will. If you marry or enter into a civil partnership, this will invalidate any previous will you have made. FURTHER READING A will does not need to be drawn up and witnessed by a solicitor. Trading Standards Institute (www.tradingstandards.gov.uk/ However, in order to avoid costly legal disputes after your advice/Currentcodesponsors.cfm) death, it is advisable to ensure that the will is legally valid and in Will Aid (www.willaid.org.uk)


‘Everyone should consider making a will’ Michael Le Fort, head of wills & probate at Phillips Solicitors, answers some of the most common questions about leaving a legacy...


I’m in my early 30s and have just got married to a serving soldier. I always thought wills were for those at retirement age – do I need to concern myself with making one? Yes! We would advise everyone to consider making a will. If you have any assets or chattels (personal items such as jewellery or heirlooms) you wish to be left to certain individuals, the only way of ensuring this is through the terms of a will.

My partner and I aren’t planning on having any children. Other than family, what else can I do with my money/ possessions should the worst happen? Your will does not necessarily have to deal with children, family members or individuals. Many people wish to benefit charities through their wills and this may be something you can consider. There is even a legal precedent of money being left for family pets, so it is up to you to decide where your money goes.

I don’t own a house or have a huge amount in the bank. Why should I go to the expense? You will find other aspects of your life can be dealt with through you will; wills can have a broader context. A good example of this is if you have young children, should both you and your partner die you can appoint guardians for your children in your will.

I’m confused as to how I go about dividing my estate. Is this something a solicitor can help advise me on? Absolutely. A solicitor’s job is to help you marshall your thoughts in terms of who you wish to benefit and to highlight the pitfalls that sometimes arise if you choose not to benefit a particular person. This is not to say that a solicitor will tell you who to leave your estate to; rather

assist you to focus on who you want to benefit in the event of your death. How often should I review my will? Wills should be considered as living documents. As your life changes so your will should reflect this. You may write your will before you have any children or during a marriage that later fails so if circumstances change your will should reflect this. Unless there is a significant change in your life a review every five years should be sufficient. If I die without a will, what happens? If you die without a will your estate will be considered under the intestacy rules and those that benefit may not be those you wished to benefit had you taken control of matters by executing a will. l Contact Michael at michael.lefort@ phillips-law.co.uk or call 01256 854637 autumn 2015 Army&You 43



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COVENANT MYTH BUSTERS Army&You spoke to Kate McCullough, AFF’s Covenant Liaison to find out the most common Armed Forces Covenant misunderstandings that families come to AFF with...

IT ONLY APPLIES TO SOLDI ERS It applies to the whole Arm ed Forces community, including their families.

IT DOESN’T APPLY TO US BECAUSE WE LIVE IN OUR OWN HOME It doesn’t matter where you live, as a member of the Forces community the AFC applies to you.

TO CHILD IN ET OUR G L HOOL IL C S W F IT OICE O H C T S en OUR FIR ay be giv hildren m c s but e n ic io rv s e is S ear adm -y ce in r fo em a pla priority rantee th a u . g le ’t b n a s il ’t ava this doe place isn a if l o o in a sch IT PUTS ME AT THE TOP OF THE SOCIAL HOU SING LIST AFF is working with councils to encourage them to extend flexibility in local connection criteria to divor ced spouses but even if you do get to the top of the list, some areas have very long waiting times.

IT MEANS MY BANK WILL GIVE ME A MORTGAGE A financial institution that signs the Corporate Covenant makes a pledge to limit barriers when applying for financial products such as mortgages, especially when living overseas. This is only guidance.

E IT WILL MAKE MY EMPLOYER GRANT ME LEAV R&R ON IS WHEN MY SOLDIER Your The AFC does not determine employment law. law but nt oyme empl tory statu by abide employer should nant Cove orate Corp some ugh altho R&R is not covered, this. offer to itted signatories have comm

s at www.aff.org.uk For more information, visit AFF’s Covenant page be addressed by the could that ge vanta If you think you are facing a disad about how it has story a share to want Armed Forces Covenant, or you aff.org.uk nant@ cove at Kate ct benefited your community, conta www.armyandyou.co.uk

autumn 2015 Army&You 45


A postcard from...

TURKEY How long have you been an Army family? 15 years. T ime in Turkey: 15 months. How many other military families live there? Currently there are approximately 30. What's your quarter like? This is undoubtedly the best quarter we have ever lived in. It's a brand-new fourbedroom villa, complete with ensuite bathroom and walk-in wardrobe. There are another five military families on our sitesi (compound) and we all share an infinity pool which overlooks the Aegean Ocean. Can spouses work? No, hence I'm enjoying a very welcome career break, although I do voluntary work at the international school. What about schools? Our daughter enjoyed a year at MEF International School in Izmir before heading back to the UK to start boarding school. She made multi-national friends and enjoyed many multi-cultural opportunities at the school. MEF follows the Cambridge curriculum and covers primary and secondary levels.

46 Army&You autumn 2015

Where do Army families get together? There's a monthly book club and bunco group, however, most days people meet at the large NATO pool or at the beach. Whilst formal gatherings are limited, there are lots of impromptu BBQs, bargain-hunting trips to the local bazaar and markets and coffee stops in Starbucks. We also have access to a small American PX. Who supports families? There isn't a welfare team here, however, the NSE - which includes a native Turkish speaker - is responsible for our day-today admin needs. We also have a closed (secure) Facebook group in which we share information. It is a great resource for anyone coming here! What's the best thing about living in Turkey? Izmir and the surrounding Aegean area are full of places to visit. I count my lucky stars every morning as I drink my coffee overlooking the Aegean Ocean. We've had a great time exploring the culture, coastline, water parks and even swimming with dolphins.

FROM: Scottie, Kelly, Harrie and Harry the dog

WHERE: Turkey



Making a change: AFF’s survey received more than 400 responses which will help shape the future of childcare in Cyprus

Your views help shape Cyprus childcare


HILDCARE provision in Cyprus is set to undergo positive changes – and thanks to your responses to an AFF survey, your views will help to shape how it is delivered on the island, writes Esther Thomas, AFF Regional Manager Cyprus. With the news that HQ British Forces Cyprus (BFC) has been awarded LIBOR funding to build new centres and the government proposing 30 hours’ free childcare for working parents, it is a top issue in Cyprus. AFF worked in partnership with SSAFA to conduct a survey in BFC asking you about the type of childcare used, financial issues and what type of improvements you would like to see. There was huge interest in the survey, with more than 400 responses from families with children aged from birth up to 14 years. THE ISSUES Results suggest there is a high level of unregistered childcare being used as the current registered provision does not meet the needs of working parents, especially those that are single and dual-serving. One Army wife said: “My husband and www.armyandyou.co.uk

I are both serving. There is no full-time BRIGHT FUTURE nursery facility during term-time and no The interim results were presented to HQ guaranteed opening during holidays.” BFC with a number of recommendations. Gaps in provision were identified in Lt Col Andy Reid, Commander Joint before- and after-school provision, as Educational Training Services, who is well as school holiday times for children heading up the LIBOR-funded initiative, of all ages. A total of 55 per cent of said: “The report has been well you said that you were not using received by HQ BFC. There is as much childcare as you a real desire to engage with would like. It would be great to all those involved with “It would be great to the care of our children have more options have more options as we in order to bring about as we do not have do not have the support positive and sustainable the support network change. We want to give network that you have in the UK,” explained greater support to working you have one family. parents whilst ensuring that in the UK Many spouses reported all our children have the best being dissatisfied that the current possible start in life.” registered provision did not support those Jill Shaw, SSAFA’s Childcare Cotrying to access employment or training. ordinator in BFC, added: “Working in One spouse said: “[I’m] not able partnership with AFF on childcare issues to work due to childcare provision has been tremendous. The results should and my husband’s working hours help promote improvements.” being incompatible.” Keep an eye on www.aff.org.uk for the Concerns were voiced about poor full report or, if you have childcare issues information, advice and support to overseas, contact Julie Lowe overseas@ parents and providers, which also aff.org.uk or Lucy Scott ec@aff.org.uk impacted on the uptake of financial You can also get in touch with our benefits. Cyprus team at rmcyprus@aff.org.uk n


autumn 2014 2015 Army&You 35 47

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Visas and citizenship options on transition


ROM securing future employment to worrying about housing and finances, a raft of responsibilities await soldiers transitioning to civilian life. But for F&C personnel and British troops with F&C families, the logistical load of leaving the Army carries the additional weight of having to resolve their immigration status to ensure they do not become overstayers in the UK. AFF’s F&C team works closely with HIVEs and military units to assist soldiers and their families with their visas prior to leaving the Army. Below is a list of facts that may help you with your soldier’s transition planning: l Your soldier can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) up to 10 weeks before their date of discharge from the Army. The family can be included on the application form if you are in the UK under the transition rules (visas issued prior to December 2013). l If your soldier applies in advance they should receive

their biometric residence permit within 10 days of discharge. l ILR can be applied for up to 28 days after discharge but the sooner they apply the shorter your waiting time after leaving the Army. l Soldiers can choose to apply at a Premium Service Centre for a one day service after their discharge. l Citizenship applications can take over six months to process so your soldier must apply in good time or they could be left stranded with no passport or ability to apply for jobs, housing etc. l If their application is refused it might be too late to apply for ILR. l To apply for citizenship you need to have taken the Life in the UK test and possibly an English language test. To apply for ILR you don’t need either of these. l Your soldier must apply for citizenship before discharging. l If your soldier is already a British citizen but you have a limited leave visa, you can apply for ILR if you are under the new transition rules and

your soldier has served for four years. It will depend on the type of limited leave visa you have and when it was issued. Contact the AFF F&C team to clarify. l If your soldier is medically discharging then their ability to apply for ILR would depend upon whether their injury/ condition is attributable to service and other conditions such as time served and seriousness of injury. l If your soldier has a noncustodial conviction which was less than two years ago, then they can only apply for further leave to remain and have a visa for two and a half years. They will have to wait until two years after their conviction date before applying for ILR. If it was more than two years ago, they can apply for ILR. If it was more than three years ago, they can apply for citizenship. n

CURRENT ILR PRICES ILR (per person)................£1,500 Citizenship.........................£1,005 Further leave........................£649

CASE STUDY Private Alormene (pictured left) applied for citizenship in September 2014, but withdrew the application in March 2015 because he thought that it would prevent his wife from applying for ILR. These were the rules prior to December 2013, but thankfully it no longer matters. He realised his mistake a few weeks later and tried to cancel his request to withdraw but it was too late and www.armyandyou.co.uk

After four years of campaigning by AFF for policy change, the MOD has announced that children born to non-British parents serving on overseas assignments can now be registered as British at public expense. This will save non-British families £749 per child born during an overseas assignment. The policy change will only apply to applications made from 1 April this year. To register your children as British Citizens, complete form MN1 which is available at www.gov.uk Until this form is complete, your child is not eligible for a British passport. The costs will normally be paid direct by your soldier’s unit. Ask your soldier to speak to their Regimental Admin Officer for details (JSP 752 Chapter 10, Section 13, Miscellaneous Allowances). Further information can also be found on the AFF website at www.aff.org.uk

he lost his money. We contacted the Nationality Department to explain the situation and they agreed to reconsider the application. He was granted citizenship a few weeks later and is back on track to complete his transition smoothly. l Further information is available on the F&C pages of www.aff.org.uk or visit the welfare support pages at www.army.mod.uk for information on transition. autumn 2015 Army&You 49


Beyond the brew: From exercise classes to cooking clubs, there are many ways for Army families to settle in to new patches

Forging new friendships How often has the thought of meeting people when moving to a new area filled you with dread? AFF Regional Manager Central, Sarah Gilbody, went out and about to get some top tips to help you settle in…


RADITIONALLY in Army life, coffee mornings are the way to make friends, but with so many spouses working, there are lots of other ways you can get involved in your local community. Sharon, who lives in Catterick, runs Clubbercise, an aerobics class set to club music. She said: “I have always enjoyed keeping fit and gained my qualification so I could take my job wherever we went. “By taking the class, I have met so many people and absolutely love it. It’s not just keep-fit, it’s a social event.” INFORMAL GET-TOGETHERS The growing network of 50 Army&You autumn 2015

Military Wives Choirs means our passion for food.” there’s likely to be one nearby Hannah told us about a local wherever you’re posted. group supporting families If singing or sports with “hidden” is not your thing, disorders such It has been a perhaps try as ADHD and something crafty lifeline meeting autism. or creative. “We found that others who Sarah works everyone who understand full-time and can’t attends the group get to events during knows what it is like the day. When she to have a child with heard about a local cooking needs like ours and we can club she was keen to join in. relax knowing that meltdowns She explained: “I joined a are not a problem,” she said. group of seven others and we “We share experiences and take it in turns to host dinner at other parents have suggestions our house. One person brings a for how to alleviate the starter, another brings dessert, stress caused by some of the and the person hosting cooks behaviours our son displays. the main course. It’s a great It has been a lifeline meeting way to meet others and share others who understand.”


Whatever you’re into, there’s sure to be something to make that move seem less daunting and ensure new friendships are just around the corner. n

USEFUL LINKS Army Welfare Service 02072 189000 HIVE www.army.mod.uk/hives Your Unit Welfare Office AFF Co-ordinators see page 3 Check community centre noticeboards Military Wives Choir www.militarywiveschoirs.org.uk www.militarywagschoir.co.uk Health & additional needs enquiries additionalneeds@aff.org.uk



Picture: Jackie Rautenbach

Heart of the community Did you know that the Army Welfare Service (AWS) provides confidential support to military families wherever they are located? Julie Mounfield, AFF Regional Manager South, looks at what they can offer… AWS has three main tasks: community support, personal support and HIVE information services. The community support team works closely with families seeking to minimise the disruption of military life by providing services and specialist activities. LOCAL SUPPORT Community Development Workers (CDWs) working for AWS carry out outstanding work and are pivotal to our local communities. In North Hampshire, Sarah Magee is the CDW based at Sandhurst. She’s involved in a number of initiatives including youth clubs, family events and support groups. “The youth building has proved a great way of creating a sense of ownership for young military dependants,” she said. “It’s a safe space that is managed and maintained by the young people.” There’s great work going on in Blandford in Dorset, too, where Mandy Ford is the CDW. For adults, a job club brings in recruitment agencies and local education providers to help spouses write CVs, prepare for interview and apply for jobs.

Cool for kids: Community Development Workers organise events for adults and children, including youth clubs and team-building trips


Mandy also ensures that volunteers helping with community activities can gain qualifications through recognised schemes. It’s a similar story in Worthy Down, near Winchester, where CDW Cathy Sherlock is instrumental to the welfare support. This summer, AWS took 50 young people to the New Forest for a week of team building, sports and outdoor activities. Both CDWs in the Kent area do a brilliant job with the Gurkha community, offering access to educational courses and running coffee mornings covering everything from cooking demonstrations to jewellery making. MAKE THE MOST OF IT If you’re lucky enough to have this type of provision in your area, use it. There are some amazing things going on around the country, but unfortunately it’s not the case everywhere due to funding. Check out your HIVE or community centre to find out what’s going on near you. If AWS provision is not available in your area, contact your local AFF Co-ordinator or your Unit Welfare Officer to see what can be done. n

IF YOU DON’T GO, THEY WON’T KNOW Unit welfare teams are there to help and support you through a posting and provide vital care and compassion if the need arises. But what if they do not even know that you’re there? AFF Regional Manager North, Annabel Ingram, urges families to pay them a visit… Welfare teams are often busy helping families spread out over large areas or in their own homes. They don’t always receive information regarding those moving into and out of their region, so it’s difficult for them to keep track of all the new arrivals. WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Don’t wait until you have a problem – visit your welfare team. Your soldier may have the tick on the sheet to say they have visited welfare, but will they have discussed any family concerns? It’s a good opportunity to ask questions and also gives the welfare team a chance to let you know what is available and how they can help you. If you need any special support, your welfare team should be made aware of this from the beginning. WHERE CAN YOU MEET YOUR WELFARE TEAM? They will have offices that you can drop in to and there are specific phone numbers if you need to arrange a more formal meeting, or you may decide to have a chat at a coffee morning or unit event. Check if there’s a text alert service in your new area which will keep you updated. Whatever you choose to do… do something! This one little step may help you have a happier posting. l You can contact Annabel at rmnorth@aff.org.uk n autumn autumn 2014 2015 Army&You Army&You 35 51


Annabel Ingram tells Army&You why netball is one of her top priorities...


HEN we receive a posting most of us Google the area or new schools first. Not me, I search for the netball clubs, which are the good ones to join and where they finished in the league. I have played since school. The only time I stopped was when I was pregnant. My two boys have grown up on the side of a court or in a sports hall whilst mummy plays. They still ask to come and watch now but I think it is more the pull of the centre’s tuck shop than my playing skills! Having given up my PE teaching career to move with my soldier it is a key part of who I am and how I make friends. When we lived in England I played

Are you a ctive, energetic, profession al & enthusi astic?

for teams in Andover, Aldershot and Southampton. In Northern Ireland, I played for a club in the Premier League. As a team we trained, played and often socialised together and travelled to Spain for a tournament this year. I have even played for Northern Ireland’s national team as I have lived there long enough to be eligible. Over the years I have played at all levels and make sure I continue now that we are settled in our own home. I can’t imagine what it will be like when I stop playing; sport is a great way to make new friends in the local area you move to. n ➡ How do you escape the stresses of Army life? Tell us about your downtime by emailing deped@aff.org.uk

FrAnChIsE OpPoRtUnItIeS WoUlD YoU LiKe To Be PaRt Of A SuCcEsSfUl AnD GrOwInG BuSiNeSs? FrAnChIsInG WiTh Us MeAnS ExCePtIoNaL SuPpOrT AnD A BuSiNeSs MoDeL WhIcH We KnOw WoRkS. We OfFeR A CoMpReHeNsIvE AgReEmEnT WiTh OnGoInG TrAiNiNg AnD AdViCe. Little Scrummers Rugby has been established and growing for 6yrs. We now run 10 classes and coach over 650 children each week. Classes can be run everyday of the week or just one! With a passion for rugby and coaching children this could be the right business for you. We have developed automated systems to minimise admin, meaning more time to coach and increase revenue. A variety of franchise locations are available, if you think this could be for you please give take a look at our website for more information.


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Getting settled in Gibraltar


OVING overseas, changing schools and leaving behind friends and family can make young people feel isolated, but five young people in the British Forces Gibraltar Youth Club have formed a forum dedicated to helping Service children settle into their new environment. Brandon Gaul (14), Jasmine Ellery (14), Maegan Smith (12), Rachael Clark (12) and Sophia Nelson (11) meet up every Tuesday to focus on their aims and implement solutions. Chairperson Jasmine said: “We wanted to have a say in our emotional and educational wellbeing. Very often adults make decisions that affect us and sometimes they are made without thinking of the effect

Youth leaders: Forum members (from left): Rachael Clark, Jasmine Ellery, Maegan Smith and Sophia Nelson

on children, this is our way of having a voice.” Maegan commented: “You are expected to make friends straight away, but it’s not always easy. We want to help new people settle in quickly.” Sophia, the forum’s youngest member, added: “It’s a great opportunity to come out to Gibraltar, but it can have its downsides. Hopefully we can

give new people a head start to their new life here.” The forum has made great strides and members have taken part in a tri-Service Youth Forum in Doncaster. Development manager Sally Crawford said: “They’ve come up with some excellent solutions to the problems young people often face on arrival, such as operating a buddy

system and writing an insert for the families’ welcome pack. The forum has given them the opportunity to let decision makers know what is needed. “Their work will really benefit others.” l Are you a young person moving to Gibraltar? Email Sally Crawford at GIB-CST-CCDW@ mod.uk n


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autumn 2015 Army&You 53

Snow, souks, safaris & seasonal lights Army&You joins forces with Halcyon Travel to help families find their winter wonderland

Winter retreats, clockwise from above: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon; the chic Mon Hotel in Paris; Winchester Mansions Hotel in Cape Town; and a view of the Atlas Mountains from the Royal Palm Marrakech


OW OFTEN do you block leave dates well in advance with good intentions of reserving a holiday or short break, then never get around to actually booking anything? You simply become too busy to make it happen, are overwhelmed by the wide choice or discouraged by the high prices. Here’s a tip – focus on a destination or two and do a bit of regular online research. This can help lead you to a holiday type that catches your eye and 54 Army&You autumn 2015

suits your needs perfectly. With winter approaching it may be an idea to start planning a break now. For sunshine hours and a warm, welcoming climate (by British standards at least) then Marrakech, Morocco always tends to deliver. This year, TripAdvisor’s annual Travellers’ Choice awards rated Marrakech as the world’s best destination – and with non-stop flights less than four hours from the UK this North African city is easily accessible. Explore the densely-packed ancient

medina, bustling souks, historical buildings and royal gardens. Or do a guided walking and tasting tour with a local chef, sampling the city’s colourful and spicy street foods. Alternatively, head off for the day to the nearby Atlas Mountains. Accommodation choices are plentiful from small riad-style hotels to palatial resorts with huge pools and manicured gardens to relax and lounge about in. When considering somewhere seasonal for winter then Iceland should be on @ArmyandYou

A&Y TRAVEL CLUB your radar. It is just one big, spectacular, natural wonder with volcanic craters, lava Marrakech – 5-night November break flows, hot springs, geysers from £295 per person. and glaciers, offering Reykjavik – 3-night December break from £450 something for all, including per person. family-friendly tours. Stay in the capital, Western Cape, South Africa – 10-night January/February tour Reykjavik, for shopping, £1,995 per person. dining and culture and then try hot-pool bathing, Paris – 3-night December break from £425 per person glacier hiking, snowmobiling or searching for the Northern All prices include flights (Eurostar for Paris), based Lights. on double occupancy in 4-star hotels including A three-night stay will not breakfast, and transfers or car hire break the bank and Reykjavik is a (South Africa). Terms and short three-hour flight from the UK. conditions apply. While the pound has strengthened against the Euro, possibly the best value remains visiting South Africa. Brits enjoy an incredible exchange rate of 19 rand to the pound (at the time of this issue going to press) and once you have gotten through the airfare price barrier, the cost on the ground for hotels, transfers and wining and dining will simply astound along with the ultra-high quality of service and goods received. There is plenty to do in and around Cape Town, known as The Mother City, such as riding the cable car to the top of Table Mountain, visiting Robben Island, the prison that once held Nelson Mandela, or a trip to the nearby “wine-lands” for a private tour. For the brave, try Great White Shark cage diving! Camps Bay, with pristine beaches, will provide the sand and sea experience. A safari to see the “Big 5” is only a few hours drive away too. Weather-wise, January through March is generally a superb time to visit. Paris and Christmas-time make a magical combination. Ice skating, Christmas lights, trees and markets are in abundance – even the shop window displays go all out over the festive period to lure shoppers inside. Eurostar takes you right to the heart of Paris in just over a couple of hours. Stay in a chic, boutique hotel and lap up the atmosphere and French food in the all-day cafés, bistros or a fine-dining, Michelinstarred restaurant.


l If you are interested in any of these destinations and offers, or anywhere else in the world, contact David at Halcyon Travel Collections which offers Army&You readers preferred rates on any packaged holiday they create. Email: david@halcyoncollections.com, call 07976 287 301 or visit www.halcyon-collections.com n www.armyandyou.co.uk

autumn 2015 Army&You 55

GIVEAWAYS Enter this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

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

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

Worthy cause: You can help support the excellent work of Turn to Starboard by making a donation via the charity’s Virgin Money Giving page, which can be found on www.turntostarboard.co.uk

Star prize

Sail away on three-day break ONE lucky family will get to spend three fabulous days sailing along the stunning Cornish coast thanks to Cornwall-based Turn to Starboard. Set up by a former RAF commanding officer, the charity is run by a group of ex-Forces personnel, civilian staff and volunteers. Founder Shaun Pascoe,

Squadron Leader (Rtd), said: “Turn to Starboard supports both serving and retired personnel and their families, who can experience the established therapeutic effects of the sea, while sailing with those who have also served in hostile environments. “We help families reengage after separation,

and individuals completing operational tours or requiring resettlement assistance.” Competition entrants must be from serving Regular and Reserve families and need no previous sailing experience to apply, as full training and a skipper will be provided. For further details call

01326 314262, email info@ turntostarboard.co.uk or visit www.turntostarboard.co.uk You can also follow them on Twitter @turntostarboard or Facebook at facebook. com/turntostarboard l The package is valid for 12 months and is for a family of up to four (two adults and two children).

Boutique bonanza ARMY&YOU has teamed up with leading high street outfit JoJo Maman Bébé to offer one reader a £100 voucher to spend on the latest mother-and-baby gear. Since being established 22 years ago, the brand has become a go-to destination for everything from maternity wear to baby equipment and children’s clothing. Whether

you’re a mum-to-be, parents of a newborn or an aunt or uncle searching for the perfect gift, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for at JoJo Maman Bébé. Discover more at www. jojomaman bebe.co.uk

WANT TO WIN? Enter any of our giveaways online at www.armyandyou.co.uk

56 Army&You autumn 2015






1. A DAY AT THE RACES Ascot Racecourse is hosting the exciting Autumn Racing Weekend and CAMRA Beer Festival on 2-3 October. The sporting highlight of the meeting is Saturday’s £150,000 Totepool Challenge Cup. However, you can expect much more than just thrilling flat racing at this two-day event. Off the track, there are more than 280 real ales, as well as ciders and perries to enjoy. Advanced online tickets start at just £15 per person. Visit ascot.co.uk for further details. l Army&You has two pairs of premier admission tickets worth £40 per pair up for grabs. Entries close 20 September.

2. CATCH THE BUG Guaranteed to help families discover fun for all, Bugs in the Kitchen is the award-winning family board game from Ravensburger. Be quick to catch the bug in the trap by turning knives, forks and spoons. Which utensils you can use is decided by a throw of the die. Catching the bug in the




trap earns tokens and the first player to collect five wins. Bugs in the Kitchen is a fast, fun-toplay family game suitable for up to four players, aged six upwards. l Army&You has six creepy-crawly board games to give away, just enter to be in with a chance of winning.

3. SOCKS FOR SNUGGLING As winter approaches, we’re giving four readers the chance to win a collection of Heat Holders goodies, including a snuggle up blanket, a pair of slipper socks and a pair of original socks! The luxurious blanket is made from heatweaver material and its fur-lined fleece has a tog rating of 1.4. The slipper socks keep your feet toasty around the house, with specially designed slipresistant silicone treads on the soles. To complete this cosy set, the ultimate thermal socks support your feet with a specially-developed heavy bulk yarn and a long-looped pile cushioning. l Keep snuggled up this autumn at www.heatholders.co.uk

4. DAZZLING DRESSES Le Mu (www.le-mu.co.uk) specialises in occasion-wear and accessories that will delight girls aged 2-to-9 years. The firm’s debut collection consists of dresses and skirts featuring rich layers of tulle and lace with details such as hand-stitched flower embroidery and sequin trims. Complementary accessories include jewelled headbands and sparkling tiaras – perfect for your fairytale princess. l You can win one wonderful Le Mu dress.

5. OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE Start Off-Road (www.startoff-road.com) is offering three young people the chance to drive a Range Rover Evoque. The exciting experiences are for 11-to-17year-olds and focus on technique rather than speed. Participants get to sample a series of off-road scenarios, from tackling hills to crossing ditches and driving in ruts, wet grass and mud. Lessons run at nine venues across England and Scotland. l We have three thrilling off-road experiences up for grabs.

autumn 2015 Army&You 57

OUR EXPERTS PARENTING MATT SANDERS Prof Sanders founded the Positive Parenting Program (www.triplepparenting.uk.net)

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

CRAFT FRANCESCA KEMP Military wife and creator of Crafty Revolution (www.craftyrevolution. co.uk)

BUSINESS LIANNE BRADBURY From the Supporting the Unsung Hero business start-up programme (www.wlv.ac.uk)

LAW MARGARET SIMPSON Our legal expert is a partner at northern practice Silk Family Law (www.silkfamilylaw.co.uk)

SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS! Got a query? Send it to us and we’ll find an expert with an answer! EMAIL editor@aff.org.uk

Making memories: Use old children’s clothes to create bunting with plenty of poignancy

Q How can I add a splash of colour to my magnolia home? A

If my husband could, he would ban me from home decor magazines and Pinterest boards of gorgeous rooms. Why? Because of my constant sighs and asking him: “When will we have our forever home?” As a Service family, we’ve moved a lot, which means dealing with magnolia walls, thread-bare carpets and the flowery things hanging from the windows called curtains! Despite those limits, you can always brighten your Service Families Accommodation with crafty goodness: l I love bunting and you can find plenty of it in my house, from vintage maps to floral prints. Try memory bunting which uses children’s old clothes. This brings colour and

treasured memories into bedrooms. l Last year the world record for the longest line of pom-poms was broken at Kirstie Allsopp’s The Handmade Fair as part of #worldpomination. So, get your pom-pom maker out and fill your house with fluffy, cheerful garlands! l Framed fabric letters are a fun way to craft with children and a perfect means of colour co-ordinating a bedroom. l Colour is key. Bright colours add character to rooms and crochet is a fab way to achieve this. I am currently making table mats and coasters using jersey yarn in pinks and oranges, colours which put a smile on my face. You can download my tutorial at etsy.com/ CraftyRevolution FK

Q How do I get myself and the children out of the door on time? A

FOR many families the morning rush hour is the most stressful part of the day. Everyone is trying to get ready, the clock is ticking, and it can feel as though the children are doing everything they can to make you late! So how can you and the kids get out the door on time? I believe the key is organisation: l Get yourself ready first, before your child. To avoid last-minute rushing prepare some things the night before and go to bed at a reasonable hour, if you can. 58 Army&You autumn 2015

l Don’t have the TV on in the morning. If the kids are fully ready you can turn the television on then. l Let your child know ahead of time that you’ll be going out and explain exactly what the day’s activities will be and their time requirements. l Younger children can learn the importance of organisation by doing things for themselves. Teaching children to get dressed by themselves is a chance to practice independent skills

and it might save you time. l Try the “beat the clock” game. Your child’s goal is to be ready before the alarm clock sounds. If your child wins, they earn a small treat or reward such as a favourite snack in their lunch box. Often it will only take a twoweek period of beating the clock before the rewards and the clock can be phased out. Remember to always praise your child’s achievements.

can be reduced and those morning rush hours can become a bit calmer. MS

With a little preparation, the stress of getting out on time @ArmyandYou

Q How is an Army pension shared on divorce? A

THIS is a very common question. For an Army family, the pension is often one of the most valuable assets and the court has powers to effectively “share” a pension as part of the division of assets when looking to provide a fair outcome for the separating couple. There are two options. The first is to provide, for the spouse with no pension provision or a smaller pension provision, a share of the pension built up by the Armed Forces member. Upon a formal Pension Sharing Order being made, the spouse will become a member of the pension scheme in their own right. They are entitled to drawdown the pension benefits, subject to the terms of the scheme – for example, when they reach pensionable age. Alternatively, the court can offset a spouse’s pension claim by awarding them a greater share of other marital assets. In this situation, it is vital to seek a robust valuation of the pension scheme to ensure that the transfer

value is properly assessed. When offsetting a pension claim, the lump sum payable to the spouse is not necessarily offset pound-for-pound. It may need to be discounted to reflect the fact that the lump sum payment to the spouse is free of tax, is payable now and is more accessible than the Armed Forces Pension Scheme. When considering a pension scheme as part of a divorce settlement, it is also important to look at when the pension was first acquired. It may be that a proportion of the pension was paid into the scheme by the member prior to the marriage. It may be appropriate to ring fence that pre-marital contribution and exclude it from the sharing process. Armed Forces pension schemes are complex and I strongly advise seeking advice from someone who understands the schemes and their rules as well as your individual circumstances, to ensure the right outcome is achieved for you and your family. MS



How do I hydrate my hair?

Now is the time to take better care of your hair. Don’t get confused with adverts claiming your hair only gets dry in winter – it needs hydration all year round, even more so in the summer. The best hair product I have come across is OGX nourishing coconut milk. Apply to freshly blow-dried hair upside down for that natural voluminous look. For evenings, a little coconut oil will hold curls in until the next day. Remember, no curl will stay in if it is dry, so hairspray can make them drop out much quicker. Dry shampoo your hair at night rather than the morning, as it gives the powder time to absorb unwanted oils. My biggest tip is to avoid shampoo with blue colouring – it damages hair follicles. GB

Q Why do I need a business plan? A

WRITING a plan can seem daunting and can take time, but a well-thoughtout business strategy will give you direction and make sure you have covered everything before you start trading. Sometimes just the act of writing your idea down will help to clarify what you need to do. A business plan is important if you want to expand or diversify your product in the future or if you are seeking financial assistance. Our top tips:

documents to include your timeline, customer and market research)

l Spend time on your business plan. Include a launch date and work backwards from this date.

l Seek support from a professional business adviser to ensure it’s completed correctly but don’t pay for someone else to complete it, you’re the expert in your business. LB

l Allow up to an hour a day to work on it so it doesn’t become a burden. l Key areas to include: ✓ Executive summary (potted www.armyandyou.co.uk

l Follow the order of your plan; each section should continue on from the last and some sections can only be completed once the previous one is done. l Always leave the finance section until last. l Once complete, use it.

version of the main plan) ✓ Introduction ✓ Background ✓ Management ✓ Aims and objectives ✓ Market research and activity ✓ Equipment and premises -

are you running your business from your SFA? ✓ Operations & contingency planning ✓ Legal matters ✓ Financial analysis ✓ Appendices (supporting

l Discover Supporting the Unsung Hero at www.wlv.ac.uk/ supportingtheunsunghero n autumn 2015 Army&You 59

Autumn’s A&Y allies


ROM high heels to high-octane action at the wheel of an ATV, this issue’s Friends of the Forces brings you a range of offers direct from the communities which play host to military families. This section of Army&You shines a spotlight on Service-friendly small businesses, professionals and tradespeople based on the

doorsteps of Army garrisons. Organisations and individuals can use this space to promote their products, expertise and Forces discounts to readers at a reduced advertising rate. In return, we invite you to think of our supporters when you’re next in need of an helping hand or some retail therapy. Businesses keen to feature should contact info@ tylerbale.co.uk for details. n


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asquith day nurseries & pre-schools

Looking for local premium childcare in Staffordshire?

milford day nursery & pre-school Milford Road, Walton-on-the-Hill, Staffordshire ST17 0LA n Rated Ofsted Outstanding n Brand new adventure garden n Cosy Baby Room giving children fantastic early sensory experiences n Extra curriculum such as Baby Bounce and Rhythm at the local library, Baking Club and PE Club

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n State-of-the-art resources & equipment for early years learning n Fantastic indoor & outdoor environments n Delicious healthy and nutritious food prepared on site

For more information call 01753 20 11 22 Email us at parents@asquithnurseries.co.uk or visit www.asquithnurseries.co.uk “The safety and wellbeing of the children and staff is our number one priority.” 62 Army&You autumn 2015




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



Kept apart by archaic Army rules


AM currently a serving soldier of 15 years and am in a relationship with another Warrant Officer who I have been with for eight years. We have a two-year-old daughter and have significant commitments – however, we are not married. My partner and daughter live in SFA, as she is PStat Cat 2. Under current policy, as an unmarried couple, we cannot cohabit together in MOD property. Since my daughter was born, we have never been in a situation where we can fully cohabit and therefore the current regulations regarding visitors and guests have met our needs. Due to future postings, we will have an opportunity to finally live as a family, but due to the current rules, my partner will have a house on the “married patch” and I will have to live in the WO’s and Sgts’ Mess. It’s a totally ridiculous

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

situation that I cannot live with my own family due to cohabiting rules. Why can’t long-term nonmarried partners cohabit in the year 2015? The fact that I would not be taking housing off another eligible family or requesting an upgrade to SFA, nor demanding more from the system, makes my argument more credible. I know there are a number of other couples currently caught in this situation. I hope the MOD will rectify and change this archaic rule.

Name and address supplied Response from DPS(A): Current accommodation policy does not allow cohabitation in SFA. The MOD is aware that this does not fit with today’s lifestyles and, consequently, work is continuing on reassessing current accommodation policy with the 21st century family in mind. This work is looking at expanding entitlement

to SFA, the extended family including young adults and elderly relatives and choice of accommodation. Affordability undoubtedly has a part to play: if policy was changed overnight to extend entitlement to SFA to cohabiting couples in longterm relationships, there would be a dramatic increase in the demand for SFA which would exceed supply. Additionally, it is also very subjective when deciding how long a long-term relationship should be to become entitled to SFA. It is acknowledged that the current set of PStat Cats do not fully provide for the wide range of categories that personnel fall into. However, making any changes to PStat Cats and the related entitlements can have a wide range of consequences. These changes need to be analysed to ensure that any proposed change in policy is deliverable.

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How often is our landlord meant to check on properties? We moved into SFA (a flat) last June and the front and back doors have never been secured – the security pads don’t work and the doors don’t have catches. Just before Christmas we had bikes stolen from our block, so I reported the problem to CarillionAmey (CA) and was told they were waiting for quotes from the landlord. We are still waiting and I have since put in a complaint with CA as it was taking so long. The doors have been broken for well over a year. Shouldn’t the landlords be checking on the state of their properties? They have a duty of care to maintain them but this doesn’t seem to happen. Name and address supplied Response from DIO SD Accommodation: We are sorry to hear of these thefts and your security concerns. The Patch Management approach means that Accommodation Officers are required to walk around their allocated areas on a regular basis, checking the estate and talking to residents to identify issues – which can be raised directly with them. However, families can report communal issues, in addition to their own maintenance requests, at any time to CarillionAmey by calling 0800 707 6000. CarillionAmey’s records indicate that the faulty door intercom was first raised with them on 8 May 2015, but that specialist parts had to be ordered. Once these arrived, the doors were secured later during the same month.

GET INVOLVED: If you’ve experienced repeated problems with your SFA boiler, please fill out AFF’s survey at aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

autumn 2015 Army&You 63

to predict where we would go assigned more than 50 miles next? The only thing that has from their current duty station made the moving bearable within the next four years”. is stability for my children’s Third, the claimant’s CO education and us remaining assesses the applicant’s together under one eligibility. This must roof. Moving them be re-done on from school-toassignment, school would change in The 50-mile rule is have meant circumstance, causing issues for six schools for or every three those of us who child number years. It is cannot predict the one. this Eligibility distance we are Our certificate Certificate which posted took just under is the key part of three months to review the process. (too long) and now states that CEAGT was introduced to we must move more than 50 improve the governance of miles on our next posting. CEA, prevent fraud and add Am I missing something? further rigour to the process. The whole point of the The CEAGT team has a allowance was so the Army target of 20 working days to could post him wherever they process renewals but, in some liked and Didcot, Andover cases, this can take longer. and Aldershot is where they CEAGT is only empowered chose. I am quite happy to go to deal with the eligible SP more than 50 miles next time and therefore, without having but surely we should go to a your personal details, we location that is in the interests cannot pinpoint the reasons of the Army and his career not for delay in your case. in the interests of CEAGT. Unit admin staff remain The 50-mile rule is causing available to offer assistance to issues for those of us who all SP. The rigour that is being are most definitely mobile applied is necessary, although but who cannot predict the your process appears to distance we are posted. have been elongated. The Name and address supplied policy requires that when a CEA claimant’s family has Response from PS10(A) not moved more than 50 Allowances: CEA is an miles within the last two extremely important allowance assignments, the CO must which supports Service take this into account. families. Ensuring that the However, two assignments rules are correctly adhered within 50 miles do not to will help to safeguard the preclude future eligibility; continued availability of the it simply initiates a more allowance for those who have detailed analysis of an made a genuine commitment applicant’s eligibility. to family mobility. Command I can’t confirm how the also recognises that CEA is an suggestion that you must important retention factor for move more than 50 miles on many personnel. next assignment has arisen; it The application process is likelihood of such a posting commences with the claimant that drives eligibility. CEAGT confirming they satisfy the doesn’t issue certificates that eligibility criteria. Next, mandate future movement. the Assignment Authority Among personal and career “assesses the likelihood factors, assignments take that a Service person will be account of the Army’s needs.


On the move: Continuity of Education Allowance ensures families are compensated for relocating with the Army

CEA scrutiny is unfair


E HAVE involves moving), so boarding recently school and stability for our undergone children was the right option. the stress When a family makes a of having our Continuity of commitment to boarding Education Allowance (CEA) school it is also making a certificate queried and been long-term commitment to the vindicated. The process has Army. Postings whilst claiming been stressful, slow and CEA were Oxfordshire, then uncommunicative. I support Hampshire to a job that lasted wholeheartedly the need for less than a year. A new role rigour but it has highlighted a was then given in the same rule that concerns me. location for three years. We have moved on every We left this at the two-andposting covering Britain’s far a-half year point as requested corners and throughout all of by the military, three-andthis I have chosen to live a-half years in total (the with my soldier in longest I have lived a quarter. This anywhere!). comes with There were Moving them from the sacrifice always options of no career more than 50 school-to-school for me and would have meant six miles away, three primary but we went schools for number schools for where the Army one child each child. I think sent us. I am this makes us an staggered to have average Army family. the CEA Governance My husband was keen to Team (CEAGT) query our pursue a career (which always mobility. How were we meant


64 Army&You autumn 2015




WHAT AN ABSOLUTE SHOWER! OUR family moved to our current SFA in Larkhill in December 2011. On move-in it was apparent the property lacked any form of shower, not even an over-thebath type. This is not a sufficient reason to turn down an SFA, so we accepted it. We immediately requested for a shower to be installed but it was rejected on the grounds of non-essential work. Over the next two years we put in further requests for a shower to be fitted and each was rejected as non-essential. In 2014 new water tanks were installed in the SFAs in our area; smaller and more efficient, but unfortunately too small to fill a bath. We raised a fresh request for a shower only to be told no, as no requests could be made until the new contractor took over. In February, a request was made to CarillionAmey, but they didn’t even respond with a ‘no’ in their prescribed 30-day decision cycle. A CarillionAmey representative did say I could pay to have the work completed privately, but would be unlikely to receive recompense. Are we to believe something as basic as a shower is not an expectation of a modern house? Why, despite reporting near-miss scalding accidents as a result of the small water tank, has no one been


out to inspect the property? I am currently in the process of submitting a Freedom of Information request to the MOD, to establish how many SFA are devoid of showers. Name and address supplied Response from DIO SD Accommodation: CarillionAmey has no record of reports of scalding, poor pressure or lack of a shower at this address so it appears there has been an error with recording your complaints. You have raised some issues that concern us and these are now being investigated. We would not expect an SFA customer to be advised to pay for work on their Service property. A request has now been raised to add a shower to the property and check the water temperature. Funding is limited and we have been focused on major improvements such as targeting damp and mould. We are constantly looking for ways to improve the service we provide and subject to available funding, we plan to introduce a revised move-in standard, including a “Decent Homes” benchmark, later this year. This will help identify the sort of issues highlighted.

When reading the housing section of Army&You we are always advised that if we have any issues with our quarter to make a complaint to CarillionAmey (CA). Unfortunately we have found the complaints system very one sided and non-responsive. Two weeks after moving in to our quarter, after the smell of paint had disappeared, we discovered the smell of dog urine in our carpets. From raising this issue to making a complaint, it took three months to get a professional carpet cleaner in. We never received an apology. We discovered mud marks on doors and door frames, dirty cupboards and a sticky substance left in the bathroom cabinet. We emailed the move-in accommodation officer, but she never responded. We put three stage one complaints to DIO, but we never got a response. We then made a call to CA who took on the complaint. They decided not to uphold it as DIO responded to say the quarter was fit for move-in, despite providing photo evidence. We submitted a stage two complaint on 28 January. We are still waiting for a response! Name and address supplied Response from DIO SD Accommodation: We are sorry to hear about these issues. Moving can be stressful and we aim to make move-in as smooth as we can. Properties are prepared to ensure they meet the move-in standard – including cleanliness; to ensure that maintenance issues are identified and corrected; and that safety checks are undertaken. Our records note that your property passed all of these. However, following your complaint about the smell, CA arranged to have your carpets professionally cleaned. We are sorry that there was a delay in answering your initial complaint. This arose in the lead up to the introduction of the new housing contract. There were staff changes and an increased workload during this period, but we should have responded sooner. You have now been sent a further response from the DIO Customer Services team. This letter details the steps you can take if you are unhappy with the response.

autumn 2015 Army&You 65


Retirement concerns


Y HUSBAND elected to remain on Armed Forces Pension Scheme (AFPS) 75, but has recently been automatically switched to AFPS 15. As a spouse who has followed the flag and sacrificed my career to support my soldier, I am now concerned about our retirement. When soldiers joined up and AFPS 75 was current, the terms of service required them to serve until 55. On AFPS 15, they’re required to serve until 60. With the disparity between pension scheme changes but no changes to their terms of service, it means that soldiers are being significantly financially disadvantaged. Because they cannot serve until 60 they get an EDC (Early Departure Calculation) and have to wait until state pension age to receive their full pension. I was wondering if this shortfall was going to be addressed and our soldiers be allowed to have fulfilling careers with commensurate reward for their twilight years. If not, then sadly we can little afford to remain in the Service. Name and address supplied Response from Forces Pension Society: It is certainly true that the new AFPS 15 requires service until age 60 before a Service person becomes eligible for a full pension on retirement. It is also true that not all personnel are likely to be offered the chance to serve until they are 60, although some will, and deliberations are still taking place to determine the size and shape of such a cohort. It is also true that under AFPS 75, a full pension was awarded at age 55. However, even under this scheme, not all personnel were able to serve until they were 55 – most did not get the opportunity to do so. This is one of the main reasons that pensions for the Armed Forces have traditionally been awarded earlier than for civilians – an officer serving under AFPS 75 receives an immediate pension after 16 years’ service and a soldier after 22 years. Under AFPS 15 both officers and soldiers are eligible for early departure payments (which provide an income stream) at the 20 years’ service/age 40 point. Those who were compulsorily transfered to the new scheme are also guaranteed

that their rights accrued under the old scheme are preserved, and will be paid out when they expected them, at the rank in which they leave the Forces – not the rank they transfered to the new scheme. Below is an example of a major who serves for 34 years to age 55, with 15 years on the 75 scheme (up to April) and 19 years on the 15 scheme. They would receive: ‘75 Scheme Pension aged 55 Income stream/pension: £15,815 pa (pension) Lump sum: £47,445 15 Scheme EDP aged 55 (changing to full pension at state pension age) Income stream/pension: £10,804 pa EDP (£23,539 pension at state pension age) Lump sum: £52,962 Combined sum on retirement aged 55 Income stream/pension: £26,619 pa Lump sum: £100,407 Combined sum on retirement aged 55 Income stream/pension: £39,354 pa Compare this with a projection of 34 years on the 75 scheme (no longer an option): ‘75 Scheme Pension aged 55 Income stream: £28,708 Lump sum: £86,124 There is an element of swings and roundabouts. Between retirement and state pension age, the soldier on the 75 scheme throughout would have earned more, because they would have received just over £2,000 pa more income, but offset by a smaller lump sum at age 55. But as soon as he/she reaches state pension age, the soldier who transfered schemes becomes better off. The new scheme is a career average rather than a final salary scheme, so it saves money from those who are only joining the Forces now. Above is only an illustration and precise calculations will differ with each individual. Nevertheless, the message is clear; the new scheme is not necessarily bad for you, so before you make any life-changing decisions, do speak to us. Join online at www.forcespensionsociety.org

SHUT OUT FOR SPEAKING OUT The recent Domestic Abuse: Guidance & Support for the Armed Forces Community publication on the government website fails to regard the fact that military spouses are vulnerable over their civilian counterparts as: l Their homes are solely in the name of the serving soldier l Notice to vacate is only 93 days once the serving soldier changes his/her marital status. As a result, spouses may be more likely to remain in a vulnerable position. They may put up with unacceptable behaviour to avoid becoming homeless and it could be argued that they live in constant fear or anxiety. I know of spouses who refuse to engage in confrontation as partners have threatened them with the loss of their home. Not all spouses want to report these matters. If you’re a spouse who wants to have a separation period, perhaps to undergo therapy, it’s unclear whether this would be considered as a change in marital status. This could be particularly difficult if living overseas. Whether you choose to stay in the area or move away, it can be difficult to find a new home. Add to this the possibility of having to find employment, obtain references for landlords and deal with benefits – 93 days isn’t very long. All this will be exacerbated if there are children and/or pets involved. I would like to see the Army and other agencies work hard to provide the spouse with longer-term assistance. SFA could be paid for by the dependant spouse through benefits or employment to give them more time to find alternative accommodation. It isn’t fair that spouses are essentially made homeless while soldiers are housed throughout any separation or divorce proceedings. Maria Williams Response from WO2 Shelley Bamford, Senior Army Welfare Worker, Army Recovery Capability: The Army Welfare Service (AWS) is able to provide confidential support to any family where domestic abuse is an issue. Every effort is made to ensure that where abuse has taken place and families are to move out of the military community, those requiring support are linked into the relevant supporting agencies wherever the family are relocating. AWS will continue to engage with the family until such time that they are appropriately supported locally and/or housed. AWS will work together with all relevant housing authorities (including DIO) to ensure that families are prioritised in accordance with legislation regarding domestic abuse and housing entitlements. This may include the local authority and other Service charities to relocate families to safe houses or refuges. AWS prioritises the physical safety and emotional wellbeing of those subjected to domestic abuse and will make every effort to ensure that the transition from the military community is as seamless as possible.

GET INVOLVED: We often ask for your opinions on Facebook. Like us at facebook.com/ArmyandYou to have your say.

66 Army&You autumn 2015






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Army&You Autumn 2015  

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

Army&You Autumn 2015  

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