Army&You Autumn 2016

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Army&You Autumn 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Basic training

Everything you need to know about apprenticeships

HOUSING CarillionAmey chief answers your questions

MOTORING Our guide to hitting the open road

EMPLOYMENT Meet the spouses overcoming career challenges THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION


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 for details.

WelComE Customer Contact Centre * 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.

Online top-up service


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

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ

Highway to happiness


RIVING and car ownership are essential parts of our everyday lives, but for Service families they can be real lifelines. In this edition our special feature, One for the road, explores the benefits of getting behind the wheel. And with autumnal weather on the way, we have some essential car maintenance tips to help prevent nightmare breakdowns – which always seem to happen just at the wrong moment! Sticking with the transport theme, we hear from some intrepid Army youngsters whose school run means crossing continents to get home for the holidays (page 35). With a new academic year about to get underway, our 57 School Report feature (page 33) showcases the ways in which the nation’s schools support Service pupils. And if you’re considering boarding school for your child, our education specialist has @ArmyandYou



© 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@ 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




some useful suggestions for the questions you might want to ask during your visit. With employment for Army family members high on the MOD’s agenda, we meet six successful spouses who have overcome barriers to employment to make their choice of work work for them. After a very poor start to the housing contract, with thousands of complaints from families living in homes not fit for purpose, we put CarillionAmey’s managing director under the spotlight with questions submitted by Army&You readers. Find out what he said on pages 18-19. As well as some passionate postbag letters (pages 64-66), there are some fabulous giveaways to enter on pages 62-63. Happy reading!


Email 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: Tel: 01252 714870 Web:


COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 16 October 2016. 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. for details

AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT CANADA KENYA GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // ESBA WSBA YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07552 861983 // EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // HOUSING 07789 551158 // FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCE & MONEY✪ 07799 045955 // ✪ Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

autumn 2016 Army&You 03

Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Admissions Deadline 15 Jan each year 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 2016


17 Mould Matters How AFF is helping families deal with damp 33 School Report We head to Warminster for our quarterly feature 35 Crossing Continents Meet the Service kids with colossal school commutes 48 Rebasing Masterclass How a welfare team managed a massive move 52 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Milan 54 Lettings Legislation How new legislation might affect military landlords


18 Under the Spotlight CarillionAmey chief answers your housing questions 26 One for the Road Kate Viggers on the benefits of driving for Army families 31 Basic Training Why an apprenticeship may be perfect for you 45 Overcoming Challenges Army spouses on clearing obstacles to employment 55 Border Barriers Healthcare continuity for mobile military households 57 Searching for Shakespeare This issue’s Downtime delves into genealogy


06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s Chief Executive 13 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 58 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with money, employment and motoring 62 Giveaways Win a luxury break, panto tickets and more 64 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


CAREER MINDED Army spouse – and MOD apprentice – Charlotte Barrington with husband Ashley PAGE 31

Army&You Autumn 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Basic training

Everything you need to know about apprenticeships

HOUSING CarillionAmey chief answers your questions

MOTORING Our guide to hitting the open road

EMPLOYMENT Meet the spouses overcoming career challenges THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION


autumn 2016 Army&You 05

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.



A huge area of interest for AFF at the moment is the future of Service Families Accommodation. I’m attending meetings with the Army and the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) team to ensure that your views and best interests are taken into consideration during the decisionmaking process. A record number of you filled in our AFF Big Survey on future accommodation and early indications show that the majority of you want to keep SFA. The results will be fed back to the chain of command and the FAM team. FAM could be a seismic change for families, so even if you missed the survey please contact me with any concerns so that I can ensure that your views are still heard.

Dental and orthodontic provision in the UK is often on AFF’s agenda. We have raised issues around provision or continuity of care with the appropriate people in NHS England and the devolved administrations. This now extends further afield as I have been investigating dental provision in overseas locations and particularly for children who are at boarding school in the UK with parents assigned overseas. If you have any issues accessing dental provision in the UK or overseas, I would like to hear from you. Contact

To tie in with our motoring feature (page 26), we asked our experts about their first car...

A Ford Escort – it was a company car.

A Hillman Imp, which cost £200. It kept breaking down in rush-hour traffic!

The UK’s Only Armed Forces Motor Finance Broker Lowest Rate Guarantee Lowest Price Guarantee 5 Branches Over 3000 Cars Available All Credit Histories Considered

At MK Car Finance, we understand the issues Armed Forces personnel have obtaining credit. Being a specialist military finance broker, we deal with a number of lenders who are sympathetic and understand the unique circumstances of military personnel. With barracks or naval addresses, overseas postings, and moving around often, many of you find it hard to fit the usual credit scoring systems for motor finance. That, coupled with the fact that some lenders won’t even consider members of the Armed Forces, means applications are often unnecessarily declined.

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 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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19.9% APR Representative The representative APR means 51% or more of our customers who apply through the website and take up an offer of finance pay a rate of 19.9% APR or less. If you are accepted and your credit history is good you could potentially be offered an APR lower than this rate, if your credit history is poor you could potentially be offered an APR higher than this rate. Finance applications are always subject to status and affordability checks, written quotations are available upon request. *Not all applications for finance will receive an offer. For details please contact us by phone or visit

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Unique Financial Services South East LTD T/A MK Car Finance Constable House, 20 Simpson Rd, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK2 2DE Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 666832.

06 Army&You autumn 2016


This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Our experts




In March 2016, visa prices increased again – this time by a massive 25 per cent. An Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application is now £1,875. So it’s now more important than ever to ensure that you have enough money saved in order to apply to extend before your visa expires. If you cannot afford this, you can apply to extend your leave for a limited period but this still costs £811 and will cost more in the long run. Soldiers should look at applying for Citizenship whilst they are still serving – this will save them having to apply for ILR on discharge.

Whilst funds exist to support older Forces children in schools, there is currently no Department for Education or MOD specifically targeted funding other than LIBOR money for Service children under five. Whilst the new Covenant Fund is a start, it’s not age specific. I would like to see fairness in support of all ages. Concrete evidence exists showing the importance of identifying and tackling problems early in a child’s life, particularly in stressful situations. I would like to see the Service Pupil Premium extended in line with the Early Years Pupil Premium and AFF is pushing for recognition from the MOD. See the education pages at

Are you interested in becoming a trustee? I am seeking two Army family members to take part in the free Getting on Board programme. Volunteering as a trustee allows you to learn, develop new skills and meet new people while making a difference to your community. The average time commitment is only 30 hours a year. Getting on Board is a charity which supports people to become trustees. It offers a bespoke trusteeship service designed to help you find a role to suit your aims and interests. Serco is sponsoring two places on the programme, which would normally cost £200 each. To find out more or register your interest, contact me at

I’ve never owned a car; the first one I shared was a Morris Minor – Trafalgar Blue.

A Ford KA – I saved for such a long time to buy it.

A green-and-white Citroen 2CV called Dolly.


off & free delivery

autumn 2016 collection

Lets be friends

Call us on 0871 423 5656 or visit our website at Quote AMY62 online or in store Offer expires 31.10.2016. See website for offer details and store addresses.

Army & You August.indd 1

08/08/2016 10:23

autumn 2016 Army&You 07

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity




Open Morning: 8 October 2016 Contact us to book a place or to arrange a personal tour and interview

Full and weekly boarding now available

Located on a beautiful 150 acre site in Dover, Kent, 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.

Why choose us? • An independent school atmosphere at • Full and weekly boarding available. an affordable price. £3,940 per term* • Students enjoy an active lifestyle covers ALL the boarding costs, with the education paid for by the State.

including sport, music, drama and outdoor activities, with over 70 clubs and activities offered.

• Graded ‘Good’ in all areas by Ofsted. • A £24.9m building programme has • Unique ethos helps promote just been completed to enhance our already impressive school site and facilities including new boarding houses, teaching blocks, drama studio, sports centre and climbing wall.

character and life skills, with students encouraged to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

• Frequent involvement in high

profile National events including the Royal Festival of Remembrance.

2016/17 fees are just £12,495* per year. If you qualify for CEA, you will only pay £1,249.50 per year.

Enquiries: 01304 245073 *Fees are reviewed annually


How is your morale? by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive Get involved – follow us on Twitter @ArmyandYou and @The_Aff


ERE at AFF, we have seen changes so dramatically that it no My concern is that if we an increase in families longer resembles what soldiers and tighten the strings too expressing concerns over their families originally signed up to. much, the offer changes the ‘Army offer’. Many of Army life is unique and needs to be you are feeling that it is one change so dramatically that it no remunerated accordingly! after another and are uncertain of longer resembles what what to expect next. SOME POSITIVES soldiers and their families There is some leeway for Army 80 per cent of families have seen increases in SFA charges and families that should not be forgotten originally signed up to changes to their soldier’s pension (subsidised housing, allowances and pay packages, and now there are etc) but you also make some real rumours about how the Future Accommodation Model sacrifices that are much harder to measure such as may change the way you live. living away from family, forfeiting spousal employment So is the offer getting better or worse? Is the feeling and training opportunities and long periods of amongst our families justified? Are we basing it on separation. We need to make sure that the pros and the facts or pre-programmed experience that change cons balance! equals worse off? And if the offer is changing – particularly with accommodation – we need to ensure that your views MAKING COMPARISONS are taken into consideration. There are clear areas of negative change, but can we compare today’s package with that of five years ago AFF’S AGENDA when so much has happened during this time – both The offer is very high on our agenda and we in the Army and the wider economy? will continue to champion the need for better We all know that the public purse has decreased and communication and consultation with our families in we need to fit our services into the new budget, so a these changes. If you are concerned, contact your local little bit of tightening is to be expected. My concern AFF co-ordinator – details on page three – or email is that if we tighten the strings too much, the offer & Come along to AFF’s Catterick Employment Fair on 15 November. Details at

autumn 2016 Army&You 09

Nu se y to unive sity

Clifton College is a leading day and boarding school in Bristol for girls and boys aged 2-18. Our inspirational teaching and focused individual care helps our pupils achieve their full potential both in and out of the classroom. Clifton College has a rich and established heritage with the British Armed Forces and the families that serve within it. For more than 150 years the College has provided a base for the children of serving Forces personnel.

To find out more visit Or book a personal visit with our Admissions team on 0117 405 8417



Check out our Covenant campaign


ERE you aware that AFF has been running a campaign throughout 2016 to help inform you about key aspects of the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC)? Our "Did you know..?" campaign has used social media – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – to bring important Covenant

information direct to you. We’ve also been asking "Have you ever..?", encouraging you to share your Covenant experiences with us. Since the campaign began, we’ve covered successes that AFF has helped influence, including: ✔ The big six lenders have agreed that as an

Army family, you should now be able to keep your regular mortgage if wanting to rent out your UK home while posted overseas. ✔ An agreement from the most widely used mobile network providers who should now allow you to cancel or postpone contracts while posted abroad. ✔ The extension of the contract

between Royal Mail and the British Forces Post Office offering cheap/free post, allowing those overseas to stay in touch. ✔ The widening of National Insurance credits to include those who were posted overseas between 1975 and 2010. In the coming months we will continue to make

the AFC more meaningful to families. We’ll keep you informed of any progress and will bring you up-to-date alerts on how your family can benefit from Covenant policies. We’re also keen to capture your views and experiences, which we will feed back to government, local authorities and corporations

to ensure decision makers are informed of what is working and what changes you want to see.

GET INVOLVED Look out for our campaign on social media and help AFF ensure that the Covenant is working for your family. For more information, visit uk and click 'Armed Forces Covenant'. &

The Premier Armed Forces Club in London

Your Family Friendly Club in the Capital. The Union Jack Club is acknowledged as the Premier Armed Forces Club in London next to Waterloo Station. You can drop in to meet up and relax in a safe and secure atmosphere with serving and ex service men and women. Book a restaurant table or just have a coffee or a pint with likeminded people. We automatically enrol ALL Non - Commissioned members of the Armed Forces into the club. As a member you can use the club not only as an overnight facility but as a meeting point for friends prior and post London events. Access your base in London with your military ID card

Please call 020 7902 6000

Reasons why you should try us: • Union Jack Club Ale/Pils from £2.50 a pint

• Bedrooms from £30 on Fri/Sat • Rooms from £40 during the week


Union Jack Club autumn 2016 Army&You 11

ADOPT WITH SSAFA SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is a registered adoption agency. We are particularly good at placing brothers and sisters together in loving military families. TO FIND OUT MORE Call 020 7463 9326 or email Visit

Registered charity No.210760 and SCO38056. Established 1885. Job ref: S094.0816

Grapevine Really useful bits about Army life. Get involved – email



The military is renowned for its abbreviations and acronyms and it can feel like another language. If you don’t know your UWOs from your TACOs, check out our handy guide...

UWO Unit Welfare Officer RSM Regimental Sergeant Major CA CarillionAmey DIO Defence Infrastructure Organisation TACOS Terms and Conditions of Service MO Medical Officer DII The military’s secure intranet JSPs Joint Service Publications MOD Ministry of Defence

PENSION TOP-UPS Up to 20,000 Armed Forces’ spouses could benefit from a pension boost designed to cover gaps in National Insurance payments caused by giving up work to go abroad. A similar system already exists for any military partners sent overseas since 2010. However, the new Armed Forces National Insurance credit will now apply to postings since 1975, helping to ensure you do not lose out under the new state pension, which is based on people’s contributions record.

DIN/DIB Defence instruction notice/ Defence internal brief

If you were married to, or in a civil partnership with, a member of the military and joined them on an overseas posting since April 1975, you can apply for the credit – even if you’re now widowed or divorced. It will cover National Insurance contributions that people missed because they were not able to work abroad, which would otherwise lead to lower pension payments. For further information, visit the AFF website at


ILR Indefinite Leave to Remain JCCC Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre SP Service personnel POTL Post-Operational Tour Leave AWS Army Welfare Service Get involved: If you’ve got any military acronyms you’d like to share or have explained, let us know! Email


Watching Himself pack up his kit as he prepares to head off again. And I thought I had a lot of stuff in my handbag. #KitVsClutch


when u’ve just done a 12 day camp to coming back for 4 days to supposedly going on exercise again #TIRED just isn’t the word


When you’re prepping for your man’s homecoming in the beautician & he texts to say the flight is possibly postponed for a week. Only the Army


Saw my boyfriend in uniform for the first time today, really hits home #handsome #soldier @BritishArmy

GET INVOLVED: Follow us on Twitter @ArmyandYou and @The_Aff autumn 2016 Army&You 13


A selection of the best pictures of Army life...

Safer sleep for babies IF you’re a new parent or expecting a baby soon, it’s worth checking out The Lullaby Trust’s short film, Safer Sleep for Babies, promoting

awareness of the dos and don’ts of bed time. Tragically, around 290 babies and toddlers die every year from Sudden Infant Death

Syndrome (SIDS) in the UK and the charity is keen to raise awareness among new parents. To view the film and find out more

about safer sleep and SIDS, visit www.lullabytrust. or call the Lullaby Trust’s parent information line on 0808 802 6869.

IF YOU have a little one in childcare, you could be eligible for the government’s new tax-free childcare initiative. Similar to the current voucher scheme, it could help cover 20 per cent of your childcare costs – up to £2,000 per child, per year for children up to the age of 12.

Due to be rolled out from early 2017, tax-free childcare will replace the existing scheme in April 2018. The new initiative will still have certain eligibility criteria which you’ll need to meet. For more information and how to apply, visit

Talk in confidence Forcesline is a free and confidential telephone helpline and email service that provides support for serving and ex-Servicemen and women and Reserves from the Armed Forces and for their families. As an independent charity, SSAFA is not part of the military chain of command. With 21,983 requests for help last year, the team is there to listen and not to judge. They can give you factual information and suggest ways forward to assist you. Forcesline can be accessed from anywhere in the world: 14 Army&You autumn 2016

UK 0800 731 4880 Germany 0800 1827 395 Cyprus 800 91065 Falkland Islands #6111 Rest of the world +44 (0)207 463 9292 Email service forcesline

From top: The Princess Royal joins 3,400 veterans, serving soldiers and guests at Royal Hospital Chelsea’s Founder’s Day; An Army Reserve nursing officer examines a Kenyan baby during Exercise Askari Serpent; Prince Harry congratulates Invictus Games gold medalwinning Team UK swimmers Michael Goody, Luke Reeson, Fergus Hurst and David Wiseman; Fusilier Jamie Doe with son Joshua (11 months) during 2 SCOTS’ Penicuik homecoming parade;


Picture credits (from top): Sgt Rupert Frere, RLC, MOD Crown copyright; NMA; 335 Medical Evacuation Regt; Mark Owens, MOD Crown copyright



BEST FOR WELL-BEING The Week Independent Schools Guide



Academically top-performing school – 79% A*-B at A Level in 2015

downside SCHOOL

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Featuring a damp database, white goods and CarillionAmey under the spotlight


Damp data: We have more than 1,200 properties on an AFF database tracking instances of mould and damp in Service Families Accommodation


MOULD MATTERS SINCE 2012, AFF has kept a database to collect all reported cases of SFA affected by mould and damp. We now have more than 1,200 addresses on our list. We have also recorded all repeat cases which has helped to show how long an issue has been going on and whether it is seasonal. We regularly share the updated results with Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) to help it to pinpoint hot spots and plan works.

(about 430 SFA), all of which had high numbers of properties recorded on the AFF database. This included 37 SFA in Bovington, 42 in Blandford, 30 in Bulford and 27 in Colchester. All these SFA have now had work carried out, including external wall insulation, new roofs, new windows and boilers. It really has helped to make a difference to the families living in them.


If you have damp or mould in your SFA, report it to CarillionAmey and continue to do so every time it comes back so that they can build up a

Last year DIO carried out remedial works for mould and damp on around nine estates


picture of the issue. Make sure that you fill in the AFF mould database too – visit www.surveymonkey. com/r/MouldRegister If you have recently moved into an SFA and notice damp or mould issues, check with us to see whether a previous family has recorded an issue in your house. This will give you more information to use when discussing it with CA.

WHAT SHOULD CA BE DOING? CA should follow an action plan in response to a report of damp or mould: ◆ CA will send out a contractor to assess and do remedial works to

treat the affected areas. ◆ On the second report, CA will send a technical officer to assess the extent of the issue. ◆ If the issue persists or it is affecting similar SFA nearby, CA will request a professional survey to provide details on the cause, options to correct and cost. In addition, a professional survey can be requested by DIO staff at any stage. ◆ Throughout the process CA should keep you informed. If you feel the process is not being followed, put in an official complaint to CA (make sure you get a reference number) and let AFF know by emailing &

DO you live in an SFA with built-in white goods? There aren’t that many and they tend to be new builds, but until now there has been confusion over who’s responsible for maintaining and replacing them. Several of you have approached AFF to ask what you should do. One family had a broken integrated fridge freezer and it took six months before it was replaced. DIO has agreed with CA that any SFA with fitted or integrated appliances will be maintained (and if they die, replaced) until such time as the kitchen is refitted. At that point, fitted and integrated appliances will be removed and the kitchen will be designed to leave spaces for white goods, as is the norm in SFA. If you have an issue with a built in appliance in an SFA, call CA on 0800 707 6000, option 1. If you encounter problems, please contact AFF at autumn 2016 Army&You 17


After a very poor start to the housing contract, with thousands of complaints from families living in homes not fit for purpose, CarillionAmey’s managing director Daniel Easthope (pictured) responds to Army&You readers' questions… SCHEDULING Q. Contractors are of no use if they spend half their day on the road. Communicate with us and you'll be surprised how flexible some of us will be. What is being done to improve scheduling and calling ahead? A. We know our scheduling hasn’t been good enough and we’ve taken the following steps: ◆ We’re providing better training to improve the way that jobs are scheduled to our engineers. ◆ We’ve brought in more people to reduce the backlog and introduced weekend work. ◆ We’ve emphasised to engineers the importance of good communication and the

18 Army&You autumn 2016

need to call customers ahead of arriving. They are also being briefed on recording accurate information so that the right parts and tradesmen are noted for any follow-up work. ◆ We’re increasing text message alerts for our customers unless customers opt out.

COMPLAINTS Q. The complaints team are unable to authorise, escalate or speed up repairs and rarely give a decent response at the end of it (that’s if they haven’t simply closed it without telling me). What is the point of your complaints system? A. In the past we were not

responding to all complaints efficiently or effectively as needed. In order to improve, we’ve done the following: ◆ Employed more people in the customer care team who must resolve complaints within the first ten days or the complaint goes to a director. The customer must be kept up to speed and shouldn’t have to chase for updates. Managers will take ownership for an individual complaint through to resolution, so people will start to see a more personal service. ◆ Intensive training will help the team provide detailed responses that address the complaint issues to better understand what has gone wrong, why, what lessons we’ve learned, and what actions

we are taking to stop repeat issues. ◆ A complaint should not be closed without a conversation/ and/or letter to the customer. If this happens, the complaint is reopened and investigated. We know that things are starting to move in the right direction as complaint numbers are beginning to fall.

FAILURES Q. When are you going to accept you cannot fulfil your contract and let another company have a go? A. We have had challenges with this contract but at every stage we’ve been upfront and honest @ArmyandYou

YOUR HOME Families also need to make sure they don’t leave litter, engage in fly-tipping and that they use designated bins for dog waste.

HEATING PROBLEMS Q. Last winter was a nightmare for heating problems and you assured us that it would be better this winter but it hasn’t been – when are you going to get it to work?

AFF is pleased to see that CA understands families' concerns and we will continue to work closely with them to monitor improvements

about them. We are in for the long haul because we know that we can fulfil this contract. All the indications are that we are on track to deliver our improvement plan and this should bring about change for the better. We care passionately about delivering a good service.

MOVE-IN/MOVE-OUTS Q. Why, when you have 15 days to prepare a property after the last family moves out, are families still moving into dirty and broken quarters? A. In some areas this has worked, but in others we’ve still got challenges. I don’t find it acceptable for properties not to be clean at move-in. We are reviewing cleaning standards, consistency of cleaning materials and equipment, levels

of supervision and training for Accommodation Officers (AOs). This will drive standards up and make sure the service delivers. See the star letter on page 64 for a family’s view on SFA cleanliness.

PATCH MANAGEMENT Q. Who is meant to be in charge of looking after the patch? Quarter areas used to be well looked after and now some of them are just a total mess. A. AOs should be walking around their patches checking for issues such as graffiti, streetlights not working, damage to play park equipment and problems with block garages. If you have a patch management issue, contact the helpdesk or your local customer service centre and they will alert the AO.

A. I know we’ve let people down and that simply isn’t good enough. We’ve employed in excess of 100 people: engineers, administrators, managers and AOs. We’ve relocated our main gas scheduling team to our helpdesk and we’ve got the parts team, supply team and scheduling teams sitting side by side working together. New boilers continue to be installed and there are more planned for the next financial year.

CLEANING SCHEME Q. Why are people paying hundreds of pounds for move-out cleans through the WalkAway scheme, only for the next occupant to move in and find it has not been cleaned? This is fraud!

should be done automatically. A. Yes, it should be done automatically. The engineer is responsible for updating the job notes which alert the scheduling team about what follow-on works are needed. They then arrange the work at a time that is convenient for you. We’re running some intensive customer service training which is helping to improve this but if you have problems, please let us know.

STANDARDS Q. Why is it that my kitchen does not meet move-in standards and would be replaced if we were moving in, but as we are already here we have to put up and shut up? How is that justified? A. We are trying to do as much work as possible to upgrade properties whilst they are empty knowing that families would rather not have work take place when they are in situ. However, we still do some improvement work such as kitchen and bathroom upgrades in occupied properties as part of the annual funding programme.

LETTING FAMILIES DOWN A. The walkaway scheme allows families to walk away from their properties without cleaning leaving us responsible for bringing the property up to the move-out standard. Families are not paying for a cleaning service they are paying to be able to leave their property without having to clean it. If properties don’t meet move-in standards, we are held to account for this failure under our contract.

FOLLOW-UP JOBS Q. Why do I have to book follow-up jobs like painting of the replaced ceiling? You expect me to have the original job reference, even after the contractor has said they will get any follow-up booked in. This

Q. I'd like to know how the MD considers his position to be tenable when the delivery of the contract has been a failure from the start and CA are letting Forces families down. A. I could not possibly let my people shoulder the burden of getting this right without leading from the front. Yes, there are things we could have done better and I take full responsibility for them and I’m determined to drive the improvements needed for us to get better. Our improvement plan is well underway and I’m confident that we will reach our targets and deliver the contract as was originally intended. I intend to work side-by-side with the CarillionAmey team. &

Thank you to all of you who submitted questions and housing issues. Your evidence has helped bring about CA’s improvement programme. AFF is expecting the situation to improve, but if you continue to experience difficulties contact AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, at

autumn 2016 Army&You 19


Picture courtesy of The Northern Echo

YOUR LEGACY COULD HELP THOSE FACING NEW BATTLES 90-year-old D-Day veteran Frank Hughes fought for our freedom on the beaches of Normandy. Gunner Mark Stonelake put his life on the line in Afghanistan, losing a leg in an IED explosion. Remember The Royal British Legion in your Will, and your legacy could be a more hopeful future for both of them – and the whole Armed Forces community. Even a small portion of your estate could help us give lifelong support, providing everything from home adaptations for an injured veteran, to specialist dementia care in one of our award-winning Legion Care Homes. The Legion has helped Service men and women of all conflicts, and their families, for almost a century. Once you have provided for your loved ones, you could give Britain’s bravest men and women the lifetime of support they so richly deserve.

For more information, or to take advantage of our free Will-writing service: Call our Legacy Manager Nicola Hall on 020 3053 7087 Email Or visit to find out more.

Registered Charity Number: 219279

Featuring Poppy Pins, poetry, the power of art and a children's book

Labour of love: Making the pins involves collecting and melting shell fuses, creating wax castings and painting each poppy before presenting the finished product

One for every soldier How a craftsman is honouring victims of the Great War


ALLEN soldiers of the Battle of the Somme are being individually honoured in an evocative series of Poppy Pins, made using materials recovered from the historic battlefield. TMB Art Metal is creating a limited run – 19,240 in total – commissioned by The Royal British Legion to form a fitting tribute to

every son, brother and father who lost their lives fighting for their country. The pins are crafted from brass taken from British shell fuses salvaged from the Somme battlefield. The metal is melted down to remove impurities before being cast, fettled and polished to create the miniature poppies.

The golden pins are then finished by a spot of red enamel in the centre, which contains a small amount of earth recovered from the British frontline.

HUMBLING The pins are the creation of TMB Art Metal's Christopher Bennett. He collected fuses and the soil from the Somme

himself and described the project as an honour to be involved with. He said: “It is truly humbling to hold a piece of profound history in the form of a shell fuse found on the Somme. “These men were loyal, everyday volunteers, and none of them understood the situation they were going to be encountering, but all of

them – the men who died and who lived – were heroes. "This was very much a labour of love, and is a project that has meant a lot to me personally. “Crafting the pins by hand, I feel we have recognised the individuals in a way that anonymous factory mass production could never achieve.” &

Poppy Pins are on sale now priced £39.99, with profits going to The Royal British Legion. Visit to order yours.

autumn 2016 Army&You 21

POPPY STORY THE symbol of the poppy has become even more poignant to author Anne Middleton since becoming part of an Army family. To help children to understand its significance, she wrote a story – Piggy and Woof and the Poppy. It’s been made into a booklet small enough to fit in your pocket and will be sold by Royal British Legion poppy vendors in the Wiltshire area. With 1 Royal Horse Artillery covering printing costs, it means that all proceeds will go to RBL. “We ran a competition in the infants’ school where I am ‘writer in residence’ to find illustrations for the booklet,” said Anne. “In my storytelling sessions I emphasise the fact that we are not just remembering those in the past, but we are also saying thank you to military personnel and families who are currently serving. “These children are making sacrifices that they have no control over. “Having to say goodbye to friends when they move house, start a new school or the pain they feel when a parent goes away are big deals for a young child.”

For more information about Anne’s work or to buy the booklet, visit piggyandwoof 22 Army&You autumn 2016


The power of art ARTIST Caroline de Peyrecave's creation WARpaint is a project which aims to raise vital funds for four charities that support serving personnel and veterans who are living with the life-changing effects of war. By utilising the therapeutic power of art, many of those sitting for Caroline have a chance to reflect on what has happened to them and how they are living their lives today.

Caroline is particularly focusing on the positive side of what her sitters are doing now in their day-to-day lives. Mark Harding, from 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, explained: “I feel very honoured to have Caroline paint my portrait and hope it inspires other injured soldiers. "Afghanistan was our war, now our injuries are our war and as soldiers we never lay down to

a fight.” The funds will be raised through the corporate leasing of 15 life size portraits of sailors, soldiers and aircrew, representing conflicts that the UK has been involved in since the Second World War. The four Service charities benefitting from the project are Combat Stress, Walking with the Wounded, Oswald Stoll Foundation and Lt Dougie Dalzell MC Memorial Trust.

Darren Swift, who served in Northern Ireland, added: “I believe that WARpaint is going to be a fantastic opportunity for members of the public to view and experience the unique images created by Caroline, enabling them to have a glimpse into the lives of members of HM Forces who have been injured in conflict.” For more details, visit www.warpaint & @ArmyandYou



HUG or nurturing touch can be more effective at conveying your feelings than a thousand words. Infant massage has become very popular with Service families and is hugely beneficial for babies and parents. It can give confidence to a returning parent after time away from the family, can help you find new friendships and can also help with postnatal depression. Infant massage works by using a nonfragranced vegetable

oil and giving soothing holds and rhythmic strokes to each area of your baby’s body. Wiltshire-based military mum Zoe joined an IAIM course in her area and it opened up

a new friendship and support group. She explained: "I didn’t know anyone when I moved to Wiltshire so finding this group not only made me some amazing

friends, who are all in the same boat, but gave me a chance to learn fantastic new skills to do with my baby. “When dad came home we were able to show him what we

had learnt so he too could do the massage which really made him feel connected and part of the family after months away – it saved me when I was feeling alone and a bit lost as a

new mum.” IAIM currently runs classes in many areas where Service families are based in the UK and abroad including Wiltshire, Somerset, Hampshire, North Yorkshire, Northern Ireland and Cyprus. Teaching infant massage can also be a good career option. You can find out more about the IAIM instructor programme or discover classes in your area by visiting www.iaimbaby &

Something only military families will understand By Forces wife Maria Codd As a forces wife everything constantly changes The size of my house and the number on its door The name of the street i live in The town or even the country i live in The job i do, or whether i work at all The people that surround me The accents around me The activities i partake in and the clubs i join The places to visit and the places to shop The only constant in my life is my family My husband, my one and only 21 years of marriage, 12 houses, 3 children And my children 3 of them with 21 schools between them it’s the constants in my life The other women in the same position That make it bearable Keep me strong and keep me smiling Making the fun times memorable And the hard times worth it.

autumn 2016 Army&You 23

Picture: Clare and Fiona Henderson

There is an expectation that after your soldier returns, life together will be perfect. But time away can put a strain on even the strongest relationships between partners and young children. Polly Chadwick, from the International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM), tells us how infant massage can be an effective way to reconnect…


#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories

Tracy Shaw, her husband Frazer and their children Mollie (eight) and Lucy (three) tell us about life as Army musicians…

WE met in 1999 whilst training at the Royal Military School of Music. But after completing our training we were then posted to opposite ends of the country – Edinburgh and Blandford. We spent two years this way and although we’ve never been posted together since, we’ve managed to stay within Hampshire and Dorset.


Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to

Life as a military musician is unique, from performing at engagements for royalty and playing all over the world at high-profile events, to

boosting troop morale. Much of the summer is spent on the road working evenings and weekends both home and abroad. It was very rare that any of our leave periods coincided – we used to joke that we were like ships passing in the night. Our daughter Mollie has coped well with us being away so often, sometimes at the same time. She has regularly spent time with family or her amazing childminder. We managed for five

years, but both felt that Mollie was missing out on us being around. After finding out that Lucy was on the way we jointly made the hard decision that I would leave the Army to pursue a teaching career. I gained a place on the first cohort of the Troops to Teachers scheme. It was a challenging two years juggling full-time study, on the job training, a serving husband and two young children. As if I wasn’t busy enough, I also joined the Reserves!

With all of this to manage there were a few ‘wobbles’ along the way, especially when Frazer was away. Without the mutual support you get living on a patch, I may not have been able to complete my studies – I’m now qualified and teach music in Hampshire schools. The advice we would give to a new Army family would be to get involved in your military community. You will find that everybody is in the same boat and you’ll make friendships that could last a lifetime. &

spring 2016 Army&You 25


How I met my soldier NICOLA Kellock met her husband Chris, an Army Chaplain to 1 RRF at Tidworth, whilst teaching their respective children to swim. "Several lessons later, after trying to understand his soft-yetbroad Scottish accent, we discovered that we had mutual friends in Edinburgh," she told Army&You. "A trip was planned, then postponed, and it wasn’t until nine months later that we met again at a Snow Patrol gig in Newcastle. Chasing Cars became one of our favourite songs and quite poignant as we spent many a weekend travelling back-and-forth between Scotland and Wales. "One of my favourite pastimes is discovering different places and cultures. Chris was soon hit with the travelling bug too and, in April 2008 in sunny Cyprus, he asked me to marry him. We married in North Berwick (not quite abroad – well, maybe to a southerner) and we still love to travel with our six children – Jack, Tom, Scott, Harry, Aidan and Rebekah – in tow.” Army&You revels in a good romance and we want to know how you were struck by Cupid’s arrow. To feature in a future “How I met my soldier”, send your tales of true love to

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info@ autumn 2016 Army&You 25


One for

the road

With more than 30 million cars on UK roads alone, driving is – for the vast majority of us – an essential part of everyday life. But for Service families, it can be a lifeline. Kate Viggers finds out more…


EW sectors of the population are as mobile as the military, where the car is relied upon for much more than the school run or daily commute. “I’ve always lived central to a city so never needed to drive but as we’ve moved around, it dawned on me I may not always be so lucky,” said Army spouse Stacey, who recently started

26 Army&You autumn 2016

driving lessons. “My husband is often away for six months; once I can drive I won’t be so isolated.” Families posted at a distance from support networks depend on road trips to stay connected to relatives and friends. The freedom of four wheels makes settling into a new area easier too, granting access to


Driving would make it easier to pop home, or even a trip to the shops or seaside without waiting for my husband to be about.

Kayleigh, Army spouse

facilities and events. A driving licence is also a gateway to employment for many of you. Relying on public transport makes securing work from an inconvenient posting difficult. “There are no buses into town from camp,” said learner driver Kayleigh, from Newcastle upon Tyne. “This is my first posting.

Feeling homesick with young children, driving would make it easier to pop home, or even a trip to the shops or seaside without waiting for my husband to be about.”

FINANCING While driving can bring huge lifestyle and earning benefits, it comes at a cost. On top of the vehicle price, lessons, tests, the @ArmyandYou

SPOTLIGHT licence and annual fees (MOT, tax and insurance) mean getting on the road for the first time totals an average £5,000. Premiums are usually higher for newly-qualified drivers, while ad hoc repairs and a regular service bump up the cost too. Dedicated financial assistance for Forces families helps reduce the price tag. The MOD’s Defence Discount Service (DDS Cars) offers special deals to eligible personnel. In Northern Ireland, the SSAFA Driving Initiative helps those in remote postings, funding 50 per cent of the cost of ten lessons with an approved instructor.

BUYING & SELLING Ownership is more affordable when buying part-exchange or ex-demo, or through payment plans like Hire Purchase. Research your finance options and always read the small print. A government grant of £5,000 (or 35 per cent of the purchase price) is available for new electric cars, which are growing in popularity thanks to low running costs and environmentally-friendly credentials. When in the market for a used car, it’s crucial to do your homework. Using a dealer in a set location will give you recourse in case of problems. “If buying privately, check price guides to avoid being overcharged and do a thorough test drive,” advised Ian Crowder from the AA, which offers free vehicle history checks to highlight potential issues. When it comes to selling, Service life can present unique challenges – as

ex-Artillery spouse Gillie discovered. “We were posted to South Africa and needed our car until departure," she told Army&You. "So we then had to find a buyer quickly and lost out financially. It was a stressful final week.”

DURING DEPLOYMENT If your soldier is away for an extended period, his or her vehicle must remain insured or, if not driven, the DVLA must be informed. When Amy’s husband deployed, his car was parked on camp and declared SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification). “When I went to retrieve it, the battery was flat and the MOT expired, so I had to arrange for a new battery to be fitted to get it straight to the test centre.” The AA’s advice is to run a stationary car occasionally to keep the battery topped up. “Make sure it reaches maximum running temperature before switching off,” said Ian. “And if left outside, invest in a cover.”

SAFE & SAVVY Regular maintenance prolongs the value and life of any vehicle (see panel, right). Understanding what’s under a bonnet has other advantages too.

Gillie said: “However ‘dated’ this sounds, as a female customer l felt at a disadvantage going into garages when my husband was away. I was wary of mechanics who may assume I knew nothing and would blindly pay any bill. I’m more car savvy nowadays!” Breakdown cover also means greater confidence on the road. Some providers prioritise solo female drivers with children. Gillie added: “I drove many long boarding school runs after dark, so the implications of careless workmanship didn’t bear thinking about. "I used recommended dealerships or asked fellow military personnel before using smaller garages.”

BENEFITS While cars are costly and frustrating at times, there’s no doubt getting behind the wheel brings huge positives to Service life – from increased convenience and independence to more choice when it comes to where you live, work and socialise. As Amy put it: “Without a car I would be cut-off. I don’t like to rely on others, so it would be restricting. Our sons would have to give up clubs and we wouldn’t see much of friends and family. It would be pretty rubbish!” &

MASTERING MAINTENANCE Looking after the family car often falls to one adult in the household. Learning the basics will mean you’re prepared to deal with any minor issues if you're in charge. Check out these tips, courtesy of Major Jason Griffiths, who recently retired after 27 years as a REME vehicle mechanic and engineering officer. Jason now works for family-run MGS Garage ( in Chippenham, which supports the local military community and prides itself on the bespoke support and service it offers to soldiers and their families. MAKE A NOTE OF: ✔ Date of next MOT ✔ Date of next service CARRY OUT THE FOLLOWING CHECKS PERIODICALLY OR PRIOR TO A LONG JOURNEY ✔ Inside the car – is it all working? ✔ Horn ✔ Wipers ✔ Washers ✔ Instruments ✔ Brake lights ✔ Indicators ✔ Reverse light ✔ Fog lights ✔ Headlights Why not get the kids involved when you’re cleaning the car out and teach them a few things too? STANDARD CHECKS ✔ Brake fluid level ✔ Battery fittings ✔ Coolant level ✔ Engine oil level ✔ Fan belt tension ✔ Cambelt ✔ Air conditioning serviceability These will usually activate a warning light on the dash if there is an issue. Information can be found in your owner’s handbook or online. GENERAL CONDITION ✔ Security of vehicle exterior – mirrors, bumpers, wheel hubs etc ✔ Tyres condition and pressure If in doubt, seek professional advice.

autumn 2016 Army&You 27

Maddersons Ad_Layout 1 17/03/2016 09:08 Page 1

A lasting legacy GUARDI AN

We asked experts from Scotts Wright Solicitors, David Gray Solicitors and Guardian Solicitors why Army families should ensure they have up-to-date Wills... I’m young, happy and healthy. Why should I concern myself with making a will now rather than when I retire? Scotts Wright: You don’t know what is around the corner – if you have an accident tomorrow you may not have the mental capacity required to make a Will which will detail what you would like to happen to your assets and who you would like to benefit from your estate.

Residential Conveyancing | Commercial Conveyancing | Landlord & Tenant Mediation | Wills & Probate | Lasting Powers of Attorneys Court of Protection | Commercial Law & Advice

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David Gray: Sadly we all know people who have died at a relatively young age. This may be due to accidents, sports or undiagnosed conditions. It is prudent for most adults to write a Will to take care of their affairs. Guardian Solicitors: Without a written Will, the process of

sorting everything out after you die will be far more stressful. Writing a Will is particularly important if you have a partner, children or family members who depend on you financially. By making a Will, you can have peace of mind knowing that your children and partner will be taken care of according to your wishes. I don’t own a house or have lots of money in the bank. Why should I go to the expense? Scotts Wright: A Will ensures your wishes are followed and that the people who you wish to benefit from your estate – no matter the size – will do. You can also appoint Testamentary Guardians for any children who are under the age of 18. David Gray: Your assets may be

“We pride ourselves on supporting the local community and are ideally located to serve the legal needs of Catterick Garrison” Scotts Wright has had a presence right in the heart of Catterick Garrison since the early 1970s. Our matrimonial department can support you through the mediation process, can help you with divorce or separation and deal with related issues such as finances (including military pensions) and disputes about children, including postings abroad. We have specialists who can help with Courts Martial, disciplinary procedures and service complaints. And for life “outside” – we can deal with your house sale or purchase, Forces Help to Buy, making a will, dealing with a deceased’s estate, Powers of Attorney, debt management and landlord and tenant disputes. If you would like help with a legal matter, contact us today on 01748 832431 or via our website: 28 Army&You autumn 2016


WILLS ADVERTORIAL small now, but may change in the future. If you inherit money, have a savings plan or life insurance, you may be worth more than you think. There may also be insurance benefits payable on your death. Guardian Solicitors: It does not matter how little money or few possessions you own, it is important to protect what you do have. In short, if you want to avoid legal complications in the future and guarantee your own security of mind, writing a Will is often the most sensible option. Other than family, what else can I do with my money and possessions should the worst happen? Scotts Wright: You can leave your assets to whoever you wish – for example to friends, godchildren or charities. David Gray: Making a Will is an opportunity to benefit charities or causes which are important to

you. These gifts can make a real difference to the organisations concerned. Guardian Solicitors: You can give gifts of money or property to friends or people outside your immediate family. Another option is to make a charitable donation. I’m confused about how to divide my estate. Can a solicitor can assist with this? Scotts Wright: A solicitor can certainly help clarify matters and provide suggestions as to how best to achieve your wishes, but the decision about whom will benefit from your estate is ultimately yours. David Gray: A solicitor will have experience of dealing with Wills and deceased estates and can warn of pitfalls and problems. They can also highlight possible choices that might help save tax. Guardian Solicitors: We can advise on potential tax benefits,

for example if you leave a legacy to a charity. A Will must be made independently without any influence and a solicitor must ensure that the person making the Will is of sound mind. How often should I review my Will? Scotts Wright: We would recommend every five years but certainly after any major life event, such as getting married, divorced or having children. David Gray: Regularly – the test is what would you want to happen if you die tomorrow? If your Will reflects your wishes then it is still fine. Moving house, marriage, divorce and having children can all be triggers for updating it. Guardian Solicitors: Usually every three-to-five years or after the occurrence of a major life event. This is to ensure that it does not become outdated and your estate will be distributed in the manner you see fit.

What if I die without a Will? Scotts Wright: If you die without a Will, the laws of intestacy apply. Essentially, the government has set out a hierarchy of people it assumes you would like to benefit from your estate, such as your spouse, children, parents and siblings. If no family is able to be traced, your assets could end up with the Treasury Solicitor. David Gray: Without a Will, the law dictates who gets your assets. An unmarried partner may get nothing. Assets may pass to family you are no longer with or who you are not close to. Making a Will avoids this lottery so that your hard-earned assets pass only to people you have chosen. Guardian Solicitors: Dying without a valid Will is called intestacy or dying intestate. If you don’t have a Will when you die, your money, property and possessions will be distributed according to the law instead of your wishes. n

For more information from our expert panel about the whys and wherefores of wills, visit You can visit Scotts Wright at; David Gray at; and Guardian Solicitors at

LIFE CHANGES... BUT THE TASK AHEAD OF YOU IS NEVER AS GREAT AS THE FORCE BEHIND YOU. Whatever your situation and wherever you may be, our lawyers are here to support you. • • • •

Wills & Probate Conveyancing Tenancy Arrangements Family Law

We can advise you online and via Skype wherever you are. Talk to our expert team on 0191 232 9547 Help & advice available at our Newcastle & South Shields offices, Chat Live at or email

autumn 2016 Army&You 29


CLASSROOM commanders passing on those skills of self-discipline and perseverance in schools.”



HARACTER is the latest buzzword in schools across the country. New government guidelines mean pupils should not only be taught maths and English but skills such as resilience, courage and compassion. Commando Joe’s believes it has got just the people to lead those lessons – its team of military veterans who PROFILE

Former Sergeant Major Chris Walker (43) retired from the Army after 25 years’ service and now puts his military experience to good use with Commando Joe's...

30 Army&You autumn 2016

have been retrained for new careers in the classroom. “Who is better qualified to teach character-building than veterans?” said founder Mike Hamilton, a former corporal in the Royal Engineers. “I know our team of 50 instructors have had their strength of character tested to the limit in demanding situations. "Now they are

Mike created Commando Joe’s in 2009 after leaving the Army and working in school outreach teams where he saw the demand from teachers for somebody to share life skills like those learned in the Forces. Initially focusing on fitness, it has evolved into an all-round education company working in more than 300 primary and secondary schools, including those with Service children. Instructors provide one-to-one mentoring, teach team-building classes and stand at the school gate to discourage absenteeism. Its results have won the company more than £3 million in Department for Education grants. This year it is launching a new character-building scheme, with lessons based on challenges faced by great British

“I get to be that person who tells kids ‘you can be whatever you want to be’, that’s why I love this job. When you leave the Army you don’t know what else you are good at but this proves I’m not a one-trick pony. I can see the results in schools and it’s given me confidence. "I never aspired to anything in school so I decided I wanted to help give other kids going through tough times new

explorers such as Sir Ranulph Fiennes.

DEVELOPING CONFIDENCE Results are being seen by schools from Cornwall to Cumbria. A report by Swansea University found schools enlisting Commando Joe’s instructors saw a boost in attendance, grades and behaviour. Head teacher Chris Redman, of Rosehill Methodist Community Primary School in Tameside, has seen real benefits. “We called in Commando Joe’s for a positive role model – we wanted to encourage team-building, selfrespect and selfesteem,” she said. “Our instructor is part of the whole school team – he does

breakfast club, works in the classroom and even gets parents involved in a wake-and-shake. "I have definitely seen improvements. It is about developing the confidence to have a go and to take on challenges.” Year five pupil Ebony Garth agreed that her class has learned new skills. “Commando Joe's gives us confidence and teaches us how to work as a team,” she said. “It’s hard work but it’s fun at the same time!” &

strategies for life. Commando Joe’s gave me that chance. The great thing is all the instructors have been in the Forces so I knew I could trust them, they have been tried and tested. In the Army my team were my family and it’s the same at Commando Joe’s. It’s so rewarding to see the difference you can make.” @ArmyandYou

SPOTLIGHT Ace apprentice: Army spouse Charlotte Barrington and husband Ashley


BASIC TRAINING If you, or a young person in your Army family, are looking for on-the-job training to gain qualifications leading to promising future career prospects, an apprenticeship could be the perfect solution...


HERE are some key advantages to fitting apprenticeships around Army life as you can apply at any time of year. Depending on your employer, it may also be possible to transfer your training to a different location when posted and some organisations will grant flexible working or extended leave depending on your circumstances. The MOD is one of the biggest providers of apprenticeships in the UK. Army spouse Charlotte Barrington (26) is undertaking an MOD information apprenticeship, a scheme designed to prepare employees for roles in areas such as software

systems and application development. Charlotte explained how she’s successfully balancing her apprenticeship with Army family life: “We were posted to Wiltshire one week after our wedding. "After the birth of my son I was ready to return to work; this is when I came across the Information Professional apprenticeship with the MOD based at Corsham. “With the uncertainty of Army life and my husband having to regularly go on exercise at a minute’s notice, it seemed like a good option and I didn’t hesitate in applying.”

GOOD SUPPORT “It’s a new and exciting career for me. I don’t

have a background in IT but I am getting fully supported through both the team that I work with daily and also the apprenticeship team. "It’s amazingly flexible. I’m entitled to 18 weeks’ parental leave, so if my husband is away I can take time off work. "I agreed my own hours when I started to be able to take my children to school and if any of them are ill I can claim emergency leave. “We are moving to Nottingham soon and the MOD has been great in finding me a new placement at Chetwyn Barracks, meaning I am still able to continue my apprenticeship and be managed by MOD Corsham.

“I would recommend it to others. I am learning new skills that are industry recognised, not just within the MOD, so I will have a huge amount of transferable skills. "All the policies are tailored towards the working family – my employers understand that life sometimes isn’t straightforward.”

IS IT FOR ME? You can apply if you’re aged 16 or over. Officially, there’s no upper age limit, but you or your employer must pay for your training if you’re over 24 as no funding is available from the government’s national apprenticeship service. You can apply for an advanced learning loan to pay for your course. &

FAST FACTS Apprenticeships are real jobs with salaries. You can apply in a range of industries, from engineering to veterinary nursing. It takes between one and four years to complete and where you start depends on your existing skills: INTERMEDIATE (2) Five GCSE passes at grades A* to C ADVANCED (3) Two A-level passes HIGHER (4-7) Foundation degree and above DEGREE (6 and 7) Bachelor’s or master’s degree

Think an apprenticeship might be for you? Contact AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin at or visit

autumn 2016 Army&You 31









Next Open Morning Saturday 24th September Boarding Discount for HM Forces @FarleighSchool


Sa PE tu N rd ay M 8 O O R cto N be IN r2 G 01 6


“Dauntsey’s is ... Fab”

The Good Schools Guide Boarding & Day School Co-educational 11-18 32 Army&You autumn 2016 West Lavington, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 4HE T. 01380 814500



QUESTION TIME If you’re an Army family considering boarding for your child, the questions you pose when you look around a school will help you make the right choice. You’ll meet a range of people during your visit, so what to ask? AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott has ten suggestions…

School report

Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show

our military children. This edition, we're heading to south west England... How does the school help Service children settle in?

From day one, we ensure children have a buddy in place. We have a dedicated Service pupil support worker who meets the child and fills in ‘My Passport’ – a fabulous resource which helps to eliminate all the worries connected with starting a new school. It also allows us to find out about their hobbies and interests.

ool Name of sch ol

ho The Avenue Primary Sc and Children's Centre

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

Touring theatre group ‘An Invisible Man’ visited with its ‘Wherever Home Is’ production. It was lovely Location to highlight what life as a military child is like and to see its impact on our Number of children. We also run Hero s il p u p e ic v Warriors, a drop-in group r Se where children can write to loved ones and support each other. We enjoyed singing with Warminster Military Wives Choir.

Warminster, Wiltshire

92 out of 300

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

What do the kids say?

Pupil progress is monitored rigorously. Any concerns are discussed with parents and steps are taken to put relevant support in place.

One year three pupil said: “It was really good to work with someone on my first day and find out where everything was. I was worried I would get lost and have no friends, but I have lots and some of them even live near me.”

Are there any military links?

And the parents?

Some members of staff have served or have a partner in the military. We really understand the challenges Service children face and embrace the broad range of experiences they bring to the school and community. Our local regiment, training corps and welfare teams are also key to strengthening our links and understanding.

“This was my child's fourth primary school. I was worried about how changing school in year five would affect my daughter, but the staff have helped boost her confidence and have motivated her in areas she has found difficult – she is really happy. I feel that everyone really understands and wants my child to succeed, which is very reassuring.” &

Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support Service children? Would you like your school to feature in the future? Contact Army&You for details by emailing

1. House parents This is who you call when the chips are down. Try to find out more about how they like to communicate. One housemaster told me that it was fine to ring him at any time, but to note that he was up until midnight routinely. Although I hoped I’d never need to ring at 11pm, it brought me peace when I needed it. 2. Admissions teams Find out what’s likely to appear on the extras bill, pick up a uniform list with prices and ask about the notice period if it doesn’t work out. 3. Numbers A key question: How many full boarders are there and how many flexi-boarders? How many are in your child’s year group or house? Admissions should have this info. 4. Other pupils If students show you around, start with food, prep and cross-year friendships. Ask “What’s the best thing about being here?” 5. Home comforts Your children’s questions will probably have a technology theme. Discover mobile phone and wifi restrictions, weekend activities and where they can roam. How often are registers taken? 6. Head teacher Find an opportunity to meet the head. Ask about where students typically move to when they leave the school. Rules about mid-term absence are a useful discussion point too as you may want to take your child out of school if your soldier has been on a long tour or exercise. 7. Pastoral care The person who looks after your child when they are sick or up in the night is someone you must trust implicitly – ask to meet them. 8. Special educational needs Enquire how SEN are supported. Learning gaps may occur if your child has moved a lot. How will the school identify and address these? 9. School structure Ask about the school day, class sizes, subjects taught, house teams and academic support. 10. Facilities What’s on offer in departments such as art, design technology, science, music, drama and sport? Are there any scheduled building works?

For a full list of suggested questions, visit the boarding school section at

autumn 2016 Army&You 33


Girls 3 - 18

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y and You Advert Feb 2016_Layout 1 28/04/2016 13:46 Page 1

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School transport service to Heathrow with stop-offs along M4 corridor at Exeats and School holidays Current Forces parents offer a buddy scheme for help and advice on choosing a school for your child “An excellent school with many strengths including significant examples of sector-leading practice” (HM Inspectorate for Education & Training in Wales)

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For more information or to arrange a school visit please contact Mrs Margaret Stephens (Admissions Registrar) on 01874 615440 or email 34 Army&You autumn 2016

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Crossing continents How long is your school run? Do you walk, drive or take the bus? How about crossing continents on an aeroplane? Some Service children regularly travel thousands of miles to get to school. Army&You caught up with some of the intrepid youngsters racking up air miles at an early age…

Name: Jack Lock Age: 16 Lives: Washington DC, USA Boarding in: Shrewsbury, Shropshire School run: Nine hours via Manchester and Heathrow

Name: Marc Fletcher Age: 16 Lives: Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands Boarding in: Cumbria School run: 29 hours via Ascension Island and RAF Brize Norton

Names: Georgie, Ben and Jessica Age: 15, 13 and 11 Lives: Nanyuki, Kenya Boarding in: Somerset School run: 30 hours via Nairobi and Heathrow

Names: Kieran and Piers Brown Age: 16 and 13 Lives: Kingston, Jamaica Boarding in: Cheltenham School run: 13 hours via Heathrow

“I spend a night at gran’s to counter jet-lag. Usually I travel alone but sometimes I travel with friends which makes queueing a lot more exciting. I always take my headphones – they cancel out the noise of the plane and the occasional screaming baby. “One flight a few years ago was packed with bored Service children. A small argument between me and a mate turned into a huge pillow fight enveloping the back of the plane in a cloud of pillows. “I was nervous the first time I flew as I did not know what to expect, but now it seems routine. I used to be escorted from security in England to my parents in arrivals, but really I wanted to fly alone. It didn’t help that I was usually taller than the staff!”

“My favourite part of the journey is definitely the views you get from the plane, especially amazing sunrises. I usually travel with a member of my family but occasionally I fly with friends. “I take at least two days’ clothes, cash and my phone and laptop are must haves. “Now I’m at an age where I don’t need to be escorted, it has given me a whole new perspective on travelling.”

“We are at different schools. When we come home we leave at 3.30am to catch the day flight. Mum meets us and we spend the night in the Nairobi welfare flat because we can’t travel back up to Nanyuki in darkness. “We leave early the following morning and are home by lunch as long as the traffic’s good and there aren’t too many broken down lorries, cows and donkeys on the road. “On our first overnight flight, we spent the entire journey with our seats bolt upright not realising they could recline. Now, we take headphones and pillows. We like the sushi at Heathrow as we don’t get that at school – or home. Initially, flying to school was fun but the novelty is wearing off, especially if we arrive back eight hours before everyone else.”

Mum Janelle said: “Fares must be secured two terms in advance and inflated holiday flights costing £1,200-plus mean we welcomed extra School Children’s Visits (SCVs). “Sleep and revision have proven elusive on the ten-hour flight, whereas four movies back-to-back seems perfectly achievable. Preparing our eldest’s gluten-free meal means I ease my guilt about being a miles-away-mum. “Whilst it has become less emotional saying goodbye, it’s hard as they’re not down the road. After waving from the far side of security we drive to the coastal headland at the end of the runway and wait for them to fly overhead. “I remember a text they sent me the first time we said goodbye: ‘Mum please don’t worry. It has to travel further now but love will always get there in the end. It might just take a little longer’.” &

British Airways recently took the decision to withdraw its Skyflyer Solo service, which allowed children under 12 to travel without a parent while under the supervision of dedicated airline staff. The programme is being scrapped from January 2017, although existing bookings will be honoured. AFF has written to BA and to the MOD highlighting your issues and concerns. We have been assured by the MOD that all families have an alternative available. If this is not the case or if you experience problems, email Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott at

AFF is delighted that, after much campaigning, SCVs have increased from three to six-per-year, meaning children such as these youngsters can see their families more often. autumn 2016 Army&You 35


HEATHFIELD SCHOOL, ASCOT Boarding and Day for Girls 11-18



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

Boarding from 7 to 18 years Warm and supportive ethos Full weekend programme for boarders Strong academic results at 11+, GCSE and A Level Outstanding modern and traditional facilities Generous Forces Bursaries

Autumn 2016 Open Days Junior: Friday 30 September Senior: Saturday 1 October T: 01843 572931 E: College Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 7AE •

36 Army&You autumn 2016

IN •





Terms of endearment Moving to a new school can be a daunting prospect for any child and especially so for those from military families. With the new academic year about to start, we asked educational establishments for their advice on how teachers, parents and pupils can make the transition easy for everyone involved...

autumn 2016 Army&You 37


CHAFYN GROVE Where: Salisbury, Wiltshire They say: We are experienced in dealing with Service families and our communication with parents is excellent. Our ethos of sport and hard work in a relaxed and supportive environment suits children from military families.

CHRIST COLLEGE Where: Brecon, Wales They say: Pupils are well supported and advised at every stage, especially as they prepare to move on into the world of universities and work. There is something magical about this place that can only be experienced at first-hand.

CLIFTON COLLEGE Where: Bristol They say: We are coeducational for children aged from two-to-18, providing stability. Clifton has high-quality teaching and pastoral care, exceptional facilities and 40 after-school clubs.




Pictures (clockwise from top left): Enjoying the surroundings at Clifton College; The stately main building at Farleigh School; The modern STEM block at Heathfield School; A grand environment awaits at St Lawrence College

a sense of permanence and stability with us, knowing they will have the chance to make friends for life and build up a rapport with teaching staff.” At the Benedictine Downside School in Somerset, staff do their best to help new arrivals integrate seamlessly into their new surroundings. Alastair Falzon, Director of Pastoral Care, said: “We find that the pupils themselves do not have any major concerns – they are keen to settle in and we encourage them to involve themselves in the life of the school right from the off.” As a base for children from serving Forces families for more than 150 years, staff at Clifton College are well-versed in providing a stable environment for pupils. Admissions manager James Breeze explained that newcomers are assigned a “buddy” from the same house and class to help them get used to their new surroundings. He added: “The house matrons, tutors and housemasters and mistresses are on hand to provide support whenever needed. “The matrons at Clifton take on the role of helping pupils keep up those precious family routines – this may be reading to a child before they go to bed or baking with them at weekend.”


ROM making new friends to navigating unfamiliar corridors, starting out at a new school is a daunting prospect for even the most confident of children. But while settling into different surroundings is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the majority of youngsters, soldier parents’ postings can make it a regular part of growing up for children from Army families. Thankfully for pupils from a Service background, their resilience and adaptability is being bolstered by educational establishments dedicated to ensuring

the move to secondary school – or the transition from one school to another – goes as smoothly as possible. Chris Russell, executive principal of Dover’s The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS), told Army&You that one of his team’s most important missions is to steady the educational ship for new arrivals who may have headed through turbulent waters. “Their education has been significantly disrupted due to the mobile nature of Service life,” he explained. “They may have covered some areas of the primary and secondary school


Interested in finding out more about schools specialising in accommodating pupils from a Service background? Check out the following for a Forces-friendly education for your child...

38 Army&You autumn 2016

syllabus more than once and other areas not at all. “DOYRMS assesses every student when they join us to understand what additional support they may need. “They are grateful that the school can provide stability and continuity of education to them.” Stability is also the watchword at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools, where staff members operate a support network to help the youngsters in their care to settle quickly and comfortably. A spokesman said: “Many Forces children have moved and changed schools several times, [so] we would like them to feel

If a pupil is enrolled at a boarding school, homesickness can be a more pressing concern than the curriculum – especially if it is the first time a child has lived away from their parents. Queen Victoria School, in Dunblane, caters for the children of military personnel with a connection to Scotland and designs its schedules with pupils who may be missing their mums and dads in mind. A spokesman said: “Boarders have constant challenges – homesickness, sharing a room with several other children, making friends, getting into new routines. “We encourage our students to remain as busy as possible. We structure their day so that from 7am until bedtime at 9pm, there are activities to do and procedures to follow – all of which means that when it is time for lights out the children can sleep easier, satisfied that they have had a full and rewarding day.” Liz Redmond, junior boarding house parent at Andover’s Farleigh School, stressed the importance of establishing a firm routine. She said: “The Boarding House programme, which includes prep, reading, spellings, music and other night-time routine


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL are all undertaken by resident staff. “The children are kept busy with after-school activities, weekend trips and events so they don’t have time to get homesick!” Rory Johnson, headmaster at Dorset’s Hanford School, pointed out that Service children who enrol at boarding schools will typically begin at a younger age than their peers. “We understand that for parents this can be an anxious time,” he explained. “By creating a happy environment with a ‘home-away-fromhome’ feel, Hanford aims to provide the stability and continuity of education that Service pupils need.” Aside from the initial anxiety over the prospect of boarding, the disruption to the usual day-to-day contact with their parents can prove to be another area of concern for new pupils. But Dale Spencer, a boarding housemaster at St Lawrence College in Ramsgate, said that military children are well suited to adapting to their new lives. “The main concerns when pupils first arrive is often how they will communicate with their mum and dad and then, of course, missing being at home – especially if it is the first time the pupil has boarded,” he added. “However, these fears

are often short-lived and staff do everything possible to reassure pupils and help them settle. “It is important that we ensure they have contact with their family right from the start.” The Royal Alexandra and Albert School (RAAS), in Reigate, puts communication at the heart of its strategy, with pupils able to regularly and reliably contact their loved ones – especially through technologies such as Skype. Putting military pupils at ease is especially important when parents have deployments looming, so Ascot’s Heathfield School engenders a sense of community to guide youngsters through unsettling times. “There may be possible concerns over particular postings – Iraq and Afghanistan, for example,” explained registrar Isabel Hutchings. “But as most are full boarders at Heathfield, the overall feeling is that we are all in it together.” Dauntsey’s School, in West Lavington, Wiltshire, helps boarders in years seven, eight and nine to settle in by basing them in The Manor, a co-educational boarding house. Housemistress Anne Sampson, an ex-Forces wife, said: “Boys and girls study, socialise and

eat together, forming friendships that often last a lifetime. “Being away from the main school site, the children are less affected by peer pressure from older pupils, leaving them free to enjoy childhood that bit longer.”

DAUNTSEY’S Where: West Lavington, Wilts They say: Our values are in line with Forces families – have a go, push yourself and you will be surprised what you achieve. Make a contribution – getting involved delivers huge benefits.

DOWNSIDE SCHOOL Where: Radstock, Somerset They say: Downside aims to develop the character of your child, emphasising the importance of moral courage, integrity and service to others. We were voted “Best for WellBeing” in 2015.

THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL Where: Dover, Kent They say: This is an exciting, happy and vibrant community which provides extraordinary opportunities for young people to develop their academic and personal qualities.

FARLEIGH SCHOOL Where: Andover, WIltshire They say: Our high staff-to-child ratio means that the children not only form close bonds with the house parents and assistants, but we can also cater for individual needs.

FORRES SANDLE MANOR Where: Fordingbridge, Hants They say: An FSM education is unique and all of us encourage each child to aspire to achieve their best. We teach a wide range of subjects, combining our solid academic grounding with sporting and extra-curricular activities.






ACE ASSISTANCE Years of experience have helped schools refine the service they provide to children from military families, but their policies stand or fall on the quality of the staff putting them into practice.

From the boarding housemasters taking charge of residential pupils to teachers and administrative personnel taking lessons and helping out behind the scenes, each child is supported by dedicated, knowledgeable professionals. At Salisbury’s Chafyn Grove, each pupil has a tutor who has daily contact with the child and reports any changes to family circumstances – such as an upcoming deployment – during staff meetings. A spokesman said: “We also have a head of

pastoral care who keeps close links with any pupils who need extra support; a school counsellor; and a ‘listening ear’ who comes in weekly with her dog to spend time with any boarders who might need someone else to talk to.” RAAS also assesses pupils’ personalities and needs before assigning an appropriate adult to get to know them. Each boy and girl is then monitored directly and through feedback from teachers so that any “wobbles” can be identified and dealt

Pictures (clockwise from top left): Taking a break at Royal Alexandra and Albert School; Hanford School pupils step out; The military influence on show at Queen Victoria School; All smiles for students at The Wellington Academy

“Many Forces children have moved and changed schools several times, [so] we would like them to feel a sense of permanence and stability.”

autumn 2016 Army&You 39

Pictures (clockwise from top left): Green surroundings at Chafyn Grove; Senior boarders enjoying their time at St Lawrence College; Attractive open spaces at Downside School; Dinner time for pupils at Ludgrove School

“When their parents are deployed, we keep a very close pastoral eye on them and support them via our normal channels.” with, while a full-time Anglican chaplain with extensive experience in counselling young people is heavily involved in the boarding operation. And as a specialist in working with children from Service families, the school encourages interest in the military through participation in its thriving cadet unit.

sense of stability for its pupils so that when a deployment crops up, children affected are able to carry on in as normal a fashion as possible with access to as much support as they need. The school also operates a “Parents on Deployment” support group and “Seasons for Growth” scheme, which encourages student participants to talk about and confront loss. While Downside School ensures that pupils with soldier parents receive the same standards of education and care as those without a military connection, Alastair Falzon explained that staff are aware of the added pressures deployments can bring. He said: “When their parents are deployed, we keep a very close pastoral eye on them and support them via our normal channels. “We also use senior prefects, who may well have gone through a similar experience, to support the pupils concerned. “In addition, a number of our pastoral staff have first-hand experience of the armed services, whether as ex-personnel or being a member of a Forces family.” At Tidworth’s Wellington Academy, staff with links to the military are clearly visible so that they can

be approached for advice and support. The school also enjoys a relationship with a local religious leader who makes three weekly visits. Tania Davidson, director of boarding, told Army&You: “Reverend Anabel works closely with the military and is able to offer considerable support and guidance to students. “We have exceptionally close links with family liaison officers and the Academy has a wellbeing advisor who works closely with a wide range of our students, including supporting those whose parents may have been deployed on active service.” Farleigh School deploys a strong pastoral system to combat the unpredictability of military life. Liz Redmond said: “Staff are flexible, so when parents return on R&R they are happy to organise for parents to come and see their children and take them home if possible.”

children, the number of establishments with specific plans in place to help military youngsters is heartening. Wokingham’s Ludgrove School is one of many to use modern means of communication to address the difficulties presented by distance and make the miles apart seem less daunting. “Technology has really helped the way in which we can support [the pupils],” explained headmaster Simon Barber. “Particularly the use of Skype and FaceTime, which enables

boys to make eye contact whilst speaking and makes a big difference to those who will not see their parents at matches. “We try to ensure that calls take place either in the morning or at lunchtime rather than at the end of the day when the boys are tired.” For children with parents serving overseas, Ludgrove School has a dedicated member of staff who liaises with adults to make travel arrangements, check forms and book journeys to and from airports. Queen Victoria School focuses on building a

HABERDASHERS MONMOUTH SCHOOLS Where: Monmouthshire, Wales They say: We have all the academic advantages of singlesex brother and sister schools and all of the social advantages of co-ed, with many joint afterschool and weekend activities.

HANFORD SCHOOL Where: Child Okeford, Dorset They say: We are a unique school and encourage children to be children – to play, ride, run, learn and develop lifelong friendships. Many military families have chosen Hanford as it provides stability and care.

HEATHFIELD SCHOOL Where: Ascot, Berkshire They say: We offer renowned pastoral care and individual attention. Our headmistress grew up in a Service family and understands first-hand the stresses and strains.

LUDGROVE SCHOOL Where: Wokingham, Berkshire They say: We offer fantastic pastoral care from staff who care passionately. The Ludgrove spirit allows boys to thrive in an atmosphere of high achievement, happiness, good manners and kindness.

PRIOR PARK COLLEGE Where: Bath They say: Our ethos is to care for our students so that they feel empowered to develop their talents [and] be rooted in the Christian values of consideration, compassion, kindness, service, contribution to others and an openness to God.






WELL SUPPORTED While there are challenges faced by staff and parents when it comes to providing the best educational care for military

40 Army&You autumn 2016

HOME FRONT For all the help that is available to pupils once they begin at their new school, the importance of each family’s role in preparing and supporting their child cannot be understated. Heathfield’s Isabel Hutchings advises parents to create an atmosphere of positivity


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL surroundings will be like is especially important according to St Lawrence College’s Dale Spencer. “Parents should involve their child in the selection of the school,” he said. “Communication is an important element of successful boarding. “Educating your child with the use of Skype and email is a good idea as pupils enjoy seeing a family face wherever they are in the world.” Strong communication is also encouraged by Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools. A spokesman explained: “Parents can discuss their plans as a family, including the children in any decisions. It is vitally important for children to understand the benefits of boarding and to feel it is a positive opportunity. “They will grow in confidence and have a stable environment in which to develop academic, sporting and musical skills and to feel part of a community.” Chafyn Grove provides parents and pupils with information about daily routines and runs a taster day ahead of term, while the first weekend of the school year involves a fun-filled Saturday evening and a trip out on the Sunday. Simon Barber, of Ludgrove School, acknowledged the adaptability of children from military

backgrounds when asked what Army families can do to prepare youngsters for starting a new school. “In all honesty, the same as for any child,” he said. “What is important is that the parents express to the child how confident they are that the child will be happy in the new school and will make lots of new friends and have plenty of new opportunities. “It is so important that children feel that they have the full support of their families as that will give them their own confidence.” James Breeze, of Clifton College, believes that providing children with a reminder of home can be an effective tool.

QUEEN VICTORIA SCHOOL Where: Dunblane, Scotland They say: If parents have a connection with Scotland or have served in a Scottish regiment, QVS is the right place to ensure stability of education, excellent pastoral care and support of the highest quality.

THE ROYAL ALEXANDRA AND ALBERT SCHOOL Where: Reigate, Surrey They say: We have a long history of working alongside military families, with an experienced pastoral team, an active cadet unit and a welcoming population.

ST LAWRENCE COLLEGE Where: Ramsgate, Kent They say: We have excellent academic results, amazing facilities and outstanding extracurricular activities, but we are small enough to be a happy and caring community.

THE WELLINGTON ACADEMY Where: Tidworth, Wiltshire They say: We are vibrant, busy and forward-thinking. Students have opportunities to work with Wellington College students and staff and conduct exchanges with our schools in China.




Online: thewellingtonacademy.

32 Army&You summer 2016

“Some of our new pupils like to bring with them a selection of their favourite family photos,” he said. “They can make their dorm feel like home and it means they can also share the stories behind the photos with their friends in the house.” For Jo Sagers, registrar at Dauntsey’s School, pupils should be encouraged to make the most of the extracurricular opportunities presented to them. “We urge parents to encourage their children to take full advantage of all the activities, clubs and societies on offer – from street dance to debating, archery to Arabic, tennis to triathlon; there’s

something for everyone. “Getting involved helps to forge friendships and encourages a strong sense of community.”

CLEVER CHOICE Despite the challenges that face pupils and parents who go down the boarding route, the combined experience of Britain’s Forcesfriendly schools ensures that a mobile military lifestyle does not have to negatively impact on a child’s education. From top-notch teaching to professionalquality facilities and finely-honed pastoral care, youngsters enjoy an enriching experience which perfectly prepares them for the future. n Pictures (clockwise from top left): Action from the cricket pitch at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools; Tending to a horse at Hanford School; On the ball at The Wellington Academy; Leaping into the lead at Ludgrove School

and consider arranging for an overnight stay at the new school ahead of their child’s start date. She added: “Allow pupils to be part of the decision-making process and encourage them to connect with other pupils in the relevant year group.” Chris Russell is also an advocate of parents checking out the school. At DOYRMS, visitors are given a guided tour by a student of a similar age to their own child, allowing them to ask any questions they may have. He continued: “Make arrangements and choose a new school as soon as you can so that the place is guaranteed. “If parents haven’t considered boarding, we encourage them to visit a state boarding school like The Duke of York’s Royal Military School to see how it can offer extra-curricular activities and develop a well-rounded child.” Rory Johnson welcomes visitors to Hanford School and organises taster days – and nights – for wouldbe pupils. “Make regular visits,” he advised. “It is never too soon to make contact. All children starting any school benefit from experience of the school they are joining.” The need for honesty from adults about what their child’s new

WYCLIFFE Where: Stonehouse, Gloucestershire They say: Wycliffe is an ideal destination for pupils who want all the advantages of a contemporary environment in a beautiful rural location. Wycliffe successfully blends the best of the traditional and modern. Online:

autumn 2016 @ArmyandYou Army&You 41

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SNAPCHAT AT HANFORD “Quality of care and support is outstanding. ” Boarding Ofsted 2015 The Wellington Academy is a unique, state of the art modern co-educational state boarding school for students aged 11-18, set in a 22-acre community campus in Tidworth, Wiltshire. The award winning design reflects the surrounding countryside, with stunning open and light filled spaces. • Outstanding results - 57% A*-C grades at A Level • Top University places - 70% of all 6th Form students progressed to universities • Sports centre, gymnasium, fitness suite, floodlit all weather 3G sports pitch, football, rugby and cricket pitches • Offsite engineering and manufacturing centre • Stand-alone CCF centre with its own indoor firing range

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Employment & training Featuring The Prince's Trust, overcoming challenges and networking

Perfect partners: Leanne Florence (left) and Korinna Howie joined forces to start Smileaway (

Gaining the Prince’s Trust Army wife Leanne Florence dreamed of having a business of her own. As a mum of three with a busy job, she set aside her ambitions – until she discovered The Prince’s Trust…


CHOOL runs and juggling my job were a continual struggle, but I enjoyed the work environment and met some incredible people

– one of whom, Korinna Howie, would become my business partner.

THE IDEA I often confided in her about me and the children missing our soldier who was frequently away on exercise or operations. My phone was my best friend and worst enemy,

44 Army&You autumn 2016

looking at the blank screen became a very anxious part of my life. I felt we would have benefitted from an across-the-miles gift service, and so the idea for gift company Smileaway was born.

HELPING HAND The Prince’s Trust was recommended to me by a friend. I joined The Enterprise Programme, where I met like-minded people and liaised

with business experts, covering everything from business planning, marketing, sales, budgeting and tax. All areas I was not yet familiar with. When it was time to start building my business, The Prince’s Trust supported me and helped test my ideas. A oneweek course, a business plan and an acceptance letter for funding meant we had the financial backing to start

our boxes. Now that we’ve launched, we have an experienced mentor who is on hand to share advice for up to two years. We have a business that fits around us and our families, a job we love and a dream that is a reality. We hope to continue delivering smiles to people across the UK and plan to deliver smiles to children soon too. &


If you’re aged 18-30, live in the UK and have a skill or idea you’d like to turn into a business, then The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme might be for you. Pop along to a free information session in your area, then take up a four-day interactive workshop offering an overview of basic business skills as a starting point. If you want to take things further, the Trust can help you transform your idea into a watertight business plan. To find out more, visit



NAME Mandy

NAME Gemma

CHALLENGE Posted overseas

CHALLENGE Finding childcare

SOLUTION Start a business

SOLUTION Become a childminder

CHALLENGE Soldier working long hours; pricey childcare

As a solicitor posted to Kenya with her soldier, Lizzie soon found that Army spouses are not allowed to work. So, when she fell in love with the local fabrics, kikoy, she started a UK business which also helps Africans. “It was all possible without using BFPO so, along with my sister, Kate, who is my sales partner back home, I created and registered Toto&Home as a UK company. Kate receives stock from me and posts to UK customers. We are posted to South Africa soon and I will continue my business from there. With a mobile phone, email and a Kenyan bank account anything is possible, especially in Africa!”

Mandy decided to take the plunge into childminding after a friend, who was the only childminder on the patch, received a posting order. She now runs Little Saplings, which fits perfectly with Army life. “Working for myself gives me independence, a sense of worth and my own wage. "I love what I do which I think is really important for my own wellbeing and, through childminding, I’m also helping others in our community to go out to work. “To become a childminder you have to attend a brief where you are told all about the job, statutory requirements and courses you need to undertake.”

SOLUTION Work from home as a bookkeeper

Braunton Bookkeeping was recently established after Gemma struggled to find work at her new posting. She was already qualified and her dream had always been to be self-employed. “Childcare for two children is expensive and I knew that my husband would be extremely busy at his new unit. "I decided to take the leap and I’m currently working on getting my licence up-to-date and gaining clients. "Now, I work my own hours, don’t worry about childcare and never miss those special moments like school plays and sports days.”


Overcoming challenges Employment for Army family members is high on the agenda of the MOD, government and Service charities. There can be numerous barriers to finding a job or regular income, yet AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin discovered many of you are successfully rising to the challenge…


NAME Laura

NAME Claire

CHALLENGE Help other spouses with their businesses

CHALLENGE Moving home

CHALLENGE To have a continuous career

SOLUTION Offer advice through her own company

Zoe set up accountancy firm Bailey Lynas so she could work flexibly around her children. She also wanted to help other Army spouses with their own businesses, particularly those with children who need out-of-hours support. “I provide accountancy and tax services using cloud software; all correspondence is electronic which means I can easily take my clients with me wherever they – or we – are posted. "I help other spouses to work for themselves by advising them to set up and register their new business, and ensuring they comply with all the requirements.”

SOLUTION Employer agreed to flexible working

Laura was working for Nuneaton and Bedworth Council when she got the news of her soldier’s assignment order. “I spoke to AFF’s Employment Specialist and we looked at the Armed Forces Covenant that my employer had signed up to. "Most of my job was easily doable from home so I approached my boss, who was keen on the idea of flexible working. "It made the upheaval of moving so much easier and I won’t have a gap in my employment. "If you think there is a possibility of flexible working, just ask your employer. You never know how flexible they might be.”

SOLUTION Buy a property

Claire has worked for Twinings in Andover for 11 years after deciding to focus her career in one place living apart from her soldier. “We had to put things in place to make it work for all. "I'm lucky that my work is truly flexible. I can start or finish early and work from home, so I can work around our children. "We’ve just bought a house locally so the boys and I will have a consistent base for school and work in the longer term.”

How do you make work work for you? AFF's employment survey, which goes live in September, seeks to discover all about your career journey and the secret to your success. Look out for more on social media and at If you have an interesting story to share about how you have overcome employment challenges, email

autumn 2016 Army&You 45

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Autumn 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Summer 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Basic training

Settling in style

HOUSING CarillionAmey chief answers your questions

Our guide to finding and funding your forever home

MOTORING Our guide to hitting the open road

DIRECT SELLING How to turn your passion into profit

EMPLOYMENT Meet the spouses overcoming career challenges





Spring 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}


Winter 2015

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

golden girl Ice-cool Olympian Amy on marrying into the military


top tips to manage your money

‘THE ARMY WAS FAULTLESS’ How the Services supported one family and their seriously-ill baby






Nurture your network W

HETHER you’re in the market for a job, running a business of your own or want to make new friends, networking is an effective tool for success, especially when arriving in a new location. As well as meeting with professional groups and potential customers, remember that networking can be done as part of everyday life – when collecting the kids from school, going to coffee mornings or inviting a neighbour for a drink. Annabel McDade is part of a group which has recently set up the (In)Dependents Club, a Colchester networking scheme that enables spouses to swap business ideas, learn from, motivate and advise each other. “Above all it’s about supporting each other as we each try to carve our own professional paths,” explained Annabel. “It’s energising and we are benefitting a lot from each other’s experiences and insights.”

to help: ◆ Pick out useful conversation points and join discussions ◆ Ask open-ended questions like who, what, where and how ◆ Listen – take an interest in other people’s experiences and opinions ◆ Be yourself – if you’re genuine and authentic, people will trust you ◆ Observe what others do and how they form their introductions ◆ When joining groups, look at their agenda and decide your reason for signing up ◆ Research professional groups before you join ◆ Be prepared – think of questions you can ask and if you’re attending a business event, practice

your pitch; you only get one chance to make a first impression ◆ Networking works both ways – be open to sharing ideas ◆ Last but not least, have fun.

THE ADVANTAGES “Networking gives us a chance to meet new friends and likeminded people from within our military circles and our local communities,” said Christine Dedman from the Forces Enterprise Network. “It’s really comforting to know that when we move I have a ready-made network of people who support each other,” she added.

GO FOR GROWTH If you’re self-employed

or run your own business, Sarah Walker from the University of Wolverhampton’s Supporting the Unsung Hero Programme has some practical advice: “Don’t forget to give out your contact details, carry business cards and take other people’s when they’re offered.” Nadine Monks, from Evolution Forces Families, said: “We are teaming up with the Forces Enterprise Network and Recruit for Spouses to create a Forces Enterprise Network Hub. Networking is a proven method of increasing your chances of success from gaining clients, contacts, selfdevelopment, mentoring, motivation and emotional support." &

USEFUL LINKS AFF Employment Specialist Laura Lewin HIVE Forces Enterprise Network forcesenterprise or 0330 0240 172 Dependants’ Business Start-up Programme or 01902 321272 Women in Business Network Talented Ladies Club Career Transition Partnership X-Forces

HOW TO NETWORK Your local community is a good starting point, whether or not you live on a patch. Meeting new people can be daunting, so here are a few tips


Built for business: The Forces Enterprise Network Hub will provide free networking events, advice and courses for the Service community. Read more at

LinkedIn is the largest professional network in the world with more than 300 million people using it. Build your professional network and link with others in the same line of work, or with the same interests as you. Register by visiting autumn 2016 Army&You 47



From Sennelager to Swanton Moving 137 families to the UK from Germany throws up a number of challenges. Army&You found out how one welfare team ensured that every aspect of its regiment’s rebasing plan was carefully choreographed…


ST The Queen’s Dragoon Guards (The Welsh Cavalry) ended their 12-year stint in British Forces Germany by moving in three waves from Sennelager back to Swanton Morley in Norfolk. The unit’s welfare team, led by Capt Rob Mansel, took a proactive approach. “We built close links between all the main players like movers,

hotel bookers and housing representatives,” he explained. “We also set up a one-stop-shop in the welfare centre so families could arrange housing, hotels, ferry tickets and disturbance claims all in one place. Our closed social media page allowed us to feed information and react to issues fast.” There were a number of briefs too and a clearance chit to

So you’re back from overseas, what next? When you close the front door of your latest home back in the UK, you’ll need to get some admin done! Here’s a quick guide to the essentials…

48 Army&You autumn 2016

ensure that no outstanding bills followed families back to the UK.

GOOD FEEDBACK Many families reported that the entire process was extremely smooth. Spouse Victoria Smith said: “I visited the clerk and was given hotel details, ferry bookings and even had allowances automatically paid into my husband’s bank account.”

“All we had to do when we got to the UK was show receipts to claim our allowances,” added Sam Veasy. “It was the smoothest move my family has ever done.” The welfare team split into two with an advance party in the UK gathering information for welcome packs and forging links with the local community. When the majority of families arrived they found they could unpack


Dental care



You need to register yourself and any children with a UK GP. Make sure your medical records have been transferred.

There’s often a waiting list for NHS dentists so try to register as soon as possible – sign up from your overseas location if you can.

If your child is attending a new school, it’s advisable to arrange a visit ahead of their start date. You will need to renew your Continuity of Education Allowance eligibility certificate if your children are at boarding school.

Contact DVLA in Swansea with your new address and apply for a new driver’s licence. Confirm that your car is registered correctly, insured, taxed and MOT’d for the UK.



A tapestry of memories

ROYAL RECOGNITION: Earlier this year, the QDG were paid a visit by Prince Charles, who opened the newly-refurbished Dragon’s Den facility. The centre is a focal point for the community in a rural location, with a nursery, café and soft play area. To help integrate youngsters into the community, non-military children are allowed on camp to attend the youth club with their Forces friends.

in peace due to an excellent programme of children’s activities run by community development worker Simon John. The QDG continue to settle well, with AFF on hand to provide support through East Anglia Coordinator Claire Hallam.

REBASING SOON? If your unit is set to relocate, there are lots of things you can do to ensure your move is as straightforward as the QDG’s. “Each location has a different set of dynamics,” said Rob. “Moving can be a daunting

experience for many. The main thing is to make sure you are well armed with information.” Having rebased herself recently, AFF UK & Overseas Director Julie Lowe added: “This is a great example of best practice planning. It’s important to speak to your welfare team early on in the process so you are aware of dates and procedures. The more proactive you are the smoother your move will be.” Any questions? Speak to your local AFF co-ordinator – see & page three for details.

WHEN Bergen Hohne Garrison closed down last year, the five schools in the area used art to ensure the transition was stress-free, the children were prepared emotionally and a lasting legacy was left. “Staff worked tirelessly to make sure that all the children were equipped with the emotional resilience and skills for the big move,” explained Lynn Eckersley, former headteacher at Montgomery School. “Much of the preparation was done through drama, music and art, giving the children opportunities to express their feelings and discuss the move ahead.” Montgomery and Slim Primary Schools created four large tapestries that depicted many of the children’s

memories. One stayed in Bergen Ratskeller (town hall) and the others went to the main towns or garrisons where families would be living – Albemarle Barracks near Newcastle, Catterick Garrison and Bourne. The Catterick Garrison tapestry was officially handed over at Ripon Cathedral during a 'new beginnings' ceremony and ended its journey at the Catterick Garrison library, where it’s on display. Pupils from Germany made three wishes for the future and wrote them on yellow hands to create dandelions – the symbol of the Service child. Their wishes, which included meeting old friends left behind and the desire to make new ones, are now displayed in the library.







You will need to arrange home, car and – if applicable – pet insurance.

If you qualify for allowances such as child, disability or unemployment benefits, get in touch with the relevant department to update your details. Find out your entitlements and the process for claiming them.

You are responsible for choosing your utility provider and how you pay them – whether it’s gas, electricity or water.

Transfer or take out new mobiles and/or landlines and shop around for the best broadband deal.

You need to apply for a TV licence renewed annually – it’s possible to spread the cost throughout the year.

Tell your bank or building society and any card providers of your new UK address.

2014 Army&You 35 autumn 2016 49


Teen travellers An overseas posting can offer a whole host of new experiences. However, such a significant change in lifestyle can have a considerable effect on young people in Army families. AFF UK & Overseas Director Julie Lowe discovered more‌

50 Army&You autumn 2016



UPPORT available for our teenagers and young adults varies immensely amongst the 50-or-so countries where Army families are posted, an important point to consider before making your move. Dominic Brooks (17), who lives with his family in Mons, Belgium, explained the impact an overseas posting has had on him. “Compared to the UK, it is difficult to have a normal life socially,” he said. “As well as the obvious language barrier, lack of access to reasonable public transport limits what we can do and where we can go. “I appreciate that seeing another part of the world is an opportunity, but I do miss out on the normal stuff like going to concerts and learning to drive.”

COMMUNITY SPIRIT A couple of the larger overseas locations have some community support in place. Explaining how many young people view a posting to Cyprus, AFF’s WSBA Co-ordinator Rachel Williams said: “Their reaction is similar to anyone else’s – hear Cyprus, think sunshine, then look on a map to see where it actually is! “Garrison areas offer a wide range of clubs and activities for early teens, and young people get that taste of freedom here. However, living in a foreign country can present several issues for older teenagers. Training and employment opportunities are limited especially for those not wanting to take A Levels.” Lynne Everett has recently taken on the role of youth and community officer on the island. She’s planning many exciting things for 0-19 year olds. “One initiative is the development of youth forums for each station,” said Lynne. “These will give young people a voice to raise and tackle issues affecting them. “They will come together to

meet as a pan-island forum in November as part of the young people’s ‘celebration of achievement’ event.” Several young people in Cyprus have also been trained as ‘peer educators’ to work with younger age groups, helping them to establish key life skills. In Gibraltar, the youth club’s forum is dedicated to helping freshly arrived Service children settle in. The group meets weekly to share ideas and come up with solutions to problems. “Hopefully we can give new people some top tips for their new life here,” said member Sophia Nelson.

“I miss being able to walk out on my own to go and meet friends.” Lara Thompson, Kenya Chloe Chmiewliski now runs her own salon after successfully completing hair and beauty training. She said: “After two years I became confident with a pair of scissors and realised I wanted to take my qualifications further. I would never have thought I would be where I am today and I’m glad that the Army community and my family have been so supportive.”

OUT AND ABOUT READY FOR WORK King’s Vocational Hub (KVH) in Germany is a great example of how young people overseas can be supported into the workplace. It’s based in Gütersloh but students from Bielefeld, Sennelager and Paderborn attend too. KVH supports learners who do not wish to follow traditional academic study and currently has more than 50 enrolled. Vocational learning opportunities are offered in areas such as business admin, engineering and customer service. Courses can be affected by regimental commitments but there continues to be a wide range on offer.

One key benefit to young people’s lives overseas is the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures. Lara Thompson (13) lives with her family in Nanyuki, Kenya, which has its ups and downs. “I like being able to go on safari,” explained Lara. “Some days I go running with my mum and we see zebra and even mongoose close to our house. “It’s interesting to see how the local people’s daily lives can be quite different to ours. If I want new clothes, we have to travel three hours to Nairobi or go back to the UK. “I miss being able to walk out on my own to go and meet friends.”

TRAVEL & ALLOWANCES Wherever you’re posted, some generic support is available and AFF has been at the forefront of pressing for change based on your evidence. For those at boarding school in the UK, six School Children’s Visits are available each year, while 19-23 year olds studying at a full-time, nationally-accredited establishment in the UK get three visits per academic year. Your family is eligible for three Get You Home (Overseas) journeys in north west Europe and one for the rest of the world. Young people up to the age of 21 applying for income based Jobseeker’s Allowance on return from overseas are exempt from the three-month residency criteria.

MORE TO BE DONE AFF will continue to highlight any issues to policy makers as the overseas offer is reviewed. If you have any concerns about the provision of support for your young people, contact a member of our overseas team – details on page three or &

Forces friendships: Young members of Army families based in Cyprus spending time socialising

autumn 2016 Army&You 51


A postcard from...

MILAN How long have you been an Army family? 11 years. T ime in Milan: Two-and-a-half years. How many other military families live in Milan? Numbers vary but there are fewer than 20. What's your quarter like? Very unlike a typical UK quarter! We are lucky to live in a large, privatelyrented Italian villa with lots of outdoor space. Whilst it's definitely in need of some repair, it's been a wonderful home and has made it easy having friends and family to stay. Can spouses and partners work? It's tricky due to the language barrier. Some people teach English informally within the large ex-pat community here and some have the qualifications to teach in schools. Others have been able to maintain existing jobs by working remotely. I run my own health and wellness business from home, which I move with me whenever the family is posted. What about schools? Our children attend a European school run by the EU in Brussels and split into sections according to their first language. It's a wonderfully

52 Army&You autumn 2016

rich cultural experience for them. Where do Army families get together? People informally organise their own activities and there are a number of organised events such as a monthly coffee morning, walks, evenings out and cookery classes. There's also a NATO wives' club which puts on cultural visits, charity events and children's parties. Who supports families? We have a National Support Element based at the barracks, with a locally-employed native Italian speaker to assist. Housing issues are dealt with by a team in Naples. There are also two part-time community coordinators, both wives of serving soldiers, who provide support and organisation, including collecting the all-important BFPO mail. What's the best thing about living in Milan? The opportunities to travel, explore and enjoy an outdoor lifestyle! Living in the Italian Lakes region has been even more enjoyable than we could ever have imagined. There's so much to do, from swimming in the lakes in the summer to skiing in the winter. We will certainly miss it when we move to Belgium next!

FROM: Liz, serving husband Adam, Imogen (8), Lucas (6), dog Gemma and Adam's two older children who visit during school holidays.

WHERE: Milan



Miles For many Foreign & Commonwealth families, it’s normal for different generations to live together. So what happens when a family member joins the British Army? Our F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston found out…


CAN MY RELATIVES COME TO LIVE WITH US IN THE UK? The rules for adult dependant relatives were tightened in July 2012. In order to be granted settlement, applicants now have to prove that they require long-term personal care which cannot be provided in their home country. The rules are so tough that it’s thought only a handful of cases have succeeded since they were introduced. Shova Gurung, garrison support worker for 11 Signals and West Midlands Brigade, said: “It is not only normal but a tradition for Nepalese families to live together. "Traditionally, the sons are expected to look after their parents in their old age and they live together.” Sala Smith, from the Fijian Support Network, added: “In a Fijian setting, the term family transcends the traditional western definition of a couple with their children. "It includes first cousins, second cousins and even distant relations.”

VISIT VISAS So what are the alternatives? The only real option is to bring your relatives over for a visit for a maximum of six months. Extensions are Army spouse Natalie Abbensetts (pictured above with her mum), explains how she balances family support with entry requirements...

My parents initially travelled on a fiveyear, multiple entry visa when visiting us from Guyana because my father was also having private medical care as visitors are not

possible in exceptional circumstances. Your parents can make frequent visits and it’s also possible to apply for multiple-entry, long-term visit visas for two, five or ten years meaning they don’t have to apply for a new visa each time. Be warned though – caseworkers can refuse an application if they feel the applicant is in effect making the UK their main home, so you will need to read the guidance carefully. There are also strict rules on providing childcare. Parents are allowed to visit grandchildren and provide emotional support but practical help is prohibited.

because the Home Office doesn’t believe that they will leave the UK. It’s a good idea to include a supporting statement from your soldier to accompany the application. Refer to AFF's F&C webpages at for guidance.

GET INSURANCE Hospital treatment for visitors to the UK is not free. Some families have been left with large debts because their parent did not take out insurance prior to travel. An NHS debt will prevent future visits and can affect the ability of your soldier, as the sponsor, to apply for citizenship.

VISIT REQUIREMENTS As with any application, it’s all about supporting documentation. UK Visas and Immigration wants to see evidence that: ✔ You’ll be able to support your parent in the UK financially ✔ They’ll have somewhere to live ✔ They have ties to their home country which will show an intention to return. Showing an intention to return can be tricky if your parent doesn’t have a regular income or any other family or economic ties. It’s the main reason for many refusals


allowed to be treated on the NHS. Although he passed away just before my husband was deployed to Afghanistan, the time spent with his grandson and family

away. Although there is Skype and FaceTime, nothing beats a real life 'granny hug'. Our welfare team has been so supportive and had no hesitations

in the UK will always be cherished. As family plays an important role in our heritage, my mother will continue to provide emotional support to our family albeit from miles

If you are on an overseas assignment in Europe, it’s likely that your visitor will need to apply for a Schengen visa. This is applied for at the embassy of the country in which your relative will be spending the most nights on their trip. So if you are in Germany, your visitor will need to download the application form and then attend the Germany Embassy in their country of origin for an appointment. The visa is valid for 90 days. & in providing the documentation in support of my mother’s visitor visa application. Her last visit was on a oneyear biometric visa from the USA where she is now resident. autumn 2016 Army&You 53


A bite in the budget: A change in lettings legislation could take a chunk out of some Army families' vital rental income


New lettings legislation Do you own a property and let it out? If so, changes to tax regulations coming into force next year may affect you. Our Money & Allowances Specialist Laura Lewin outlines the new rules…


NYONE who owns a property and rents it out has to pay tax on the rental income. However, you can currently deduct certain costs before working out your tax bill, such as agent’s fees, maintenance and repairs. Under existing regulations, you can also include the interest portion of your mortgage payment, but new rules being phased in from

January 2017 mean you will no longer be able to offset this. Tax will be applied to the rental income you receive, rather than what is left after your mortgage has been paid. The changes will be implemented gradually to come into full force by 2020/21. AFF is concerned that this will have serious implications for some of you, wiping out profit

you may rely on or, more worryingly, leaving some of you in debt. Many of you own a home and either have to move into SFA on posting to be able to stay together as a family, or have bought a property ready for when your soldier leaves the Army. “This new rule is likely to have a big impact on us," said Army family member Gary Firth. "Offsetting the

mortgage interest currently keeps us below the tax threshold. “We make no profit at all from the rent we charge. We’re currently posted 150 miles away, so there’s no way we can live in the house unless we choose ‘married unaccompanied’. "If we sell, we have to start again on the housing market in a few years. Surely this rule goes against the MOD encouraging soldiers to

plan for the future.”

AFFECTED? AFF feels that Army families will be unfairly disadvantaged by the new rules. Chief Exec Sara Baade said: “Some families are ‘accidental landlords’ due to the nature of Service life and these changes would result in an unfair penalty on families who need to move to meet Service needs.” &

We are lobbying for an exemption for Service families who own only one property and would like to hear if you will be affected. Contact Laura at or, for more information, go to or search for 'rental income' at

54 Army&You autumn 2016


HEALTH Close knit: Leanne (main picture) and Darren (inset) Preuss enjoying time with their son Lewis


Speak to both your current health and social care professionals and those in the area you are moving to


Border barriers The Armed Forces Covenant commitments are clear: military families shouldn’t be disadvantaged by their mobile lifestyle when trying to access services. This is high on AFF’s agenda this year, as our Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross explains…


HAVE noticed an increase in the amount of enquiries families have brought to me around transferring health and social care provision when moving to a new Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) or Local Authority (LA). A number of you have found yourselves straddling LA borders and having to negotiate health, social care and educational provision in up to three different locations. I am investigating this.

THE IMPACT ON FAMILY LIFE I spoke to Leanne and Darren Preuss, who have recently moved, to see what impact it has had on their five-year-old son Lewis’ health and social care provision. Lewis is the only

person in the world with a chromosomal condition which affects his development, sensory perception and ability to walk and eat. The Preuss family also have a two-year-old daughter, Lily Grace, and when they moved from Dorset to Warwickshire Leanne took a proactive approach. She explained: “I spoke to Lewis’ health and social care professionals about our move and they organised the referrals and the transfer of his notes to Warwickshire, but once Lewis was registered with his new GP, all the referrals had to be redone. “I felt very alone. I didn’t know who to call or where to go because in Dorset there was open access, which I don’t now have in Warwickshire. Lewis

was receiving sensory integration therapy, which was really helping us both but Warwickshire doesn’t provide it, so this is having a real impact on his progress and my ability to support his sensory needs.” Leanne is also having difficulty finding a respite carer, and with Lewis’ care under three different hospitals, she feels very frustrated. “I find myself constantly having to repeat his medical history to healthcare professionals each time we have appointments,” she said. Although the couple are experiencing these issues, Leanne also highlighted some positives. “The community nursing team were brilliant because when we moved, Lewis wasn’t able to take

his specialist bed with him," she said. "They arranged a new bed and it was ready and waiting when we moved in.” They added that Lewis’ school, Woodlands Coleshill, is exceptional and the Army and Darren’s chain of command have been supportive too. If the Preuss family’s experience sounds familiar, I would like to hear from you. I work closely with the Department of Health, NHS England, local authorities and the devolved administrations. In meetings that focus on the health commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, I’m able to highlight issues on your behalf. Get in touch by emailing additionalneeds &

If you need adaptations to your new SFA, you will need to provide CarillionAmey occupancy services with an occupational therapist or medical report – give as much notice as possible. Ensure your soldier ticks the additional needs box on the e1132 form


Apply for your SFA as soon as you can so you can register with a GP and look at suitable schools

MEDICAL Speak to your GP about getting copies of relevant notes before you move


Ask the social services team if you can take equipment with you

autumn 2016 Army&You 55

Save the date See you at The Rugby Ball! Friday 3rd February 2017 Hilton Park Lane, London

For more information:

e: t: 01252 773720


Searching for Shakespeare Ever thought of finding out who you think you are? Military spouse Karen Ross tells Army&You about her genealogy hobby…


O BE or not to be related to Shakespeare, that is the question. There is a long-held family rumour that I may be related to the Bard and together with the merest hint of a scandal and my inquisitive nature – I had to find out more. Genealogy makes an ideal hobby for Service families because it can be undertaken wherever you are and offers an escape away from the stresses of everyday family life.

information online. However, the further back you go the more difficult it becomes, so visits to churches and graveyards are worth factoring in. It should come with a health warning because it is very time-consuming and addictive. I love the challenge of trawling through each census and the birth, marriage and death records like an amateur Sherlock Holmes, finding clues and getting ever closer to my Shakespeare family.



Searching for long lost relatives can be done in the comfort of your own home; there are some excellent websites and freely-available

It has created some surprises too. I started this hobby when we were posted in Uxbridge and discovered that my great grandmother was born there.

I also found out that RAF Uxbridge was only metres away from where she once lived, now sadly a multistorey car park. She and my great grandfather had married in the church in the town centre, which I had often passed. My hobby also led me to study for an Open University (OU) ‘Start Writing

Family History’ course, which then inspired me to continue studying for an OU degree. This helped put my information into context and highlighted the importance of family history provided by letters, photos and families’ spoken history. So think twice before throwing letters or photos away and take time to listen to your elderly relatives’ stories – you never know what you might discover. &

What do you do to escape the stresses of Army life? To tell us about your hobby and feature in downtime, email

autumn 2016 Army&You 57

Ask the experts Got a question you want to pose to one of our team? Send it to us and we'll get it answered! Email

OUR EXPERTS WORK HANNAH MARTIN Co-founder of the Talented Ladies Club (www.talentedladies

What’s the best way to work from home? Working from home is often seen as the dream scenario, but it isn't for everyone. Hannah Martin has some advice to help you stay productive… TREAT WORK AS WORK Just because you don’t have a manager breathing down your neck, it doesn’t mean you can afford to ease up. Treat your work day as just that – work.

Founder of the Triple P Positive Parenting Program (

MENTORING LISA WALKER Former soldier and director of I Am Strong coaching (www.iam

MATERNITY LAURA TENISON Founder and managing director of JoJo Maman Bébé (

MOTORING MAX HOLDSTOCK Patrol of the year for The AA (

EDUCATION DAVID ROBERTSHAW Academic lead for health and social care, University of Derby Online Learning (

MAKE LISTS Start every day with a clear, manageable to-do list and stick to it.


the morning and running around. You’ll feel less guilty about leaving them in front of the TV later.

SET BOUNDARIES Make it clear that, while you may be at home, you ARE actually working. Politely turn down requests for coffee and, if you can, turn off your phone.

PLAN HEALTHY SNACKS It’s very tempting to raid the fridge or biscuit barrel. By preparing healthy snacks you can usually stave off temptation and increase your energy levels.

PLAN BREAKS It’s proven that regular breaks from work actually boost productivity, so reward yourself throughout the day.

GET OUT AT LUNCH You’re much more likely to return to work with renewed vigour if you get some fresh air and exercise at lunchtime, even if it’s just a stroll around the block.

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER Keep a large glass of water on your desk and sip from it throughout the day. You’ll feel fuller and healthier.

SWAP CHILDCARE If you can, organise childcare swaps in which one of you looks after the other's child, then the other returns the favour.

WEAR YOUR KIDS OUT Buy yourself some time by taking your kids out in

SWITCH OFF It’s hard to concentrate with a pile of ironing taunting you. If there are jobs to do around the house, find a workspace that is out of sight of them.

BAN TIMEWASTERS Whether it’s morning TV or Facebook, we all have our favourite timewasters. Impose a ban on yourself until your work is complete.

How do I talk to my teen about money? Money and work are tricky to talk about and even more complicated to raise with a teenager. Prof Matt Sanders has some tips to help you set boundaries… SELF-DISCIPLINE





Teens’ demands for money can put pressure on family budgets. Helping yours learn how to manage their own can set up valuable skills for later in life.

It’s best if rules around money are discussed rather than imposed, but it’s also okay to limit what you will allow them to spend their money on, whether it’s from an allowance or money they earn themselves.

If the allowance is linked to chores, reach an agreement in advance. Withholding money for work not done can cause resentment if you haven’t made the rules clear beforehand.

You may want to encourage your teenager to take on a part-time job. Work can help teens develop their social and problem-solving skills as they deal with bosses, co-workers and customers.

Make sure work doesn’t interfere with school or the sleep they need. A pattern of tiredness, irritability or lack of interest may signal the teen is not coping.

58 Army&You autumn 2016


How do I stay stylish during my pregnancy? Feeling frumpy as your bump begins to show? Laura Tenison has some tips on keeping up appearances while you await your new arrival… NOTHING is more beautiful than the glow of an expectant mother. Pregnant women need to feel special, confident and stylish. I think the most important thing is to stay true to your usual sense of style. If your pre-pregnancy wardrobe is made up of neutral tones, keep to those. Likewise, if you love fitted dresses, opting for flowing cuts will only make you feel dowdy. You’re going through so many changes as it is – sticking to what you know suits you will help you feel

comfortable and confident. This autumn, think chunky knits, durable denim that guarantees all-day comfort and support and cleverly-cut dresses that help define your waist. You can’t go wrong with a great fitting pair of jeans and whether you usually opt for skinnies or bootlegs, you should be able to find a maternity version of your favourite style. I like to team denim with a classic knit for an effortlessly elegant look. Capes will flatter your figure during and after pregnancy, making them a great investment.

The kids are back at school. Now what? Sarah Davies on how to thrive once term time arrives... YOU'VE spent much of summer wishing the kids weren’t under your feet and now they’re back at school you’re suddenly feeling a lost, nostalgic and deflated version of your holiday self. You can’t win! But a new term is also a new chapter and this is a chance for you to now focus on yourself, to start using your time in a way that is not only fulfilling and rewarding but energising and challenging. New experiences and new activities enable us to meet new people, make friends and boost our confidence levels and I guarantee there’s always something that we can take away from every new thing that we do. With a little courage, it is amazing what we can achieve. Why not follow the suggestions below and see the new term for your kids as an opportunity for you? START SOMETHING NEW Write a blog, start a business, try a new workout, apply for a new job, learn a new skill. COMMIT TO SOMETHING THAT YOU ENJOY Whether this is a hobby, an interest, a passion or a project at work. Commit to doing it regularly and doing more of it. RELEASE A HABIT Let go of something that you have been meaning to for a while, give something up, do something differently; take a different route. A new term, a new season, a new opportunity, a new you.

How do I prepare for a long car journey? Planning to hit the open road with your family? If so Max Holdstock has some excellent advice… IT IS a good idea to perform a few checks on your car before you set off, paying particular attention to tyres. For instance, if you’re loading up for a long journey, make sure they are properly inflated. If your tyres have 2mm or less of tread remaining, you should fit new ones. Worn tyres are more likely to blow and stopping distances

– especially in the rain – will be much greater. It’s worthwhile to check oil and coolant levels regularly and don’t forget to clean exterior lights, looking for blown bulbs or cracks. If you’re going to be on the road for some time, break up your drive – 20 minutes every couple of hours should keep you alert.

HOW CAN I KEEP MY KIDS OCCUPIED? Take some things they like to keep them entertained in the car – maybe colouring books or a computer tablet. You might like to play a game such as I Spy or car bingo. WHAT SHOULD I TAKE WITH ME IN CASE I BREAKDOWN? You should always carry a mobile

phone and charger so you’re able to call for help if you need to, and an atlas and first aid kit would help too. Although it’s not compulsory in the UK, you may want to carry a hi-visibility jacket in case you break down at night. Other essentials will depend on the time of year. For example, if you’re travelling in winter, it could be useful

to carry a blanket and snow shovel, or in summer a cold drink. WHAT IF I RUN INTO TROUBLE EN ROUTE? If you break down, call your cover provider or someone else who can help. If you’re on a road, move your car off the carriageway if you can and put your hazard lights on. If you think your

car could be hit by another vehicle, get yourself and your passengers out of the vehicle and on the verge, but don’t stand between your car and oncoming traffic. l Members of the Forces can get up to 34 per cent off AA Breakdown Membership with a continued 20 per cent off at renewal. Call 0800 048 0075 quoting F1140.

autumn 2016 Army&You 59


What are the benefits of distance learning? The mobile military lifestyle can make committing to a prolonged period of traditional study difficult for Army families. Distance learning provides students with greater flexibility, as David Robertshaw points out… YOU CAN LEARN AT A TIME AND PLACE THAT SUITS YOU Trying to obtain a qualification on-site while working full-time and balancing other commitments often isn’t feasible. But online learning enables you to study at a time and place convenient for you.


are on hand to support you.

Online learning is far more sociable than you would think – it’s a great way to meet likeminded professionals from all over the world. Students have social spaces, known as virtual cafes, where they can talk to each other; discussion forums for academic discussions; and live webinars with academics.


IT PROVIDES A TAILORED STUDENT EXPERIENCE All students receive academic tuition and guidance from highlyqualified academics, who

Online learning allows you to build on your skills and knowledge, which could enable you to develop your career.

THERE ARE A VARIETY OF COURSES ON OFFER Distance learning opens up a wealth of study opportunities, from Environmental Health and Engineering to Nursing, which the University of Derby teaches to more than 3,000 online learners located all around the world.

AFF is delighted with the government’s decision to change student funding rules in order to provide Armed Forces families who are posted abroad access to Student Finance England loans, benefiting those who previously might have had to forgo training whilst posted abroad. Look out for further details in our winter edition or visit

READY TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER? Enhance your employment prospects beyond your military career Prepare for the next step in your career by studying a University degree while serving in the military. Our flexible online courses equip you with the skills, knowledge and support needed to develop professionally, providing you with the practical transferrable skills essential for advancement during your service and resettlement.

Whether you’re starting out, moving up or starting again WE’RE READY WHEN YOU ARE

60 Army&You autumn 2016

Choose from a range of courses in:

• • • • •

Accounting and Finance Business, Hospitality Management and IT Engineering and Environmental Sciences Health and Social Care Psychology, Counselling and Ergonomics

Start September, Apply Now Online Call us on 01332 594000 Or email @ArmyandYou

GET YOUR NEWS ON THE MOVE WITH AFF’S MOBILE MAGAZINE On the go and want to catch up with the latest issue of Army&You? Log on to to access our free-to-view digital edition





Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 16 October 2016. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names are published on the Army&You website.

Heading for luxury LIE back and relax in a luxury spa or enjoy long walks and bracing sea air along Cornwall’s coastal paths with a two-night stay at The Headland Hotel and Spa. One lucky pair

will win a break at the iconic hotel in Newquay, enjoying views over the beautiful Fistral beach and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s sure to be a prize to remember. This family-owned

four-AA Silver Star hotel blends Victorian splendour with its AA rosette-rated restaurant and awardwinning spa. Its rich history dates back to 1900 and it was the chosen venue of royalty with

The Prince of Wales – later Edward VIII – visiting to convalesce. Find out more at www. or call 01637 872211. We’re offering a two-night stay for two, plus dinner on the night of arrival

including a bottle of house wine. Open to serving Regular or Reserve families only. The prize must be claimed within 12 months and excludes bank holiday weekends and UK school holidays.

Fairytale prize for one Forces family THE World’s Biggest Pantomime is pleased to present Snow White – a wicked family spectacular that’s sure to wow audiences this December. Headlining the cast is Spice Girl Mel B as the Scary Queen, who will

open the show in front of a 45foot high castle and a 30-piece marching b and. Strictly Come Dancing’s Vincent and Flavia are Snow White’s parents captured in the spellbinding hall of mirrors while the

62 Army&You autumn 2016

queen’s hilarious henchman, TV presenter Rylan Clark-Neal, lures Snow White to the breathtaking forest of illumination which glows in the dark. Check out offers for Army families at www.

◆ Army&You has a family ticket (two adults and two children) for either Monday

19 December at Birmingham Barclaycard Arena or Wednesday 28

December at SSE Arena, Wembley (both starting at 7.30pm) to give away. @ArmyandYou





1. GET HEALTHY WITH NUTRITAB The NutriTab, from Terraillon, is ideal for health-conscious food lovers who want to count calories without having to refer to small food labels. It allows you to scan, weigh and measure calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat, fibre and sodium, as well as record a food diary, thanks to an automatic meal documentation feature. NutriTab connects to the Terraillon Wellness Coach app too, so you can set your goals and get free advice. l Army&You has one NutriTab in black or white, retailing at £79.99, to give away.

2. BUILD WITH BRIO Kids will love building their BRIO World, with an endless variety of tracks, trains and accessories to fuel their imagination. BRIO’s countryside theme features the lumber loading set which comes with a loading station, lift and load and fourwheel drive vehicles, a forest worker, trees, mountain rock pieces and a bridge. The lumber train has two wagons with

logs that can be raised one-by-one with a magnetic lift. l We have one lumber loading set to give away, plus four runner-up prizes of the lumber train.

3. EGGS OR ANARCHY Tuck into one of the great British stories of the Second World War – the heroic tale of how Lord Woolton, Minister of Food, really fed Britain. Eggs or Anarchy, priced £20, is the story of his battle to outwit unscrupulous black market dealers. Esteemed food writer William Sitwell uses unpublished diaries, secret documents and hidden dossiers to show how Lord Woolton was literally faced with the choice of eggs or anarchy! l Army&You has five copies of this fabulous prize for foodies to give away.

4. MEDALS FOR THE MESS Looking for the perfect place to keep your medals, jewellery and military keepsakes? The Medal Box Company produces


bespoke medal boxes which can be engraved with a regimental cap badge, name, rank and Service number. Owner and military wife Julie George created The Medal Box Company, which is licensed by the MOD to use Armed Forces insignia. l Enter for your chance to win a bespoke medal box engraved with your soldier’s cap badge.

5. CUDDLE UP WITH SPONGEBOB Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, SpongeBob SquarePants, Paw Patrol and Dora the Explorer are just some of the familiar faces you’ll find in the new flagship Nickelodeon store in Leicester Square, London. Spanning two floors, the store is a fun-filled destination for families, with more than 600 products from clothing to footballs. l Army&You has three large plush toys, worth £40 each, to give away. Enter online and choose either SpongeBob SquarePants or Patrick. autumn 2016 Army&You 63


To have your say on the issues affecting you, send your letters to the Editor at 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.

Standards slipping in Service housing I AM dismayed at the cleanliness of Service Families Accommodation (SFA) these days. Having followed my soldier around the country for more than 20 years, I have noticed that the quarters are not of the standard they used to be. When moving in, the last thing you want to have to do is clean the whole house before you unpack. Judging by the state of some of the houses we have been allocated, the cleaning companies are only doing the bare minimum. Many of them state that they clean to a ‘hygienic standard’ – but what does that mean? Having recently moved from an SSFA and having scrubbed the place clean (again), the SFA we were allocated was filthy. I could have cried. Why have standards quite clearly slipped? I’m not asking to go back to a white glove

march-out, but some military standards need to be upheld. Name and address supplied Response from Neville Syer, DIO’s UK SFA service manager: Our accommodation team places significant focus on cleanliness of SFA at moveout so we are sorry and disappointed to hear that you were unhappy with the cleanliness of your property. We recognise that the standard of cleanliness at some move-ins has not been good enough and we are working to improve consistency of cleaning standards and processes. We are reviewing move-out and move-in experiences and are considering a new structure which will allow DIO attendance at some moveins to provide assurance to families. We will continue to work

hard to ensure that SFA are delivered to contract standards and I absolutely understand the importance of cleanliness which, to me, is paramount. Response from AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder: We know there have been significant issues with move-in standards in certain areas. AFF believes this has been as a result of incorrect job scheduling during the void period and insufficient

checking of SFA prior to the move-in appointment by some accommodation officers. Make sure you are familiar with the move-in process before your appointment and thoroughly examine the SFA while the accommodation officer is there. Any issues highlighted should be rectified within 24 hours. If you feel the process wasn’t followed, the standard wasn’t met or the jobs weren’t completed in time, make sure that you put in an official complaint and contact me at housing@aff.

*** Star letter ***

The writer of this letter wins a gorgeous fountain pen from PLOOMS. Company founder Sally Page believes that some words need to be written in ink, and it was this thought that inspired her to create her range of fountain pens, currently available in eight colours. Find yours at, priced £59, or follow @ploomspens on Twitter and Instagram.

64 Army&You autumn 2016




Support needed on separation I WOULD like to know what is being done to help those who separate or divorce in relation to housing. I have 93 days from the date my husband informs the Army that we are separated to the date I must leave SFA (or pay the standard rent until evicted). Local authorities will not place a spouse on the housing register because inevitably, they have not lived within the local authority area for at least five years and/or have no local connection. Given most postings are for two-to-three years, it seems that any local authority housing list will not be available to spouses. One may be homed in temporary accommodation or given assistance by SSAFA for private rental. This in itself is a problem as SSAFA will provide a deposit once a tenancy is secured, but that cannot happen until the deposit is provided! Difficulties can be exacerbated if the separating spouse has no children or has a disability. Private landlords

are not required to make adaptations for disabilities. Most authorities, at least those in areas which have garrisons, allow serving soldiers who are injured or disabled to gain access to social housing. Why not spouses? My only alternative is to leave my employment and local area, having lived here for three years, and move more than 100 miles away to live with the only family I have left – my elderly mother in sheltered accommodation. I find it distressing and disturbing that spouses are not given some assistance by local authorities unless a serving partner dies. Can AFF lobby local authorities to amend such policies to ensure we are treated on an equal basis if we separate from our serving soldier? Name and address supplied Response from Armed Forces Covenant Team: The government is committed to ensuring that Service families are

not disadvantaged when accessing social housing. The Department for Communities and Local Government’s guidance makes clear that it expects councils to consider the wider needs of the Armed Forces community and to be sympathetic to changing family circumstances, recognising that spouses and partners can be disadvantaged by the need to move from unit to unit. It is available at Separately, the MOD has a standing commitment to continue working with the Service Families Federations to gather further evidence on the inclusion of divorced spouses in the categories of the Armed Forces community. We will report on this in the Covenant annual report, published in December. The Local Government Association and the Forces in Mind Trust have undertaken a review into how local authorities are delivering their Covenant commitments to ensure that wherever we find good practice, it is shared.

WE recently relocated from Germany to the UK and have moved into Service Families Accommodation (SFA) which needs some maintenance and updating. Under the new CAAS model, our property has been re-graded as C. It has also been assessed as Decent Homes+ for energy efficiency. This will result in our rent more than doubling, although it will be phased in over the next three years. The issue we have, which has also been challenged by other residents in our location, is the property is currently energy inefficient. This is due to outdated double glazing, a boiler that routinely breaks down, no cavity wall insulation and minimal roof insulation. There are air bricks in all the main rooms from when the property was heated by open fires and this causes draughts. The property is very difficult to heat and keep warm – once the heating switches off the temperature drops by four degrees within two hours. Currently, these issues are reflected in the grade of the property and subsequently the rent somewhat counteracts the high fuel bills we pay. When DIO was challenged about the new energy efficiency rating, we were advised that it’s based on the property being in first-class condition with all repairs and maintenance complete. We were told to contact CarillionAmey (CA) with any issues to bring the property up to standard, but therein lies the problem. CA does not have the budget or intention to update the double glazing. We are currently waiting for three units to be replaced (initially reported in November 2015), which according to CA is our annual allowance. That means it would take five years to update the double glazing. Perhaps CA would care to pay our increased rent charges and excessive fuel costs until the property is made good? We fail to see why we should be charged higher rent for a property that will never make the energy efficiency rating that it is graded at whilst we reside in it. Name and address supplied Response from Dave Simpson, DIO CAAS Programme Manager: We are sorry that you feel unsatisfied with the energy efficiency of your property. CAAS includes an assessment of the energy efficiency of the building as a component of Decent Homes. It uses the Standard Assessment Process (SAP) methodology endorsed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. The SAP is a numerical score which is banded to provide an alphabetic energy efficiency rating, more commonly represented as an Energy Performance Certificate. The CarillionAmey contract is a repair and maintenance contract; lifecycle replacement where components such as windows require renewal is approved and funded separately by DIO. CarillionAmey is required to replace a component if it cannot be repaired. There is a limit in the contract to the repairs that CarillionAmey fund. However, they should then seek additional funding approvals from DIO. I hope this helps. autumn 2016 Army&You 65


Service should give us staying power MY WIFE has recently been offered a place to study midwifery at a university near to my current posting. The only way we can make this work is by retaining our quarter. I am due to be posted at roughly the same time she starts her course. I know that JSP 464 doesn’t work in my favour here but I think it is of note that there is no reference to support for partners in attaining degreelevel qualifications. I expect to move every two years and as a degree course is typically three years, it would be very difficult for my wife to study midwifery whilst I remain in the Army. We have never asked for much from the system and I feel that enabling a spouse to study at a higher level should be considered in the JSP. My wife receives communication from

numerous sources indicating how much she is valued, but at the first instance of requiring some tangible support from the system she is let down. Getting accepted on a midwifery course is no mean feat and even if she were to apply next year, her place could not be guaranteed. I accept that military families are expected to make sacrifices, but in this instance my wife is essentially being told not to contribute to society and remain at home. Alternatively, I will have to leave the Service. Name and address supplied Response from PersCap: The provision of subsidised Service accommodation is in part in recognition of the inherently mobile lifestyle, with Service personnel and families frequently facing

My wife is essentially being told not to contribute to society and remain at home. 66 Army&You autumn 2016

difficult decisions in respect of lifestyle choices. However, many married personnel will at some point during their career choose stability over mobility, electing to settle in a location that best meets their needs. Forces Help to Buy and the Tenancy Deposit Scheme are both MOD policies that support this. Looking forward, the Chief of Defence Personnel is committed to greater domestic stability, with the New Employment Model expected to deliver longer assignments and subsequent promotions in unit. The policy governing accommodation is under review as part of the development of the Future Accommodation Model. This emerging policy aims to change the way in which accommodation is provided and paid for, both in the UK and abroad, supporting broader choice irrespective of age, rank or relationship status. So, whilst this does not solve your issue in the short-

term, it provides reassurance that the MOD is seeking to make policy relevant to the needs of current and future soldiers. From your letter it is not known when you were assigned to your current location, or if your career manager is able to facilitate an assignment to enable you to remain in the same location. However, your wife’s decision to apply for and commence a training course in the vicinity of your duty station when your future availability date is imminent does create a challenge for you; I presume that you have investigated if your wife’s degree course can be transferred to a different university. The Army Housing Colonel will always consider a case for retention so that a course can be completed on provision of supporting evidence, which must be compelling. Unfortunately, based on the detail contained in your letter, I do not believe yours is.











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