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DATA DEADLINE: TIME FOR ACTION Act now to continue to receive Army&You. Turn to page three for details.

Spring 2018

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}




Your guide to a smooth return to civvy street

What you need to know about unplanned transition PATROLLING A DIFFERENT PATH

Meet the women who’ve carved out new careers INTERIOR INSPIRATION

Step inside one Service family’s dream home REEN GOING G

ies Military famil ct grow the perfe tch community pa



School report Young generation Meet the AFF team Pensions advice #OurArmyFamily

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


EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // oxfordshirem4@aff.org.uk HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // hampshire@aff.org.uk WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // wiltshire@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // southwest@aff.org.uk SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmcentral@aff.org.uk NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // northeast@aff.org.uk NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // northwest@aff.org.uk WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // westmids@aff.org.uk

FROM May this year, all organisations – including charities such as AFF – are changing the way they contact you. Under the new General Data Protection Regulation, to receive Army&You magazine direct to your door

you’ll need to OPT-IN! Whether you’re in Service Family Accommodation, your own home, a hiring, or private rental, to ensure you receive this unique publication, subscribe for FREE – just visit armyandyou. co.uk or use the QR code.

Army&You is the only magazine of its kind. With essential information, news, features and exclusive real-life stories from Army families like you, it’s for everyone with a soldier in their life. Don’t miss out – sign up today.

EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // eastmids@aff.org.uk EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // rmnorth@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // ni@aff.org.uk AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // rmoverseas@aff.org.uk

GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // rmgermany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk ESBA esba@aff.org.uk




© All MOD British Crown Copyright images courtesy of Defence News Imagery CONTRIBUTIONS We love to hear from you. If you’ve got a story to share, email deped@aff.org.uk PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation (AFF). Editorial content © AFF (Registered Charity England, Wales 291202 Scotland SC046382). Not to be reproduced without permission from the Editor




ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising opportunities in Army&You, contact TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 Web: ayads.co.uk COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date is 15 April 2018 unless otherwise stated. Winners’


names will be published on the A&Y website SUBSCRIPTIONS Whether you’re living in SFA, a hiring or your own home, Regular or Reserve, Army&You magazine is for you. To receive a quarterly copy, subscribe for FREE via armyandyou. co.uk – you can unsubscribe at any time via the same link. If you are living overseas or in Northern Ireland, you’ll receive a free copy of Army&You through the BFPO system – there’s no need to subscribe. If you are not receiving your copy, email commsmarketingmanager@ aff.org.uk or call 01264 382313.

WSBA wsba@aff.org.uk YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS ✪ 07552 861983 // additionalneeds@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // ec@aff.org.uk HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcsupport@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCES & MONEY ✪ 07799 045955 // etam@aff.org.uk TRANSITION LIAISON ❢ 07967 833630 // transition@aff.org.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 03

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Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity;

KENYA kenya@aff.org.uk

CANADA canada@aff.org.uk

Post generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust


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.

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Contents WINTER 2017


10 The Covenant, Good & Bad Are Army families getting a fair deal? AFF investigates 20 Somewhere To Call Home What housing help you can call on when leaving the Army 24 It's Never Too Late Discover why you should be thinking about pensions now 31 Our Army Family Meet Kelly, James and sevenyear-old Logan Ball 35 Catering For Canines Officer-turned-entrepreneur discusses dogs' dinners 54 Moving On How visa issues can complicate resettlement



15 Departure Points Ace advice for those making the move from the military 16 Next Stop: Civvy Street How your family can get ready for resettlement 21 Interior Inspiration A Service family welcomes A&Y into their own home 32 A Different Path Meet three women who've changed careers 36 Cracking The Code We take a closer look at the School Admissions Code 48 How Does Your Garden Grow? Get green-fingered with an outdoor community project


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 12 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting Army families 50 Book Club Young readers give their verdict on Julius Zebra 66 Giveaways Win a break in Eastbourne, rugby tickets & more 68 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


GREEN FINGERS Find out how youngsters Betsy Webster and Harriet Beevor and their Army community have helped grow the perfect patch




DATA DEADLINE: TIME FOR ACTION Act now to continue to receive Army&You. Turn to page three for details.

Spring 2018

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}




Your guide to a smooth return to civvy street

What you need to know about unplanned transition PATROLLING A DIFFERENT PATH

Meet the women who’ve carved out new careers INTERIOR INSPIRATION

Step inside one Service family’s dream home GOING GREEN

s Military familie grow the perfect community patch



School report Young generation Meet the AFF team Pensions advice #OurArmyFamily

spring 2018 Army&You 05


Our specialists

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch. Laura Lewin

Katherine Houlston

Cat Calder

Lucy Scott

Karen Ross

Kate McCullough

Employment, Training, Allowances & Money

Foreign & Commonwealth


Education & Childcare

Health & Additional Needs


AFF has been awarded Libor funding for research into the real and perceived barriers to employment and training and how many of them are unique to Army life. The University of Warwick will deliver the research, which is already underway and due to be completed in April. The project will include a review of current employment statistics in the UK and overseas and comparisons with civilian spouses. In addition, interviews and surveys will be conducted with families, key stakeholders and employers to help us better understand what needs to be done to support you. Visit our website and social media for more information.

We have been contacted by a few F&C spouses who have been refused student finance due to not having been ordinarily resident for the three years prior to the start of their degree course. If you have spent any time during those three years as an ‘overstayer’, then you’ll not have been lawfully resident and cannot therefore be considered to have been ordinarily resident. This applies even in cases where an application was made late but was still granted. If you think that this may apply to you, then seek advice. If you aren’t eligible for student finance on the first day of the first year of the course, then you won’t be eligible throughout the whole of the course.

AFF has spent years gathering evidence and talking to The Royal British Legion, councils, MPs and the MOD’s Covenant team about military families’ issues when applying for social housing after relationship breakdown. I am delighted that the Department for Communities and Local Government intends to consult on new statutory guidance for local authorities to ensure that divorced and separated spouses and civil partners of Service personnel are not disadvantaged by local connection requirements when applying for social housing. This would ensure that spouses are treated fairly. This may take time, so if you have any issues, contact me at housing@aff.org.uk

Special Educational Needs is a topic that regularly features in our enquiries. Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) have been in existence for a while now and hopefully everyone with an existing Statement of Special Educational Need has been able to transfer onto an EHCP. AFF recognises that this is not always a straightforward process if you are moving regularly, however, a statutory deadline has been set for the end of March 2018, which all local authorities must adhere to. If you still have an old statement, please enquire with your local authority as soon as possible. Email ec@aff.org.uk if you need to discuss this further.

I have been looking at parenthood for Army families and, as a result, I have had a number of enquiries about perinatal depression, particularly postnatal depression. This has led us to speak to academics at the Veterans and Families Institute at Anglia Ruskin University and King’s Centre for Military Health Research to explore the possibility of research being carried out in this area. At present very little research has been done in the UK. If you have experienced any issues with perinatal depression and would like to share them, please contact me at additionalneeds @aff.org.uk

I’ve worked with colleagues in the Naval and RAF Families Federations to evaluate the findings from our tri-Service transition survey. It’s been interesting to see what issues are starting to emerge and where you need most help when your soldier leaves the Army. I have been talking about the work that we’re doing and the challenges that families face at a number of events and meetings, including the Forces in Mind Trust’s sector briefing and AFF’s Research Symposium, to raise the profile of this topic. If you have a view about how families could be better supported during resettlement, email me at transition@aff.org.uk

My biggest hope for work this year...

My biggest hope for work this year...

My biggest hope for work this year...

My biggest hope for work this year...

My biggest hope for work this year...

My biggest hope for work this year...

To resolve the issues I’m investigating and communicate effectively to families

To see improved access to information and support for F&C families

That I find the end of my ‘to do’ list

That every family worldwide finds the help they need

To be issued with a magic wand to resolve the issues families have

To help families consider transition earlier to feel informed and in control

06 Army&You spring 2018



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Is the Army meeting the needs of modern families? by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive


T IS probably not a surprise to many of you that the Army offer – the package that your soldier receives on things like pay and allowances – is a big topic of conversation. Some argue that it has not changed or declined over the years, whereas others are very clear that it has. In a recent AFF survey, we asked for your opinion on whether you felt that the Army’s offer has been eroded.

Some 62 per cent of you said the offer has significantly or slightly declined. To me, this is a rather alarming figure.

In a resource-weak Army, where we know recruitment and retention is difficult, what more can we do for our soldiers and you to ensure the balance is right?


As many of you will know, being an Army family has its challenges as well as joys and the vast majority of the families that I come across deal with the challenges with an incredible resilience and determination.

What families tell us, however, is that it’s difficult to maintain a positive approach to Army life when you feel that the package, or offer, is deteriorating before you (perceived or for real). This is when the balance seems out of kilter and you and your soldier are considering other options. My questions to policy makers and command this year

Over this year, we will be looking at how well the Army’s offer is meeting the needs of modern Service families. Is it still offering the benefits that make a mobile life manageable? Does it take into consideration that modern families can come in different shapes and sizes and that one model does not fit all? How does Army life compare with Contact AFF civilian life and what parts of the offer mitigate @The_AFF the disadvantages faced? We will be looking at on Twitter, all these factors to identify areas for proposed Facebook, development and change. We know from last year’s Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey that the impact of

serving life on family life is the number one reason why soldiers are considering leaving the Army.

Instagram or via aff.org.uk

will, therefore, be linked to this.

In a resource-weak Army, where we know recruitment and retention is difficult, what more can we do for our soldiers and you to ensure the balance is right? Engage with us over the next year so that we can make sure your voice is heard in this debate. Contact AFF via your local co-ordinator or specialist – details at aff.org.uk – or find us on social media @The_AFF &

spring 2018 Army&You 09

COVENANT Supported: Jade’s son Joey benefited from Covenant help

GROWING THE COMMUNITY A YEAR-LONG project in North Yorkshire brought military and civilian families together to share a programme of animal care, craft skills, fruit and vegetable growing, harvesting and cooking. Based at the 110-acre Clow Beck Farm, the Catterick and Clervaux Young Families Community Covenant Project helped to alleviate social isolation, build confidence and teach new skills. The project’s success has helped secure Libor funding to build a permanent centre, The Fold. TRYING NEW THINGS Families met every month to try out activities such as pottery, wool weaving and woodwork, as well as looking after animals on the farm and cooking organic food. One Army family said: “It has made me focus on time for family, which has brought us closer, particularly when my husband spends months away. The children are always excited to show and tell what they have done.” The Fold will have multi-use workshops, kitchen and dining areas and a lounge, as well as new gardens. These will provide therapeutic activities for families to enjoy positive, practical experiences. For more information on The Fold, contact Lone Helliwell on 01325 729860 or email lone.helliwell@ clervaux.org.uk



S THE Armed Forces Covenant helping your family get a fair deal? AFF’s Covenant&You campaign attracted a mix of both positive and negative experiences. From your feedback, we know there are areas where the Covenant is making a positive difference. Jade, whose son Joey has special educational needs, explained: “We moved from Germany back to the UK last year and it looked like we would be put at the bottom of waiting lists for services, but the Covenant and help from AFF meant that our previous waiting time was taken into account.” Some of you have

faced difficulties in accessing basic services, especially when returning to the UK from a lengthy overseas posting. “We tried to open a bank account with a high street bank and they refused because we had no checkable five-year address history. It would be very useful if the Covenant assisted with this type of issue,” said one Army spouse. Another respondent commented that it wasn’t just the big issues that were a challenge: “The thing that upsets me most about moving is that your children rarely get to the top of the waiting list for things like Brownies, ballet classes or gymnastics.”

MIXED EXPERIENCES A common theme is employment, with some of the 1,900 organisations who’ve signed the Covenant having made specific pledges around spousal employment. However, the responses we received were good and bad. While some employers understand the need for flexible working, others do not. One spouse, who requested more childfriendly hours, said: “I was told that they would rather I didn’t reduce my hours because the person after me might not be able to manage. “They said that as a military spouse, they knew I wouldn’t be there forever.”

AFF & THE COVENANT Laura Lewin, our Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist, explained how we champion the Covenant. “AFF works with the Covenant team, Defence Relationship Management, businesses and local authorities to ensure the Covenant is working effectively for families and that they are treated fairly. “As well as providing guidance and signposting, AFF can use your evidence to help affect positive changes. Please get in touch to tell us how the Covenant is working for you.” Go to aff.org.uk or email etam@aff.org.uk &

AFF’s Covenant&You campaign will help you make sense of the Covenant. Share your stories with AFF by emailing cmeditor@aff.org.uk 10 Army&You spring 2018


AFF in action #Onetowatch Missed appointments AFF has been advised that the backlog of vouchers awarded by DIO for eligible housing claims is now at a manageable level. If you made a claim for a missed appointment, or regarding your move-in, you should now have received your voucher by email. Not had yours yet? Check your junk mail and let DIO know at DIOSDAccn-CCT@mod.uk

#AFFwin Police vetting success AFF has influenced the new code for police vetting, which states that entitled family members of Service personnel overseas will no longer be

#AFFteamwork Guidance in Wales The Welsh Local Government Association has developed a training package for authorities in Wales. AFF was contacted at the

disadvantaged when applying to join the police. AFF worked on this issue with the Armed Forces Covenant team, providing valuable evidence of families’ experiences. Now, where an individual has accompanied their soldier overseas, they can

be considered to have been resident in the UK if they lived within the confines of the military base. This also applies to a soldier who has served overseas. This policy change has been communicated to all police force vetting managers to ensure they are aware of the update.

beginning of the process and has submitted a detailed document outlining factors affecting Service families, how local authorities can help and, importantly, offering guidance to council staff to help them understand what life is like as an Armed Forces family.

#Onthecase Safe in St Athan We have helped families in St Athan engage with the local council to look at the issue of cars speeding through the village.

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12 Army&You spring 2018


#Onthecase Kept in the dark AFF has seen an increase in enquiries from families in several areas regarding faulty street lighting. If this is an issue for you and you live in a military property, report it to CarillionAmey (CA). There currently seems to be a delay in fixing reported street lighting but it’s important that you raise it. Here’s how: INFO: You’ll need the street name and ideally the postcode, plus the approximate location of the lamp (eg outside door number three) and the number on the lamp, if it’s visible. WHO TO REPORT TO: If the light is behind the wire on camp, then it should be reported to the CA helpdesk on 0800 707 6000 using

option two. If it’s off camp, you can report it to the same number using option one. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? If the road name has a ‘unique property reference number’ on CA’s system, then the responsibility to repair the street light is likely to be CA’s. The helpdesk will raise a job for repair. If there’s no number, the helpdesk will ask the accommodation officer to clarify who is responsible. If it’s the local council, you’ll be advised to contact them directly. TIMELINES: Nearly all street light repairs are raised as routine 15-day responses by CA. There are exceptions where a third-party contractor is required, or the street light is neither in CA’s contract nor the council’s responsibility. In this instance, CA will raise a statement of need and submit it to DIO. If you’re not getting a resolution, contact AFF’s Housing Specialist Cat Calder at housing@aff.org.uk

#AFFwin Fair deal for divorcees AFF is delighted to have helped secure a change in policy from Braintree, Colchester and Maldon Councils. Service spouses no longer need

#AFFwin Success in SHAPE Good news – the Child Development Centre in SHAPE, Belgium, has agreed to increase its provision for three-tofive-year-olds that attend the International and British School.

#AFFteamwork Covenant support AFF is pleased to be working with five local authorities on a new Covenant project in North Yorkshire. We’ll be sharing good practice on behalf of all three families federations and supporting the councils in their project, which has been awarded £196,000

#Onthecase Tax impact widens



Receive our latest news

New AFF website

Would you like the latest AFF news straight to your inbox? Sign up to receive our quarterly newsletter, filled with useful information and updates for families. Go to aff.org.uk and look for the ‘e-news sign up’ box among the social media icons.

AFF is launching a brand new website. All the information and guidance you’ve come to expect from us will be easier to find, simpler to read and with a fresh, modern feel. Look out for it out at aff.org.uk and let us know what you think.


Further changes to the Scottish Rate of Income Tax could mean that more Army families may be affected. Currently, some families based in Scotland pay comparatively more tax than anywhere else in the UK depending on which

a local connection in order to apply for social housing within five years of leaving SFA due to a marital breakdown. It should come into effect before the summer. We hope other Essex councils adopt the change in the future.

It follows 18 months of hard work by AFF, with our EJSU Co-ordinator working in partnership with the chain of command to bring about a change to the eligibility criteria for the Americanrun facility. A great example of successful international negotiations!

of MOD funding over two years, to improve how they work with Service families. The councils hope to highlight existing areas of Covenant good practice and inequality, and then address any gaps identified. For more on AFF’s Covenant work, look out for our Covenant & You campaign online and across social media @The_AFF

tax code they are on. AFF has already highlighted this to the MOD, the Scottish Government and HMRC, but as yet there are no plans to adjust the tax code for Service personnel. We’ll continue to voice your concerns however, so if this affects you contact us at scotland@ aff.org.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 13





ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has received Libor funding to offer bespoke support in partnership with the Defence Medical Welfare Service (DMWS). The grant will enable DMWS welfare officers to offer confidential, independent help in hospitals or healthcare centres across the south of England. The three-year project aims to provide the military community – be they soldiers, veterans or their families – with practical and emotional support when in hospital or recovering at home. Look out for updates at soldierscharity.org

Heading for civvy street? Why not attend an employment and careers fair run by British Forces Resettlement Services (bfrss.org.uk)?

SSAFA has launched a trial mentoring service to support Service families in their transition to civilian life. Working with the MOD, Army and the Career Transition Partnership, the two-year trial at Catterick Garrison will see volunteer mentors across the UK offering emotional and practical support ranging from help with writing CVs and securing housing to encouraging new activities to avoid social exclusion. Service leavers in Catterick can apply for a mentor via the CTP or directly at SSAFA via ssafa.org. uk/mentors

The Forces Enterprise Network Business Community is an online networking group helping Army families to grow an idea into a successful venture that moves with them no matter where they’re posted. Created by military spouses already running their own businesses through postings, deployments and family life, they share their tips and tricks so that you can do it too. Jess Sands (pictured right), business community lead and military spouse, said: “We are so happy to see the success of the community. With our on-the-ground networking groups and over 200 members online, it’s certainly been a great start.” It’s open to all family members of

14 Army&You spring 2018

Catterick Leisure Centre Thu 1 March (9am-2pm) Colchester Thu 17 May 2018 (9.30am-2pm) Stafford Thu 12 July (9.30am-2pm) Tidworth Leisure Centre Thu 13 Sept from (9.30am-2pm) Catterick Leisure Centre Thu 22 Nov (9:30am-2pm)

serving soldiers and each week there are motivational posts, videos and ideas on how to succeed in business while living a unique military life. To find out more, check out forcesenterprisenetwork.co.uk


Departure points Leaving the Army brings with it a host of considerations for everyone involved. We have put together some key things for you and your family to think about. The specialists’ pages on aff.org.uk provide lots of useful information and links to further advice...

CHILDREN ➊ If you have children, you’ll need to consider which school

they’ll move to and apply in good time.

➋ Visit potential schools to get a feel for the support they

provide and see if they have other ex/Service children.

➌ Schools in England can still claim the Service Pupil Premium

(£300 per child) for up to six years after the serving paren t has left the Army. Make sure your school knows that you’re an exService family so that they can apply for the money.

➍ Children are affected by transition in many ways. Involve your child in a way that is right for you and your family so that any concerns can be spotted early. ➎ If your soldier is claiming Continuity of Education

Allowance, make sure you have checked the implications for when your soldier leaves the Army.

HOUSING ➊ Consider renting for a period before you buy. You need to

be sure you’re happy with the area and all it has to offer such as schools, social life and employment.

➋ Social housing is in scarce supply and waiting lists are long. Qualifying criteria might differ from area to area too. If you are relying on social housing, be flexible on location and property type to have the best chance of securing somewhere to live.

➌ Saving for a deposit, to rent or to buy, takes time. Consider savings accounts that benefit homebuyers.

➍ The Joint Service Housing Advice Office runs free housing briefings to help military families understand their options.

➎ Don’t forget to change your address with all your utility suppliers and others who may try to contact you. Consider having your post redirected for a while.



EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING ➊ Your soldier’s lump sum can take up to 30 working days to

come through once they’ve left the Army. Remember that this money will be taken into consideration if you’re applying for social housing.

➋ Make sure your expectations of take-home pay are realistic. The tax your soldier pays depends on their earnings and pension. ➌ Whilst in the Army, SFA, CILOCT and water rates are paid directly from your soldier’s salary or subsidised by the MOD, which can make the true cost of living less obvious. Take time to understand what costs you’re likely to face. ➍ Make use of budgeting tools available online to get a true picture of your income and outgoings such as moneyforce.com ➎ If you’re struggling financially, call The Royal British Legion’s Benefits & Money Advice Service on 0808 802 8080.


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➎ Consider what kind of nenear friends and family? How will on Have you chosen a locati u need? yo rt po sup y an you access

EMPLOYMENT ➊ This move may be the first time you’ve had the chance to pursue your own career or it might provide the opportunity to rethink what you want to do. It can be an exciting time. ➋ Looking for a job? Get support with your CV and interview techniques – recruitforspouses.co.uk is a good starting point. ➌ Securing a job for both you and your soldier can take time. The earlier you embark on this process, the less stressful it’s likely to be. ➍ Retraining is a fantastic way to establish a new career and can often be done online, meaning you can do it almost anywhere. ➎ Several organisations and programmes supp ort military spouses to develop their careers, set up their own businesses or build confidence when it comes to look ing for a job. Go to aff.org.uk for links. spring 2018 Army&You 15

next stop civvy street Y

OUR soldier’s final day in uniform is life-changing for the whole family. With a deadline to find a new job, home and school on civvy street, it pays not to leave your planning until the last minute, writes Jill Misson. “It is your responsibility, and nobody is going to do it for you, so you have to get a grip and get on with it,” advised Ray Lock, chief executive of Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) which was founded in 2012 to improve the transition of military personnel and their families into the civilian world. A tri-Service project, funded by FiMT, has created transition liaison roles at the Army, Naval and RAF Families Federations, as AFF’s Kate McCullough explained: “The role of the family in the transition process is vital. “The Armed Forces want to be sure that they are offering families the right support, so we are gathering evidence of what they experience so that recommendations can be made.” Soldiers with a stable family are more likely to make a successful transition, according to a 2013 FiMT study. Ray Lock elaborated: “Spouses and family members are often much more clued up on

16 Army&You spring 2018

civvy street with things like access to GPs and schooling. “There is good evidence that if a spouse or partner is in employment, the Service leaver is likely to have a better transition, so we are funding an evaluation of the MOD’s Spousal Employment Support Programme.”


It’s a stressful time for the whole family and tensions can run high. Be kind to each other. Debi Reynolds

As a brigade transition officer, Maj Jodie Kennedy-Smith agrees that spouses and partners play an important role. She said: “Soldiers don’t always find it easy to prioritise time for their resettlement as they juggle work commitments, so often it is the partner who is the driving force.” Families are welcome to attend transition fairs to gather information. Maj Kennedy-Smith suggested: “The HARDFACTS assessment tool is good for a family to sit down and go through together to find out whether they are in a good position to leave.” HARDFACTS can be found via your soldier’s work. If you’re weighing up whether to stay in the Army, it is worth considering your cashflow. Maj Kennedy-Smith said: “If a family has debt it is far better to clear this

before leaving. “Every soldier should consider their retention bonuses, resettlement grants and engage with the Forces Pension Society to understand the impact of their departure on their pension.” Service leavers should also factor in repayment of Long Service Advance of Pay and Forces Help to Buy loans. You can find information and interactive calculators to help you get your finances in order on the MoneyForce website.

A ROOF OVER YOUR HEAD When you consider your family’s new home, you need to budget for expected costs and unforeseen expenses. The last time you pack up your SFA, you foot the bill for removals. “It was a huge culture shock leaving the safety net of our military community,” recalled Laura Lewin, AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist. “I saved for costs that crop up like when the boiler started playing up just as we moved into our own house. “I contacted the local authority to discuss council tax and water rates as we had never had to pay @ArmyandYou

The Lewin family

them before. After all the years of my husband being away, we also put money aside for a lovely family skiing holiday.” One property myth that needs to be quashed is that Army families are entitled to social housing when they leave – which, according to Kate McCullough, ‘sadly isn’t the case’. The Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) can provide information on your options via family briefs, but Alison Shimmens confirmed that while local authorities are encouraged to take the situation of Service personnel into account, they only have a statutory obligation to house those who are homeless. She added: “The JSHAO manages a referral scheme, where housing providers offer vacant properties to Service leavers who would otherwise not necessarily be deemed a high-enough priority by a local authority, but these are becoming scarcer as social housing availability diminishes.”

IMPACT ON CHILDREN Your new local authority is also the point of contact for school applications. Kate McCullough said: “It is important to consider the impact of leaving the Army community on children, especially if they have only lived on a patch and attended a school with lots of other Service children.” Debi Reynolds’ daughter Erin was five when they relocated to Southampton. She said: “We had some ‘acting out’ after the move and clingy behaviour but she did so well with the transition having only ever known our Aldershot home and school. “She still misses her friends terribly. It’s a stressful time for the whole family and tensions can run high. Be kind to each other.”

ALIEN ENVIRONMENT You may feel isolated living offpatch where you don’t know your neighbours. Joining groups with a military connection can help, from The Royal British Legion to the Military Wives Choir, as Debi explained: “I was lucky to have www.armyandyou.co.uk

a friend in an Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club, which has been invaluable as I was feeling a little lost, but networking helped me with job hunting and a sense of belonging.” Founder Dereck Hardman said: “It can be akin to being dropped into an alien environment without recognisable landmarks.” Annabel Ingram, whose husband left the Army in October 2017, agreed. “We’re a sporty family, so one of our priorities was to find a location which had good access to clubs and facilities,” she said. “This helped us to settle because the boys could meet children with similar interests and we had parents to chat to. Two years on and many of these families have become our friends.”

MAKING THE MOST OF RESETTLEMENT Job hunting can be daunting for your soldier after an Army career so it is worth taking advantage of the resettlement package. Army spouse Catherine Adams said: “Encourage your soldier to get on the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) workshop as early as possible. It broadened my soldier’s work horizons by making him realise what amazing life skills the Army had given him.” The CTP’s Clare Preece said: “Many leaving may not have created a CV or attended a job interview before so one of our objectives is to equip your soldier with life-long application skills.” Communication is crucial according to Stuart Tootal, head of the Barclays Armed Forces Transition, Employment & Resettlement Programme. He said: “A misunderstanding of military experience causes too many employers to write it off as being irrelevant, when it should be seen as a real asset.” British Forces Resettlement Services runs careers fairs and an online jobs board for veterans and spouses. Dominic Hamberg

said: “We champion recruiting from the Armed Forces community as they have the skills, attributes and ethics that organisations are crying out for.” Mal Robinson, editor of resettlement magazine Pathfinder, echoed those sentiments. He said: “There is a ‘can do’ attitude instilled into Service personnel and the self-determination to see a job through to the end. Employers love this.”

FAMILY PLANNING Army families’ experiences of transition vary hugely and Kate McCullough is recording her findings so that changes can be made for the better. She said: “It seems to be that the more a family plans for transition, the smoother their ride has been – but of course there are exceptions.” Maj Kennedy-Smith urged Service leavers to face their fears. She said: “Leaving the Army is a big deal. It’s ok to feel apprehensive. Before a deployment we research the environment we are going into and adjust our training and skills, the same can be said for resettlement. Transition takes planning, research and commitment but the majority are successful despite a few bumps along the way.” &

USEFUL CONTACTS army.mod.uk (Click on welfare support) gov.uk (Search ‘Service leavers’ guide’ or ‘JSHAO’) Veterans UK helpline (Freephone: 0808 191 4218; Overseas: +44 1253 866 043) AFF Transition Liaison (email transition@aff.org.uk) ctp.org.uk bfrss.org.uk moneyforce.org.uk enhancedlearningcredits.com pathfinderinternational.co.uk civvystreetmagazine.co.uk x-forces.com afvbc.co.uk forcespensionsociety.org armedforcescovenant.gov.uk fim-trust.org veteransgateway.org.uk rfea.org.uk ssafa.org.uk britishlegion.org.uk poppyscotland.org.uk officersassociation.org.uk Your soldier can speak to their brigade transition officer

spring 2018 Army&You 17


Resettling across the world Jason and Charlie Sklenar are emigrating to New Zealand after both serving in the Royal Engineers. Jason represented Great Britain in biathlon at two Winter Olympics, while Charlie spent most of her career serving in explosive ordnance disposal, deploying to Afghanistan and Eastern Africa. They’re looking forward to travelling through Asia for a few months with their three young daughters en route to their new home…


EFORE their big move, Charlie and Jason’s main focus has been securing visas and building a network in their new country. The couple made use of resources including the Officers’ Association and LinkedIn and Charlie, who remains in contact with her resettlement adviser via email, also planned ahead by saving her leave prior to hitting civvy street so that she will still be paid during the initial period of her travels. She explained: “Though we have met numerous people

“Give yourself as much time as possible – you genuinely cannot start too early.”

planning major overseas moves, we found that resources were fairly limited to leaflets and websites. “Our biggest challenge has been the time it takes for the visa process. We held off applying until September last year as the latest changes by New Zealand immigration were in our favour, but it has meant that we’re still in the final stages. “There’s a lot to understand and get your head around, [so] the earlier your soldier can attend briefings the better. “Informal networks that we

have built up, particularly British veterans in NZ who we have been introduced to online via friends, have been really helpful. “In the future I see us both working, kids happy, with a great quality of life – big goals but exciting times.” If you are planning to emigrate, Charlie suggests doing your homework. “Give yourself as much time as possible – you genuinely cannot start too early,” she said. “We have been planning this for three years and at times it still feels like it’s not enough.” &

Dad on the go REME soldier and single dad of six John Lewis will soon be leaving the Army after 23 years’ service. We caught up with him to find out how his resettlement plans are going… What information have you been able to access? There’s a lot available to the Service leaver but I find there’s not so much which focuses on the family. One of my children has additional help in school and I’m concerned that the process will have to start again when we move.

What are your biggest priorities? Stability for my children is my number one concern. I’m mindful that the pay cheque helps towards this but it’s also things like settling them into a new school, making new friends and staying in touch with their old ones.

Have you been able to make the most of resettlement opportunities? I engaged early with the resettlement centre, which allowed me plenty of time to consider

18 Army&You spring 2018

my options. I’m going to approach resettlement in a slightly different way by doing some work placements and finding out if there are any courses that potential employers would like me to do. At least that way I don’t feel I’m doing courses which won’t be of any use.

Is there any part of the process that you’re unsure about? Despite what anyone says, there is always information out there if you look for it or ask. The Career Transition Partnership is a font of knowledge and gives you some really good tools to use. I would like to see more consideration made for the families of Service leavers – after all, many of them have been with the Army for a great deal of time.

What have you found helpful? My chain of command have been really good. They know that transition is important and have been fully supportive.

What advice would you give to other Army families? Start planning early. It’s hard to understand, but that last two years goes by so quickly. Research areas to settle and, most importantly, have a plan. It’s not going to be like any other posting. & @ArmyandYou

PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S FUTURE FOR FREE Introducing The Royal British Legion’s FREE Will Writing service Keeping an up-to-date Will is the only way to take care of your family if you’re no longer there. It is The Royal British Legion’s pleasure to help members of the Service community do this by offering you a FREE Will Writing service. You do not have to include the Legion in your Will to use this service but if you do decide to leave a legacy to the Legion you’ll be playing a crucial role in protecting those in need within the Armed Forces community. Even a small portion of your Estate could help us provide everything from home adaptations for an injured veteran like Mark Stonelake to specialist dementia care in one of our award-winning Legion Care Homes. Once you have provided for your loved ones, please consider helping us to be there for members of the Armed Forces family who need us.

Find out more or request a copy of our Will Guide at www.rbl.org.uk/freewills Contact the Legion’s legacy manager at freewills@britishlegion.org.uk or call 020 3207 2253

“It’s a huge comfort to know the Legion’s support will never stop.” Mark Stonelake, who lost his left leg following an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in Afghanistan.

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Somewhere to call home So, you’re leaving the Army and moving on to pastures new – exciting times, but what are you entitled to on departing Service Family Accommodation (SFA)? It’s important that you are prepared before you leave. Cat Calder has the answers to your questions… HOW LONG CAN I STAY IN MY SFA? If you’re leaving at the end of your soldier’s service, their last day of service is your last day of entitlement; you will be issued with your Notice to Vacate (NTV) 93 days before your last day. Think of your SFA as another piece of Army kit that has to be handed back. If you’re leaving through medical discharge and fit the criteria, you can stay for another 93 days (at entitled rates) after your last day of service. For further information on medical discharge, see our Early exit feature on page 28.

CAN I ASK TO EXTEND MY STAY? When you receive your NTV you will also get a proportionality exercise form; if you need to stay in the SFA longer you will need to complete this with the reasons why and any 20 Army&You spring 2018

supporting evidence – such as public exams, due date of a new baby, medical reasons or house purchase – and send it back to the Loss of Entitlement Team (LOET). There’s no guarantee as it will depend on other criteria.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T MOVE OUT? The LOET will start the legal process to obtain an Order for Possession from court. You will be responsible for the court fees so consider this extra cost before making the decision to become an over-stayer.

WHAT WILL I PAY IF I STAY ON IN MY SFA? You will be charged the market rate – and this may be considerably more than you are used to paying. As your soldier will no longer be serving, you will have to pay this directly to DIO. Be aware that any debt incurred

at this point may impact on your ability to rent or buy in civvy street.

WILL REMOVALS BE PAID FOR? Generally first and last moves are not paid for. There are a few exceptions such as separation, some medical discharges or if you meet the Final Tour of Duty criteria, however, the majority of families should budget for removal costs. If you are leaving on medical discharge you may be entitled to removals, but be aware that this has to be used before your soldier’s last day of service. If you’re staying on for the extra 93 days, you will need to put a case to the Pay and Allowances Complaints and Casework Cell and have the delay approved before the last day of service, or you will find yourself paying for removals.

CAN I BE CHARGED FOR DAMAGES? Yes. Your move-out will follow the same process as usual, you will be expected to leave the SFA at moveout standard and you will be charged for any damages in the usual way.

PLAN AHEAD Unfortunately, AFF does see some families who have made no housing plans and, in the current climate, social housing is very hard to come by in many areas. Seek advice and plan early so that you don’t face any uncertainty with your future housing on top of the insecurity of leaving the Army. If you would like any advice, contact Cat Calder (housing@aff.org.uk) or call the Joint Service Housing Advice Office on 01252 787574. &


Interior inspiration Karla Lucas, who lives with soldier husband Andy and daughter Amelia, tells us about her family’s move from SFA to their own home… ETWEEN 1995 and 2014 we were fortunate to only move quarters eight times. The interiors were always important. I painted red, yellow, boxed in tiled fireplaces with MDF (thanks dad) and in the latter years painted the magnolia to white, all to follow the interior trends of the moment. As soon as Amelia started school, we felt we would have to make a decision: to move with Andy or to stay put and buy. I’d trained as a primary teacher and had landed a fabulous job in the school our daughter was attending. We decided to buy and become a commuter family. Our rental property sold quickly and we started the search. Years of living in quarters gave us definite ideas of what we did and didn’t want. For Andy, not too much grass to cut and for me, a shiny, sleek fully-functional kitchen. One of the benefits of living in quarters was having the security of a home while www.armyandyou.co.uk

we searched for more than a year. Eventually, we crossed the threshold of a Victorian mid-terrace bursting with the original features both of us were drawn towards. There would be refurbishing and redecorating, but we were confident we could undertake such a project. We lived in our new home for 12 months before we started any work, giving us a feel for the property. At the same time, I’d joined Instagram for interior

added a third-floor loft extension. At this point it was time to decorate. I was being drawn to dark moody interiors with pops of colour and this is the direction we took. My mum was aghast that I would even consider painting a narrow Victorian hallway black! I began to get fellow Instagrammers asking for my advice as we neared completion and was delighted to be approached by a photographer and

“Years of living in quarters gave us definite ideas of what we did and didn’t want.” inspiration and was beginning to attract a following of people interested in watching our progress. Over the course of the next 18 months, and documented on my Instagram account – @mrskarlalucas – we replaced the kitchen, knocked walls down, sanded floors, replaced the sash windows and

journalist who produced an article for Ideal Home magazine. We have never regretted our decision. Fortunately, in his current position, Andy has lived at home for the last two years. But of course all postings come to an end and it’s nearly time to consider our options for the future. & spring 2018 Army&You 21


COMPREHENSIVELY COVERED? For home owners, insurance is part of the tick list when buying a property. But what about if you’re living in Service Family Accommodation (SFA)? Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, explains why it is still vitally important that you are adequately insured against all eventualities… LIABILITY Living in SFA and SSFA means that you are a licensee and are not classed as tenants, so standard home insurance policies don’t cover the potential liability for damage as a result of fire or flood which is proved to be your fault. AFF strongly encourages all families living in SFA or SSFA to take out liability insurance to the value of £20,000 – the amount currently recommended by DIO – in addition to contents insurance.

CONTENTS CarillionAmey, or your local maintenance provider if overseas, will not pay compensation for damage to your belongings unless it is clear that the issue was a result of their negligence. Even if they are found to be liable, they will pay to the national standard – which includes

depreciation – so you may not get enough back to cover the purchase of new items. While you may be advised to put in a claim as part of a complaint, be aware that it is very unlikely that it will be authorised. When moving, make sure that you transfer your contents insurance to your new house so that there are no breaks in cover.

REMOVALS It’s important to note that your home contents insurance most likely does not provide adequate insurance coverage whilst your items are in transit. Your household contents insurance will only usually be adequate for a local move and not for moves overseas (including Europe), storage and self-pack moves. Remember that if you make a claim against your own household or motor policies, there may well

be a sizeable excess which you will need to pay and the claim will ultimately go on your record and affect the premium you pay at the next renewal. This will not be the case with proper removals insurance.

STORAGE If you’re taking out insurance to cover goods while in storage you will find it very difficult to ensure against damp and mould – AFF advises you to check the small print so that you are sure you are adequately covered.

FINDING THE RIGHT INSURANCE The Services Insurance & Investment Advisory Panel has a number of insurance providers on its website that can organise policies designed specifically for Army families. Visit www.siiap.org/l2o for more.

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22 Army&You spring 2018


Planning something special? Exclusive for Armed Forces Personnel Are you a member of the Armed Forces? At LMCU we care about your financial wellbeing, which is why we offer all members of the Armed Forces a Credit Union savings account where you can contribute directly from your salary. We provide loans of up to ÂŁ15,000 to our members (subject to our loan criteria). Repayments can be taken straight from your salary, ensuring that you never miss a payment and everything is taken care of.

For more information about our loans visit creditunion.co.uk

It’s never too late Pensions. Okay, it can be seen as a dull topic, but it’s important to make sure we don’t struggle to make ends meet in our old age. It’s tough to keep your retirement fund going when you’re moving jobs and have spells of unemployment as part of mobile Army life. So we teamed up with Paul Morton, investment planning director at my wealth, to help answer some of the frequently asked questions AFF receives…

my wealth is a trading name of Wealth at Work Limited which is part of the Wealth at Work group of companies which provides independent financial advice and discretionary investment management services.

I’ve only ever worked part-time doing jobs here and there and don’t have a pension. Where do I start? Don’t worry if you haven’t started yet as it’s never too late. There are many different types of schemes and providers. If you’re employed, a good place to start is your workplace pension scheme. As an alternative you could use a personal pension. Retirement might seem a long way off, but saving more when you’re younger could make a difference to the way your savings grow. Speaking to a financial adviser can help you make the right decisions.

I’ve had various jobs and have opted into different workplace pension schemes. How can I combine them?

You normally qualify for NI credits when you accompany your soldier on an overseas posting. You can apply when you’re overseas or when you return to the UK, no more than four months before your confirmed

Consolidating your pensions into one pot will make it easier to manage and could save you money. Before transferring your pension it’s important that you check the value, the cost of transferring and whether

24 Army&You spring 2018

I am self-employed and don’t have a private pension. What should I do?

I have spent years abroad on various postings and have gaps in my NI record. How can I fill them?

We’re posted overseas and I won’t be working out there. How can I still make National Insurance (NI) contributions for my State Pension?

I have a pension pot with an organisation that no longer exists. Where can I find it? Use the DWP’s pension tracing service to locate lost pension arrangements. You’ll need the name of your former employer or pension provider to use the service.

return date and no later than the end of the tax year after you return. Once the form is accepted you’ll receive a class one NI credit towards your State Pension, Jobseeker’s Allowance and other benefits.

If the posting ended after 5 April 2016 you can still claim class one NI credits. If the posting ended on or before that date you may qualify for class three NI credits, which count towards your State Pension. Go to gov.uk to see the qualifying criteria or to apply.

you’re giving up any guarantees or benefits. In addition, some public sector schemes aren’t transferable. You might consider transferring your pensions into your current employer’s scheme, or consolidate them in a personal pension.

Retirement might seem a long way off, but saving more when you’re younger could make a difference to the way your savings grow.

The majority of self-employed people use a personal pension, a stakeholder pension or selfinvested personal pension to save for retirement. The main differences between them relate to contribution flexibility, the level of charges and the investment choice. If you’re starting a pension for the first time, a stakeholder pension could be a good option – the maximum annual management charge is capped at one-and-a-half per cent per year for the first ten years, the minimum gross contribution limit cannot be set any higher than £20 and you can stop and start premiums without penalty. Got a question about pensions? Contact AFF’s Money Specialist Laura Lewin at etam@aff.org.uk & @ArmyandYou


Financial fitness focus Your financial situation will almost certainly change when your soldier leaves the Armed Forces. Whichever route they take to civvy street, there’ll be consequences for their pension, resettlement and finances. The MoneyForce website has some great tools to help you make the right choices as you plan for your future…

MoneyForce recommends you make saving a habit, if you can. Check moneyforce.org.uk for advice


HE Leaving Service section is a good place to start before your soldier hangs up their uniform for the final time. It covers: l Voluntary or compulsory termination l Medical discharge l Redundancy l Retirement l Early Service Leavers (less than four years’ service) l Foreign and Commonwealth leavers. Whatever your stage of life or career, it’s important to check your entitlements and make the most of what’s on offer for the whole family. Your spending is likely to change so it’s a good time to revisit your family budget and get your finances ready for your new life.

MoneyForce’s budget planner helps you measure how your new income will cover your commitments, while the MoneyFit Challenge gives you an action plan so you can focus on the important things you need to tackle. Getting a lump sum is exciting, but you’ll need to think about the best way to maximise it.

CREDITING YOU HAVE you accompanied your soldier on an overseas posting anytime since 1975? AFF has previously highlighted that, in 2016, the Government introduced a new scheme of www.armyandyou.co.uk

PENSION PREP You can use the useful Armed Forces pension calculator to get a forecast, or your soldier can ask for a free, written pension projection once a year from Veterans UK. Getting a lump sum is exciting, but you’ll need to think about the best way to maximise it. If you’d like professional advice,

there’s a section on choosing a financial adviser, or contact the Forces Pension Society (forcespensionsociety.org), which offers information and guidance for a small membership fee. If either you or your partner face unemployment or have long-term ill health and/or a disability, you can find out what state benefits and entitlements you may be eligible for by clicking grants and state benefits. Visit moneyforce.org.uk to help ensure your Army family keeps MoneyFit. &

Followed the flag since the mid-1970s? You may be eligible for thousands of pounds of National Insurance credits...

National Insurance credits to help spouses and civil partners cover gaps in their state pension. However, according to a BBC report last year, fewer than 4,000 applications have been made.

If you think you may be eligible, be sure to apply – these payments could be worth up to £30,000 over the course of a person’s retirement. l Find out more at gov.uk spring 2018 Army&You 25


Changing the face of cancer Back in 2015, Army&You spoke to Maj Mandy Islam about her fight with rare blood cancer multiple myeloma. We caught up with Mandy to hear about her progress and the publication of her new book... DESPITE undergoing multiple cycles of chemotherapy – including five at the same time – as well as a stem cell transplant, Mandy has maintained a positive frame of mind. “Cancer takes you to some pretty dark places,” she explained. “However, it’s these experiences that have left me utterly determined to support others with life-changing illness.” Mandy is leading MOD project Defence People with Significant Illness (DPSI), which will inform how Defence looks after Service people and their entitled family members experiencing or

supporting a loved one through lifechanging illness. She has also started her own social media campaign to connect people with such conditions. She runs Cancer Warrior Diaries on Facebook, Instagram (@cancer_warrior_ diaries) and Twitter (@Cancer_ WarriorD) and mentors people around the world who have been affected by cancer. Her book will be released this summer. If you or anyone in your Army family would like to be part of the DPSI project, email Mandy. Islam505@mod.gov.uk

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26 Army&You spring 2018


Food force

Army wife AJ Sharp, an associate member of the Guild of Fine Food and Great Taste Awards judge, meets spouses who’ve overcome the challenges posed by new postings by setting up their own food and drinks businesses…

Bake believe

THE WINE SELLER TOR Reynolds was not sure what she was going to be able to do for work when she and her husband were posted to Herford in Germany in 2010. Wanting to build on her eight years’ experience in the wine industry but conscious she could only speak a little of the local lingo, she quickly realised the need to be creative. Within weeks of arriving, Tor’s husband deployed to Afghanistan and the challenge was set to

COULD YOU SET UP A BUSINESS IN FOOD AND DRINK? If you’re interested in turning your skill or interest into profit, here are our top tips:

keep busy for the rest of the year. “We were fortunate enough to have a large cellar in our house, which I decided to convert into a wine tasting room and cellar, hence the name ‘The Wine Seller’,” she explained. “From here I sold wine, taught courses and ran cellar open days, tasting events and parties. “I absolutely loved visiting the German wine regions down south and then

introducing the other expats in the area to the amazing array of German wines.” Despite several moves, and a job with another wine company, Tor has continued to run her business around her two young children. l thewine-seller.co.uk

Register: Register as self-employed with HMRC and start paying your National Insurance contributions; there are many benefits.

Finance: Set up a bank account separate to your personal one and keep track of income and expenses.

HAYLEY Harrison is one of many talented military spouses who have created a business baking and decorating cakes. She was diagnosed with cancer following the birth of her son and told Army&You that baking helped her to identify what she wanted to achieve out of life. Hayley explained: “With parenting as my primary focus, I felt driven to create and grow a business that allowed me to be there for my young children, Emma and Benjamin.” In 2016, Cheeky Monkey’s Bakery was established in the Tidworth area. At first Hayley made cakes for welfare events and charity functions, which always generated positive feedback and the business started to grow. She embarked on food hygiene and handling courses as well as specialist cake-making classes. “I got permission from the relevant authorities and had my kitchen

registered as safe for professional food handling,” she added. “I’m now busy every evening and at weekends baking cakes for cafés and outlets in Wiltshire. “I feel lucky that my passion has become my business. My daughter Emma, who is four, wants to own a cake shop when she grows up, and my husband supports me at events when he can. He even pitches in with the cleaning up.” Follow Hayley at facebook.com/ cheekymonkeysbakery &

Social media: Market on Facebook/Instagram. Join relevant groups, but don’t spam them. Improve your following by doing online courses.

Take a course: Go on a business start-up course. Check aff.org.uk for details.

Word of mouth: Tell everyone what you’re doing – potential customers would rather support a friend than a big business.

Images: Take great quality photographs of your products.


spring 2018 Army&You 27

Early exit The change from military to civilian life may be an anxious time for your family. If your soldier’s exit from the Army is sudden and unplanned, because of medical discharge, the uncertainty can significantly increase. AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross explores the support available during and after the process…


FTEN the spouse or partner not only takes on the organisation of the resettlement process, such as education, employment, healthcare and housing, but also supports their loved one who is unwell or injured. Becky’s husband has PTSD and they also have two daughters who are still in education. They’ve recently gone through the medical discharge process. Becky explained: “It’s hard work juggling a marriage, family, work and the looming PTSD dark shadow, which is like an additional unknown person who needs 24/7 attention. Because my husband is so unwell I am doing the bulk of the organising.”

WHO DECIDES THAT A SOLDIER SHOULD BE MEDICALLY DISCHARGED? The decision is made by a full medical board (FMB), which is an opportunity for your soldier’s medical history and reports from their unit to be considered. The FMB president will recommend a medical discharge either on a temporary (where the condition may improve) or permanent (where the condition is unlikely to improve) basis. A copy of this recommendation is given to your soldier and sent to their chain of command.

CAN FAMILY MEMBERS ATTEND THE FMB AND CAN THEY ASK QUESTIONS? Soldiers are encouraged to bring a family member to the FMB. It’s useful to consider what questions you may want to ask and to write them down.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? Army Personnel Centre (APC) will

28 Army&You spring 2018

make the final decision on when your soldier will be medically discharged. They will write to them with a formal discharge date, which takes into account any annual leave they have owing, resettlement leave, invaliding leave and terminal leave. The discharge date will be around four to six months from the time they receive their letter, but it can vary. The FMB will make APC aware of any treatment requirements that will interrupt or delay your soldier’s resettlement. The Service Personnel and Veterans Agency will also write to your soldier separately within the last six weeks of service regarding their pension. Becky said: “I wasn’t fully aware of all the benefits and allowances we would be entitled to, so we’re now getting support from Veterans UK to help us navigate through the financial aspects of medical discharge.”

DOES THE SOLDIER GET ANY EXTRA HELP WITH RESETTLEMENT? JSP 534 states that: “All personnel subject to medical discharge, both those who are wounded, injured and sick and those who are likely to be discharged from the Services on medical grounds, are able to access resettlement entitlements at an earlier stage than for other Service leavers.”




If there are exceptional circumstances, resettlement courses can be deferred to after discharge or transferred to the spouse, civil partner or a nominated proxy. These can be taken up to two years after discharge or longer at the chain of command’s discretion. Becky’s husband has had his resettlement entitlement deferred for two years because he wasn’t well enough to take it prior to his medical discharge.

There are a number of initiatives, charities and organisations that provide specific support. You may require help with employment, finances, healthcare and housing – you can find information in the transition section at aff.org.uk Becky has had problems with trying to access social housing and having a local connection. “Our local MP and Veterans UK have been assisting us,” she said. “There is so much legislation and local agreements that it’s hard to keep track of who’s in control of what.”

IS THERE ANY ONGOING CARE OR TREATMENT AFTER THE SOLDIER HAS BEEN MEDICALLY DISCHARGED? Your soldier can still use all military medical and dental facilities up to their final day of service. If they have ongoing care with military specialists this will continue until it’s handed over to the NHS (or equivalent outside of the UK and NI). It’s important that your soldier books a final medical with their military medical centre in the last few weeks of service and that they register with an NHS GP to ensure that the transfer of treatment or care happens smoothly. Encourage your soldier to tell their GP that they’re a veteran, so that any medical provision can be continued and the information is recorded. If your soldier is under a Personal Recovery Unit their personal recovery officer will guide them through their medical discharge pathway.


If you have a question about your soldier’s medical discharge, contact Karen at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk &

USEFUL LINKS Veterans Gateway: veteransgateway.org.uk Service charities directory: cobseo.org.uk Search Service leavers guide: gov.uk Veterans UK: gov.uk/government/ organisations/veterans-uk

HEALTH NHS Choices Healthcare for the Armed Forces Community: nhs.uk/nhsengland/ militaryhealthcare Combat Stress: combatstress.org.uk BLESMA: blesma.org

HOUSING Joint Service Housing Advice Office and MOD Referral scheme: via gov.uk Haig Housing: haighousing.org.uk @ArmyandYou

Y O U TA K E C A R E O F U S . W E TA K E C A R E O F Y O U . T O G E T H E R W E G O F U R T H ER. C U R R E N T O R F O R M E R M I L I TA R Y P E R S O N N E L C A N S A V E U P T O 2 0%* O N A N E W F O R D .



C U S T O M E R S AV I N G .

TO FIND OUT MORE, VISIT FORD.CO.UK/MILITARYSALES Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Focus ST-Line range: urban 33.2-67.3 (8.5-4.2), extra urban 60.1-83.1 (4.7-3.4), combined 46.3 -74.3 (6.1-3.8). Official CO2 emissions 140-99g/km. The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience. *Military Saving programme available to current and ex-Service Personnel. Including veterans and retired members of the UK Armed Forces. Customer savings of 5% to 20% off the Recommended On The Road price available across the Ford range (excluding KA+, Mustang and Focus RS) on vehicles contracted between 1st January 2018 and 31st December 2018 and registered between 1st January 2018 and 30th June 2019. Retail customers only. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with other manufacturer promotions or incentives. At participating Ford dealers – for terms and conditions, including the eligibility criteria, eligible models and customer savings visit: www.ford.co.uk/militarysales


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#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 Kelly Ball tells us about Army life with soldier husband James, sevenyear-old son Logan and dog Barney… GET INVOLVED

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


We have been an Army family for just over eight years. I think Army life is extremely hard, but I have definitely enjoyed it more since working, having my own identity and not being ‘dependent’.

You aren’t always going to get on with everyone but that’s no reason not to try. I’ve made some amazing friends whilst moving around, but sometimes it’s taken me a whole year to feel like I have met people I can be close to. Those friends are the best thing about Army life. it’s so nice to have someone wherever you may be that you can talk, laugh and cry with. Another plus is my son having the opportunity to see things he never would have done usually.

Arriving in Germany when I was seven months pregnant and didn’t know anyone was tough. I hated living in a block of flats as the only couple with a child. Those two years were the worst, I felt so alone, with no family around to help in a new country. Fortunately, James doesn’t often go away for long spells so we have been lucky so far. When he went to Kenya, my son had nursery and I had work, which helped us both, and then on weekends I just kept him busy. After this posting we will have lived overseas for half of our Army life. However, with video messaging we catch up plenty with family back home. I do

get sad that we don’t see them as much, but we will be back one day and then they won’t be able to get rid of us! All of our postings have had good and bad points. I was nervous to come back to Germany but luckily we have a house this time, our neighbours are lovely and I’m doing a job I thoroughly enjoy. There is so much to do here and the school is very good at getting my son out on trips and seeing some great places. My advice to others is to get out there. If you can, take some time for yourself, get a job, meet people and enjoy it. Laugh a lot and take everything with a pinch of salt! &

spring 2018 Army&You 31

A different path Are you thinking about changing your career? Perhaps your circumstances have altered, your job no longer fits with your Army family life or you’ve been out of work due to bringing up children or multiple postings. If so, you’re not alone. Meet the women who have embarked on alternative employment... WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SWITCH CAREERS?

Name: Emma Robertson Previous career: Dental nurse, NVQ assessor, sports massage therapist, teaching assistant New career: Policewoman 32 Army&You spring 2018

I’ve worked in a variety of jobs and have developed a pretty mishmash CV. In 2007, I jumped at the chance to train as a dental nurse as it was something I felt I could work hard towards. I qualified and it felt amazing. When we were posted back to Pembrokeshire I wrote to every dental practice within a 20-mile radius but no vacancies came up. I was gutted – it all felt like such a waste. I became an NVQ assessor instead, then qualified as a sports massage therapist and did that along with agency dental nurse work when posted to Dorset. But my heart had always wanted to be a policewoman, so I applied to be a special constable and I loved it.

wanted to live, near family, and Dyfed Powys police opened for recruitment on the same date as our move-in. We spoke about the challenges and impact of me working fulltime, but for nearly 15 years I’d let the Army rule my career, so we made the decision to bite the bullet and I applied. Training was hard, but the sense of achievement and the feeling of love I now have towards the job is amazing.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS COMPARED TO YOUR OLD JOB? We’ve now bought our home and hopefully we won’t have to live apart for many of the four years left in the Army. I have achieved my dream and although I know it won’t be plain sailing, I will give it my best shot.



By 2016 we were considering where we might settle with my husband’s 22-year point in sight. Pembrokeshire was where my heart

I truly believe if you want something hard enough you can have it. You just need to find a way. @ArmyandYou

EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SWITCH CAREERS? I have had the typical transient career path of an Army spouse with various jobs. When it was time to return to full-time work after my daughter began school, I wanted something that was both flexible and challenging. I have always wanted to write, but like most of us I had allowed things to get in my way, such as a lack of confidence and a need to watch TV! I published my first book, Women Warriors – Ten Courageous Lives of Women Who Went to War last year.

Name: Victoria Whittley Previous career: Broadcast journalist and presenter New career: Cognitive behavioural psychotherapist WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SWITCH CAREERS? I began looking at mental health as a career after a run-in with postnatal depression.

HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE IT WHILST LIVING ARMY LIFE? I initially completed a foundation in psychodynamic counselling skills. Nine houses and 14 years later, I’ve gained a postgraduate diploma in cognitive behavioural therapy. My course was at Staffordshire University, which was great while we lived in Stafford, but we were sent to Andover halfway through – well I was, and my husband deployed to Kuwait for seven months. I commuted to Stafford and stayed with relatives for three days a week and found a new placement in Basingstoke to complete my hours. Thanks to the Army community, I had friends who collected the children from boarding school on a Friday while I battled down the motorways after university. It’s been extremely challenging.

HOW DID YOU ACHIEVE IT WHILST LIVING ARMY LIFE? I did as much research as I could via websites, libraries and museums, but the majority of the work was done from home.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS COMPARED TO YOUR OLD JOB? Being able to set your own hours and work from home has great advantages. I no longer have to worry about childcare and have been able to attend every assembly and participate in school activities. This was an enormous help during my husband’s recent deployment, although I do have to make a conscious effort to get out and socialise. Luckily, I have fantastic neighbours who are great at getting me out of the house.

TIP FOR OTHERS THINKING OF A CAREER CHANGE I have enjoyed my military experience, but it can be very easy to lose yourself when so much of your life is determined by your soldier’s career. Take a course or perhaps turn a hobby into a business, but make sure to do something for yourself.


TIP FOR OTHERS THINKING OF A CAREER CHANGE Volunteer. We can’t always find appropriate or paid work that will contribute to career change plans. It demonstrates commitment to your chosen path and often comes with recognised training. Try to shadow someone who does what you’d like to do.

Picture: Denise Kidger, Born To Be Studios

I’ve now set up in private practice from my quarter, treating Army families and civilians with common mental health issues. Working from home means I’m the only piece of kit needed. I can see patients at any time of the day. In my old job, weekends, holidays and overnight shifts were normal. I had to go where the story was, which meant travel and irregular hours. Now I get to spend quality time with my patients and work through all their issues.

Name: Tracey-Ann Knight Previous career: Education clerk, home carer, administrator New career: Author

Career counselling: how can you make a successful jump to a new job? “Find something that you enjoy and care about,” advised AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin. “What are your main hobbies? What motivates you? Look for employment opportunities within this field. “Make a list of your current skills and qualifications and include as much detail as possible to help you to determine what you might need to brush up on or learn to get the job you really want.” Recruit for Spouses’ (recruitforspouses.co.uk) coaching programme is an excellent way to


explore your options. Founder and CEO Heledd Kendrick explained: “Sometimes writing down your perfect job and then working back is a good start. Here is where we often find a lot of answers. “If you know what you want to do and it feels too scary, then break it down into sections and focus on one piece at a time. There may be many factors inhibiting your route to your ideal career, but as a military spouse you have garnered lots of soft skills along the way which will help you to find a way around

it. It’s one of our greatest strengths!” FURTHER RESEARCH Find out as much as you can about any roles you’re considering. There are several ways you can do this: l The National Careers Service (nationalcareersservice.direct. gov.uk) has a tool that provides information about a specific role and what skills and qualifications you’ll need. l Consider voluntary work or a short

placement to gain an insight into the actual job. l Look at signing up with an agency for temporary work which would introduce you to different organisations for short periods. Laura added: “Employment for spouses and partners will continue to be high on AFF’s agenda and we’re interested to hear your reasons for changing your career and how you’ve done it.” l Contact Laura at etam@aff.org.uk spring 2018 Army&You 33

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Catering for canines The saying that dogs are a man’s best friend can be especially true for Army households dealing with the instability of military life – a fact confirmed by former Servicewoman Suzanne Brock, who has carved out a career on civvy street ensuring Forces families can keep their four-legged companions healthy...


AVING worn the uniform, Suzanne Brock can attest to there being plenty of substance to the stereotypes surrounding Service life and man’s best friend. As an officer in the Adjutant General’s Corps during the 1990s, she shared office space with countless colleagues’ chocolate brown Labradors and grew accustomed to the sight of gun dogs bedding down beneath desks. And on swapping her military career for motherhood, first as an Army wife and later as a single parent, she can also vouch for the positives pet ownership can provide to those following the flag. “I think pets are vital for Service families,” Suzanne told Army&You. “If you have a dog you have stability and if you have a dog you have that person at home for you. “When my husband left, my Labrador started sleeping upstairs because I think he subliminally knew the children and I were a bit scared. He made me feel safe; he was the man of the house. “Having a dog can make things an awful lot better for military families – they can fill a gap you didn’t realise you had, be your rock and the person you talk to at the end of the day if your partner is away.” Such is Suzanne’s devotion www.armyandyou.co.uk

to dogs that she shunned a second career in the city in favour of setting up a company to cater for canines. Opening its doors for business five years ago, Nutriment (nutriment.co) is now among the top dogs of the raw pet food manufacturing industry, creating in excess of 250 tonnes of products per month and turning over around £7million a year. While identifying a gap in the market and finessing fresh flavours have been key ingredients in her company’s rapid growth, Suzanne insists the secret of Nutriment’s success can be credited to customers caring as

passionately about their fourlegged friends as she does. “In the same way they do for themselves and their families, people are now reading the backs of packets of pet food,” she explained. “They know what dodgy ingredients look like and are more and more aware of what they are putting into their best friend. “It is the old truism that you can feed your children fast food every day and it’s not going to kill them, but they will not be the healthiest they can be. It is exactly the same for a dog. You can get protein from a box of hair but it doesn’t do the animal any good. “You need to look for quality protein from natural ingredients that have been messed about with as little as possible.” Suzanne’s transition from the military to civvy street may have been unconventional, but she has not forgotten her Army pedigree. From its first day of operation, Nutriment has provided a 20 per cent military discount for Service households seeking a healthy diet for their dogs and its owner credits her time in command with giving her the confidence to excel as an entrepreneur. “I channel it often,” Suzanne concluded. “Particularly, the ability to stand up in front of people and say ‘follow me, it’s going to be fine’ when inside you are panicking!” &

Suzanne’s suggestions to keep your hound healthy and happy Variety is the spice of life

Dogs don’t tend to be fussy or get bored of eating the same food, but if you feed them the same thing – the same protein – all of the time, you are in danger of giving them an allergy. Most owners fall into a trap of finding something their dog likes and keeping them on it, but different meats do different things. The same is true of dogs as it is humans – if someone just ate beef all of the time they’d have some problems, but eating it once in a while is good for the heart.

Don’t overload on carbs

Carbohydrates are not a natural part of a dog’s diet and are largely used because they are a cheap filler. Raw feeding [uncooked meats, bones, fruits and vegetables] is the closest to what your dog would be doing in the wild. If you put your dog in a wheat field with a cooker he’ll starve to death, let him run around and chase bunnies and chickens and he’ll be fine.

A dental don’t

Feeding a dog a biscuit is like giving your kid a biscuit before bed and thinking it will clean their teeth. It sticks to their teeth and they don’t have the necessary enzymes to get rid of the carbs because they aren’t born to eat it. Raw feeding stimulates these enzymes and leaves teeth clean.

Breath of fresh air

Dogs smell really doggy if they are not on good food. If you have a smelly dog it will be because of what it is eating. A dog on a healthy diet doesn’t smell.

Barking mad?

Many behavioural issues are down to diet and often a change is enough. A dog that’s a bag of nerves or energy can’t focus on commands. spring 2018 Army&You 35

Cracking the code A quarter of all AFF’s education and childcare enquiries relate to admissions and appeals for primary and secondary schools. Lucy Scott, our Education & Childcare Specialist, has been looking at how this works for Army families worldwide – and we also hear from families who have navigated the application process... WHAT IS THE SCHOOL ADMISSIONS CODE AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? It is statutory guidance that

THE GRAY FAMILY Army wife Ashleigh Gray is mum of Mason (4) and Sophie.

ISSUE We were posted to a new area after the closing date.

THE BIG DECISION I had already applied for my son’s school place in Windsor when my husband received his posting order meaning we had to reapply to schools in Catterick after the closing date.

THE SITUATION I researched schools. A lot was

36 Army&You spring 2018

admissions authorities must follow. The detail is in paragraph 2.18, which includes specific

based on word of mouth from friends and Mason and I also visited three schools before making a decision. I didn’t know a lot about the application process, so I spoke to Windsor Council which gave me the details to apply to North Yorkshire admissions. Based on where we would be living in Catterick, I didn’t want my son to go to the nearest school because of info from friends and first impressions when visiting. I was told to email my list of school options and reasons why with a copy of my husband’s assignment order. On results day, I was happy with Mason’s school choice as by then he was already going to their nursery so would be moving up to reception with the new friends he had made. Six months down the line and he has settled in brilliantly.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ARMY FAMILIES If you can, visit the school. Don’t do what I did and panic, worry and stress!

references to Army families:

AFF has provided evidence and discussed the code with the Department for Education which has agreed to look in more detail at how Army families are supported.

‘For families of Service personnel with a confirmed posting to their area, admission authorities must: allocate a place in advance of the family arriving in the area provided the application is accompanied by a letter that declares a relocation date and a unit postal address or quartering area ensure that arrangements support the government’s commitment to removing disadvantage for Service children.’ This is good for those of you with confirmed postings, but tricky for those without. Moving to settle in your own home, Early Mover Status for rebasing, moving for an unaccompanied op tour and moving to suit public examination years, may all be reasons why you want to move without an assignment order, or wish to move to a different area to the posting. Added to this, you may be waiting for an address, aiming to keep your family together @ArmyandYou

EDUCATION & CHILDCARE or needing the nearest school where friends will be to provide vital local connections.

WHAT HAVE WE DONE FOR YOU? AFF has provided evidence and discussed the code with the Department for Education which has agreed to look in more detail at how Army families are supported. If you have any issues, email me at ec@aff.org.uk – we will let you know of any updates.

GOOD THINGS TO KNOW Finding out that you don’t quite fit the criteria or that the circumstances are not that simple can be daunting, so here is a list of things to help you: l Find out who the admissions authority is by looking on the school website or asking the LA in the new area l Remember, admissions authorities are not always the local authority; they can be the school itself. They are there to

help you navigate through the process so ask them as they are the experts! l If you don’t have an assignment order, ask your soldier’s unit if they can provide a letter explaining the reasons for your move l Ask the MOD’s Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) for help l Find out if your child can be added to the school’s waiting or continued interest list l Keep copies of everything you send to the admissions authority and all letters and emails that you receive – a change of address can mean things go astray l Research school places elsewhere that weren’t top of your list.

USEFUL LINKS l School Admissions Code – gov.uk l CEAS – call 01980 618244, email DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@ mod.uk or visit gov.uk &


THE BLAIN FAMILY Teaching assistant and Army wife Amanda Blain has been married to her soldier for 14 years. They have moved seven times with their children Leo (12) Abi (10) and Ada (4).

ISSUE The admissions code didn’t apply to us.

THE BIG DECISION As Leo was going to start secondary school we decided that it was time to settle in one place to give him a stable education. Leo had been to five different schools in seven years.

We bought a house in Northamptonshire near my family and started looking for schools. I was shocked to realise that the code didn’t support our circumstances as my husband hadn’t actually been posted here. Panic set in as all the schools within a 10-mile radius were oversubscribed and we could not get a place for any of our children. Boarding school was not an option as you only get funding if you are moving with your soldier. We eventually found places for them all in lovely schools – although the school run takes an hour before I go to work. We are happily settled now and being near family means I am able to carry on with my career.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR ARMY FAMILIES I would like more people to be aware of the admissions code when settling down for education reasons.

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School report

Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show our military children. This edition, we're heading to Germany... How does the school help Service children settle in?

We have learning support assistants (LSAs) who give initial support on entry along with the class teachers, who all have experience of working with the constant mobility of Service families.

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

Before a deployment to Estonia, one of the key regimental officers came into school to give an assembly. This allowed him to give some background, answer the children’s questions and address any concerns.

ool Name of sch

Haig School


initiative, which allowed mums and dads to record their children stories for periods when the soldier in their life is away. We’ve also started the Reading Force scheme so families can share books even during deployments.


Number of s Service pupil

165 out of 185

Are there any military links?

The 26 Regiment padre visits the children weekly to give spiritual guidance with a military twist. As well as the padre, the current commanding officer is a member of the governing council and they recently toured the school witnessing high-quality teaching and learning within the classroom. We are also lucky enough to have visits from various military bands, whenever they are touring BFG, much to the delight of both staff and children.

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

We recently sent Charlie Bear on deployment to Estonia and have asked that he sends back regular updates on his and his human colleague’s adventures there. We also took part in a bedtime story

How are you supporting kids rebasing due to the drawdown?

While the time ahead of us can be counted in months and time behind us can be counted in decades, the children and parents can rely on the fact that the management and staff of Haig School are firmly committed to our key values of resilience, independence, respect, confidence and inquisitiveness until the last child has left through our doors for the very last time.

What do the kids think?

One current pupil explained: “We go on lots of trips to places that we would not be able to visit if we went to a UK school, like skiing in Austria or visiting other places like the Harz mountains or going to the Netherlands.”

And the parents?

One of the parents stated: “One of the major advantages for my child at Haig School is that the child-to-teacher ratio is amazing. There are only 15 children in my son’s year one class, which means the teacher or LSA has more opportunity to work directly with him. The school is also fantastically well-resourced when it comes to teaching aids and equipment.” &

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 deped@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 39

Day, Weekly, Flexi and Full Boarding Co-educational • 3–13 years

Forces discounts available Associated with Malvern College

For more information, please contact Katherine Cox, Registrar 01684 544108 registrar@thedowns.malcol.org www.thedownsmalvern.org.uk

Co-educational state boarding and day school for students aged 11-18 Individuality celebrated Excellent results and teaching staff Modern well equipped school Comprehensive enrichment programme Combined Cadet Force Forces discounts available for boarding Happiness



www.thewellingtonacademy.org.uk wellington college Sponsor of w e l l i n g to n c o l l e g e ac a d e m y t ru s t

Tidworth, Wiltshire, SP11 9RR

40 Army&You spring 2018



Specialist subjects (clockwise from top left): Science is a key academic area at Malvern St James Girls School; sailing the high seas on the Jolie Brise at Dauntsey’s; encouraging artistic expression at Taunton School; Dr Trevor Richards with youngsters at All Hallows Preparatory School; try time for a student at Christ College Brecon.



UCH like the contestants settling into Mastermind’s famous black chair, Britain’s schools show off their expertise in a wide spectrum of specialist subjects. From developing future sporting stars and building character through extracurricular events to supporting

academic success through a focus on STEM subjects or the arts, educational institutions provide pupils with firm foundations on which to build successful futures. For Wiltshire’s Dauntsey’s School, an attention to adventure is among the attributes setting it out from the crowd. Its action-packed

“Opportunities to develop qualities of leadership are one of the school’s greatest strengths.” – Stephen Haslehurst, Duke of York’s Royal Military School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

programme includes the Moonrakers adventurous training scheme, which provides year nine students with the chance to try a range of activities – many familiar to those from a Forces background – including outdoor cooking, orienteering and survival. The scheme culminates in a week-long residential camp in north Wales where youngsters are put through their paces by staff and outdoor instructors. Older pupils can try ocean sailing on the school’s own tall ship, Jolie Brise, tackle the Devizes-to-Westminster canoe race or even test their stamina in the Dauntsey’s Triathlon. Sam Moore, Head of Adventure Education, told us: “Dauntsey’s is serious about adventure – we believe it not only helps children let off steam, it plays a vital role in equipping them with the necessary skills and behaviours to set them up for life after school. “Understanding risk and not shying away from it is an important life skill. Pupils can develop their risk management

through being exposed to it while they still have the support of the school environment. Adventure education enables pupils to develop behaviours that will help them lead a fruitful and interesting life, in which they are organised and flexible, willing to have a go and learn from their experiences.”

CRAFTING CHARACTERS The development of young people’s character is a theme running through the educational provision at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS) in Kent. DOYRMS leverages its rich Forces heritage to add an extra dimension to the lives of its students, with pupils leading the preparations for and participating in parades – including the end-of-year Trooping the Colour – engaging in the Duke of Edinburgh Award and serving in the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) as part of their weekly timetable. Stephen Haslehurst, Vice Principal (Curriculum and Learning), said: “Opportunities ›› spring 2018 Army&You 41

Open Morning Saturday 10th March 9.30am-12.00pm Register at opendays@farleighschool.com

Boarding discount for HM Forces

www.farleighschool.com Open Day

Saturday 17th March




CHAFYN GROVE Excellent Co-educational Day & Boarding School from 3-13

Open Morning

Friday, 9th March 9.30am – 12.30pm

Forces Discount available

‘a top-tier prep school’ Good Schools Guide

Packwood Haugh School

Ruyton XI Towns, Shrewsbury SY4 1HX Telephone 01939 260217


42 Army&You spring 2018

Encouraged to flourish www.chafyngrove.co.uk

01722 333423

Chafyn Grove, Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 1LR


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL to develop qualities of leadership are one of the school’s greatest strengths and can include becoming school or house prefects, sports captains, school council or messing representatives, CCF or ceremonial appointment holders amongst others. “The key values of courage, integrity, discipline, loyalty, respect and commitment are consistently promoted against a backdrop of learning.” The Services are also represented at Salisbury’s Chafyn Grove, which has become one of the first in the country to invest in the Prince William Award. Run by former military personnel, the course develops inner strength in children up to the age of 14. Year seven youngsters are given a two-hour, instructor-led session each week in which they undertake tasks and activities requiring and developing resilience, empathy and self-control. Headmaster Simon Head said: “These ‘soft skills’ have always been properly valued by the Forces and I’m delighted that there’s an ever-growing emphasis on them in schools. “I’m pleased to support this scheme and help our pupils master these cardinal life skills.”

JOINT APPROACH Taking a wider view when asked about All Hallows School’s specialist subject, Head and Educational Psychologist Dr Trevor Richards explained that he and his staff view educational and pastoral development as “mutually-reinforcing” aspects of their child-centred approach. Pupils complete an annual qualitative survey evaluating their attitudes to themselves and the school, with the results being given as much weight as

those from maths or English assessments. “They reveal that the children are confident and have high regard of themselves as learners, which grows as they progress through the school,” said Dr Richards. All Hallows also views its broad academic set-up – including a forest school and the adoption of the International Primary Curriculum for younger pupils – and extra-curricular programme offering everything from animation and bushcraft to participation in the Exmoor Challenge as specialisms setting it apart. Dr Richards points to impressive senior school entrance records, a 60 per cent scholarship and award rate for year eight students and national medal-winning performances from members of All Hallows’ tennis academy as evidence of the approach’s success. Dr Richards added: “Feedback from senior schools is overwhelmingly positive with All Hallows pupils regularly noted for their maturity, confidence, approach to risk-taking and their positive outlook. Our pupils display a readiness to be open-minded, a willingness to be creative with their thinking and are critical about the value of information.” In the heart of the beautiful Welsh countryside, Christ College Brecon is another school where academic excellence – as evidenced by its recent “outstanding” report from Estyn, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales – is just one part of the picture of pupils’ development. Head Gareth Pearson explained that strong exam results are underpinned by the “friendly, nurturing

“A full programme of sports and fixtures on a Saturday keeps everyone busy.” – Mark Semmence, Mount Kelly School – atmosphere”, which Estyn inspectors saw through the high levels of pupil participation. It is this togetherness which Mr Pearson points to as Christ College Brecon’s area of expertise. “I love the strength of community in this school,” he said. “Positive relationships, at all levels, underpin how our pupils develop into such well-rounded, humble and impressive young adults. “We all share the same vision of education, and are hoping to make it available to even more pupils.” Paying close attention to the long-lasting impact of boys’ formative years is of utmost importance to staff at Horris Hill School near Newbury. Identifying the period between the ages of seven and 13 as the time when boys lay the foundations “of the men they will become”, a school spokesman said: “An all-boys’ school provides the optimal setting where boys will exercise their intellectual inquisitiveness, free to explore all avenues, building self-

confidence and awareness in a safe and encouraging environment.” Horris Hill also places great stock in sporting development, with traditional sports such as rugby, hockey and football complemented by the school’s own golf and cross country courses, swimming pool and squash court.

GREAT OUTDOORS The strategy of specialising as much in activities outside as inside the classroom is evident at Tavistock’s Mount Kelly School. Set in more than 100 acres of woodland and green fields on the edge of Dartmoor National Park, pupils are wellplaced to learn life lessons in the open air. The majority of students are enrolled in the Combined Cadet Force and Duke of Edinburgh Award or tackle the Devizes-toWestminster canoe race or Ten Tors Challenge, while Mount Kelly’s own Adventure Training Centre offers a high-ropes course and trapeze jump. Head Master Mark Semmence ››

“Feedback is overwhelmingly positive, with All Hallows pupils noted for their maturity, confidence, approach to risk-taking and their positive outlook.” – Dr Trevor Richards, All Hallows Preparatory School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 43

Pupils’ attainment is above and often well above national age-related expectations. Independent Schools Inspectorate, 2017

A co-educational independent school set in a 56 acre campus in Somerset, for pupils aged 6 months - 18 years

A School for Every Boy and Girl • • • • • •

Vibrant full and weekly boarding, as well as flexible boarding, from 7-18 years Forces families receiving CEA pay only 10% of boarding fees An IB World School with a choice of A Levels, IB or BTEC at Sixth Form Performance Sport Programme and state of the art facilities Huge co-curricular programme including CCF, Duke of Edinburgh, music, dance and drama Extensive transport network options

For more information visit www.tauntonschool.co.uk

Discover Taunton School at our Open Morning on Monday 7th May 09:30 - 12:30 Read our outstanding Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI) reports at www.tauntonschool.co.uk Follow us on Social Media @TauntonSchool




Sa EN tu rd M ay O 12 R M N ay IN 20 G 18


“Dauntsey’s is ... Fab”

The Good Schools Guide Boarding & Day School Co-educational 11-18

www.dauntseys.org ArmyandYou Spring 2018.indd 1

44 Army&You spring 2018

www.dauntseys.org West Lavington, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 4HE T. 01380 814500

07/02/2018 10:33:57


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL explained that the school’s specialism in outdoor education is matched by its dedication to providing boarders with robust, round-the-clock care. He told us: “A full programme of sports and fixtures on a Saturday keeps everyone busy and, with a wide variety of optional trips on Sundays, we are a truly 24/7 school. “This restructuring of the day to focus on our provision for boarders has reaped rewards, with boarding numbers at our Prep School increasing by 25 per cent in the last three years.” Thankfully for the good of the nation’s future on-pitch prospects, sport is a specialist subject at a number of schools. Kent College Canterbury, for example, can point to a proud record of producing pupils whose prowess has seen them compete at county, regional and national levels – thanks in no small part to its Gifted and Talented Extension programme. The comprehensive scholarship scheme provides aspiring sports stars with qualified coaches, structured training, nutrition and psychological support, masterclasses with elite athletes and the chance to participate in events around the country. The proof of the scheme’s success can be seen on the hockey field, where three pupils are currently in their national age group squads and U18 girls captain Hannah was named The Hockey Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year for 2017.

PUSHING POTENTIAL Providing pathways for the development of tomorrow’s elite athletes is top of the agenda at St Mary’s Shaftesbury, which counts a member of the 2012 British Olympic Triathlon Development Squad among its

full-time sports staff. The school’s appreciation of the value of keeping young people active extends to its encouragement of a number of elite dancers, who are aided in training and performing locally and nationally. Academic, wellbeing and pastoral staff combine to enable the young dancers to combine their art and studies – an approach currently paying dividends for one pupil who is taking A-Levels while also being a member of the Royal Ballet and Rambert Youth companies. Acting Headmistress Sarah Matthews said: “Ensuring that our girls can keep building on activities which interest or inspire them is built into provision across departments. “We’re in the business of developing confident, resilient girls who know how to overcome obstacles when they encounter them and aren’t afraid of the hard work required to reach the top of their fields.” Developing new skills through sport is not uncommon for Packwood Haugh pupils, who benefit from their school’s specialism in fencing. More than 60 students regularly participate, with recent successes including three Great Britain Team Championship titles and an individual national Prep Schools Girls’ Championship. Three alumni of Packwood’s Fencing Club have gone on to represent England, Wales and Japan, with Old Packwoodian Keishi Oyama winning gold with his Japanese teammates at the Asian Games and being on track to represent his country in the 2020 Olympics. Combining fitness, speed, balance and control, the discipline’s sporting strengths are matched by its character

“Through team events, peer coaching and refereeing, fencers also develop leadership skills.” – Nick Weston, Packwood Haugh School – development benefits. “Through team events, peer coaching and refereeing, fencers also develop leadership skills,” explained coach Nick Weston. “It is no surprise to me that two head girls and three head boys in recent times have all been fencers.” Among the many specialisms shown at Salisbury Cathedral School, its on-song status as a key player in the performing arts is one to be proud of. Boy and girl choristers sing in the Cathedral on a daily basis and develop under the tutelage of professional adult singers. The choirs also take part in BBC broadcasts, give concerts, record CDs, participate in the annual Southern Cathedrals Festival and tour as far afield as Germany, France and the USA. Clive Marriott, the school’s Head, said: “The ability to communicate with confidence and enthusiasm is an essential life skill, and music and drama ensure that each student leaves here with an impressive sense of poise and self-assurance. “Each stage of the school

puts on a production every year – a memorable highlight for both students and staff. The core values of performance are at the heart of everything we do at Salisbury Cathedral School – contributing to a team, nurturing creativity, and relishing moments of originality and inspiration.” Being comfortable in front of a crowd is also a key component of life at Farleigh School. From challenging pre-prep pupils to have a go at public speaking – including tackling Shakespeare in year two – to running annual house public speaking and poetry competitions, the school uses the art of talking in front of an audience to build confidence and develop all-important life skills in its students. The success of this approach is illustrated by the popularity of the school’s debating club, run by Michael Cronin. Pupils from years fiveto-eight can attend weekly sessions which lead to teams of youngsters pitting their debating and public speaking ››

“I am always impressed by the confidence displayed by these children when speaking in front of an audience of judges and peers.” – Michael Cronin, Farleigh School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 45

Army & You Advert - 132mm x 186mm 25 January 2018

Believe it Achieve it Ranked ‘Excellent’ across all five Estyn Inspection Categories (Dec 2017) 

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Where pupils have flourished since 1541…

UNLOCKING POTENTIAL Whenever anyone visits Warminster School there’s one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s our sense of community. Visitors always comment on how special it is, how unusual. And it’s not just our teaching staff – from prep pupils to catering staff, our sense of warmth and our values are evident in whoever you cross paths with – be it our groundsmen, matrons, sports coaches or sixth formers. Because we all work together closely to keep those values alive. We embrace all of our pupils – whatever their talents. Working together to create a safe and nurturing environment where our pupils can fulfil their full potential. Please reserve your place online for our 28th April Open Day so you can discover just how special our sense of community is. 01985 210160 admissions@warminsterschool.org.uk www.warminsterschool.org.uk

46 Army&You spring 2018


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL regarded careers department is geared up to support pupils from the moment they arrive at school and, as a result, it is almost unheard of for our pupils to struggle at university.” Taunton also has a strong pastoral structure to deal with the needs of Forces families and employs an ex-military member as its chaplain.

STEM SPECIALISTS SHARING SUCCESS Back in the classroom, Taunton School recognises the value of offering a wide range of qualifications to equip its students for the working world. As one of the only institutions offering A Levels, International Baccalaureates and BTECs for sixth formers, Taunton ensures there is an option for everyone once they reach the latter stages of their secondary education. Registrar Declan Rogers said that the ability to “pick and mix” qualifications helps pupils to tailor their education to meet their post-18 plans – whether that’s a place at university or a professional course. He added: “The options and choices don’t narrow as they do at most other schools – at Taunton School they broaden. “Every year many of our students progress to universities around the world. Our highly-

At Malvern St James Girls’ School, equipping females to become forces in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is at the forefront of its philosophy. Recognising the trend for fewer girls to pursue STEM subjects at A-Level and beyond, Headmistress Olivera Raraty has made it her mission to change the status quo. “This is something I care passionately about,” she said. “I want to make sure that our pupils explore STEM subjects fully and realise that STEM is creative and compelling, and can be a superb career path. “I am pleased to say that we have more girls studying STEM subjects at A level, and more girls going on to read STEM at university, than ever before.” Mrs Raraty’s strategy for spreading STEM includes using older girls as mentors

“I want to make sure our pupils explore STEM subjects and realise STEM is creative and compelling.” – Olivera Raraty, Malvern St James Girls’ School – www.armyandyou.co.uk

for their younger counterparts, setting up STEM-related clubs, participating in national challenges and encouraging girls to sign up for the Young Enterprise scheme. She added: “Whether it’s cybersecurity tasters through the likes of GCHQ, getting involved with British Science Week, or undergraduate summer schools at various universities, there are many opportunities for pupils to get the whole STEM experience. “I firmly believe that, even in my generation, we will witness a sea change in the number of women opting for a life in engineering and STEM. This is great news – having more of the best minds in the sector will ultimately benefit us all.” Keeping an eye on the future is a specialism shared by Talbot Heath school, which is about to embark on a trailblazing educational model designed to help students excel in designthinking, digital proficiency, material science, problemsolving and ethics. The ten-year “Think Big” vision will see the introduction of a new curriculum model focused on preparing youngsters for a STEAMpowered (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) future. Headteacher Angharad Holloway explained: “[It] will ensure that all of our pupils leave school confident in these areas, regardless of the pathway that they choose. “We will be working with experts from universities and industry to deliver dynamic, cutting-edge projects.” The pursuit of such an ambitious vision will be aided by the construction of a stateof-the-art interdisciplinary and STEAM learning hub. Mrs Holloway added: “Talbot Heath is thriving and pioneering innovative education, inspiring others to follow where it is leading. We are determined to educate our children for their future and not our past.” n

SCHOOLS DIRECTORY ALL HALLOWS PREP SCHOOL allhallowsschool.co.uk CHAFYN GROVE chafyngrove.co.uk CHRIST COLLEGE BRECON christcollegebrecon.com DAUNTSEY’S SCHOOL dauntseys.org THE DOWNS MALVERN thedownsmalvern.org.uk THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL doyrms.com FARLEIGH SCHOOL farleighschool.com FORRES SANDLE MANOR fsmschool.com GODOLPHIN SCHOOL godolphin.org HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS habs-monmouth.org HORRIS HILL SCHOOL horrishill.com KENT COLLEGE CANTERBURY kentcollege.com


salisburycathedralschool.com ST MARY’S SCHOOL stmarys.eu TALBOT HEATH SCHOOL talbotheath.org TAUNTON SCHOOL tauntonschool.co.uk VINEHALL SCHOOL vinehallschool.com WELLINGTON ACADEMY thewellingtonacademy.org.uk WARMINSTER SCHOOL warminsterschool.org.uk

To feature in our education advertorial, email info@tylerbale.co.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 47

To read more from our panel of teachers, visit armyandyou.co.uk/category/educationad

skills against youngsters from other prep schools. Mr Cronin said: “I am always impressed by the confidence displayed by these children when speaking in front of an audience of judges and peers. “They deliver their arguments very persuasively and the maturity of their speaking, eloquence, self-assurance and composure belies their years.”

How does your garden grow? When outdoor space became available on the military base of Thorney Island, green-fingered Army spouse Elizabeth Webster (pictured below with children Oscar and Betsy) was quick to see the potential for a community garden. Now, this corner of Hampshire has a place that everyone can enjoy…


S A keen gardener, Elizabeth was already aware of the positive benefits the pastime can have on health and wellbeing. She told Army&You: “My aim was to develop a fantastic shared space where military families could come together to forge friendships, learn new skills and strengthen community spirit.” With help from other families, Elizabeth set about building a new fence and converting a wild patch. “We had to do a lot of clearing and digging but managed to create some vegetable patches and a wonderful wildlife area including a deluxe bug hotel

“Have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how it will benefit your community.” and mini pond – we even won a local wildlife competition in September,” she explained. Elizabeth secured funding from sources including the unit welfare team, SSAFA and construction group Kier, which built a barbecue and donated timber. Garden centres and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission have also offered free items, while a tree surgeon provides a steady supply of wood chip. “My advice would be to approach the welfare team first and have a clear vision of what you want to achieve and how it will benefit your community,” added Elizabeth. “The station staff officer has been instrumental in

helping me get the project off the ground, offering support and a cuppa throughout.” Craft activities run during school holidays have been very popular with children, who love looking for lizards and watching the tadpoles grow. The garden has been wellreceived by many families who have put effort into its running and upkeep. Hayley Taylor said: “[It’s] a fantastic addition to the island – a real community project that has been wonderful to see coming together. Lots of hard work has paid off to produce an area that can be enjoyed by the whole family.” Army spouse Katie Wright agreed: “My girls love exploring, learning about all wildlife and playing in the mud kitchen. I even get a chance to sit down and relax for a while – a rare moment as a mum.” Elizabeth is now developing long-term plans to ensure the garden will continue to grow so families will be able to enjoy this amazing space for many years to come. &

WORTHY WINNER Elizabeth is our spring Community Champion and wins a tablet courtesy of DXC Technology

CELEBRATE YOUR COMMUNITY CHAMPION Do you have a person who works hard to improve Army family life in your area? To nominate them for this award, email editor@aff. org.uk with ‘Community Champion’ in the subject line and a summary – no more than 300 words – of why you think they should win. The winner’s story will be published in Army&You and we’ll share the others on armyandyou.co.uk

Visit Ticketmaster for availability and tickets



AN INDEPENDENT EAR The Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces, Nicola Williams, provides independent and impartial oversight of the service complaints system. Army&You put your most common questions to her…

Textile troupe: (left to right) Stitched Together’s Donna Poynton, CarolAnn Allan, Kat Bown, Dionne Swift, Sue Gibbons, Kerry Palmer, Dee Noble and Kathryn Houghton

Sew on show

This project was funded by the Arts Council England, Armed Forces Covenant and North Yorkshire County Council (ruralarts.org)

An inspiring exhibition made by military community groups will be on display at national venues this year. We find out more...


TITCHED Together was launched by the Army Welfare Service (AWS) to help military families to build relationships in their communities through sewing. “It’s grown from a small project to become much

bigger than we ever expected, and it’s had a huge impact on people’s confidence,” explained community support and development worker Kerry Palmer. Thirsk’s Rural Arts charity managed the project, inviting

two contemporary textile artists to share their skills, mentor the groups and help create pieces for the exhibition. Director Angela Hall said: “It’s fantastic to see Stitched Together getting national recognition for the beautiful work the families have made and the incredible effort the artists have put in.” Artists Dionne Swift and CarolAnn Allan worked with groups at Catterick Garrison, Topcliffe and Dishforth. Inspired by the textile collection from The Green Howards Museum, the group made

messenger bags that reflect their experiences of military life. “They’re a twist on the bags that soldiers would use to carry their armaments,” explained Dionne. “Textiles lend themselves to bringing people together. They’re a vehicle to allow people to support one another as a surrogate family.” The project has been so popular that many of the military families continue to meet weekly. Catch the exhibition in March at The Sewing and Stitching Show at Glasgow SEC, followed by the Fashion and Embroidery Show at Birmingham NEC. &

Support on Salisbury Plain SPURGEONS Children’s Charity and the MOD have launched a project to help those affected by domestic abuse in the Armed Forces. Recovering Together, funded by a Covenant grant and working in partnership with the Army Welfare Service and other agencies, supports families in the Salisbury Plain area with children aged 0-11, including unborn. It’s run by a group of trained professionals who offer group programmes and one-to-one support to mothers experiencing, or who have experienced, domestic abuse. During the group sessions, free childcare led www.armyandyou.co.uk

by early years workers is provided, and youngsters who have witnessed domestic abuse or violence will be offered play therapy delivered by a qualified play therapist. Those who harmed their partners or who have left abusive relationships can also get help. If you need support or want more information, contact the Windmill Hill Children’s Centre in Tidworth on 01980 843010 or email recoveringtogether@spurgeons.org &

What sort of issues do families of Service personnel approach you with? Family members contact us about a number of issues, but usually it’s something they want to complain about in their own right or they want to support their loved one through the complaints process. A Service complaint can only be made by a serving person, so while we can’t deal directly with complaints made by family members, our enquiries team will always listen and try to suggest the appropriate process or organisation that can provide support. The only exception is where a family member has the legal authority to act on behalf of the Service person. Although it is rare, it does happen. Can other family members contact you? Yes. While it is often parents and spouses/ partners who contact us, siblings, grandparents and other extended family also get in touch. Is the service completely confidential? Enquiries to my office are confidential unless we identify a serious risk of harm to self or others. We never publish information that could identify who has come to us. However, in order for me to use my powers I need to inform the Army SC Sec, in the case of Army personnel, who I am making a referral/conducting an investigation for. This is never done without the person’s knowledge and we cannot act without consent. Will you provide family members with updates on your investigation? If we have the explicit consent of the Service person, then we are happy to provide updates and liaise with a family member during the course of an investigation. Contact the Ombudsman’s office on 020 7877 3450 or contact@ servicecomplaintsombudsman.gsi.gov.uk More information about processes, application forms and timeframes can be found at servicecomplaintsombudsman.org.uk or follow @SCOAF_UK on Twitter spring 2018 Army&You 49



with Julius Zebra

A fully co-educational day and boarding prep school in Somerset for children aged 3 - 13 • Happiness and wellbeing are at the centre of all we do • Thriving boarding community with full and flexible options • Busy activity programme and dedicated boarding staff • Just 30 minutes from Bath and 60 minutes from Andover • Generous military discount Call Jackie on 01749 811609 for more information or to arrange to see our school. Visitors are always welcome. www.allhallowsschool.co.uk 50 Army&You spring 2018




I absolutely loved this book. It's a mixture of comedy and history because it was very funny with facts popped in now and then. It’s about a zebra named Julius who sailed from Rome and was shipwrecked in ancient Egypt with his friends. I found it a more exciting way to learn about the era. I recommend this book for people who love adventure. It was very hard to put down.

This hilarious book was thrilling and a brilliant read. The main character, Julius Zebra takes us on an exciting adventure to the pyramids of Egypt where he and his band of friends work together to defeat the vile Romans.

This story is about a very funny – and sometimes stupid – zebra called Julius. Julius and his crew are shipwrecked in ancient Egypt. All the Egyptians think he is a ‘Horse God’ because he made it rain, but we know he’s just an ordinary zebra. I really enjoyed following Julius on his remarkable adventure and the comic pictures really made it a fun story.

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS Reading Force is the national shared reading charity for Service families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or over Skype or

✶ Oliver liked the book

so much he has loaned it to his friend, which is why he isn’t holding it in the photo! FaceTime if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE,

or register online at readingforce.org.uk

If your children would like to review books for the A&Y Book Club, email hattie@readingforce. org.uk with their names and ages @ArmyandYou

Published by Walker Books, priced £6.99.

In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, three Service youngsters have been on an adventure with Julius Zebra: Entangled with the Egyptians! by Gary Northfield. Here's what they thought...

n o i t a r e n e G g n u Yo YOUNGE FOR THE



Check out Beatrice’s story at armyandyou.co.uk

to me to write about what I know. As my dad is away in Kabul at the moment, I thought that I should write about my own experience.

What do your friends think? I have some wonderful and understanding friends at my school, so they were really proud. I think it’s hard for children who don’t have parents in the Army to understand what it feels like. People try to be kind but sometimes the things that they say make it a bit worse.

You obviously love reading and writing…

A way with words Beatrice Carrell (10) made her Army family proud when she won the Salisbury Literary Festival’s Salisbury Story prize. The competition attracted 2,000 entries and Beatrice’s story, inspired by writing to her soldier dad in Afghanistan, was judged first in the junior category. We caught up with the talented young writer to find out more… How did you feel when you found out you’d won? I was with my mum and sister Scarlett walking our dogs in the wood. Mum had a call from the director of the Salisbury Literary Festival. It was incredible to feel that I had achieved something good from a situation which can be very hard.

Have you managed to let your dad know? Yes my dad is very proud of me! He is the world’s greatest dad. I’m so glad I have been able to do something to make him proud when I am so proud of him.

“Just because our parents are in the Forces doesn’t make us worse off than other children, it just gives us a different way of looking at the world. I really believe that is a good thing.”

My whole family love books and my sister Scarlett is the biggest bookworm of all. Writing is very special to me as I can let loose and write about anything.

How does reading and writing help you as an Army child? It fills my head with a toy shop in Poland, a theatre in Drury Lane and islands of no return. It helps me to learn about other lives, places and to understand the feelings that people have all over the world.

Are you still sharing stories from your journal with your dad while he’s away? Yes, he is going to be away for another four months so we share stories all the time. The bit in my story about the salted pomegranate pips came from him and the things he talks about and sees in Kabul.

What would you say to other military children thinking of putting pen to paper? Go for it. Put your heart and soul in to it. Even if you think your writing isn’t very good, it is, because it comes from your heart and that makes it unique. Just because our parents are in the Forces doesn’t make us worse off than other children, it just gives us a different way of looking at the world. I really believe that is a good thing.

It ’s a wonderful, poignant story – what was your inspiration? It was actually my own life. Mum always says www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2018 Army&You 51

The face of AFF


Wherever you are in the UK, there’s an AFF co-ordinator to help. Whether your soldier is Regular or Reserve, you live in Service Family Accommodation or in your own home, we are there to provide advice and support on Army family life. Whatever your issue, please contact the co-ordinator or relevant regional manager for your area...




4 7


5 11 12


Name: Mica Vanden Connection to the Army: My husband serves and we live in SFA. AFF role: North West Co-ordinator 2 Contact: northwest@aff.org.uk “The best part of my role is being able to help somebody when they thought nobody could. It makes me proud. I try to be a friendly face who families feel comfortable speaking to.”

52 Army&You spring 2018

13 10


Name: Caroline Cossens Connection to the Army: My grandfathers and father were soldiers and I’m now married to one. 3 AFF role: North East Co-ordinator Contact: northeast@aff.org.uk “As soon as families know I’m an Army spouse and that AFF is independent of the ‘green machine’ they open up about their issues.”

Name: Pam Davis Connection to the Army: I’m ex-Royal Artillery, and my husband serves. AFF role: Scotland Co-ordinator 1 Contact: scotland@aff.org.uk “The key issues in my area are education – particularly the differences between England and Scotland – and employment. Knowing that someone is listening who is able to be the families’ voice is important.”

Name: Claire Sunderland Connection to the Army: My husband serves and we live in SFA. AFF role: East Midlands Co-ordinator 4 Contact: eastmids@aff.org.uk “There are a number of stations closing within my area. This has created a lot of uncertainty for the families. There are concerns regarding education and the impact of having to move frequently.”




Co-ordinator Contact: wales@aff.org.uk “Seeing the results of a change for families, from small wins to policy changes, is the best part of my role. I enjoyed helping spouses in Brecon to gain employment.”

Name: Susie Lyles-Clarke Connection to the Army: I am a military spouse but my husband is RAF, don’t hold that against me 8 though! AFF role: South East Co-ordinator Contact: southeast@aff.org.uk “I have a huge area, but I attend coffee mornings all over the south east from Dover to Sandhurst. I liaise with unit welfare officers, HIVEs and community workers to find out what’s being offered to families.”

Name: Claire Hallam Connection to the Army: My soldier and I have been together for nine years and currently live in SFA. 9 AFF role: East Anglia Co-ordinator Contact: eastanglia@aff.org.uk “There’s a big difference with my areas. Housing repairs and getting nursery places are concerns in Colchester. Other areas are isolated, resulting in transport problems and fewer job opportunities.”

Name: Hazel Dobson Connection to the Army: I joined the Army and married a soldier. I left when we had our first child but 10 re-joined as a Reservist. AFF role: Hampshire Co-ordinator Contact: hampshire@aff.org.uk “Although I am disappointed to hear the issues families face, I am inspired by how resilient they are and how they work through issues on their own.”

Name: Leah Ann Humphreys Connection to the Army: Married to my soldier for 17 years. AFF role: Oxfordshire/M4 corridor 11 Co-ordinator Contact: oxfordshirem4@aff.org.uk “Meeting with families is the best part of my role. We are a diverse group and it is satisfying knowing you have been able to help someone in difficulty whether it is a simple or more complex enquiry.”

Name: Carol Morris Connection to the Army: Married to a veteran who served for 28 years. AFF role: Wiltshire Co-ordinator 12 Contact: wiltshire@aff.org.uk “I refer to myself as ‘heels in the field’ instead of ‘boots on the ground’. I don’t have an office, so I’m often out meeting families, UWOs and their teams. In Wiltshire, there are nearly 5,000 SFA so housing is a major issue.”

Name: Becky Green Connection to the Army: My husband is in the Coldstream Guards. AFF role: London Co-ordinator 13 Contact: london@aff.org.uk “I may not always know the answer, but we have a team on hand to help. Housing is my biggest issue and childcare costs in the capital mean employment is a concern. I visit my areas at least once a month.”

Name: Jenna Richardson Connection to the Army: Married to my soldier for two years and living in SFA with our daughter and dog. 14 AFF role: South West Co-ordinator Contact: southwest@aff.org.uk “The amount of information can be overwhelming. Each location poses different challenges, so resolving issues gives me a sense of satisfaction.”


Name: Abi Wrigley Connection to the Army: Married to a soldier and living in our own home after being in SFA for 12 years. AFF role: Wales and Borders

Name: Lucy Clarke Connection to the Army: I’ve been an Army wife for seven years. AFF role: Northern Ireland 6 Co-ordinator Contact: ni@aff.org.uk “A posting to Northern Ireland can seem daunting for many people. Families often have questions regarding education, access to healthcare and finding employment. This is where I can help them find the right information. It’s very rewarding, especially when the outcome helps to reduce stress and anxiety.”


Name: Annabel Ingram Connection to the Army: Husband just left the Army after 24 years AFF role: Regional Manager North Areas managed: Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland Contact: rmnorth@aff.org.uk “I take the evidence that my co-ordinators gather to brigade staff, other charities, local authorities and government departments. If trends emerge, then AFF investigates further and produces documents to discuss with the devolved governments. AFF has a strong reputation because we are evidence-based and provide in-depth reports to make real changes. It’s important that families engage with AFF staff, by phone, email, social media or in person. We can only make positive changes if we have the evidence.” Name: Sarah Gilbody Connection to the Army: My husband is serving and we live in SFA in Catterick Garrison. AFF role: Regional Manager Central Areas managed: North East, North West, East Midlands, West Midlands & East Anglia Contact: rmcentral@aff.org.uk “Seeing my co-ordinators succeed for families and making a difference to someone’s life is very rewarding. The team are there if you have a concern or issue, so if you see them, or see on social media that they are at an event, go along and find out how they can support you.” Name: Julie Mounfield Connection to the Army: I was a Reserve in the Military Police and followed my soldier for 12 years. We have settled in Hampshire. AFF role: Regional Manager South Areas managed: London, Oxfordshire, Hampshire, South East, South West & Wiltshire. Contact: regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk “My six co-ordinators and I cover 62 per cent of the Army and their families living in the south of England. I attend brigade-level meetings, meet with local authorities and the chain of command and raise big issues to a higher level. I work with charities and agencies and am also involved with the Armed Forces Covenant. I love offering support to help make a small difference to people’s lives. I particularly enjoy recruiting and interviewing new staff and I am always fascinated by the resilience our Army families have.”

spring 2018 Army&You 53

We also have teams in Germany and Cyprus and co-ordinators in Canada, Brunei, Kenya and the European Joint Support Unit. Check out the AFF website for their details, or contact our UK and Overseas Director at ukoverseasdirector@aff.org.uk

Name: Michelle Rose Connection to the Army: I’ve been married to a serving soldier for six years. We live in SFA with our two5 year-old girl and our Dachshund. AFF role: West Midlands Co-ordinator Contact: westmids@aff.org.uk “As an Army wife I know that it’s very important for families to have a support network in place. My role means that I am often the first point of contact for any families experiencing issues and I can provide confidential support and advice whenever needed.”


Moving on

Leaving the Army is a big step, but for those with citizenship and visa issues to sort it can be doubly complex. AFF F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston explains more…


HE British Nationality Act allows soldiers to apply for citizenship whilst serving as long as they have been in the UK for five years and have no criminal convictions. If a soldier is not eligible or doesn’t wish to become a British citizen, then the only option is to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). The immigration rules don’t allow for soldiers to hold both an exempt stamp and ILR, so F&C soldiers are required to wait until they are discharged before they get their ILR.

Can my soldier apply for ILR in advance of discharge? Yes, up to ten weeks in advance but the residence permit won’t be sent out until up to a week after discharge.

What does ILR cost? Each application is £2,297. Charities will not pay for this and you can’t rely on any pension lump sums to be available in time to make the application.

Why can’t my soldier

CASE STUDY Patrick Kamdaya “I had served for three years and ten months when I was discharged for a knee injury sustained whilst on exercise. My personnel recovery officer (PRO) brought me along to an F&C presentation and Katherine 54 Army&You spring 2018

remain on their exempt stamp? It is effectively cancelled on their day of discharge. Units are supposed to notify the Home Office of a soldier’s discharge; the soldier is then sent a letter advising that they have 28 days to remain in the UK during which they should apply for leave to remain if they haven’t already done so.

Can my soldier apply for jobs prior to discharge? Soldiers who apply up to ten weeks prior to discharge should be sent a letter which explains to any prospective employer that a visa has been applied for and should be issued following discharge. Employers are under no obligation to accept this and some may be reluctant to offer jobs until your soldier is able to produce the correct evidence. This is not surprising given the huge fines that employers receive if caught employing people who aren’t eligible to work.

What about housing?

each local authority. Some may be reluctant to register a soldier who again doesn’t have the right evidence of legal status. If your soldier isn’t able to register until after their discharge, there won’t be enough time for housing to become available before they are liable for SFA charges and associated court costs. Most local authorities don’t have spare housing that you can move into immediately, so a better option would be to find a private landlord. Be aware that landlords also face fines if they rent to people not legally in the UK.

What should the unit be doing? Welfare officers aren’t trained to give immigration advice, but they should ensure that your soldier is discharged correctly and informed about the requirement to apply for ILR prior to discharge at least three months before they leave. The unit should ask your soldier to sign a discharge proforma to show that they are aware of the requirement to apply for ILR within 28 days if they don’t hold citizenship.

Social housing varies between

Houlston gave me advice and a covering letter to assist with my ILR application which was made eight weeks prior to discharge. She also explained my immigration status to my potential employer. “By the time of my discharge date, I had moved into social housing and had a job offer. It’s been hectic but with the help of the AFF and my PRO everything seems to be working.” He was granted ILR six weeks after applying.

What can you and your soldier do to prepare? l Ensure you understand the immigration status of you and your soldier, including what you are both eligible for and when. l The AFF website (aff.org.uk) has lots of information, or contact our F&C enquiry service. l Start saving for visas/ citizenship applications. l Check out moneyforce.org.uk for advice about your finances. l Use the AFF website’s transition pages for housing and employment support for families and soldiers. &

CASE STUDY Michael Aberdeen “My medical discharge was very unfortunate. On my last day in the unit someone from HQ admin asked if I had my British passport already. I said I hadn’t and he explained that I would get a letter informing me of my deadline to make an application to remain. I was discharged in September 2016 and made my application for citizenship on 9 November 2016. I thought that it would be processed in a few months and I would then be able to get a job, but a year later I hadn’t heard anything. I then received a letter stating that I had to make an application to remain in the UK by 20 September 2017. I was so confused; in the end I applied for ILR because I was scared of being sent home, but I couldn’t afford to pay for the application as I have not been able to work, so it was rejected and the Home Office kept my passport because I was an overstayer. I was in a constant state of panic that I would be removed from the UK, taken away from my family and not allowed to return.” Michael contacted us at the end of October. We were able to liaise with contacts at the Home Office and his application was granted just before Christmas. @ArmyandYou

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Best behaviour

There’s been an increase in enquiries to AFF about Certificates of Good Conduct (CGC) which you might need for certain jobs or volunteer work. AFF’s Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas tells us more… What is a Certificate of Good Conduct? It’s similar to the UK’s Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check, but it’s a police and criminal check to account for periods of time overseas. It’s required in addition to a DBS. Who needs one? If you’re seeking employment or volunteer roles in any areas where you may be in contact with young people or vulnerable adults, you’re likely to be asked for a CGC. When do I need a CGC? If you’ve lived outside the UK for a continuous period of 12 months or more in the last ten years, you’ll need a criminal

check from the country(ies) where you have lived. Yvonne Cleverley, Service Police Crime Bureau vetting officer, said: “Since January 2017, I have provided 155 police certificates for people who are returning to the UK.” How do I obtain one? For spouses or soldiers returning from anywhere where there’s an MOD/ Service Police Unit, the process is simple, free-ofcharge and can normally be completed within 40 days. Most importantly, it can be organised in advance of a move back to the UK so you can be job-ready. Go to aff. org.uk for details. If you’re returning from areas where

there is no MOD/Service Police Unit, the process is more complex and can cost more. The key is to think ahead and take action before you depart the overseas location. Each country deals with requests in a different way so it’s best to check first – go to gov.uk What is AFF doing to help? We will continue to encourage overseas commands to include information on CGC in their pre-departure information. If you need assistance, contact me at rmoverseas@aff.org.uk &

STAY UP-TO-DATE DID you know the online DBS update service may enable you to take your certificate from one job to the next and help with gaps in your employment? The update service helps you to keep your DBS certificates up-to-date and allows employers to check the document. You need to register and pay £13 a year to use the facility. There’s no charge if you’re a volunteer.

HOW TO REGISTER If you’ve not yet applied for a DBS check, you can register for the update service using your application reference number within 28 days. If you’ve already applied, register with your DBS certificate number within 30 days of it being issued. Visit gov.uk/dbs-update-service for more.


Upon departing Canada, Army wife Mair Talbot-King felt there was little information for spouses returning to employment in the UK. She turned to AFF for help… “At no point were any of the non-serving partners made aware of requirements for a CGC for time spent overseas. It only became apparent when I applied for a job at a school in the UK and went through the DBS check. A friend also had the same problem and it cost her £350 to obtain a CGC from the Canadian Mounted Police via an agency. After speaking to AFF’s Employment Specialist, Laura Lewin, I realised I was not the only one in this situation. Laura obtained a CGC for 56 Army&You spring 2018

me free-of-charge; this enabled me to accept the job. Without her help, I would certainly have missed the opportunity! I advise spouses who are overseas or due to go abroad to research what certificates, references or current training you may need when you return to the UK. As a mother

I did so much research on schools and clubs for my children but forgot about what I might need.

Kate Clouston (pictured above) encouraged other Army families to sign up for the service. She said: “Understanding my circumstances of unexpected military postings, the head teacher of the school where I worked recommended paying for the service for an annual subscription. “When we moved to Washington DC, the posting was only for 11 months, so I chose not to seek paid work. To keep my CV in order, I set up lessons teaching English to international spouses on a voluntary basis. “On seeking work back in the UK I had no issues and the update service proved invaluable. It was well worth continuing to pay whilst overseas, making my return straightforward.”

HELPFUL HINTS l Prospective employers can provide a letter explaining why a check is needed if required by the embassy or police. l Request that the certificate is issued in English. l Retain receipts as they may be reclaimable from prospective employers. l A CGC is valid indefinitely – keep it safe. @ArmyandYou

* If you’re living in Germany, you should find a copy of AFF’s rebasing booklet in this magazine

AFF on the road AFF Roadshows give you the opportunity to put your questions about Army life to those that can provide the answers. Last year, we headed to Paderborn in Germany, to hear questions from a packed audience. Regional Manager Germany Katy Brookfield details AFF’s ongoing work…


ITH rebasing looming, many questions from families related to these moves, with the admissions process for schooling in the UK high on the agenda. Some of you have been in BFG for many years and are unfamiliar with the procedures. AFF is here to help and there’s a wealth of information on the Education and Childcare pages at aff.org.uk We have co-ordinators covering all areas of the UK (see pages 52-53) if you need

local knowledge. The Children’s Education Advisory Service (DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod. uk) can also provide support. With BFG closing, families asked whether it was necessary for high move-out standards as no one else would be moving in. Discussions are ongoing between HQ BFG and DIO to agree a single standard. AFF will encourage the chain of command to give clear direction about your responsibilities and options. There will certainly be a minimum requirement so don’t

Friendly faces: AFF’s Germany team and specialists were on hand to answer ques tions in Paderborn

expect to just walk away! A small number of you living in properties owned by private landlords expressed your concern at the way landlords can turn up unannounced with prospective buyers. The BFG housing team advised that this is completely unacceptable. Since the Roadshow, the policy has been re-clarified. Landlords must give at least 48 hours’ notice; no more than two people can view at any one time; and the viewing can last no more than 15 minutes.

The housing estate manager must be in attendance and will ensure policy is adhered to. AFF is ideally positioned to monitor this as we attend the station housing meetings. Take a look at the full Q&A from the event on the AFF website and if you have any worries about rebasing or life in BFG, contact a member of our team: Regional Manager (rmgermany@ aff.org.uk); Paderborn Coordinator (paderborn@aff.org. uk); Gütersloh Co-ordinator (gutersloh@aff.org.uk) &

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A postcard from...

BELIZE How long have you been an Army family? We moved from our home into our first SFA in July 2012. Time in Belize: Since August 2016. How many other military families live in BATSUB? There are nine accompanied personnel here. Three of these families have primary school-age children. What's your quarter like? It's a large four-bedroom bungalow. It's very basic with dated kitchen and bathroom, but it's light, airy and free. Are there employment/training opportunities? Spouses are not able to get a work visa, which restricts employment opportunities, but online study is an option thanks to good internet. What about schools/childcare? The primary school currently attended by all BATSUB children is excellent. The school was assessed by the MOD's DCYP inspectors and confirmed as suitable for military children's attendance. It could be characterised as "old school" in approach and the school estate is basic, but our children have thrived in their short time there. Younger kids especially are expected to learn levels of

58 Army&You spring 2018

work far more advanced than their UK counterparts. Where do Army families get together? There are limited facilities at Price Barracks. The estate is still in the process of being reactivated after a period of closure. Flagstaff House is an all-ranks bar frequented by most BATSUB personnel and families on a Friday night. It's also used for functions and social events. A community centre, which includes a play park, is now up-and-running. Who supports families? We support each other. What's the best thing about living in Belize? The opportunities for travel at weekends are amazing. It's a short hop to the Cayes, southern beaches, mountains or even further afield such as Mexico and Cancun. Would you recommend BATSUB as a family posting? Absolutely yes, but you have to come with an open mind and be willing to make the best of things. Lack of facilities on camp and basic accommodation are a small price to pay for the experience of exploring a beautiful part of the world.


Sadie Bartram, husband

Kevin and children Mia (11), Michael (6), Maddison (4) and Matthew (2)



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All you need is love? More and more couples are choosing to cohabit rather than commit to a civil partnership or marriage, but what happens when such a relationship hits the rocks? We ask a panel of experts for the legal lowdown...


S WITH wider society, there is no standard formula for the makeup of military households. While “married, two-point-four children” may have once been common for Forces families, those who follow the flag today are as likely to be live-in partners as they are husband-and-wife. Indeed, cohabiting couples are recognised as the fastestgrowing family type in the UK, with the number of unmarried couples living together more than doubling from 1.3 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2017. Not tying the knot appeals to an increasing percentage of the population, but what happens if things do turn sour? Last year, Resolution – an organisation which campaigns for improvements to the family justice system – warned that millions of unmarried couples www.armyandyou.co.uk

who live together are unaware of their rights and wrongly believe “common-law marriage” laws exist when dividing up finances. It is a concern shared by David Cobern, a director at The Family Law Company, who told Army&You: “People find it hard to believe that they can live together, sometimes for many years, and not have rights akin to husband and wife. “In fact, there is no such thing as a common-law spouse. Unless your name is on the deeds, you will have to rely on the courts of equity to help you uphold informal agreements about your shares. You will not be able to claim for spousal maintenance, lump sums or shares in pensions as a spouse can.” Tamsyn Windle, a senior solicitor at Howell Jones LLP, was also quick to challenge the common-law marriage myth.

“Despite a damaging, widelyheld belief that there is such a legal entity as a ‘common law spouse’, there is no such status. It doesn’t matter how many years you live together, whether one or 40, you will not automatically acquire legal status or rights.”

“Despite a damaging, widelyheld belief that there is such a legal entity as a ‘common law spouse’, there is no such status,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many years you live together, whether one or 40, you will not automatically acquire legal status or rights. “This can lead to grave injustice, particularly in relation to longer relationships but also in respect of some shorter relationships.” Fortunately, the law does not leave unmarried couples without protection in the event of a relationship hitting the rocks. Although pre- and post-nuptial agreements are – by their very definition – the preserve of married couples, partners living or intending to live together can opt for “no nups”. Formally known as cohabitation agreements, the legally-binding documents ›› spring 2018 Army&You 61

Specialists have an advantage The same is true in family law Owls are specialists as they can rotate their heads to see right round. At The Family Law Co we are specialists too; our expert knowledge helps us to see the wider picture in all aspects of family law, including divorce, separation & financial matters, co-habitation agreements and grandparents’ rights. Contact us for specialist advice on all areas of family law.

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LAW ADVERTORIAL are an ideal way for households to record their financial commitments and obligations, according to Suzanne Foster – a partner in the family department of Salisbury and Andover law firm Parker Bullen. “It can record who pays for what or the shares in which outgoings will be paid during their cohabitation,” she explained. “It also covers how the couples’ assets should be divided in the event the relationship breaks down. Agreeing the division of assets at a time when relations are good can often avoid the acrimony of trying to divide them when things have soured.” Highlighting that a no-nup can account for the contents of a home in addition to the property itself, Gemma Richardson – a specialist family law solicitor based in Kent – added: “These agreements are great for clearly regulating the terms of the cohabitation when it comes to financial matters, both now and in the event of the couple separating. “Cohabitation agreements can avoid the cost of litigation if the people entering into them fully understand what could happen in the event of them separating.” Allen Bailey, of Scotts Wright Solicitors in Catterick Garrison, insists that, rather than being unromantic, a cohabitation agreement can bring greater cohesion to a couple’s relationship. The family law expert said knowing who will pay for what can “help to avoid arguments as you will each know what your responsibilities are and budget accordingly”. “No one knows what the future holds, so a properlydrawn agreement should give you both peace of mind,” he added. “If you don’t intend to marry, a cohabitation www.armyandyou.co.uk

agreement is always worth considering as it can strengthen your relationship by helping you both to feel happy and secure.” Amanda Lyons, a partner in the family law team at Plymouth’s Gard & Co Solicitors, echoed the view that preparation for the unknown should not be perceived as a lack of faith in the prosperity of a partnership. “It focuses the mind on future planning,” she said. “Strangely, being forced to think about how you will deal with unplanned events, such as long-term illness or separation, can give you an unexpected sense of confidence for the future.” Andrew Woo, partner and specialist family law solicitor at Brewer Harding & Rowe Solicitors, reiterated that without a cohabitation agreement the law in England and Wales offers very little financial protection for unmarried couples if their relationship breaks down or if one of them dies. “It might seem unromantic but these written agreements can actually help strengthen relationships as they can provide some clarity and certainty, ensuring that each party knows where they stand,” he added. “In the worst case scenario and there is a dispute, whilst such agreements are not guaranteed to be 100 percent binding upon a court, they can carry significant weight when taken as evidence of the parties’ intentions at the time the agreement was entered into. “A solicitor can draft a cohabitation agreement with a view to ensuring that a fair arrangement is entered into. Each party will need independent legal advice, even if all matters are agreed beforehand.” David also agreed that such

documents bring peace of mind but urged couples to not just sign an agreement and then consign it to the bottom of a drawer. “There is one caveat to remember,” he said. “It’s important to keep the agreement up to date. Relationships are all about change; if, for example, one of you inherits and pays off the mortgage, should that be recognised?” Financial windfalls aside, the pitter patter of tiny feet is often the biggest change couples have to conquer. The arrival of a child in a relationship does not afford either parent any additional legal rights in the event of a split, stressed Tamsyn. “The court has wider powers to make provision for the benefit of children of married couples living together than those of unmarried couples following separation. “Unless specific provision has been made by way of a [cohabitation] agreement, the parent with the care of children from an unmarried relationship is limited to application to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) or application under Schedule 1 of the Children Act 1989 for financial provision. “A claim for child maintenance through the CMS is limited to claim for the child, not for yourself and is in accordance with a prescribed formula; the reality being that it does not meet the true costs of raising a child. “Applications under the Children Act can be complex, uncertain and costly and the court is limited in the range and duration of the orders it can make. This option is also limited in that, again, the claim is for the benefit of the child only, not for yourself, so usually ends when the child reaches 18.” ›› Amanda said that

Allen Bailey, Scotts Wright Solicitors scottswright.com

Andrew Woo, Brewer Harding & Rowe brewerhardingrowe.com

David Cobern, The Family Law Co thefamilylawco.co.uk

Gemma Richardson, Family Law Kent familylawkent.co.uk spring 2018 Army&You 63

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45 Castle St, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 3SS. Tel: 01722 412000 8 Newbury St, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 1DW. Tel: 01264 400500

www.parkerbullen.com Parker Bullen LLP is authorised & regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority SRA number 535414


FAIR SHARE MANY think life will be easier on retirement, but what happens when your pension is under attack? Like all assets, pensions need to be considered when negotiating a settlement on divorce. In fact, pensions can often be the largest asset, so what are the options? The cash equivalent value (CEV) is the figure used to value a pension on divorce and can be obtained from Veterans UK. Armed Forces pensions can have CEVs which are considerably lower than the fund required in the private sector to purchase a pension of equal worth. There are three ways to address the disparity in pension


separate rooms, buying your own food, doing your own cooking and cleaning and eating apart. “For couples who already have a cohabitation agreement this may make things easier, especially if it sets out who is to be responsible for paying what.” A break up does not create a barrier to accessing the benefits afforded by a cohabitation agreement. Indeed, Suzanne advises any separating couples without legal paperwork in place to reassess their stance should they be planning to continue to cohabit. “A cohabitation agreement can set the ground rules for them living together to include who pays for what and any other measures they wish to put in place to avoid disagreement,” she said. “They can agree when there will be a physical separation and how assets will be dealt with at that time. If they own a property together they may prefer to own it in joint names as Tenants in Common in either equal or unequal shares and avoid the automatic right of survivorship that exists with Joint Tenants.”

provision on divorce: l Pension sharing, where a proportion of pension rights are shared with the former spouse. The member's rights are reduced by a specified percentage ("pension debit") with the former spouse (“pension credit member”) gaining the corresponding percentage. This assists with a financial clean break. l "Attachment" where a percentage of the pension member's rights are paid to the former spouse but the member continues to own/control the rights. The order can be varied and ceases on the remarriage or death of the former spouse. It is unpopular as it does not provide a clean break.

Fiscal factors are not the only reason couples choose to cohabit after splitting. Acknowledging that children are often the cause for unattached adults remaining under one roof, Gemma cautioned that good intentions do not guarantee desirable outcomes. “Sometimes continuing to live with one another for the sake of the children is not the correct option – particularly if the relationship between the parents remains intense,” she said. “This kind of atmosphere can be harmful to a child and their needs – emotional, psychological and financial – should always be given consideration before making such a decision.” Regardless of whether you’ve been in a relationship for decades and have a house full of little ones or are planning on a childfree home with a new partner, a cohabitation agreement can save a lot of heartache for all involved, concluded Suzanne. “If you are thinking about cohabiting with a partner or are currently cohabiting and wish to protect assets you brought to the relationship, seek legal advice about the options open to you.” n

Amanda Lyons, Gard & Co gardandco.com

Tamsyn Windle, Howell Jones Solicitors howell-jones.com

l "Offsetting", where the former spouse takes cash in lieu of the pension member's rights. An actuary is often instructed to provide calculations on these options, such as the appropriate level of Pension Sharing Order required to provide both parties with the same income on retirement. It may be possible to argue that any claims should be limited to the rights accrued during the marriage. It is important to seek expert advice. Jayne Turner at Ashfords LLP is a Resolution Accredited Specialist in pensions on divorce and can assist.

Contact Jayne by emailing CJ.Turner@ashfords.co.uk or call 01823 232374

Suzanne Foster, Parker Bullen Solicitors parkerbullen.com

Jayne Turner, Ashfords LLP ashfords.co.uk spring 2018 Army&You 65

To read more from our panel of legal experts, visit armyandyou.co.uk/category/lawadv

cohabitation agreements could bring much-needed clarity to childcare issues for unmarried couples. “If you have children at the time of the agreement then it can include provision for them and for future children,” she said. “It should also provide a way for the document to be updated by agreement after its implementation so you both have to think about how to deal with finances and property upon separation, taking the family into account.” Of course, such are the pressures on modern households’ finances that splitting up does not always mean estranged partners go their separate ways. “Some couples have no option but to continue to live together under the same roof if their relationship breaks down simply because neither can afford to move out,” said Allen. “Legally there is no reason why you cannot, but if one of you is on benefits or wish to claim a state benefit you will need to demonstrate that you are no longer living as a family. “For example, you may have to prove you are sleeping in


Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links before entries close on 15 April Picture: Matt Kuchta

Picture: Lee Crabb

One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 15 April 2018 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Scrum & get it Tickets to the annual Army v Navy clash at Twickenham on 5 May sold out in just a few hours, but all is not lost – four readers will win a pair of tickets each to this actionpacked sporting spectacle. You’ll have access to all matches played on the day, including the women’s and veterans’ teams playing at Kneller Hall and the UK Armed Forces U23s taking on Oxbridge U23s at Twickenham before the final showdown at 3pm when the senior Army and Royal Navy XVs provide the crowd with a thrilling 80 minutes of action.

Win one of four pairs of tickets to the Army v Royal Navy match, priced at £50 each.

66 Army&You spring 2018

Seaside sojourn Treat yourself to a seaside break in the UK’s sunniest resort, Eastbourne. You and a guest will indulge in a luxurious one-night stay in the four-star Hydro Hotel, valued at £220, from where you can admire breathtaking views across the English Channel. A delicious breakfast will set you up for a day of exploring miles of palm tree-lined beaches or taking in countryside including the South Downs National Park. And that’s not all; we’re treating you to a Hydro afternoon tea for two, so sit back and enjoy while overlooking the stunning gardens. To find out more, go to VisitEastbourne.com

FANTASTIC FEMALES Women Warriors, the debut book from Army spouse Tracey-Ann Knight, explores the lives of ten extraordinary females who dressed as men to enter the masculine worlds of the state and military. These women fought, slept and caroused alongside their fellow soldiers and were involved in pivotal battles throughout history

including in the trenches during the First World War. They were wounded, taken prisoner and risked life for their country like their male comrades. Read more about Tracey-Ann’s journey to becoming an author on page 33. We have three hardback copies, retailing at £18.95 each, to give away.


Rock on

Tea for two? Sumptuous sandwiches, moreish cakes and tantalising homemade scones could be yours with this tasty prize. You and your loved one can choose a location from many UK-wide options. Relish a taste of the high life at the Hilton, indulge at Hotel Chocolat or enjoy a quaint experience in a countryside inn. Buyagift.com provides experiences in the UK – from bungee jumping and skydiving to spa days and gourmet meals. With more than 4,500 options, you’re sure to find the perfect gift.

Starting in 2009 as an open-air fundraising festival on a bowling green at the back of Market Drayton’s Coach and Horses pub – hence the name Rock & Bowl – Rock & Bowl has grown into the ‘biggest little festival around’ with more than 6,000 people, young and old, turning up last year. With 33 talented acts entertaining you each day on two stages from 2pm – 11pm, an extensive bar area and a kids’ zone, it’s sure to be a rocking bank holiday weekend for the whole family. Enter to be in with a chance of winning two adult tickets, priced at £56, for Monday 28 May. Under-12s go free.

Win an afternoon tea experience for two valued at £49.99.

Classy covers Show pride in your soldier’s service with a hand-made gift from Military Covers, owned by Service spouse Hayley Rowley. Its cherrywood phone cases are available for a range of phones with unit or corps insignias or cap badges for all branches of the Armed Forces. Each wooden panel is carved to order with a unique grain pattern, emblazoned with service details, names and dates if requested. Win one of two personalised phone cases, priced at £24 each. See armyandyou.co.uk for compatible phones.

Flight of fancy A spectacular salute is planned for this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on 13-15 July as part of official national celebrations recognising the RAF’s centenary – and you could be there. The airshow will feature an eight-hour flying programme including an RAF flypast and a Royal review of aircraft. The RAF and its four main charities are staging a series of events during 2018 under the banner RAF100. We have a pair of tickets, priced at £100+, for Sunday 15 July. Under-18s go free.


spring 2018 Army&You 67


Something to share about Army life? Tell us about it by emailing editor@aff.org.uk – you don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission.

Stressed with the system WE LIVED in SSFA (hiring) for almost two years and right from the start it was stressful for me and my family. The final straw came in October, when a repossession order for the property arrived in the post from the courts. I told the letting agents and then contacted Mears, which manages the property. They told me to leave it with them to find us a new SSFA, but the process was very distressing with a tight deadline on when we had to vacate. I came into work while on leave to sort it out and it took weeks of toing-andfroing between DIO and Mears. We should not have even been housed in this property in the first place as it’s on a ‘pay as you go’ meter and, more importantly, the landlord only owns 25 per cent through a shared equity mortgage. We had

numerous knocks on the door from debt collectors, having to prove my wife and my identity. It was unsettling we were getting inundated with mail. Having four children and a dog, I accept that we’re hard to house but it was important to stay in the area as I’m due to be posted in 18 months. Eventually we were offered SFA an hour away in Haverfordwest, which would have meant a fourth school move within a threeyear period. We have decided to rent privately to stay in the area. This has had a big impact on our finances. This whole process has had an adverse effect on my family. Not only has my work suffered, but home life has been affected due to the uncertainty of the situation. My wife struggled under this stress, not knowing where we would be living and worrying about the

Star letter THE writer of this letter wins a set of four personalised natural edge

68 Army&You spring 2018

children’s schooling. The current housing system is not robust enough and is definitely not fit for purpose. I am aware of the Future Accommodation Model that is in the pipeline – it has disaster written all over it and I’m lucky that I’m in my last few years of service and will not have to deal with it for much longer. I feel for young soldiers that are hoping to make a long career in the Forces. Name and address supplied. Response from Eileen Treadwell, DIO substitute accommodation & licence manager: We would like to apologise for the inconvenience and stress experienced by the family. It was difficult for Mears to source an appropriate property to entitlement in the area. Ultimately it could only source an above-entitlement property. Prior to move-in, it was not identified that there were ‘pay as you go’ meters which should have prevented the

coasters from Military Covers, run by Army spouse Hayley Rowley. The coasters, priced £24 per set, are 10cm x 10cm and made out of British slate sourced in the Scottish Highlands.

property from being used as substitute accommodation. Mears has reviewed its internal processes to avoid similar occurrences in the future. The issue over ownership would again have prevented the property being used had the landlord informed Mears. Appreciating the likely difficulties in identifying another suitable property, the substitute accommodation team (SAT) asked the family, in line with normal practice, to complete a new application form. Despite the best endeavours of both Mears and the military housing liaison officer, it has not been possible to identify another substitute property in the area. Therefore the family were offered SFA at Haverfordwest. Once again, we apologise to the family for the inconvenience. Both Mears and the SAT will learn from the circumstances of this case to try to avoid similar situations arising in the future.

Each one can be engraved with a unit or Service insignia and personalised with your soldier’s name, rank and number. Go to militarycovers.com to see the full range of military-themed items.



Support single soldiers BOTH my parents are now in their 70s and, along with my sister, they’re my closest family. But being out in Cyprus, separation has been a huge problem. As a single soldier, I’m not entitled to book trooper flights for mum and dad to visit me as the rules allow for only ‘immediate family’ defined as spouse and dependent children. Automatically I fall outside of this and I’m excluded from these provisions. Single people often get overlooked and I believe they’re assumed to be less requiring of support and welfare provision than married people. Yet they could often be more needful since they are working and living alone, away from the immediate support of their family. This is one reason I think that many single people don’t necessarily see a long-term career in the Army. I know that the chain of command often responds by pointing out things like making use of the ‘get you home’ annual flight entitlement for mum and dad, but of course this is not something that a married person would have


“Single people often get overlooked and I believe they’re assumed to be less requiring of support and welfare provision than married people.” to do and it essentially uses up one entitlement to fill the deficit left by the lack of another provision, which married people are given by default. That cannot be right, surely? Name and address supplied. Response from Col John Oldroyd, Army Pay Colonel (Army Remuneration Policy): As a single soldier overseas, it is appreciated that you would value further support in order to remain in close contact with your family. Allowances often make no distinction for marital status; where they do, for example local overseas allowance and disturbance expense, it is to reflect need and the additional costs borne by the Service person. For those personnel assigned overseas, additional provision is made through the Get You Home (Overseas) allowance which aims to reduce

the separation of eligible personnel from close family, friends and UK lifestyle. This allowance contributes towards the cost of return journeys to the UK or country of domicile for non-British passport holders. For Cyprus, the entitlement is for one return journey for each 12-month period. This is the same for both single and married soldiers. While it may appear that trooper flights offer a possible solution to maintaining closer contact, it should be noted that families overseas are also not entitled to use these flights for parents and siblings. Furthermore, there is an issue of limited capacity with trooper flights to Cyprus. Due to limited seats and other priorities, people using this mode of transport are unable to rely upon it as a guaranteed service. If eligibility to apply for trooper flights was widened further, this would make the service even less guaranteed. I understand your perspective that accompanied Service personnel have their close family with them overseas, but I am afraid that policy does not support parental or sibling travel, except in urgent compassionate cases. Welfare support has a vital role to play in ensuring that single soldiers stationed overseas receive the pastoral care that they require, and while Army and Armed Forces’ welfare provision can never fully replace the type of support that close family can offer, it is intended to cushion the more challenging times. Unfortunately, affordability constraints prevent travel entitlement being widened further at this time.

OPINION ODD ONE OUT ‘DO you have children?’ It’s the question you’ll inevitably hear from your new neighbours within minutes of moving into married quarters. Especially on my estate where, out of the couples that we’ve met, my husband and I are the only ones without a bambino or two in tow, writes Lizzie Hardaker. I became a military wife a year ago. By the time we got married we had been together for five years – all of which had been long distance. My mother-in-law spent many years as an Army wife and met some of her best friends through being neighbours. Given her experience, I thought it would be easy to make friends and I was really looking forward to it! I’ve lived in busy cities surrounded by friends, so when I moved to our leafy estate it was a bit of a shock and my first thought was: ‘What do people do around here?’ It was so quiet. I work Monday-to-Friday so I’m unable to go to coffee mornings to make friends. Our patch is quiet which makes it hard to just bump into people and unfortunately the next three houses along from us have been empty since we arrived. I have been asked more times than not when we are having children, which can add a lot of pressure! I have sometimes felt isolated from other wives, who have being a mother in common. Adam goes away this year and I worry about feeling lonely, as I’m sure many other military spouses do. If you notice a military wife or husband without children move in near you, please remember that they might feel lonely too. Think about swapping that midweek coffee for a Saturday, I’m sure they’ll really appreciate it! Would you like to write an opinion piece for Army&You? Get in touch at editor@aff.org.uk spring 2018 Army&You 69

POSTBAG ARE COUNCIL TAX RULES FAIR? WINTER’S Army&You refers to the MOD Covenant ensuring that ‘if you own a vacant but furnished second home while living in SFA/SSFA you are entitled to a 50 per cent reduction in council tax’. Is there a reason why the house has to be furnished? My husband and I are in the process of selling our family home and it has been vacant and unfurnished for more than four months. I approached Wiltshire Council to ask for a council tax discount, but was told that it does not offer a discount for military families’ vacant homes that are not furnished. Why does the house have to be furnished to claim the discount? Vicki Fuery Response from Cdr Susie Thomson, Armed Forces Covenant Team: The discount is generally offered if you continue to use the home, say at weekends and during leave periods while you live in SFA/SSFA. From 2013, discounts for unoccupied and unfurnished properties and those requiring major repair work ceased. All councils should – where they deem criteria to be met – be giving the 50 per cent discount for furnished accommodation belonging to military personnel that are residing in SFA. l You can find more information and a downloadable letter from the DCLG on the AFF website, aff.org.uk

70 Army&You spring 2018

Clear up CAAS confusion I HAVE had no success in obtaining any answers from CarillionAmey regarding the disparity over CAAS banding that has occurred due to major renovation works on our street in Hampshire, which have been ongoing since last year. This has included new roofs, windows/doors, kitchens, bathrooms, plumbing, electrics, plastering and internal doors. Service families have had to live throughout this with littleto-no communication regarding what is or was to happen. As a community we are aware that people are now paying different rates for their SFA despite being next-door neighbours in the same standard and type. Additionally, throughout the whole process we have not been provided with a reduction in SFA rate due to the ongoing work, which has caused continued disruption, including lack of parking due to work vehicles, noise, building materials everywhere and mess which we have to clear. CA tells us that there are only a few houses left to do, but I beg to differ. Has anyone from CA actually attended the residential area? I am tired of emailing or telephoning and getting nowhere and I am addressing this issue directly

with our local MP. I would invite CA to detail exactly what they are going to do about it and how they seek to achieve this. Name and address supplied. Response from Andrew Martin, SFA development programme manager: Thank you for your letter. A major programme of upgrades to these houses saw new kitchens, bathrooms, curtains and blinds, full redecoration and more. However, this does not mean that each house is identical. The CAAS band for charge is calculated from survey data and is unique to each property. There are a number of reasons why seemingly identical houses may incur different charges; this is usually as a result of varying works that have been undertaken at the property throughout its lifespan. However, once works are complete, CAAS bandings will be reassessed. To allow work to take place, families were moved from their previous properties. They all

received a disturbance allowance and had their removals paid and therefore no temporary rent downgrade was deemed to be necessary. We are surprised that you feel there was little to no communication as residents have been kept fully informed throughout the process, with letters being sent before each stage of work to inform families of what is proposed, how long it is expected to take and any disruption likely to be caused. A member of CA staff undertook a personal induction with each family, explaining the work and responsibilities of both parties. In addition, both CA and DIO staff have attended the area on various occasions and feedback indicates the residents have been very happy with the quality of work undertaken and the communications received. This is the first complaint we are aware of, however if a significant number of occupants feel it would be helpful, we would consider holding a residents’ meeting.

“As a community we are aware that people are now paying different rates for their SFA despite being next-door neighbours.” @ArmyandYou

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Army&You Spring 2018  

The Spring 2018 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

Army&You Spring 2018  

The Spring 2018 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.