Army&You Spring 2016

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Army&You Spring 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

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


top tips to manage your money

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



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

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314

Celebrating Army families


ECEIVING stories direct from our readers about how you live your Army life is definitely one of the highlights of working at Army&You. We never cease to be amazed at the talent, skills and resourcefulness of those determined to make military life work for them. This edition is no exception; from the spouses branching out 34 into business to Supporting hearts & minds (p34), an uplifting story which highlights the help the Army gave a family when their child was born with a heart defect. A photography student has captured her view of Service family life in a moving collection (p20) and our regular #OurArmyFamily feature (p25) reminds us that each military household is unique. Relationship resilience (p14) focuses on the positive steps couples can take to ensure relationship niggles don’t escalate. And we hear from a military couple who, through counselling, got their marriage @ArmyandYou



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

back on track (p15). Plus we’ve got the lowdown from mobile phone companies on how they’re supporting Service 56 families with flexible contracts (p42). Athlete and Olympic gold medallist Amy Williams shares her story on being married to a soldier (p30) and, with sport in mind, we hear from an Army spouse who has used a life-changing event to spur her on to run this year’s London Marathon (p32). If getting into shape has slipped off your New Year’s 41 resolutions, there’s some great advice from this issue’s Ask the Experts (p56) and we’ve got some up-to-date information from AFF’s specialists on a range of issues, from move-in standards to school appeals (p4). If you could do with getting 35 away, be sure to check out the reader giveaways (p60). You and your family could be unwinding at a luxurious Sussex hotel.



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


COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 10 April 2016. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website. SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit www. for details.

Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 // NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 // SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // SOUTH EAST 07733 147001 // LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS (0044) 07795 687930 // CANADA KENYA GERMANY (0049) 01744 946209 // GUTERSLOH (0049) 0176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // ESBA WSBA EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07552 861983 // EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // HOUSING 07789 551158 // FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING & MONEY✪ 07799 045955 // COVENANT LIAISON 07833 448352 // ✪ Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

spring 2016 Army&You 03

We asked our experts for their biggest work challenge for 2016......




The implementation of CAAS – the new charging system for Service Families Accommodation – continues. I have been attending workshops so that I am up to speed on how the process works and how challenges can be made so that I can advise and help you if you have issues once you get your final banding letter. For more information on challenges, see the housing pages or contact me at

AFF was pleased to meet with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to discuss how Army families may be disadvantaged with regards to council tax and social housing. DCLG was interested to hear about your enquiries and the ways in which we help bring about a resolution on your behalf. We are looking into how we can contribute to DCLG’s communications with local authorities to ensure policy makers are aware of the nuances of Army family life and can adjust their policies accordingly.

I have been working with NHS England and Health Education England to produce an e-learning package on Service and veterans’ families in consultation with the Naval and RAF Families Federations. The package will help to inform health and social care professionals, such as your GP or health visitor, about the uniqueness of the military lifestyle, particularly highlighting the barriers you face when accessing health or social care. Hopefully this will then provide a better understanding amongst these professionals.

To ensure that your views are represented on any changes to the way housing is allocated

Maintaining the Armed Forces Covenant’s profile as the Strategic Defence and Security Review kicks in

To finally sort the Additional Needs Adaptation process out for SFA

Our experts AFF’s Specialists provide families with trusted, expert knowledge. We find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch. 04 Army&You spring 2016






Great news for discharged soldiers: Following ministerial agreement, the Home Office will now consider applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) from soldiers who discharged prior to March 2014 but who didn’t apply because they weren’t given correct advice by their unit. Applications will be considered regardless of your soldier’s date of discharge as long as they met the requirements for ILR at the time. Applications will need to be made on form SET(AF); we recommend that you get in touch with us for a covering letter to go with the application. Go to for further information.

Transporting your child to school can be a challenge, particularly if it is miles away and there is no safe walking route. If you don’t know your address in advance of moving, then you won’t know which is your nearest or designated school when you apply for a place. If you’re allocated a place in a school that is further away from your designated school, then your Local Authority (LA) may provide free transport, but provision may not extend to your other children. Unfortunately, paid seats on LA transport are not guaranteed either. If you have had school transport issues, send your evidence to

After a great deal of lobbying, AFF is thrilled that spouses and children (up to the age of 21) will be exempt from the three-month residency rule required to claim Jobseeker’s Allowance upon return to the UK from an overseas posting. I am still receiving enquiries on this issue and have advised people to return to their job centre to highlight the recent policy change so that they can receive the entitled benefit. Email me at if you have been affected and have been unable to resolve the problem.

Working with other Service charities to challenge the income requirement

Recognition of under-fives Service children for funding support

To further campaign for additional career and training opportunities for spouses

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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 SPRING 2016

21 Home From Home A&Y goes behind the scenes at the fantastic Fisher House 29 Challenging Costs What to do if you want to challenge your CAAS band 34 Hearty Support How the Army helped a family with a seriously-ill baby 41 Financial Fitness Five tips to help you better manage your money 42 Signal of Intent How mobile networks are assisting posted Army families 54 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Paderborn, Germany

features 14 Staying Together Helping military couples manage their relationships 20 Life Through A Lens A photography student’s study of Service spouses 25 Our Army Family Readers Maggie and Ryan on life as a military couple 32 New Beginnings One woman’s motivation for a marathon mission 47 Make Your Own Zoo The crafty story of a cardboard-based activity book 48 Life After Combat Journalist Matthew Green tells us about his latest book

regulars 04 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s new Chief Executive 11 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 56 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with fitness, finances, motivation & beauty 60 Giveaways Win a luxury break at a Sussex hotel and more 65 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here

ON THE COVER GOLDEN GIRL Find out what Olympic gold medalist Amy Williams makes of life as a Service spouse PAGE 30

Army&You Spring 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

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


top tips to manage your money

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



Cover picture: James McFarland


Healthy start: Pick up some handy hints on starting your fitness journey by turning to our Ask the Experts section (page 56)

spring 2016 Army&You 07



Full and weekly boarding now available

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

Why choose us?

‘Good’ in all areas • Active lifestyle including • Graded by Ofsted. sport, music, drama and activities. 80% of our students • Over secure their first or second • £24.9 million refurbishment choice of University has delivered a new sports centre, high-quality student is • Every accommodation and encouraged to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

teaching blocks and a performing arts centre.



have the ethos helps • Students • Military flexibility of full and weekly develop character and life 2015/16 fees are just £11,820* per year. If you qualify for CEA, you will only pay £1,182 per year.

Enquiries: 01304 245073 *Fees are reviewed annually



SARA BAADE, AFF Chief Executive Follow AFF on Twitter @The_AFF

the Army at home. Yet I appreciate that my experience is not shared by everyone. I therefore feel very privileged to be in this position where I can draw on my business skills in order to fly the flag for Army families. It’s my role to work with you, with commanders, politicians and civil servants to ensure that the voice of the wider Army community is consistently heard.

Flying the flag for Army families


N EARLY November, I was proud to take the reins of the Army Families Federation (AFF) as its new CEO, just a few weeks before the government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) was released. It was a motivational start and I am so delighted to now be fully on-board and taking AFF through this new phase. MY ARMY LIFE I am equally excited to occupy a role where, through AFF, I represent Army


I am surrounded by an excellent and experienced AFF team and together we will work hard to ensure we represent all families and the vital role you play in supporting our Armed Forces.

families! My late husband was still serving with the 9/12th Lancers when he passed away five years ago, so I know what it is like to live the “Army life”. Personally I loved it and those were some of the best years of my life: the friends I made; the places we visited and the community I was welcomed into were all very positive for me. I was lucky that I was able to continue my career in investment banking and later as a senior civil servant, whilst I had the security of

MORE TO ACHIEVE My first few months here have been very positive, and I feel reassured that families are being given increasing consideration in the development of Army policy and strategy. However, there is much more to be achieved and many areas where AFF will continue to raise concerns, champion the needs of families and push for change. Objectives include the development of the new accommodation model (as proposed in the latest SDSR) and the work of the Armed Forces Covenant team to ensure equal opportunities for Army families. We will continue to represent you in these, and many more, discussions and we will keep you updated on progress. HERE TO HELP Although this is a new challenge to me, I am surrounded by an excellent and experienced AFF team and together we will work hard to ensure we represent all families and the vital role you play in supporting our Armed Forces. Contact us by visiting www. n

GET INVOLVED: Look out for AFF’s “Did You Know” Covenant campaign on AFF social media.

spring 2016 Army&You 09

YOU CAN’T VOTE. In the elections in your area in May 2016. Unless you’ve registered by 18 April.

It only takes a few minutes. Go to




HELPING HAND FOR HOUSING GOOD news for first-time buyers: if you save up to £200 a month towards your first home with a Help to Buy ISA, the government will boost your savings by an extra 25 per cent. That means that when the time comes to step onto the property ladder, the government will allocate up to an

additional £3,000. Providers are free to set their own interest rates so, as with any savings product, Army&You advises that you compare and shop around for the best option for your family. l Find out more about the scheme by searching “Help to Buy” at

RESERVISTS’ INSURANCE IF your soldier is part of the Army Reserve, do they have the necessary insurance in place? If they suffer an injury while away with the military, they may not always be covered – this could have implications on your family if your soldier is unable to return to their civilian job for any length of time. Army Reserve Regulations (1978) strongly recommend your soldier has insurance in place for such things as kit, personal liability and accidents. For details of relevant insurers, your soldier can read 2013DIN01113 or speak to their chain of command.

READ AND REVIEW READING Force, the only national shared reading initiative for Service families, is looking for young people to review a range of books and help others to choose a really good read. To get your kids involved, email your child’s name and age to info@readingforce. and they will receive a book to review. Reviews will be posted on Reading Force’s website. For more details about Reading Force and their latest initiatives, including how reading together could bring your family closer when deployment or separation looms, visit

ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, BAKE! HELP for Heroes is asking the nation to get baking to raise some money this spring. Why not get colleagues, friends or family together for some lovely baked treats and ask for donations? It really is that simple! Everyone who registers a Bake for Heroes event and raises funds will automatically be entered into a free draw to win a Kenwood Kmix (right) donated by Debenhams.

Fancy a challenge? Enter the Best Looking Cake competition and create a cake around the theme “Great Britain” for the chance to win a masterclass with the head chef at Gu desserts. Anyone aged 16 and under who enters this competition could win a family ticket to any Merlin Entertainment attraction. l For a free fundraising pack, or for more information, visit or call 01980 846459.

A FLEXIBLE APPROACH THE MOD announced a flexible working trial at the end of 2015 which will continue until the end of November. The trial, involving a limited number of Regular personnel, features measures such as limited deployed duties away from the home unit and working less-than-full-time hours. Army&You is keen to hear from anyone taking part in the trial. We want you to let us know how things are going. Is it what you expected? Is it making a positive difference to your family? Contact the editor at to share your experience.

spring 2016 Army&You 11



Snap shot

Picture via Sam Wenlock

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

1. Welcome home Cpl Dan Wenlock returns from serving in Afghanistan with The Royal Tank Regiment

2. Service starter Families say farewell to new recruits in Nepal (picture via BFBS Gurkha)

DO YOU know who to call if you’re faced with an emergency while your soldier is away? The MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), the single point of contact for all casualty incidents, has launched a new mobile app, MOD ICE. The free app runs alongside the JPA P001 card, which you should already have, and guides you through the most common types of family emergency and how JCCC can help. Your soldier

can download it onto the phones of as many family members as they wish by visiting the Defence Gateway website on the phone they wish to host the app. It’s really important that your soldier keeps their JPA account up-to-date, especially after any significant changes. For more information, visit and search “JCCC”.

3. Furry friend Proud pooch (picture by Anj-Art via Service Dogs UK)

4. Sleeping beauty A new addition to a Parachute Regiment family (picture via @ABphotography27)

TOP TWEETS Oops, went out for lunch and bought a new coat. The deployment retail therapy has started


12 Army&You spring 2016

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

Every time I see Army families reunited makes me cry of happiness to see them excited to be home again


We know how vital family is to #military personnel which is why we love @SSAFA for supporting those looking to adopt


Little Trooper of the Month is a really important initiative recognising exceptionally special military children

@LittleTroopers_ @ArmyandYou

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

Taking the sting out of a relationship breakdown... Are you feeling overwhelmed by relationship breakdown? We specialise in finding a better way to resolve conflict. Contact one of our family mediators today: Juliet Mayhew Family Mediator 01962 670677

Grant Cameron Family Mediator 023 8082 0488 protecting your assets. When a relationship breaks down you want to be able to reach a fair agreement that protects you financially and where children are involved to assess their present and future needs. Using all of our knowledge and expertise we will strive whether through negotiation or mediation to help you achieve an amicable solution whilst remaining ready and able to protect your interests in Court. Call us today. All initial calls and enquiries are free and without obligation.

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ODERN life places myriad stresses and strains on partnerships, which are often compounded by the military – not least separation, uncertainty, frequent moves and, increasingly for many, weekend commuting. However, early investment can help us better cope with the bumps and scrapes of military life. Ben Campbell-Colquhoun, a former commanding officer, explained: “I know only too well that divorce is an unfortunate reality, but I believe more could be done to proactively prevent reaching that point. “The challenge is getting couples to engage on this issue. Either life is good and there is no need, or things are difficult and they don’t want to admit it – until the point where it can be beyond repair. “It is at this stage that the Army Welfare Service usually gets involved.”

RELATIONSHIP MOT The good news is that there are simple steps you can take to keep your relationship on the road. Relate’s Relationship MOT Quiz is a great starting point at helping couples to identify 14 Army&You spring 2016

areas to work on. Its website is packed with useful guidance to help prevent relationships reaching the divorce courts. Relate counsellor Denise Knowles said: “Giving your relationship a regular tuneup can be an effective way to focus you on relationship niggles and nip them in the bud before they become major problems. “It can help you identify underlying feelings that may be bubbling away and take steps to work through them. It can also help to focus your mind on what’s going well.”



Giving your relationship a regular tune-up can be an effective way to focus you on relationship niggles and nip them in the bud before they become major problems

Army&You spoke to Army spouse Kate Brown, who has been in a relationship with her soldier for nearly 23 years. She believes communication has been the key to a happy partnership – despite frequent separation. “We’ve always been good at keeping dialogue going in our marriage, whether it’s one evening a month over a pub meal or via text, e-Bluey or email,” she explained. “It’s about listening as well as talking.” Jenny Cowell, another Army spouse, agreed. “I keep in touch with my soldier who is away by writing letters and sending postcards,” she said.

“It makes me feel better when I write as I feel I’m doing something productive. I love it when I come home from work to a reply on my doormat.”

FIRM FOUNDATIONS Often offered by churches, marriage courses cover every aspect of a relationship from money, sex, family, communication, and resolving conflict and might be worth considering. Ben suggested: “Whether you are interested in church or not, it won’t be an issue. “It’s not counselling or group sharing, just an opportunity for couples to talk through the topics with each other.” A&Y reader Sam Eaton told us: “My husband and I always make sure we talk to each other about how we’re feeling. “When a posting comes up we talk it through together to make sure it's the right decision for us as a family. “We make a point of having regular date nights when he’s at home and, when he isn't at home, I make sure no matter what is going on I remain strong for him so he can stay focused on the job.” A&Y contributor Lisa Rogerson believes the secret lies in humour: “If you can laugh together when the going gets tough, you'll make it!” n @ArmyandYou


CASE STUDY Military spouse Jade Munro shares her story of how Relate helped her marriage... HE AND I did things quickly. We had our first date days after meeting, became engaged a few months later and married while pregnant the following year. In the first 18 months, we relocated with the military three times. It had been a whirlwind of wedding, work trips, packing, unpacking, hellos, goodbyes, becoming parents and yet more packing and unpacking. I threw myself into being the best housewife you could shake a tin of furniture polish at. The house gleamed, the dog was walked, cakes were baked and baby was content. I smiled a lot. It was all pretty on the outside. What I wasn’t prepared for was the resentment bubbling inside me. The finality of leaving my job, city, friends and lifestyle. Where was my medal and parade? The fear of never being able to identify as a financially independent, ambitious woman again took my breath away. One day this all came convulsing out, spewing like hot lava from within, frothing with anger and resentment. We spent the night apart. The following day felt like the end. We had been, in one moment, best friends, giggling, sharing – now, we were strangers who followed a daily routine, digging themselves deeper into a rut. Divorce was thrown back and forth, becoming the trump card of threats, until one day we took a leap of faith, bound by the love for our baby, and found our saving grace: Relate counselling. The hour we spent with our Relate counsellor, Sue, was the safest I had felt in a long time. She mediated our

conversations so that we could both confidently lay bare our souls without getting defensive and flouncing out as had previously happened when we had attempted drunken selfcounsel. She prompted with questions and acknowledged when each of us made valid contributions. It felt wonderful to have someone acknowledge that we were going through a rough patch and that it was completely normal. Our arguments were normal. My feelings of inadequateness and anxiety were normal. His feelings of regret and financial burdens were normal. Our fears and judgement were normal. Becoming a military spouse does essentially mean losing a bit of yourself, because your life centres around your soldier’s work and priorities. Sue reminded us that it was Thursday, not Doomsday. What wasn’t normal was the lack of communication. Neither of us knew what the other felt. We had to stop blaming each other for the state of our relationship and, more importantly, I had to stop blaming him for my unhappiness. As much as the adjustment to becoming a military wife has been – and will continue to be – epic, it has also dawned on me that I’ve been gifted the freedom to become whomever I want. It is a relief when you finally realise that. After four onehour sessions, Sue was pleased with our progress and suggested we come up with a safe word to use should we spiral into our old ways. A word that one of us could say to let the other person know

we were taking things too far. Two weeks later and we were sat like naughty children in front of Sue. So, don’t make your safe word “armadillo”. In the weeks that followed, the tension in our home melted away and the egg shells we were walking on were swept up and not under the carpet. We spoke, not to snap or accuse or demand, but to discuss, to question, to solve. Just small things at first, testing the waters. For me, a big one was that I had given up my job, but never once had we discussed what I would do for money. The shame of going from being financially independent to having to ask my new husband for money to buy some knickers or a can of coke ate away at my dignity. However, having spoken about it with Sue as our go-between, it became apparent he had assumed I would just take the money whenever I needed it. Right – joint bank account. It couldn't have been more simple. We still argue, there are still things that we have not spoken about, but it’s getting better. In the back of our minds Sue is always there, quietly guiding and reminding us of our

sessions. That brings us back together every time. n

Useful resources The Marriage Preparation Course (normally hosted by a church) Relate Army Welfare Service 02072 189000 The five love languages The Marriage Course (Up to eight evenings with a specific course for the military) The Marriage Foundation Care for the family The Couple Connection Lee Abbey keep-fit-marriage

spring 2016 Army&You 15

RELATIONSHIP BATTLES? THEY DON’T HAVE TO END UP IN THE COURT ROOM. Our unique mediation service is designed to give you emotional, legal and practical support when you need it the most, wherever you are. Talk to our expert team on 0191 243 8163. Help & advice available at our South Shields & Newcastle offices or online, email

For when the little things get serious. In an ideal world couples get married, have children and live happily ever after. But life is not always like that. As family law solicitors we take the time to listen to you and understand your circumstances. Whether it is a divorce, a civil partnership, relationship breakdown, prenuptial agreement or custody issue – we will guide you through what can be a very tough time. Hodge Jones & Allen family lawyers, for when things get serious.

Laila Bhunnoo Partner Head of Family Department

Kelly Christodoulou Associate Family Department

To speak to Laila or Kelly call 03300

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16 Army&You spring 2016



FINDING MIDDLE GROUND While there are a host of resources available to couples wanting to keep their relationship on the right tracks, it is an unfortunate fact of life that some partnerships will not stand the test of time. When dealing with the emotional, financial and practical stresses of a break-up causes friction, some people turn to mediation to navigate themselves towards a peaceful resolution. We spoke to a selection of industry experts to find out more about the service... What is mediation? Mediation is an effective way of resolving disputes without the need to go to court. It involves an independent mediator who helps both sides come to an agreement relating to their separation, children and finances. The mediator will help both parties to reach a solution and to arrive at an outcome that both are happy to accept. Mediation is a voluntary process and will only take place if both parties agree. Catherine Wheatcroft (Marketing Manager) Family Law Group

Who is it for? Mediation is for most people who have separation or post-separation issues to resolve about their children or children in their family, and about money and property – including pensions. Mary Shaw (Family and Collaborative Lawyer and Family Mediator) David Gray Solicitors

At what stage should couples consider it? As soon as they reach a point where they cannot effectively communicate or negotiate with each other over any areas of disagreement. Many couples will initially seek legal advice in order to establish their rights. At this stage they may also exchange information

and documentation so that each has a full picture of the other’s financial circumstances. In many straightforward situations, negotiations through solicitors can provide the best route to an agreement being reached, but in other circumstances the solicitor may refer their client to an independent mediator. Matthew Drew (Head of the Family Department and Finance Partner) Goughs Solicitors

What are the most common issues mediators help with? Financial matters such as how assets and income will be divided between the parties to enable them each to accommodate and support themselves and any children in the future; arrangements for the children including where they shall live and how they will divide their time between the parties. Deborah Prance (Partner, Solicitor and Mediator) Wheelers Solicitors

Why should couples consider mediation over court? Court proceedings are expensive, stressful and can be drawn out over many months. Mediation is less expensive, less stressful and takes much less time to reach a conclusion. It also gives couples the power to decide what

they want to do rather than that decision being in the hands of a judge. Kelly Christodoulou (Associate Solicitor) Hodge Jones & Allen

Does being the partner of a soldier pose any problems? No, mediators deal with people from all walks of life throughout the mediation process. Even if your partner is stationed away from home, sessions can take place over the phone or even by Skype. Mediators will try hard to use whatever tools are available to them to ensure that both parties can actively participate. Jill Cameron (Matrimonial Specialist) Scotts Wright Solicitors

I don’t want a divorce – can mediation save my marriage? Mediation is intended to help you make decisions about your children and your finances on separation. If there is a chance to save the relationship, you should consult a marriage guidance counsellor or family therapist first. Juliet Mayhew (Partner – Family) Trethowans Solicitors l People who qualify for legal aid do not pay for mediation. For details and more information about mediation, visit

For more answers from our mediation experts, log on to

spring 2016 Army&You 17

Full Range of Family Legal Services including: • Divorce & Separation • Matters relating to child arrangements • Matrimonial Finance & Property • 24 hour emergency number - 08000 320999

Mediation Services: Mediation can provide a more holistic and non-confrontational approach to achieving satisfactory outcomes for separating couples and their families. Offices in Nottingham, Wellingborough, Northampton, Milton Keynes, Derby, Chesterfield and Oakham

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We understand that service life can be challenging, particularly when it comes to divorce or separation. Which is why we offer a free initial consultation with our highly experienced family lawyers to discuss all aspects of a military divorce, including... • The divorce process • Issues regarding children • Financial matters

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Arrange your free, initial consultation at a time that suits you by visiting or by emailing

18 Army&You spring 2016

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Corsham Tel: 01249 712193 Devizes Tel: 01380 726913

Melksham Tel: 01225 703036 Trowbridge Tel: 01225 762683



In times of need How ABF The Soldiers’ Charity supports Service families…

BEN Rishton joined the Army in 2003, aged just 16. He says he had always wanted to be a soldier and “never thought twice about it”. Initially joining The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, he completed a tour of Afghanistan with the Royal Logistic Corps before transferring into the Fusiliers. Despite having fond memories of the camaraderie and friendships he made during his time in the Army, Ben was medically discharged in 2012 due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He recalls the difficulties of Army life of constant relocating and spending time away from his family. “The toughest thing was starting in new places,” he explained. “You’d be re-posted so always had to reassert yourself and start again.” LIVING APART Ben’s daughter was born two days after he returned from Afghanistan and, although married, he was living unaccompanied as “there wasn’t

much in the way of married quarters” in Abingdon, where he was based. After a brief spell living together in Tidworth, Ben was re-located to Bovington where he had to live unaccompanied again, which is where he says things just spiralled out of control. “I was on my own there for ten months and it just took its toll,” he explained. “When I got back to the battalion in Tidworth we started training for Afghanistan, but on the 18 November [2012] I tried to kill myself. I don’t remember a lot about it, but from then on I didn’t wear any uniform until I was discharged.” VITAL SUPPORT Ben made a successful transition to civvy street with the help of a Personnel Recovery Centre, but needed to relocate to Southampton in order to accept a job offer. After local authorities declined to assist, The Soldiers’ Charity awarded grants to cover the rental deposit and first month’s rent, which helped Ben and his young family find their feet. He said: “You never quite know what you need until it’s right on top of you. “If the funding hadn’t been there we wouldn’t have been able to move and make this one small step in the right direction.” l ABF The Soldiers’ Charity works with AFF to provide support to Army families around the UK. As the national charity of the British Army, it funds two posts within AFF and supports soldiers and their families in times of need. Visit to find out more. n

spring 2016 Army&You 19

In love with a Serviceman Photography student Natasha Brooks’ In Love with a Serviceman documentary examines the lives of ten wives and partners of soldiers based at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore, Rutland. She tells us more...


F THERE is one thing I learned while working on this project, it’s that military wives are not just wives. They are mothers, fathers, cooks, cleaners, carers, nurses, psychologists, heroines, teachers and travellers, writes Natasha (pictured below right). Taking on the role of military wife involves sacrifices but also huge pleasures.

A DIFFERENT WAY OF LIFE Although Natasha has no personal experience of being in a military family, her mother was the daughter of an RAF Serviceman and spent the first 11 years of her life moving from school to school. “I was always interested in listening to both hers and my grandparents’ stories about travelling the world and living as a military family,” she explained. “It is just something so different to what I am used to after living in the same house 20 Army&You spring 2016

for 18 years.” In October 2014, Natasha spent time talking to veterans about their time in the Services. “Although their stories were fascinating, what struck me most was the admiration they had for their wives,” she said. When Natasha spoke to and photographed the women in her project, she noticed the same stories appearing but from alternative points of view. “Whilst the men had explained how they were devastated missing their child’s first birthday, the women explained how it was heartbreaking having to tell their children that daddy wasn’t coming home for Christmas,” she added. Having set out

to photograph the younger military wives, Natasha realised as the project progressed that it was important to include older women who had been through the same experiences but without the help of today’s technology. She told Army&You: “The women photographed throughout this project had one thing in common but all had a completely different story to tell. “Through creating these images I hope to raise awareness of the difficulties many women face being part of a military family and show a more personal perspective of military life to those who had never given military life a second thought.” n @ArmyandYou


Home from Home


INCE opening in June 2013, often going through similar ordeals, Fisher House at Queen Elizabeth was priceless.” Hospital Birmingham has given more than 4,000 nights’ FEELS LIKE HOME accommodation to the families of Fisher House strives to move far away military patients. from the décor and atmosphere As all UK Service personnel of both a hospital and a hotel are treated at the hospital, to create a home where many families have had families can express The support to travel hundreds of themselves and their you get at miles to Birmingham emotions. Fisher House is – sometimes after Kerry Ford, who stayed receiving distressing there for 18 months, said: phenomenal news – so it was “The support that you decided that get from the team something had to be at Fisher House is done to enable them phenomenal. They to visit their loved are there to listen to ones regularly. you – it’s like having an extended family.” UNSTINTING Receiving no SUPPORT funding from the NHS When Squadron Leader Andy Shenton or MOD, Fisher House relies entirely was diagnosed with a brain tumour his on donations, with original large grants family had to journey more than 200 from Help for Heroes and the Fisher miles to an unfamiliar city with two House Foundation in the United States. young children. Justine Davy, head of fundraising Fisher House provided the perfect for QEHB Charity, said: “Since the accommodation for the duration of withdrawal from Afghanistan we Andy’s successful operation to remove have not seen a drop in the number the brain tumour and subsequent of families staying at Fisher House; treatment. our need as a charity to continue The facility’s community and pastoral fundraising and spread the word.” aspects had a profound effect on Andy, who said: “The unstinting support from l To find out more, visit the staff and fellow residents, who are n


Road to recovery: Stuart “Archie” Gemmell with his daughter at Fisher House

NEW NAME SAME AIM MY Daddy is a Soldier Adventures has relaunched as Little Troopers, becoming the first tri-Service children’s charity. Founded in 2011, it has grown to be a well-known source of support to children who have parents serving away, giving them a community where they all belong regardless of their home situation. Founder Louise Fetigan collected the Support to the Armed Forces Military Award in 2014 for raising awareness of the challenges faced by Service children. Enquiries started coming in from Royal Air Force and Royal Navy families for the expansion of support to include all three services, a long-held dream for Louise. She said: “I always wanted the charity to be tri-Service, but you have to start somewhere and I am glad to have had four years to get established before I felt confident expanding to include RAF and Royal Naval families. I am so excited we now support all Little Troopers of Regular and Reserve Forces.” Little Troopers provides resources to ease and aid separation periods between serving personnel and child. Separation packs, “send a hug” kits and a whole host of downloadable activities are available from the website. There’s also Little Troopers Treasures – an initiative providing tools to families to stay connected even when separated by miles. Louise said: “Time apart from the family has many effects on both children and their parents. Our aim is to be there to provide vital support to these families before they reach a crisis point.” l Next time your soldier is going away for a period of time, remember to check out Little Troopers at n spring 2016 Army&You 21


The skate escape Army wife Kerstine Reynolds tells us why ice hockey is the perfect sport for families on a posting to BATUS…


CE hockey is as popular in Canada as football is in and serving female soldiers of both nationalities are the UK. If you can imagine playing sevens rugby welcome. Ages range from 17 to late 40s. Children on a five-a-side football pitch whilst balancing on are well catered for too, with two teams known as the ice skates, you’re half way there. Wildcats playing in the local Pond Hockey League. As an intensive and enjoyable workout, ice hockey is It’s a community-orientated sport as our training is the ideal antidote to the “winter blues” and replaces overseen by volunteers – in our case two Canadian running for most of us as snow and ice make even military personnel. For the children’s teams there’s a walking tricky. It’s a great stress buster and, given good mix of British and locals, military and civilians that most of us arrive unable to and single soldiers as well as parents. skate at all, provides a unique In an isolated place like opportunity to learn a new Ralston, hockey brings skill. We ladies have two people together. teams – the Red and For those unable or Do you want to share how you Black Devils – and we not wanting to play spend your downtime with Army play against men’s there’s still lots to get families all over the world? We and civilian teams involved with, such from the local area. as scoring, playing would love to hear from you! Email Our membership of theme tunes and us at comes mainly from national anthems and British wives, but jobs at the arena café, Canadian wives The Puck Stop. n


22 Army&You spring 2016



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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 our hashtag #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories… Maggie, Ryan and their toddler, Alexander, have been an Army family for six years. Army life is very different for us as we live apart a lot of the time. Ryan lives half his life as a soldier, living on camp and working, and then travels home on his days off. For me, he could really be doing any job away from home as we don’t live within an Army community and I have no friends who have partners with the same job. Living this way makes it much harder when he is deployed or away on

exercise as it is even less time together as a family. One positive is that we know Ryan is in a secure job. As we live in our own home we can decorate it as we please and make changes. It really feels like a home. It has meant we can be closer to family and we can separate our lives from Ryan’s work so life isn’t just about the Army. The negatives are the uncertainty and how quickly things change. As we are not married and not living on camp we often feel forgotten about as a family. When Ryan was recently deployed for five

months there was no contact from the Army to find out how I was coping. I was working full-time as a social worker with a toddler to care for. There are things like the JCCC but without signposting or a deployment welfare pack, this can go largely unnoticed and I only found out about it after he returned. We have to cope as it’s our choice. It’s very hard though for Ryan to be away from

Alexander and, with another baby on the way, it’s scary to think I will have to care for two children on my own most of the time. Thankfully we have family nearby who help when they can which is amazing. The advice we would give to a new Army family in our situation is to be prepared for regular long periods apart from each other. You also need to accept that you will not get as much recognition or support as a married couple who live on camp.

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

spring 2016 Army&You 25


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How I met my soldier there in JENELLE is Australian and was living ng man you a with 1994 when she was going out in the Australian Army called Harry. who He introduced her to “pommy” Patrick y. Arm ish Brit the was on an exchange from he that and ne She thought his accent was divi sounded like a dapper 007 accomplice. became Soon after Patrick’s return home they with rsed rspe inte , platonic bluey pen pals a few technologically-advanced faxing and ths later expensive telephone calls, until 18 mon decided to Jenelle – after ending it with Harry – visit the UK and teach for a year. 6. They are currently question and they married in April 199 Four months on Patrick popped the Kieran and Piers. ting in Jamaica and have two children, enjoying an extended three-year pos

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Mastering military moves Service spouse Lisa Rogerson was almost born in the back of a removal lorry. Her father worked for Pickfords as well as having his own removal company and he drove her mother to hospital in the van when she went into labour. Now on her 16th house, Lisa has used her wealth of experience to put together her top 10 tips for a military move…

28 Army&You spring 2016

1. No two SFAs are ever the same: When you apply, see if there is a floorplan available so that, if necessary, you can arrange storage (at your own expense). 2. De-clutter: eBay, Gumtree, car boot sales or charity shops are good ways to rid your home of unwanted items. 3. Children’s schools: Have you found a school place and do you need to buy new uniform? 4. Your car: It’s worth checking tyres/service/MOT and getting it booked in before you move. 5. Change of address: Set up mail redirection with Royal Mail at least a week in advance to ensure you don’t miss anyone. 6. Utilities: Don’t forget to tell utility providers when you are moving out and where you are moving to so that it is all switched in time. 7. Online food shop: It’s a great idea to place an order to be delivered to your new home; you

won’t feel like shopping with all the unpacking to be done. 8. Returns: It’s a good time to start returning anything you have borrowed and retrieve items you have lent out. 9. Book a pre-move-out appointment: An absolute must. You will find out all the jobs that will need doing to ensure you are not charged on move-out. 10. Organise: a removal day survival pack - A kettle, loo roll, cleaning equipment and the allimportant tea, coffee, milk, sugar and biscuits for the removal team. These points are in no particular order. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” l Lisa is writing a full guide for the run up to moving and the moving day itself. Email lisa. for details. n



QUICK FACTS ON AFF’S MOVE-IN SURVEY MORE than half of the 640 families who filled in AFF’s move-in survey said their property was unclean when they moved in, with almost a quarter of you reporting faults that made it uninhabitable. Further results showed: l Those moving in after the

Challenging costs AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder on the new SFA charges…


LL families living in SFA should have now received a letter confirming the monthly charge and – if it is to increase – the time it will take, in subsequent years, until it reaches the final amount. This is known as the CAAS band. You should have all the information you need to know on how the charges have been calculated, data for your SFA, and how to challenge the process if you feel the information or charge is incorrect. If you don’t, contact CarillionAmey (CA) as soon as you can.

l There

CHALLENGING YOUR NEW CAAS BAND l You have 28 working days to challenge. CA has 28 working days to respond l A challenge is an assertion by you that the scale, condition or location is wrong, and DIO need to correct their facts l Ask your soldier to look at JSP 464 for details or find more at l Don’t challenge if it is an issue with a repair or allocation l Submit your challenge to CAASchallenges@ l Each challenge will be assessed; not every challenge will need a visit to your SFA

The new charges will go live on 1 April.

are three possible results to the facts recorded by DIO: 4 They are correct; challenge not upheld 4 They are wrong, but doesn’t materially affect the band; data amended only 4 They are wrong resulting in change to the charge, data and JPA l The result could be down or up a band l Successful challenges may result in a change to more than one property – all families affected will be notified l If you are not happy with the outcome, you can appeal.

walkaway cleaning scheme recorded the highest rates of uncleanliness. l Fewer than 50 per cent of you reported that the Accommodation Officer (AO) used the tick sheet or showed you around the house. l In 94 per cent of cases where uninhabitable faults were found, the AO took no action and expected the family to move in regardless. l Almost nine-out-of-10 families said the faults weren’t rectified within CA’s 24-hour window – a contractual obligation. l 63 per cent of you weren’t given a record of the faults. l Fewer than a third were shown how the boiler works or where the stopcock was. l Two-thirds said their patios and paths were not swept or weed-free, a basic requirement of the move-in. AFF is pleased that CA has put in place an action plan to address the points above. Regardless of how the property was left, CA has a contractual obligation to bring all SFA up to standard in time for the next family. If you have problems at move-in, make an official complaint (getting a complaints reference number) by calling 0800 707 6000 or emailing, or contact AFF’s Housing Specialist at

IF YOU ARE OVERSEAS Families overseas will see a two CAAS band reduction to reflect enhancements to the overseas offer. In Germany, your SFA is still on the old fourtier grading system but you will see a reduction of one grade to reflect the enhancement to the overseas offer. CONFUSED OR WORRIED? Please contact me by email at uk and I will do my best to help. n spring 2016 Army&You 29

My body was a machine, I trained three times a day and I was the strongest at my sport in the world 30 Army&You spring 2016



Golden girl Olympic gold medallist and TV presenter Amy Williams fell in love with soldier Craig Ham after meeting on a dating site and the couple married last year (pictured below). Army&You caught up with the skeleton champion to find out how she’s finding life as a military wife…

Why do you think you were such a good match? There’s quite an understanding between a military person and an athlete. You are away a lot, the lifestyle is similar – the pride and self-discipline. You know what you’re trying to achieve – we’re that same kind of mentality. Has your background helped you cope when you and Craig are apart? Although I’d retired as an athlete when we got together I was used to being away, I’d spent six months of my life away competing. After two months of being together he was straight off to Afghanistan. I think a lot of people would hate that, but I’ve done it my whole life so you just crack on and try not to think about it too much. Is it more difficult being the one who’s left behind? When you’re away you’re always wondering what’s happening back home. I wrote letters to him all the time; a few sentences each day. I’d already sent a letter so when Craig got out to Afghanistan it was waiting for him – my mum used to do that for me when I was competing. She would send it to whichever hotel I was staying at and it made me feel instantly “at home”. The hard thing about being back home is when you’re promised a phone call and it doesn’t happen – you think the worst. How much does living in your own home help to keep things “normal”? Just before we got married Craig moved to Yeovilton so we live in Bath within an

hour’s drive. If he’s posted we’d live in a quarter but luckily at the moment we can live in the family home. I feel like I have done my athletics career and I want to support him. I’ll go wherever he needs to go. How does your new career as a TV presenter and commentator fit in with Army life? My job and my life is everywhere. I could be away a few times a week, in a hotel here and there, it really depends what it is. If it’s commentating for the BBC I could be away for a month. It never works out that we’re away at the same time. We’re always out of sync! We moved house recently and I had to do all the packing and moving because he was in Kenya. He got back and we had one hour together, so I gave him the keys, a list of jobs to do and said “see ya”. I’ve missed a lot of the mess events because I’ve been working. It was really nice meeting the military girlfriends and wives at our wedding. They said “if you want to talk, we’re here” and that was really sweet. If you’ve never been exposed to your partner being away I think that’s a great support network. Now you’ve retired from skeleton, how do you get your thrills? The Gadget Show gets me doing some quite wacky stuff and sometimes I think “what am I doing, I could really hurt myself”. When skeleton was my job I didn’t really think about it, it just became part of my life. I do miss competing. My body was a machine, I trained three times a day and I was the strongest at my sport in the world. I miss physically pushing myself but I accept that my body is broken. All I do now is yoga and the odd shuffle run. Does commentating help you stay in touch with the ice? It’s a love-hate thing. You’re so close to your sport yet you’re so far away. You’ve still got to perform in your two minute slot when the camera is live but you’re not physically beating yourself every day – you can have a glass of wine at the end of it. Has Craig had a go at a skeleton run? Not yet! He didn’t know me when I was competing but I still think he needs to have a go! n spring 2016 Army&You 31

Main image: James McFarland; Wedding image: Kerry James

Army&You: Tell us more about how you met. Amy Williams: I literally went on Tinder for one day; Craig had only been on it for two days. You get matched with someone in your location and we only matched because I was on a train to Bath and he was in Odiham, so it was quite funny. We got chatting and he took me on a date the next day, so we deleted Tinder and that was it!




HE me of two years ago would have spat out her mouthful of vino if anyone had said ‘you’re going to run a marathon one day’, writes Nikki on her blog, nikkisrunninglondon. “I literally couldn’t run for 30 seconds. Then, in April 2014, my healthy, gorgeous mum was diagnosed with bowel cancer. I felt completely helpless and needed to do something. I decided to run the Race for Life and wanted to actually run it. So I joined the gym and started training.” SETTING MINI GOALS Nikki began by running for 30 seconds, then walking for 30 and repeating, gradually increasing the length of time and distance. “By race day I was up to 5k and feeling proud of myself,” she added. Spurred on by this success, Nikki 32 Army&You spring 2016

signed up for her first 10k – not an easy task when fitted around two young children and a husband often away. “I was really beginning to love running,” she continued. “I ran the 10k in just over an hour and to celebrate I entered a half marathon. Are you getting an idea of the sort of person I am? “By the time I ran the Bath Half Marathon, I had lost more than two stone and, aged 34, was the fittest I had ever been. “On the day, I ran my socks off. It hurt, the last few miles were horrendous, but I loved it. I had so much support from those close to me and soon signed up for a marathon.”

she explained. “The pressure of training was too much when everything else was already such a struggle. I stopped eating well and looking after myself. “After some rest I needed something to get me back out there.”

FAMILY TRAGEDY In April 2015, Nikki’s mother lost her cancer battle and it wasn’t until months later that she realised she was a mess, emotionally and physically. “I made the decision to withdraw from the Bournemouth Marathon,”

A MARATHON PLACE “Along came my kick up the arse! I had applied to Bowel Cancer UK for one of its London Marathon charity places. “Sat on a train, I picked up my voicemail to hear someone offering me a place. I burst into tears. Here was the chance to run the most famous marathon in the world for a charity that means so much to me.” Nikki’s training is now in full swing and she encourages others to take up running. “For anyone just starting, download the 'couch to 5k' app. Every time you go that bit further, the feeling you get is so worth it. Running was my sanctuary during mum’s illness and when I run London I’m determined to smash it. This one’s for you, mum.” n @ArmyandYou


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“The A r has bee my faultless n ”

Supporting hearts & minds Michelle Rose had always just ‘got on with Army life’ until the day she found out that her second child was to be born with a serious heart defect. Army&You found out what support she received…


34 Army&You spring 2016

N LATE September 2014, Michelle underwent a 20-week scan and received the news that her baby had a suspected heart condition. “Our tiny baby had double inlet left ventricle and transposition of the great arteries, something I openly admit I had never heard of before,” she explained. “My husband Ashley was still in Germany and I couldn’t string two words together on the phone. He needed to speak with the specialists to be given the same information I had so we could make a decision about the pregnancy.”

make things easier for the family. “When our baby Elijah was born, Ashley had several weeks off as we weren’t sure how quickly his operations would be needed,” she added. “Initially the medical team thought he would have several operations in his first year, but he has defied us all so far. “Every step of the way the Army has been faultless – not just for Ashley but for me as well. “They have always said if I was ever struggling or worried when Ashley is away they are there for me.”

ARMY SUPPORT Normally, a pregnancy in question under 24-weeks is not considered an emergency for a soldier to return home. Ashley’s seniors thought differently and sent him home on the first available flight. Michelle said: “This gave us muchneeded time to come to terms with what we had been told and to make a decision. “They kept in regular contact with us, asking if there was anything they could do to support us. It was hard for Ashley, but I cannot fault the support network he had, both from his peers and his seniors. Knowing that he was in good hands helped ease the worry for me.” Michelle and Ashley decided to carry on with the pregnancy with Ashley returning home for all the check-up appointments. He was sent on UK-based training to

THE FUTURE The Rose family now live in Newcastle with support right on their doorstep. Elijah is one and has so far only had his pre-op; his next operation is due soon. Michelle said: “Thankfully, I don’t need to worry about my husband not being around because I know he will be – and the Army will be right there with us.” n MORE INFORMATION l The British Heart Foundation has written a booklet for parents on double inlet ventricle ( or call the Heart Helpline on 0300 330 3311) l Contact a Family provides support for children with disabilities (www.cafamily. or 0808 808 3555) l Little Hearts Matter ( l Lagan’s Foundation ( @ArmyandYou


YOUNG CARERS: SEEK AND SUPPORT Does your child help look after a family member with an additional need or disability? Do they do the cooking, cleaning, help with washing and dressing or provide emotional support? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, your child is a young carer. AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross tells us more…


T IS estimated that there are 700,000 young carers in the UK and a significant number of these are children under nine years old. There are potentially a substantial number within the Service community. Often children don’t consider themselves as carers because it’s something they have always done. They can miss out on just being children and socialising with their peers, and this may impact on their education, health and wellbeing. It is therefore vitally important that we identify these youngsters and ensure that they get the support they need. THE REALITY Sky is 14-years-old and is a carer for her younger sister Amber (both pictured right), who has complex additional needs. Recently, she has also been helping her mum look after her dad, who has undergone major heart surgery. Sky spoke to her parents about feeling isolated at school because she is the only Service child in her class and the only child that has a sibling with additional needs. She finds it difficult to talk to her friends about her sister in case they judge her or treat her differently. Sky’s mum contacted me to discuss the support available in their area. There is national support for young carers, but nothing specifically available for Service children as yet, although there are initiatives being discussed.

Paul Watson, an ex-Forces specialist community public health nurse, has just set up a support group called Military Young Carers. Follow the group on Facebook or Twitter @Milyoungcarers. SHORT BREAKS FOR CARERS SSAFA runs Siblings and Young Carers Holidays for children aged 8-12. This year’s holiday will be in Staffordshire from 29 May – 4 June. Find out more by calling SSAFA on 0207 463 9315. The Royal British Legion also runs adventure breaks. If your young carer is aged between 12-17, they may be eligible. Call 0808 802 8080. If you are a carer in Surrey and are registered with an NHS GP, make sure you ask them about carers’ prescriptions and carers’ breaks because you may be eligible. Wiltshire also provides the Breaks Prescription Scheme via your NHS GP practice. For more advice, contact me at n

SOURCES OF SUPPORT l Search for “young carers” at NHS Choices l Carers (under 18) l The Children’s Society l Carers Trust l Carers UK l NI crossroads l Army Welfare Service 0207 218 9000 l SSAFA

spring 2016 Army&You 35

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Domestic abuse: what is being done to support you?


OMESTIC abuse is a difficult and sensitive subject to discuss. In spring 2015’s Army&You, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross wrote an article about the support available to you or someone you know. Since then, the Army and MOD have been working hard behind the scenes. A recent development is the introduction of the Domestic abuse: guidance and support for the armed forces community webpage on This comprehensive guide offers information on the support available for those affected by domestic abuse both in the UK and overseas. The Army recognises the importance of supporting victims, whether male, female, serving personnel or family members and JSP913 has been updated to reflect this. A recent publicity campaign has increased awareness, highlighting that domestic abuse in the military community is not a private matter and should not be condoned. Reassuringly, the Army has established a Domestic Abuse Steering Group that meets

quarterly; guidance and direction includes enhanced training to unit welfare officers and presentations, including a DVD, which is now given to brigades. A number of other initiatives are being scoped, including different supportstaff training methods for Army welfare workers and a possible future perpetrator programme. CONCERNED ABOUT A FAMILY OR FRIEND? If you suspect a friend or neighbour is a victim of domestic abuse, advice is available at uk and but in an emergency, always call 999. See our extended article at domesticabuse – there are more avenues of support on the AFF website ( or email Karen at additionalneeds@


In an emergency, always call 999

POSTED OVERSEAS? FOR many families the thought of an overseas posting, particularly to warmer climes, is an attractive opportunity. However, if you have a family member with an additional need or a disability, including chronic and acute illness, not all bases will be able to offer the medical, educational or social care that you receive in the UK. The MOD has a responsibility to make sure it can provide support for your family member overseas. Your soldier has a responsibly to ensure that this information is provided to their chain of command. WHAT SHOULD YOU DO? When you first hear that you may be assigned overseas, start your research to see what support is available. Your soldier can access information through the location directory on the Defence Intranet MS jobs site. The chain of command at the overseas location will also hold information. Your local HIVE will also be able to guide you. GET THOSE FORMS FILLED IN It’s important for your soldier to declare any additional needs that the family have on their Personal Posting Preference form. Registering an additional need/disability is mandatory; it’s therefore advisable to complete the carer management notification form in AGAI 108. This information will be sent to the Army Personnel Centre and kept in your soldier’s record of service. For information on registering and to download copies of AGAI 108 and JSP 820, visit or email

A DATE FOR YOUR DIARY IF YOU’RE a Service household and have a family member with an additional need or disability, the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum Conference in London on 20 June is for you. There are opportunities to hear from experts, ask questions to the chain of command and agencies and browse stands during an extended lunch. A meet and greet will be held the night before at the Union Jack Club in Waterloo. This includes overnight accommodation, evening meal and transport to the event and is free to families attending the conference. To secure your place, contact SSAFA on 0207 463 9315 or visit

spring 2016 Army&You 37



Branching out in business Army spouses frequently have to overcome barriers to sustaining continuous and rewarding employment that works around the military lifestyle. For some of you, the solution is to adapt your existing skills to set up your own business. AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin spoke to two Army spouses who have done just this...

38 Army&You spring 2016

LINDA (pictured right) served for 17 years in the Army before taking redundancy. She’s now a swimming instructor, specialising in baby and toddler lessons. Her company, Lillypads, is in its second term and already teaches 160 swimmers per week with plans for expansion this year. ADAPTING YOUR SKILL SET Many of the skills Linda had previously learnt in the Army have been adapted to her business. “The Armed Forces gave me confidence in talking in front of people and experience in managing projects so when it came to starting She told us: “My previous role involved a my own business I had a skill set that made it number of skills which I have been able to less daunting,” she explained. “As an Army transfer including multi-tasking, flexibility, spouse you have to be a little outgoing adaptability, being able to work on my and happy to chat to new people, own and as part of a team.” USEFUL LINKS otherwise it can be a lonely life as supportingtheunsunghero we move around so much. BE YOUR OWN BOSS “This definitely helps me to AFF has been working in build up a rapport with new partnership with the University www.rblilifeworks customers which is an important of Wolverhampton to promote part of what I do.” the Unsung Hero Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme WORKING TO SUIT YOU at our roadshows in Catterick and Sharon made the decision to work for Stafford. herself when her 19-year police career came to The free course offers training and mentoring an end due to injury. support to the families of serving personnel, Encouraged by the fact that she could choose veterans and Reservists. her own hours of work to suit her family needs, she set up The Shape Clinic, offering nonl If you’re interested in setting up or growing surgical body shaping – quite a change from your own business, visit the useful links for police work. more details or contact me at n


THREE GINGERS Army spouse and entrepreneur Rosalind Oram explains how a Citroen changed her life...


MET my husband at law school. We both lived and worked in civvy street until he joined the Army Legal Service. My career dwindled after a couple of postings and having our two ginger-headed (this is key) boys. I wanted a project that was mine and would give me something new to focus on. I started thinking about low-risk, transportable businesses that I could feel enthusiastic about. After a lot of research we bought Horace, a 1973 Citroen H van and set up Three Gingers – a mobile coffee and cocktail bar. We’ve been running for almost a year and have attended everything from farmers’ markets to festivals and cocktail parties. The idea is that as my husband is posted, we can trundle behind in Horace and set up wherever we find ourselves. The work is mainly evenings and weekends, so he gets some time with the children and I don’t have to consider childcare costs. WHAT HAVE I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY? l Research the market – could I offer something different? l Research current trends and whether the business

would be adaptable l Be a bit bold – one event ended up being a lot larger than anticipated but I took on some additional help (from some wonderful Army wives) and it worked out! I’ve adapted skills from my previous job such as being financially savvy, networking and good organisation. I recommend running your own business to other spouses. I love having my own venture where I meet lots of people and work at fun events. It also helps establish links within our community which makes the family feel grounded. n

Find out more about Three Gingers at Picture: Aimee Smith


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steps to get MoneyFit ne. financially secure is important to everyo ng bei and ing sav , ney mo r you ing Manag ticularly that can make balancing budgets par Military life brings specific challenges tomised cus s vide pro at MoneyForce, a website that living difficult. Army&You spoke to the team are you plan your finances better, both while support to help you and your soldier e’s what they advise… the Army life and once you leave. Her

Review your regular direct debits and standing orders

Be strict. Ask yourself, do we use our TV subscriptions as much as we thought, or would a Freeview box do? Do we need these insurances, are there gaps or are we duplicating? The key is to be realistic. Are you using your gym or club membership enough to make it worthwhile? Once you’ve decided which contracts you really need, make sure you are getting the best deal.


Get the best deal on all your regular contracts

There are specialist sites that make this easier for utilities, home insurance, mobile phones and car insurance. Check out the benefits of combining your phone, TV and broadband, as this could get you a much better deal. Don’t be afraid to shop around – this can take time, but it’s worth doing.


Start as you mean to go on Don’t spend what you don’t have and avoid running up debt on credit and store cards. The last thing you want is to be in the red and have to pay interest on debt. Use the MoneyForce budget planner to see how much money you have left after your expenses.


Aim to pay off your credit cards in full each month

Interest and charges quickly add up, so use the MoneyForce credit card calculator to see how much you could save by paying a little more each month.


Make sure your savings are working hard

Check the interest rate on your savings. These days, interest rates are low, while inflation is higher so money held in bank accounts or even tax-efficient cash ISAs is unlikely to be keeping pace with inflation. If you’ve got your emergency savings sorted and are saving for the longer-term, ask yourself whether you can afford to invest in a stocks and shares ISA. Bear in mind this can go down as well as up and may be worth less than you invested depending on how it performs. Whatever your decision, make sure that any money you do keep in savings accounts is getting the best possible interest rate.

Also from MoneyForce... HOMEFINDER: Looking to buy a property? This tool compares the cost of buying with renting, and tells you what sort of property you can afford. MONEYFIT CHALLENGE: Assesses your financial fitness in debt, savings, budgeting, planning and protection and gives you a personalised action plan. Visit for more spring 2016 Army&You 41

MoneyForce is delivered by The Royal British Legion in partnership with the Ministry of Defence and with the support of the Standard Life Charitable Trust which has funded the project.



Contract concessions for mobile military families Phone firms make postings pledge to Service households


EING part of a community known for faithfully following the flag, British military families are well-versed in shipping themselves and their lives wherever in the world they are needed. Sitting alongside each military move’s “nuts and bolts” are a host of financial factors to be taken into consideration. Until recently, one of those factors – namely what to do with existing mobile phone contracts – was a source of frustration for many of you. Having agreed lengthy contracts in one location, some of you posted to a different region, country or even continent were finding yourselves unable to access your mobile network. Even worse, early cancellation of the nowuseless agreements entailed paying penalty fees that could 42 Army&You spring 2016

run into hundreds of pounds. AFF has been highlighting these issues for some time, gathering evidence from you to put to policy makers and service providers. And now, thanks to cooperation between the Ministry of Defence and the likes of Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, the nomadic nature of Service life is being formally recognised by the nation’s major providers. SALUTING SERVICE New policies being rolled out will allow you to suspend contracts for up to two years during overseas postings. Kate McCullough, AFF’s Covenant Liaison, explained that the changes are an important step in ensuring that Armed Forces families are not left out of pocket as a result of their relationship with the military. “People use mobiles so

much these days and if you are posted, then a mobile phone can be a lifeline which enables you to maintain contact,” she said. “What families have wanted is the flexibility to be able to suspend contracts. “They don’t want anything extra – they just don’t want to be disadvantaged and they don’t want to have the stress of wondering how they can get out of a contract or how much it is going to cost them if they can’t.” FORCES-FRIENDLY Under the offers being provided by Britain’s main networks, hundreds of

Service families will be able to suspend their contracts during overseas postings. Vodafone military customers and three of their family members, for example, will now be able to put their contracts on hold for up to two years, with separate arrangements in place for those posted for a greater period. The company signed the Corporate Covenant in March 2015 and has dedicated staff in its call centre to deal with queries from those serving in the Armed Forces. Three has granted spouses or partners of those assigned overseas for up to 12 months the right to suspend their contracts. EE is offering a similar deal and has extended the concession to family members accompanying soldiers on overseas postings. The company has pledged to continue to review its offers and has made plans to sign up to the Corporate Covenant. O2 has promised to develop its own proposals to ensure Armed Forces families are not penalised. ROUNDED RECOGNITION In addition to ensuring that those of you already signed up to contracts are not disadvantaged, the MOD is looking at wider measures to ensure equality if you are posted abroad. That includes considering ease of access to mortgages, credit and financial services. Kate added: “Families living overseas, for instance in Germany, can struggle to take out contracts because they have been with a German provider or don’t have a credit rating in this country.” n

MOBILE MATTERS: GET INVOLVED Have you experienced problems suspending a phone contract? Has a network operator been helpful in making allowances during an overseas posting? Share your story with AFF by emailing Kate McCullough (




Homework heaven

HOMEWORK is an accepted part of every child’s schooling. But in some households it can feel like a never-ending fight to get your children to focus, particularly when your soldier is away or working long hours and there’s only one parent at home. However, it doesn’t have to become a battle. Professor Matt Sanders has some advice: Try to ensure there’s a set, regular time for homework that fits in around your schedule and other commitments such as sport or after-school activities.


Homework should come at a time after your child has had a chance to relax after arriving home and before they are allowed to play or watch television. Relaxing immediately after school is as important for children as it is for adults who want to wind down after work. Give your child an afternoon snack and use that time to

By being prepared, you can help your child develop positive homework habits, which in turn will reduce the stress for you, your child and the rest of the family. n


Do you need to contact the Ombudsman? 44 Army&You spring 2016

While children don’t have to have absolute quiet when working, they should have a homework area that has space, is well lit, and is free from obvious distractions.


If your child wants your opinion on how good their homework is, don’t feel that you have to make sure the work is perfect before they hand it in. They may feel discouraged if you point out all the spelling and punctuation mistakes. Instead, say something positive and, if you suggest corrections, just choose one or two mistakes.


Picture: Nicci Shayler

find out what their homework tasks are, whether they need any special materials for projects, and when it needs to be ready.


If you feel you have been treated unfairly in the school admissions and appeals process, the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) may be able to help. Not all types of school come under its remit so check the organisation’s report outlining how it helps. This report is on the education pages at or call the LGO helpline on 0300 061 0614. @ArmyandYou


SCHOOL APPEALS: MAKING YOUR CASE Appealing for a school place is no easy task. It can be time consuming and is right up there near the top of the stress scale. One mum, Heather Cooper, spoke to Army&You about making an appeal…


UR posting came during the application process for our younger child to start school last September, but we also needed a school place for our older child. This meant we faced two different processes. IN-YEAR ADMISSIONS Still living 300 miles away, we made our applications with no real knowledge of the schools we were applying for. I spent ages waiting for a reply from the council regarding our older child’s place. It wasn’t until AFF recommended I carefully check in-year admissions for the specific school that I discovered they dealt with this directly. I am extremely grateful to AFF for suggesting this because otherwise I think I would still be waiting for a response. NO PLACE We moved at Easter and our older child started their new school, but on national offer day a month later, our youngest was not offered a reception place at the same school. We were also unsuccessful in the second application round. CUTTING IT FINE Our appeal was heard as the school holidays began in the last week of July. We finally got to talk to a panel of three human beings who listened carefully to our arguments which I had spent hours preparing. Thankfully, they agreed to override the school’s normal admissions number and provide a place. They considered everything

including the needs of the other children in the school and the demands of Service life, but I think the main factor was keeping siblings together. THE RULES If you wish to appeal, details of how to do this will be on the notification letter from your local authority. l You can appeal for a place to more than one school, but only to each school once. l You don’t have to turn down the place offered by the LA in order to appeal; the process is independent. l Take copies of everything you send to the LA and ask them to notify you by email as well as by post, particularly if you are moving house. l Apply to go on the waiting list for preferred schools. l The appeal hearing is a pre-set date for a large number of appeals for many different schools; don’t worry that everyone there needs a place at the same school as you! l You don’t have to send your child to the allocated school while you wait for a hearing. GETTING HELP AFF recognises that this is something many of you face. Our website, www., contains more details on admissions and appeals. For more information, you can email Lucy Scott, Education & Childcare Specialist, at USEFUL INFO l Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) enquiries@ l Search for “school admissions” n

CEAS: better staffed than ever Ever wondered who answers the phone or replies to your email at the MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS)? Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, met Donna McCartney, parent support officer for Scotland, to find out more… DONNA explained that CEAS has benefited from recent investment. “The helpline hours have increased, we have more specialist admin staff at the Upavon head office and the number of parent support officers has doubled nationally. The service is better staffed than ever,” she said. GETTING OUT AND ABOUT Donna has knowledge and experience of the different policies and terminology used in Scottish education. She explained: “I’m hoping to get out and about to meet Service families at community events to offer advice in an informal setting so that preventative help can be given. “I have taught in England and Wales and I have a particular interest in additional educational needs as this is where my professional experience lies. I’m also completing my masters in inclusive and special education.” CONTACT CEAS If you don’t catch Donna or any of the parent support officers at an event, you can call the CEAS helpline. Routine enquires such as claiming Continuity of Education Allowance and Education Impact Statements for retention of SFA quarters can be done via this route. The team can explain the procedure and send relevant paperwork. “I handle casework for families moving to, or currently living in Scotland,” said Donna. “This may involve difficulties finding school places, issues with packages of support for children with additional needs or advocacy work.”

l Contact CEAS on 01980 618244 or enquiries@ or contact Lucy at n spring 2016 Army&You 45


Street dance success

Being part of an Army family has its challenges and, alongside joining a new school, one of the biggest is continuing hobbies. One mum tells us how her children find their fun on the dancefloor…


AVING enjoyed street dance classes whilst on a posting to Inverness, Cameron (5), Molly (6), mum Lyanne and family moved to Middle Wallop in Hampshire and had to find a new dance school to join. Following the move, Charlie Sapey, from Integr8 dance school supported them both to ensure their dancing skills continued. She quickly built up a bond and helped Molly train for the Street Dance World Championships. Under her guidance, the sibling superstars went on to win the BDO South Coast Championships. They have

46 Army&You spring 2016

also both entered the and the activities held UDO European specifically for What have your and World Armed Forces youngsters achieved Championships children. alongside the this year. She said: challenges of Army More “Dance not life? We would love importantly, only challenges to hear! Email us at carrying on their them physically, hobby in a new but helps with location has their confidence enabled the and social skills. children to “They have make friends attended in the area. Lyanne feels it gives her children another view on life, aside from school

not just competitions but workshops held by well-known dancers such as Poppin Ron, Turbo, Flawless and more. “Each one teaches in a different style, interacts with the children differently and is yet another opportunity for the child to learn.” Continuation of hobbies is extremely important to Army children as it provides a bit of stability in an ever-changing world for them. It gives them confidence, shows them commitment and gives them something to be proud of. Just look at these two and what they have achieved at such a young age – Army kids can achieve too. n



MAKE YOUR OWN ZOO When her husband was posted to Afghanistan for a year in 2011, Tracey Radford started writing a blog. It quickly became a PLACE to share new craft ideas and led to her first book, Make your own zoo. It features 35 projects for you and your kids TO make using recycled cardboard packaging. Tracey TELLS US more... What gave you the inspiration?

How have you found the process whilst juggling Army life? Although I was making things with the kids, the crafting and the writing gave me a focus away from the daily routine. It was a great distraction too. Like many Army spouses who find themselves looking for work while juggling Army life and kids, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do from home. Craft fits the bill for me. I develop and write projects when the kids are at school, so I can be totally flexible. The only

downside is our kitchen is always full of cardboard.

What advice do you have for other Army families wanting to do something creative?


I’d say go for it. This whole process has made me realise it is possible to turn a hobby into much more, especially if it’s something you’re passionate about. My advice would be to explore ways of developing skills and getting out there. Sites like Etsy are great for starting up a small craft business and testing the water – and social media platforms are good for meeting likeminded makers and spreading the word.

Have you had support from friends and family? They’ve been brilliant – I just wish they weren’t so far away. Both our families live in Northern Ireland.

What’s next? I’ve started doing some workshops to promote my book and it’s been great seeing kids making animals and giving them their own unique twist. That’s what it’s all about really – promoting creativity, having fun and getting a bit messy. I’m taking it slowly at the moment as my husband’s back in Afghanistan until April. I’d maybe like to get going with a farm project or something along those lines.

Make Your Own Zoo is published by CICO Books (£12.99)

I NEVER set out to write a book, it was an idea that slowly took shape as our animal collection grew. I’ve always loved all kinds of craft, and was using a fantastic kids’ book I’d found in a charity shop to make things with my daughter Daisy. It got me thinking about using stuff we had lying about at home to make animals. So we started with a lion, a lioness, then a zebra and a giraffe. The more we made the more ideas we had. I shared each project on my blog and the zoo started expanding! As it did, I could see people were picking up the projects on social media, and that got me thinking about a book. I took a deep breath and started approaching publishers.

spring 2016 Army&You 47




HILE many soldiers adapt quickly to posttour life, for some the journey home marks the start of

a new battle. Much has been written about the nightmares, insomnia and flashbacks that can besiege sufferers of the most severe forms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Less is said about the agonising dilemmas faced by their families. LIVING WITH PTSD a support In Liverpool, I met Sue McInally, founder of Angels. PTSD bat Com d calle s group for military carer Ireland ern North in tours 13 d serve Sue’s husband Joe . arged disch cally before he was medi terrors, For years he experienced paralysing night Joe’s e ignor to best her did but said nothing. Sue d their sometimes compulsive behaviour and shiel s. mood late children from his deso PTSD, “For the 14 years that we didn’t know he had toms,” symp evel low-l the of lot a he certainly showed al norm ed seem all It it. with on Sue said. “We just got to us.” that he was When Joe’s flashbacks became so severe realised Sue k, attac r unde was e convinced their hous injury and cal ologi psych re seve a he was suffering from help. began a quest to find OPENING UP carers on its Combat PTSD Angels has more than 230 . private Facebook page the For many members, the biggest concern is ren. child their on viour beha er’s impact of their partn the in d serve Keith and husb e Toni Collard, whos agreed to Falklands and the Gulf War, said they had t PTSD so abou e Grac hter daug g educate their youn . viour beha ile volat his d she would understan we what that’s – py’ Grum ‘Mr “We’ve always said has he when “So said. Toni e,” call PTSD in our hous when , alone left be to s need he e his moments wher Aftershock: the untold story of surviving peace

48 Army&You summer 2015


he is quite aggressive, when he is rude, I used to take Grace away and say: ‘Oh, it’s Mr Grumpy, we need to give him some Daddy space.’” IMPROVING PICTURE The MOD runs out-patient clinics at Departments of Community Mental Health s across the UK and in some overseas base set has NHS for serving personnel. The up a Veterans Mental Health Network in England to better coordinate support for Northern ex-Forces, with similar services in Scotland, Ireland and Wales. t While services are improving, there is no doub for ort supp ical that the strongest pillar of psycholog ses spou ts, paren Britain’s military is a hidden army of and partners. SUPPORT IS OUT THERE mental If you think your soldier is showing signs of help: seek to health issues, use the following links of chain their to l If your soldier is serving, talk r or office re command, medical officer, unit welfa Army Welfare Service l The Ripple Pond: www.theripple nd of Brothers: l Help for Heroes Band of Sisters/Ba l The Big White Wall: l Combat Stress: 24-hour helpline 0800 138 1619 l Hidden Wounds (Help for Heroes): 0808 2020 144 l Time to Change: l The Warrior Programme: l AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist: additional l Combat PTSD Angels: via www. n

is published by Portobello Books. For more inform

ation, visit



Perfect union As a nation, Wales rallies around more than just its rugby team. It also has a passion for supporting resident Service personnel and their families. Annabel Ingram (pictured right), one of AFF’s UK regional managers, explains more…

WHETHER you are posted here for a short period of time or have chosen to settle in Wales, there’s an array of support for families of Regulars, Reserves or veterans. How do we know what support is out there? I am lucky to have settled in Wales and to work for AFF, so not only do I recognise and understand some of the differences of living in a devolved region, but I am able to meet with the people that can solve the issues, change policies and shape future support. AFF Wales & Borders Coordinator Abi Wrigley’s role is to communicate with all Army families who are based in Wales. Abi is able to help answer your questions, solve problems and gather the evidence that we need to help challenge policies and support Service life. Being in regular

contact with 160th Infantry Brigade and Headquarters Wales and having direct links to government departments if needed allows us to work at the highest level. Local authorities and the Welsh Government want to support you. By communicating with AFF and other organisations, there’s discussion and involvement when looking at policies and the way ahead. An example of this is the recent collaboration with 160X and the health department on the new organ donation policy. Whether you want to tell AFF about an issue, speak to the all-Wales education officer about schooling or ask the local authority about housing, Wales is here to help. l Find our contact details on page three. n

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

Contact us through: 50 Army&You spring 2016



ON THE ROAD AGAIN Stepping out in support of spouses’ businesses


AST year, AFF headed out to meet families in Tidworth, Catterick and Stafford for our annual roadshows. We were keen to hear how rebasing had gone as all three areas had many families recently arrive from Germany. However, the hot potato was housing and both CarillionAmey and DIO made themselves available at each event to listen to your concerns. AFF was pleased to see many of you walked away with solutions, highlighting how important local, face-toface opportunities such as our roadshows are.

SUPPORTING THE UNSUNG HERO The University of Wolverhampton runs a fantastic business start-up programme, Supporting the Unsung Hero, that is free to family members of Regulars and Reservists. AFF was delighted to collaborate with them at our events to offer you practical, hands-on advice. Sarah Walker, from the Unsung Hero course, said: “I think these events are very useful and really give individuals a chance to showcase their business in a comfortable environment.” It was great to meet so many of you at our roadshows. Special thanks to the garrisons and stations that hosted us, our sponsors, Irwin Mitchell, and to the spouse-run businesses that made our roadshows fun, friendly and motivating events. n l n

PICTURES: Visitors to AFF’s roadshows were able to browse goods being sold by Army spouses’ businesses and get their queries answered by AFF specialists and other agencies. Youngsters were kept busy by taking part in our colouring competition (top), which asked them to draw their Army family.

autumn spring 2014 2016 Army&You Army&You 35 51

Pictures: Jackie Rautenbach

BIG BUSINESS AFF has been firmly focussed on spousal employment; so this year’s roadshows promoted spouse-run business start-ups. Our family-friendly roadshows were full of wonderful stalls, with talented spouses selling everything from bath bombs to bunting, silver jewellery to scarves. Many promoted services such as sports therapies and hot stone massage. This modern-day cottage industry fits around the family and enables spouses to take their businesses with them wherever they go.


Germany: life as we know it It’s been confirmed that unit moves from British Forces Germany (BFG) will be put back to 2019. With this in mind, AFF’s Germany team has been speaking to families for their views on life during the drawdown… GERMANY IS VERY FAMILY ORIENTATED You told us that you enjoy the slower pace of life. Germany has many attractions such as ski resorts, fantastic countryside to explore with dedicated cycle routes, and easy access to travel around the rest of Europe. IT CAN BE TOUGH However, many of you say that separation from extended family and the time your soldier spends away are significant downsides. One spouse told us: “When my husband is away, it can be tough as you lack the family support you would get at home.” 52 Army&You spring 2016

Some of you reported that you can feel isolated, so getting out, making friends and being part of the Army community is seen as a must. Polly Doyle, an Army spouse, said: “The Army family rallies round you and is here when you need them.” PLENTY OF WAYS TO MEET PEOPLE There’s still a strong sense of community here. Coffee mornings and toddler groups are in abundance and there are lots of events organised by individual units and their families clubs as well as thriving Military Wives Choirs in both Paderborn and Gütersloh.

To find out more about what’s on in your area, contact your local HIVE. FINDING A JOB Labour Support Units (LSUs) still offer employment opportunities. Most suitable posts are of a clerical nature or for teaching assistant roles. If you’re looking for work, register with your local LSU and keep an eye on the BFGNet website for vacancies. CHILDCARE CAN BE A STUMBLING BLOCK One Army spouse said: “It can be challenging to get a job with the LSU as the hours either don’t fit around your family life

or you don’t have the correct qualifications.” AFF has been assured by the LSUs and Westfalen Garrison that they are aware of the need for flexibility in some roles, so don’t be put off if you’re moving here. Some Service Children’s Education schools run extended daycare, but this varies from school to school. Nursery provision for children up to three can be expensive when the wages on offer are taken into account. SUPPORT IS STILL HERE AFF will continue to monitor all services throughout drawdown. Commander WFG, Col John @ArmyandYou

YOUR QUESTIONS has masses of information, including a rebasing news section which is well worth a read. Here are some of the things you need to know: WHERE ARE BRITISH ARMY FAMILIES BASED? Largely in Gütersloh, Bielefeld, Paderborn and Sennelager areas. WILL WELFARE FACILITIES AND HEALTHCARE BE PROVIDED TO THE END?

Social circle: Families from 1 Med Regt meet regularly for coffee and a catch-up

Connelly, said: “The family sits at the heart of our military community. AFF and the community link are vital to me; they hold me to account and always promote the family and education agendas.” Headquarters BFG told us: “We will continue to provide the best service and support to all units and family members in Germany until final closure in 2019.” l Continue to contact AFF so we can represent your views. We attend all SCE school governance committees and a range of meetings on the key areas of health, education and welfare support. If you are due to be posted here and want to know more, get in touch. Our details are available on page three or can be found on the AFF website at Contact your local HIVE for a copy of its “on the move” guide and read your local HIVE’s Blog at uk/HIVEs n

Yes, BFG is committed to delivering essential services to the community whilst they are in Germany. WILL NAAFI STAY OPEN? NAAFI has committed to provide services to the end tailored to fit the reducing population. WILL BFBS AND DIRECT TO HOME TV BE RETAINED? Yes. BFBS moved to a new studio in Sennelager for this reason. WHICH SCHOOLS ARE CLOSING AND WHEN?

Our survey said... AFF’s recent overseas survey discovered that over a third of families felt they were under-informed when moving to an overseas location and less than one in five of you were able to find suitable employment abroad. We asked you about all stages of an overseas posting. Here’s a quick round-up of what we discovered… MORE THAN 400 OF YOU RESPONDED FROM 40 DIFFERENT COUNTRIES: l 37 per cent of you stated that you didn’t receive sufficient information to help you make an informed decision when accepting an overseas posting. One family said: “It would be really good if there was a website with information about the locations you can be posted to.” l More than half of you (56 per cent) were not able to access the childcare you require, including the expense and the lack of wraparound care. “There was only very limited childcare for the under-threes, three hours per day, and there were not enough places for my child to attend.” l Only 18 per cent of respondents who wanted to work found suitable employment. l Just one-in-five spouses were able to access a training course of their choice. l 33 per cent of you said the most challenging aspect of your overseas posting was the financial expenditure: “The practical costs of moving overseas are astronomical. The initial month was extremely expensive.” THE POSITIVES Generally you were more satisfied with the quality of housing, schooling and health provision, although issues were still identified. The most positive aspect of overseas assignments was the opportunity for travel and new experiences. WHAT WILL AFF DO WITH THIS INFORMATION? The MOD is currently reviewing the “overseas offer”. AFF’s Overseas Director, Julie Lowe, said: “The information we’ve gathered is incredibly important so that AFF can help policy makers understand not only what needs changing, but also what services families want to keep. “Almost three quarters of families said they would undertake another overseas posting, so it’s vital that any disadvantages are addressed.” l If you have any issues on your overseas posting, contact AFF’s overseas

teams using the contact details on page three or n

Blankenhagen School in Gütersloh is scheduled to close in July of this year. All other schools will remain fully open until July 2019. WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO CHILDCARE AND NURSERY PROVISION? All SCE-operated nurseries will close by July 2019.

spring 2016 Army&You 53


A postcard from...

PA D E R B O R N How long have you been an Army family? Six years. T ime in Germany: Three-and-a-half years. What's your quarter like? They are a lot bigger and more modern compared to the UK. We live on a patch, five minutes from camp in the beautiful countryside. Some families live in Paderborn city which is very characterful and picturesque. Can spouses and partners work? You can work within the BFG community, but it is more complicated to work within the German tax system. Lots of spouses have their own businesses. What about schools? You can choose to put your child in a Service Children's Education (SCE) school or a German kindergarten. There are lots of SCE nurseries and three "first schools" (four-and-a-half-to-nine years old), one "middle school" (nine-to-13 years old) and one secondary school (11-18 years old). Many send their children to boarding school back in the UK with the help of the School Children's V isit flights,

54 Army&You spring 2016

which are six return journeys each year. Where do Army families get together? There are lots of local restaurants, bars and a thriving cafe culture, and many have children's play areas. There are free open-air festivals and street parties which are great fun and evening activities such as book clubs. Who supports families? Each individual regiment has its own welfare office to disseminate information and assist with issues, which helps to cement the regimental family atmosphere. There is a thriving HIVE with lots of really useful local information. AFF is very prominent in the community. Padres are wellpublicised and are always on hand. Then, of course, there are all my friends who understand the highs and lows of being an Army spouse and parent. What's the best thing about living in Germany? Travel - having so many EU cities on your doorstep to visit both locally and far away. And not forgetting the markets, cafe culture and Christmas.

FROM: V ictoria, Tom and Digby WHERE: Paderborn, Germany



Visa extension causes complications This article highlights the issues spouses on limited leave visas can face whilst trying to remain in the UK legally. If you are a British citizen reading this, spare a thought for our F&C families who have to suffer so much to be able to do the things that we take for granted…


OSE Wambui came to the UK in 2006, on a student visa. Her two children were born here before her husband joined the Army. After her partner enlisted in 2011, they applied to switch to the Armed Forces rules and were given visas for four years which were due to expire in June 2015. Rose said: “I attended an AFF presentation in September 2014 and spoke to Katherine Houlston, AFF’s F&C Specialist, who advised that I would need to apply for an extension because my husband would not have served for five years by the time my visa expired. “She also advised that my youngest child was eligible for citizenship. In June 2015, before my visa expired, I applied to extend the visa for myself and my eldest child. I also applied for citizenship for my youngest child.” SUSPENDED FROM EMPLOYMENT Things took a turn for the worse in September when Rose was suspended without pay because her visa had expired. “It pained like an open wound. I know it shouldn’t have been like that as I had done nothing wrong,” she explained. “I provided my employer with evidence that I had made an in-time application and that therefore I was still legally

processed.” AFF works with Julian Bild, an immigration solicitor. He said: “The GP letter completely ignores the fact that Rose was in the UK lawfully because she had continuing leave until her application was decided. “However, even if she was not ordinarily resident, which she is, the regulations specifically refer to family members of HM Forces as being entitled to general health services. “As for her daughter awaiting registration as a British citizen, it cannot be reasonable for the GP to refuse to register her. “The NHS, as a public authority, is obliged to take account of the best interests of any child and it has clearly not done so.” allowed to work, but this was not enough. I was very upset. Thankfully a few days later they reinstated me after speaking to the Home Office.” Katherine said that Rose’s situation is an all-too-common occurence for spouses. “Employers are getting increasingly concerned about employing people illegally and will often take the easy option of suspending someone rather than finding out if the person is actually still legally allowed to work,” she explained. “The only way of ensuring that your employment is not affected is to make an application for a new visa

at least six months prior to the expiry date.” REMOVED FROM NHS DATABASE Rose was then contacted by her NHS GP who informed her that she had been removed from their database as she couldn’t prove that she was still entitled to health services. “It’s shocking that we now need to register with our GP all over again – they deleted our records,” she continued. “Unfortunately I am not able to register my youngest daughter again because we are still waiting for her citizenship application to be

INCORRECT VISA Thankfully Rose was granted a visa at the end of September. However, her problems don’t end there as she has been granted an extension under the new rules instead of the old rules. AFF is now contacting UKVI to try to get this changed. Rose concluded: “The whole process has been extremely stressful. I had no idea it would be this difficult or that I would be made to feel I was doing something wrong.” l If you are experiencing similar issues, contact AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth team at n spring 2016 Army&You 55

OUR EXPERTS FITNESS LOTTI HUTCHINSON Army wife and clinical director of Personal Best Sports Therapy (www.

MENTORING SARAH DAVIES Former soldier and director of I Am Strong coaching (www.iam

BUSINESS ZOE BAILEY Chartered accountant and military wife (www.

BEAUTY GRACIE BROWN Professional make-up artist and Army wife ( Graceelizabeth.MUAx)

SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS! Got a query? Send it to us and we’ll find an expert with an answer! Email

Q How do I kickstart my fitness journey? A

EXERCISE is something we regularly hear that we all should be doing, with the NHS recommending 45-60 minutes a day. It’s not always achievable, especially if your soldier is away, but here are some ideas to help you…

EXERCISE WITH A FRIEND Having a training buddy will help motivate you and allow you to support each other. If you’re a member of a unit/patch Facebook group, ask if anyone is interested in teaming up with you.

MAKE A PLAN Decide when you can fit exercise into your weekly schedule, write it down and stick to it. If you don’t factor it in, you’ll allow yourself to keep putting it off.

MAKE IT FUN Try different types of exercise. Doing the same thing can get repetitive and boring, giving you reason to quit.

HAVE A GOAL Decide what you want to achieve. For example, complete a 10km run this year. Break your goal down to smaller achievable goals like first running around the block then doing it twice the following week, slowly building up to your target. Set realistic timeframes for each mini goal. START SLOWLY AND BUILD IT UP Aim to complete 15 minutes exercise then build this time up. If you progress too quickly you are more likely to injure yourself.

AVOID INJURY Each time you exercise, make sure you have a good warm up and cool down that includes stretches. Don’t overdo it and give your body time to recover. When you first start you can expect to experience some minor aches and pains. These are known as “delayed onset muscle soreness”, or DOMS, and are perfectly normal. If you find the symptoms lingering for more than 24 hours, you have pushed yourself too hard so take some rest. Good luck! LH

Q I’m stuck in a rut. How do I get out? A

IF YOU have seen Spectre, you’ll know that when James Bond wants something, he gets it. Not by asking politely, waiting his turn, trusting in fate, thinking it will just happen next year… No, 007 doesn’t just get, he takes. You wouldn’t entertain the idea of Bond waiting for assistance at a supermarket self-service checkout, or sitting gridlocked in traffic on the M25 would you? So why on earth do we think that the queue in the supermarket, the motorway, the rut that we seem to have found ourselves stuck in is 56 Army&You spring 2016

good enough for us? Sometimes we just don’t know how to look left and right and up and over; or if we do, we don’t have the strength, the time, the courage, the confidence to haul ourselves out and embrace the unsettling excitement of new, of different, of better. HOW DO WE DO IT? We break the rules – our rules. And we make a

commitment to change:


Break the rules Let go of your limiting beliefs, think creatively, explore every way possible to achieve what you want to achieve.

Own your vision Your change, your journey. Take responsibility for moving forward and don’t listen to those who say you can’t. You can.


Never doubt yourself When you catch that negative voice in your head, delete it and replace it with your own positive mantra – “I am strong and confident”.


Do something to move forward every day Break a habit, choose a different chair, walk a different route, book that flight, write that letter.


Be your own Bond. Commit to yourself today. By tomorrow you will be on your way. SD

Refreshing change: Follow Sarah Davies’ four-step guide to shake up your life



Q What are the best natural beauty products? A

WHAT is to blame for troublesome skin? Poor diet, air pollution and the very stuff we put on it every day – beauty products. Our skin is more delicate than you think and the amount of nasty chemicals in our products is phenomenal. Watch out for any that claim to be “natural” – you might be surprised to know that the secret to better skin can be sitting in your fridge! Cucumber on your eyelids may seem like an oldfashioned trick, but they reduce puffiness and, being 95 per cent water, they also keep your eyes well hydrated. They’re always popping up on celebrities’ Instagram accounts as part of their

routines. Oddly enough, cucumber is not just beneficial on the face and eyes – it can be used on cellulite. Mix ground coffee with cucumber juice and some raw honey. You can apply this to cellulite and wrap it in cloth. Leave it on for 30 minutes before rinsing. Whisking an egg white, one tablespoon of oats and one tablespoon of honey will create a perfect, poreshrinking, cleansing face mask. The egg white tightens your skin while the oats nourish and exfoliate. By choosing this over a typical sachet-face mask, you would have eliminated on average more than 30

harmful ingredients! Epsom salts are a great way to detoxify the deeper layers of your skin and are found in all supermarkets. From just 20 minutes of soaking, the salts draw out toxins and bacteria that would have formed a spot. When magnesium sulphate is absorbed through the skin, it also sedates the nervous system, reduces swelling, relaxes muscles and is a natural emollient, exfoliator and much more. Now you can read the rest of Army&You in the bath! GB

Q Where can I get financial backing for my new business? A

IT WILL depend on a number of factors. How much funding does it need? When can it start making repayments/ dividends? How much risk is involved? What assets are available as security? Check out the following types of financial support you may be able to access: ASSET FINANCE Leasing equipment or vehicles helps cash flow but costs more overall once interest is included. BANK Overdrafts are quick to arrange and flexible, but can be withdrawn at any time. Loans provide a long-term source of funding, but are risky if the repayments can’t be met. Invoice finance is another option which involves borrowing against unpaid invoices. CROWDFUNDING/PEER-TO-PEER LENDING Can raise finance quickly but involves convincing lots of individuals to invest in/lend to your business.

DO-IT-YOURSELF FUNDING What finance can you provide by working part-time or from other sources? External funders like to see personal funds invested. EQUITY (COMPANIES ONLY) Selling equity to an investor can bring additional expertise and shares the risks if things go wrong. You will have to give up a share of your business and possibly some control, but it may be worth the sacrifice. FAMILY/FRIENDS An option if external funding proves difficult, but if your business fails this could affect your relationship with those closest to you. GRANTS May be available for specific projects and you won’t have to repay the money or pay interest. You normally have to match the funds. Whichever route you take, make sure you have a credible business plan with realistic forecasts. You need to show you can repay the borrowings and/or provide an equity return. ZB

spring 2016 Army&You 57

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Cherish the Important things in Life


Education for Life... Co-educational Day & Boarding from 3 - 13 44 (0)1722 333423 | Salisbury, Wilts SP1 1LR

Saturday 7th May

10am -12.30pm

Discounts for children from Forces Families - 10% for day pupils and 15% for boarding pupils

GIVEAWAYS Enter this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

HOW TO ENTER Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 10 April 2016. See page three for competition rules.

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

Star prize

Unwind at luxurious Sussex hotel In the heart of the Sussex Downs lies South Lodge Hotel, a spacious retreat where you and your soldier can indulge. This country house is the perfect place to relax, unwind and enjoy the finer things in life. Each of the 89 bedrooms has been individually designed so no two are the same. Some have four-poster beds, many have remarkable

views and two have open-air, bubbling hot tubs. Fine wine and gourmet food are on offer at the Camellia Restaurant, complete with al fresco dining; The Cellar, which offers lighter bites and more than 200 wines to choose from; and Michelin-starred The Pass, where diners are seated around the chefs, so you experience the theatre of

the kitchen. In the 93-acre estate you can enjoy a picnic by the lake, hop on a mountain bike, play tennis, croquet or a round at one of two golf courses at the hotel’s sister property, Mannings Heath Golf Club. We have teamed up with Pride of Britain hotels to offer an overnight stay for two adults in a luxurious suite to include

a three-course dinner with a bottle of house wine, and a full Sussex breakfast. TERMS AND CONDITIONS Prize is open to families of serving Regular or Reserve soldiers, valid for 12 months from notification excluding Saturday nights. Dinner will be in the Camellia Restaurant. Subject to availability.

Theme park thrills Army&You has teamed up with Drayton Manor Theme Park to offer two lucky readers the chance to win a family pass for up to five people. The theme park, near Tamworth, is home to Thomas Land which features more than 25 rides and attractions based on the ever-popular Thomas & Friends series. The park also boasts some of the biggest, wettest and scariest

rides around, including the adrenaline-inducing drop-tower, Apocalypse, stand-up coaster, Shockwave and the splashtastic log flume. When you’ve had enough thrills, you can enjoy the 15-acre zoo, which is home to more than 100 species from around the world, including a pair of critically endangered Sumatran tigers. Book now at www.

WANT TO WIN? Enter any of our giveaways online at

60 Army&You spring 2016







1. TWICKENHAM TITANS How can you get your hands on a pair of tickets for the Army v Navy rugby match at Twickenham Stadium on 30 April? Enter Army&You’s giveaway! Join the roaring crowds for one of the most compelling, competitive clashes Twickenham will see this year. The annual fixture is expected to attract more than 80,000 supporters, creating an electric atmosphere. Enjoy an action-packed day when the Army Women tackle their Royal Navy counterparts and the Army Masters take on the Royal Navy Mariners. The UK Armed Services U23 play Oxbridge at midday. There’s live entertainment before the main event kicks off at 3pm. For more information, visit www. l Army&You has four pairs of tickets to give away. 2. BENEVOLENT BOOK Clare Harvey’s debut novel, The Gunner Girl, was inspired by her mother-in-law’s time on the anti-aircraft guns in World War II, and written whilst her Royal Engineer

husband was on ops in Afghanistan. It’s a story of shared hopes, lost loves, and the power of female friendship, following three women soldiers. On the sale of her 25,000th copy, Clare has promised to donate £1,000 to Help for Heroes to thank the Service community. Find out more at or follow @ClareHarveyauth on Twitter. l We have three signed hardback copies of The Gunner Girl to give away. 3. SUPER SEAT Mifold, the Grab-and-Go Booster seat, is more than ten times smaller than a regular booster seat and just as safe. While other seats on the market raise a child upwards to fit an adult seat belt, Mifold’s unique design does the exact opposite, lowering the belt to fit the child snugly, taking the belt off the stomach and the neck and making it comfortable, safe and easy to use for children from the age of four up to 12 years. Order yours at l Enter our giveaway to win one Mifold seat, worth £34.99.


4. TERRIFIC TABLET SUPPORT Holding your tablet for hours on end can be tiring and annoying – and this is where the iBeani comes in. The stylish bean bag will hold tablets and e-readers at the perfect angle on any surface. The iBeani is able to shift its shape to keep your device in the position you want. Each bag is made by hand in the UK and there are more than 20 different designs to choose from. Visit l Two readers can win an iBeani of their own, each worth £24.99. 5. MUMMY’S HOME! After the success of My Daddy’s Going Away, author and soldier Christopher MacGregor has written a second book to help children deal with temporary separation from their mum. With the help of Emma Yarlett’s illustrations, Mummy’s Home! tells the story of a mother’s time away, from departure right through to homecoming. Go to for more. l We have a signed copy of either Mummy’s Home! or My Daddy’s Going Away to give away.

spring 2016 Army&You 61

Picture: Churchill Wild (Dennis Fast)

Take a walk on the wild side

Are your brood bored by the beach or sick of the sight of sun loungers? Army&You’s resident travel guide explores some of the more action-packed family adventure holidays on offer...


EEPING the kids entertained on holiday is always a challenge. Planning an exciting – and in part challenging – escapade for all to appreciate could be the answer. No matter how old your children are, exploring and experiencing the world together as a family is the biggest and best memory-maker. Here are some ideas for the summer of 2016 and beyond... CANADIAN CAPER In the heart of Canada’s most unspoilt wildernesses, an exclusive portfolio of seven family-owned and operated lodges and a cruise boat form the popular “Magnificent 7”. They provide an ideal base to “meet” some of the locals with Churchill Wild, a safari company specialising in ground-level hiking through remote polar bear-inhabited regions. Guests have close encounters with the aforementioned bears as well as beluga whales, caribou, wolves and other Arctic wildlife. 62 Army&You spring 2016

Alternatively, captain Colin Griffinson, owner of the Pacific Yellowfin, and his crew of five welcome families aboard to steer you through the stunning sights and sounds of the Gulf Islands, Desolation Sound and Great Bear Forest in British Columbia. As well as superb accommodation and cuisine, guests can enjoy kayaking, wildlife viewing, fishing, hiking, motor biking, cycling, harvesting their own seafood, expeditions, a 30ft water slide and plenty of opportunities to go swimming. Another Magnificent 7 gem and private hideaway is Siwash Lake Ranch. Here you will find luxury amidst nature in lavish

safari-inspired tents and ranch house suites. They have a programme for beginners and expert riders alike, which focuses on the magical bond between horses and humans. Other outdoor activities include wilderness survival and biking adventures and, for more gentle parental pursuits, there is a forest canvas-clad spa to luxuriate in. DESERT DERRING-DO If it’s sun, sea and sand you want surrounding a family adventure then Oman has it all – especially sand – in abundance. Non-stop flights from London to Muscat @ArmyandYou


A&Y EXCLUSIVE OFFERS Allow Halcyon Travel Collections to create and book a completely bespoke and unique family travel adventure itinerary in Canada or Oman and you will receive £100 per person reduction on the total package price. All itineraries must include flights from the UK, ground arrangements (hotels, transfers, guides etc.) booked, confirmed and consumed through Halcyon to a minimum total value of £5,000 or more with three people travelling per booking. Terms and Conditions apply.

– Oman’s capital (pictured above) – are less than seven-and-a-half hours and the city provides a blend of the country’s past and present. A privately guided tour will help bring its history to life. The coastline is full of beautiful hotels and the booming restaurant trade offers an enticing variety to choose from. Brilliant diving locations are just a short ride away. A private English-speaking chauffeur and guide will escort you in a 4x4 for a mind-blowing desert and mountain experience (above centre). An overnight stay and delicious barbecue dinner in a tented desert camp at Wahibe Sands is itself an adventure.

Picture: Churchill Wild

l For all South African and Indian Ocean tour holidays that include economy flights and ground arrangements, book through Halcyon and receive complimentary VIP lounge access at your UK departing airport. Terms and conditions apply.

However, other desert activities include sand boarding, dune bashing, trekking, camel riding and quad biking. The ever-changing patterns of dunes are a photographer’s dream. The mountainous route includes visits to historic forts and local Bedouin villages to absorb the culture. The Alila Jabal Akhdar hotel perched 2,000 metres above sea level possesses dramatic gorge views and provides a perfect touring base. ALTERNATIVE ADVENTURES Other family adventure ideas include a Catalonia cycling holiday visiting volcanoes, learning about gelato (ice

cream) and how to make a pizza while exploring the Amalfi Coast (pictured above). Alternatively, a riverboat cruise down the Amazon in Peru, where you get to fish for piranha and explore mangroves in a dugout canoe, is a thrilling voyage. l If you are interested in any of these destinations and offers, or anywhere else in the world, contact David at Halcyon Travel Collections, which offers Army&You readers preferred rates on any packaged holiday they create. Email:, call 07976 287 301 or visit n spring 2016 Army&You 63

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64 Army&You spring 2016



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


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


Disabled need permanent homes


HY does the military not have dedicated disability adapted houses in this day and age? I realise that the majority must be catered for, but given that a number of soldiers may return from operations (or otherwise develop) disabilities and/or that family members may be disabled, it’s surprising that there appear to be no dedicated homes. Surely under the Equality Act and as a housing provider, DIO should deliver this. I have a health condition which has deteriorated over the last few months and to obtain a rail outside my property to help me get to and from the front door requires a letter or other communication from a local occupational therapist. There are significant issues and costs involved with adapting a house, so would it not make more fiscal sense to have a permanent disabled-friendly home available, maybe one or two per area? When a family leaves, it can remain empty (since the Army keeps several empty for emergencies) until another family needs it. The current methodology seems to be either to: 1. Await allocation of a property, spend money adapting that property and then allow the family to move in; or: 2. To wait for a person’s disability to

become problematic, ask the disabled person to contact social services for an occupational health (OH) assessment, determine the costs involved and maybe implement any recommendations. The second scenario can take significant time and the serving soldier may be posted in the interim, meaning the whole process has to be repeated for the new SFA. I am awaiting DIO’s response to my OH report to see whether they feel the adaptations can be provided and I have no idea as to the timescale. When one has a condition which can deteriorate significantly resulting in disability, coming to terms with this situation is extremely stressful. Overall, it is difficult enough to deal with, both physically and emotionally, without the stress of trying to determine the rules and regulations surrounding adaptations. Name and address supplied Response from Andrew Martin, DIO Service delivery accommodation development programme manager: We understand the additional stress and worry that arranging an adapted home can have on Service personnel and their families. Service Delivery Accommodation is aware of the importance of providing a responsive additional needs service and is always seeking to make improvements.

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However, there are a number of reasons why it is not practical to have adapted homes in each area. Disabled individuals do not all have the same needs and adapted features which could help one person would be unnecessary, or could even present a hazard, to another. There is therefore no “standard” adapted home – we must adapt to specific requirements. Most of the properties we adapt require only minor amendments, which usually cost less than £15,000, but larger scale adaptations can cost between £50,000 and £125,000. In addition, it would be very difficult to predict where these properties would be required. Some people might prefer to be housed near to their place of work, while others may prefer to be nearer to family and friends. When some SFA properties are renovated, we take steps to make any future adaptations easier, such as plumbing which would allow a downstairs bathroom to be installed should it become necessary. Response from AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross: AFF agrees it’s important that moderate-to-major adaptations to SFA need to be suitable for the individual’s needs. This will be ascertained by an occupational therapist’s (OT) assessment and other medical reports. However, any SFA that has already been adapted should remain in its adapted state. What hasn’t been addressed here is that DIO requires an OT assessment for all adaptations. It has been previously agreed that a medical report should suffice for minor adaptations, rather than insisting on an OT report which can be difficult to acquire. AFF is disappointed that there isn’t yet a clear process available for families, something we have been requesting for some time. We will continue to work closely with DIO and CarillionAmey to produce a process which is clear for families to follow that provides a reasonable timeframe in which the adaptations should be completed.

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spring 2016 Army&You 65


SPEED UP THE SYSTEM MY HUSBAND has just left the military after more than 30 years’ service. The Army has known that he is leaving and the specific date for nearly a year and therefore his rank, seniority, length of service and departure date – all the details needed to prepare the final financial settlement. Why, then, does the system require an entire month to process the payment of the lump sum he has spent 30 years earning? We are relying on that money for several reasons. No matter how hard you budget, money is tight when leaving the Army – it has taken my husband several months to find a job. In this day and age with electronic banking and the computerised JPA system, why isn’t that money paid in the day he leaves? There is no excuse for it.

Name & address supplied Response from PS10(A): Without the details of your husband’s service I am unable to offer specific comment on his case. However, I will cover the three main pension schemes. The Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2015 (AFPS 15) is a Career Average Revalued Earnings scheme; every month the MOD adds 1/47th of monthly pensionable earnings into the Service person’s pension pot. The final value of AFPS 15 benefits can only be determined after payment of the individual’s final monthly salary, which is usually on or around the 23rd of each month. As AFPS 15 benefits are related to the payroll process, pension benefits and Early Departure Payments are paid up to a maximum of 30 working days from the date of discharge. This allows all pensionable pay to be accounted for when calculating pension benefits, ensuring Service personnel receive their correct entitlement. Where a Service person has remained on AFPS 75 or AFPS 05, Defence Business Services will pay pension benefits within 30 calendar days of discharge. DBS routinely processes AFPS 75 and AFPS 05 benefits within 10 working days of discharge.

TRICKY IDENTIFICATION SITUATION CAN the MOD look at issuing a difference between ID cards and permanent dependant’s ID card passes. A permanent dependant’s like our version of a MOD F90? ID card would only verify identity Getting a dependant pass for and would not automatically grant camp for where we are currently access to a specific site. based (Larkhill) is like a mystery Even when I was serving, an nobody knows how to solve. MOD F90 would not have got me It’s also creating lots of admin access to Army HQ in Andover and for the military repeating the MOD Main Building in London, for same checks and paperwork example. If I wanted to take my car each time a family moves. If all in to any camp, I would still have dependants were issued with needed a site-specific pass. a pass that was valid at An identity card review all locations it would has recently been Getting a pass save the Army money undertaken and is like a mystery and time as well as has provided an nobody knows reducing (some of) the opportunity for the how to solve frustration and stress Army to take a topassociated with moving all down view on whether to the time! authorise ID cards for dependants, Stacey Jones though the Army would have to pay for them! Response from Col (Ret’d) David However, until we know more Challes, SO1 Security, Army HQ: about the policy and the costs, The CO/head of establishment we won’t be in a position to say controls access to his/her site and whether this will happen. is responsible for setting policy on At Larkhill, the Garrison Chief the issue of passes to dependants. of Staff has confirmed that there Such a policy will be specific is a policy for the issue of passes to that site; a pass issued for a to dependants. Staff in the guard dependant at Larkhill would not be room should know this policy and valid in Bulford for example. be able to direct dependants to the Confusion often arises over the office which issues the passes.


In praise of Army welfare


N THE 20 years I’ve been with my soldier, we’ve been lucky to have never really needed Army welfare – until this year when my husband fell ill following a working trip overseas. He soldiered on for a long time while the mystery surrounding his symptoms went on, eventually collapsing at work – and the Army couldn’t do enough for me and our two young children. The team brought me to and from hospital, called daily to check his progress when he

got home and in the weeks and months since, I’ve had regular meetings with his chain of command, just to make sure we’re all okay. They’ve also kept him informed about what’s going on at work, without putting him under any pressure and now he’s showing signs of recovery, they have assured him that his return to work will be carefully managed. When we eventually received a diagnosis, he had the best medical support that money can buy thanks to the

amazing work of charities such as The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes. I know not everyone’s experience of the Army welfare system is good, but ours is certainly positive and they deserve to take the credit for it.

Name and address supplied Response from Directorate Personal Services (Army): I am very pleased to hear that your experience of Army Welfare has been so positive and that you have been well

looked after. The delivery of welfare is through the chain of command (Unit Welfare Officers (UWOs)), Army Welfare Service and, where appropriate, Service charities. It is a combination of all those engaged to work together and provide a suitable end result which meets the need of the Service person and their family. Critically, any requirements should be communicated at the earliest point to your UWO in order that the most appropriate outcome is achieved.

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66 Army&You spring 2016


1946 – 2016


Matt Davies, FPS Member

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