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UNITED KINGDOM is receiving deliveries which is difficult, but not impossible,” explained Sarah. “Most houses here are oil heated so be aware of budgeting for filling your oil tank. Also, car insurance is generally more expensive than on the mainland.”

AFF’S WORK

Across the Irish sea When Army spouse Sarah and her soldier received their threeyear posting to Aldergrove, Northern Ireland they were excited to come to the province along with their children Emilia and AlfieJay. AFF’s NI Co-ordinator Lucy Clarke chatted to Sarah to find out whether their experience is matching their expectations…

S

ARAH and her soldier moved to NI with a threeweek-old baby, a twoyear-old and two dogs, recalling the process as ‘very simple’. “Our house in England was packed up on the Friday and we unpacked on the Monday,” she explained.

WHAT ARE THE POSITIVES OF A POSTING TO NI?

“The community is very friendly and everyone wants to help each other,” said Sarah.

LOCATION There are three bases – Aldergrove, Palace Barracks (Holywood) and Thiepval Barracks (Lisburn).

“Everything is on your doorstep in Aldergrove such as the nursery and GP practice. There’s a thrift shop, convenience store, gift shop, gym, swimming pool and even a cinema. “There are toddler groups almost every day at the community hub and 12 parks on the base so you’re never struggling to find a place for your children to play. In Aldergrove there are lots of open green spaces for dog walking and running too.

CHILDCARE Each base has its own nursery: Aldergrove ABC Day Nursery 028 9445 5443 Holywood Tiggers Palace Day Nursery 028 9042 0253 Lisburn Rhyme Times Playgroup 07512 900763

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“The local area has so much to offer. Lough Neagh is only a short drive away as well as Antrim Castle Gardens. Belfast is a 25-minute drive and has all that a capital city has to offer.”

THE DRAWBACKS

It’s harder living in Aldergrove if you don’t drive, but if you learn whilst you are posted in NI, you can receive a 50 per cent discount on lessons through SSAFA. “The biggest shock of living behind the wire

EMPLOYMENT The Families Employment Advisory Team can help you to find a job. RC-AWS-N-38X0mailbox@mod.gov.uk

There tend to be fewer housing and education enquiries in NI, but one area where families have needed extra support is with additional needs. Lucy has helped to set up a regular group where families can talk to experts. “It gives families who have a child with additional needs the space and time to share ideas and concerns about the challenges they face,” she said. “There have been some tangible benefits, with one family successfully applying for a Blue Badge and another receiving help regarding the adaptation of their house.” Posted to NI? Find more info at aff.org.uk/ uk-overseas/northernireland-posting or contact Lucy on 07729 159013 or ni@aff.org.uk with any questions. &

EDUCATION The Children’s Education Support Officer can answer any questions regarding schools RC-AWS-N-38X0mailbox@mod.gov.uk

NI QUICK FACTS Belfast and the Causeway Coast were named best places to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet You’re never more than 40 minutes from the coast and countless beautiful beaches At the end of June, the sun doesn’t set until after 10pm The academic year ends in June and school holidays last for eight weeks The Mourne Mountains, the Sperrins and Glens of Antrim provide endless cycling and hiking opportunities.

DID YOU KNOW? If your soldier is posted to NI they receive: l Extra pay known as

NI pay l Three travel

warrants per year to return to the mainland, which can also be used by entitled family members l Extra leave known

as NI long weekends.

HEALTH Some NHS waiting lists for medical procedures are longer in NI than on the mainland. If you have medical concerns always make enquiries before you’re posted as some treatments are not available.

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Army&You Spring 2019