Page 1

&You Spring 2019

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}




Families share their transition experiences PROFESSIONAL POWER-UP

Charge your career with training courses


KEEP ON RUNNING Dame Kelly Holmes explains how Forces families can reap the rewards of exercise WIN: A WATERPROOF & SHOCKPROOF SUPER SMARTPHONE Army vs Navy tickets, a family day out and more up for grabs in our giveaways


Buying a new home now as easy as 1...2...3...


By using Trinity you could buy a brand new Bovis Home without saving for a deposit – while saving yourself stress and hidden costs. With Trinity you can combine three fantastic standalone schemes:


Bovis Homes Armed Forces All Inclusive Discount* – £500 off for every £25K of your new home’s price, plus free curtains, flooring† – and £500 towards legal fees!


Help to Buy Equity* – get a Government equity loan of 20% of your new home’s price and pay just a 5% deposit!


Forces Help to Buy* – borrow up to 50% of your annual salary, to a maximum of £25,000. This can be used towards the deposit and other costs!

It’s the winning combination to unlock the door to your dream home!

es e rc siv Fo clu ex

Are you in the market for a new home and looking for the best purchase package out there for Armed Forces personnel?

Bovis Homes has developments throughout England, including a number that are close to major military bases, where we have a range of homes from 2 to 6 bedroom properties in attractive locations.

For further information about the schemes and where we are building, please go to – bovishomes.co.uk The Armed Forces purchase scheme is listed within the ‘Need help to Move’ section and you can find the nearest development to you through our ‘search for a new home’


*The Bovis Homes Armed Forces Discount Scheme has specific terms and conditions. Help to Buy Equity Loan and Forces Help to Buy have specific terms amd conditions and are subject to affordability criteria as prescribed by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Ministry of Defence. †Bovis Homes specify the curtains, carpets and flooring offered within the scheme. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Please ask your sales advisor for further information. Photograph shown depicts a typical Bovis Homes interior. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT.


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


EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // rmsouth@aff.org.uk OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // oxfordshirem4@aff.org.uk HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // hampshire@aff.org.uk WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // wiltshire@aff.org.uk

Master your mental health




Challenge, uniting partners through adventure (page 18). Lifting the lid on transition (pages 26-27) showcases two years of research into how you’re supported when it’s time to move on from the military. And you can read many more real-life stories in Our Army Family (page 55), Employment & Training (pages 30-33), BlogSpot (pages 65-66) and A Postcard From (page 50), which takes us to Nigeria. It’s your input and contributions to articles that make the magazine unique, so please continue to get involved and give us your unique perspective on Army life – editor@ aff.org.uk or via our social media @ArmyandYou

SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH & CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmnorthcentral@aff.org.uk NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // northeast@aff.org.uk NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // northwest@aff.org.uk WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // westmids@aff.org.uk EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // eastmids@aff.org.uk EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SCOTLAND, WALES & NI

07585 333115 // rmscotwalesni@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // ni@aff.org.uk

AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // rmoverseas@aff.org.uk EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT ejsu@aff.org.uk CANADA canada@aff.org.uk KENYA kenya@aff.org.uk BRUNEI brunei@aff.org.uk GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // rmgermany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk




CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk ESBA esba@aff.org.uk WSBA wsba@aff.org.uk YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS

SUBSCRIPTIONS In your own home or private rental? Subscribe for FREE via armyandyou.co.uk – you can unsubscribe at any time via the same link or by emailing unsubscribe@aff.org.uk DELIVERY If you live in SFA/SSFA and would like to be removed from our mailing list, you can do so at any time by emailing unsubscribe@aff.org. uk or visiting armyandyou.co.uk, where you’ll


find our privacy policy and T&Cs PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission AFF Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered in Scotland with registered charity number SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1,

Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 31 March 2019. ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising opportunities in Army&You, contact the team at TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 Web: ayads.co.uk

HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS ✪ 07552 861983 // additionalneeds@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // ec@aff.org.uk HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcsupport@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING, ALLOWANCES & MONEY ✪ 07799 045955 // etam@aff.org.uk

CONTRIBUTIONS If you’ve got a story to tell about Army life, then let us know – email editor@aff.org.uk

Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity


ITH all the challenges Army life can bring, keeping up good mental health for you and your family can sometimes be difficult – when your latest posting leaves you feeling isolated and lonely, when your child’s behaviour goes askew because mum or 26 dad is away again, or when your confidence takes a knock because you’ve left that job you loved. But as we discover through the pages of our spring edition, there are many ways to maintain your wellbeing and lots of avenues of support should you need it. Our thanks to those of you who have shared your experiences. In our feature, Working on your wellbeing (pages 16-17), we hear from families on adapting to Army life and a wealth of organisations that have your mental health needs at the forefront of what they do. Olympic champion and former Servicewoman Dame Kelly Holmes tells us about her own struggles (pages 20-21) and we also meet the people behind Forces Wives

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

spring 2019 Army&You 03

Modern education with over 200 years of heritage Open Mornings Spring/Summer 2019 23rd March, 30th April (Reception only), 8th May, 15th June 9.30am-12pm Book your place at lvs.ascot.sch.uk/open Small Group Senior School Tours 21st May, 28th June 9.30am-11am Book with registrar on 01344 882770

Contents SPRING 2019



29 Welcome To Wiltshire What can families rebasing to the south west expect? 35 Speaking Out Army officer Clair writes about post-natal depression 36 Your Children's Voice Introducing AFF's focus on Service children 48 Welcome To Canada Find out what awaits families in the great white north 50 A Postcard From... A snapshot of life in the Nigerian capital Abuja 56 Across The Irish Sea The ups and downs of a posting to Northern Ireland


16 Working On Your Wellbeing What you can do to manage your mental health 18 Dare To Dream Army wives club uses adventure to tackle isolation 20 Gold Standard Olympic medallist Dame Kelly Holmes talks to Army&You 22 Children's Mental Health We explore the factors affecting Forces kids 26 On The Move Service families share their transition experiences 30 Learning For Life How training courses boost spouses' career prospects

06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting Army families 46 Book Club Young readers give their verdict on Dragon Post 62 Giveaways Win a super smartphone, family day out and more 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of Army family life



Dame Kelly Holmes explains why exercise provides the perfect platform on which to build good physical and mental health

PAGES 20-21

&You Spring 2019

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}





Families share their transition experiences PROFESSIONAL POWER-UP

Charge your career with training courses


KEEP ON RUNNING Dame Kelly Holmes explains how Forces families can reap the rewards of exercise WIN: A WATERPROOF & SHOCKPROOF SUPER SMARTPHONE Army vs Navy tickets, a family day out and more up for grabs in our giveaways


A terrific all-rounder The Good Schools Guide

A co-educational, nonselective independent school set in a 56 acre campus in Somerset

An outstanding education for life • Vibrant full and weekly boarding from 7-18 years • Forces families receiving CEA pay only 10% of boarding fees • An IB World School with extensive subject options and a choice of A Levels, IB or BTEC at Sixth Form • A genuine seven day a week school for our boarders with activities during evenings and weekends

• Daily contact with your children via phone, plus regular contact with House Parents and Teachers • Performance Sport Programme, state of the art facilities and extensive co-curricular opportunities • We offer holiday flexibility when POTL and R&R arise For more information visit www.tauntonschool.co.uk

Discover Taunton School at our Open Morning on Monday 6th May 2019 09:30 - 12:30 Follow us @TauntonSchool www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 05


Our specialists

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out about their key pieces of work over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.

Laura Lewin

Katherine Houlston

Cat Calder

Jilly Carrell

Karen Ross

Employment, Training, Allowances & Money

Foreign & Commonwealth


Education & Childcare

Health & Additional Needs

Under old housing benefit rules, separating spouses who stay in SFA after their Notice to Vacate period could claim ‘mesne profits’ – the charges made to families when they stay in SFA as illegal occupants. However, under Universal Credit, mesne is not included in the housing element, potentially leaving a vulnerable group financially worse off. We understand that other housing providers have moved away from this system and we have alerted DIO and the Department for Work and Pensions to the issue. DIO is seeking legal advice to see if anything can be done. If this issue has affected you, contact me at etam@aff.org.uk

If you move home whilst your application to the Home Office is being processed, please inform them of your change of address. Important documents such as passports and biometric residence permits can easily become lost if they’re sent to the wrong house or returned to the Home Office because they can’t be delivered. It will save you from a lot of stress and worry and, for my team here at AFF, a great deal of time spent chasing missing documents. To notify the Home Office, call 0300 123 2241.

Thanks to everyone who filled in AFF’s Big Survey on the Future Defence Infrastructure Services (FDIS) contract and the Future Accommodation Model (FAM). All your responses have been fed back to the relevant teams. I’m hopeful that many of your preferred options will be included in the next housing repairs and maintenance contract and that the MOD will use these results to shape future communications on FAM – see page 10 for the key results. AFF will continue to submit your views back to the FDIS and FAM teams, so if you have any comments or suggestions, get in touch at housing@aff.org.uk

Parents continue to raise the issue of how the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) is being used in their child’s school. The money, £300 per Service child in years R-11, is paid directly to state schools in England to enable them to provide extra support, mainly pastoral, to children with parents in the Forces. But it’s clear that some schools need a steer on how to use SPP to best effect. We would like to see additional guidance and examples of good practice provided to schools, particularly those with low numbers of Service pupils and schools supporting older children. AFF’s key focus for March and April will be education – get involved in our social media posts and polls @The_AFF

January and February have been AFF’s healththemed months, so we have been talking to many of you about a wide range of health-related subjects, from wellbeing through to primary healthcare and wellwoman screening. We also published a paper on Service children’s mental health to coincide with Children’s Mental Health Week – see pages 22-23 for more on the work we’re doing in this field. To join the conversation, ask a question or share your experiences, contact me at additionalneeds@ aff.org.uk or check out our social media channels @The_AFF and @ArmyandYou

What ’s your best tip for maintaining good mental health?

What ’s your best tip for maintaining good mental health?

What ’s your best tip for maintaining good mental health?

What ’s your best tip for maintaining good mental health?

What ’s your best tip for maintaining good mental health?

On a good day, yoga and fresh air; on a bad day I add chocolate!

My favourite quote from Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” It helps me to keep things in perspective and focus on the good.

Don’t bottle your feelings up, spend time with friends and family and talk to them.

Surround yourself with positive people. Eat and sleep well, exercise, socialise and find a hobby you enjoy.

06 Army&You spring 2019

Going for a run or bike ride with headphones on helps me to destress.


The perfect balance of single-sex and co-education

Charity Number 525616

Pay only 10% of the fees, around ÂŁ950 per term* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2019/20. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

Find out more www.habsmonmouth.org/forces


spring 2019 Army&You 07

Open Morning Saturday 9 March 2019 book your place by registering on our website

Full and weekly boarding with excellent pastoral care for students aged 11 to 18, boys and girls Continuity of education and popular with Armed Forces families Latest Ofsted rates school’s leaders and managers as ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ overall; strong GCSE and A Level results Applications open - weekday individual tours available by appointment only Active lifestyle with sport, music, drama, over 70 clubs, one of the largest Combined Cadet Forces and Duke of Edinburgh Awards Centre

Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) parent contribution drops to 8% from September 2019, only at state boarding schools; no education fees

Great facilities with modern teaching blocks, performing arts centre, sports halls, gym, swimming pool, climbing wall, squash courts, Olympic running track, astro turf pitches and courts, walking trails

01304 245073 | admin.office@doyrms.com www.doyrms.com

Looking forward with confidence, looking back with pride


AFF’s stats 2018 enquiries increased in every area of Army life: EMPLOYMENT



Ever-increasing enquiries by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive


AST year AFF saw a 37 per cent increase in Army families coming to us for support, information and guidance. I’m of course delighted that so many of you trust us to help you amidst the confusion of Army life, so I would like to start by saying thank you for allowing us to help you – and please continue to get in touch! Thirty seven per cent is, however, a significant rise and we’ve checked whether there are any specific areas that have generated more enquiries, but it’s clear the increase is across all different areas of Army family life. What is a common denominator is that more and more of you are approaching us for information. This supports the message that I have often written about and argued widely on – the need for better, timelier and more honest communication from the Army and the MOD direct to families.

CRUCIAL MESSAGE This was also the focus of my speech at our recent networking event, when I shared the stage with the Chief of the General Staff and


Chief of Defence People, to discuss the importance of engagement with Army families. It was good to hear directly from the people in charge that you continue to be at the centre of all that the Army does. But it was also an opportunity for us to remind them that if they want to keep families at the centre, then there needs to be better engagement and communication with you. Long gone are the days when Army spouses sat waiting for their soldier to come home and tell them what they need to know about their home, move etc. It’s therefore crucial that the Army and MOD don’t just step up their communication but also ensure it is delivered in a timely, appropriate and easily-accessible way. My message was loud and clear and well received by all at the event, but we will continue to drum home this point. The Army can’t afford to lose the trust of Contact AFF its families, otherwise it will @The_AFF affect retention. Meanwhile we will continue on Twitter, to ensure you are seen as a Facebook, key part of the picture. Get Instagram or in touch at aff.org.uk if we via aff.org.uk can help. &









21% spring 2019 Army&You 09

AFF in action #AFFinvestigates Health stats up AFF saw a significant increase in health (up 106 per cent) and additional needs (up 69 per cent) enquiries in 2018. Key issues include continuity of healthcare, assisted conception and variation in healthcare in the UK and overseas. We’re using this evidence to work with the NHS, healthcare providers in devolved nations, the MOD and other groups to help bring about solutions. Contact additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

#AFFinvestigates Strong views in survey


More than 3,000 of you responded to AFF’s Big Survey, which asked what you’d like to see in the new allocations and maintenance contract and what information you’ve received about the Future Accommodation Model (FAM). Here’s some of what we found out…

Breakthrough for breakdowns

● Only 11 per cent were happy

about FAM ● 85 per cent felt that you received little or no information about FAM from the MOD and chain of command ● The top source of helpful information about FAM was AFF ● 85 per cent don’t fully understand why FAM is being implemented ● 70 per cent of you want to apply for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) online ● 69 per cent want to be able to submit a complaint online ● Top preferences for information available online when applying for SFA were photos, floorplans and information on local schools/childcare. We'll take all of this information to policy makers.

10 Army&You spring 2019

AFF has long campaigned for ex-spouses and partners to be allowed to apply for social housing regardless of a local connection when separating from their soldier – and the good news is that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government has now published its consultation on the proposal. Cat Calder, our Housing Specialist, has been gathering evidence on this issue for six years. She said: “When a relationship breaks down, spouses have only 93 days to vacate their quarter and they receive no help with transition to civilian life; they often face financial issues too. “Many have children and under these rules they are being disadvantaged

#Onthecase Dental gaps Shortage of NHS dental spaces is an ongoing issue for Service families, particularly in the south west of England and in North Yorkshire. Our Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross, is

vicariously through their parents’ marital status. “The lack of clarity in the definition of ‘family’ within the Armed Forces Covenant allows some local authorities to disregard the needs of this very vulnerable group. “We believe that this needs to be reviewed to include ex-spouses/ partners. They accompany their soldier to numerous postings, preventing them from establishing a local connection, and as soon as they are separated or divorced, they no longer come under the definition of family, losing out when being assessed for social housing waiting lists.” With all councils in England signed up to the Covenant, it’s hoped that if the change is agreed, they will include it in their housing allocation policy in the future. We’ll update you at aff.org.uk as soon as any progress is made.

collecting more evidence to take back to the dental commissioner for these areas, so get in touch at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk if you’re not able to access a dentist. We’ve also asked the MOD/Department of Health Partnership Board if there’s capacity for Dental Defence Primary Healthcare practices to provide care in hotspot areas in the interim. @ArmyandYou

SIE RR A. A L PH A . VI C TO R. ECH O. We ’ r e p r o u d t o o f f e r c u r r e n t a n d f o r m e r m i l i t a r y p e r s o n n e l s a v i n g s o n s e l e c t e d v e h i c l e s.† Search: Ford Militar y Sales

† Selected vehicles only. Eligibility criteria applies. See ford.co.uk/militarysales for more information.

Model shown is a Fiesta ST-3 3-Door 1.5 200PS Manual Petrol with optional Full LED Headlamps. Fuel economy mpg (l/100km): Combined 40.4 (7.0). *CO 2 emissions 136g/km. Figures shown are for comparability purposes; only compare fuel consumption and CO 2 figures with other cars tested to the same technical procedures. These figures may not reflect real life driving results, which will depend upon a number of factors including the accessories fitted (post-registration), variations in weather, driving styles and vehicle load. * There is a new test used for fuel consumption and CO 2 figures. The CO 2 figures shown, however, are based on the outgoing test cycle and will be used to calculate vehicle tax on first registration.


#AFFteamwork Seats at the table

#Goodtoknow Pregnancy plus A number of you reported concerns to our Scotland Coordinator, Jenny Goodacre, about maternity services in Elgin and Kinloss being downgraded. It was initially thought that mothers who have medium-tohigh-risk pregnancies would face a two-hour drive to Aberdeen.

However, the good news is that the Scottish Government is working closely with NHS Grampian to maximise the amount of care that can be provided at Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin. In November, NHS Grampian published its initial plan to start restoring services and is working with NHS Highland to explore options to allow more women to give birth at Raigmore Hospital, Inverness.

AFF is now representing the families federations in two key areas: ● The Medical Supportability

Working Group, which helps to ensure that there’s robust screening for medical supportability in overseas locations, looking at an individual’s medical needs and support required. ● The MOD/Department of Health

Partnership Board supports

#AFFwin Appealing result

#AFFinvestigates Admissions alteration AFF has been calling for amendments to be made to the school admissions code for some time and some of our recommendations are now being considered by the Department for Education (DfE). We believe there needs to be legislative changes to the code to:

12 Army&You spring 2019

● Allow prioritised allocation

for those children proven to be highly mobile (four moves or more). ● Prioritise allocation for children

in critical stages of education that are affected by mobility. We’ll continue to liaise with the DfE and Armed Forces Covenant team on this. Updates will appear on social media @The_AFF

Katherine Houlston, AFF’s F&C Specialist, successfully helped a soldier who had his application to bring his wife and son to the UK refused because he didn’t meet the minimum income requirement, at an immigration tribunal. The soldier was told he could bring his family over after he had finished basic training, and no information was provided at the point of recruitment to suggest otherwise. In reality, he would have to wait at least four years to be earning the minimum requirement of £22,400. At the hearing, Katherine explained to the judge that the Armed Forces are the only employers in the UK who legally require their employees to commit themselves to four years’ service with the risk of a

renewing and strengthening the partnership between military and civilian healthcare services to deliver the best healthcare for our Armed Forces, their families and veterans. “It’s really important for AFF to be represented here because it allows us to raise issues directly with the people and organisations that have the influence to improve the process and/or change policy,” said our Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross. “We have already received positive feedback on the evidence we’ve submitted to these meetings.”

criminal conviction if they try to leave sooner. The Home Office often argues that there's nothing stopping people from returning home if they do not want to be separated from their family, but for Service personnel, this is not possible. “I also showed evidence that the Army had not put any information about the Minimum Income Requirement on their website until July 2018,” added Katherine. The judge ruled that there were exceptional circumstances and allowed the appeal. Whilst the decision does not set a precedent, it does show that the argument can work, and the judgement can be used in support of other applications and appeals. If you’re in the same position, contact AFF via aff.org.uk – each case is different, so we will carefully consider the merits before advising an appeal. @ArmyandYou

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

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

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

Choose from up to six independent family solicitors based in your area.


News in brief 1 LEGAL LEG-UP




Law for Forces, run by Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre, offers free help to anyone serving in the military, veterans and their families. It provides preliminary advice, guidance on processes and an explanation of complex issues, delivered by student advisers under the supervision of qualified lawyers, and you will receive written advice within 14 days of an appointment.

Handy wallet cards promoting mental health awareness and wellbeing have been sent to UK garrisons, units and stations. They feature a simple self-check to help identify potential early signs of stress or poor mental health. The Combat Stress 24hour mental health helpline for serving personnel and families – 0800 323 4444 – is provided on the reverse side.

The new Combat Stress magazine aims to help anyone who may be struggling with their mental health. Subscribe for stories, expert interviews and lifestyle features to help you take good care of your mental health.

Since January 2018, 42 military personnel and veterans are reported to have taken their own life. In response, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has set up a dedicated support service for families and friends affected by the suicide of a loved one. The new group gives the opportunity to share experiences, information, advice and to meet others in the same position. The group is open to anyone in the family affected by this type of loss.

l To book, call 020 7882 3931, email lac@qmul.ac.uk or visit lac.qmul.ac.uk

14 Army&You spring 2019

l Combat Stress also operates a 24-hour mental health helpline for veterans and their families on 0800 138 1619.

l Visit combatstress.org.uk

l Visit ssafa.org.uk for details. @ArmyandYou





A new pocket guide has been launched to help the Armed Forces spot and support those who may be struggling with their mental health and considering suicide. The guide, jointly launched by Samaritans and the MOD, was specifically designed to promote peer support among those serving. It champions looking after your mates and covers:

The next Census will, for the first time, collect information to identify those people who are serving or who have ever served in the UK Armed Forces. The data collected will be used to support commitments made by central and local government under the Armed Forces Covenant. The date for the next census has been confirmed as 21 March 2021, subject to parliamentary approval.

SSAFA mentoring provides one-to-one support for Service leavers and their families during the transition back to civvy street. Mentors help with practical and emotional support, assisting with decision making, guiding career decisions and offering independent and confidential advice. This includes help paying bills and accessing a GP or dentist, things a new Service leaver may never have had to do before.

Strain on a relationship can sometimes feel like too much to cope with. If you’re the loved one of a veteran or serving person who hasn’t asked for help, particularly if you’re worried about the impact of their mental health on your own wellbeing, Help for Heroes offers free and confidential support.

✔ Spotting someone struggling with mental health issues ✔ Understanding the complexity of suicide ✔ Knowing when to intervene, support and report

l For more information, see the white paper at gov.uk

l You can download a copy at gov.uk

l If you or someone you know would like a SSAFA mentor or would like to consider becoming a mentor, visit ssafa.org.uk/ mentoring – see pages 26-27 for more on moving to civvy street.

l You can contact the Hidden Wounds team confidentially, weekdays 9am–5pm on 0808 2020144 (free from UK landlines) or through helpforheroes.org.uk/ hidden-wounds​

Come and See the Sights Treat the family to a sightseeing trip to London. The city is so full of exciting things to see and do, they’ll just love it. As an enlisted member of HM Armed Forces you have exclusive access to the Union Jack Club where you’ll enjoy really comfortable accommodation and will be staying with other people just like you.

020 7928 4814 www.ujclub.co.uk

Union Jack Club Union Jack Club @unionjackclub


spring 2019 Army&You 15

Working on your wellbeing Army life can seem like an endurance test, particularly if you’re new to it, so looking after your mental health is key. Jill Misson reports…


ELL, you must have known what you were letting yourself in for when you married a soldier.” How many times have you heard that old chestnut? People have no idea what a culture shock it can be. Army spouse Katie Mills recalled: “I was not prepared, and my mind was in turmoil. I didn’t understand the lingo and had so many questions. The worst part is when your partner is away and you’re

16 Army&You spring 2019

staring at the blank walls of your new home trying to comprehend the world you’re now part of.”

WHEN WORRIES ESCALATE Practical information is often easy to access by asking a neighbour, reading a hand-out or popping into the HIVE. Other concerns are more personal, as AFF’s Wiltshire Co-ordinator Carol Morris explained: “There’s a sense of the unknown. Will I make new

friends? Can we cope on one wage until I find a job? “Some find the lifestyle claustrophobic and feel that everyone on the patch knows their business.” For 18-year-old Anastasia Cuthbertson, the first posting a long way from home has been hard. She said: “I gave up my education so we could be together as a family. It has been character-building, but I can’t finish my studies because of the cost of childcare.” Anastasia relies on her local

friends for guidance, which is very common according to Carol: “The majority of young spouses will ask someone they met at the school gate or at a coffee morning and some may post on social media. “Sometimes they don’t have the confidence to approach their welfare team or don’t want to be seen as a welfare case.”

SEEK HELP The charity Home-Start has a long record of working with @ArmyandYou


Forces families in the UK, Germany and Cyprus. A trained volunteer can visit your home for two hours a week. Shelagh Chapman said: “Loneliness, physical and mental health issues, addictions and abuse can impact parents’ capacity to provide support for their children. For Army families these issues are further exacerbated by the additional pressures of enforced separation.” As a unit welfare officer, Capt Stuart O’Hagan recognises the isolation some spouses experience and the need to create strong communities where neighbours help each other out. He encourages families to come forward: “Many are reluctant to seek help until it may be too late or require more effort to resolve an issue that has escalated.” When Ellie Wolf discovered her father only had days to live, her patch friends rallied to look after her cat while she was away. She said: “It took a massive burden off my shoulders at a stressful time and it’s this sort of care that you don’t always get on civvy street. “The Army were amazing at getting my husband back from the Middle East within 24-hours so that I had him by my side.”

LOOKING AFTER YOU To maintain your own wellbeing, AFF Health Specialist Karen Ross advised: “Keep yourself physically well, eat well and rest well. Keep in touch with family and friends using Skype or FaceTime and if you’re feeling down speak to someone you trust. If low mood persists it is important to see a medical professional.” Spouses and soldiers can self-refer to The Warrior Programme, a free coaching course that empowers www.armyandyou.co.uk

participants by increasing their emotional resilience and self-esteem. Joining a sports club or taking up a new hobby can also boost confidence. Vicki Booth suffered with anxiety and depression until she plucked up the courage to go along to Military Wives Choir in Dishforth. She said: “It saved my mental health and has given me my life back. I am no longer just a wife and mother. My choir friends are like sisters.”

WORRIED ABOUT WELLBEING Researchers on the Helping Armed Forces Loved Ones (HALO) study are inviting relatives who are worried about the mental health of a veteran or soldier to complete a survey to help them develop skills training for Forces families. Co-ordinator Marc Archer said: “While there is still stigma around mental health, this isn’t necessarily the reason why people don’t seek help. It’s not always easy to know if the behaviours we worry about are indicators of a disorder that needs outside help.” When Emma Senior’s husband Jase returned from Afghanistan, he avoided socialising and was restless at night. She said: “As I’m a nurse

Cared for by the community: Ellie Wolf and husband Antoni

I tried to help him, thinking together we could work through it, but I soon realised I couldn’t do it on my own. It was lonely, and I felt helpless.” Emma convinced Jase to seek medical help and, after diagnosis and treatment, he continues to serve in the Army. She has started a project collecting partners’ experiences of living with a serving person with a mental health illness – emma.senior@ northumbria.ac.uk

RAISING AWARENESS Recognising the signs that someone needs support is part of the Mental Health First Aid course that Carol Morris and AFF colleagues completed. She said: “A conversation with a spouse may be about a dripping tap in their SFA, but once they start opening up,

I’m able to distinguish those that need help and then I can signpost them.” In future all serving personnel will undertake mental health awareness training. Senior health adviser Maj Pauline Murray-Knight said: “We need to reduce stigma surrounding mental ill health whilst embedding the concept of mental fitness for all. “We can all make a difference by listening and responding in a supportive and nonjudgemental manner.” Now accustomed to Army life, Katie Mills advises others struggling to cope: “It’s a glorious community and I am grateful for the support I received so don’t be afraid to ask for help. “There will always be someone there to lend a hand until you can stand alone.” &



● theripplepond.org

● home-start.org.uk

● helpforheroes.org.uk

● HALO: Marc Archer at halo@kcl.ac.uk or

● maternalmentalhealthalliance.org

kings.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/halo-survey-2019 ● For Army welfare information and to

find your local HIVE, search army.mod.uk ● militarywiveschoirs.org ● AWS: call 01904 882053 or 882054 or

email RC-AWS-IAT-0mailbox@mod.gov.uk ● bigwhitewall.com

● counselling-directory.org.uk ● Forcesline: 0800 731 4880 ● If you or a family member is experiencing

mental health or emotional wellbeing issues, contact AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross by email at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 17


Dare to dream The Forces Wives Challenge (FWC) seeks to unite wives and partners of Armed Forces personnel through adventure and challenge, combating the loneliness that can be so prevalent in our community. Army&You spoke to some of the members to find out more…


AVING served in the Army for ten years, FWC founder Heather made the difficult decision to leave to look after her young family. In the military she went on operations, exercises, expeditions and took advantage of all the opportunities. When she left and moved onto the patch it opened a whole new perspective on life as a Forces family. Heather said: “On posting after posting I found a diverse, dynamic and resilient group of spouses who had all made incredible sacrifices. It got me thinking, imagine what you could achieve if you harnessed these skills and united this community through adventure and challenge. Chosen, organised and delivered by us to celebrate our drive, ambition, strength and support for one another.” Heather chaired the first meeting in her kitchen in August 2016. “Since then, we have organised 100 wives and partners to climb Pen Y Fan,” she explained. “We’ve tackled the Three Peaks, and we are now preparing for our biggest challenge yet – a team of Forces wives will be setting out on an adventure of a lifetime to summit the

world’s highest volcano, Ojos del Salado in Chile. I hope this event will inspire many more Forces families to ‘dare to dream’.”

Outward bound: FWC member Etta (right) and friends


Having already taken part in climbing Scafell Pike, Etta is striving to be part of the Ojos del Salado challenge. She said: “What’s fantastic is that there are roles for all of us, from leading out front to the support from the sidelines. Social gatherings need to be arranged; there’s fund raising, publicity, social networking – the group has many facets. “I’ve got my sights set on the summit but it’s comforting to know that I have had an important role to play and I’m valued. We are a team, no matter where, no matter what.” Army spouse Susie said: “My biggest challenge was climbing Pen y Fan on Armed Forces Day. There were around 100 wives and partners and to some it would be a walk in the park, but for me, 12 weeks postpartum, it was tough! I was incredibly

proud of my own achievement and of the success of our first FWC challenge.”


Many of us have experienced our partners going away or missing important family events and milestones. Heather believes the FWC offers a chance to unite with like-minded people. She said: “At some point many people have felt incredibly lonely and isolated, often upping sticks every two years. By joining together and completing a challenge, it gives us something that is just for us and celebrates our unique community.” Nicola had struggled to meet other people due to work and, with her children at boarding school and her husband deployed for nine months, being part of the FWC has helped combat the loneliness.

She explained: “It has given me a healthier outlook towards the Army and not having such a resentment for it. It’s made me realise I’m not alone and given me connections with others in a similar situation.” Susie agreed: “The FWC has given me a focus beyond my day-to-day life. I gave up a career to move with my husband. “The FWC offers me the chance to do something that is just for me and connect with people that I share common interests and goals with. Even though I am living away from close friends and family, I now have a newfound network of support.” The FWC is keen to continue to grow, explained Heather: “We want to continue creating, organising and participating in challenges and believe the world is our oyster. Climbing Everest, swimming the Channel, cycling coast-to-coast – whatever your personal challenge is, why not?” Etta added: “I would, without a shadow of a doubt, recommend joining the FWC. Before it began, I felt as though I was ‘just’ an Army wife. “To be part of the FWC has changed my perspective. Through our combined involvement in something for ourselves, outside of our families, I now feel more of a connection to the military and the camaraderie that it fosters.” Follow their exciting journey at forceswives challenge.org &

18 Army&You spring 2019


Gold standard British Army for Double Olympic champion Dame Kelly Holmes DBE served with the Kelly to talk nearly ten years before becoming an elite athlete. We caught up with wellbeing‌ about her military life and the importance of good mental health and

20 Army&You spring 2019


ARMY&ME Congratulations on becoming the first ever Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment. How important is it to you to maintain your military connections?

I’m really honoured to receive this accolade because I’m proud of my former career as an HGV driver and Physical Training Instructor. Having wanted to go in the Army since the age of 14, and joining just before 18, I’d achieved that ambition.

Were you from a military family?

I was the first person in my family to ever want to join. It was after I’d been shown a video in school. It gave me a sense of wanting to do something for myself. My mum and step dad were very supportive.

How much did your Army career spur you on to success on the track?

Coming back into international athletics during my career, the Army helped me with the discipline required, with respecting myself and others I was competing against, and with proving to myself that I can achieve what I set out to achieve and that was to be Olympic champion. Being in the Forces gives you a strength of character that I wouldn’t have had when I joined.

Did the skills that you learnt in the Army, such as resilience and determination, help you through those big sporting events?

Definitely. They give you that sense of purpose. You grow up quickly in the Army, so you learn to cope with things at a younger age. Resilience is one word that I would take throughout my whole life and pass on to other people. It’s easier to give up and not as easy to stay focused and strong. Resilience helps you do that. www.armyandyou.co.uk

What was Army life like when women weren’t allowed to serve on the front line?

I joined the Women’s Royal Army Corps, so I didn’t know any different, but now all roles will be open to women to take up as a career. This has made a massive change in how women feel moving forward in life and progressing in military roles. If some of these were available when I was a kid I would have taken them up, especially as I’ve now been attached to The Royal Armoured Corps.

You’ve had your ups and downs during your career. How easy did you find it to open up about emotional wellbeing?

I didn’t talk to anyone when I was struggling with my mental health. Leading up to the Athens Olympic Games when I self-harmed, I would try to cover it up with makeup, plasters, clothes. I used to keep it all to myself. My family and friends were in the dark. It wasn’t until I got asked to write my autobiography that I let people in on that part of my life, telling them about the state of my mental health. It really helps to talk about it. I’ve just recorded a podcast and it looks at the lives of ten people in the public eye who have gone through mental health struggles. We all have a mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. We need to talk about it.

How would you encourage families new to Army life into sport?

It’s important that families can have a connection and that could be through sport as it gives opportunities to travel, support one another and have the feelgood factor of ‘I’ve done it’.

It’s important that families can have a connection and that could be through sport as it gives opportunities to travel, support one another and have the feel-good factor of ‘I’ve done it’. Sport isn’t about reaching the elite level. It’s about having the courage to take part, and that has a positive effect on your wellbeing.

Is there anything in particular you would like to achieve in your role as Honorary Colonel?

Through my role I hope to be a voice and advocate for equality and diversity, and to encourage women to have the confidence to take up the roles that are open to them. The Army is no longer just for men. They’ll support maternity leave and flexible working and I think it’s a great place to not only build a career but teach values that you can pass on.

You are very supportive of the Army. Do you keep in touch with old comrades? I still have some fantastic friends that I served with and they are friends you will never ever lose because you have a common ground. Not many people have that. &

How much does sport play a part in wellbeing? Leading an active lifestyle is a must for everybody as it helps with emotional and physical wellbeing. The adrenalin, the endorphins, everything you get from sport, does have a positive impact. Apart from feeling healthier, sometimes the freedom I get when I go out running helps on those days when you don’t feel 100 per cent.

“We all have a mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. We need to talk about it.” spring 2019 Army&You 21

Page turners: Pupils from Risedale Sports and Community College, Catterick Garrison, enjoying titles from national charity Reading Force, which encourages sharing through books

In focus: Children’s mental health


HE Centre for Mental Health states that every year, approximately one-in-ten children and young people experience a mental health problem. With the number of Service children estimated at around 73,000, the chances are a significant number of them may have a diagnosable condition. This year, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross is investigating Service children’s emotional wellbeing, particularly the support available for those aged 16 and under. Karen has identified three key areas: l Mobility l Deployment/training

and separation l Impact of parental mental health

Frequent moves

“Mobility is a unique factor in Service families’ lives, moving every three years on average,” said Karen. “It’s been well documented that it disrupts family life and may particularly affect children with a pre-existing mental health condition, and/or

22 Army&You spring 2019

“My eldest at 13, my big friendly giant, is screaming out for help – unable to vocalise what he really wants or needs.” additional needs.” Many of you have come to AFF to tell us that your children can develop low level anxiety when leaving an area. Often this is expressed through challenging behaviour, with children becoming unsettled or not sleeping. “One educational expert told me that art therapy and ‘show and tell’ gives children an opportunity to share their feelings,” added Karen. “It’s important for them to talk about where they used to live because moving can be a type of grieving process.” Issues with continuity of treatment can be problematic, particularly when accessing Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). In part, this is because there is currently no mechanism for consultant-to-consultant referral, meaning children must be ‘rereferred’ through their new GP or school.

“This can take considerable time and families are left without adequate support during this process,” explained Karen. “AFF has used your evidence to highlight this problem to NHS England and the Armed Forces Covenant team. We recommend that you keep copies of medical records before you move and research what provision is available in your new location.”

Dealing with separation

Research suggests that Service children are more susceptible to emotional distress whilst parents are away from home. Deployment, training and living unaccompanied can create long periods of separation and, in some cases, this can lead to social isolation, loneliness and deterioration in behaviour. Jo’s six-year-old son George found his father’s deployment difficult and his behaviour changed. Jo’s unit welfare team suggested contacting

her husband’s regimental benevolent fund. “They funded three counselling sessions for George,” she explained. “We’ve found creative ways for him to keep in contact with his dad.”

The impact of parental mental health

The NSPCC estimates that more than two million children are living with a parent who has a common mental health disorder. A number of you have asked AFF about specific support to help children understand serious mental health conditions. Jane’s husband has PTSD and finds sudden or loud noises unbearable, frequently asking their children to be quieter. Jane said: “One day I was in a church with our three-year-old and she said we should bring daddy here because it’s very quiet. When my husband is in hospital, I have to be everything for everyone; dealing with my own worries and those of my children too.” Jane contacted Young Carers for support for her eldest daughter. She was also referred to national organisations Rethink and Home-Start to help her younger child. @ArmyandYou

HEALTH Where can we go for support?

AFF has found that many of you struggle to find targeted support, but there are organisations that can help. Army spouse Karen contacted AFF because she wanted specific support for her son L-J, who has struggled to adjust to civilian life. She said: “Never in a million years did I think I would need support, but my eldest at 13, my big friendly giant, is screaming out for help – unable to vocalise what he really wants or needs. I can do the after-school activities, lots of TLC and talking, but I can’t make friends for him!” Karen has applied for a grant from The Royal British Legion to fund a go-kart building project in her son’s school. She added: “L-J would ideally work in a small group with school support for his emotional behaviour, to build his self-esteem, work as a team and hopefully make friends and fit in.”

The Army Welfare Service (AWS)

AWS community development support workers (CDSWs) run activities in many locations. Denise, in Aldershot, provides youth clubs for youngsters aged between five-and-seven and eight-and-12. “We are also hoping to set up a youth voice project for teenagers in this area,” she explained.

Overseas CDSWs engage with Service children in Kenya, Brunei, Nepal and EJSU, so are aware of issues and can provide support and early intervention. AWS is also helping young people of 16 and older to access the Mental Health First Aid programme. For more information on AWS, see our interview with Rebecca Wakefield, head of community support, on page 37.

Tailor-made support

It’s important to develop creative ways to keep in touch when a parent is away for long periods. Two charities that support families with this are Little Troopers, which provides resources, initiatives and events to keep parent and child connected, and Reading Force, which encourages sharing through books – see page 46. In Catterick, the NSPCC manages The Almond Tree Project, which supports parents with bringing up their children through drop-in sessions, the SafeCare parenting programme and children’s groups. Mental health charity MIND has developed the ‘In It Together’ programme in Oxfordshire to provide parents with strategies to improve their resilience – running courses in Didcot, Abingdon, Bicester, Brize Norton and Benson. The charity’s Susan Mundy said: “We can run as many courses as are required

until July 2019 and each one runs over a four-week period.” A similar project runs in Suffolk.

Devolved regions

The Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET) is Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity. For children from families who are struggling to make ends meet, living with ill health and disability, or experiencing difficulties at school, it provides a lifeline. RCET also works with young people as well as educators across Scotland to ensure that they get the best out of their education and that their voices are heard on all issues affecting them, including their wellbeing.

Welsh matters

As the awareness of Supporting Service Children in Education Wales (SSCE Cymru) has increased, so have the number of queries regarding wellbeing and mental health. SSCE Cymru has produced a bilingual document providing advice and links to resources. In Northern Ireland, your first port of call should be the AWS if you require support for your child. AFF will continue to highlight the importance of wellbeing for Service youngsters. Look out for more at aff.org.uk and if you have any questions, contact Karen Ross at additionalneeds @aff.org.uk &

Outside support There are a number of initiatives supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing that aren’t specific for Service children. Here’s a brief selection: The Family Counselling Trust (Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire)

Part-funded counselling for children up to the age of 18 familycounsellingtrust.org

The Wave Project

Surf therapy to help young people feel less anxious and more positive waveproject.co.uk Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Early Intervention in psychosis for anyone aged 14-35 southernhealth.nhs.uk

Hampshire Youth Access

Counselling, information, advice and support to children aged 5-17 hampshireyouthaccess.org.uk


Resources for children and young people and parents’ helpline youngminds.org.uk

Useful links centreformentalhealth.org.uk nhs.uk armedforcescovenant.gov.uk nspcc.org.uk britishlegion.org.uk army.mod.uk/personnel-and-welfare mhfaengland.org littletroopers.net readingforce.org.uk catterick@nspcc.org.uk mind.org.uk ssafa.org.uk home-start.org.uk rethink.org sscecymru.co.uk

A place to play: AWS youth clubs run in various locations throughout the UK and overseas. This one, in Middle Wallop, brings together youngsters from the military and civilian communities


servicepupilschampion.co.uk rcet.org.uk spring 2019 Army&You 23

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Support in the Services: Amy Woodbridge (right) and Emma Jane

Support through sadness


EING a mother who experienced both a stillbirth and miscarriage, Army spouse Amy Woodbridge was keen to set up a supportive group in Germany for those away from their family and friends. Amy found on a previous posting in Wiltshire that access to support, particularly unique to the military community, was not forthcoming: “My nearest SANDS (the stillbirth and neonatal death charity) group was in Southampton – an hour away – and driving back in the dark after an emotional few hours wasn’t a workable solution.” Her experiences got her thinking about how families access help in

Germany and so the BFG baby loss support group was formed.


“The group provides a comfortable space for those who do want to talk about their loss, regardless of the timeframe – be that mothers, fathers or grandparents – or simply to make friends and have a coffee,” said Amy. “It can be difficult to know if you can or should mention it to new friends when you arrive on posting and whether the person you’re confiding in will feel uncomfortable if you do. “It can also feel incredibly awkward when people ask you if you’re going to have children or another baby.” Amy began promoting

“I hope that wherever military families are posted, there will always be support and an instant connection with those who have similarly suffered.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

the new group through BFBS and a Facebook page. “I’m currently trying to set up an evening meeting for families who are working,” she said. Normandy Barracks welfare centre has also been supportive and welfare officers have helped to spread the word.


Amy has received good feedback. Attendee Emma Jane said: “Amy is such a lovely and kind person. Setting up the group and reaching out to parents like me who have also lost a child was so needed. “Amy has made the community a better place by introducing a safe, comforting group, which has helped me so much.” Amy hopes to set up more groups and influence others to start their own throughout the military community. “I hope that wherever military families are posted, there will always

be support and an instant connection with those who have similarly suffered,” she added. AFF’s Paderborn Co-ordinator Gemma Richardson added: “Amy has gone the extra mile for families. “She has provided a support service for people at their most vulnerable, for the most heart-rending issue we as parents, or prospective parents, dread and face. “The BFG baby loss group is a wonderful environment where those who are affected can freely talk about their experiences and feelings.” If you are affected by this story and would like support, the following organisations can help: ● BFG baby loss support

Amy is our spring Community Champion and wins a Rosie-Lee DAB Digital Radio & Bluetooth speaker (RRP £129.99) from British brand VQ. VQ has also offered all Army&You readers an exclusive offer to save £30 on a Rosie-Lee. Visit MyVQ.co.uk and use code ARMYVQ on checkout.

CELEBRATE YOUR COMMUNITY CHAMPION Do you have a person who works hard to improve Army family life in your area? To nominate them for this award, email editor@aff.org.uk with ‘Community Champion’ in the subject and a summary of why you think they should win. Read others at armyandyou.co.uk

group on Facebook ● miscarriage association.org.uk ● uk-sands.org ● bliss.org.uk &

spring 2019 Army&You 25

Lifting the lid on transition More than 9,000 people leave the Army each year and when a soldier transitions, you transition too. It can affect every aspect of family life, from housing and healthcare to education and employment, but how much do we know about the challenges? Kate McCullough, our Transition Liaison, explains what AFF has been finding out…


ETWEEN October 2016 and 2018, we worked in collaboration with the Naval and RAF Families Federations to research transition. Our full report, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust, can be read at aff.org.uk Here’s a flavour of what the research told us: l There needs to be better

appreciation of how broad and complex transition can be l It’s never too early to plan for leaving – ‘unexpected’ doesn’t have to mean ‘unplanned’ l Just as every family is unique, so is their experience of transition and some need more


help than others l Transition resources could be more relevant and accessible l More research is needed to understand transition for certain groups, such as children, F&C families and the families of those being medically discharged. And here are some of the recommendations: l We’ve suggested the MOD

should raise awareness among families of the inevitability of transition and the importance of early preparation l We identified the need for a change in how support services

and entitlements are marketed to ensure families know what exists and how to access it l We’ve asked the MOD to consider how the current resettlement pathway for Service leavers could be opened up to family members and to work with the families federations to create bespoke transition resources for families l We’d like to see the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) e-learning module made available on the open internet, accessible without a Defence Gateway login l Transition support, including financial and emotional, could be offered to families

throughout the soldier’s career l We’d like the definition of an Armed Forces family member clarified within the scope of the Armed Forces Covenant.


We took part in the MOD’s consultation on the new transition policy to ensure your needs were taken into account from the evidence we gathered. We’ve also embedded the learning from the research into our core work. Our transition webpages at aff.org.uk are packed with information and our specialists and co-ordinators are clued up on all things transition.

Families share their experiences of leaving Army life behind...




Louie finished a career in the Army in 2016 after 22 years’ service. He and his wife Laura had been looking forward to life after the military and enjoying more family time. Laura said: “We moved six times during the last ten years, moving into our own home in preparation for Louie’s discharge. We bought the house a few years previously and rented it out until we were ready.” Louie invested a lot of time securing a new job and had the comfort of knowing he had future employment before his last day in the Army. Sadly, his new commute proved too long so they decided to sell their home and buy another which was closer to Louie’s new job. This put significant financial pressure on the couple. Laura added: “Our advice to other families looking to settle after leaving the Army is to rent initially to make sure it’s the right location for you.” Through all of this, Laura’s job remained a constant as she worked in a role that she could move to her new home without difficulty. She concluded: “I’m grateful for the stability my job gave the family during transition.”

Paul will have served in the Army for more than 36 years when he reaches his end of service in June this year. He and his wife Andria lived together in SFA throughout his career until the beginning of his last year when Andria moved into the home they had bought as part of their planned transition. Paul made use of the CTP provision and sought help to write his CV. He is looking for a job with less responsibility and having more time to himself after such a busy last few roles in the Army. Andria has been in the same job for many years and has been able to keep her role regardless of where the couple have moved. Andria said: “We are looking forward to using Paul’s pension lump sum to pay off our mortgage. Paul has joined the Forces Pension Society to help him understand more about what his pension income will look like once he leaves. Early planning and investing in our property has meant we have avoided any money worries during our transition so far.”

After 31 years, Dean left the Army and relocated with his wife Julie and daughter to an area they had previously visited on holiday. The process of finding a house was long and difficult. “We were surprised by how expensive renting a home is, especially once we factored in a deposit and an increased cost of living outside SFA.” On Dean’s last day of service, neither he nor Julie had secured a job and were facing the prospect of living off Dean’s pension. They are both now working and Julie enjoys her new career. However, Dean feels unfulfilled in his new role and has found adjusting to life after the Army difficult. Initially none of the nearest schools had any availability. “Fortunately, things changed and our daughter is now very happy in her new school. She has enjoyed making friends that she’ll be at school with for many years to come.” Amongst the anxiety of the transition, they have discovered Veterans’ Breakfast Clubs – a group offering meet ups for veterans and their families. “We really enjoy spending time with people who know what it’s like to leave the military and can provide helpful advice and reassurance.”

26 Army&You spring 2019



Moving on from the military: Army families who have gone through transition include (clockwise from top left) Louie and Laura; Will and Rachel; Paul and Andria; Neil and Becky; Ruth and Tim




Ruth and Tim Gilbert were both in the Army for 16 years. They lived in several SFA before buying their own home a year before leaving the Army. “Before relocating to Devon, we spent a few months travelling, making the most of the time together whilst the children are still young and now that we are no longer tied to the Army.” Ruth and Tim had decided early on where they wanted to live and what kind of lifestyle they wanted. They looked for work that would fit their vision of post-Army life and both accepted Army Reserve roles, supplemented by both of their Army pensions. “After a stint of home schooling for the children whilst we were travelling overseas, we’ve thankfully had no difficulties securing school and nursery places once we were back in the UK.” They recommend for others to be proactive and to not be afraid of doing something different. “We’ve had a relatively smooth transition so far and did a lot of planning in advance to mitigate the possible risks.”

After 20 years’ service, Neil was medically discharged from the Army in 2017. He and his wife Becky moved from their SFA in Devon to a privately-rented property nearby with their two daughters. “We were looking forward to a fresh start as a family after a difficult final few years in the Army.” As well as the challenges Neil faced in dealing with his medical condition, Becky was surprised by how much there was to manage during transition. “Two years for resettlement has not been enough for us, particularly as Neil was discharged two years earlier than we had planned to leave, giving us less time to make decisions and put plans in place.” Of all the challenges, their finances have been the most stressful. Private rent and bigger household bills alongside Neil being unable to work at that time, has put the family under financial pressure. Fortunately, Becky has been able to maintain her job throughout providing an essential income. “I would encourage other Army families to think about transition sooner rather than later. I appreciate first-hand how much there is to think about and how expensive setting up a new life can be.”

Will left the Army in 2015 after seven years’ service. He had enjoyed his career, which included an accompanied overseas posting, and he and his wife Rachel started a family. Will invested heavily in researching what he wanted to do after leaving the Army, working out what suited his aspirations and their family life best. He identified that his job needed to meet his development needs as well as provide a good salary and be enjoyable. “Think hard about what you want from a job beyond the pay. Networking has been really important in securing my new job.” Will and Rachel found house buying to be a stressful part of their transition. They had chosen an expensive area and found saving for a deposit difficult. “In the end, a developer’s scheme to support first-time buyers proved invaluable to us.” Will and Rachel were familiar with their new area having lived in SFA. “We miss the social side of being in the Army, but have made friends in our new local community by joining a tennis club and by meeting people through our children.”


spring 2019 Army&You 27

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MOVING TO CYPRUS? AFF’s team in Cyprus are getting ready for a unit swap this year as part of the rebasing programme. Our Regional Manager Carolyn Aggar said: “Although we will be sad to see 2 Royal Anglian leave us, we’re looking forward to welcoming 1PWRR next year on their rotation to Cyprus. “If you are moving with the regiment, don’t forget that you can contact us prior to your move with any questions about Cyprus life. We hope that you will love the posting as much as we do!”

Green and pleasant land: Wiltshire is home to stunning sites including Salisbury Cathedral (above) and Stourhead (below)

Welcome to Wiltshire Are you worried about moving to Wiltshire in 2019 as part of the Army’s rebasing plans? Don’t be, it’s a fantastic place to live and it’s had the military community at its heart for 100 years, as AFF’s Wiltshire Co-ordinator Carol Morris explains…


HILE it may appear rural at first glance, Salisbury Plain sits on the edge of the A303, the main route to the West Country. “From here you’re able to access seven major cities within two hours by either train or car allowing for some great days out – and for those that would like to have the opportunity to work further afield, there are good commuter links,” said Carol, who has lived in the region on and off for more than 12 years and settled in the area when her soldier left the Army. “I’ve worked for AFF for seven years. You can often find me at coffee mornings, parent and tots groups and representing families at meetings with garrison, DIO, Amey, Army Welfare Service and schools.” Through regular meetings with DIO, Carol helps to ensure your voice is represented when it comes www.armyandyou.co.uk

to housing, especially with new builds ready for the influx of families. “It allows me to discuss ongoing trends and issues concerning Service Family Accommodation. DIO and Amey ensure that AFF is part of the communication process with housing concerns,” she said. Carol has also set up an additional needs support group so families can access help from military and civilian agencies in Wiltshire, meet other parents and share best practice. It’s had a very positive response and is set to continue throughout

this year. “I also host an F&C coffee morning,” added Carol. “We often have one of AFF’s F&C team present, so families can discuss concerns one-to-one in a confidential setting.” If you’re heading to Wiltshire and have a question, contact Carol at wiltshire@aff.org.uk or visit aff.org.uk & For further information about the area, visit: wiltshire.gov.uk salisburyplainhive. blogspot.com visitwiltshire.co.uk

ESBA Co-ordinator (Kelly Taylor) esba@aff.org.uk WSBA Co-ordinator (Aileen Naylor) wsba@aff.org.uk Regional Manager Cyprus (Carolyn Aggar) rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

LEGAL MATTERS ARMY Legal Assistance (ALA) has now stopped taking on any new matrimonial, medical negligence and personal injury work as a result of the drawdown from Germany. It’s also closing to all types of legal issues on 31 March 2019, so you’ll be informed about alternative sources if you find yourself in need of legal advice. For those of you who have an existing case, ALA will be in touch to explain how it will be managed beyond this date. Contact ALA at AG-ALA-BFCDatabases@mod.gov.uk or go to bfgnet.de/legal

NEED TO KNOW IF YOU are still living in Germany and you missed the local authorities’ families’ briefing in BFG, don’t worry – there’s plenty of information available at BFG Net. There’s an overview of the redeployment plans and all you need to know about schools, employment and housing, plus a whole host of useful links. Go to bfgnet.de/leaving-bfg spring 2019 Army&You 29

On track for training Many spouses and partners find themselves considering starting or changing their career path. AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin offers advice on training courses…


FREQUENTLY receive enquiries about access to training or education and our evidence demonstrates that you can face many barriers, including funding, mobility, overseas postings and limited childcare support from your soldier and family members.


It’s sensible to note your current

Nicola Wright Course: Access to Higher Education


I’ve been married to Terry for 15 years and we have two children, Jessica and Jamie.

Reason for choosing this course:

I was fascinated with midwifery after my own experience. I really liked the idea of working closely with women and helping them through what is such a significant yet special time. Whilst posted in Cyprus I started a distance

skills and qualifications and research what else you’ll need to do to reach your goal. You’ll also need to consider how you’ll complete your studies around Service family life; perhaps a distance learning course is the only option if you move frequently. There’s a useful policy in place to support retention of Service Family Accommodation


Training can be costly and you’ll

need to commit a vast amount of time to any course you sign up for, so look out for grants or funding opportunities and make a plan to help ensure that you can complete your studies around any house moves, deployments and family commitments. I spoke to four spouses on different courses who are on the road to fulfilling their ambitions…

learning access to higher education course.

Ashley Woodhouse

How does it fit with Army life?


I started really well and managed to fit in study every day after I finished work. Progress halted six months in when we were posted back to the UK and my whole routine changed. Spending quality time with the children whilst they were home from boarding school meant I put my studies to the bottom of my priorities, so it took a further 11 months to finish the course.

Next steps:

I received offers from three universities near our next posting in Aldershot, so I’ll begin to study midwifery at the University of Surrey in September.

Top tip:

Distance learning is tough and requires organisation, motivation and dedication, yet with support it’s achievable – I’d recommend it to anyone.

30 Army&You spring 2019

if you are undertaking an adult educational course and your soldier has been short-toured. It’s important to note that the course must have been started in the realistic expectation that it would have been completed within your soldier’s original assignment period.

Course: Healthcare Assistant (HCA) NVQ Level 2/3

My dad was a guardsman and I met my soldier husband Scott in Catterick. We have four boys aged 11, five, three and two and my step-daughter who is 12.

Reason for choosing this course:

By accident! I was supposed to take up a paramedic apprentice scheme in Darlington when my husband received an unexpected promotion, which meant we had to up and leave for Dorset. Feeling disheartened I searched for lots of jobs throughout the NHS and the HCA role came up. I was lucky to get offered a place on the bank team at Poole hospital.

How does it fit with Army life?

I’m able to do a variety of shifts, which is why I chose to be on the bank for flexibility. In Bovington, we have

stability due to the nature of Scott’s job.

Next steps:

I will be a fully-trained HCA for our next posting where I’ll continue into university to train as either a paramedic or midwife. I’m still undecided on which field I want to go into, hence choosing a job where I can get a feel for everything.

Top tip:

Go for it. Focus on you – it’s a nice feeling after all these years doing something for myself.



Chelsea Tudhope Course: MSc in Midwifery


I’m originally from Niagara Falls, New York and was completing my degree in psychology in Florida when I met my husband Rich, who’s in the Royal Signals.

Sarah Barber

Course: Bar Professional Training Course


I finished my law degree at the University of Southampton in 2017. My husband is a Grenadier Guard, our daughter is two and my step-daughter is nine.

Reason for choosing this course:

I planned to study politics at university, but I got fed up with politicians and decided I was better suited to law. I’ve never looked back.

How does it fit with Army life?

We moved to Aldershot and I started the vocational training to become a barrister as it was easily commutable to London. But my husband deployed for seven months so I had to juggle

being a mum, working parttime and studying on my own. For some exams, I was able to change dates and times to make sure I could pick up my daughter and I had lots of support from my fantastic mother-in-law.

Next steps:

I’ve been ‘called to the bar’ – essentially a passing out parade for barristers – and I hope to find pupillage within family law to complete the last part of my training.

Top tip:

Don’t let anything hold you back – it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. There are tons of options for studying, you just have to be focused and accept support when it’s offered.

Reason for choosing this course:

After having my first daughter I became fascinated with supporting women through the transition to becoming a mother.

How does it fit with Army life?

It’s very challenging. Not only is midwifery a threeyear, full-time academic course, but you’re also expected to follow your mentor’s full-time schedule which includes night and weekend shifts. We’ve had to arrange full-time childcare and

have been lucky enough to live on a wonderful patch with supportive friends who help with school runs. In Scotland the course is funded and I also receive a bursary which helps to alleviate some of the childcare costs. It wouldn’t have been possible to move and complete the course; we were able to extend so I could finish my final year here.

Next steps:

As soon as I graduate we will be off to our next posting and I can apply for midwifery roles.

Top tip:

At times it’s quite a minefield to work out logistics, but it’s amazing to build a career in something that you’re passionate about. I would highly recommend it.

AFF training portal coming soon TRAINING has been a key focus for AFF for many years. Our recent employment research report delivered by the University of Warwick recommended that more information needs to be made available to spouses to help them make choices about training. We’re now in the process of developing a new online


employment and training platform which will offer access to educational and development opportunities as well as career related information. Look out for the platform’s launch this September. If you have a question about employment or training, contact Laura at etam@aff.org.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 31

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Go online now to launch your new career www.iosh.co.uk/al3 Duncan Spencer, who served in the Royal Corps of Signals, has now forged a successful career in health and safety.




Friendly faces: LifeWorks Families at Brompton; Below: Lindsey receiving her certificate after completing the course.

Getting you job ready


HE LifeWorks Families employment support programme could be just the thing you need to kickstart your job search or launch your new career. It’s been designed by people who understand the challenges being an Army spouse or partner brings to employment, and runs regularly in garrisons throughout the UK, Germany and as far afield as Cyprus and Brunei. Delivered with your Army lifestyle commitments in mind, LifeWorks Families is a three-day course covering crucial aspects of employability skills including CV writing, interviews and covering letters, with assessors on hand to help build your confidence. www.armyandyou.co.uk


Lindsey O’Reilly, who lives in Paderborn, said attending LifeWorks Families was one of the best decisions of her life, explaining: “As an Army wife of 22 years, I have prided myself on always finding employment no matter what the job or the country. With my husband only having two-and-a-half years left to serve, I started thinking about what career I’d like to take me into retirement. “That’s when the

horror kicked in that my CV was dated and my interview skills almost non-existent, so I signed up for the course.” She added: “I felt nervous and started doubting myself and my abilities, but I brushed my worries aside and walked into the classroom – one of the best moves I’ve made. “The coaches made me feel at ease and, with their help, I realised how much I have to offer – it opened my eyes to a

lot of things I hadn’t thought about. “By the end of the first day, I couldn’t wait for the next. I came away with more confidence and skills and the knowledge that if I need help down the line, be it five months or five years, LifeWorks will be there for me.”


The best experience is to attend a course in your area, but it isn’t always possible, so there are other options. You can take advantage of telephone or remote support where an experienced career coach can help, or check out the LifeWorks online platform – visit wearelifeworks.org.uk/ families or call 0800 319 6844. &

ARMY spouse Sophie FernandesMcLaren says she feels like she’s about to ‘have her cake and eat it’ after completing the six-month Digital Mums social media manager course, won in a competition run by AFF. From being disillusioned in the job market, Sophie is now qualified and is mapping out her future business plans. “At 28, with three children, essentially no usable qualifications and a disability, I wasn’t screaming employment potential – or that’s how it felt,” she told us. “I came across the competition from AFF and I felt it was speaking out to me.” Joining the course was still a massive step for Sophie, but she felt that Digital Mums had a style that understands the needs and feelings of the women that join. She said: “They took great care to guide us. Learning something, understanding it enough to implement and then actually gaining traction on my social platforms was incredibly rewarding, knowing what it means for my future and how it will enable me to help provide for my family. “This course fitted around my commitments and I will be able to start building a path for myself on my terms for the first time.” Sophie is now setting up her own business and looking forward to providing services to independent stores in her area. Search for ‘Motherhood hit me like’ for more on Sophie. For details about Digital Mums, visit digitalmums.com

summer spring 2019 2018 Army&You Army&You 33 19

Saddle up


O PARAPHRASE an old saying; the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man – and this is very much in evidence behind the wire in Larkhill, Salisbury Plain. As a military welfare facility and registered charity, The Royal Artillery Saddle Club is open to serving personnel, families and the local community and offers all kinds of horsey activities. Staffed by soldiers, the club runs competitions, clinics and events aided by a committed team of volunteers.


Sam Brindley moved to Larkhill with her daughters Taylor and Lacey to join her soldier spouse James. Taking Taylor for a Saturday morning lesson often ends up with her still being there at four in the afternoon. “It’s a community,” Sam explained, “the stables are Taylor’s happy place and it’s all she talks about. It’s where she feels normal

and part of a group.” The staff are aware of Taylor’s extra needs including problems retaining and processing information and having moderate deafness in one ear. “They are amazing with her; so patient, giving her that bit more time she needs,” added Sam.


The saddle club proved a godsend when single father and soldier Matt Long was admitted to Headley Court with neurological complications following an operation. His younger daughter Belle rides in every competition and spends all the time she can at the saddle club to distract herself. Support from staff has helped her during a difficult period and has enabled Matt essential time to ‘reset’ – he’s now back at work. Stables manager Peter Pagan-Skelley has been the driving force behind competitions

Horsing around: Instructor Brooke Taubmann helps a young com petitor in the Summer Show Clear Round Picture: Ellie Osborne

and clinics, which are enjoyed by military and civilian families alike. A recent fundraiser provided for two new ponies to enable more children to ride when new families arrive in the area as part of the Army’s rebasing programme. Want to find out more about the Royal Artillery Saddle Club? Visit rasaddleclub larkhill.com or check out armyequitation. org.uk to find a place to ride near you. &

From solitude to singing With the unpredictable nature of Army life, the feeling of isolation can be common. It can be particularly tricky for those new to military life who have moved far away from family and friends for the first time. Army&You spoke to one Service spouse to find out why joining your local Military Wives Choir might be the answer… BECCA Tompkin (24) is from Leicestershire and three years ago met her husband, Daniel. In October 2016, they were posted to Kent. She said: “Being away from family was really tough and I found it quite isolating to begin with. I was looking for activities on camp where I could make new friends, but I found the

34 Army&You spring 2019

idea of going along to a coffee morning quite pressurising; to just walk into a room and talk. That was the reason I joined the choir.” There are 75 Military Wives Choirs across the UK and overseas open to any woman with a military connection with no experience necessary. Members ranging from 18 to more

than 80 experience a fun, safe space were ladies can take time for themselves to make friends and sing side-by-side with a group that understands – vital when you’re new to an area.

LIFTING YOUR MOOD Becca has just celebrated her oneyear anniversary with Brompton Military Wives Choir. She added: “All of the ladies in my choir have been nothing but lovely and supportive. The atmosphere is relaxed and we find time for a good chat too. Choir always lifts my mood and leaves me feeling relaxed and happy – sometimes it’s just what I need after a long day!” All Military Wives Choirs share a core repertoire which they sing in

rehearsals and often perform at events. The familiarity of the songs means that whatever number posting you’re on, you can always walk into a rehearsal room and feel at home. “I love the songs which we get to sing whilst experiencing new things,” Becca explained. “We Will Remember Them, which was written especially for us, really makes me emotional. Singing them when we perform or even just in rehearsals is such an amazing feeling. I’ll never forget my first Remembrance performance with the Royal Engineers band – it was very special.” Interested in joining the Military Wives Choirs network? Visit militarywiveschoirs.org to find your local group. & @ArmyandYou


Light at the end of the tunnel


FEW years ago, I knew a soldier who was strong, confident and independent, writes Maj Clair Robinson-Kirk. She had a good job, was recently promoted, happily married and planned to have a family. After the initial shock of falling pregnant with twins she was excited to be bringing two healthy little girls into the world in March 2015. For the next few months she relished in motherhood, amazed by how much her babies brought joy into her life. The only negative was the isolation she felt from work; no phone call, no visit.


After months at home, it was time for her to go back. With her husband working away most of the time, she had to make it work on her own, with the help of a nanny, for at least a year. The pressure began to build. After restless nights, a day’s work followed by feeds and bedtime routine, there was very little time for her. She was anxious about going into work, getting in late, panicking to the point where she couldn’t even enter the building and would hyperventilate, fearful

that she was failing and would be criticised by her peers and chain of command.


Relationships with those closest to her became strained. With no explanation for irrational and angry outbursts, the isolation grew. When the nanny arrived each day she knew her children were safe, so it became easier to hide away in her room. An emotional mess, not understanding why she couldn’t just pull herself together. She finally went to the doctor and was diagnosed with PostNatal Depression (PND). The reason for her behaviour was explained and a sense of relief came over her. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. After another house move, she threw herself into a new job while still receiving treatment. But the stresses quickly came to the fore again. The fear of not being good enough was too much. She disengaged with work and became introvert, desperately wanting someone to talk to, yet distancing herself from everyone and everything. This mum-of-twins had lost her identity, spiralled into despair, unable to keep putting on her uniform as her armour, thinking she was not worthy to wear the rank she had earnt. Despite her loving husband, family and two beautiful daughters she felt

“Recovering from PND can take months or even years, so don’t expect too much of yourself or those close to you. It takes time to rebuild a person.” detached and guilty that she wasn’t fulfilling her motherly responsibilities. Mental ill-health was crippling her. That woman was me.


I was finally signed off sick by medical professionals with the assistance of a very proactive health visitor and welfare officer. It was this action which saved me. With a joined-up approach through DCMH, the medical centre, the welfare team, health visitor, Help for Heroes’ Tedworth House and a local PND support group, I was finally on the road to recovery. In the end, it took a change of job, supportive work colleagues and treatment. I completed my graduated return to work programme last April. I believe my mental ill-health was caused by several factors but making the transition from full-time mum to full-time employment was the most difficult. Your priorities change, so the 100 per cent which you used to give to work is no longer achievable and adjustments need to be made for

everything to be manageable and balanced. Recovering from PND can take months or even years, so don’t expect too much of yourself or those close to you. It takes time to rebuild a person. I’ve had to re-assess my life, be realistic with my priorities, be open and honest during treatment and accept support when it’s offered. Mental health has no prejudice and neither should we. We need to be more aware of the signs and symptoms, be able to identify those who are more at risk. No-one should ever feel ashamed in suffering from mental ill-health, they should feel supported to ensure a swift recovery. &

USEFUL LINKS MIND mind.org.uk NHS nhs.uk/conditions/post-nataldepression ROYAL COLLEGE OF PSYCHIATRISTS rcpsych.ac.uk ACTION POSTPARTUM PSYCHOSIS app-network.org ASSOCIATION FOR POSTNATAL ILLNESS apni.org PANDAS FOUNDATION pandasfoundation.org.uk MOTHERS FOR MOTHERS mothersformothers.co.uk NCT nct.org.uk HOME–START home-start.org.uk

On the up: Clair with her twins


MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH ALLIANCE maternalmental healthalliance.org

spring 2019 Army&You 35

Your children’s voice


HIS year AFF has an exciting and important focus on Service children, writes Jilly Carrell, Education & Childcare Specialist. We will be teaming up with the University of Winchester’s Service Children’s Progression Alliance (SCiP) – a partnership of organisations focused on improving outcomes for children from military families, and the Army Welfare Service (AWS) in their capacity to lead the play, youth work and community development for the British Army. In March and April, we will be researching how we can improve

outcomes for your children, as well as celebrating their achievements and ability to adapt to complex challenges. We are looking forward to you playing a big part in this first-of-its-kind research – ‘Youth Voice’ – and we are working with AWS to make sure we hear from Service children across the globe. We really want to ask your youngsters what it’s like to be a Service child in 2019 – the good and the bad. How do they feel their unique and often challenging experiences shape them as a person? What do they think about their parents’ roles and

Child focus: Jilly Carrell (inset) is looking forward to taking part in the Youth Voice research

about their absences due to deployments? Do our young people feel they are advantaged by being an Armed Forces child? There’s currently a swell of interest from

research organisations and charities into what it means to be a Forces child and what would be the best support for them. But without their lived experience and unique

perspective, the picture would not be complete. We are looking forward to hearing from your Service children. Thank you for being a part of it! &

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SHARING EXPERIENCES Rebecca Wakefield (pictured below), head of community support for the Army Welfare Service, tells us about her role…

Gathering evidence ARMY&YOU caught up with Phil Dent (pictured above), head of community engagement, social justice and impact at the University of Winchester, to find out more about its role in the Service Children’s Progression Alliance... “SCiP hopefully does what it says on the tin. It’s an alliance of organisations focused on helping Service children progress through their education journeys,” he said. “The Alliance is supported by the MOD. The University has a long-standing commitment to helping children and young people progress through further and higher education options.” University research has identified the considerable potential benefits that Service children gain as a result of their diverse experiences. “Adaptability, maturity and leadership skills are often cited as strengths held by Service children and undergraduates from Service families are often far better prepared to succeed at university than their peers,” said Phil. “But our research also suggests that Service children are around one third less likely to access higher education – even though academically they perform very well.” While university is not the right option for everyone, the Alliance wants to make sure that Service children are not being disadvantaged. Evidence suggests that separation from parents can impact on children’s learning and mental wellbeing. “We also know that higher levels of mobility, especially four or more school moves, has an


impact on attainment,” said Phil. “We are undertaking research to understand why and how Service life affects [military] children and we are advising government agencies on how to change policy to improve their lives. “Importantly, we are supporting schools, colleges, universities, local authorities and charities to provide better support. “Future plans include building a much stronger national network and online resource bank, so that all education professionals can find evidence-based, highquality support, wherever they are working. And we are developing tools to help schools understand how to improve their support, based on what is best from practice across the country.” A good relationship between parents/carers and schools can also help. You can assist by keeping your school up-to-date about deployments, separation or moves. “Best practice starts with listening to children and understanding their circumstances, added Phil. “That way, schools can understand their strengths and interests and help to integrate them into the life of the school. “They can also respond to the child’s concerns and needs on a one-to-one basis.” One of the key messages that Phil is keen to get across is that Service children are individuals. He said: “We need to hear from the children themselves, so that we can develop support that is tailored to the individual. That’s why we are so pleased to be working with AFF to create a stronger voice for Service children – they are individuals and uniquely precious.”

How do you work with Service families? My role is to lead the play, youth work and community development for the British Army. I also have an MOD-wide responsibility for play and youth work strategy in support of children and young people. If you’ve attended parent and toddler or parenting support groups, have become involved in projects like community gardens, family events or art projects, you’ll probably have met members of the AWS team. We tend to be most recognisable as the people that organise activities, run youth clubs or drop-ins and residentials. What are you doing to ensure Service children have a voice? Their voice is central to quality play and youth work as well as ensuring decision makers hear about the lived experience for children and young people in our community. It’s my responsibility to seek out that voice. The whole community support team works with and listens to children and young people in the UK and overseas. I ensure their voice is represented with decision makers, whether in person themselves or through my reports. Can you tell us more about projects you are working on? We have so many exciting projects ongoing: l We work with around 100 young people who elect four representatives as members of the UK Youth Parliament from British Forces overseas. They contribute to the voice of more than one million voting young people on issues affecting them and attend the Youth Parliament every November. l We are launching an online youth forum and creating a virtual youth voice network.

Teams in Germany, Tidworth and Cyprus are running events for children and young people moving to the UK or Cyprus this year and we’re planning residentials for them. l We are taking MOD-led youth work into schools, listening to and working with children and young people. l We have a new professional youth and community work post hopping about the globe working with children, young people and families overseas. How are you working with AFF? I’m often at the same meetings as AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade and other members of the AFF team; we regularly swap knowledge and explore issues affecting families. I’m delighted to be collaborating with Jilly and Phil on the pupil voice research. What do you hope to achieve? I hope many unique voices from children and young people can be captured. They are their own experts on what matters to them, the opportunity to listen will not only support the aims of the research but will also help me plan initiatives and services that support them. How can families get involved? You will have the opportunity to share your opinions and experiences as well your children. Please take part in the consultation and encourage your children to join in!

winter 2018 Army&You 37


School report

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

ool Name of sch

Alverstoke Church of l England Junior Schoo

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

We are very aware of the needs and the We are part of a community ‘plant a poppy support required for Service children. In for Remembrance’ event and last year two addition to an excellent emotional literacy children laid a wreath on behalf of all Service support assistant, we have a family link families. We host events throughout the year, Location worker who co-ordinates our ‘new arrival but our most successful was our Service ambassador scheme’. We nominate a families’ summer picnic. We received funding class ambassador to show the new child from Forces Live Events CSE and invited 12 f o T around school, encourage them to interact local schools, all who have large numbers N AMOU s il p at playtime and lunchtime and help them of Service children, to attend. CSE provided u Service p settle. The family link worker introduces entertainment and HMS Collingwood themselves to the new family and explains Field Gun, the local police, fire brigade their role, so that should there be any and ambulance service all attended along problems, or the serving parent is deployed, with Armed Forces charities to offer support they have a point of contact. They also speak to the class teacher and answer any questions. The families had a great time and the on a daily basis to ensure the child is settling in and organise small feedback was so positive we are holding a similar event this year. groups, which includes the new child, to play and chat together.


45 out of 308

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

All Service children have a weekly heroes club to attend if they would like. Children are also given the opportunity to share work and photographs with their deployed parent, even if the parent is just away during the week. There’s always the opportunity to chat with an adult or peers and a family can also be put in touch with other organisations who can help if Service life becomes tough. We regularly provide families with information on what’s available in the local area too.

What do the kids think?

One Service child said the support available “makes a sad time a lot happier”.

And the parents?

A parent told us: “We had moved from a school where there were only one or two Service families, so I felt very isolated. The fact that there’s support at Alverstoke and the knowledge that there are other children experiencing the same emotions, has made a recent deployment a lot easier.” &

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

38 Army&You spring 2019


Which Boarding School Helping families find the right boarding school

“As a military family, we didn’t know where to start in finding the right school Which Boarding School took the time to find out about our daughter and were thus able to help us choose a school that we believe will fit her interests and temperament extremely well.” Victoria Could we help you with this vital decision? Our expert, one-to-one service is confidential and completely free to military families. Call William on +44 (0)1702 588225 or visit which-boarding-school.com

Up to 15% Forces Discount


Your child at our heart Contact the Registrar on 01722 555300 admissions@salisburycathedralschool.co.uk www.salisburycathedralschool.com CO-EDUCATIONAL PREPARATORY SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN AGED 3-13


spring 2019 Army&You 39

40 Army&You spring 2019



The great outdoors (clockwise from top centre): A Mount Kelly pupil tries their hand at surfing; Dauntsey’s students learn about the First World War; Farleigh School youngsters having fun in France; Travellers from Gordon’s School pictured during their visit to Sudan; Girls from the Duke of York’s Royal Military School visit a war cemetery

A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY We quizzed a selection of schools on the benefits to pupils of breaking away from the traditional learning of the classroom for exciting school trips at home and abroad...


OR those of a certain vintage, school trips may conjure up memories

topics discussed in the classroom. Mr Foreman said: “Seeing the

Albert School has gone to great

Education expert William Wilcox,

lengths in acknowledging the fact

of Which Boarding School, endorsed

Hadron Collider at Cern to grasp the

that the classroom is not always the

the power of leaving the confines

of constant headcounts,

fundamentals of subatomic particles

best learning environment for all of

of the classroom in enriching

interminable journeys on stuffy

or visiting the Great War battlefields

its pupils.

pupils’ experiences.

coaches and packed lunches made

at Ypres where so many soldiers lost

up of stinky sandwiches and

their lives helps students visualise

Curriculum and Community,

and parents to find the perfect

tepid drinks.

what they are learning.”

explained that the school operates

place for each child, said that his

a popular “a week without walls”

first-hand experience has shown

But scratch beneath the surface

Carly Skiller, Head of Year Three

Jo Czerpak, Deputy Head of

William, who works with schools

and most would admit that

at Andover’s Farleigh School,

programme to give its youngsters

that learning and schooling are

striking out from the classroom for

had a similar answer when asked

the chance to venture out while

about much more than covering the

museums, theatres and even other

how getting out of the classroom

learning something directly linked

curriculum in the classroom.

countries has long been an excellent

benefits learning.

to the curriculum.

means of bringing learning to life. Alex Foreman, Principal of the

Explaining that allowing children

He said: “Our pupils spend a

He explained: “Schools now dedicate a significant proportion of

to experience active learning in a

week trying different skills such as

their time to developing life skills

Duke of York’s Royal Military School

new environment helps to encourage

learning a new sport, working with

and many school trips fall outside

in Dover, explained how getting

independent thought, she added:

Gatton Trust on how they look after

traditional curriculum subjects.

out and about can be the perfect

“Children respond to different

our 260-acre park and even getting

complement to in-house teaching

stimuli away from the classroom,

our maintenance department

are adapting. Millennials value

with the chance to see “the real

which often helps to consolidate

involved to teach children practical

experiences over material ownership

thing” helping students understand

their understanding of a topic.”

skills such as plumbing and

and this thinking currently extends

electrical work.”

into the classroom. ››

the complexities and impact of


Reigate’s Royal Alexandra and

“Society has changed and schools

spring 2019 Army&You 41


Contemporary Catholic Co-educational 3-13 Day & Boarding

Open Morning

Saturday 16th March 2019

Register at opendays@farleighschool.com

www.farleighschool.com Red Rice, Andover, Hampshire, SP11 7PW

Boarding discount for HM Forces

School Inspectors say we are... (November 2018)

Co-educational Prep School for children aged 3 − 13 Day, weekly and full boarding • Forces discounts available Associated with Malvern College registrar@thedownsmalvern.org.uk • www.thedownsmalvern.org.uk 42 Army&You spring 2019




Up for adventure (clocwise from top left): Adcote pupils reassemble a car engine; Royal Alexandra and Albert School rugby players have toured South Africa and Barbados; Dauntsey’s pupils aboard the Jolie Brise; Chafyn Grove students get back to nature

“Parents relish the opportunities to give their children once-in-a-

traditional learning. “Feelings,” she explained. “That,

He explained: “Education out of the classroom always complements

lifetime experiences which will stay

in a nutshell, is a leading reason for

what goes on inside it – I

with the child forever.”

the benefits of learning through the

instinctively approve of family trips

outdoors for students today.

as well as school-organised ones for

While the focus of any particular school trip – whether a

“Lessons that tap into all their

Shakespearean play or a museum

senses and bring their minds and

exhibition – may provide subject-

their bodies alive in the way that an

not only brings learning to life,

specific learning, the experience of

arid, theory-driven, classroom-based

it encourages camaraderie and

heading into a new environment

experience cannot.”

cooperation. The minibus trip is

holds important lessons of its own,

Mrs Browne added that British

this good reason. “Getting out of the classroom

always a big part of any fixture!

according to Matty Thavenot, Head

education has been placing an

In addition the simple variety

of Prep Boarding and Science at

increasing emphasis on “whole

excursions supply keeps the

Mount Kelly in Tavistock, Devon.

child education” and the importance

environment fresh and oxygenated

of building character alongside

for the children.”

From bog runs and camping residentials to care home visits

knowledge – much to the benefit of

and language trips, Mount Kelly’s

Adcote’s pupils.

“learning outside the classroom”

“Moving learning from indoors to

And for Mark McFarland, Dauntsey’s School’s Second Master and the man responsible for

provision develops resilience,

outdoors is a sure way to teach skills

organising an annual schedule of

teamwork, leadership and more.

and character because it is a fully

trips, heading out on excursions

immersive experience for young,

is a chance to provide pupils with

develop a well-rounded child who

inexperienced and impressionable

“magical opportunities”.

has a greater range of skills needed

children,” she said. “Tasks and

to succeed in the ever-changing

challenges set beyond the limits of

whether deepening academic

workplace,” said Mr Thavenot. “By

the classroom awaken their senses,

knowledge, stimulating new ideas

developing character and curiosity

all of them, and as a result learning

or pushing youngsters beyond

they will be able to find their passion

is more vital and lasting.

their previous experiences, school

“All of these skills combine to help

and mould their futures in the direction that they want.” This broader sense of development is also a keen focus of Adcote

“Above all it is enjoyable and we all know that student engagement is at the heart of student success.” The value of external visits is

Mr McFarland believes that

trips lead to new friendships, new confidence and a new sense of self. “Whatever the topic, destination or reason for a trip, pupils visibly

School, where Headmistress Diane

appreciated by Chafyn Grove

blossom,” he told us. “Out of their

Browne points to a fundamental

Headmaster Simon Head, who

normal environment, they grow

aspect of human nature as a

believes their benefits extend

in independence and confidence,

motivation to break away from more

beyond formal educational settings.

forging close relationships with ››


A TRIP to Sudan isn’t usually on most schools’ itineraries, but students and staff from Gordon’s School spent a week in the capital city, Khartoum. Gordon’s School shares a unique history and connection to Khartoum as it is the national memorial to the British war hero and philanthropist General Charles Gordon and was founded following his death in Khartoum in 1885. It also houses a statue of General Gordon which originally graced a crossroads in Khartoum, and one of the Gordon Foundation trustees is Tom Gordon – great-great-great nephew of General Gordon. The invitation for the historic visit – believed to be the first by a European school – came from the co-founders of the Khartoum International Community School (KICS), who discovered Gordon’s School when helping their son with a school project on General Gordon. The trip included a boat trip along the Nile; the Meroe Pyramids; the National Republic Museum; camping in the desert and tea at the British Embassy. Last summer Gordon’s School welcomed the then-British Ambassador to Sudan, Michael Aron and now Gordon’s and KICS are determined to develop and maintain links, with an exchange visit already planned. Student Victoria Wright asked to go as she is keen to work with NGOs in the future. Although admitting Sudan wasn’t her idea of a typical holiday destination, she is keen to return. “Everyone we met was so hospitable and friendly and approachable,” she said. David Lelliott, British Embassy Charge d’Affaires in Sudan, has offered support in educational links between the schools and it is hoped there will be further visits as well as placements for gap students from Gordon’s, teacher experience and joint Model United Nations activity.

spring 2019 Army&You 43

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

Boarding from 7 to 18 years Warm and supportive family ethos Strong academic results at 11+, GCSE and A Level Modern en-suite boarding accommodation Fast train only 75 minutes from London Christian Foundation

HM Forces personnel in receipt of CEA pay only 10% of the boarding fee T: 01843 572931 E: admissions@slcuk.com College Road, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 7AE


Discover Us 2019

Stamford School Discovery Morning

Stamford High School Discovery Morning

Stamford Junior School Discovery Morning

(Boys 11 - 18) 19 March 2019

(Girls 11 - 18) 20 March 2019

(Boys & Girls 3 - 11) 5 March 2019

To book your place, visit stamfordschools.co.uk or call us on 01780 750311 44 Army&You spring 2019


EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL canoeing expedition to the Swedish

Court, Butser Ancient Farm,

“They experience different

wilderness and a visit to Bhutan,

Stonehenge and the Andover

cultures and ways of life which

while Chafyn Grove’s pupils have

Museum of the Iron Age to bring

change the way they think and test

been on a trip up Mount Kenya

history to life.

comfortable assumptions.

and a choir tour to Barcelona,

“They return to school with a

The value of these out-of-

with a further singing sojourn to

classroom experiences is

different level of understanding, not

Rome planned in 2020. Members of

apparent in Adcote School’s

only of the places they have visited

Farleigh School’s choir are equally

CLEAR (Confidence, Leadership,

and the subjects they have studied,

well-travelled, with a recent tour to

Engagement, Achievement and

but of themselves and their place in

Malta being followed with a visit to

Resilience) learning programme,

the world.”

the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

which aims to build the five key

At the Royal Alexandra and Albert

character traits in pupils.


School, sporting tours have taken

From Royal Shakespeare Company

pupils to South Africa and Barbados

Adcote views outdoor learning as an

performances in Stratford-upon-

to play netball and rugby – with

important aspect of the curriculum,

Avon to exhibitions at the Science,

future destinations including Sri

with the CLEAR programme taking

Natural History or National Army

Lanka and Canada – while Mount

students off timetable to attend

Museums, certain school trips have

Kelly’s international destinations

‘challenge days’.

proved an enduring option over

have included sports fixtures in

many generations.

Jersey, an art trip to the Netherlands,

conducted outside and have

skiing in the Alps and a cricket tour

included forest skills and technical

to the UAE.

tasks such as dismantling and

But the increasing emphasis on whole-child education, combined with the dedication of adventurous

Of course, students do not need to

staff, has opened up a wealth of new

dust off their passports to make the

and exciting out-of-class options.

Mrs Browne explained that

The challenges are usually

reassembling car engines. Mrs Browne said: “Completing

most of off-campus learning. Duke of

tasks outdoors gives students a

Overseas trips may not be

York’s Royal Military School pupils

sense of space and freedom and

anything particularly new, but

enjoy adventure trips in the United

enables them to take supported risks

today’s pupils are able to collect

Kingdom with the Combined Cadet

and thus their senses are alive.

stamps in their passports from

Force and participate in national

some fairly far-flung destinations.

ceremonial events including the

to each other, build trust, see

Youngsters at Gordon’s School,

Festival of Remembrance at the

each other in different lights and

for example, benefited from the

Royal Albert Hall.

certainly in ways that social media

establishment’s links to Sudan to

Mount Kelly offers bespoke trips

“A further bonus? Children talk

cannot accommodate.

pay a visit to the African country’s

to pupils in each year, ranging

capital Khartoum (see African

from journeys onto Dartmoor to

other’s laughter, an element that

adventure, previous page).

geography outings to the north

is invaluable in building good

Cornwall coast, while Farleigh

mental health and securing the one

for the next academic year will

School makes use of venues

thing we all truly wish for in our

take in an Arctic adventure, a

including Highclere Castle, Ufton

children – happiness.” n

Dauntsey’s School’s schedule

THE IMPORTANCE OF LIVING IN A COMMUNITY Maria Young, Headmistress of St Mary’s School, Shaftesbury

WE HEAR regular news stories about the effects of social isolation on children’s mental health. Human beings are hard-wired for social interaction and school is a good place in which to hone the soft skills needed for communal living and working. When we are looking for a school that will truly promote our children’s wellbeing, results and the co-curricular offer are only part of the story. We should also be seeking a profound sense of ‘community’, warmly valued and proudly described by

“This includes the sound of each

pupils and staff alike. In a boarding school, a sense of family is facilitated through the house structure, under the care of a housemaster/mistress and their team of pastoral staff. Here, in dorms and shared rooms, best friends for life are made and a sense of building the common good arises from shared social, sporting, cultural and charitable activities. Everyone has to pull together to make the house community function. You soon find out who are the doers, the listeners,

the enablers, the creative visionaries and those who will step up to take the lead. Both within the house and in the wider school community, a child will encounter a sense of who they are in the world, how they fit in, and what they might like to do to help their community flourish. Living as part of a functional, nurturing community, a child soon develops a sense of self-worth, which is key to enabling them to fulfil their potential in the classroom and beyond.

To read more from Maria Young, visit armyandyou.co.uk/category/educationad


SCHOOLS DIRECTORY ADCOTE SCHOOL adcoteschool.org.uk ANDERSON EDUCATION andersoneducation.co.uk CHAFYN GROVE chafyngrove.co.uk CHRIST COLLEGE BRECON christcollegebrecon.com DAUNTSEY’S dauntseys.org THE DOWNS MALVERN thedownsmalvern.org.uk THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL doyrms.com THE ELMS SCHOOL elmsschool.co.uk FARLEIGH SCHOOL farleighschool.com GORDON’S SCHOOL gordons.school HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS habs-monmouth.org LVS ASCOT lvs.ascot.sch.uk MOUNT KELLY mountkelly.com ROYAL ALEXANDRA AND ALBERT SCHOOL raa-school.co.uk SALISBURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL salisburycathedral school.com ST LAWRENCE COLLEGE slcuk.com ST MARY’S SCHOOL stmarys.eu STAMFORD ENDOWED SCHOOLS ses.lincs.sch.uk TAUNTON SCHOOL tauntonschool.co.uk WHICH BOARDING SCHOOL which-boarding-school.com, 01702 588225 To feature in our education advertorial, email info@tylerbale.co.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 45

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

their fellow travellers.

Win a cop y of Dragon P ost and a Readin g Force scrapbook . See page three for entry ru les.


Special delivery

Published by Walker Books, hardback priced £10.99

In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, three Forces youngsters and their mums do a little letter reading with Dragon Post by Emma Yarlett. Here are their favourite bits…


This book follows a little boy called Alex who finds a dragon and writes letters to people in his community for advice on looking after him. The book is full of wonderfully bright, bold illustrations and the little letters to pull out and read are a lovely interactive added touch. The story captivated my daughter’s imagination – she loved the funny replies Alex was sent and it’s now a firm favourite.

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS READING Force is the free shared reading initiative for Forces families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or over


Skype or FaceTime if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or

Alex finds a dragon in his house and writes letters to find out how to look after him and makes a friend in the meantime. We loved this picture book with letters to open. Our favourite is the letter from the butcher who is desperate to eat – we mean meet – him! We recommend this picture book to both girls and boys who love dragons and receiving letters.

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

Catholic Boarding and Day school for girls aged 9-18

Open Mornings: 15th March 2019 3rd May 2019 www.stmarys.eu

46 Army&You spring 2019

+44 (0)1747 852416 @ArmyandYou

n o i t a r e n e G g Youn MILY B E R S O F Y O U R A R M Y FA FOR THE YOUNGER MEM

A p o s it i ve f i x

Fixers works with young people aged 16-25 by providing profes sional resources to help them campaign on issues they feel strongly about. Since 2008, more than 23,000 young people have become fixers and created in excess of 2,200 projects. With a £7.2 million grant from the Big Lottery Fund, Fixers has extended from England into Wales , Northern Ireland and Scotland. We caught up with Army teen Kayley Walton (pictured below) to find out how she’s benefited…

Army kids By Reece Stillie, aged 12 Army kids have it tough. Lots of moves which is rough. A new home every two years. Saying bye to friends, lots of tears. New school, new teachers and new friends to make. Done this loads it’s a piece of cake. Footy team just won the cup. Got to find a new one, never give up. When I was younger, I didn’t care. Now I’m older, I want to settle somewhere. Moving around is the worst. But my Dad is a soldier, his job comes first. One day us Army kids will settle down. Move to one last house in one last town. Last new school, new teachers and friends to make. Done this all my life, piece of cake!


EVENTEEN-year-old Kayley has been on the move all her life. Her dad is in the Army and over the years she has moved six times to four different locations. But Kayley is celebrating the positive side and has made a booklet and a film to support other young people from military families who find themselves packing up and saying goodbye. “I wanted to let others know that change is a good thing because there are so many people struggling with change and I know how it feels to experience those changes,” she said. “In the moment that you’re going through these changes, you don’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel. I wanted to remind military young people that there will always be something positive that will come from it, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.” Kayley got involved with Fixers as she felt it was a suitable platform to get the message out: “The staff were fantastic to work with and

their website had so many success stories that I felt confident others would hear my message.” Kayley worked with other military kids, including Jack Roberts (17), to prepare advice for peers facing a move, including tips on making moving less stressful and how to settle in at a new school. Jack said: “I got involved with Fixers through my local youth centre. I joined to help out in the community. “We wanted to get across that change can be positive because it allows you to experience new activities and lifestyles you may not have thought about. I hope all children not just military children can take something away from our broadcast. “Support is everywhere no matter where you are. It’s not all doom and gloom and moving always opens new doors – closing many in our wake, but they remain open as memories.” Kayley hopes the film and resources produced will guide military

children through moves and make postings less daunting. She advises that all military youngsters aim to learn more about the area they will be moving to. “Remember you’ve done this before, draw on what you know helped you previously. “For older children, I advise joining a club, keeping up with your education and never changing yourself just to make new friends.” There are lots of stories from young people on fixers. org.uk and social media. &

Spotlight on Canada A posting to British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS), Canada can be exciting, scary and positive – one size doesn’t fit all. We highlight the pros and cons...


ANY soldiers go to BATUS on exercise and love it, so they want to head there on posting. The reality of everyday life can be very different for families, but it can still be a great experience if you’re prepared to make the most of it.

about living here.” Schoolteacher Jenny Otter added: “Moving from Cyprus has been a completely different adventure, but everyone has been extremely welcoming and I can’t wait to experience everything Canada has to offer.”

Bring your thermals

Where will we be living?

The first thing you’ll need to get used to is the weather – snow, snow and more snow. It can arrive in October and still be around in May and the temperatures can drop to -30 degrees. The flipside is that summers are hot, so you’ll need to pack your shorts as well as your snow boots. Army spouse Sarah said: “The outdoor activities – horse riding, skiing, walking and camping – are the best things

48 Army&You spring 2019

BATUS is the main working area and most families are housed in nearby Ralston village and the town of Medicine Hat, with a few in Cochrane and a smaller group in Calgary. Ralston is the only location where Service Family Accommodation is provided on a Canadian military patch. In all the other areas you’ll be housed in private rentals in the

local community. Houses are allocated on family size. They all have basements, are fully furnished and have plenty of outside space. Houses in town are different but equally suitable for families with or without children or pets. For some families, it’s a great environment to live in but for others the transient nature of postings takes its toll. Kim said: “I hate the transition and turnaround of families in the village. You make friends and then they or you leave.”

It’s a big country

Distance and time spent travelling are major factors of life in Canada. Ralston is twoand-a-half hour’s drive away from Calgary, where you can get direct flights to the UK.

It’s 45 minutes from Ralston to Medicine Hat with only a limited bus network, so if you’re able to drive it’s a massive bonus. Most vehicles are SUVs or 4x4s to cope with the weather – insurance and breakdown cover can be very costly though. Foreign and Commonwealth families should be aware that there are additional costs to obtain visas required to travel to the USA, and the Get You Home (Overseas) (GYH(O)) allowance can only be used for the UK if you have British citizenship.

Money matters

Lots of things are more expensive – food, clothes, TV packages, mobiles and additional items you’ll need such as cold-weather gear and



Image: Alex Arsenault

Image: Alex Arsenault

Great white north: From thrilling outdoor activities and beautiful scenery such as Moraine Lake (above centre) to action-packed sports and vibrant cities, Canada has something for everyone

winter tyres. Local Overseas Allowance helps to offset some of these costs. Jobs can be difficult to get due to the remoteness of Ralston and many spouses with children struggle to work because of their soldier’s commitments. Families in Medicine Hat have more opportunities based purely on location.

Finding work

Many of you have found ways around it by becoming selfemployed or working remotely. Annette Falinski, who runs a holistic therapy business, said: “It gives me the opportunity to stay busy. Although it takes time to build a client base, I’m happy that people are enjoying what I do.” Claire Short, another selfemployed spouse, added: “AFF helped us to secure the 30 hours of funded childcare we would have been entitled to in the UK, which has enabled me to continue my business, maintain my www.armyandyou.co.uk

professional development and work flexibly.” Some job opportunities are on offer at local schools and nurseries. If this is something you’re interested in, try to get your full visa sorted before you come to Canada as it can be a lengthy process.

What about schools?

Canada follows a different curriculum to the UK and there are some limitations with support for children with special educational needs. In Ralston, the Canadian school has two SCE teachers to help bridge any gaps between the two systems. In Medicine Hat, Service children attend Canadian schools. If you have secondary schoolaged children, it’s not recommended to enter the Canadian education system. GCSEs are not

possible and distance learning isn’t supported. As with all overseas assignments, older children (18-24) are not classed as ‘entitled family members’ unless they’re in full-time education. Some families have brought older children here but visas, flights and healthcare costs are your own responsibility.

rescuing off the piste.

How do I access healthcare?


It’s almost the same as being in the UK – you go to your GP or medical officer and, if you need to be seen by a specialist, you’re either referred in Canada or back to the UK. Families have access to Alberta healthcare insurance, but this doesn’t cover you out of province or for extreme sports such as skiing, so make sure you have additional cover in case you need

Keeping in touch

Living in a different time zone, seven hours behind the UK, means chatting to friends and family needs to be planned. Your GYH(O) allowance helps with flights back home and many families use it during the long ten-week school holidays.

Winter sports are a huge attraction. From skiing to skating, everyone gets involved somehow. There are subsidised rates for most recreation facilities including swimming pools and gyms. Canada is a mixed bag of positives and negatives and it’s important to consider all aspects of family life before a posting. You’ll find your local AFF Co-ordinator, Liz Ellwood, at community events, or you can contact her by email at canada@aff.org.uk & spring 2019 Army&You 49




Sarah, serving husband Jeremy and children Lottie (17), Henry (16), Honor (13) and Felicity (3) tell us about their Army family life in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja… How long have you been an Army family? Scarily, 20 years.

Time in Nigeria: A year-and-a-half.

How many other military families live in Abuja? Only five, but there are quite a few families working with the British High Commission (BHC) and Department For International Development.

What's your quarter like?

Our house is huge with a mango tree, avocado tree and giant tortoise in the garden. We are not on one of the ‘British Village’ compounds, but Abuja is not a big place so we can easily pop to one where there are pools, tennis courts and gyms.

Are there employment/ training opportunities?

Local jobs would be more for the experience rather than financial

gain as salaries are very low. There’s plenty of voluntary work with internally displaced people camps, orphanages or disabled children, for example. Jobs do come up regularly for spouses within the BHC too.

What about schools and childcare?

Inn. This has a bar serving basic food, a pool and tennis courts. There are regular social and sporting events from football and tennis tournaments to children’s swimming lessons, parties and concerts.

Schools are very good with high academic standards. There’s a great choice and British children are scattered amongst all the different schools. There’s plenty of childcare and many delightful local staff who have worked with British families for years. Although locally they are considered very well-paid, home help and babysitters are a lot cheaper here than in the UK.

Who supports families?

Where do Army families get together?

What's the best thing about living in Abuja?

There’s plenty to do and places to socialise, but the main place to be part of the wider British community is the British Village

Families are well supported by the British Military Advisory and Training Team and the BHC. The Community Liaison Officer (CLO) sweeps up new arrivals with welcomes, tours of the local shops and things to do, then arranges visits to amenities and attractions and answers any questions. The CLO role is often a job shared by spouses.

The extraordinary stories I will tell about it for the rest of my life, the delightful people and the weather – especially in January.

Would you recommend Nigeria as a family posting?

Definitely. This has to be a lesser known posting, but we have all loved it. My teenagers, who are all at boarding school, have enjoyed the small group who are here in the holidays. Most of their time is spent hanging out at the pool, but they also enjoy karting, gymnastics, paintballing and the cinema. My husband has loved working with the Nigerian military. I am a physiotherapist so have volunteered in a local clinic and my three-year-old probably just thinks she is a Nigerian. &

Want to share your experiences of Army family life? Get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk 50 Army&You spring 2019



Global gourmet (clockwise from top left): Kenyan cookery demonstrations at Nyati Barracks; Stavanger’s on-base coffee shop; Chinese food brought the community together in Nanyuki, BATUK

Come dine with us We’ve lived in some fantastic Army communities and it seems that often the best spirit lives in the remote postings, writes food editor and Great Taste Award judge AJ Sharp. When you’re away from home, your neighbours become more than friends, they’re your support network and your family. One of the best ways to unite a community is through food – not only is it vital, it’s fun and delicious. There are so many ways to get involved from barbecues and street parties, to community centre cafés, coffee mornings and much more. I took a look at how food is helping to bring Army families together around the world...



Olivia Taheri was asked by families in BATUK to offer Chinese cooking lessons. “I’m not the best cook,” she admitted. “But I thought cooking sessions would be a great way to bring the community together, so I approached a restaurant in Nairobi, The Greens Wood Grill & Lounge, which was more than happy to come to Nanyuki and teach a few simple dishes that could be recreated at home.”

THE Army Welfare Service laid on a momomaking course following requests for evening classes that weren’t just fitness based. Community support senior development worker Nik Turk enlisted the help of Sarita Rai, who taught participants how to make pastry and prepare the filling for the Nepali speciality dish. “Parts of the course were live streamed via the Persicope app, which allowed people from across the world to observe and participate,” said Nik.

KENYA KARIGO Ndolo and Phoebe Perrott are both Kenyan spouses of British soldiers. They decided that a Kenyan cookery lesson would be something enjoyable for the community. “What better way to integrate the ladies and gents of BATUK than helping them learn how to make food from the country they’ll live in for the next two years,” said Karigo. Chapati, pilau and mandazi were particular favourites at the class held at the welfare centre in Nyati Barracks.

NORWAY ACCORDING to community liaison officer Amanda Affleck, the most popular hangout for military families in Stavanger is a coffee morning on base. “It was initially set up by a UK spouse for people to have a decent cuppa that didn’t cost a small fortune and has become so popular that it now runs weekly,” she explained. “With freshlyroasted coffee and home baking – both businesses set up by UK spouses – it’s become a hub for families of all nations, military personnel and visitors.”


Food plays a key role for the Forces community in Brussels according to community liaison officer Katie Dickinson. “There’s nothing we like more, and you’re not a local until you’ve tried a Kriek [beer] – you don’t have to actually like it!” Pictured is a roundthe-world curry night featuring Fijian, Thai and Indian dishes.

Check our social media @ArmyandYou on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more world food stories. If you’d like to set up something in your region at home or abroad, talk to your local welfare team to see what’s possible. www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 51

e1132 – WHAT IS IT? All applications for housing within the UK are made using the e1132 form, which your soldier can access via the Defence Intranet. Go to aff.org. uk/advice/housing for more.


Shuffling the surplus AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder provides a timely reminder on the sublet programme and how it works… THERE are currently approximately 11,400 empty SFA in the UK – many are being held for the last remaining unit moves from Germany this summer, but others are simply in the wrong area for the needs of the military.


The aim is to create revenue from these empty properties

by renting them out to civilians on six-month tenancy agreements, subject to the usual checks. This will ensure better property maintenance, reduce vandalism and get the best use out of public assets. Any revenue will go back into accommodation. There’s a promise to serving personnel that no-one will be disadvantaged by

this programme – those of you living in a highlighted area will be given the option to move to an area with occupied SFA. Removals will be paid for if you are on a regular licence but if you are on a surplus agreement, you’ll have to fund the move yourself. As there’s no operational requirement for any move Disturbance Expense is

not payable in these situations.


If the programme is rolled out in an area, it means that there are surplus SFA available. You will always take priority over civilians, until a tenancy agreement has been signed and a deposit taken, so anyone eligible but not entitled to SFA, such as a

divorced soldier who wants to have a home for children to visit, will be able to apply for surplus via the e1132 – although I would recommend a quick call to Amey (0800 707 6000) to discuss availability first. There were issues experienced by some of you in Lyneham last year. AFF has been assured that should any area be needed

for military usage in the future, the sublet tenancies will be terminated before any surplus licences and even then, this will be on a case-by-case basis to ensure the minimum disruption to families. If you have any concerns about the subletting process, contact me at housing @aff.org.uk &

Should I stay or should I go? odation (SFA) when posted. It’s only Here at AFF, families often ask us how they can retain their Service Family Accomm , moves less than 11 months, spousal available for very specific reasons such as for public exams, a short-notice posting be met. Cat Calder tells us more… employment or medical/welfare issues. However, there are specific criteria to

HOW DO I FIND OUT IF I’M ENTITLED? You’ll need to let Amey know that you have been posted within 14 days of receiving your soldier’s assignment order and at the same time apply for retention if you need it. Any request for retention must be applied for before your soldier’s new job starts – after that it will be refused as it will no longer be considered an extension to your entitlement. If you’re overseas, contact the station/garrison housing staff. You can make your applications via the e1132 if you’re based in the UK. There’s a template to complete which you can send to Amey along with all your supporting evidence – such as an impact statement

52 Army&You spring 2019

for educational requests, for example. Your welfare team will be able to help you if you get stuck. The duration of the retention will be restricted to the minimum period necessary and will not exceed 12 months in most cases. You may need to re-apply for a further specified period if your circumstances persist – and you’ll need to do this before the retention runs out.

WHAT IF I DON’T QUALIFY? You may, depending on availability in your area, be offered surplus SFA instead. Be aware that both retention and a surplus agreement will probably mean that you are classed as voluntarily separated and this

may affect any allowances or removals. I strongly recommend that you chat to your admin clerk to find out.

WHAT IF I’M OVERSEAS? Contact your local station housing staff for applications overseas, but in most instances welfare or medical cases won’t be approved as access to the right support and medical services may not be available. It’s best to discuss the specific in-country arrangements with your local housing provider or contact the AFF overseas team via aff.org.uk Find out more on the housing pages at aff.org.uk or your soldier can access JSP 464.



Saving to serve Following on from winter’s Army&You article on the cost of serving for F&C families, AFF F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston put your questions about the benefits of saving with a credit union to Valerie Walwyn (pictured below), chief executive of Plane Saver Credit Union and military veteran. Here’s what she had to say…

It’s a financial institution that’s owned and controlled by its members, i.e. everyone who saves or borrows rather than shareholders. Members pool their savings and provide loans and other financial services to each other at reasonable interest rates. The Armed Forces has its own dedicated credit union called Joining Forces (Plane Saver, Forces Finance and Serve & Protect), which provides loans and savings accounts for you and your soldier.


We usually advise people to have a goal in order to motivate themselves to save money. For F&C families it’s more than a goal – it’s your ability to remain in the UK. Having money saved up to pay for visas is essential for your future. No one else will pay and without a valid visa you’re at risk of being removed from the UK.


Once you enter the UK, you are given a five-year, limited leave visa. At the end of those five years, you should be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). If your family consists of you and two children, then the full cost of ILR at today’s fees is just over £7,000. However, you then have to take into consideration the cost of remaining here once your soldier has discharged. It’s wise to make sure there’s enough money for your soldier’s www.armyandyou.co.uk

ILR application regardless of their expected run-out date, just in case they are unexpectedly medically discharged. In total, a family of four should aim to save £9,500 for visas.

Image: Sandjena Barnes


The easiest way to save is to pay into a savings account every month. Joining Forces can obtain your monthly savings straight from your soldier’s pay or you can set up a standing order or regular online payment from your bank account into your savings account. A family of four would need to save £160 every month to have saved up £9,500 by the end of five years.

IF I HAVEN’T SAVED THIS MUCH, WILL THE CREDIT UNION GIVE ME A LOAN? Credit unions use many of the same principles as other lenders to determine who they will lend money to. This is dependent on your previous behaviour with money, your income and expenditure and whether you can afford to repay the money that you’d like to borrow. Credit unions are likely to consider favourably any attempt that you’ve already made to save for your visa.


Because credit unions are notfor-profit, the annual percentage rate (APR) – which is the cost of borrowing – is much lower than banks or payday loan lenders. Typical APR for a credit union is around 12 per cent, whereas for a payday loan it can be up to 1,500 per cent! This makes a massive difference to the amount you must repay even for a small loan (see table below).


Joining Forces is a partnership made up of three independent credit unions. For more information, visit joiningforcescu.co.uk or email Valerie at valeriewalwyn@ planesaver.co.uk For help on budget planning, visit moneyadviceservice.org.uk and moneyforce.org.uk or, to contact AFF’s F&C team, visit aff.org.uk &







Six months

Six months

Monthly repayment



Total interest



Average APR

12.7 per cent

1,086 per cent

Correct as of 15 May 2018


spring 2019 Army&You 53


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#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories Soldier Paul Astley and girlfriend Charlotte have been together for more than five years in their ‘blended family’. Between them they have six children: twins Amy and Lisa (17), Lewis (13), Ellis (13), Juliet (10) and Paige (8).

I like to call ours a patchwork family – very different to what people expect an Army family to be. We have our own house in Poole and I’m currently posted to Lulworth Camp, so I commute the 30-mile round trip each day. I have two children from previous relationships – both of whom regularly come to stay with me – Charlotte, her four children and our Bengal cats Whiskey and Chase. Being in a common law relationship means we don’t

have access to some of the benefits more traditional Army families do. However, we do get involved with organised family events and schemes such as Forces Help to Buy have allowed us to purchase our own home, something we’d have otherwise found difficult. Charlotte and our children do feel very disjointed from the Army circle, especially when I’m deployed or have other military commitments. They mainly stay in the loop via friends and social media. They had a life before the Army and no

matter where I’ve been posted, Charlotte has always tried to keep a foothold in Poole. As difficult as it can be to not always be together, the positive aspect has been stability for our children. My current posting is the best I’ve had as I’m home every night! While we haven’t experienced patch life, now that I am coming to the end of my service, I feel that already being in our own home means I can begin to disengage

from the Army more easily. We can start to make more civilian friends to make our transition to civvy life easier to cope with. My advice for a new Army family? Appreciate each other’s role – whether that’s to work or stay at home. Good communication and keeping each other informed about what’s to come – be that a posting or a deployment – has made for a happier family life and happy children!

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

spring 2018 Army&You 31

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.”


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…


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.


“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

56 Army&You spring 2019

“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.”


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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Specialists have an advantage The same is true in family law Giraffes are specialists as they can reach above the heads of other animals. At The Family Law Co we are specialists too; our expert knowledge enables us to reach resolutions in all aspects of family law, including divorce, separation & financial matters, co-habitation agreements and grandparents’ rights. Contact us for specialist advice on all areas of family law.

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T may be a well-coined cliche but – as is the case with many aspects of life – when it comes to the break-up of a relationship, it really is “good to talk”. Doing so, of course, is far easier said than done when your partner in conversation is the person you least wish to converse with. Separating is rarely as amicable as Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “conscious uncoupling” made it look and chatting cordially and constructively with someone you have grown more accustomed to exchanging cross words with is not always possible. In such situations, the attraction of communicating via solicitors’ letters is obvious, but not the only option. Family mediation, for example, is becoming an increasingly popular alternative and has www.armyandyou.co.uk

Meeting in the middle a proven track record for promoting dialogue between divorcing couples and informing any subsequent legal settlement. “Meeting a solicitor and meeting a mediator are hugely different,” explained Andrew Woo, a partner at West Countrybased law firm Brewer Harding & Rowe. “Although both are methods of resolving issues between separating couples, their roles differ considerably. “A family mediator is an independent, neutral third-party, there to facilitate an agreement but not there to provide legal advice. A solicitor, on the otherhand, is a professional legal adviser who represents your case and is on your side.” Highlighting the joint nature of mediation, Gemma Sparks of The Family Law Company added: “A mediator will help both of you identify, negotiate and come to

“A mediator will help both of you identify, negotiate and come to mutuallyacceptable agreement on the various issues that may be in dispute.” Gemma Sparks, The Family Law Company

mutually-acceptable agreement on the various issues that may be in dispute. “You, your ex-partner and a trained mediator normally sit together to discuss your differences,” said the chartered legal executive. “Although a mediator cannot give legal advice, they will listen to both your points of view without taking sides; helping to create a calm atmosphere where you can reach an agreement that you are both happy with; and suggest practical steps to help you come to that agreement.” Expanding on how the process works, Lin Cumberlin of Batt Broadbent Solicitors said it was common for couples to initially attend a Mediation Information Assessment Meeting (MIAM) to determine whether further sessions will be beneficial. These are confidential, separate ›› spring 2019 Army&You 59

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“You and the other person are more likely to feel in control as the family mediator is there to help you reach decisions about things that are important to you both and to your family, saving you time, money and stress.” Lin Cumberlin, Batt Broadbent consultations with the mediator and last up to one hour. Of the subsequent steps, she added: “An agenda will be drawn up at the beginning of each meeting which reflects what you and the other person want to discuss. The mediator will not take sides and will allow you and the other person time to talk and raise questions with each other. “A good mediator has the ability to define and clarify the issues for resolution by questioning and prioritising. At the end of each session they may prepare a session summary and at the conclusion of mediation, depending on the nature of a dispute, they will prepare a Memorandum of Understanding that outlines what you have agreed and which provides an important framework in the event that you wish to have your agreement made legally binding.” Kris Seed of Everys Solicitors stressed that although family mediation can assist in resolving disputes in relation to money, property or children, trained mediators are not miracle workers and the process only works with the buy-in of both parties. “It can be a faster, cheaper and easier way to reach agreement,” she said. “However, it requires the ability of both parties to be able to work together and compromise appropriately and fairly in order to reach agreement. “Mediation is a voluntary process and can be stopped at any time. It is also a ‘privileged’ process which means that discussions or agreements cannot be referred to in any subsequent court proceedings, if they are required. This is to give parties the opportunities to make suggestions without fear of the consequences. “Any financial disclosure that has been exchanged is, however, ‘open’ which means that both parties can provide the information to their solicitors or to the court.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Andrew agreed that participation was key to mediation’s success, but that the process should not be mistaken for a means to help reconciliation with your partner. “It is about facilitating communication, not relationship counselling,” he said. “Mediation is only effective if both parties are cooperative and honest with one another. It works for many people, but isn’t right for everyone. “Abusive and controlling behaviour may mean you feel unsafe, fearful or intimidated at a joint mediation session. The mediator needs to make sure that any behaviour doesn’t create unfairness. Following the initial mediations assessment, the mediator may advise it is not suitable for you or suggest ‘shuttle’ mediation – where you and your ex-partner sit in separate rooms and the mediator moves between you.” For those able and willing to give it a go, family mediation offers many benefits, according to Lin, whose firm has offices in Chippenham and Salisbury. “Mediation can be less stressful and any agreement reached can be altered if the circumstances change,” she said. “It can be less damaging for children involved and helps them continue important family relations because children and young people can also be invited to talk to the mediator on their own and in confidence. Child-inclusive mediation can help to sustain a child’s relationship with both parents and they can benefit from having someone other than their parents to confide in. “Mediation can be a quicker and cheaper route to reaching an agreement as opposed to long drawn out court battles,” she added. “You and the other person are more likely to feel in control as the family mediator is there to help you reach decisions about things that are important to you both and to your family, saving you time, money and stress. “Mediation also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the space and time provided to you between your sessions to consider what is important for you and your family.” While certainly cheaper than pursuing a resolution through legal channels, family mediation is not a free service. Financial help is, however, out there. “Mediation is not always free but you may be assessed as being financially eligible for mediation funded by the Legal Aid Agency,” Gemma concluded. “Legal Aid will then fund the MIAM – this covers both you and your expartner, even if only one of you qualifies. “If you qualify for mediation funded by the Legal Aid Agency, your mediation sessions will also be funded. It may also be that you qualify for ‘Help with Mediation’, which means you can obtain help from a solicitor during the mediation process.” n

Lin Cumberlin, Batt Broadbent battbroadbent.co.uk

Andrew Woo, Brewer, Harding & Rowe brewerhardingrowe.com

Kris Seed, Everys Solicitors everys.co.uk

Gemma Sparks, The Family Law Company thefamilylawco.co.uk spring 2019 Army&You 61


One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 31 March 2019 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links before entries close on 31 March

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Introducing Nuevo Club (nuevoclub.co.uk), a premium men’s streetwear brand created for individuals with an eye for style. With the latest on-trend designs, its high-quality t-shirts, tracksuits, jeans and hoodies are the perfect way to upgrade your wardrobe. Join ‘the club’ and find your next clothing essentials.

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We’re offering one reader the chance to win a DOOGEE S80, retailing at £395. THE GREATEST ESCAPE? In 1940 at a Nazi war camp in Poland, Antony Coulthard, a privately-educated son of wealthy parents, and Fred Foster, the son of a bricklayer, struck up an unlikely friendship that lead to one of the most daring and remarkable wartime escape stories ever told. They hatched a plan to walk out of the camp, board a train and head into the heart of Nazi

Germany – which is precisely what they did. The Soldier Who Came Back, written by Fred’s son Steve after he discovered the details of their escape in a suitcase after his dad died, is available in hardback (£16) and paperback (£9), published by Mirror Books. We have five copies up for grabs.


Perfect parties

Fearless fashion FEAR NAUGHT is a clothing and accessories range from military charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers. With 100 per cent of the profits from sales going back into helping the charity continue its wonderful work for bereaved military children. View the range at fearnaughtapparel.co.uk

If finding cool party ideas for your little one puts you in a spin, look no further than Dizzy Rhino for a kit that provides hours of fun. Created by Army wife Laura Steptoe, each pack is suitable for kids aged 7-14 and caters for six people, from the ‘Make Me’ party box, perfect for hands-on youngsters, to the ‘Eat Me’ kit filled with quality ingredients ideal for mini cake lovers. You’ll also receive thank you cards, party bags, invites and more to make their event even more memorable. Visit dizzyrhino.com for the full range. Enter our giveaway for your chance to win a party box of your choice, priced at £135.

Enter our giveaway for your chance to win a FEAR NAUGHT bundle, featuring a tri-blend screen printed t-shirt, charcoal denim baseball cap and military enamel mug.

Ticket to ride Create fun family memories at Drayton Manor Park, home of Thomas Land as well as an onsite four-star hotel, 4D cinema, 15-acre zoo and a theme park with more than 100 fantastic attractions. Thomas Land features more than 25 Thomas & Friends character rides from the much-loved books and TV series. Check out draytonmanor.co.uk We have a family-of-four ticket (any age combination, RRP £136) valid until 31 October, to give away.

Clash of the titans The Army v Navy rugby match is a sell-out yet again in 2019. Didn’t get your hands on a ticket? Don’t despair! You can still be part of the 80,000-strong crowd at Twickenham on Saturday 4 May, as two lucky Army&You readers will win a family ticket to the Babcock Trophy clash. Each family ticket allows two adults and two children access to all the rugby matches at the stadium as well as the day’s entertainment. Enter for your chance to be part of the big day. More event information at armynavymatch.org


spring 2019 Army&You 63


Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about Army life and send them to editor@aff.org.uk

The heart of a home

Best blog Isabella wins a Pro Slate 10 EE tablet courtesy of DXC Technology

By Isabella @fijianintheuk

Home today is a far cry from the idyllic panoramic view of sapphire ocean or greenery that most of us Fijian spouses have left to join our soldiers.

“We are the unsung heroes, soldiering on, carrying a Bergen of life decisions that need to be made in the absence of our serving spouse.”

As a newly married woman, I would think there were so many opportunities here that my island home simply could not match. But lately, I’ve realised there are things that life in the UK will never be able to measure up to. Things I took for granted, such as family ties and memorable moments that I now miss. The idea of living far from home seemed like an adventure. How then does one marry the idea of home being where the

heart is, when in the culture you grew up in, home is where family is? Well-meaning friends, coworkers, even family members, say ‘well that is the life you signed up for’; and yes, it is a personal choice we made knowing full well that our serving spouse will most likely miss birthdays, anniversaries, first day of school moments, or in my case all of the above and the birth of our child too. We

get it, it’s all part of the package and we get on with it because life doesn’t wait around for us to dwell in a mire of self-pity. Life carries on and so must we. We are the unsung heroes, soldiering on, carrying a Bergen of life decisions that need to be made in the absence of our serving spouse. Reassuring the young child that their parent, who is thousands of miles away,

will return safely. Putting aside our career aspirations to support our serving spouse’s career. The unsung hero, whose family, that we so achingly miss every day, has now been given to us in another form. Our serving spouse, children and friends who fill the gap and become family. And lastly, a once foreign land that has now become home.

Tackling separation one page at a time

I love to hear the pride they express in their Forces parents; how proud they feel to be collected from school by someone in uniform. Routinely they have a strong awareness of world events, particularly geography – and have often attended big ceremonial occasions. I hear about the challenges too – how to keep friendships and family relationships going when base, home, school are shifting. Resilience is much talked about, but we need to work towards its development in our Forces families,

not assume the full quota is already there. Reading is an excellent way of developing the whole individual – and hence resilience. It provides common ground for conversations, enables us to see more objectively situations we are facing ourselves and how they are managed by characters we read about. And each time we lose ourselves in a book, there’s a plentiful supply of other titles once the end is reached. Sharing books involves children in an absorbing activity that connects them with others, helping them cope with

immediate and emotional situations. Pooling feedback in a scrapbook lets them record the experience. If you’re facing change, it provides a topic of conversation that is not the change itself; offering an everyday link to wider families, particularly grandparents and extending connections between phone calls. It’s so simple but really works. I encourage families to give it a go. For a free scrapbook, go to readingforce.org.uk – see page 46 for our latest Book Club.

By Alison @Reading Force

When I give talks in schools about Reading Force, I usually start by asking children for the positives of Forces life. www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2019 Army&You 65


Return to the wild By Kimberley @from_diamonds_to_dummies

Soon, I’ll have to change my Insta bio from Army wife to just wife I guess. That extra title, that over the last six years I’ve felt quite indifferent about, now feels like something as I’m released back ‘into the wild’ – aka civvy life. It’s strange being unsure about leaving a lifestyle you were never particularly desperate to join in the first place. For my husband, thoughts of leaving the Army grew exponentially after the arrival of our first daughter. My initial worries were for him and his job satisfaction. I knew from my own experience that his grievances were often part-and-parcel of working life, whatever your job or employer. I never took on any external concerns from some family and friends who, in their naivety, didn’t understand how his skill set would transfer (you’d be shocked at how many people would question this). Then there was the common misconception that he was being ‘pushed’ into this decision by

me. In fact, this couldn’t have been further from the truth. I had fallen in love with my lifestyle after realising that all I needed to do was drop my guard a little and trust people a bit more. My husband made his mind up after many lengthy discussions and then spent a year planning his exit, exploring various avenues and building a huge network. Although he wasn’t 100 per cent sure on which direction to take, I had no concerns for him ‘finding something to do’; my only reserve was him finding something he ‘loves’ like he had loved the Army. It was also time for me to acknowledge (the now obvious) gaping hole I would feel not living ‘patch life’ anymore. What a unique and wonderful thing it is to be part of a community that is always ready to welcome and embrace, pull together and stand as one. It’s what makes it special, just popping next door for a coffee and all the children playing together. These are memories I will always hold dear. So, I’m taking this with me into our next chapter and although I haven’t quite convinced everyone down my road to sign up to a weekly coffee morning yet, with every day there’s fresh hope! l See pages 26-27 for more on moving to civvy street.

Ready for the next chapter: Kimberley with her family

AFF now has its own blog too. Check it out at aff.org.uk/blog 66 Army&You spring 2019

You cannot pour from an empty cup By Krista @KrissyGS

It is so easy to lose sight of what is really important in life and quite often the little things are forgotten. When you become the partner of someone serving in the Army, many of us know little about the depth of the sacrifices required to keep it all together. Someway, somehow, we get through day-by-day. No-one said being anyone’s partner would be an easy task, especially when they have a job that is very demanding and can leave you feeling like a single parent at times. Taking care of the children and pets, running the house, trying to have a career and keep fit, keeping up with friends, extracurricular activities for the kids… the list continues. Just thinking of it all makes my head spin. We fall into this routine and forget about what is really important. Spending time with your family, making time for your partner and for ourselves. We are constantly exhausted and always thinking about what else we have to do today. Quality family and ‘me’ time drops further down the list. The truth is you cannot pour from an empty cup. Each day we try to do more and more to keep it all together, when slowly we may be falling apart. I have fallen into this trap and I have decided no more! My family depends on me and I must take care of me, so I can be there for them. So, let’s make the effort to read a little more, relax a little more, have more tea, take a long bath, have a ‘wing it’ day. Do something just for you. It may sound a bit selfish but consider it ‘filling your cup’ so that you can take on the day and enjoy the little things in life that are often forgotten. @ArmyandYou

We were established in 1944 to ensure that soldiers returning from World War Two were cared for. 75 years on, our purpose has not changed: we exist to ensure that all soldiers, veterans and their families are afforded the independence and dignity they deserve. To find out more, visit www.soldierscharity.org Help us be here for their tomorrow. Contact us for information on how you can apply for help, find out more, or get involved in one of our fundraising challenges: Tel: 020 7901 8900 Email: info@soldierscharity.org ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) and Scotland (039189) Registered Office: Mountbarrow House, 12 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9RB

Left to right: Brenda Hale, John Tyson, Mark Smith

Have you tailored your pension to suit your family’s needs?

How you can influence your pension You may be surprised at the numerous ways you can influence the value of your pension and its suitability for you and your family’s needs. You have options about how and when you draw it, how much of a lump sum you want on departure from the Forces and what happens if you become a Reservist. And you’ll be surprised at how straightforward many of the options are, such as Pension Top-ups.

the interests of our Members and they are provided by trusted affiliates who meet the highest standards we set for ourselves.

Choosing when to leave (and when not to) can have a really beneficial (or negative) impact on the value of your pension.

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When you join the Forces Pension Society, we help you become aware of your pension options and entitlements. You’ll receive our regular e-newsletters with up-to-theminute information, our bi-annual Members’ magazine Pennant – a great read plus a whole section dedicated to pensions. And of course when you’re in need of serious guidance you’ll have access to our pension experts.

Join us online today

More benefits of membership Our Members also have access to a wide and growing range of discounted products and services. These include exceptional no-age-limit travel insurance, discounts on new cars, white goods, pet insurance, best-in-class health insurance, low-cost money transfers, cruises - the list goes on. What they have in common is that they reflect

Independence is critical to our work. We call governments to account wherever we spot unfairness or injustice in the Armed Forces Pension Schemes and we campaign for improvements on behalf of the whole military community. Recognition of our unique role has led to more than 50,000 people discovering the value of joining us.

Make the right choice by joining us today. Annual membership for you and your spouse/partner costs just £39. When you join us online, quote promo code AAY2019 and we’ll send you a free voucher worth £150 off a Rambling & Adventure holiday. (T’s & C’s apply). Visit www.forcespensionsociety.org

I T P AY S T O U N D E R S T A N D Y O U R P E N S I O N Forces Pension Society 68 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL Tel: 020 7820 9988 - email: memsec@forpen.co.uk - www.forcespensionsociety.org

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Army&You Spring 2019  

The Spring 2019 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

Army&You Spring 2019  

The Spring 2019 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.