Page 1

&You Spring 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

DEPLOYMENT DOUGH Managing your money during time apart

MARRIED UNACCOMPANIED The pros and pitfalls of putting down roots



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Are you in the market for a new home and looking for the best purchase package out there for Armed Forces personnel? Now is a great time to think about moving as The Government has extended the Forces Help to Buy scheme until the end of 2022! 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 – 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’

Service personnel can be advanced up to 50% of annual salary (maximum £25,000) interest free!

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 Homes England and the Ministry of Defence. 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. *Flooring to be chosen from the Bovis Homes Select range.



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{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314

ArmyandYou on Facebook or visit

AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REBASING 07542 270358 //

An all-too-familiar feeling The word separation will resonate with every forces family. Almost all of us at some point in our army lives will experience time apart from our service partner and have to go it alone – whether that’s due to a deployment, exercise, training or living married unaccompanied. We hear from those of you who’ve dealt with deployment (pages 14-15) and find out how you’ve coped with long stretches apart, whilst elsewhere we examine the pros and pitfalls of choosing stability over mobility and living married unaccompanied. There are some great resources which might help, from joining a Military Wives Choir to writing a deployment diary (page 19) and we also have useful tips on managing your finances (page 21). For our

Foreign & Commonwealth families, there are some unique issues to consider (page 23) and if your children are feeling the strain, we have some great advice (pages 24-25). In addition, there’s a spotlight on army life in Wales (pages 46-47), settling overseas (28-29) and we look at the advantages and challenges of working from home (page 45). Take advantage of our giveaways on page 63 and check out our latest BlogSpot (pages 65-66), where families have their say on army life.

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SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 5 April 2020.


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FREE Mortgage Advice Whether you’re looking to use the Forces Help to Buy scheme, finding your first mortgage, want to switch rates to save money or releasing capital to renovate your own home… you can get the advice you need by calling our Free Mortgage Advice service.

It’s as easy as this We ask you a few simple questions, incomings, outgoings, that kind of thing. It takes around 15 minutes. Then it’s an appointment with one of our impartial mortgage advisors. They take the time to understand what you’re looking for, before coming back with the best option for you. They will then guide you through your mortgage journey.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. Mortgage Excellence Plc, trading as Forces Mutual, is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England & Wales No. 03527577. Registered office: Alexandra House, Queen Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire, WS13 6QS. For your security all telephone calls are recorded and may be monitored. FM3086

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19 Singing Through Separation How finding your voice can find you friends 21 Deployment Dough Tips on how to manage your money when home alone 22 Surviving Solo Suppers We find out what you cook when you're eating for one 23 Oceans Apart Why life's rarely a beach as the partner of a soldier 24 Children's Challenges What impact do tours have on your little troopers? 33 Trading Places From Paderborn to the Plain – a wife's rebasing journey



14 Dealing With Deployment How do you cope without your soldier at home? 16 Putting Down Roots The pros and pitfalls of living married unaccompanied 26 Farewell To The Forces Support for those heading toward civvy street 28 Settling Overseas What to consider when a posting becomes permanent 42 Onside Employers We meet businesses backing Forces Families Jobs 45 Workaround How to carve out a career from the comfort of home


06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... AFF's chief executive Sara Baade 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 63 Giveaways Win an overnight luxury break at Oulton Hall 64 Book Club Young readers' verdicts on Madame Badobedah 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life



UNACCOMPANIED The pros and pitfalls of putting down roots

DEPLOYMENT DOUGH Managing your money during time apart

COPING HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH DEPLOYMENTS? A luxury golf break and chance to


see this year’s Twickenham showdown

job, OVING home, new retiring new school and most are some of the you’ll go stressful events families through, and army of these at sometimes do all the same time. wife and Elaine, an ex-army newly sworn-in Canadian, her can now laugh about journey, family’s seven-year shortage which required no and of paperwork, dollars to make positive commitment when it happen. It all started assigned the family were only two to BATUS. “After Alberta decided we months wanted to was the place we Elaine. call home,” explained



permanent return to get our residency.” With rules constantly always be changing this will where a challenge, no matter has you’re heading. guides so useful ‘living in…’ up-to-date make sure you stay advice. and get some legal

family : The Hodgson Divided by deployment Anderson (right); and Laura (centre); Philip ones (left) Humphreys’ loved and Leah Ann


but when the dreaded to as an army family Jill Misson reports… you have to get used at home? Separation is something do you cope without your soldier how deployment starts, months sent overseas for OUR partner is being and R&R on the distant with patchy comms whether daunting prospect, horizon. That’s a or an old hand. the you’re newly married of queries about receives a range The team at AFF and longer exercises. impact of deployments in an army are or have been “Having staff who before does been through separation family and have the practical and understand both really we as help, head of policy said Michelle Alston, facing emotional issues,” discuss how they’re how and research. “Families and children supporting their challenges with far away from their feel isolated, often sometimes they questions, They also ask us own family and friends. how to travel warrants or such as how to claim Michelle. employment,” added manage spousal


the “Families away from as much patch were involved we as possible, for example tickets sent them cinema

Unit support

to Estonia on in 12 Brigade deployed Before two units were wellthey ensured families Operation CABRIT, support in place. informed with good about issues that soldiers worried said “My experience is less effective at work,” at home are significantly Tom Kirkham. adjutant Captain King’s Royal Hussars’ and ran talks information leaflet “We produced an any financial details of the operation, which focused on of contact and could expect, methods The changes spouses emergency. in the event of an procedures to use group.” a closed Facebook regiment also runs was also important, calendar social a Planning an active 1 YORKS: “We held Jeff Tibbett from explained Captain nights and coffee bingo and cinema monthly coach trip, and youth club. to ‘stay and play’ mornings in addition

and arranged transport n for our and accommodatio homecoming parade.”

support Useful avenues

BFPO: AFF: • 01904 882053 Army Welfare Service: om

into Big White Wall: bigwhitewall.c “His partner went and had the MoneyForce: moneyforce.o Service: DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@ premature labour Advisory earlier than Children’s Education baby eight weeks she was a its toll on they expected but blogs online Separation can take location for HIVE throughout HIVE: search your but the support to hear his voice any army spouse with he varies Home-Start: home-start.or or 0800 731 4880 birth and felt he was et-help/forcesline each family may need a military from Forcesline: Abby Wilkinson is et greatly and may differ nurs littletroopers.n registered Troopers: and their Little as spouse one tour to the next health who delivers mental circumstances change. their dad but She “My boys all miss was courses at Bramcote. support Sam Hodgson’s baby are particularly spous and I have a strong the younger two recognises that many friends.” taken ill during 1 RIFLES swings and talk to system and good vulnerable to mood hold back when they has deployment to Afghanistan. Ann Humphreys “On Leah weeping.” theatre: in random had no idea their soldiers because her She recalled: “We issues felt more isolated issues. of the most common for nine that Aria had health ways to help husband was deployed not talking abou Finding tour, the part avoidance; not into well, A few weeks months as an individual washing If your child isn’t coping with an things such as the “It has left me local AWS she was diagnosed of a unit. She said: or nan b you can contact your aspiration machine breaking unsafe swallow and development want emotionally broken. community support ill because you don’t phone pneumonia.” Wakefield said: “I haven’t had a single worker. Rebecca for burden them.” officer to Sam praised welfare call from a welfare separation can be “Investing i other “Parental her advised: for She that would organising childcare understand check on me and a hobb tough and we do attended yourself by finding difference.” children while she a good have made all the you don that. We will make and filling time so struggled to child and medical appointments. Her children have connection with your husband ruminate on the negatives school. Laura Anderson’s of other ou settle into boarding draw on a network She does help. By stepping cope better is on his first deployment. “We felt they would and go support services.” been your comfort zone while by the busy, told Army&You: “We’ve being distracted you’l Dealing with deployment been to a coffee morning the strain of separated while he’s can cause the fun school life but you are pregnant and Kenya but people going through talk to daddy training in Canada important to to.” not being able to extra anxiety so it’s or into such who you can offload difficult for never for this long and prepare has really made it find ways to relax an area of high danger.” are now looking at McGarry We Katy them. birth. out for the trips to Reaching my daughter A new job and solo minute is w counselling to help from Mumbornevery are keeping If you know someone up emotions spouse see more of Cyprus manage her bottled show them a midwife and military feels alone, also clings home Laura son her busy but for expectant do and even my laid-back who runs courses She said: care. “Knock on their part of a community. & Brunch to me more.” sug parents and Bumps from their send them a card,” Bewley said: “As everyone is away Tidworth. Mum-of-five Sarah may b sessions around together Leah Ann. “They the families, we’ve banded She said: “I encouraged most outgoing person a military be c serving partner of inside, they could one of ask couple who attended Don’t be afraid to courses to my hypnobirthing be counting in his You may scripts still record my relaxation days, but you can was going on own voice as he days count. & exercise abroad.

Everyone has different needs

their dad but “My boys all miss particularly the younger two are swings and vulnerable to mood g.” random weepin


spring 2020 A

2020 14 Army&You spring

allowance “The Get You Home cover does help but it doesn’t food, internet, expenses such as my husband’s and furnishings – a shell. We’ve room was literally husband found it best for my account for to have a separate honest with life in the mess. Be money and each other about do nice can you try to save so things at weekends.”

PITFALLS THE PROS AND WN ROOTS OF PUTTING DO HETHER by accident or design, living ed married unaccompani has its ups as an army family might be able and downs. You career, to pursue a steady own enjoy living in your and have magnolia-free home life for the a settled school can separated kids. But being and lonely also be a testing and your time for both you each other soldier – seeing weekends, over all-too-brief from flying feeling exhausted Every solo and commuting. different… is family

Maxine Stability seekers: Jenny (below), opted to (above right) and Faye (right) families and settle off patch with their for life ‘married unaccompanied’.

spoken to Poor guy. Having circumstances families in similar normal.” this is actually quite a little Weekending became was posted easier when David now tries closer to home. He such as their to take key dates as annual daughters’ birthdays an option leave, which wasn’t away. And when he was further Army spouse the pros overall Jenny believes Jenny Goodacre “It can be outweigh the cons: is now in her us. My husband lonely for both of married he’s on his seventh year of being finds it difficult when and the girls unaccompanied. own in the evening in he can work After previously living miss their dad. But and about it. quarters in Shrivenham late without worrying settled in her of moving alternative Bristol, she’s now For me the far worse. home city of Edinburgh. every two years was was have a lot of “My husband David We ensure that we Suffolk and it and moving to a job in family time at weekends, and our girls made sense for me holidays are special.” family lives. He to stay where my after moving, so deployed shortly Putting down roots she said. to ‘settle choose it was the right thing,” families Some roots early’ by putting down leaves the Time to adapt before their soldier it was Stone Jenny admitted that army. Faye and Stephen at first: “I found their children difficult to adjust felt that stability for weekends for thing and home him coming was the most important in my space Hartlepool. really hard: he was bought a house in If he used but much and I had a routine. “It’s far from home be cross said Faye. his initiative, I would more affordable,” treading on my a couple because he was “Stephen only has I would be can push toes, but if he didn’t, of years left so we wasn’t helping! cross because he



If you’re considering arm separately as an ab take time to think Fam financial impact. often ask AFF wheth Things to consider have to pay for Sing take your (SL AFF’s advice is to Accommodation all the ho time to think through well as their own – both positive on potential impacts answer depends in settled Being and negative. circumstances. allow you your own home may In the army, servi but how will S for pay to keep your job personnel partner having your serving when serving marr week affect u away during the unaccompanied when thinking to stay late sometimes tearful childcare if you need are involuntary se childcare.” How will through until then.” of my children in or go away with work? family (for service reason Colin Not having her own relationship? family are hoping your The on it impact in unfamiliar they qualify for th working affect close by and being can arrange flexible How will ‘weekending’ left Faye package when m feel more surroundings has to help the situation “I rented o your routines? isolated: privately won’t children get feeling somewhat manageable. “The Consider where you’ll that you home in the UK. moving, but miss the understanding you’ll contact face the anxiety of support and how Everyone Check with you feel we’ve have on the patch. part of a it’s a decision we unit welfare. Being going eligibility can be can knows what you’re been forced into. permanent community help each other. number of facto forward through and you may miss “While I’m looking offer much but you I wouldn’t it feels like it If there was a problem, of army life to some stability the understanding welfare.” What othe high cost – know how to contact patch. Being has come at a very that you find on a weigh should I bu car, the Faye’s advice is to challenges having to buy a second realistic about the you go As well as takin on and everything up before with them will fuel bills, accommodati and how you’ll deal hard work, any SLA charg hoping it will position. We’re down this route: “It’s childcare. put you in a stronger anything. to think about but it’s mentally more than has a range be a workable solution, Remember, AFF it long budget, partic ask me again I wouldn’t recommend are here to too early to tell – of specialists who moving to soldier needs in your term unless you’re in a year!” help, whether you’re – I feel like in SLA. Remem is also an somewhere familiar or living in a Clare Mason, who own home, renting because I’ve council tax an living via my life is on hold army spouse currently quarter – get in touch due to you’re movin says getting been unable to work unaccompanied, just started a home. in order is key: childcare costs. I’ve finances your I’ll be able to course so hopefully Are there soon.” get back to work

forward to “While I’m looking like it has some stability it feels cost.” come at a very high

Surprising switch

Fitzpatrick Army spouse Maxine her recently had to consider husband family’s options when posted Colin was unexpectedly they’d only just to Wiltshire after “We faced moved to Catterick. Maxine a difficult decision,” explained. “Move again, refuse to live promotion, or choose d. We married unaccompanie decided to buy, prompting full-time a for me to apply mortgage job to support the week was application. My first being nerve-wracking after long, and out of work for so


hurdle in Canada. The next had a ninewas that we only which to month window in

2020 28 Army&You spring

How do you react when those dreaded deployments start? We hear how service couples cope with separation (page 14-15). Photo: Daniel Knott of SemperFi Photography



to Canada, awaiting flights to say they received a call their they had gone over and had to allotted volume pay a further £2,000. is not She said: “Shipping probab cheap and this was the the worst part about stress whole move – extra need. I’ didn’t and cost we the bar recommend taking aga minimum and starting at the other end.” curren Remember, under out not p Sorting policy the army does move your finances for your first or final finally aware o When the family Make sure you’re stint if y moved, their eight-month these costs, especially a negative belon out of Canada had overseas and have rating credit expe impact on their in storage at public hard with entitlem and they were hit in the UK, as this when you leav high interest rates will cease when like a car. buying essentials overseas assignment. initially Getting through “We rented a house to wait until immigration because we had Cover all bases probation’ Elaine and her family are se we were ‘out of Of course, there ‘Canadian mortgage,” applied under the a you that secure to other aspects which meant Eventually experience class’ explained Elaine. for to take into considerat healthy they had to be in-country ear they put down a Seek advice at the all the mortgage two years. Gathering your deposit so their opportunity from was a and necessary documents to ful was easily approved unit admin team they tackled huge task which was no need to pay understand limitation on the cost there themselves to save to fin additional insurance. your entitlement of a lawyer. Unfortunately, supp allowances and their after a few months Removals and as the right to retain returned as documents were acc shipping final move costs; in the signed estimate been an they had Elaine was given resettlement courses company wrong place! iss from a shipping local immigration they were The correction process of £3,000, but as name a few. and with delayed the decision It might be a long coming to their time in BATUS p and take years to relieved to an end, they were Useful links: Elaine highlighted, Canadian receive word from dr it to follow your them immigration calling du here as a proud returned for medicals. “We I will always be En that we to the UK knowing now C is heart my to were one step closer If you have any said our long-term goal,” about settling o months “Fifteen Elaine. feel free to con onto later a letter dropped rmoverseas@a we the doormat saying spring 2020 could land as immigrants



Spring 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their

out to be a can sometimes turn A posting abroad we hear from ce. Here at AFF, with their life-changing experien have fallen in love many families who the wheels in dings and have set overseas surroun in the army. Esther there beyond life s, has been motion to settle manager oversea regional AFF’s , r… Thomas you need to conside looking into things

follow us on Don't forget to agram and Facebook, Inst d more news an Twitter for lots ree th tails on page features – de

spring 2020 Army&You 05

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Get You Hom the cost of t soldier retur address as

a qualifying You Home home is mo away from You can

informatio benefits’, website w all army a




Our experts

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. Katherine Houlston

Cat Calder

Karen Ross

Claire Hallam

Foreign & Commonwealth


Health & Additional Needs

Money & Allowances

Do you have a visa in your passport instead of a Biometric Residence Permit (BRP)? Are you having problems convincing potential employers of your right to work? Unfortunately, this is a problem experienced by many spouses who entered the UK prior to the introduction of BRPs or who were issued Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) in their passport during an overseas assignment. UKVI guidance issued for employers doesn’t specifically state that spouses with visas are entitled to work and they won’t issue a letter for every spouse to confirm that right. It appears that the only option is to apply for a BRP costing £229, if you have ILE. Online processing times are currently more than two months.

The Future Accommodation Model pilot in Aldershot is filling my time but what else am I working on? I’m still pushing for greater transparency both overseas and in the UK on the Combined Accommodation Assessment Scheme – the charges for your quarter. I’m waiting for the outcome of a government consultation and hope it will result in easier access to social housing allocation registers for newly separated spouses leaving SFA. I’m helping families achieve council tax discounts on second homes – some have had significant backdated refunds. I’m monitoring FDIS, the next allocation/ repair maintenance contract for SFA – details on page 39. If there’s anything you’d like me to look into, email

I’ve been working with NHS England for several years now and have constantly brought to the table the issues that you have been experiencing with transferring NHS waiting list times and continuity of healthcare. I’m pleased to let you know that as part of their ten-year plan, the NHS ran an engagement project at the beginning of this year, which will help develop an armed forces families health network. Keep an eye on our social media and website for more information and do contact me if you’re having any issues with healthcare provision –

If you’ve accompanied your soldier overseas, you may have gaps in your National Insurance (NI) contributions record. This could affect your state pension and other benefits. Class 1 credits are available for periods spent overseas accompanying your soldier since 2010. They can help to protect your pension and benefits such as jobseeker’s allowance. There are specific timeframes to claim. Class 3 credits are available for any period spent overseas accompanying your soldier between 1975 and 2010 and protect your state pension. Some of you have had issues claiming jobseeker’s allowance when returning despite claiming your NI credits. If you’ve had difficulties, let me know at

When it comes to coping with deployment, what ’s the best tip that you’ve come across?

When it comes to coping with deployment, what ’s the best tip that you’ve come across?

When it comes to coping with deployment, what ’s the best tip that you’ve come across?

When it comes to coping with deployment, what ’s the best tip that you’ve come across?

Go to a parkrun – you’ll meet new people, get out and about and release happy endorphins!

Don’t isolate yourself – help each other to get through the time and it will go faster.

Keep busy and give yourself a well-deserved treat.

Always have something planned in your diary to look forward to.

AFF’s new education & childcare specialist and employment & training specialist will both be in post soon. In the meantime, check for information. 06 Army&You spring 2020


F O R D F O C U S S T. 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 for more information. Model shown is a Focus ST-3 5-Door 2.3L Ford EcoBoost 280PS with a 6-Speed Manual Petrol transmission with optional Full LED Headlamps. Fuel economy mpg (l/100km): Combined 34.4. *CO2 emissions 179g/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.

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08 Army&You spring 2020





ll the signs suggest that 2020 is set to be an interesting year for army families on a political and policy front, writes AFF chief executive Sara Baade (pictured right). Not only do we have a new government and potentially a new defence review coming, but we also have a number of reports coming out that will be key for the MOD and the army when setting policies relating to you and your soldier. Andrew Selous, MP for South West Bedfordshire, was asked by the Secretary of State for Defence last year to produce an independent report to see what more support can be offered to service

families. In addition, Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, was commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2018 to report on the best environment that ensures retention for serving personnel. Both of these reports are due out this year and will have a real focus on families and what more can be done to support you. It will be interesting to see the detail in these reports and how the MOD and the army respond to them. As with all major reports relating to army families, we have worked closely with both Andrew and Mark by submitting your evidence and providing feedback to discussions, ensuring that your voice has been taken into consideration.

“These reports are due out this year and will have a real focus on families and what more can be done to support you.”

At the time of writing, we haven’t yet seen the final recommendations, but I strongly agree with Mark’s interim findings which make the point that defence will have to take some difficult decisions on how they spend their money going forward and a greater emphasis on armed forces personnel and their families is needed. If not, they won’t have enough qualified and trained personnel to operate the kit they’ve already invested in. Let’s watch this space, but please be reassured that we’re working on your behalf to feed into these really important reviews using the evidence that you give us. Keep letting us know your experiences and issues via & spring 2020 Army&You 09




Stay posted on key information and events affecting army life by registering for AFF’s email updates. Simply scan the QR code below and sign up!

AFF is helping RAND Europe, a not-for-profit research organisation, to conduct a tenmonth study examining factors that may affect the financial stability of current and former service personnel and their families, thanks to funding from the Forces in Mind Trust. The study seeks to shed light on the nature of the financial challenges experienced, the causes, and what can be done to support forces families who are struggling. Look out for further details later this year at


SMALL CHANGES, BIG DIFFERENCE The Army Empowerment Project was launched last year to change processes or policies that are getting in the way of soldiers doing their jobs. It’s meant to iron out those niggly, irritating things like having to fill out umpteen forms or not having access to simple information.



10 Army&You spring 2020




The project team is now looking at what could improve life for families. As part of this work, AFF has fed in some of the issues that you raise with us on a regular basis. Whilst we obviously can’t guarantee what will ultimately be implemented, it’s good to inform the debate – and hopefully you’ll see some benefit in the long term. See for updates.


SHAPING UP IN SENNELAGER AFF’s chief executive Sara Baade met service families on a visit to Germany, where she toured Normandy Barracks and had a look around the new welfare and community hub. Sara discussed a wide range of issues including spousal employment, secondary education, and the cost of childcare. Since the visit, AFF Germany co-ordinator Lindsay McCran has helped to set up a new ‘cup and chat’ group (pictured with Lt Col Danny Wild from Sennelager Station). Lindsay will continue to be on hand for families in Germany after AFF received backing for the post from Commander Col Tim Hill. You can contact her at

We’ve received a huge amount of positive feedback about Forces Families Jobs, the tri-service employment and training website designed for service family members. Employers and training providers have told us how useful it’s been for them to reach out to the armed forces community, and the feedback that we’ve received from families has been positive – with more than 1,000 of you using the platform to search for job and training opportunities. We are working hard with the other families federations to ensure FFJ continues to grow and develop further into a one-stop-shop that can support you in your career, no matter where you live in the world. Not registered yet? Go to

AFF was contacted by a spouse who was refused passage on an air trooping flight due to allergies and was diverted onto a civilian flight. AFF sought guidance from staff at RAF Brize Norton who issue the following guidance for passengers: “Although every effort will be made to cater for dietary requirements, it’s important to note that the meals provided cannot be guaranteed to be free from the 14 major food allergens. “It is the individual’s responsibility to note any special requirements/ additional needs at step three of the booking process. Individuals with severe allergies and intolerances may prefer to bring their own food with them, however this is at the individual’s own risk and cost.” Our advice? Make sure you let the air trooper booking service know so your requirements can be discussed in advance.


ADDITIONAL ALLIES The chain of command, service providers, local authorities and military charities will all come together this year for AFF’s additional needs study day. Made possible with funding from Aspire, the event gives attendees the opportunity to share ideas, gain feedback and identify areas where support can be improved. Keep an eye on AFF's social channels for details @The_AFF @ArmyandYou





Lulworth Camp in Dorset has functional streetlights – at last! After 18 months of campaigning and cajoling by AFF’s south west co-ordinator Jenna Richardson, progress was finally made thanks to support from the new garrison commander, Col Johnny Brooking, and his team at The Armour Centre. “Lulworth is so remote and it’s ridiculously dark in the winter,” said Jenna. “This will make such a difference to families living there.”

There’s good news if you’re heading to Cyprus as it’s now possible for spouses to apply for UK dependant jobs prior to arriving on the island, something that AFF has been advocating for some time. Any offer of employment will be conditional until you provide evidence that your dependant’s status stamp has been received. AFF is also encouraging the Sovereign Base Area Administration to sign up to Forces Families Jobs. Current vacancies can be found at




THE VOTES ARE IN After last year's general election, AFF ran a survey with military families stationed overseas to discover how you found the registration process, whether you opted to vote by post or proxy and how you’d like to cast your vote in future elections. l Although 96 per cent of participants were registered to vote, only 55 per cent actually did so. l Some of you were unable to vote due to not receiving your ballot papers in time. l You also described difficulties voting by proxy, primarily due to not knowing anyone living in your previous location in the UK. l 56 per cent of you thought the communication and support provided from the MOD was limited and some sought information from alternative avenues, such as councils. We’re looking at the data and considering the next steps, look out for updates at

Housing continues to be one of our main areas of enquiry. Here are some of the things we’ve recently helped with: l In Salisbury, a family contacted AFF as they’d been waiting more than two weeks for a replacement boiler. Wiltshire co-ordinator Carol Morris liaised with the local office for Amey and DIO. Fortunately, the family had made a formal complaint meaning the work history was on the system and Carol was able to push for the job to be brought forward. l Carol also helped to persuade Amey to carry out a full mould and damp survey of SFA in Perham Down, even though it wasn’t scheduled, because of the impact it was having on children’s health. All works have now been carried out. l After an influx of housing enquiries in


MODEL MOVE Families from 1 SCOTS in Northern Ireland were upset not to be eligible for the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot despite being posted to Aldershot as part of a unit move in 2021. AFF took up their cause along with the army and pushed for the unit to be included in the pilot. We’re delighted to report that this has now been approved. Not everyone will meet the entitlement criteria so visit the FAM section at for more details.

Leuchars, AFF’s Scotland co-ordinator Jenny Goodacre arranged for the military housing liaison officer and an Amey representative to meet families. Many of the issues are now in the process of being resolved. l It was a similar story in Bicester where AFF organised a successful housing surgery to address the rising number of housing issues. Amey and DIO met families and AFF’s housing specialist. Look out for follow-up details if you live in that area. If you have any housing issues, you can contact AFF (details on page three), report mould and damp to Amey and to AFF’s database at, or make an official complaint at housing

FIVE NATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE AFF has been looking further afield to gain insights into how you are supported when it comes to employment. Chief exec Sara Baade took part in a conference call with her counterparts from the Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and US armies to share success stories and discuss what hasn’t worked so well. “It’s always good to be involved in this ‘three continents’ partnership to learn from each other – the only downside is the time difference to make the call,” said Sara. The five nations plan to come together again in May prior to the Invictus Games to take the union to the next level. #AFFINVESTIGATES

STATS BOOST More and more of you are getting in touch with AFF. Our stats for 2019 show an eight per cent increase in overall enquiries compared to the previous year. Top topics were housing (27 per cent), Foreign & Commonwealth (18 per cent) and family life (13 per cent). The launch of Forces Families Jobs has also helped to put employment and training in the spotlight, with a 72 per cent increase in this area. Do continue to contact us, your evidence is vital to effect change and improve the quality of army life for everyone –

spring 2020 Army&You 11



If you’re a military spouse or partner running your own business, then the Heropreneurs Awards is for you. Backed by entrepreneurs, business leaders, politicians and veterans, the charity celebrates businesses set up by the forces community as well as offering a mentoring service for those forging a new path in business. Each year the Heropreneurs Awards celebrates success and entrepreneurial spirit with 11 different categories, including military partners in business. Entries for the 2020 awards opens in early April. l To find out more, visit






If you’re considering boarding for your child, check the Accredited Schools Database for eligible establishments. To claim Continuity of Education Allowance, the school you choose must be on this list. The new Boarding School Finder includes details of inspection reports, boarding capacity and fees. You can also use filters to help identify suitable schools. The information is for guidance only and the schools haven’t been inspected by the Children’s Education Advisory Service, so make sure you thoroughly research your options.

This year’s annual Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) conference will be held on 29 June at MOD Main Building in London. The informative event is free for forces families who have a family member with additional needs and/or disabilities and includes a meal and overnight accommodation at the Union Jack Club for those who wish to stay in the capital city the evening before. If you’re already a FANDF member, keep an eye on your inbox as you’ll receive information on how to attend via email.

The UK formally left the European Union on the 31 January but do you know what this means for your family? During the transition period up until the end of 31 December 2020, the UK and the EU will continue to negotiate the finer details. Meanwhile, the current rules of trade, travel and business will continue to apply. You still need to maintain awareness of any new rules coming into force and should get prepared for 2021, particularly if you’re posted overseas in countries such as Cyprus (pictured) and Germany.


l Send an email to to request access.

12 Army&You spring 2020


l To join, search FANDF at


l For updates and general information on how Brexit affects service families, visit

With four pension schemes now in operation, armed forces pensions have never been more complex. The Forces Pension Society can help you and your soldier navigate through the pension maze. It also campaigns against injustices in the system such as ensuring the right of all widows to retain their pension on remarriage. l Check out the Society’s brand-new website at


SCHOOLS Q&A The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) recently ran a drop-in session in Catterick, giving families a chance to speak directly to its team about any issues or questions about their child’s education. If you’d like the team to hold a session in your area, let your unit know so they can arrange it with CEAS. @ArmyandYou




Did you know the Services Cotswold Centre offers short-term accommodation if you’re going through marital separation or breakdown? Having previously only been available to families who are overseas, the offer has now been extended to families in the UK. You can apply to stay at the secure, 25-acre site in Corsham, Wiltshire, for up to six months and while you’re there, welfare staff will support you in your search for a new home. The Centre has 60 fully-furnished three- and four-bedroom selfcatering chalets, which come equipped with kitchen utensils, towels and bedding.

Scotland’s armed forces children’s charity, the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET) has launched a respite service for struggling forces families north of the border. The service supports two groups; young carers and families where there’s a prolonged or terminal illness of an immediate family member or there has been a bereavement. With support from The Travel Company Edinburgh, families will be able to create a bespoke break based on their own needs for up to seven days within the UK. RCET aims to support at least 20 families with these much-needed breaks by the end of this year.

Up until 3 May this year, military minors aged 16-17 are permitted to travel unescorted on MODprovided air transport subject to parental authority being given on the relevant proforma. Remember, you must ensure that your child travels with the means to access money and supplies should there be a requirement for an unscheduled overnight hotel stay. AFF is waiting to hear arrangements for after 3 May – look out for more at

l For more details, call 01225 810358.

l For more information on how to apply, visit





FILL IN YOUR FAMCAS If you’ve been invited to fill in this year’s tri-service Families Continuous Attitude Survey (FAMCAS), don’t forget to complete it by 1 May for paper copies or 6 May online. The results are used to inform decisions that may affect you, so make sure you have your say.

l More details can be found under ‘passenger information’ at raf. or by calling +44 (0)1993 895861.

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Separation is something you have to get used to as an army family but when the dreaded deployment starts, how do you cope without your soldier at home? Jill Misson reports…


OUR partner is being sent overseas for months with patchy comms and R&R on the distant horizon. That’s a daunting prospect, whether you’re newly married or an old hand. The team at AFF receives a range of queries about the impact of deployments and longer exercises. “Having staff who are or have been in an army family and have been through separation before does help, as we really understand both the practical and emotional issues,” said Michelle Alston, head of policy and research. “Families discuss how they’re facing challenges with supporting their children and how sometimes they feel isolated, often far away from their own family and friends. They also ask us questions, such as how to claim travel warrants or how to manage spousal employment,” added Michelle.

Unit support Before two units in 12 Brigade deployed to Estonia on Operation CABRIT, they ensured families were wellinformed with good support in place. “My experience is that soldiers worried about issues at home are significantly less effective at work,” said King’s Royal Hussars’ adjutant Captain Tom Kirkham. “We produced an information leaflet and ran talks which focused on details of the operation, any financial changes spouses could expect, methods of contact and procedures to use in the event of an emergency. The regiment also runs a closed Facebook group.” Planning an active social calendar was also important, explained Captain Jeff Tibbett from 1 YORKS: “We held a monthly coach trip, bingo and cinema nights and coffee mornings in addition to ‘stay and play’ and youth club.

Image: © MOD Crown copyright

14 Army&You spring 2020


gson family Divided by deployment: The Hod n (right); erso And a Laur and ip Phil (centre); (left) ones d and Leah Ann Humphreys’ love

“Families away from the patch were involved as much as possible, for example we sent them cinema tickets and arranged transport and accommodation for our homecoming parade.”

Everyone has different needs Separation can take its toll on any army spouse but the support each family may need varies greatly and may differ from one tour to the next as their circumstances change. Sam Hodgson’s baby was taken ill during 1 RIFLES’ deployment to Afghanistan. She recalled: “We had no idea that Aria had health issues. A few weeks into the tour, she was diagnosed with an unsafe swallow and aspiration pneumonia.” Sam praised welfare for organising childcare for her other children while she attended medical appointments. Laura Anderson’s husband is on his first deployment. She told Army&You: “We’ve been separated while he’s been training in Canada and Kenya but never for this long or into such an area of high danger.” A new job and solo trips to see more of Cyprus are keeping her busy but Laura also feels part of a community. She said: “As everyone is away from their families, we’ve banded together

Useful avenues of support AFF: • BFPO: Army Welfare Service: 01904 882053 Big White Wall: MoneyForce: HIVE: search your location for HIVE blogs online Home-Start: Forcesline: or 0800 731 4880 Free deployment survival pack:

and I have a strong support system and good friends.” Leah Ann Humphreys has felt more isolated because her husband was deployed for nine months as an individual not part of a unit. She said: “It has left me emotionally broken. “I haven’t had a single phone call from a welfare officer to check on me and that would have made all the difference.” Her children have struggled to settle into boarding school. “We felt they would cope better being distracted by the busy, fun school life but the strain of not being able to talk to daddy has really made it difficult for them. We are now looking at counselling to help my daughter manage her bottled up emotions and even my laid-back son clings to me more.” Mum-of-five Sarah Bewley said:

“My boys all miss their dad but the younger two are particularly vulnerable to mood swings and random weeping.”

“My boys all miss their dad but the younger two are particularly vulnerable to mood swings and random weeping.”

Finding ways to help If your child isn’t coping well, you can contact your local AWS community support development worker. Rebecca Wakefield said: “Parental separation can be tough and we do understand that. We will make a good connection with your child and draw on a network of other support services.” Dealing with deployment while you are pregnant can cause extra anxiety so it’s important to find ways to relax and prepare for the birth. Katy McGarry from Mumborneveryminute is a midwife and military spouse who runs courses for expectant parents and Bumps & Brunch sessions around Tidworth. She said: “I encouraged the serving partner of a military couple who attended one of my hypnobirthing courses to record my relaxation scripts in his own voice as he was going on exercise abroad.

“His partner went into premature labour and had the baby eight weeks earlier than they expected but she was able to hear his voice throughout the birth and felt he was with her.” Abby Wilkinson is a military spouse and registered nurse who delivers mental health courses at Bramcote. She recognises that many spouses hold back when they talk to their soldiers in theatre: “One of the most common issues is avoidance; not talking about things such as the washing machine breaking or nan being ill because you don’t want to burden them.” She advised: “Investing in yourself by finding a hobby and filling time so you don’t ruminate on the negatives really does help. By stepping out of your comfort zone and going to a coffee morning you’ll meet people going through the same who you can offload to.”

Reaching out If you know someone who is home alone, show them you care. “Knock on their door or send them a card,” suggested Leah Ann. “They may be the most outgoing person but, on the inside, they could be crying out.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You may be counting down the days, but you can still make the days count. & spring 2020 Army&You 15



HETHER by accident or design, living married unaccompanied as an army family has its ups and downs. You might be able to pursue a steady career, enjoy living in your own magnolia-free home and have a settled school life for the kids. But being separated can also be a testing and lonely time for both you and your soldier – seeing each other over all-too-brief weekends, feeling exhausted from flying solo and commuting. Every family is different…

Stability seekers: Jenny (below), Maxine (above right) and Faye (right) opted to settle off patch with their families and for life ‘married unaccompanied’.

Army spouse Jenny Goodacre is now in her seventh year of being married unaccompanied. After previously living in quarters in Shrivenham and Bristol, she’s now settled in her home city of Edinburgh. “My husband David was moving to a job in Suffolk and it made sense for me and our girls to stay where my family lives. He deployed shortly after moving, so it was the right thing,” she said.

Time to adapt Jenny admitted that it was difficult to adjust at first: “I found him coming home for weekends really hard: he was in my space and I had a routine. If he used his initiative, I would be cross because he was treading on my toes, but if he didn’t, I would be cross because he wasn’t helping!

16 Army&You spring 2020

Poor guy. Having spoken to families in similar circumstances this is actually quite normal.” Weekending became a little easier when David was posted closer to home. He now tries to take key dates such as their daughters’ birthdays as annual leave, which wasn’t an option when he was further away. And Jenny believes overall the pros outweigh the cons: “It can be lonely for both of us. My husband finds it difficult when he’s on his own in the evening and the girls miss their dad. But he can work late without worrying about it. For me the alternative of moving every two years was far worse. We ensure that we have a lot of family time at weekends, and holidays are special.”

Putting down roots Some families choose to ‘settle early’ by putting down roots before their soldier leaves the army. Faye and Stephen Stone felt that stability for their children was the most important thing and bought a house in Hartlepool. “It’s far from home but much more affordable,” said Faye. “Stephen only has a couple of years left so we can push @ArmyandYou

“The Get You Home allowance does help but it doesn’t cover expenses such as food, internet, and furnishings – my husband’s room was literally a shell. We’ve found it best for my husband to have a separate account for life in the mess. Be honest with each other about money and try to save so you can do nice things at weekends.”

Things to consider

“While I’m looking forward to some stability it feels like it has come at a very high cost.” through until then.” Not having her own family close by and being in unfamiliar surroundings has left Faye feeling somewhat isolated: “I miss the understanding that you have on the patch. Everyone knows what you’re going through and you help each other. If there was a problem, I wouldn’t know how to contact welfare.” Faye’s advice is to weigh everything up before you go down this route: “It’s hard work, mentally more than anything. I wouldn’t recommend it long term unless you’re moving to somewhere familiar – I feel like my life is on hold because I’ve been unable to work due to childcare costs. I’ve just started a course so hopefully I’ll be able to get back to work soon.”

Surprising switch Army spouse Maxine Fitzpatrick recently had to consider her family’s options when husband Colin was unexpectedly posted to Wiltshire after they’d only just moved to Catterick. “We faced a difficult decision,” Maxine explained. “Move again, refuse promotion, or choose to live married unaccompanied. We decided to buy, prompting me to apply for a full-time job to support the mortgage application. My first week was nerve-wracking after being out of work for so long, and

sometimes tearful when thinking of my children in childcare.” The family are hoping Colin can arrange flexible working to help the situation feel more manageable. “The children won’t face the anxiety of moving, but it’s a decision we feel we’ve been forced into. “While I’m looking forward to some stability it feels like it has come at a very high cost – having to buy a second car, the fuel bills, accommodation and childcare. We’re hoping it will be a workable solution, but it’s too early to tell – ask me again in a year!” Clare Mason, who is also an army spouse currently living unaccompanied, says getting your finances in order is key:

AFF’s advice is to take your time to think through all the potential impacts – both positive and negative. Being settled in your own home may allow you to keep your job but how will having your serving partner away during the week affect childcare if you need to stay late or go away with work? How will it impact on your relationship? How will ‘weekending’ affect your routines? Consider where you’ll get support and how you’ll contact unit welfare. Being part of a permanent community can offer much but you may miss the understanding of army life that you find on a patch. Being realistic about the challenges and how you’ll deal with them will put you in a stronger position. Remember, AFF has a range of specialists who are here to help, whether you’re in your own home, renting or living in a quarter – get in touch via

MAKING SENSE OF YOUR FINANCES If you’re considering living separately as an army family, take time to think about the financial impact. Families often ask AFF whether they have to pay for Single Living Accommodation (SLA) as well as their own home. The answer depends on your circumstances. In the army, serving personnel pay for SLA when serving married unaccompanied unless they are involuntary separated (for service reasons) or if they qualify for the over-37s package when moving into a privately rented or their own home in the UK. Check with your unit HR as eligibility can be based on a number of factors.

What other things should I budget for? As well as taking into account any SLA charges, remember to think about the family food budget, particularly if your soldier needs to pay for food in SLA. Remember to factor in council tax and water rates if you’re moving into your own home.

Are there any other allowances which could help? Get You Home helps to cover the cost of travel when your soldier returns to your main address as long as this is a qualifying residence. Get You Home is available if your home is more than 50 miles away from the duty station. You can find more information at ‘discover my benefits’, a family-friendly website with details of all army allowances – discovermybenefits.mod. winter 2019 Army&You 39

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SINGING THROUGH SEPARATION Long periods of deployment often mean being left to get on with life alone, without the support of your spouse, partner or loved family member. As everyone across our unique community knows all too well, that’s when the challenges can really begin. The team from the Military Wives Choirs (MWC) tell us how joining voices with others can help you to feel stronger…

Look out for ‘Military Wi ves’, the new film inspired by the story of the Military Wi ves Choirs, released 6 Mar ch

“IT goes without saying, that literally everything breaks, leaks, and generally goes wrong as soon as our military partners go away,” said choir member Dionne. With a core repertoire of heartfelt and uplifting music, and fun recognisable pieces to raise spirits during times of struggle, weekly rehearsals become a vital constant in a very changeable life. Camaraderie and friendship are but a few of the benefits found at every event and meet up. Members share and encourage the charity’s key mission; to sing, share and support one another.

THE NETWORK With 75 choirs and more than 2,300 members in British military bases across the UK and overseas, MWC is a charity that brings all women, not just wives, in the military community closer together and empowers them through singing. Scientific research shows that singing in a choir can alleviates stress and contributes to an improvement in mental health. One member added: “I love the huge sense of achievement and pride I feel when we sing together.” The choirs deliver welfare in the form

of wellbeing and music that is heard far beyond rehearsals. Through funding and continued support from ambassadors in the music industry, members have achieved extraordinary milestones, including the recording of several albums – the latest, Remember, is inspired by their own words. The celebrated choirs also undertook more than 800 live performances at events for

both military and wider communities during 2019 alone.

POP ALONG Any woman whose life is affected by her military connection can join. No auditions are necessary and a warm welcome awaits from women who understand your life. Visit to take your first step. #singsharesupport

Diarising deployments DISCOVERING an idea for a business is often born from people’s own experiences. For Ayesha and her soldier husband Ash, their flash of inspiration came from time spent apart during a deployment. “When we started feeling out of touch, we decided that we needed something that kept us connected in a more traditional way,” explained Ayesha (pictured right). “Speaking through FaceTime, text, emails and letters wasn’t cutting it; somehow, we always

felt restricted. Time wasn’t on our side, as we never knew how long the deployment would last.” After their son was born, Ayesha felt that deployment became even harder. Having not yet celebrated his first birthday together, the couple knew that milestones were going to be missed, and that’s when they came up with the idea of The Detachment Diary. “We started by binding together a book design, which went with Ash on his deployment, recording all the

Take a closer look:

things we were missing. Back home, we had our own version that I used to keep track of all stuff baby, to keep Ash in the loop,” she said.

“Upon his return, with diaries at the ready, we swapped, enabling us to read all about the deployment and in turn, share all of our home adventures.” Ayesha is offering Army&You readers a free military mum planner created to ease deployments and new postings. It features a children’s routine template, activity planner, support pages and more. spring 2020 Army&You 19


YOU’RE NOT ALONE It’s difficult enough to cope with long periods of separation, but even more so if you have the extra challenge of caring for a family member with additional needs. Over the last couple of years, AFF’s health & additional needs specialist Karen Ross has been involved with setting up support groups across the UK thanks to funding from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity… “Families need a safe space to share information, advice and give one another support,” she explained. Thanks to help from Vicky Harker, AWS welfare support officer, Carolyn Battey, UWO 6 Bn REME and Carol Morris, AFF’s Wiltshire co-ordinator, the Tidworth group has gone from

strength to strength with lots of families coming along. One spouse said: “I find this group to be so friendly and I know that I can ask any question and if there’s no answer, one will be found.” Other organisations, including the Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF),

Look out for groups continuing this year in Tidworth and Aldershot, thanks to funding from Aspire. Check AFF’s social media @The_AFF and local Facebook groups for details pop along as guests to offer their expertise. “Without this group, I wouldn’t have direct face-to-face access to agencies across Wiltshire that offer their time to visit,” added another army spouse.


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AFF also set up groups in Colchester, Didcot and Northern Ireland. Jodie attends the group in Didcot and said: “It’s been so helpful to me in so many ways. It has made me feel more confident and appreciated. It’s great to get support and advice from other mums and dads and to not be judged. When you find out that your child has additional needs you can feel very alone.” Leah Ann Humphreys, AFF’s former Oxfordshire co-ordinator, explained: “My eyes were opened up to how strong these women and men are in coping. They do this alongside all the other day-to-day struggles and joys of being an army family.” Claire Hallam, AFF’s East Anglia co-ordinator, has helped re-establish the Colchester support group at the request of families. They meet once a month and have also now set up a WhatsApp group so they can share information and give one another support at any time.

In Northern Ireland, AFF co-ordinator Lucy Clarke has brought in external agencies to help better inform and advise families. AutismNI visited the group and recently the Empower Project delivered workshops. Army spouse, Becky said: “It has been invaluable having these sessions to talk about the struggles we have with our children. Attending workshops on site has been amazing as fitting around my husband’s shift pattern would be really challenging.”

LOCAL NEEDS AFF’s Scotland co-ordinator, Jenny Goodacre, also identified a need for a support group in Edinburgh: “It was clear from talking to spouses that they are coping remarkably well, but with no local family support and soldiers who are deployed regularly, they could do with their own space.” She’s already had some positive feedback from families who have popped in. Karen continues to support the groups by attending in person or Skyping in. Check AFF’s social media to find a group near you. If you’d like to set up a group in your area, Karen would love to hear from you – email @ArmyandYou


DEPLOYMENT DOUGH When your soldier deploys for a lengthy period, normality goes out of the window for a while, and so can your financial health if you’re not careful. So how can you manage your money well while they’re away? AFF’s money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, has some handy advice… Before they go If you’re not earning a wage yourself, make sure that you’re able to access money. A joint bank account is an obvious way, but if you’d rather not go down that route, there are other options. You could set up a standing order or direct debit for a regular amount, or your soldier could give you temporary access to their account. Speak to your bank or building society in advance. Calling companies about things like utilities, broadband and phones can be a pain if you’re not the main account holder. Set up a password or get authorisation to discuss details so you can sort any issues directly. The last thing you want is no Sky TV for a few months because the provider won’t speak to you as the account is not in your name. Make sure you know where all important documents are kept such as car and life insurance.

Put them all together in a safe place. Ensure that your soldier has updated their will and checked that their nomination form is current.

During deployment When your soldier is deployed you may want to visit your family for support. If you’re eligible, Concessionary Travel for Families is an allowance to enable you to travel to see them. The number of journeys that can be claimed varies depending on certain factors so ask your soldier to speak with the unit HR admin for details. It’s tempting to spend money on days out and treats to compensate for your soldier being away but be careful not to overdo it. Look out for events and discounts offered by the unit welfare team and don’t forget that, as spouses and partners, you can get a third off journeys with an armed forces railcard. You can also sign up for the

Defence Discount Service to get money off many products and services. Whilst it may not be a hot topic in the few moments you get with your soldier during a long-distance Skype or phone call, it’s still important to talk about money and keep the lines of communication open, particularly if you’re finding it difficult to manage.

Back home Your soldier may receive extra money at the end of certain deployments. Armed forces advice service, MoneyForce recommends: “This is a great chance to pump up your money fitness, so in these situations it’s important to make the most of this opportunity and use your money as effectively as possible.” There are some great tips at

When returning from deployment for certain operations or assignments, you can claim council tax relief. Your unit HR admin will have more information. For further guidance on allowances, visit discovermybenefits. or contact me at &

Surviving solo suppers “SOME weeks I’m organised and manage to batch cook at the weekend ready for the week, things like spaghetti bolognaise, curry and lasagne portions,” said Hannah Garrick, who’s posted to Inverness. “If it’s not been an easy week then poached eggs on toast is my go-to, I’ve even been known to have porridge when my kids were really little.” Jo Phillips, currently living in Catterick, admits it was her neighbours who pulled her through: “I survived thanks to my group of friends on the patch. “During the last tour we all took it in turns to host kids’ tea to feed both the children and spouses. It was also an excuse to open a bottle of wine, have a moan or a giggle.” Bristol-based Charlie Manning tells a similar story: “I can never be bothered to cook just for me so there’s a lot of beans on toast or scrambled eggs when my spouse is away. “I’ve been so lucky to have wonderful neighbours who’ve embraced cooking for two – they often pop a plate over and vice versa. It means you eat better, share costs and spend time with friends.”

SUPER SWITCHES Sometimes it can all get a bit too much, so consider stocking these healthier alternatives: l Breakfast is a really important meal of the day and a quick and easy alternative is belVita Breakfast 30 per cent less

22 Army&You spring 2020

To see more from AJ follow @sharp_relations on Instagram

Whether you live ‘married unaccompanied’ or your spouse is deployed or away on exercise, it’s all too tempting to avoid cooking altogether and tuck into a glass of wine and a bag of crisps. Our food editor AJ Sharp has been investigating what spouses eat or cook when they’re eating for one...

Food for though: Hannah Garrick (left) and Jo Phillips

“I’ve even been known to have porridge when my kids were really little.” sugar chocolate chip biscuits. Made with wholegrains, these biscuits are packed with vitamins and minerals. l Try new scrumptious seaweed crisps by Abacus Foods made from seaweed harvested from the deep blue seas of South Korea and coated with a thin layer of tapioca to create the crunchiest snack. Available in lightly salted, salt and vinegar and cheese flavours and made without any nasties, they are gluten-free, vegan, and only contain about 100 calories per bag.

created a range of bite-sized protein pieces to snack on. Nothing keeps your health and immunity stronger than quality protein and these balls contain no added sugar, high fibre and vegan-friendly protein (£1.99 per 45g bag). l Gosnells of Peckham has launched four exciting mead flavours: citra sea, hibiscus, hopped and sour. Why drink 1214 per cent volume wine when you can drink something just as complex and elegant at 4 per cent (£15 for a 4-pack)?

l The Protein Ball Co. has @ArmyandYou


Life’s rarely a beach when it comes to being the partner of a soldier, but for Foreign & Commonwealth families it can mean putting many miles – and vast bodies of water – between them and their loved ones. Amy Pearson, AFF F&C assistant, tells us more...


OST army spouses will admit they met ‘the one’ and were hurled into military life, often being told… ‘you signed up to this’. With a confused look on our faces we try to remember when we took the oath at the Army Recruitment Centre. The thing is, we didn’t. But we did become part of this exclusive club that brings many challenges – and one of the hardest is dealing with separation. Coping with long periods away from your loved ones is no mean feat, but many Foreign & Commonwealth families deal with separation every day – from their family, friends, home comforts and cultures; the list goes on. I chatted to Seruwaia Bevu, known as Seru, about army life miles away from her family back in Fiji. She married her soldier Tukeba in 2003 and joined him when he was posted to Osnabrück, Germany. Seru was pregnant at the time and full of nerves. Now, years later, they live in Warminster with their three children and are moving to Catterick with the unit in the coming months.

ARE THERE ANY SUPPORT NETWORKS THAT YOU CAN TURN TO FOR HELP? Yes, there are lots. I have approached the F&C team at AFF several times over the years. Our community is lucky to have this resource. The process for visas and citizenship is so in-depth so a helping hand and some guidance is really appreciated. More recently I’ve used Community Fiji Britain [], which has been really helpful. I would definitely go to them again in the future. Most importantly, I have my 1 YORKS family; we have a real community here. We celebrate together all the time and I

can honestly say my friends here are like my family. So many people say we have something very special here.

HOW DO YOU FIND BEING SEPARATED FROM YOUR FAMILY? It can be very hard, especially when times get tough. A few years ago, a tropical storm hit Fiji and affected a lot of military families. It was really difficult to support from so far away but our regiment was amazing! They sent aid packages and organised cake sales and donations. We all pulled together to help.

“As a family of five we’re not able to travel home as much as we’d like. It’s just too expensive.”

HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET HOME TO SEE YOUR FAMILY AND ARE THEY ABLE TO VISIT YOU? As a family of five we’re not able to travel home as much as we would like. It’s just too expensive, so we use Skype to keep in touch. My nephew was awarded a rugby scholarship at a school in Yorkshire so I’m lucky to be able to see him and my brother more regularly. I also have other close relatives that have joined the British Army, so I try to catch up with them as much as possible.

DID YOU FIND OTHER PEOPLE TO TALK TO WHO ARE IN THE SAME POSITION? Yes, I love the F&C community here. I’ve been with this battalion since I first moved in 2003 so our community is well established. We get together all the time, celebrating Fiji Day and birthdays etc. We really don’t need much of an excuse to have a party! l Don’t forget, if you’re part of a F&C family and need some support, you can contact us at

spring 2020 Army&You 23


The emotional impact of separation can put your children under a great deal of strain, not just during a tour but in the lead up and return from periods of deployment and training. It can affect simple day-to-day things like bedtime routines and household chores, and create feelings of loneliness and isolation. We take a closer look…

CHILDREN’S CHALLENGES BEFORE THEY GO The build-up to deployment or exercise may last a few weeks or months and everyone will deal with this in different ways. You may choose to make your child aware early on or keep it from them for as long as possible. Some children find the worry of their parent leaving emotionally challenging. It’s a good time to plan ways to message your soldier; email, video calls and packages give everyone something to look forward to.

TIME APART Changes in behaviour can be an indicator of how children deal with their feelings. Having a parent away is likely to change your family dynamic, with responsibilities being shifted. Often children feel uncertain about their role – do they have to step up and take on more or can they retreat into being a baby again? Missing birthdays and important events can be an unhappy time so try to focus on the positives. Seeing friends and family at these key times can

24 Army&You spring 2020

really help. Think about creating new traditions, rather than just relying on old ones. Plan ahead with special cards or maybe an extra gift from your soldier.

Your soldier’s long-awaited return brings excitement and relief, but it’s also a time of further change. It’s natural for children to have mixed emotions as reunion is more than just a single event, it’s a process of readjustment and it may take time.

This is trickier for parents who deploy individually and we rely on those families sharing information with us.” Coldstream Guards welfare officer Capt Colin Lewis has been working with Alexander First School in Windsor ahead of the regiment’s deployment to Iraq this year. He said: “We help them to create a support plan for each child. As teachers see parents every day at drop off and pick up, they’re able to identify issues at the earliest opportunity.”



Your children’s school is one of the key places that should work with you to support your child. Keeping school life as normal as possible ensures stability and the sense of a safe place. Angela Maxted, headteacher of Cheriton Primary School in Folkestone, explained: “When parents deploy it can be difficult for a child to understand time zones and the distance away from home. We’ve been very fortunate that the local battalion communicate well with us and we’re included in pre-deployment briefings.

Try to make the most of help and support, particularly from friends who live locally or who are in the same boat. Babysitting groups, school run share, group suppers and a listening ear all go a long way to get you through.


WELFARE SUPPORT Your unit welfare team is there to provide ongoing support and advice. Often they will arrange events to support children during deployment. It’s worth popping in or making contact before your soldier leaves to find out what’s planned.

CHARITY HELP Sign up to your local HIVE blog to find specific initiatives near you. Some organisations tailor their activities towards supporting families during deployment. Family Friends in Windsor and Maidenhead sometimes run SCWAD, a group for families with service children aged seven to 12, providing emotional support through activities that encourage them to share feelings and build confidence. Little Troopers also has lots of resources to support children including the story-time app, separation packs and regular events. Founder Louise Fetigan said: “Deployments are always a challenging time for children however old they are. In fact, it was the driving force behind me setting up Little Troopers after my own daughter found her dad’s deployments so hard.” &

USEFUL LINKS l l l l l @ArmyandYou

TOP TIPS FOR SCHOOLS If your child’s school needs some handy hints on how to deal with deployments, encourage them to check out Cheriton Primary School’s classroom clues…

a time when the serving parent can be present.

l Ask parents to share information about when their soldier is away – and bear in mind that some families don’t tell their child exactly where their parent has gone.

l Encourage children and teachers to email the serving parent to keep them up-todate with school life – reports, photos, short film clips of assembly etc.

l Arrange home visits for new Reception children at

l Remind school adults to be mindful of discussing news around children.

l Have a display area with photos of activities the serving parent is involved in.

l Arrange for a serving parent to take the school teddy bear/ mascot away with them and send back photos. l Arrange activities which families can attend without childcare – or provide childcare. l Encourage other parents to maintain links with families who have a serving parent away. l Make reference to the serving parent within the school day without expecting a child to talk about their feelings all the time.

l Invite the returning parent to talk to the teacher about their child’s schoolwork and progress during the time they’ve been away. l Agree to deployment leave for a family to do things together if they request it. l Attach a ‘welcome home’ banner outside to remind the wider community that parents have been away from their families.

spring 2020 Army&You 25

PUTTING THE ARMY BEHIND YOU Extra support for those easing into civvy street


REPARATION is key to a successful transition to life after a career in the armed forces. As AFF highlighted in its Lifting the Lid on Transition research, published in 2018 with the other families federations, families are at the heart of this.

Image: Courtesy of Soldier

Early planning Following the research, the MOD has developed policy to show how you should be supported during your transition to civilian life. The policy recognises that transition impacts on the whole family and that your service person’s employment is just one aspect of leaving the army. Transition shouldn’t just begin near the

26 Army&You spring 2020

end of your soldier’s career, you should be supported much sooner to develop the skills and knowledge to leave successfully. Here are some of the policy’s measures: l All three services are working with the MOD to develop a ‘lifeskills’ programme covering housing, finances, healthcare and family life. Your soldier will be able to access these throughout their career to help prepare them for life after the military. It’s hoped that this will be rolled out to families in the future. l The chain of command and those working in welfare will be given support to help identify

soldiers’ needs and those who are potentially vulnerable when it comes to transition, to allow them to be given targeted support. l The creation of the Defence Transition Services (DTS), which will offer support, particularly to those who are vulnerable.

What can the DTS do for my family? The DTS has four regional teams in the UK, each with a case worker, who can identify your needs and make sure you have support. Kate McCullough from the DTS encourages family members to get in touch: “If you’re concerned about any issues you’re facing and think they may

have a negative impact on your family’s transition, please make a self-referral. We’re committed to helping you access the support you need.”

How can I access the DTS? You and your soldier can choose to refer yourselves directly to the DTS; you do not have to go via your chain of command. Your soldier may also be referred, with their permission, by their chain of command or anyone else in their unit supporting them with welfare or transitional needs. For more information or to complete a referral form, visit and search for ‘support for service leavers’. @ArmyandYou

Will and Rachel Jarrett-Kerr

“We went from feeling buoyant about our move to civvy street to anxious about what the future held.” Will Jarrett-Kerr left the army in 2015 after seven years to settle with his wife Rachel and their children. “With six months left to serve, the civilian job offer I had was unexpectedly relocated elsewhere, so I had to decline it. We went from feeling buoyant about our move to civvy street to anxious about what the future held. We were in limbo and weren’t convinced we’d made the right decision. “We were well informed about transition and I invested heavily in networking, which paid off when I secured a role in the construction sector that I now really enjoy. “But buying our first home was stressful and confusing, the support of something like DTS would have been invaluable for us. “Rachel stumbled across the shared ownership scheme that we used to buy our house and if she hadn’t seen that random advert, I don’t know what we would have done as money was very tight. “Thankfully, we were accepted on to the scheme and I was offered a job all within the same week! We found out we were having our second baby soon

afterwards too. All of a sudden, everything came together.” Rachel has been able to refocus her attention on her own career without feeling nervous that a posting would affect where and when she could work. “Our children are settled and we’ve finally achieved that level of balance that first prompted us to think about me leaving the army.”

Andy Chambers left the army in 2018 with ten years’ service. After many moves and two tours, he decided that army life wasn’t conducive to family life for him and his now-fiancée, who was in an established career and reluctant to relocate with every posting. “Having worked as a resettlement officer, I

understood the process and it was valuable to have that knowledge. I’d planned the point at which I’d signed off carefully to give me five months between the end of my tour and my discharge date. “I chose to do my resettlement advisory briefing during R&R so that I’d have time to reflect on what I learned during the second half of my tour, and I then attended a three-day career transition workshop during POTL. “My own network and introductions from peers helped me make sense of the sometimes-conflicting advice I received. Now that I’m settled in my new career, I realise how important it is to have a good understanding of the reality of life outside the army. “Paying for SFA direct from your salary is particularly unhelpful when it comes to understanding the civilian cost of living. I also got a shock the first time I went to my new NHS dentist and had to pay for an appointment!”

“I’d planned the point at which I’d signed off carefully to give me five months between the end of my tour and my discharge date.” Andy Chambers and his fiancée, Alison

spring 2020 Army&You 27

28 Army&You spring 2020


A posting abroad can sometimes turn out to be a life-changing experience. Here at AFF, we hear from many families who have fallen in love with their overseas surroundings and have set the wheels in motion to settle there beyond life in the army. Esther Thomas, AFF’s regional manager overseas, has been looking into things you need to consider…


OVING home, new job, new school and retiring are some of the most stressful events you’ll go through, and army families sometimes do all of these at the same time. Elaine, a newly sworn-in Canadian, can now laugh about her family’s sevenyear journey, which required no shortage of paperwork, dollars and positive commitment to make it happen. It all started when the family were assigned to BATUS. “After only two months we decided Alberta was the place we wanted to call home,” explained Elaine.

Getting through immigration Elaine and her family applied under the ‘Canadian experience class’ which meant they had to be in-country for two years. Gathering all the necessary documents was a huge task which they tackled themselves to save on the cost of a lawyer. Unfortunately, after a few months their documents were returned as they had been signed in the wrong place! The correction process delayed the decision and with their time in BATUS coming to an end, they were relieved to receive word from Canadian immigration calling them for medicals. “We returned to the UK knowing that we were one step closer to our long-term goal,” said Elaine. “Fifteen months later a letter dropped onto the doormat saying we could land as immigrants

in Canada. The next hurdle was that we only had a ninemonth window in which to return to get our permanent residency.” With rules constantly changing this will always be a challenge, no matter where you’re heading. has useful ‘living in…’ guides so make sure you stay up-to-date and get some legal advice.

Sorting out your finances When the family finally moved, their eight-month stint out of Canada had a negative impact on their credit rating and they were hit hard with high interest rates when buying essentials like a car. “We rented a house initially because we had to wait until we were ‘out of probation’ to secure a mortgage,” explained Elaine. Eventually they put down a healthy deposit so their mortgage was easily approved and there was no need to pay additional insurance.

Removals and shipping Elaine was given an estimate from a shipping company of £3,000, but as they were

Useful links:

awaiting flights to Canada, they received a call to say they had gone over their allotted volume and had to pay a further £2,000. She said: “Shipping is not cheap and this was probably the worst part about the whole move – extra stress and cost we didn’t need. I’d recommend taking the bare minimum and starting again at the other end.” Remember, under current policy the army does not pay for your first or final move. Make sure you’re aware of these costs, especially if you’re overseas and have belongings in storage at public expense in the UK, as this entitlement will cease when you leave the overseas assignment.

Cover all bases Of course, there are several other aspects that you need to take into consideration. Seek advice at the earliest opportunity from your unit admin team to fully understand limitations to your entitlement to financial allowances and support, such as the right to retain SFA; final move costs; access to resettlement courses and local immigration issues, to name a few. It might be a long process and take years to plan, but as Elaine highlighted, it’s worth it to follow your dream: “I sit here as a proud dual citizen, I will always be English but my heart is now Canadian.” If you have any questions about settling overseas, feel free to contact me at & spring 2020 Army&You 29

A N A H G , a r Acc


Michaela and Alastair McKechnie – and their daughter Santina – tell us about the army life, golden sands and heavily-scented markets on offer in West Africa… How long have you been an army family?

Nine months.

parades and entertaining guests. Employment is regularly advertised on the high commission circular and voluntary organisations are so appreciative of any help.

How many other military families live there?

What about schools and childcare?

We’re one of two army personnel living here in Accra.

International schools and Montessori nursery/pre-schools are available. Our daughter is currently finishing A-Levels in the UK.

19 years.

Time in Ghana?

What’s your quarter like? It’s huge with lots of outside entertaining space and a spectacular garden.

Are there any employment/ training opportunities? There are many opportunities for employment and voluntary work. I’ve chosen to adjust into the role of the defence attaché wife, which is busy with social engagements,

Where do army families meet and who supports you? We meet up monthly with defence advisors from the different embassies and high commissions and more frequently with the British high commission ‘family’. We have a great social club, swimming

pool and fitness room within walking distance.

How do you find the cost of living there? Local market produce is often better quality and sometimes cheaper than supermarkets, which are expensive. Prices fluctuate with availability, so planning meals can be difficult – trawling different supermarkets or market stalls. The beautiful Ghanaian materials and tailormade clothing are less expensive.

What are the best and worst things about being based in West Africa? We have already met some incredible people – friendly and helpful. We’ve explored Accra, Kumasi, Shai Hills and Volta, which all have their own beauty and are steeped in tribal history.

I sometimes miss European shopping as entering large markets with the heat and smells can be a little overwhelming here. The beaches have golden and white sand but unfortunately are littered for miles with plastic debris from the ocean.

Would you recommend it as a family posting? Yes! But you need to be strong and open-minded. For us it’s great but it’s not for the faint hearted. Our daughter has flourished here during school holidays and took part in a volunteer programme with a medical outreach team. It’s been life changing in terms of decision-making for university and her future career. Ghana has touched my heart – we have already made some wonderful memories. &

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing 30 Army&You spring 2020


SNEAK PEEK Is your family facing a potential Defence Attaché posting overseas? If so, there’s a chance you may be able to get acquainted with a destination before packing in preparation for a longer stay abroad...


HERE’S policy in place for Defence Attachés and their spouses which – through the provision of a recce before a posting begins – serves to ease the transition of moving to an overseas location where there’s no military command, administrative or support structure. It’s not always possible to carry out such a trip as nominations have to be approved by the ambassador or high commissioner, but since the DALSC (Defence Attaché and Loan Service Centre) was created in 2016 to coordinate pre-assignment support for these types of postings, more than 200 service personnel, many with their spouses and partners, have benefited from advance visits. “Recces are important to enable a family to get a sense of the climate and culture of where they’re being deployed,” a member of the DALSC team said. “The size and location of accommodation, the schools, the transport network and amenities are all key elements that people want to look at in order to make decisions. Making initial contacts in the embassy/high commission is also an important part of the recce.” Want to know more? Contact AFF’s regional manager overseas, Esther Thomas, for details at

THE HINTON FAMILY: BANGLADESH As a full-time reservist, Allan had never been on a FTRS posting overseas. Wife Vicky’s first reaction to his possible assignment to Bangladesh was ‘really?!’ However, she soon realised it was a fantastic opportunity. Joining Allan in Dhaka was a big decision as Vicky was employ ed as a civil servant and their two children were settled in UK schools, with the eldest Alessandra (17) in a critical exam stage. Being FTRS, boardin g school was not an option, so it was all or nothing! Vicky attended a Defence Attaché (DA) spouse course to gain a better understanding of what to expect and came away feeling excited about taking a career break. “It gave an insight into the DA role and the support that spouses can give,” she explained. The whole family were able to go on a four-day recce which include d visits to housing, medical facilities, the local area and security briefs. Joshua (10) was given a tour of the international school where he joined in some classes and even played cricket. Following the recce, he was sold on the idea of Bangladesh and told his mum that “he’d move there tomorrow if he could”. Alessandra recognised the potential for a gap year, but was a little concerned about there not being many other overseas children her age. Having weighed everything up, the family have decided to take the plunge and will start their Asian adventure later this year. Vicky added: “I don’t know how anyone could make a choice without doing a recce and conside ring all aspects for the family.”


and Michaela did a recce, their posting to Ghana, Alastair Before the McKechnies took up cultural training day. 17 at the time, attended a one-day while their daughter Santina, aged nsive driving defe d spousal training, which include Michaela attended lots of the DA make, a to step e recce was a must. “This is a hug courses, but she also felt that the n living,” she said. massive difference from Europea visited local shopping staff at the high commission and During her recce Michaela met s and lows of being ingained an insight into the high areas and a medical clinic. She g on the recce as early as . “I’d strongly recommend goin country and learnt what to pack for shipping.” prepare and pack items ready you can. You can then properly s very glamorous, that the DA lifestyle, which look Now in Ghana, Michaela added me the 1940s wife, but hosting in their home: “I’ve beco involves long hours and lots of the good and bad points.” ywhere, you have to balance off that said I love it here! Like ever opposite See our postcard from Ghana spring 2020 Army&You 31


#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 @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories Meet the Tikoisainai family: ‘Tiko’ and Ofa and their daughters Grace (7) and Hadassah RoseMarie (3). Here, Ofa explains the challenges of being an army family thousands of miles from home...

Army life, and being an army wife and mum, is challenging. My husband Tiko (as he’s known) and I have been married for ten years and I’ve been an army wife for all of that time since moving to the UK from the Fiji Islands. Most days you have to hold it together. I play the single mum role or even dual roles (mum and dad) when Tiko’s away on exercise or deployment. These times are the hardest, especially for our two girls. Being able to communicate with their dad through video calls eases

“Our family is a circle of strength, joined by love, kept by God.”

“You’ll only know how strong you are when being strong is your only choice.” the emotional challenge of separation. We also let them know beforehand if their dad will be away and for how long, so they are prepared. You’ve got to be okay with moving half-way across the world, especially coming from the South Pacific. I’ve always travelled with my family, but this time I knew that having to leave them behind in Fiji wasn’t going to be easy. The only comforting thought was knowing I

have my older brother here, who is also in the army. Postings, packing, settling in and looking for new schools isn’t easy, but we somehow get it done and, without realising it, we’re already rolling on to the next task with family life or work. Army life will throw you in at the deep end at times. You’ll only know how strong you are when being strong is your only choice. Having children gives me the strength to keep going every day,

especially when their dad is away. It also makes my husband confident to do his work wherever he is sent, knowing that we will be okay and that I can be strong for all of us. Our favourite posting is here in Chetwynd Barracks, Nottingham. We love it as the schools, supermarkets and other facilities are easily accessible. We also love the amazing welfare team – there’s a good sense of community and families look out for each other. No one can understand your joys or fears like other spouses. You’ll learn about strengths you didn’t know you had as you support your soldier through their career. &

GET INVOLVED: Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to 32 Army&You spring 2020


TRADING PLACES My rebasing journey W

HO would have thought, as we prepared for another German Christmas, time would pass so quickly and that – a year later – we would be rebased, writes Carole Rudd, AFF’s rebasing co-ordinator. If I am being honest, after living in Germany for nearly 20 years, I was especially nervous about moving to the UK. All kinds of thoughts consumed me in the weeks leading up to our move day: Will we manage financially? Will I find a job? Will my quarter be okay? Will I lose touch with my friends? Five months in and I have to say my family’s journey was and

continues to be positive. Yes, we had some teething problems and it’s different to Germany, but as I open my curtains in the morning and breathe in the area where we live – I know I am home. We have settled well and are thoroughly engaged in UK life.


“After living in Germany for nearly 20 years, I was especially nervous about moving to the UK.”

I definitely feel that this is also the case when attending local events and coffee mornings as AFF’s rebasing co-ordinator. Families seem to have settled well with lots of positive comments. Schools are supporting those students who have transitioned, offering emotional literacy support to

those who require it. Many of you have secured gainful employment and are enjoying developing your skills. I was particularly struck by a comment made by one spouse, a German national, who said: “It [rebasing] all went smoothly, better than we thought. “I’m enjoying it here and feel there are lots of opportunities for me, I really love where I live!” To date negative comments are very few, but I am aware somebody, somewhere will not have had a smooth rebasing journey. So how did yours go? I’d love to hear from you, please share your experiences via & spring 2020 Army&You 33

The school is so welcoming and understanding of someone from a military background, I quickly felt part of the community. Student


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34 Army&You spring 2020



BECAUSE SHE CARES If you know a person with a military connection who works hard to improve your local community, tell us about them – email and read more stories at


IÂN Boyd is a military spouse currently based in Nairobi, Kenya. After a visit to a nearby orphanage, Mogra Children’s Centre, she set her heart on dedicating her spare time to improving young lives there... Having spoken to the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) community engagement officer to ensure she had the right support, Siân enlisted the help of other forces families: “Social media has been key in getting others involved,” she explained. “I put a post out to family and friends asking for parcels of clothes and basics and it was shared and seen by thousands of people. So I set up a page called ‘Because we care – Nairobi’ and the response was awesome.”

The international army family rallied, sending clothes, toiletries and books as well as helping Siân raise money for projects. She’s also had great support from the teams at BATUK. “They’ve been wonderful,” said Siân. “I’ve received nothing but the best support and advice from various departments, especially the community engagement team.”

Making a difference So far, Siân’s work has helped overhaul the clinic, donations store, kitchen, outdoor space and baby and toddler unit. Staff can now treat the children in a bright, clean and quiet clinical space ensuring medical care can be delivered from the resident nurse and visiting doctors. Children also have access to

As our spring community champion, Siân wins a signed print from The War Poppy Collection by artist Jacqueline Hurley of POSH Original Art. Jacqueline’s collection is her personal thank you and tribute to our armed forces, veterans and their families;

clothing and other essentials. A new gas stove, to replace one that was filling the site with thick smoke, is among the other significant upgrades. “The new kitchen is fully refurbished, so they have a clean environment from which to feed the 350 children currently living there,” explained Sian.

Plans for the future Siân’s main priority is to build a new facility to take care of babies and toddlers. “There are around 90 children aged under three on the site,” said Siân. “The current accommodation is crowded, with many cot-sharing. I would love to raise enough money to help construct a new building so the children can be cared for in the best conditions possible.”

Huge achievements Dawn Fitzsimmons, AFF’s Kenya co-ordinator, highlighted the big impact that Siân has had on the community: “She has done an amazing job and continues to make a real difference for the children at the centre. “Siân initially thought that she could help with basics such as washing, feeding, cleaning and hugs, but she soon realised that they needed much more. She continues to receive overwhelming support via donations and a clothing exchange. Siân has made it possible for BATUK families, soldiers and people across the globe to make a real difference to the lives of Kenyan children.” To find out more, visit BecauseWeCareNairobi &

and a commemoration of those who have fallen or been injured in past campaigns. She paints to evoke emotion, reflection and remembrance in her unique and expressive style. To view the collection, visit spring 2020 Army&You 35


GOING LIVE THE army part of the military’s Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot is now underway – see the flow chart opposite for how to apply. If you’re already living in Aldershot you have the choice of whether to opt into FAM or not – you won’t be moved out if you want to stay in a quarter.

POSTED THERE DURING THE PILOT? FAM will automatically apply to you. Whether you’re already at Aldershot and want to opt-in, or will be posted there in the future, it’s important to understand whether your soldier is eligible for FAM. They must:

l Have four or more years’ service l Have 12 months or more left on their posting at Aldershot Garrison l Belong to a unit that’s in the pilot – the full list is on MODnet. If they aren’t eligible, normal accommodation rules will continue to apply.

TIME TO BUY? FAM offers different housing options at subsidised rates and one of these is owning your own home. If you decide to buy, you have two options: 1. If you buy (or currently own)

outside of the 50-mile radius and your soldier lives in Single Living Accommodation (SLA) during the week – you’ll receive the core payment (£125 per month). Your soldier will be expected to pay for SLA with this (if the cost of SLA exceeds £125, they will receive ‘transitional protection’ so that they don’t pay more than they do today). 2. If you’re looking to purchase a home within the 50-mile radius of the pilot site, your soldier will be eligible for the core payment (£125) from their duty start date.

Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) are the experts on your civilian housing options. Even if you’re going down the rental route, they’re on hand and happy to help. JSHAO holds regular briefs around the country which are open to serving families and very useful to attend at any point in your soldier’s career. The earlier you plan, the better prepared you are! Contact JSHAO via or by email at

SOUND ADVICE Buying can be a daunting experience, however, the MOD’s Joint Service

AFF would love to hear your experiences, both good and otherwise, of the new options open to you for housing, especially if you are living married unaccompanied – email or tell us via @The_AFF on social.

Mortgages made easy First-time buyers and home movers ~ Forces Help to Buy


We have the knowledge and expertise with lenders to secure your mortgage. Friendly and efficient advice, application and administration through to completion. We save you stress, time and money.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. 01722 322911 Finhawk Mortgages Ltd, 40 Apostle Way, SALISBURY SP1 3GS Finhawk Mortgages Ltd is an appointed representative of Openwork Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority

36 Army&You spring 2020


Are you eligible for FAM? You won’t be part of the pilot and will be allocated accommodation in line with existing policy.


YES Are you already living at Aldershot Garrison?

When your soldier is posted to Aldershot Garrison you will need to make a choice about accommodation for your family.



Would you like to live in a different way if it better suits your family?

Do your research...

If you’re happy in your SFA at Aldershot Garrison you don’t need to do anything. If you already rent within 50 miles of the base, speak to your FAM Cell about FAM payments towards your rent.



Do your research...

Visit and search for Future Accommodation Model to watch the FAM videos and read more about your choices.

Visit and search for Future Accommodation Model to watch the FAM videos and read more about your choices.

Access Discover My Benefits via and use the FAM calculator to see what payments and allowances you could receive. Remember, you will need to pay utilities and council tax if you rent.

Access Discover My Benefits via and use the FAM calculator to see what payments and allowances you could receive. Remember, you will need to pay utilities and council tax if you rent.

Do you still want to change your accommodation?

NO Complete your accommodation preference form in JPA for SFA, SLA or to rent. Once your preference is confirmed, you’ll be informed of the actions you’ll need to take. If you buy a home you don’t need to fill out an APF – instead take your paperwork to unit HR. Enjoy your new home!


Complete your accommodation preference form in JPA if you’d like to change your accommodation. Once your preference is confirmed, you’ll be informed of the actions you’ll need to take. If you buy a home after you don’t need to fill out an APF – instead take your paperwork to unit HR. Enjoy your new home!

spring 2020 Army&You 37


First over the threshold EVEN those who crave a character cottage in the country or revel in a rennovation mission will concede that the perks of picking up the keys to a new-build home are appealing. Whether it’s the prospect of unblemished walls and ceilings, a pristine kitchen or unused bathtub, being the first through the door of a property brings some obvious benefits. However, the advantages of being the debut names on a property’s deeds are not limited to polished appearances. In a bid to discover more about the pros of purchasing off-plan or buying a recently completed house or flat, we asked Bovis Homes’ Stephanie Spry to spill some building beans... What guarantees come with your newbuild homes?

When buying a new home from Bovis Homes customers will get the reassurance of a two-year warranty from us as well as a 10-year National House Building Council ‘Buildmark’ warranty.

by many external factors such as the economy and local housing market. It can also depend on any modifications you make to your property and the current market value within the area you have purchased your new home. What incentives do you offer buyers?

The ‘All Inclusive’ Discount Scheme for Armed Forces. This is available on its own or within the Trinity scheme which is specifically designed to help individuals buy a brand new home as simply and affordably as possible. You can find out more at If we buy off-plan, how long can we expect to wait before moving into our new home?

This depends on the stage of build which your property is at when you reserve. When you reserve your property your sales advisor will be able to give you an estimated movein period. Once the build progresses your sales advisor will provide regular updates on when your expected move-in date will be.

Do new houses depreciate in the same way as new cars?

Do we get a say in design elements?

No, however it’s hard to say if a house will rise or fall in value as this can be determined

Your brand new home will come with a range of options and upgrades available,

38 Army&You spring 2020

which will allow you to really make your home your own. From customising your kitchen with stylish worktops and the latest modern appliances, to personalising your bathrooms with stunning ceramics, with a brand new Bovis Home you have the opportunity to create your perfect property. This is subject to stage of construction. Do you offer part-exchange?

We offer a number of schemes to help purchasers make their move including part-exchange. With Home Exchange, you can part exchange your current property for a brand new Bovis Home. We’ll manage the sale of your existing home from start to finish, saving you time and money and ensuring your move is as smooth and straightforward as possible. You could also take advantage of our Smooth Move scheme. If you’ve found your perfect new Bovis Home, but still need to sell your current property, we could help you to find the right buyer and we’ll pay your estate agents’ fees too. These schemes are only available on selected plots and are not available in conjunction with other offers, incentives or purchase assistance schemes.


Glad you asked Last year AFF asked what you’d like to see in the new allocation and repairs contract for Service Family Accommodation (SFA), which will replace the Amey contract from 2021. We fed the results back to the Future Defence Infrastructure Services team, and here are some of the services they’ve suggested might be introduced…

Online access


l You may be able to use smartphones and home computers to make requests and track the progress of jobs in the future.

l Greater flexibility when scheduling appointments, with several options in twohour windows.

Accurate and up-to-date

l Appointments may be offered between 8am and 8pm during the week and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.

l Access to ‘Rightmove’-style property details to help you choose from available SFA, including 360-degree views and floorplans.

Better handling of missed appointments l Real-time updates on the timing of appointments. l Notification of anticipated delays, with rescheduling or follow-ups made on the day of the original appointment.

Right first time l The new contract could incentivise suppliers to ensure tasks are carried out to

Up to 15% Forces Discount

a high standard as their performance may be measured against how many repairs are satisfactorily completed on the first visit and against follow-up repairs.

Quality over money l The introduction of the ‘price per property’ model will require suppliers to adopt a more proactive approach. l Suppliers will look to carry planned maintenance to defined standards (ie taps replaced as matching pairs) rather than on a reactive basis – reducing the number of call-outs. The new contract will be awarded in February next year and it’s hoped many of these requests will be incorporated. Look out for updates via AFF’s social channels @The_AFF

OPEN DAY FRI 1 MAY 2020 10 AM – 12 NOON

Your child at our heart Contact the Registrar on 01722 555300


spring 2020 Army&You 39


Help in finding finance IF you look beyond the magnolia walls, Service Family Accommodation is a relatively stressfree way of keeping a roof over your loved ones’ heads. Take, for example, the alternative of buying your own home and the ‘financial fuss’ of finding a Forces-friendly mortgage lender. Arranging a loan – or more specifically securing the right loan for you – can be daunting, which is why mortgage brokers have become a popular port-of-call for those seeking to purchase a property. But what does a broker do and why should you consider signing up for such support? We asked David Beach of Finhawk Mortgages in Salisbury to give us the lowdown… Why should I use a mortgage broker? Why can’t I just arrange a mortgage with my bank or find a deal online?

Taking out a mortgage could be one of the biggest financial decisions you will make in life, so it’s important to get it right. We will take the time to get to know you, your circumstances, and your overall financial position. We will also want to understand what type of mortgage you believe is right for you and discuss the pros and cons of each option. Using our expert knowledge, technology and database of several thousand mortgages, we will find the ones most suitable for your needs and ensure you don’t pay more than you need to. We will work with you to complete the

40 Army&You spring 2020

relevant paperwork and liaise on your behalf with solicitors, valuers and surveyors from beginning to end. We can also talk you through the features and benefits of financial protection for your new property and we will stay in touch throughout the process – and into the future. Unlike lenders, we have no vested interest and can access competitive rates from most of the UK’s best-known lenders, many of which aren’t available on the high street. Your bank will, of course, be able to give you guidance on any mortgages they offer, however, these will only be their own deals not the thousands of other mortgages on the market. With this approach you have very much limited your options. You could also find a deal online. You should be prepared, however, to spend time and effort to research a very competitive market for the lender and deal you feel that is right for you. Ultimately, you may still find that you are not eligible and have your application rejected. Furthermore, you will need to consider items like lender administration and booking fees, the length and type of mortgage you need, valuation costs and repayment methods, all of which can affect the total cost of your loan. Will your advice be impartial or do you have favourite lenders to work with?

Every mortgage is bespoke to your specific needs and circumstances; this is why it is necessary to conduct a thorough fact find. Once your goals and financial overview is

complete we source on price whilst ensuring you will be able to satisfy the lender’s criteria. Will using a broker help speed the process of securing a mortgage offer? How long will it take?

An application to offer can vary dependent on lender, current service levels, information required and complexity. Therefore it is difficult to be precise but approval is likely to take between eight to 40 days. A remortgage can be much shorter. Through knowledge of lenders and contact with their business development managers a mortgage broker will ensure that all the correct information is supplied at the right time. Regular, timely, communications streamline and expedite the process. In your experience, does being a military family help or hinder us in anyway?

The primary consideration with any mortgage is affordability. The requirements are the same, including treating people fairly, irrespective of being in the military or not. How much can I expect to pay for your services?

We offer an initial, no-obligation, consultation at our expense. A fee of £295 will be payable on mortgage completion. This allows us to solely focus on your needs and spend more time advising and supporting your application. Importantly, we will provide you with confirmation of your fee prior to the commencement of any chargeable activity. @ArmyandYou

Redecoration rules... If you’ve moved into a quarter recently you may have been pleasantly surprised to find new carpets and fresh paint on the walls. This is the result of a new initiative from DIO, carried out by Amey.


Passion for property Ever thought of building up your own property portfolio? For some families, the prospect of buying one house might be a bit daunting, but after starting out with a modest flat in Aldershot, army spouse Cara Cunniff has since built up her own business and is now on a mission to demystify property investment for service families. “I bought my first home out of a simple necessity to have somewhere to live before I married into the army. Over the following 20 or so years it’s grown into a portfolio of properties,” said Cara, who admits to being an addict of TV property shows. She believes that careful and consistent investment in the property market can deliver long-term financial security. Whilst supporting her husband’s career – and living in a dozen or so quarters across four countries – it’s provided her with a portable career, a second income and growing assets to help secure their future after the military.

WhatsApp and email. “The wonderful thing about owning property is it allows you to have other jobs as well. One income stream may get disrupted through a military move but property has always been a mainstay for me.” Cara’s path to success has not been without its hurdles. “My husband was on operations when I needed to remortgage a property to release equity. The mortgage company couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just email Iraq to get his signature!”

Letting go

Thinking of property as an asset that needs to work for you and not just as a place to live is key, according to Cara: “If you’re letting out a property that you’ve once lived in, cut your emotional ties. It changes from being a family home to an income-generating asset and so must your thinking. Gaining a first deposit may be a challenge, so choose an affordable area to buy and know your financial situation. Moving around “Save every month if you can – in time, “At times I’ve been nervous about you’ll build the deposit you need. how I would manage the Once you have a house you’re Seek properties from our then in a far better advice and instruct a postings,” explained position to leverage good property accountant • Cara. “I prefer to it and create further Plan ahead • Put in place a power of have direct control opportunities.” attorney if your soldier is away • Either buy at low and I’ve built l Look out for market value and add value through renovation, amazing teams on Cara’s podcast or buy at a lower than market price (sometimes the ground who look launching later people just want a quick sale) • Remember, after the properties this year, email while you’re renovating it’s lost rental income for me. When an her at cara@ and you’re liable for council tax • Your letting issue arises, I simply propertyprecision. agent should undertake due diligence and credit contact my local group, follow checking of your prospective tenants • Assess the tradesperson to pop @caracunniff or go market, know how much rent you will be able to in and resolve it. It’s to propertyprecision. command • Think long term, not quick wins. all made easy with group


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tips p to

Carpets in void SFA which are at least ten years old, in a poor state and less than ten years old, or mismatched in colour (as agreed by DIO), will now be replaced before the next family moves in. This will include new underlay and gripper rods, and doors will be adjusted so that they don’t catch.

MAGNOLIA MAKEOVER Existing internal paintwork must be at least four years old to qualify for full redecoration or as agreed by the DIO regional team if under four years. All walls will be painted in silk magnolia emulsion, ceilings in white silk emulsion and woodwork in white gloss. All previous areas of paint drips and overpaint will be removed from all fixtures and fittings. Walls, woodwork and ceilings will be rubbed down and prepared with holes filled. Hopefully this means that no one will move into tired and scruffy quarters going forward, giving you a better looking home for the duration of your posting. Don’t forget, if you have unresolved issues when moving contact us at

spring 2020 Army&You 41


Visit and take a look at the employer directory, which features hundreds of employer profiles which all demonstrate their individual support to service families. If your employer is going the extra mile to support the armed forces, why not tell them about FFJ?

ONSIDE EMPLOYERS Forces Families Jobs launched in September last year and has quickly become the go-to place for military families to search for employment opportunities. All employers on the site have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and have demonstrated their commitment to supporting the armed forces community. These employers all have one thing in common – they acknowledge the huge amount of talent and experience that spouses can offer and are keen to recruit from within this talent pool. We spoke to three employers who have signed up to FFJ to find out what they offer military spouses and partners who work for them... AMAZON Location: Worldwide Number of employees: 30,000 in the UK, 600,000+ worldwide Industry: Tech Employer Recognition Scheme award: Gold


you are – exactly the type of person we want to employ. If you move, you can either take your job with you, potentially do it remotely from home or take advantage of one of the hundreds of other opportunities we have in a different area of the business.

DEFENCE RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT Location: Nationwide Number of employees: 75 Industry: Part of the MOD Employer Recognition Scheme award: Exempt

We seek leaders who can think big and deliver results on behalf of our customers. These principles are familiar to those who have served, and employing military spouses is fundamental to our success.



We want to employ military spouses but find it difficult to get them to apply! FFJ allows Amazon to publicise to military spouses the breadth of roles we have available.



We understand that being married to a serving member of the armed forces can play havoc with building a career due to frequent moves, lack of employment opportunities and periods of separation. We know your CV doesn’t look the same as other people’s, but we also understand how adaptable, flexible and resilient

“I’ve had two children since joining Amazon and the company have been fabulous! They’ve been flexible with everything. “I couldn’t have asked for a better company to work for and I am eternally grateful to them for making this extremely busy time in my life a little bit more manageable.” – Jo Henry

We partner with organisations to support civilian employment for the armed forces community including reservists and spouses and partners. Supporting spouses and partners is an important element of our work. We encourage employers to adopt positive HR policies, including during the recruitment process and providing flexibility for leave requests, particularly during deployment.

42 Army&You spring 2020

“I value having an employer and colleagues that appreciate my situation.”

GOOD INITIATIVES We employ military spouses in our London head office @ArmyandYou


Registered Charity Number 1105544 | Registered Company Number 05189426


Contact our Admissions Team for more information Prep School ages 3 to 11 | Senior School ages 11 to 18

and across the regions. We support flexible working, and there’s the ability to transfer from one region to another where there are suitable vacancies.

RECRUITING THROUGH FFJ We’re always keen to increase our proportion of military spouses. We have also promoted the platform to all our engaged employers as a key tool to attract talent that could otherwise be overlooked.

A SPOUSE’S VIEW “I value having an employer and colleagues that appreciate my situation. I feel lucky to work in a supportive environment and I know that when deployments roll around, I will be supported.” – Nat Haynes, Assistant Director, Relationship Management (pictured)

FUJITSU SERVICES LIMITED Location: Worldwide Number of employees: 132,138 Industry: Information and Communication Technology Employer Recognition Scheme award: Gold

SUPPORT FOR OUR ARMED FORCES Fujitsu has a long-standing affiliation with the armed forces and our experience working within defence and national security has enabled us to recognise the significant contribution that the military community brings to the

commercial sector. Around 15 per cent of our workforce are from the armed forces community.

This support also extends to their family.


It helps create a strong pipeline of opportunity and talent as you contribute a wealth of transferable skills, leadership and life experiences to Fujitsu.

We support flexible leave, including the flexibility for holiday requests before, during and after deployment. We also consider paid leave for employees whose partners or spouses are injured or those who are bereaved. We also recognise how valuable and integral reservists are – they’re given leave to attend training events and when mobilised for reservist duties.


A SPOUSE’S VIEW “On a spouse’s return from active duty, we are aware that the integration between partners may be traumatic. We work with you to ensure you are well supported during this transition period.” – Audrey, employee spring 2020 Army&You 43

PROUD TO BE A PART OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY NSC has a proud history of supporting the British Army through the provision of simulation, visualisation and training design expertise. As the provider of UBVT, a key Army Collective Training system, we bring the training to your soldier – negating the need for travel and reducing time spent away from their loved ones. Want to know more? Find us on Forces Families Jobs.

River View, 2 Meadows Business Park, Camberley, Surrey, GU17 9AB Tel: +44 1276 678867 | E-mail: | Web:

HOME IS WHERE THE OFFICE IS! Working from home is becoming an increasingly popular option for many of you and often provides the flexibility that you need. There are some clear benefits for both the employer and employees – increased productivity, greater retention, no commute and savings on office space. We spoke to two home workers to find out the pros and cons…

Misty McCready, social media coach, Social Media Spouses, BF BS HOW I MAKE IT WORK FOR ME The key is keeping my home and work life separate. My office space is in the corner of the dining room and I only use that area during office hours. In the morning I ‘go to work’, and at the end of the day I walk out of the room and shut the door behind me. I’m also able to work my hours perfectly around the school run – my day starts after the morning drop-off, and I use my lunch break for pick-up.

WHAT I’VE FOUND TRICKY I’ve found that I push myself a lot harder to prove I’m not slacking. I sometimes realise it’s been days since I left the house for anything other than the school run! I need to get better at being able to switch off and step away from the screen.


r, Nicci Shayler, communications office Trust d Armed Forces Covenant Fun

HOW I MAKE IT WORK FOR ME My main reasons for wanting to work from home were health and childcare related. As an army spouse, my soldier is away a lot, or working irregular hours. In the past this meant reliance on childcare that my daughter didn’t really want to attend. Now, unless I have to travel to the office for a meeting, I have my daughter, who is eight, at home with me in the holidays. It may not work as well for those with younger children who are more demanding of your time, but we find that it works for us and saves us money too! I constantly remind myself of the positive aspects of working from home, especially if I’m having a day where I’m missing the camaraderie of the office.

Don’t be afraid to approach employers about the possibility of flexible working – just because they haven’t advertised it, it doesn’t mean it isn’t an option. Build a case to explain the benefits to them. WHAT I’VE FOUND TRICKY A lot of quarters are short on space but try and claim I often self-pressure to be at my desk and a little corner that’s just for you – there are some contactable. I find myself working later than I’m amazing space-saving desks out there. supposed to. I’ve felt an element of loneliness and I l Target employers that you know Make that space your own – if you’re going to be sometimes find that for days at a time, I only leave the offer flexible working. Even if a role sitting there all day, you don’t want to be staring at house to do the school run. This is where networks isn’t advertised as home working, apply for it, demonstrate to the bare magnolia walls! are so important. My diet has changed since working employer that you are the best If you’ve got kids, try and help them understand that from home. I find I can get so engrossed in what I’m person for the job and negotiate when you’re in that space you’re working. My kids doing that I forget to eat lunch! your flexible terms later. took a bit of time to get used to this!


HAS YOUR EMPLOYER BEEN SUPPORTIVE? Absolutely! BFBS understands the struggles military partners face when it comes to finding suitable employment, and being able to hold on to it when we do. That’s why #SMSpouses was launched, to help give military spouses and partners access to more flexible working opportunities – us coaches are the perfect example of how that can be achieved.

Further support and guidance: • • •

l Use Forces Families Jobs – all employers have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and understand the issues many spouses face. They have all created a profile and you can see whether flexible working is something they offer. l Use LinkedIn. Connect with people within the business world and this will help you to identify home working opportunities.

l If your employer is nervous about remote working, consider using the military co-working hubs if there’s one near you. This may help to reassure your employer. l Suggest a trial period – that way you can get a feel for whether it works for you too!

ANY ADVICE YOU CAN SHARE? Remind yourself why you’re doing it, whether childcare related or for other reasons. Get out and get some fresh air. Don’t lose those adult interactions you had when you worked in the office, find a way to weave them into your week. Don’t be so hard on yourself. When working in the office, it was accepted that you’d take breaks. You don’t have to prove you’re there every second you’re on the clock. I’m still getting to grips with this one!

HAS YOUR EMPLOYER BEEN SUPPORTIVE? My employer was looking for someone to work from home. We make use of Microsoft Teams and video calling and I travel to the office every four-to-six weeks for a day to keep that bond with the team. spring 2020 Army&You 45



Caring Cymru

FF often asks you about your experiences of army life and it’s your evidence that helps us resolve issues and make changes. So where does the information go? Well in Wales, it goes right to the top of the Welsh Government. Annabel Ingram, AFF’s regional manager for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, meets regularly with the Deputy Minister Hannah Blythyn and her team, whose role it is to support the armed forces in the country. Annabel spoke to Hannah to highlight the key initiatives that help you make the best of a posting to Wales…

WHAT’S YOUR ROLE? I’m the Deputy Minister for Housing and Local Government. I have the privilege and responsibility for ensuring the Welsh Government and the wider public sector does everything possible to support the armed forces community in Wales.


46 Army&You spring 2020

as priority if they are homeless when leaving the forces. This provides an important safety net during transition. l Veterans have priority status in the Welsh Government homebuy scheme and widows and widowers of personnel who have died in service are also eligible.

From left to right: Annabel Ingram (AFF), Jane Williams (NFF), Hannah Blythyn (Deputy Minister for housing and local government) and Caroline Woodward (RAF FF)

devolved, many of the key services that forces families rely on, including housing, health and education, are the responsibility of the Welsh Government. We are working hard to make sure we deliver on the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant. Here’s a few examples of how we’re doing this: l If a member of the armed forces or their immediate family is on an NHS waiting list and they are posted to another part of the UK, any waiting time accrued is carried forward with

them. All local health boards in Wales are aware of this commitment. l A 50 per cent council tax discount on a second home for those living in military property. l Through our school admissions code, there’s provision for service children to be admitted to an infant class mid-term. l Members of the armed forces community are classed

l Working Wales is a new service that provides tailored employability support, available to service families.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO WORK WITH AFF? AFF is an important voice of army families and is a means through which we can engage with our service communities. We know that we achieve more by working together in partnership. AFF is a valued member of our Armed Forces Expert Group, which I chair, and brings together the military, charities, statutory agencies and other experts. We very much value Annabel’s input. She has a wealth of experience and is fully supportive of the work we are doing. @ArmyandYou

AFF IN WALES By reporting your issues to AFF’s Wales & Borders co-ordinator Sadie Baldwin, or chatting to her at your local coffee morning, you can be assured that your voice will be heard. Check local Facebook groups for dates and times. Sadie updates Annabel weekly with all your latest concerns and questions so she can raise them with Hannah and her team. The Welsh Government also receives copies of all AFF’s reports and publications throughout the year, including Army&You.

WHAT SPECIFIC PROJECTS ARE YOU CURRENTLY WORKING ON? We’re looking at how we can better identify service children in schools so that appropriate support can be put in place if needed. We’re also working with businesses and companies using our employment toolkit to highlight the skills and experience that serving families have, to improve their chances of finding the right job. We’re updating our ‘Welcome to Wales’ document to ensure it has up-to-date information on our services. This is just a flavour of the comprehensive support package we have in place and are seeking to develop.

DO YOU HAVE A MESSAGE FOR ARMY FAMILIES LIVING IN OR POSTED TO WALES? The work you do to keep our country safe will never be taken for granted. That’s why I am determined to do all we can to support you in your work, to help take care of service families, and to support our veterans after they leave military service. For more information, visit and search ‘armed forces support’.

“I think South Wales is lovely. I like the outdoors as there are just so many different places to go. The most challenging thing is the local transport as it’s not very frequent, so it’s difficult for those who don’t drive.” – Charlene Gaunt, army wife and mum of two, Beachley, Chepstow

“Welfare have been an amazing support to the families, they have put on a range of events, from day trips to Barry Island to cinema visits. Captain Mills, Sgt Bason, Rfn Evans and AJ have been outstanding; from their open-door policy, if you just need a chat and are not having a great day, to the effort they make in getting to know you and your children too. They are the most approachable team I’ve known.” – army spouse, Beachley, Chepstow

FAST FACTS l Adults in Wales who haven’t registered an organ and tissue donation decision (opt in or opt out), will be considered to have no objection to becoming a donor. You can register at l Your child will learn Welsh as an additional language from nursery onwards. l Prescriptions are free on the Welsh NHS. l In Wales, those spouses who work can claim up to 30 hours’ early education and childcare a week for three- to four-year-olds. l Service Family Accommodation in Wales comes under the same Amey contract for allocations and repairs as the rest of the UK.

Contact AFF’s Wales & Borders co-ordinator at or call 07527 492868


The Supporting Service Children in Education (SSCE) Cymru helps service children by ensuring education professionals understand the issues military young people in Wales may face. Thanks to funding from the MOD Education Support Fund and the Welsh Government, SSCE has a dedicated officer who works with schools, families, local authorities and partner organisations across Wales to improve support for service children. The website is packed with resources, films and information to help support your children – There’s a new Additional Learning Needs (ALN) framework for supporting children, including service children. It’s expected to be implemented over a threeyear period from September this year and will make provision for all children and young people who require extra support with their learning. spring 2020 Army&You 47

Dallam School

Based at the entrance to the stunning Lake District, Dallam School offers an exceptional State Boarding education for 11 – 19 year olds.

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What makes a school or college great? Given excellence can be attained and measured in many ways, this is not the easiest of exam questions to answer. So, in search of some educated answers, we asked a selection of Army&You’s supporters to share their revision notes on some of their recent exceptional achievements, notable alumni and sporting accolades... DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL


O ROW across the Irish

described the reception as a tad

Sea is already a Viking-

“anticlimactic”, the true sense

like expedition. When

of pride came later after they’d

combined with a wrathful

enjoyed a well-earned kip.

storm, enormous waves and a

Despite his disabilities, Felix’s

series of unfortunate events, it

pride lay not in his incredible

seems all the more unachievable,

completion of the expedition, but

writes William Bowden (former

rather in realising just how much

Head Boy 2017–18).

had been raised, as many donations

Thus when Duke of York’s Royal

were made while they toiled away

Military School student Felix

at sea. He valued the charitable

Daglish, who is a quadriplegic and

donations of his supporters as

has been in a wheelchair since

far more important than the

birth, embarked upon this mighty

significance of his own achievement.

charity row from Rock in Cornwall

Felix’s motivation came in two

across the Irish Sea to Cork, his

rowers. Using their initiative and

With only a thin gym mat on which

distinct forms that supported

endurance and character were sure

quick thinking they came up with

to sleep and little to no protection

him at different times. First and

to be tested.

a system, each member would

from the gale force winds, stamina

foremost, his desire to contribute

complete one hour of rowing, one

was being driven down by the

to charity as is tradition in the

team members rowed a Herculean

hour of steering and one hour of

testing conditions. In addition,

Daglish household. The second

distance of 194 nautical miles (223

sleeping in rotation. The boost in

their only sustenance was protein

was the sense of team spirit which

land miles) in just three days and

efficiency they had hoped for was

bars and energy gels.

Felix believes is rooted both in

nights. They raised a staggering

not so easily realised, although they

£11,551, which was split between

were back on track and no longer

they arrived in Cork at 10.30pm

his boarding house, and in the

The Dukies’ Foundation (the

rowing in large circles.

to the sound of a single person

powerful sense of “responsibility,

Felix, 18, his father and two other

After three gruelling days

his experience of Dukie life at

school’s charity) and Walking with

The next hurdle was the “near

applauding from the dock:

belonging and unity” he felt as part

the Wounded, a charity that helps

impossible” sleeping conditions.

their handler. Though Felix

of the team during the three days.

former Armed Forces personnel. After a year’s training using the Dover school’s sporting facilities, Felix felt determined and ready to face the challenge ahead. Yet his initial expectations were far from the reality that awaited him out on those choppy waters. Opting to have no support boat and a team of just two handlers on shore, the confident rowers set off after a delightful family gathering, filled with optimism and excitement. Shortly after their happy send off, raging storms broke out, the wind whistled and rain whipped down on the team and the all-too-important auto-navigation system broke. This complicated matters, especially with the storm working hard to make life difficult for the resilient

spring 2020 Army&You 49

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50 Army&You spring 2020




ARLEIGH School is no

last year’s event, which also saw an

stranger to famous faces.

U13 boy clinch an individual 200m

Its notable alumni include

bronze. A year earlier the U13s

actors Rupert Everett and

girls’ relay team took silver and in

Cressida Bonas; CNBC reporter

2017 an U14 girl was crowned 100m

Willem Marx , Sunday Times’

champion and the U14s girls’ relay

New York correspondent Laura

team were bronze medallists.

Pullman and former England

Will Stuart is pictured (left) in Bath

rugby player Hugh Vyvyan.

colours and (below) lifting the

And this celebrity contingent is

Catholic Sevens trophy for Farleigh

expanding. Bath tighthead prop Will Stuart, for example, was named in Eddie Jones’ England squad for this year’s Six Nations Championship. The 23-year-old’s rise to rugby’s international stage will come as

perform at an elite level.

little surprise to his schoolmates. Will was part of a talented year

Farleigh’s U12s netball team won the IAPS National Finals in

group at Farleigh, which included

2018 – the same year in which the

now fellow professional Rory

school’s U13s rugby team extended

Jennings (Coventry Rugby), went

its unbeaten home run to five years

unbeaten in their final season in

and 55 matches.

school colours (2009) and won four Sevens tournaments. Recent sporting successes suggest Will and Rory will not be the last to

Success at the National Prep Schools Athletics Championships is also commonplace. Farleigh’s U13s boys’ relay team won gold at



TAUNTON School sixth

BISHOP’S Stortford College recently

form student Hanna Wittek

demonstrated it has a flair for both the

recently visited the House

arts and martial arts.

of Commons to deliver a

Senior School pupil Harriet H won the

campaign speech on behalf of

2020 Specialist Crafts Catalogue Cover

the Youth Parliament.

Competition, which will see her artwork

As Member of Youth

showcased on the Pottery and Ceramics

Parliament for Somerset,

cover page of a globally-distributed

Hanna was elected to

publication, while Prep School pupil

represent the South West

William Butcher won a bronze medal at the

as a debate lead. Hanna

IKU World Karate Championships,

commented: “I spoke at

held in Fortaleza, Brazil late last year.

the dispatch box for three minutes on a campaign that I

In addition to having her ceramics

was most passionate about. This to me was speaking on

piece (pictured above) – which she

hate crime. My speech was prepared and I think it went

created using a centuries old Japanese

really well!”

technique known as Raku firing –

Before Hanna spoke in the chamber she had the chance to meet recently-elected Speaker of the House of Commons, Sir

featured in print, Harriet also received a gift voucher.

Lindsay Hoyle. Hanna, pictured above with Headmaster Lee

William’s South American success

Glaser, said: “We had a sophisticated conversation with him

on the martial arts mats came in the

about Youth Parliament and how significant youth voice is

12-13-year-old boys’ 55-60kg division.

especially in such a time of uncertainty.” Hanna, who is studying A Levels at Taunton School, has

The talented karate-ka (left), who won two of his three gruelling kumite

her sights set on being an MP in the future. She concluded:

matches, said: “I was over the moon

“Having worked with the Youth Parliament has made me

when I won my bronze.

realise that I can really make a difference by becoming

“I was so glad that all of my hard

an MP and having a voice in Parliament. I hope to study

work has paid off, it was a great

Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Cambridge when I

experience to be there, represent

finish my studies at Taunton School.”

England and be a part of the squad.”

spring 2020 Army&You 51


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52 Army&You spring 2020




UCCESS and failure the

When there’s enough breadth, you

same coin grace, the value

ensure that pupils find an area of

lies between each face.

strength from which they can draw

“When the sad news of the

confidence. Similarly, you also make

basketball player Kobe Bryant’s

sure that they are encountering

death came through, it was

failure in a low-risk environment.

followed by a remarkable statistic,”

“We put our after-school clubs in

said Simon Head, Headmaster of

the middle of the afternoon, so that

Chafyn Grove. “For all his glittering

all the children have to do them.

success – two gold medals and an

Sporty children do cookery, bookish

Oscar, he also held the record for

ones bushcraft, shy pupils sailing

having missed more shots than

or clay-pigeon shooting. It may not

anyone else.

matter if they don’t make great

“Clearly it took skill to get into

strides in pottery, but it does matter

those shooting positions, and

that they experience that.”

perhaps it’s a mark of his stature that he attempted more difficult shots than others, nevertheless it serves a good reminder of the relationship between failure and success: they are linked. “In school, therefore, a certain amount of failure is healthy. “Crucially, the impact needs



REWEN College is delighted to have a

Hazel Lawrence, Head of Sixth Form, said: “This

record number of its sixth form students

is testament to the hard work of the students and

applying to UCAS for University places.

the aspirational nature of our sixth form; dyslexia is

Exceeding the national average, 71 per cent of

those leaving the East Sussex-based college in 2020

certainly not holding back our students!” Frewen welcomes pupils of all abilities and in 2019

have applied to continue their studies, with courses

the school celebrated students’ best exam results

to be manageable and the re-set

selected ranging from History and Politics to Film

ever and ‘pupil progress’ and ‘achievement’ have

easily achieved. Feedback will

Making and Sports Therapy.

impressively increased year-on-year over the last

always include what went right,

Located in Northiam, near Rye, Frewen is a day and

five years.

not just what went wrong. Just

boarding independent school for girls and boys aged

as importantly, there needs to be

7-19 who have dyslexia or dyspraxia and associated

privately funded pupils, a good proportion are also

a sense that progress is possible.

Specific Learning Difficulties. It is regarded as the

funded by Local Authorities through an Education

This is why a healthy co-curricular

oldest specialist school for dyslexia in the UK.

Health and Care Plan.

Although Frewen is an independent school with

programme at a school is vital.

spring 2020 Army&You 53





VS ASCOT is rightly proud of the pastoral

different schools and none of the others have anything

care it affords its students. Its provision

like this. If my eldest had had access to a facility like

was rated as “excellent” by the Independent

this it would have really benefitted her – it provides a

Schools’ Inspectorate last May and the all-ability school is not resting on its laurels. Since the report, it has opened a new Health & Wellbeing Centre, a round-the-clock facility boasting a residential nurse.

different level of help. “My youngest may move here for her A-levels, and the Health & Well-being Centre is definitely something which adds to the attraction of coming here.” LVS Ascot, which boasts almost 50 boarding students

The Centre provides a triage for all medical issues

from military backgrounds, also recently opened the

and concerns throughout the school day and allows

Well-being Hub – a calming space in the heart of the

students from age four to 18 to learn about mental

school where pupils can drop in during the school day

health, first aid, coping strategies and ways to

for a chat.

enhance their self-esteem. A garden area provides

Students can visit to share their feelings with the

an opportunity for outdoor learning and activities to

dedicated Well-being Manager and receive guidance on

stimulate positive well-being.

managing anxiety positively and learn stress-relieving

Karen Cridland, Director of Children, Young People

techniques. Curriculum class visits allow discussions

and Family Services for Berkshire Healthcare NHS

and teaching on the promotion of well-being at the

Foundation Trust, who attended the official opening of

Hub, which plays a vital part in assisting students to

the Centre, said: “There is something about being in a

achieve their personal best.

school that looks after young people and takes mental

LVS Ascot Principal Christine Cunniffe said: “We

health very seriously, and with this new facility, LVS

adopt a ‘whole school’ approach to supporting pupils’

Ascot is clearly a school which does that.

mental health, and a holistic package of care is available

“The benefit to pupils is that it gives them a safe

across the new centre and Well-being Hub, which has a

space to talk about their feelings, whether connected

dedicated full-time manager, to help children with the

to physical illness or their emotional health. By feeling

pressures of everyday life.

safe and secure it will support their academic progress and development of friendships too.” Aarti Buchanan, whose son Luke is in Year 13 at LVS Ascot, said: “I have put four children through four

“The Health & Well-being Centre provides medical doctors and counsellors along with the opportunity to take part in meditation, origami and a range of other activities to help pupils stay relaxed and stress free”.


MILLFIELD pupils were given a first-hand reminder of their school’s prowess on the hockey field when former student and Ireland international Millie Regan paid a special visit. The U10 boys’ and U11 boys’ hockey teams were coached by Millie, who attended Millfield Prep from 2004-2013. The goalkeeper recently returned from a European tournament in Bratislava, where her team placed second. Ireland’s women’s squad has qualified for this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.

54 Army&You spring 2020



“CHEATING in sport has always gone on, it always will go on, and our job is to keep it to manageable levels.” A rather bleak assessment by an alumnus of Kingham Hill School (KHS), but one that will resonate with regulators in many fields, writes Headmaster Nick Seward. Peter Sonksen OBE was the guest of honour at the opening of a spectacular new sports centre at his alma mater recently, having been recognised for his work in anti-doping for the Olympic Committee. Speaking to pupils and guests, he described in vivid detail his experiences of cat-and-mouse detective work against an opposition funded to a much greater degree by market imperatives. Students of the financial markets will sense a certain deja vu! Peter arrived at KHS between VE Day and VJ Day in 1945, and went on to an illustrious career. It was a great privilege to welcome him back, and have a hard-headed and realistic assessment of the lengths to which many will go in pursuit of sporting success, at great risk to their own bodies and future health.



S you make your way up the stairs

Barber and Robin Danaher; and the England

to look over the sports hall at

NSEA Nations Cup Team.

Hazlegrove Prep School, there is

However, when speaking with Hazelgrove’s

We were made aware of the systematic State-

a display board which might be missed by

Head of Sport, Phil Cobb, it becomes very clear

sponsored programmes of the former East Germany,

first-time visiting parents trying to take

that these success stories are often viewed

and more recent examples of both national and

everything in on a tour.

as a by-product of the approach adopted to

individual skulduggery (Lance Armstrong being only

The board is referred to as the Honours

one of many: Peter estimates that something like

Board and showcases an impressive array

two per cent of the cheats are actually caught).

of national and international sporting stars

sports at the school, where breadth and depth of opportunity are the driving forces. “We pride ourselves on the sporting

All that may seem a strange theme to highlight

who have attended the popular boarding

opportunities that every child has access to

at the opening of a spanking new state-of-the-art

and day school. From karate, fencing and

and firmly believe that they should try to get

sports facility. That said, it was a helpful way to

rowing to shooting, cross country and

involved in as many of these opportunities as

reinforce the ethos and approach that KHS strives

show jumping, the range and level of sports

possible,” he commented.

to inculcate in its pupils with regard to sport,

celebrated are as notable as some of the

character, and life. Not cheating, but playing the

instantly-recognisable names.

“Sport at Prep School level is evolving, and participation and enjoyment are ever

game in the right way, and for the right reasons. For

Those featured include Maddie Hinch

the great Rugby headmaster Thomas Arnold, sport

MBE (Team GB hockey); Sophia and Olivia

important factors.

was a means of developing virtue. KHS shares a

Hamilton (England hockey); Frank and

factor, you will never take the result out of

similar Christian foundation, and a verse from Paul’s

Ben Tickner (England cross country); Felix

sport, however, Hazlegrove embraces sport

letter to the Corinthians sums up that approach:

Drinkall (GB rowing); England athletes Ellen

for all whilst still striving for excellence.”

“With competition being the overriding

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” For the drugs cheat, that means one thing, but for the person of virtue, quite another.


It’s appropriate, then, that the sporting team we

SALISBURY Cathedral School demonstrated its credentials as an excellent neighbour

want our pupils to model themselves on was called

by encouraging children from the surrounding community to take a step out of their

Corinthian FC. The ‘Corinthian spirit’ refers to that

comfort zone during a fun-filled afternoon of risk taking activities.

‘gentlemanly amateurishness’ in its true sense: of

More than 100 local families were welcomed for the school’s “Dangerous Things (you

playing for love, not profit. The journalist Hunter

should let your child do!)” event. The children were able to roam freely in the school’s

Davies wrote that they epitomised: “Fair play and

27 acres as they took part in a series of planned and spontaneous activities, which

moral values above such sordid, vulgar things as

included mud pie making, deconstructing electrical appliances, slack-line walking, den

winning. They never argued with the referee or

building, building campfires, whittling and chemical reactions.

entered any competition where there was a prize. If

Explaining how the day was inspired by Gever Tulley’s book 50 Dangerous Things,

by chance the other team lost a man, either sent off

organiser Jojo Orange added: “Events like this allow us to meet local families and share

or through injury, they immediately and voluntarily

our unique setting with the Salisbury community, and to continue to enhance the

sent off one of their own men, just to keep things

Salisbury Cathedral School experience for our current families.”

even.” Impractical in the modern age? Perhaps, but

Carley Sefton-Wilson, CEO of the Learning Through Landscapes charity, commented:

it exemplifies something deeper about the true heart

“Although this event was great fun, the importance of risk and challenge in children’s

of our school’s approach, and why Peter Sonksen

lives has never been more crucial and it was fantastic to see Salisbury Cathedral

was both a distinguished and appropriate guest.

School helping some of the children in the community tick off some of their 50 dangerous things.”

spring 2020 Army&You 55

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56 Army&You spring 2020




Parting permanently? AS highlighted in this issue, being separated by deployment is a difficulty army families have become accustomed to enduring. For some, however, separation – for a myriad reasons – is something that is actively sought. The breakdown of a relationship is not something couples plan for, so most people are unaware of the practicalities and processes involved in parting. To help shed some light on the legal steps of splitting, we asked Lin Cumberlin (LC) of Batt Broadbent Solicitors in Salisbury and Peter Johnson (PJ) of London-based law firm Alexander JLO to tell us more... When should separating couples begin considering legal support?

LC: The break up of a relationship can be an emotional rollercoaster for everyone concerned. There’s often a lot to think about, particularly if the relationship is a long one and there are children and financial assets to consider. There are no golden rules about how to deal with a break up and the emotional impact can lead to bitterness and anger which are

best avoided but, more often than not, impossible to avoid. Even if you are not contemplating separation/divorce straight away, there is no harm in getting some legal advice at the earliest opportunity and when things start to go wrong. The earlier you seek legal advice the better you will be able to make decisions that affect yours and your family’s future. Most law firms will offer either a free or a fixed fee initial consultation to enable you to get some advice and reassurance on your legal position. Armed with this advice you can then consider your options and make decisions about your future. You will need to get separate legal advice as a lawyer would not be able to see you and your partner together.

you in making an application to the court. This can be an application to deal with your entire finances (to include your property) or an application focusing solely on the former matrimonial home known as a Property Adjustment Order. It is certainly recommended to settle on all of your finances to achieve a clean break from your partner, preventing them from making any future claims against you and vice versa. Any properties which you have will be accounted for in the assets to be split between you. The court will look to the needs of the parties to decide who should keep the former matrimonial home, providing that there are sufficient assets between you to prevent the need for an order for sale.

PJ: Whilst you may feel that you and your partner may be able to resolve these matters between you, it is still a good idea to get legal advice at the outset as a solicitor can help you to understand your legal rights and how best to achieve them. A solicitor may also be able to point out something significant which you haven’t yet considered or did not know about. If communication between you and your partner is deteriorating, contacting a solicitor to negotiate on your behalf may assist you in achieving a quicker resolution and reduce the stress of dealing with your separation alone.

LC: You don’t necessarily need

Can a solicitor assist in deciding who should move out of a privately-owned home?

PJ: Absolutely. A solicitor can assist in reaching agreement between you whether it be in the interim period until agreement is reached in relation to your finances, or part of a long-term settlement. If you and your partner still cannot agree on who should move out, a solicitor can assist

to see a solicitor to make a decision on who should move out but there could be implications if you moved out without assessing what impact this could have on your position. Some couples are able to remain living separately from each other whilst remaining under the same roof. A lot will depend on whether there are any dependent children to consider, whether the house you live in is owned and, if it is, who owns it. You will also need to consider your financial positions and whether you can afford to live independently of each other. What happens if a couple can not agree on where their children will live?

LC: If you cannot reach an agreement, a lawyer will usually initially recommend referral

Adoption • Change of name Care proceeding • Cohabitation agreements Divorce • Domestic violence Separation agreements • Mediation Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements

Family law specialists in Telford & Birmingham Telford Courtside House, Telford Square, Telford, TF3 4HX T: 01952 618656

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LAW ADVERTORIAL to a mediator. You and the other parent will meet with the mediator who will help and encourage you to agree decisions about your children, such as who they will live with and how often they will see and spend time with the other parent. It is better for you both as parents to try to agree these arrangements either between yourselves or with the help of a lawyer or mediator as, if you cannot agree, the only other option is through the courts. Issuing court proceedings in respect of children can result in emotional and financial hardship to you both. Who should pay for what in the aftermath of a break-up?

PJ: It is important for you and your partner to continue to pay your joint liabilities to prevent any unwanted creditors knocking at your door. Often, it is useful to have an account solely for paying the joint bills between you and to keep the remainder of your finances separate during a break up. This allows you to ensure that the

important payments are being made, whilst still having financial independence to go about your day-to-day lives. However, should you look to settle your finances as recommended previously, your money will be considered as an asset for sharing. If the matter proceeds to court, there will be a duty of full and frank disclosure including all bank accounts and petty cash, meaning the courts will be able to see who has paid for what and could consider this as a factor when making an order. Your solicitors will also use this as a negotiating factor when making an offer to settle. Are there any additional complications caused by being a military household?

LC: Marriage breakdown when one or both of the parties is in the Forces is treated differently, especially if you are occupying a Service quarter. If your partner moves into single living accommodation, you may be entitled to a “cooling off” period and, once this period

has ended, the Service will want confirmation from the service person as to whether or not they intend to move back into the quarter. If they do not move back, they will be required to change their Personal Status Category (PStat Cat) from married to separated and, once this has changed (which they can do at any time) it will trigger the NTV (Notice to Vacate). The NTV is then issued on the non-serving spouse and the marriage is considered to be over. This means that the Service Family Accommodation rates will apply for those 93 days once the soldier’s PStat Cat has changed [it may be possible to stay longer if you contact the loss of entitlement team]. You will, therefore, need to consider the housing needs of yourself and any dependent children as soon as possible. You may be entitled to social housing – although this is in short supply. As a serving member of HM Forces, your partner will be entitled to an Armed Forces Pension through his/her employment and, depending

on the length of your marriage and other determining factors, you may be entitled to a claim against your partner’s pension. Your partner will need to obtain a valuation of their pension entitlements to assess what, if any, claims you may have in respect of the pension. There may also be implications if you are currently receiving any form of education support funding from the MOD towards the cost of your children’s schooling. This funding is likely to be lost upon separation/divorce.

Protracted process STRINGENT rules surrounding eligibility for legal aid are proving a false economy in England’s courtrooms, according to a Shropshire solicitor. Natalie Moore of Telfordbased family law specialists NjP Solicitors believes making professional support harder to secure has led to an increasing number of people representing themselves, longer cases and the clogging up of the court system. Changes to the law seven years ago saw a range of civil disputes – including private law family cases, with very few exceptions – no longer eligible for legal aid. By 2017, only 20 percent of family law

cases saw both parties legally represented in court while in 35 percent of cases neither party had representation. “We are seeing more and more people representing themselves in family court and this inevitably has had the knock-on effect of cases taking much longer to reach a conclusion,” Natalie said. “There are prolonged proceedings, greater delays in cases getting before the court and a general slowing down in people receiving justice. “Understandably, people representing themselves, or Litigants in Person, do not know the workings of the court, how to file paperwork correctly or how to argue their

case. They don’t know the law, how to ask the right questions or what is required to prove their case. All this slows the proceedings. “There are some exceptions in still being able to get legal aid, when hard evidence of domestic abuse/risk of harm to a child can be supplied or being eligible through the exceptional case funding scheme, but this is very difficult to obtain. “It basically means people are left with the option of paying for legal representation, which can be extremely costly, or representing themselves. This is fraught with difficulty and often proves to be complex and confusing for people who

have little or no knowledge of the law. “These cases are happening at what is often the most difficult and stressful times of people’s lives, made worse if they then have to take on the responsibility of arguing their own case before a court. “It’s important for people to be properly represented and for cases to be dealt with as quickly as possible while safeguarding the interests of all parties concerned throughout the legal process. This process has become slower and slower over recent years, seriously affecting the ever-increasing workload of the family courts.” spring 2020 Army&You 59


Giving children a voice

Founded in 2014 as a First World War commemoration project, Never Such Innocence runs an annual international poetry, art, speech and song competition for youngsters aged nine to 18, which focuses on conflict and its impact. Army&You spoke to the charity’s CEO, Lady Lucy French, to find out more...

I GREW up the youngest of four daughters. Many childhood memories were of stories of my great-grandfather, Field Marshal Sir John French, during both the Boer War and the First World War. “The army was at his core. His dedication was the initial inspiration for starting Never Such Innocence [NSI],” said Lady Lucy French. “I wanted to give young people an opportunity to recognise and remember the service and sacrifice our armed forces made during that war, providing them with important platforms to share their voices.”

Amazing response

During the Great War’s centenary year, NSI received in excess of 11,000 entries, with

submissions arriving from more than 47 countries, across five continents. “I was overwhelmed and moved, frequently to tears, by the poignant, thought-provoking work that the children created,” explained Lady Lucy French. As the centenary year drew to a close, NSI had to decide where the organisation would go next. The answer was to provide a place for children to understand conflict more broadly and have a way to process everything that they see in the media today. Last summer, the charity invited children of Invictus UK trials competitors to design masks that showed how they felt about their mum or dad competing. “The creative programme provided a

positive space for the children to express how they felt and to feel part of the recovery journey,” said Brigadier Fred Hargreaves OBE, deputy director of the UK Invictus Games delegation.

Get involved

The Impact of Conflict on Communities is this year’s theme and NSI wants to hear from armed forces children. Those interested in the competition can write a poem, speech, song or create a piece of art, with entries submitted online at by 20 March. “I hope that some of the winners this year will be a representative of the military community and become a voice for other military children,” said Lady Lucy French. &

Above: Lady Lucy French discusses the competition with students Right: A selection of artwork submitted to Never Such Innocence by previous competitors

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Stepping up A group of more than 30 army youngsters got the chance to live and breathe the outdoors last summer, tackling exciting activities like abseiling, canoeing and gorge-walking – and this year, it could be you! The Annington Challenge, run in conjunction with the Outward Bound Trust, offers service children aged 11-19 the chance to camp out in some of the most beautiful and breath-taking parts of the UK. Will, 15, was one of nine army youngsters who successfully applied for a place on the challenging 19-day skills for life course in Aberdovey last year. In his application, he spoke of wanting to push himself to try new things and improve his team-working skills. “When I applied, I felt excited but really nervous about meeting new people,” he said. “What I discovered is that it’s fine if you’re not great at that stuff, it just naturally happens – I met someone at the station! I was in a dorm of six and it was interesting and refreshing to hear people’s life stories.” The expeditions helped develop Will’s team-building skills. He said: “On the first expedition, we really were a disparate group, not working as a team at all, but by the third one, we put the slowest people at the front to ensure no-one was left behind and there was real sense of being a team.” Will also found that his confidence grew as the course progressed: “At the beginning I was making suggestions to the more vocal members of the group and relying on them to share with the whole group. By the end, I was speaking to the group myself. It’s a really great course. Most people were dreading the expeditions, but we got walking and it really wasn’t so bad! My over-riding memory? The views – and the all-day breakfast!” If your child would like to apply, search ‘Annington Challenge’ at

BUILDING CONFIDENCE IN THE CLASSROOM When military spouse Heidi moved to Bicester after two years accompanying her husband in Jordan, her love of books led to her to apply to help children read in schools through a local initiative. Assisted Reading for Children Oxfordshire (ARCh) has volunteers going into primary schools across the county for an hour and a half twice weekly, reading with three children for 30 minutes each. Heidi volunteered at Five Acres Primary School, Ambrosden, and of the children she supported, two were from service families, and each had different needs. Some were reluctant readers, whilst others required help finding their voice and knowing it was okay to make mistakes. Heidi’s own experience of serving in the army helped her understand the background of the service children, one of whom was Ramona Burrell, aged nine. Ramona was born whilst her family were stationed in Cyprus and she had also lived in Canada and Germany before her dad’s assignment to Bicester. Due to changing schools, Ramona lacked confidence in reading and was identified by Ms Khawaja, the assistant head and literacy lead, as a child who would benefit from additional support. With Heidi’s help, Ramona’s confidence grew as well as her reading skills. Each session ended with a game which she looked forward to choosing from the ARCh box of resources. Ms Khawaja said: “The children benefit from ARCh in many ways: some make huge increases in their reading age alongside developing their confidence and attitude towards reading. Many parents tell us that their children now want to read at home for the first time. The children always look forward to their special one-to-one time.” Ramona, pictured above with Heidi, said: “It’s a good thing being able to read better. When I’m older things will be easier and I’ll be able to do more if I can read.” l ARCh is looking for more volunteers. Find out more at or call 01869 320380.

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10 DAYS FREE UNLIMITED TRAINING GKR Karate is excited to offer Army & You readers 10 days of free unlimited training at any of our 300+ dojos throughout the UK! Would you like to... • • • • •

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GKR Karate is an international organisation with over 2500 classes running each week across three countries. The large community of GKR Karate students creates great opportunities for positive social interaction between both children and adults.

To learn more or sign up, visit

One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 5 April 2020 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 and follow the links. Entries close on 5 April 2020

This summer’s famous Royal International Air Tattoo, which takes place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire on 17-19 July, will turn the spotlight on the world’s top guns as it celebrates Fast Jet Combat Air Power.

Oulton Hall – – has partnered with Tickets for Troops to offer complimentary golf for current and former service personnel


A dream destination for golf fans, Oulton Hall – near Leeds – features 27 holes and outstanding practice facilities. If treading the fairways and greens isn’t your thing, don’t worry. The 18th-century former

Height of entertainment

family mansion also has appeal for the not-sosporty, with landscaped gardens, a state-of-theart spa, an AA rosettewinning restaurant serving classic British food with a contemporary twist, and a champagne bar.

One lucky reader can win an overnight dinner, bed-and-breakfast stay for two at the four-star resort, with complimentary golf (subject to availability). The prize – worth £330 – is open to serving regular and reserve families.

With high-octane entertainment guaranteed, visitors will be able to enjoy a wide range of exciting and rarely-seen international aircraft – both in the air and on the ground. For your chance to win a pair of tickets valid for Sunday 19 July, see our ‘how to enter box’ on page three. Under-18s go free if accompanied by an adult.

BLissful bath time Make bath time a breeze and enter an ocean of fun, bubbles and adventure while soaking up the organic goodness from the newly-launched Once Upon a Foxx skincare range. Choose from foaming shampoo, lightweight body wash, bubble bath and body lotion enriched with aloe vera, shea butter, calendula and calming camomile. The Once Upon a Foxx range is made from the most delicate formulations and suitable for use from birth. It’s also vegan friendly and not tested on animals. Available from One lucky reader will win a bundle of all the bath products worth £48.

Catch the action from pitchside This year’s Army v Navy rugby clash not only celebrates a 100-year relationship with the RFU but will serve as a poignant reminder of history – commemorating the 75th anniversary of VE Day a few days later. For the first time, the Army and Royal Navy’s

women’s teams will run out from the West Stand onto the Twickenham turf on Saturday 2 May, kicking off after the men’s match. We have two family tickets for two adults and two children to be won plus 20 per cent discount on food and soft drinks.

Picture: © Alligin Photog raphy

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n a copy of Enter our giveaway to wi a Reading Force Madame Badobedah and for entry rules. scrapbook. See page three



MESMERISING MERMAIDS In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views on Madame Badobedah, written by Sophie Dahl and illustrated by Lauren O’Hara…

Hardback price £12.99, published by Walker Books

DELILAH BROWN (5) I liked this book a lot. It’s about Madame Badobedah, who is an old woman and maybe a villain, being friends – in the end – with a little girl called Mabel. The pictures in the book were very pretty and I liked the ones of the mermaids. My favourite part was when Mabel and Madame Badobedah pretend they are on a pirate ship on her bed.

NEIVE YOUNG (8) The book was good because it kept me guessing what was going to happen next. My favourite character was the tortoise because it was funny when he ran in the corridor like a dizzy chicken. The illustrations were really good. I loved the picture of the Mermaid Hotel. I want to be Mabel because then I can visit mermaids.

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

d If your children woul s for like to review book email the A&Y Book Club, hattie@readingforce.o d ages with their names an


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64 Army&You spring 2020



Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about army life and send them to


Patchwork existence By Sally, On or off the patch? This is a question which has featured quite heavily in our household. FIVE years ago, for the first time, we moved off patch into a property we owned. The word stability seemed to be cropping up more frequently and it seemed the obvious thing to do. If you have lived on patches for most of your forces life, the idea of moving off patch could throw up many emotions. Daunting? Refreshing? Exciting? We probably felt them all. My husband’s new job, a desk job, was 20 minutes down the road and the quarter we were offered was a mile away from our house. Let’s give ‘the normal life’ a go. HALF A FOOT IN A CIVILIAN LIFE Beforehand, we had very little insight into our civilian community. However, we soon realised we’d stepped out of a tight military community into an amazingly tight, rural one. We were welcomed and

felt fortunate. We started to see that, in many ways, this community didn’t appear too different to the patch. We saw how civilian families often faced separation too. I saw how all mums faced similar struggles of parenting, trying to juggle work with school runs, club runs and holiday cover. We all tried to help each other. Socially, we still had a great time. The children settled into the local school, had friends in the local community as well as those in the military.

There was little anxiety regarding moves and changes in friendship circles. My husband’s job had regular hours, he was mostly home each night and there were no deployments or exercises, only short periods of travel abroad. I was fortunate enough to be offered a job with flexible hours and given opportunities to develop professionally. Life was stable. Two years on the posting season came around again and he would now be two hours down the road. As we loved our local friends and the community, we tried living VolSep and anticipated life becoming a little less regular. Despite

this, commuting with a potential trip back midweek seemed feasible. It wasn’t long before we started to notice the subtle changes like missed snippets of time. That precious time which, when deployments, exercises, and irregular working hours kick in, becomes so important. Our understanding of stability changed too. We’d gained stability, yet stability as a family unit was sacrificed. The children were more aware of us being split and single parenting became more the norm. The hardest aspect is missing the military network when living

Sally wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — — for our best blog. Artist Gillian, a former Royal Navy officer and military spouse, specialises in vibrant and contemporary military art and design. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, she’s also happy to create bespoke commissions. Follow @gillianjonesdesigns on Instagram and @GillAJones on Twitter and Facebook.

off-patch. My husband maintained the connection through work, but for me this was more difficult. We tried to attend events on patch, but it was never as easy as being there. We weren’t part of the community, which has been there through the happiness, craziness, challenges and hurdles of military family life. As we’re now re-posted and living the other side of the world, we’re reflecting on some of our experiences – the meaning of ‘stability’, the functioning of our family unit and the importance of community. When we’re posted back, where will we head? Only the military posting order knows, but from now on, we’ll be taking each posting at a time and focussing on stability as a family unit, rather than geographical stability. spring 2020 Army&You 65

In it for the long haul By Zabina Matt and I met eight years ago and have been married five. We’ve accomplished a lot, living in five houses in three countries. Our relationship has evolved from only thinking of each other, eating uninterrupted at nice restaurants, going out and having lie-ins whenever we wanted to pure chaos! ANYONE who works full-time and has children knows that you have to become a master of plate spinning. I’ve had to accept that I’m almost always late, usually I’ve forgotten one or more things and that I only ever have half my brain functioning through pure exhaustion! Zabina and Matthew with Jacob, 4

There’s so much advice saying you should make time for one

another and go on date nights once a week but I have found these goals hard to achieve. Usually one of us is away, so more often than not we high five at the door before the other has to leave. So what do we do that makes our relationship work? Matt is my best friend and forgives my many faults, as I do for him. We have good and bad days. We talk through the bad ones and then leave them behind us. We take a moment to celebrate the good times. People should not be afraid to show off about their triumphs. He knows I would rather have pizza in my PJs than go for a romantic dinner and so that’s what we do.

Big fan of blogs?

We try to be courteous of each other. For example, if I am away with work for a week, I’ll make sure I get up with the kids in the days beforehand. Life is already hard enough, so we try to help each other out with the little things. It’s all about teamwork. I include him in everything – I bounce ideas off him, talk through decisions, moan to him. Keeping each other involved in everything is what makes us strong. Our team is in it for the long haul!

Call 01722 333423 to book a tour and meet with our Tatler-Nominated Headmaster. automatic military discount

chafyn grove school welcomes you to our next whole school open mornings: friday 6th march & friday 22nd may Please call 01722 333423 to book a tour.

excellent day and boarding education for girls and boys aged 3 - 13. 66 Army&You spring 2020

Chafyn Grove School, Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 1LR @ArmyandYou

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Army&You – Spring 2020  

Army&You – Spring 2020