Army&You Summer 2016

Page 1

Army&You Summer 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Settling in style

Our guide to finding and funding your forever home DIRECT SELLING How to turn your passion into profit



KEEPING YOU IN TOUCH WelComE (Welfare Communications Everywhere) - providing communication services to link entitled UK Service personnel on operational duty with their families and friends back home.

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

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 //

Find your forever home


ELCOME to the summer edition of Army&You. From setting down roots to putting a personal stamp on a property, our bumper housing issue has plenty to get you inspired. To help you find and fund your forever home, read our top tips for viewing properties (p17) and 52 there’s sage advice for saving for that all-important deposit (p43). We hear from one Army family who, using the Forces Help to Buy scheme, have transformed their Victorian terrace into a stunning home whilst sticking to a tight budget (p20). Where and how we choose to live is key to all Army families and, as the MOD looks at future housing options, we bring you the latest news on how our accommodation needs could be met in years to come (p15). Meanwhile, AFF has been working hard to ensure all 50 your concerns about the housing maintenance contract are met, and in the autumn Army&You we will be putting @ArmyandYou



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

CarillionAmey under the spotlight as the 20 firm answers some of your questions. Keeping the focus on those of you living your Army life abroad, we find out about one of AFF’s new roles, our European Joint Support Unit Co-ordinator, who covers no less than nine countries to ensure you have a dedicated point of contact (p36). Our A postcard from… feature (p38) takes a look at a different overseas posting in each issue and this time we’ve put Gibraltar on the map. If you would like to take part, get in touch. If you are in need of a break, you could soon be holidaying along some of the UK’s finest canals (p54). Enter all of our giveaways online at


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


COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 3 July 2016. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit www. for details

OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 // NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 // SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // SOUTH EAST 07733 147001 // LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS 01264 382322 // CANADA KENYA GERMANY (0049) 01744 946209 // GUTERSLOH (0049) 0176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // ESBA WSBA EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07552 861983 // EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // HOUSING 07789 551158 // FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING & MONEY✪ 07799 045955 // ✪ Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

summer 2016 Army&You 03

Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Admissions Deadline 15 Jan each year Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

Contents SUMMER 2016


15 The Future of Housing A&Y looks at the MOD’s accommodation plans 17 Valuable Viewings Read our top tips for checking out houses 32 Smartphone Safety Our guide to avoiding mobile phone mishaps 38 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Gibraltars 40 Sharing Success How AFF’s co-ordinators make a real difference 44 A Roof Over Your Head How one charity is helping homeless veterans


18 Happy House Hunting Our guide to finding and funding your forever home 20 Settling in Style How one Army family’s home hit the headlines 30 Direct Route to Work Why Service spouses should consider direct selling 34 A Daughter’s Tale Kiara Barrie on the ups and downs of being an Army child 35 Salon to Salute A Military Preparation College graduate shares her story 43 Deposit Details Handy hints to help you save for your own home


06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s Chief Executive 10 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 52 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with money, house buying and travel 54 Giveaways Win a boating break, family days out and more 56 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


STYLISH SURROUNDS Mel Prescott-Davies and Chris Green show off their well-appointed Victorian home PAGE 20 Cover picture: Darren Chung/ Period Living; Styling: Anna Morley

Army&You Summer 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Settling in style

Our guide to finding and funding your forever home DIRECT SELLING How to turn your passion into profit



summer 2016 Army&You 05

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



Everyone has seen the media attention about the delivery of the housing contract. AFF received a huge amount of calls and emails from families – a doubling of housing enquiries compared to the previous year! After a meeting between the Secretary of State for Defence, CA and DIO, changes to processes and an increase in resources were put in place. Agreed levels of service should be reached by the time you’re reading this. AFF continues to raise issues at every meeting and will monitor the situation. If you are still experiencing problems, log official complaints with CA on 0800 707 6000, option five – make sure you get a reference number.

I have been working with The Children’s Society, young carers’ organisations and other interested stakeholders looking at support for young carers in the Armed Forces community. I am interested in the wider support for all carers whether you are a spouse, Service person or child caring for someone. AFF is investigating support available for those who have a family member with an additional need or disability and any gaps in provision. I would really welcome your feedback either as a carer or as a family member requiring extra support. Email me at

Family and pilates (or should that be pie and lattes?)

Genealogy. There’s a family rumour that I’m related to Shakespeare!

We asked our experts about their biggest hobby or interest outside of work...

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What we do is different. Specialising in Armed Forces car finance, we offer both lowest rate and lowest price guarantees on all our vehicles and finance - more details of which are available at Whether you have good credit or have had credit issues in the past, with 5 branches, and over 3000 cars available at any time, we have something for everyone. We even give you 7 days to return the vehicle if you just don’t get on with it. For an informal chat with one of our specially trained Armed Forces car finance Account Managers, please call 0 3 3 3 5 7 7 5 5 3 3 , calls charged at standard landline rate. Alternatively, you can go to w w w . m k c a r f i n a n c e . c o . u k and fill in the straightforward application form 24 hours a day and we will get back to you during office hours.


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06 Army&You summer 2016






As part of the changes to the service which we offer, we have created a “latest news and frequently asked questions” section in the Foreign & Commonwealth pages of the AFF website. This is updated regularly so you’ll find it a great source for information and new announcements. If you sign up to our eNews service, we’ll also send you regular updates via email. Our webpages have key information for soldiers and their families on visas, citizenship, discharge, travel and much more. Take a look at

You often tell me about the challenges you face when seeking employment. AFF is aware that it can be tough to secure and maintain a career whilst following the flag. Some barriers, such as a large gap in employment, are temporary and may be easier to address than others. Although finding or keeping a job is difficult, it’s not impossible. I’m interested to hear from spouses that have overcome barriers to employment. What do successful job seekers do that separates them from their counterparts? How do you make work work for you? Email me at

Taking your children out of school in term time has made the news recently with several successful legal challenges where absence hasn’t been authorised. The Welsh education minister advises that blanket bans are contrary to regulations in Wales. If every working parent took leave in the six-week school holiday period, the country would grind to a halt. AFF recognises that school attendance is important and linked to learning outcomes but we also believe that Army families have a unique lifestyle that requires understanding of exceptional circumstances. Inflexible leave is a major factor for many soldiers. I’d like to hear your experiences. Email me at

Mountain biking – I love mud!

Netball. My team is finally joining a local league!

Macro flower photography.

Do something that matters, something life-changing, something to make a real difference. Have you cared for a loved one or considered working as a Professional Carer? The Good Care Group work tirelessly to enable older people to live in their own homes for longer. Some of these people are living with poor mobility and frailty, others can be living with dementia or other similar conditions. Would you consider working as a live-in carer for a client for a minimum of a week at a time? Someone who has life experience can truly empathise and have a real passion for care that is vital to the care sector. Becoming a carer for someone and living in their home for periods of time isn’t for everyone. However hearing about the joys, the achievements and sense of fulfilment from the carers who work with us, we know that it benefits not only the person who requires care, but also our carers too. When caring for a vulnerable person in their own home, you enable them to continue living their lives the way they want. You become a friend, a companion and a confidant. You promote a better quality of life for those you are caring for and build positive relationships with clients, their family and their friends.

To find out more, please visit our website at:, contact or call 0203 7287570

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Full and weekly boarding now available Located on a beautiful 150 acre site in Dover, Kent, The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a state boarding school for students aged 11 to 18. We welcome applications from any student who wants to study GCSEs and A Levels at our unique and iconic school with its strong traditions.

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• Full and weekly boarding available.

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including sport, music, drama and outdoor activities, with over 70 clubs and activities offered.

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character and life skills, with students encouraged to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

• Frequent involvement in high

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2015/16 fees are just £11,820* per year. If you qualify for CEA, you will only pay £1,182 per year.

Enquiries: 01304 245073 *Fees are reviewed annually



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

year alone. We see evidence of poor housing; mould, old boilers, heating and sewage problems. Too many of you are waking up every morning worried about your housing issues. I want to reassure you that housing is one of our top priorities and we are working closely with the MOD, Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and CarillionAmey (CA) to highlight your issues, champion your needs and push for housing to improve.

Housing: one of our top priorities


HEN I took over this role, I was told that families’ housing was and would most likely be a key area of work for AFF. Never could I have imagined quite the scale or the complexity of what this involved. Personally I miss my Service Families Accommodation. I know that’s a rather bold statement and a lot of you will say: “Really?!” But it was much bigger and cheaper than anything I could afford on civvy street and I was

❝❞ Too many of you are waking up every morning worried about your housing issues.

surrounded by people who understood Army life. Yes, it was all magnolia walls and the kitchen was somewhat antique, but I loved the space and it was functional. ASTONISHING STATISTICS What I see through AFF however, is many Army families who are not as lucky as I was. We have an ageing housing stock and a maintenance contract that’s not delivering. AFF received more than 4,000 housing enquiries last

ACTION PLAN FOR CHANGE At the time of writing, the current maintenance contract is still not meeting its targets and we have pushed for a concrete action plan to see how this will be addressed. I met with the Chief Executive of DIO and the Managing Director of CA and was reassured that work was being done to improve it. It was therefore very pleasing to see that our plea had been heard when DIO and CA released an action plan for change including additional resources (details of this can be found at LET US KNOW We are keeping a watchful eye on whether there are real results and meanwhile, we will continue to put pressure on all parties to deliver and to bring the housing situation to a satisfactory level. If you are struggling to get through to CA or are having issues getting your case solved, get in touch with us and we will try our best to help. Email us via housing@ n

GET INVOLVED: Look out for AFF’s Employment Survey running from 17-30 June.

summer 2016 Army&You 09




DID you know that you will no longer be penalised for renting out your home if you’re posted overseas? The big six lenders – Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander UK, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide – have all agreed that Army families won’t have to switch to a buy-to-let mortgage if their soldier’s service takes them abroad. AFF has been campaigning for fairer mortgage deals for Army families and welcomes this news.

We will continue to push for the offer to extend to postings within the UK – after all, a move from Stirling to Salisbury can be just as much of an upheaval! Check whether your mortgage provider is a subsidiary of one of the big six or has signed up to this deal as an independent. If you are experiencing any difficulties securing or changing a mortgage as a result of Service life, contact AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist, Laura Lewin, at

Picture: VisitEngland/Arundel

LATEST ON LETTINGS SUMMER DAYS OUT FROM suits of armour to cannons and supersonic jet fighters, there’s something for everyone at England’s military museums. A quick online search will bring up lots of Armed Forces-themed events and places to visit. Discover ancient conflicts, get behind the controls of military vehicles and find exhibitions and stories from the frontline. If you like the whiff of gunpowder in the air, look out for military re-enactments too. Go to for details.

DID YOU KNOW? Picture: MOD Crown Copyright

From 2017, you can no longer deduct the interest portion of your mortgage payment before you calculate how much tax you owe on your rental income. AFF is campaigning about the impact of this on Army families.


Our favourite images A PICTURE paints a thousand words, and you can now discover all of Army&You’s favourites on Instagram. We have a growing follower base and we would love you to join us. There’s not enough space in the pages of the magazine to include all of the photos we receive and it’s a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on between editions. You can get involved by sending us your favourite shots of Army life. Email or follow us @armyandyou 10 Army&You summer 2016

SATURDAY 25 June is Armed Forces Day – your chance to celebrate and be celebrated by the general public. This year’s national event takes place in Cleethorpes, Lincolnshire, with a formal parade and spectacular military show. Hundreds more events will take place in towns and cities across the UK and there are lots of ways to show your support and get involved. Look out for the #SaluteOurForces hashtag on social media, and don’t forget to submit a photo or video of you saluting to pay tribute to our Armed Forces community. Visit for more information. @ArmyandYou


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

1. Special guests The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment hosted young cancer patients

Picture via @ArmyScotland

2 Top dogs Canines compete in the military working dog trials (via Forces TV)

3. Tattoo heads Down Under Trooper Karl Lynch performs at Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia

4. Homecoming Young Ty dresses up to welcome home his dad (picture by Jackie Rautenbach)

Telling a soldier’s tale WHAT if social media had existed in 1914? What would a young soldier in the Territorial Force post on Facebook and Twitter? The idea behind A Soldier’s Tale was to paint a realistic picture of the First World War that would engage all ages, particularly younger people. Walter Carter’s first post was in March 1914 (2014). He was a porter at Clapham Junction during the day and a soldier at night. This project tells the story of Walter and covers the entire war, providing not only his own experiences but those of his family and girlfriend, Lily, back in England. Whilst the characters are fictitious, the story is entirely based on fact and is continuously checked by military historians for accuracy and authenticity.

WW1 Soldier’s Tale Part One is an adaptation of the social media project and contains all the posts and comments up to June 1915, together with photographs, maps and newspaper cuttings that bring the story to life. Follow Walter as he leaves for the horrors of the frontline. What impact will this have on Lily? Will his sister Rose survive as a nurse in France? Discover what happens to his elder brother who was one of the first to arrive at the front, and his other brother who doesn’t want to fight. Order your copy at WIN l Army&You has two copies, worth £7.99, to give away. See entry details on page three. n

Fill in the gaps with Lifeworks IF YOU need to build confidence and hone existing skills to find employment, the Lifeworks for Families Programme could be for you. Run by Royal British Legion Industries, career guidance and training courses are free to all spouses and partners of any serving


or recently discharged member of the Armed Forces, including Reserves. Three-day programmes are delivered by RBLI professional coaches across the UK and overseas. l For details, go to www.

Lossiemouth: 7-9 Jun Northolt: 21-23 Jun Paderborn: 5-7 July Albemarle: 6-8 Sep Sandhurst: 13-15 Sep Poole: 27-29 Sep Bicester: 4-6 Oct York: 11-13 Oct Woolwich: 18-20 Oct Bulford: 25-27 Oct

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

I’m so bored of this deployment now. Totally over it. Can I have my husband back please?

The realisation my boy leaves home soon is hitting hard. #armymum #heartbreaking

So ready for soldier to get home now!




12 Army&You summer 2016


Sad to say goodbye to @arborfieldmwc. Looking forward to another new (old) choir. Always #StrongerTogether

@yarker_tara @ArmyandYou


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The future of housing The MOD has been examining how to modernise the way it provides accommodation to families. The current system works if you are married and living in Service Families Accommodation (SFA), but it doesn’t have the ability to accommodate anyone who falls outside of this group such as those in a long-term relationship who aren’t married but want to live together or divorced soldiers who want a stable home for their children to visit. AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder has been finding out the details…

WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING AT? The MOD’s Future Accommodation Model (FAM) team is investigating how the system could be made fairer to support far more of you in the way you wish to live. It has been looking at ways to: l Support more of you to buy your own home l Enable you to choose more freely where, how and with whom you live by supporting you to live in the private sector with the help of a rental allowance l Continue to provide support, both financial and non-financial, to enable you to live and work where you need to, in the UK and around the world. This will be done more fairly, with the level of support based on need and not entitlement, and adjusted so that no-one loses out just because they have to work in expensive areas l Deliver an accommodation model that the MOD can support financially that also supports the Armed Forces in remaining operationally effective.

benefit from the current system. There are, however, many questions which we need answers to such as: l How much help will you be given to source a private rental (an issue if you are posted from a distance or are away on exercise/deployment at the time)? l Will there be an effect on family morale if the patch support network is no longer there? l How will welfare support be provided with families living away from camp? l How will the rental market cope with the influx of MOD families? l How will families cope with the loss of security of tenure for the period of a posting? l How could this impact on children’s education? l What financial help will those living in their own homes get? l What changes will be made to allowances?

WHEN WILL ANY CHANGES HAPPEN? Work is still in development, but it is anticipated that a trial will run in 2018. If successful, the programme will be rolled out over a considerable period of time and will be a seismic change to the way we are used to being housed and will see a significant reduction in the allocation of SFA.

SPEAK UP AND GET INVOLVED We are working very closely with the MOD to ensure that your needs and the needs of the Service aren’t lost in the desire to push any changes through. If the FAM team approaches you throughout their consultation phase, I would encourage you to take part to ensure that your thoughts are included. We will continue to present evidence to the FAM team on your behalf.

MANY QUESTIONS STILL TO ANSWER AFF welcomes a review of the accommodation piece as there are many groups who don’t

If you have any concerns or comments on the Future Accommodation Model, share your views with us via n

YOUR HOUSING QUESTIONS ANSWERED Do removals companies take plants?

Only for moves within the UK. They are moved at your own risk and only if there is adequate space on the vehicle and you are within your entitlement. Check this with the removal company at the time of the pre-move survey.

How do I find out the shipping costs of cars overseas?

If you and your soldier are moving for more than a year to a small station overseas (where 20 or fewer personnel are permanently posted), you may be entitled to have your vehicle shipped at public expense. If you are posted overseas to a larger station, you need to seek advice from local movement agencies or make arrangements through a freight forwarding company.

Are families entitled to removals when separating?

Yes, the first move of the family following a breakup of a marriage or civil partnership, and a change of PStat Cat, will be paid for at public expense. If there is reconciliation later on you will be required to pay for your own removals back into SFA. See JSP 752 part 2 Chapter 7 Section 3 for details.

summer 2016 Army&You 15

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Homes fit for heroes A FORMER Army barracks near Salisbury Plain is being transformed into a housing project with homes on a unique veteran campus. The site of former Erskine Barracks at Wilton, near Salisbury, is being turned into two new housing developments, Wilton Hill and Erskine Park, where families will live alongside veterans. The £6.5m project is the creation of regeneration and development specialist Our Enterprise, which is working alongside Redrow Homes to create the first purpose-built, community-based campus and will serve veterans from all three services and all age groups and backgrounds.

The project, which has benefited from a £500,000 Armed Forces Covenant grant, is geared towards helping veterans move back into civilian life through enterprise rather than welfare. An enterprise hub will offer training in business skills and employment resources with on-site peer support and professional care. Over a ten-year period, it is hoped the initiative will help more than 300 veterans successfully re-integrate into society. Work on the site has already begun and the first veterans should be moving in around July 2017. To find out more, visit or email

Unlock the value of viewings Apparently the average time spent viewing a property before making an offer is 96 minutes. Many people spend longer choosing a summer holiday, yet a house is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever buy. AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder has some wise words to help you on your journey...

Be practical l Look

beyond the décor – you can always change a carpet or paint rooms so look at how the house can work for you with the space and layout it offers. l Be ready to make compromises; if the area is ideal but the garden is small, look to see if there’s a park nearby instead. l Houses in the catchment area of a good school are likely to cost more so if location for schooling is a priority consider a house that has potential to extend in future years. l Make sure you have a proper survey done to assess the structural condition of the property. l Make a list of your priorities for a house but don’t be scared to change it.

l Make

notes as you go round the house.

Be thorough l Visit

a property multiple times at different times of the day and on different days. l Don’t be afraid to open cupboard doors, look behind furniture and under rugs, check the water pressure and feel if the radiators are working. l Use your nose, not just your eyes – a musty smell could mean damp. l Look at the garden and surrounding land – speak to the neighbours to see if there are any known issues with flooding. l Try a dummy car journey to work to see what the traffic is like in rush hour. l Check the broadband speed and

mobile phone coverage.

Do your research l Research

the area, schools, local amenities and public transport. l Find out how much similar properties in the area have sold for. l Check any planned developments in the area that may affect the value of the property. l Online property portals such as Zoopla will be able to give information on the area. l Check if the property has already been extended or if it is listed as this may affect your chance of getting planning permission. l

See our feature on page 18 for more. n summer 2016 Army&You 17

Happy house hunting Kate Viggers considers the options for Army families wanting to find – and fund – their own home...


ROM laying down roots to putting a personal stamp on a property, many Forces families aspire to buy their own home. Getting on the property ladder brings many benefits – stability, future financial security, being nearer family. But Service personnel are less likely to buy than the rest of the population. “If settling elsewhere than your current posting, buying from a distance can be difficult, while lack of spousal employment can hamper saving,” explained AFF’s Housing Specialist Cat Calder. “Those married accompanied have to buy in more expensive areas for the camp commute, or incur travel costs.” The issues are not just financial. Moving can be more stressful than redundancy or divorce. While military families can handle relocation, the emotional impact can be tougher moving to civvy street. “Fear of lack of peer support from those who understand Army life can be off-putting and if families opt to go stable, frequent postings can impact relationships,” added Cat.

during Service and beyond briefings in-career and during (12 months in England resettlement across the and Wales, 24 months in UK, Germany and Cyprus, Scotland). including one-to-one financial Some, like welfare officer consultations. Families are Paul Hands, believe exwelcome to attend these. Defence properties could With the price of an average offer an ideal home in Britain solution for predicted to Forces exceed £1 families. “Exmillion by If settling elsewhere quarters 2032, than your current should be JSHAO’s offered to Alison posting, buying from a [us] with Shimmens distance can be difficult a ‘right said there is to buy’ a “desperate Cat Calder discount, need” for similar to those families to save. who live in social “Plan, talk to housing,” he said. an independent financial The Joint Service Housing adviser, avoid debt and check Advice Office (JSHAO) your credit rating,” she said. helps personnel take early For those struggling to control of their long-term put enough aside, financial accommodation options. support can be accessed via JSHAO runs civilian housing Help to Buy ISAs – giving


first-time buyers a 25 per cent boost to savings (to a maximum £3,000) – or Forces Help to Buy (FHTB). FHTB enables eligible personnel to borrow up to 50 per cent of their salary (capped at £25,000), interest free. The loan can be used towards moving fees and a deposit (five per cent of the property’s value is required). Since 2014, FHTB has helped 6,100 personnel, including Claire Hodges and her husband (1 Regt AAC). “About five years ago we started thinking about our future after the Army and getting a property before we turn 40 – after which it gets harder because most mortgages are for a 25year term so would run into retirement,” said Claire. “The FHTB scheme came into effect and through

AVENUES OF SUPPORT Whatever your reasons for wanting to leave Service Families Accommodation (SFA), there are avenues of support to ease the process. Social housing is in short supply but some affordable schemes give priority status to Forces personnel 18 Army&You summer 2016


FEATURE careful saving and planning, we bought a three-bed semi in Somerset.” DO YOUR RESEARCH If you’re new to house purchasing, it’s crucial to research, understand the process and access appropriate support, such as free mortgage advice tailored for Forces buyers. The housing market moves quickly and finding and viewing properties takes time, so working out what you can realistically afford will enable you to respond promptly and negotiate confidently. Online property searches are a fast, easy way to get an overview of your options; useful if you are house hunting from a distance. Value is affected by geography, so if no properties crop up in your ideal location, widen the search. You may spot something equally suitable – and possibly get more for your money. “Our users can set up instant alerts for new properties as soon as they come on the market,” said Amy Funston from property website Rightmove.

“Estate agents and developers can be contacted through the site, so buyers can make a decision more quickly when they are able to visit properties.” FINDING THE RIGHT HOUSE When it comes to viewing, it’s important not to get carried away picturing yourself in your “forever home”. “We were very objective, prepared to compromise and weren’t led by our emotions,” said Claire. “Don’t feel you have to rush it, and don’t let agents pressure you into making a hasty decision.” Jo Brown, director of Forces Homes, agreed: “Some military buyers are hindered by lack of knowledge of the civilian housing market. “Remember, estate agents represent the vendor and want to sell at the highest price.” In future, more Forces personnel may be persuaded to buy thanks to recent changes to mortgage rules introduced by the UK’s high street banks. Those deployed overseas will now be able to rent out their homes without additional mortgage costs

or changes, saving home owners time and money. “Military families go overseas because the country needs them to,” said Sara Baade, AFF Chief Executive. “It will mean a lot to know that the challenges of Service life are beginning to be understood by our banks.” AFF continues to advocate for families to ensure they are not disadvantaged, while the MOD is investigating how to create more choice about where, how and with whom personnel live by supporting greater use of private accommodation. Should you decide to buy, taking that first step on the property ladder can be daunting. But with careful planning and the right support it’s also an exciting and rewarding experience, as Claire testified. “It’s stressful, involves a lot of communicating between different parties, mountains of paperwork and huge amounts of money,” she said. “But it’s completely worth it to have a place of your own and the security of knowing we’ve somewhere to live when hubby leaves the Army in September.” n

USEFUL LINKS Joint Service Housing Advice Office government/collections/jointservice-housing-advice-officejshao Call: 01252 787574 Email: AWS-JSHAO-Mailbox@ AFF Housing Specialist Email: Forces Help to Buy housing-for-service-personneland-families Forces Financial money/mortgages SIIAP Money Force Money Advice Service www.moneyadvice Forces Homes Call: 01748 821188 Email: enquiries@forceshomes. Annington Experian credit check

summer 2016 Army&You 19

Settling in style Mel Prescott-Davies and her soldier Chris Green bought their Victorian terrace in Staffordshire through the Forces Help to Buy scheme and soon got to work on giving it a makeover. They created a country style that was so stunning it featured in Period Living magazine. Army&You caught up with the couple to find out about their forever home... Who is your Army family? Chris: Myself and Mel, who is step-mum to my three children – Megan (17), Ryan (15) and Jack (13) who all live with their mother in Essex. We also have a black kitten called Florrie, named after a young girl who lived here over 100 years ago. How long have you lived the Army life? C: I leave the Army in June after 22 years’ service. I met Mel in 2012 and introduced her to Army life for the first time. Apart from the separation she loves it! 20 Army&You summer 2016

How has moving into your own house benefited you? C: It has given us a proper base as a family, somewhere that we can put our own stamp on without worrying about the upheaval that a move brings. It’s taken a lot of stress away from me. Leaving the Army after so long is exciting but also a very daunting experience. It means I can concentrate on hunting for work.

down as possible to make our repayments low. Chris wanted to ensure that his pension would cover the mortgage and household bills – the FHTB Scheme enabled us to do that. C: It was very simple; the hardest part was finding the right home that matched our wish list. JSP 752 sets out the whole FHTB process and timeline and our application followed it almost to the letter.

Why did you choose the Forces Help to Buy Scheme? Mel: We wanted to put as big a deposit

Would you recommend it to other Army families? C: Absolutely. Without this scheme we @ArmyandYou

Pictures: Darren Chung/Period Living Styling: Anna Morley


SPECIAL OFFER Army&You readers can subscribe to Period Living for £35.28, saving 30 per cent, plus get a free copy of Big Book of Crafting. As a subscriber you’ll receive shopping guides, advice on your period property and more. Go to

would not have been able to afford our forever home in the area we wanted. How did the magazine feature come about? M: A friend suggested I put my old house in Manchester forward for a magazine article, but by that time we had bought this house, so I shelved the idea. After restoring the original Minton and quarry tiles in this house I put some pictures together and tried again, Period Living adored it and it appeared in their 25th anniversary issue last November. Where does your inspiration come from for your home décor? M: Our style is vintage country. We love mixing old with new; I'd say it comes from a joint love of history. I’m particularly fond of all things 1940s so most of my inspiration comes from that era.

It sounds like you’ve really enjoyed the process. C: I’ve really enjoyed the whole homemaking thing as I’ve never really had the opportunity before. Mel has mostly picked what to do in the house, but the front room was my domain. M: He picked the furniture, colours and so on. It’s kind of like the sergeants’ mess minus the Chesterfield sofas! Though laughingly we did think we might buy one. Has it been a costly project? M: Although people might think the house looks expensively kitted out, it's all done on a budget tighter than my jeans after Christmas. I had a lot of furniture from my old house, mostly pre loved, from secondhand shops. I've transformed them with a lick of paint, from tester pots which are cheaper than a whole pot. I'm also very handy with a sewing machine.

What advice would you give other families about furnishing their home on a tight budget? M: Take advantage of colleges offering free or cheap courses. If you’re on a patch, see if you could share a sewing machine or work together to make things. Pinterest and Instagram are great for ideas and online groups such as freecycle, gumtree and preloved are ace places to find good quality second-hand furniture. Another good tip is to see what your neighbours are giving away if they’re moving. Are there any traces of magnolia? M: Honestly? Yes, sort of. It’s more a country cream (okay it's magnolia I can’t lie). I know most quarters are 50 shades of magnolia and many Army families must long to strike out with bold colours, but we prefer a plain backdrop to complement our vintage furniture and soft furnishings. n summer 2016 Army&You 21

THE LEGAL LEG of finding a place to cal your own

is widely acknowledged to be a fraught The process of finding and financing a place to call your own the door on a final viewing or satisfy affair and the window of worry rarely closes when you shut tgage provider. Those who survive mor a from ciple prin in nt eme agre an ede prec that ks chec the challenge before getting hold of the initial frustrations must still overcome the conveyancing about this final, but sign ficant, hurdle, the keys. In an effort to ease any concerns you may have legal aspects of buying a property… Army&You asked a panel of solicitors for the lowdown on the WHAT ROLE DOES A SOLICITOR HAVE IN THE PROCESS? ANNE: The conveyancing process is complex. It can be extremely stressful and cause clients a huge amount of anxiety. A solicitor will not only help to ensure the process runs smoothly, but will carry out the legal due diligence such as checking the title to the property, assessing issues with the title deeds, communicating with the other party’s solicitors regarding queries and carrying out searches on the property. A solicitor will advise you of any issues with the legal status of the property and any concerns that come about as a result of the searches. Finally, a solicitor will act on behalf of your lender and will seek to reassure your mortgage company that the property is good security for their loan.


WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR IN A SOLICITOR? ANDREW: We recommend that you instruct a firm in which the same person will deal with your transaction from start to finish and who will be available to speak to you and respond to your queries. The Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme launched in April 2014 for three years. During this time, the Long Service Advance of Pay (LSAP) scheme has been suspended. If you are buying using FHTB, it would be a good idea to check that your

Andrew Hart Senior Partner Batt Broadbent

22 Army&You summer 2016

Kathryn Vasey Scotts Wright Solicitors

solicitor has dealt with the scheme before. The same goes for the standard Help to Buy scheme and LSAP if you are buying after FHTB ends and LSAP has resumed. KATHRYN: Someone who is honest, trustworthy, approachable, organised and friendly! ANNE: You should look for a solicitor who has experience of conveyancing and property matters. If you are purchasing with the help of a mortgage, you need to ensure that the firm you are choosing is on the panel for your particular lender. This is a list of solicitors for each lender who have pre-qualified to act on behalf of the lender during the conveyancing process. You should also look for a solicitor who is accessible – one who has a direct email address or direct telephone line, rather than the contact details for a “team” within the firm. You need to be able to speak to your solicitor on a regular basis and there may be times when you need an answer to a question quickly. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE COMMON ISSUES? KATHRYN: There are many issues that a solicitor comes across

Anne Austin Property Solicitor David Gray

Helen While Residential Conveyancer Goughs Solicitors

Sean Reeves Partner Bernard Chill & Axtell @ArmyandYou

ADVERTORIAL as no two transactions are the same. In some instances, the title deeds do not accurately reflect the physical boundaries of the property. Missing documentation also causes problems, for example lack of planning permission and building regulation for works that have been carried out at a property – the list is endless! HOW LONG DOES THE PROCESS TAKE? SEAN: This is the milliondollar question – how long is a piece of string? The national average time is usually eight-to-12 weeks, depending on the different variables. At Bernard Chill & Axtell, the conveyancing team offers a highly-efficient, specialised service with an aim to complete files within six-to-eight weeks (subject to third party agreements). ANDREW: Unfortunately it is very hard to give an accurate estimate as the length of the process depends on so many factors. These include whether the chain is complete; the length of time it takes for the local search to be dealt with by the local authority, as local authorities all work to different time frames; and the length of time it takes for mortgage offers to be issued. If you are buying a new build, it also depends when the property will be ready for you to move into. As a rough guide, we would hope to be able to exchange contracts within sixto-eight weeks of receiving the contract papers. SHOULD I EXPECT A HEFTY BILL? SEAN: In short, no – always be aware of any fees you need to pay upfront, and find out if there are any hidden costs. Ask for a full, comprehensive quote at the start of the conveyancing process so that you are completely aware of all prices from the beginning. The only

You should also look for a solicitor who is accessible – one who has a direct email address or direct telephone line, rather than the contact details for a “team” within the firm. hidden costs you may find are in areas such as the deed of variation. DOES HAVING A PARTNER IN THE ARMY OR BEING A SOLDIER MYSELF PRESENT ANY PROBLEMS? ANDREW: Having a partner in the Army or being a soldier yourself does not present any particular difficulties, but bear in mind that solicitors are required to check the identification documentation of all their clients. If you or your partner are unable to visit your solicitor’s office, you will need to ask a local solicitor to take certified copies of your identification documents and send them to your solicitor. Most firms of solicitors charge about £5 for this. The Post Office also offers this service. ANNE: You can also sign a Power of Attorney at the outset of the case to appoint a friend or family member here in the UK to act on your behalf. KATHRYN: No, with the developments in technology distance is not a problem. Many solicitors communicate with clients via email or telephone so not being physically present does not pose a problem. CAN I GET AWAY WITHOUT USING A SOLICITOR? HELEN: If you are buying or selling a property and require or have a mortgage

and/or the Forces Help to Buy scheme, then it is a requirement by your lender and MOD that a solicitor or conveyancer is instructed to act for you. Using a solicitor or conveyancer gives you peace of mind as all legal issues will have been looked into and any issues rectified. Buying a property is probably one of the largest financial investments you will make

in your lifetime and it is important that your financial investment is a sound one. IF I BUY OVERSEAS, CAN I INSTRUCT A SOLICITOR BASED IN THE UK? HELEN: If you are buying property overseas you will need to use a solicitor who specialises in the governing law of the country in which you are buying the property. n

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“We pride ourselves on supporting the local community and are ideally located to serve the legal needs of Catterick Garrison” Scotts Wright has had a presence right in the heart of Catterick Garrison since the early 1970s. Our matrimonial department can support you through the mediation process, can help you with divorce or separation and deal with related issues such as finances (including military pensions) and disputes about children, including postings abroad. We have specialists who can help with Courts Martial, disciplinary procedures and service complaints. And for life “outside” – we can deal with your house sale or purchase, Forces Help to Buy, making a will, dealing with a deceased’s estate, Powers of Attorney, debt management and landlord and tenant disputes. If you would like help with a legal matter, contact us today on 01748 832431 or via our website: Goughs Army and You Mag 186wx132h.qxp_Layout 1 10/02/2016 14:27 Page 1

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

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24 Army&You summer 2016

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All change The stable building blocks that underpin a toddler’s life revolve around their family, home and childcare setting. Our Army lifestyle can often cause one or more of these to change. Here, we highlight the steps you can take to support your little one when they switch nurseries…

USEFUL LINKS HIVE blogs via welfare-support Childcare Childcare and parenting Family & Childcare Trust Day Nurseries Pre-school Learning Alliance Search your local authority website

CHOOSING YOUR SETTING If you’re lucky enough to be based where you have more than one nursery to choose from, Barbara Sealey, executive co-ordinator of Tidworth and Bulford Garrison early years and play, has this advice: “Always check the Ofsted report of any childcare setting before visiting. “Ask the nursery/playgroup to introduce you to your child’s potential key person and find out about daily routines, policies, medicines, late collections, activities and access to outside.” Army mum Kayleigh Davidson agreed, adding: “Someone told me that the best thing I could do was visit more than one pre-school and ask the same questions. This worked for me.” A SHINING EXAMPLE Treetops is a thriving nursery in Brunei, South East Asia, that welcomes Forces families from all over the world. All children are different when it comes to taking time to settle, but manager Kelly Stones believes that wherever you’re based, good preparation is key. “Home visits give your child an opportunity to share details about their favourite toys, food and activities to give nursery staff a useful insight and ease their transition,” she said. “Visiting the setting together means your child can explore the environment whilst still having the security of mum or dad at hand.” BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS Each child will have a key person that has lead responsibility for them whilst they are at nursery. If you have a positive relationship with your child’s key person, with good communication and trust, it should help your child to settle. Kelly added: “Parents know their child better than anyone but they can often be more anxious than the child. “Here in Brunei, we have the professional knowledge to make the child’s nursery experience the very best it can be.” HOW CAN PARENTS HELP WITH TRANSITION? Communicating and celebrating with your child is the most important tip of all. “Talk about what they can

Pictures: Toddlers enjoying themselves at Treetops Nursery, Brunei

expect. Reassure them that you are going to come back after they have their fun time and praise them for being so brave!” added Kelly. “Proudly display that piece of paper with one paint mark on it as if it were the best piece of art. By focusing on the positive, your child will soon forget that they were ever upset.” Sometimes, change itself causes other temporary changes which your new nursery could help resolve, as parent Tanya Maggs explained: “We were having trouble with my child’s behaviour at weekends and the staff told us to share a drawing/talking book about what we had done over the week; this soon improved things.” ON THE MOVE AGAIN Kelly admits that saying goodbye to families moving on to their next posting never gets easier: “A bond is built up every time. It’s vital to support each child and fill them with confidence about the next stage of their learning journey. We try to equip children with the skills to become independent and to increase their coping mechanisms for dealing with change.” l If you have any questions or concerns about early years childcare, contact AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott by emailing or visiting n

summer 2016 Army&You 25


School report Our brand-new series of articles will highlight the support that schools worldwide show our Army children. This edition, we’re heading to Wales…

Name of school

Llantwit Major High School


Llantwit Major, south Wales

Number of Service pupils 90 out of 900

How does the school help Service children settle in?

Staff visit other schools regularly to develop links with the children to help ease the transition when the time comes.

What practical support does it give Service pupils?

Are there any projects involving Service children?

There’s a member of staff dedicated to support Service children. Their role is to get to know the pupils and track their core subjects. Pupil progress is compared to ambitious targets. If there are concerns, steps are taken to organise support immediately. Pupil mentoring is available where it would benefit the Service child.

The school is working with the All Wales Project Officer for Service Children in Education on the “Storyworks” project. Children record their thoughts and stories on film in order to give others a greater understanding of what schooling can be like for a Service child. There’s a MOD noticeboard and MOD parents’ forum too.

Are there any military links?

What do the kids think?

Yes – strong links with the Military Preparation College where children can gain awards through schemes such as leadership. Mentoring is available and there’s a lunchtime club.

One year seven pupil said: “I really enjoyed Storyworks; I got to explain what it is like moving to different schools.”

And the parents?

“Within three months the school told me that my child would be moving up groups as he was performing so well. I was really pleased that this was identified so quickly after we had moved.”

GET INVOLVED Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support Service children? Would you like your school to feature in a future edition? Contact Army&You for details by emailing

26 Army&You summer 2016


Taunton School is a co-educational, nonselective independent school set in a spacious 56 acre campus in Somerset, surrounded by beautiful South West England coast and countryside. •

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Forces families receiving CEA pay only 10% of boarding fees

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Extensive subject choice and option combinations

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Performance Sport Programme and state of the art facilities

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Focus on wellbeing and excellent pastoral care

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School transport service to Heathrow with stop-offs along M4 corridor at Exeats and School holidays Current Forces parents offer a buddy scheme for help and advice on choosing a school for your child “An excellent school with many strengths including significant examples of sector-leading practice” (HM Inspectorate for Education & Training in Wales)

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TAKE TO THE OPEN ROAD. It’s going to be harder than ever to slide effortlessly back into civilian life. With the global economy under attack in all continents, nobody is fully protected. Leaving the Army, Navy or RAF suddenly pitches you into a new battle. The fight for a good job. On the bright side, the skills you’ve gained, and the experiences you’ve had provide a tremendous basis for a worthwhile career in civvy street. What they don’t give you is a free pass. The important thing is that you’re not on your own. The MoD is strongly committed to resettlement, to offering the help and tools that make sure you land on your feet when you leave. To do that, the MoD works closely with a number of organisations who can maximise your talents and help smooth the path into a job that’s probably going to feel very different to the one you’re used to. One of the best known and most respected of those organisations is The Open University.

Open road - a road well trodden The relationship between the three services and The Open University goes back a long way and, make no mistake, it’s special. Special because The Open University - let’s call them the OU, everyone else does - lights up a clearer and more exciting career path. It doesn’t matter what rank you’ve achieved, where you’ve served, what unit or trade you’re in or what your personal interests are, the OU can build on that. Basically, the OU can make you more attractive to a civilian employer. At the moment, more than 2,000 service personnel and their dependents are taking advantage of the special relationship between the OU and the Armed Forces. Many others who have left the forces are starting or continuing to study with the one university that suits an income-earning lifestyle. The OU not only offers them the freedom that comes with its renowned distance learning style of study but also the benefit of choice. You’ll find a course from the OU that fits with what you’ve done before, with what your interests and talents are and with where you want to go. Take your pick from over 600 OU and Open University Business School courses and make the most of the cost, flexibility and quality advantages on offer. “There is a huge range of courses available and suitable for service personnel enabling preparation for resettlement and the ensuing competition for jobs,” says Paul Drake, Business Development Manager at the OU.


If you’re still serving

Open road to engineering success

If your eye is on where you want to be when you go back to being a civvy but you’re still in post, the sensible move is to make the most of the Ministry of Defence’s Enhanced Learning Credits scheme ( This initiative promotes lifelong learning amongst members of the armed forces by granting financial support, based on length of service, towards the costs of personal or career development from approved suppliers like the OU.

Engineering affects almost every part of our lives, and a qualification in this field can be your passport to a huge variety of rewarding careers. Qualified engineers are in great demand globally, and are amongst the best-paid professionals. You’ll need to be imaginative and enjoy solving problems, but as a graduate engineer your broad-ranging skills and knowledge will be highly valued.

The OU’s flexible distance learning format is ideal for those in the armed forces, as you’ll be able to work your studies around your shifts and postings. Studying with the OU while in the services has two purposes: to advance your service career and to prepare you for a new career in the fiercely competitive civilian jobs market.

The OU’s cutting-edge engineering and technology courses enable you to explore how to design, engineer and manage situations where technology and people interact. A wide-range of undergraduate engineering qualifications means that you can choose to study just one short course or you can complete a certificate, diploma, degree or work towards a masters (and chartered status).

Most of the courses taken by service personnel aren’t entirely academic in focus. They draw directly on your personal experience in the roles you have done or are doing. When they are rooted in the workplace like this, they can lead to a named qualification which is powerful evidence of your professional ability and skills.

The career options as a professional engineer are varied; advances in technology ensure there are opportunities in areas as diverse as communications, energy, health care, manufacturing, music and transport. Or you may choose to work in a particular engineering discipline such as aerospace, chemical, civil or mechanical engineering.

Open road to teaching and business

Costs of the Open road

For example, if you’re thinking about teaching, then studying for a BSc (Honours) in Sport, Fitness and Coaching with the OU can provide you with leadership and coaching skills that will enhance your career prospects. The OU offers a modular programme that allows flexible patterns of study which can be completed in as little as 3 years, which will suit those whose circumstances prevent them from taking a traditional full-time course.

We keep our fees as low as possible and offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to make study even more affordable than you might think.

For the large number of service personnel with a leadership background, the OU also offers undergraduate and postgraduate routes into a career in business. The BA (Honours) in Business Management and our tripleaccredited MBA are flexible, distance learning routes to qualifications that are respected by FTSE 100 companies such as KPMG, Rolls-Royce and Pfizer. In fact, 86% of FTSE 100 companies have sponsored staff on OU courses. Part of the study can be completed around service duties using resources such as books, DVDs, online tutorials and forums. Existing higher-level qualifications and experience can be used to reduce study time.

The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391), an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 038302). The Open University is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Crown copyright 2015.

OU fees for new students is £5,572 per full-time equivalent course of study (120 credits). The amount you’ll pay each year will be determined by the credits you’re studying for. A typical student studying 60 credits in a year, will pay £2,786 per year. You pay for each module separately as you study them and fees include OU course materials, tutor support, assessments, and exams.

To find out how The Open University could help you broaden your career horizons or be better equipped for civilian life, visit

Bee positive: Army spouse Lara Gavazzi thinks independent selling fits perfectly with life as a Service spouse

Direct route to work Patchy CVs, lack of confidence and worry over childcare costs can hamper job prospects for many Army families. For some of you, working as a direct seller is a viable alternative. AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin spoke to Service spouses and industry experts about the pros and cons...


IRECT selling is a method of marketing goods and services directly to consumers away from retail premises, usually involving face-to-face contact or collecting orders through catalogues. Whether it’s books, jewellery, handy kitchen products or something for your top drawer, you’ll find a growing industry with more than 400,000 people involved in the UK. READY-MADE BUSINESS Hannah Martin, of The Talented Ladies Club, an online resource for working mums, said: “As a direct seller, you have a tried and tested business model that can fit into your lifestyle, offering you flexibility regardless of where you’re posted.

30 Army&You summer 2016

“There’s a wide range of products and sectors to choose from, so you can pick something you really love and believe in to sell, increasing your chances of building a successful enterprise.” Having a proven model that offers training and mentoring, both initially and throughout your time as a representative, makes jumping in with both feet a feasible option even if there are gaps in your CV or you feel your skills have faded. Lisa Curtis (right, youniqueproducts. com/LisaCurtis), who sells Younique products, explained how she’s made use of her existing talents. “As an Army spouse, I have gained several skills, such as confidence, time management and interpersonal skills,” she said. “A lot of Army spouses are very supportive.”

GETTING STARTED Annabelle Perkins highlighted the support she received when she began her new venture with Stella & Dot jewellery. She explained: “When I joined



TURN YOUR PASSION INTO PROFIT Direct selling is a softer way to start up in business. You’re committing to become the sales person for another company’s services or products. Sarah Walker, of the Supporting the Unsung Hero Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme, answers your questions… HOW DO YOU ENSURE IT’S PROFITABLE? Plan your business from the beginning, make sure you understand any initial costs and any ongoing costs, and complete an initial cashflow forecast. Strong network: Annabelle Perkins (right, annabelleperkins) is a firm fan of direct selling

the franchise I had a week’s grace to military network. read up on the company literature, watch As with any business there are training videos and seek advice. expectations to live up to. It’s your “There was a strong network available responsibility to uphold the reputation to explain details of how the business of the brand and continue to promote works and lots of stylists’ experiences to it, which can only be achieved through help me make a good start.” putting in the hours. Once you have checked out any It can be deflating when a sale falls competition, accessing social through, and be aware that it media groups, newsletters could have a negative impact and HIVEs is a great way to on friendships. Consider As a direct seller, promote your business. whether you need to hold you have a tried Direct selling can benefit stock or have work space your social life and help and tested business at home. Check your you make new friends – insurance cover and, if model that can fit even if you don’t live on you’re in Service Families into your lifestyle a patch. Army spouse Lara Accommodation, make sure Gavazzi, an independent you seek permission from DIO seller for Neal’s Yard, said: “It to run your business. Check JSP works perfectly with our Army lifestyle 464, section six, for more. as there are no set hours. “All you need is internet access and THIS IS FOR ME passion for the products!” Many Army spouses and partners are already making a great success of direct BEWARE OF PITFALLS selling. If you think it might be for you, The downside is that you may end up take a look at the tips from University of repeatedly selling to the same people Wolverhampton (right), see the useful and interest could dwindle, so try tapping links or contact me at into the civilian population as well as your for further information. n


MORE INFORMATION Unsung Hero Business Start-Up Programme 01902 321272 or Forces Enterprise Network:

Talented Ladies Club: Direct Selling Association:

WHAT COMMITMENT IS REQUIRED? Like any business you have to give 100 per cent. Selling a product or service that you like is the most important factor. Most businesses succeed when the owner truly enjoys the products or services that the business supplies. ARE THERE ANY KEY STRATEGIES? Do your research. Take time to understand what selling your chosen product or service entails. If you can, speak to existing sales representatives and ask customers for their experience and opinion. Do some local market research to gauge demand and put to test the reputation and claims of the goods you intend to sell. Become an expert before you start. HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU DON’T END UP OUT OF POCKET? Successful enterprises are always based on a robust business and profit model. Check the extent and sustainability of the company before entering into an agreement. The better the profit model then generally the easier it is to start up, run and maintain a successful business. Make sure you can afford any initial investment and carry out the financial analysis before making that final decision. WHAT DOES THE SUPPORTING THE UNSUNG HERO COURSE OFFER? We support and work with you to help you make good decisions but importantly we give you the confidence and tools to make those decisions on your own. The programme Is free for dependants of serving Armed Forces personnel, Reservists and veterans and consists of a four-day training course and tenmonth mentoring programme. We have also partnered with the Forces Enterprise Network to deliver online business support. l Find out more at n summer 2016 Army&You 31

YOUNG GENERATION SECURE SURFING THE worldwide web can be a jungle for a child, that’s why Keep Children Safe Online has created a place for your youngster to learn about internet safety. It works through “Monkey Chat”, a unique social communication tool which uses pre-set questions and answers to allow under-13s to converse with children across the globe without the worry of predators. The website is also a useful resource for parents and teachers. Visit keepchildrensafe for more.

CREATIVE CODING A FREE educational initiative is teaching children the vital skill of computer coding. Every Child Can Code caters for kids from age seven or even younger, and enables them to code their own games in a fun and easy way. They can even exchange their creations with each other, with the best uploaded to the website for everyone to enjoy. The scheme features a child-friendly software “coding teacher” which monitors participants’ progress. It warns the child when they have made a coding error and helps them understand how to put things right. Alongside the scheme, Retro Computers Ltd is running annual National Schools Coding Championships in which every school in the UK can take part. Visit everychildcan for details. 32 Army&You summer 2016

Smartphone safety Your teenager’s mobile phone might be their favourite thing, but with so much stored on one device it can leave them vulnerable to cyber criminals. Stacey Matthews-Winn, from software company OPSWAT, has ten safety tips to pass on to your youngster... 1. Don’t root or jailbreak your device It can be tempting to try to get around the limitations of the operating system but this is one area where you shouldn’t experiment. Malware often relies on finding modified devices because they are easier to infect.

2. Don’t download off-market apps Finding new places to download apps can be exciting, but they’re often not as well-regulated for security and quality.

3. Use password power Your phone probably came with some kind of password protection, whether it’s a pattern you have to trace, a series of numbers or fingerprint scan. These tools won’t protect you if you don’t have them turned on. Choose a combination that’s not easy for someone else to guess.

4. Require password approval Set a strong password for purchasing apps or making in-app purchases. You won’t be able to buy without thinking and unauthorised parties (like a friend or

sibling) can’t make purchases without your knowledge.

5. Set up lost and found Make sure your phone’s builtin lost and found features are configured correctly. If you can, take it a step further and make sure that you’re able to remotely delete all of your personal information if your phone can’t be recovered.

6. Never share personal information with strangers Not everyone online is who they seem. Never share your full name, address or school with someone you don’t know. These seemingly harmless bits of information can be combined to steal your identity, or to help a criminal find you.

7. Be a privacy pro Configure your apps to protect your privacy. Some social networking sites make it easy for people to determine where you post from, it can be the same as posting your address for the entire internet to see.

8. Don’t take or send embarrassing pictures

It may seem like everyone is doing it, but it’s very risky. If someone sends you pictures that you don’t want or tries to pressure you into sending photos you aren’t comfortable with, tell a trusted adult. Even apps that delete your photos, like Snapchat, are never fully safe from a cyber-attack that could expose images you thought were private.

9. Never say something with your phone that you wouldn’t say in person Sometimes it’s easy to forget that our words have real-world consequences. If you get caught up in teasing, arguing with a friend or getting carried away, put down your phone and do something else.

10. Talk to your parents or a trusted adult if someone is harassing you If someone is using social media or texting to send you inappropriate, upsetting or threatening messages, tell a trusted adult straight away. Bullies rely on making their victims feel embarrassed, but their power starts to disappear when their behaviour is exposed. n @ArmyandYou

ADOPT WITH SSA SS SAFA F SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is a registered adoption agency. We have over 20 years’ experience supporting the military with adoption. TO FIND OUT MORE Call 020 7463 9326 or email Visit

Registered charity No.210760 and SCO38056. Established 1885. Job ref: S094.0416


I am an Army child


TRIED hard not to cry, I really did, but my tears came rolling down my cheeks as I heard my dad walking around the house packing to go to Afghanistan. You see I’m an Army child. He often goes away but it always hurts when he does. He came into my room, brave and strong, hugging me tight and whispered: “All will be ok, don’t worry.” “Promise?” I asked. “Promise,” my dad replied.

My mum wrote letters to my dad, I drew pictures. They’re called Blueys, and they are special letters we can send when my dad goes away. Sometimes I saw my dad on the internet. I could hear his voice but his picture was fuzzy. Days and weeks went by, every day I crossed another day off my calendar, not long now I smiled happily.

Six months later…

Saying goodbye

The next morning, dark clouds scattered across the sky. I watched them moving slowly, my heart heavy. Silently we drove to camp to drop my dad off. Lots of people were there, smiling sad smiles. I saw my friends Lucy and Olivia. They looked sad too, I waved and they waved back trying not to let go of their dads. The big buses arrived, I looked at all the families hugging each other and saying their goodbyes. “Goodbye, I love you all so much.” My dad said as he kissed and hugged us too.

By Kiara Barrie (11)

He clambered into the big bus; it took me a while to spot him again as they all looked the same in their green uniform. I could see him waving at me, my brother Luke and my mum. Luke started to cry but not because he was sad, he was hungry. My brother was two months old. Then the buses started to move. We waved until we couldn’t see them anymore. My mum took my hand smiling down at me. “I guess it’s just you, me and Luke then,” she sadly said.

Today is the day my dad is coming home! I am so excited. I’ve got so much to tell him. I got bigger and Luke got a tooth. We drive to camp, there are lots of people there. This time they are happy smiles. We wait and wait and then I can see the big buses arrive. We cheer, and I can see my dad clambering out of the bus. He is here! He is really here, my strong brave daddy. I run to him until he scoops me up and hugs me tight. My mum and Luke follow, we all hug, hug for a long time and we smile, even Luke smiles a gummy one-tooth smile. I am an Army child, but a happy and proud one! n

The Premier Armed Forces Club in London

Your Family Friendly Club in the Capital. The Union Jack Club is acknowledged as the Premier Armed Forces Club in London next to Waterloo Station. You can drop in to meet up and relax in a safe and secure atmosphere with serving and ex service men and women. Book a restaurant table or just have a coffee or a pint with likeminded people. We automatically enrol ALL Non - Commissioned members of the Armed Forces into the club. As a member you can use the club not only as an overnight facility but as a meeting point for friends prior and post London events. Access your base in London with your military ID card

Please call 020 7902 6000

Reasons why you should try us: • Union Jack Club Ale/Pils from £2.50 a pint

• Bedrooms from £30 on Fri/Sat • Rooms from £40 during the week 34 Army&You summer 2016


Union Jack Club @ArmyandYou

SPOTLIGHT Main picture: Nicole Moran is a strong supporter of the Military Preparation College network; Inset: Students have their physical abilities tested.

From salon to salute Army&You chats with 17-year-old Nicole Moran, the first female student from Liverpool’s new Military Preparation College to pass selection after the college opened in the city last year…


ICOLE, originally from Crosby in Liverpool, is the first member of her family to join the British Army. She started her Phase One training at Harrogate in March and admitted that her decision to join up was a big surprise to those who know her. “None of my family or friends outside the college are part of the military and they couldn’t believe it when I said I wanted to join,” she explained. “I had a part-time job as a hairdresser and they all thought that that was what I was going to do.”


After my family got over the initial shock, they saw how determined I was and were really impressed by my commitment

FULFILLING AMBITIONS With a strong desire to help people, Nicole chose to pursue a career in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a medic. Leaving school at 16, she recognised she wasn’t fit enough to make her dream a reality, so she signed up to her local Military Preparation College, one of 19 in England and Wales. The centres are free to attend for 16-19 year olds. They are run by ex-Forces personnel and the curriculum is designed to develop students’ physical fitness, functional skills and self-confidence. More than 2,000 young men

and women have already graduated and taken up careers in the Armed Forces. Intense daily physical training soon helped Nicole get her fitness up to the level required. She said: “I never would have passed selection if I hadn’t attended the college. “When I first joined it took me almost 15 minutes to run one-and-a-half miles. I’ve now managed to get that down to just over 11 minutes. “Sometimes the physical training sessions can be tough but the instructors really help to keep you motivated. It’s now my favourite part of the course.” PROUD FAMILY Nicole also revealed that her family are very proud of the progress she’s made and fully support her chosen career. “After my family got over the initial shock, they saw how determined I was and were really impressed by my commitment,” she added. “I have really enjoyed my time at the college and would recommend it to anyone. I’ve been talking about it so much that now my sister is thinking about joining too!” l Apply for Military Preparation College at any time by visiting or calling 08442 438438. n summer 2016 Army&You 35


European connections

AFF’s overseas footprint has recently increased and if you are living in Europe, you now have a dedicated AFF point of contact. Louise Barltrop, AFF European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) Co-ordinator, tells us more…


EN years after her first overseas experience in Germany with two young children, Louise (pictured below) and her family found themselves heading back overseas to a NATO posting. Based at the EJSU which is located at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, Louise’s job covers more than 20 locations in nine countries. Louise explained: “My experience of living in Germany has served me well and having been an Army spouse for 18 years, I felt I could bring something to this posting that I could share with others – a desire to help. “For those families living reasonably near, I travel to meet them face-to-face and this includes Brussels, France and the Netherlands. In areas further afield, I represent AFF virtually, meaning families can contact me by phone or email.” After putting her daughter on the school bus, a typical working day for Louise involves heading to the HIVE, near the Brit Bar Coffee Shop, where she is co-located

36 Army&You summer 2016

Louise supports families in: Belgium France Portugal Germany Spain Italy Turkey Denmark Norway

with a HIVE information officer. “It’s ideally situated and families often stop off for a chat,” said Louise. “I also hold a weekly clinic off-base at SHAPE House which is great for families with young children as they don’t have to make a special trip on to camp.” THE ISSUES AND CONCERNS NATO postings can be to very remote locations, from Stavanger in Norway to Izmir in Turkey. “Although these are accompanied postings, there may only be a few UK Service personnel based there. It can be a significant hurdle that families have to overcome,” explained Louise. Childcare is one of the biggest areas of concern, an issue that’s high on Louise’s agenda. She has also been helping families who have had problems finding a school place when returning to the UK. “I get quite a few queries about employment and training opportunities for spouses and I am delighted that we have been able to arrange for the University of @ArmyandYou

A step in the right direction Weighing up the pros and cons of an overseas posting is something that many of us wrestle with – especially when it comes to any financial impact on the family. However, recent measures by the MOD to enhance the package for those posted abroad, has been a step in the right direction. We are pleased to see these improvements, but there’s still work to be done as Julie Lowe, AFF’s Overseas Director, explains…

Friendly face: Families can meet Louise at coffee mornings

Wolverhampton’s business start-up course to be run here,” Louise added. SPEAKING TO THE MILITARY Part of Louise’s role is to engage with the chain of command on your behalf. She has regular meetings with the EJSU Commanding Officer to chat through your concerns. “I’m looking to improve the communication between EJSU and families,” she explained. Julie Lowe, AFF’s Overseas Director, said: “Louise is proving invaluable in increasing AFF’s understanding of family life across NATO postings in Europe, meaning that we can work with command to address any concerns.” Louise added: “It’s my aim to work with as many of you as I can, helping with your queries and concerns about living in EJSU locations. Please get in touch if I can help.”

l Call 0032 (0)477 384054 or email n

FINANCIAL Moving overseas is an expensive time for Army families and this has now been recognised with a rise in the rate of Disturbance Expense (DE) for overseas moves to £1,420. Reducing charges for living in overseas Service Families Accommodation (SFA) should also help those who’ve been feeling the pinch. And in Germany, where the four-tier grading system for housing remains in place, there’s a reduction to one grade of SFA. Charges in Lieu of Council Tax have been removed – and every little helps!

can suspend their mobile phone contracts during overseas postings. There’s also been good news for spouses and adult children (up to 21) applying for income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance on return from an overseas posting, who are now exempt from the three-month residency criteria. WORK REMAINS TO BE DONE Based on the feedback from our overseas survey, we have put forward a number of recommendations to the MOD to continue to improve life abroad, including: l Provide comprehensive information on family life for the full range of overseas assignment locations; l Carry out childcare sufficiency assessments where there are significant numbers of military families; l Increase support for spousal employment and training opportunities; l Increase the number of Get You Home (Overseas) journeys for families outside Europe from one to three; l Increase the rate of Disturbance Expense for moves back to the UK; l Reverse SCV flights in long-haul destinations so that families can visit school children in the UK.


CHILDREN IN EDUCATION For those of you with children at school or university in the UK, the much-publicised increase of School Children’s Visit (SCV) flights from three to six per year has been warmly welcomed. Young people in tertiary education have also benefited from an increase to three journeys per academic year. Eligibility for free school meals for infants who are not in Service Children’s Education schools has also been put in place.

Moving overseas is an expensive time for Army families

REMOVING DISADVANTAGE After much campaigning by AFF and work by the MOD, mobile phone companies such as Vodafone, Three, EE and O2 have agreed that Service families

What do you think needs to be improved? Tell us by emailing

summer 2016 Army&You 37


A postcard from...

G I B R A LTA R How long have you been an Army family? Nine years. T ime in Gibraltar: 19 months. What's your quarter like? They are okay but not heated well, which can cause issues in winter. Quarters come furnished - you can bring around 12 cubic metres of furniture with you. There's also only a small garden but the estate has plenty of outside space and play areas for the children. Can spouses and partners work? Yes, as long as they register with the government. There are a few vacancies within the NAAFI, the local SCE school and there are MOD vacancies which tend to be mainly admin-based. What about schools? There's St Christopher's School which has a nursery attached to it. On completion of FS2, children go to the local Gibraltarian schools where transport is provided. As Gibraltar is British territory, there's no language issue and the children learn Spanish as part of the curriculum. Where do Army families get together? There is a families' entertainment committee which hosts Easter,

38 Army&You summer 2016

summer and Christmas parties for the children at the Lion Bar on Europa Estate. Throughout the year they also provide bingo and racing nights. In the summer the Europa pool opens for Service personnel and families. There's a large pool, children's pool, playpark and a kiosk/bar for all to enjoy. Who supports families? A small community team provides family support alongside SSAFA, which has trained social workers. On our residents' Facebook page, people can get info on where to go. What's the best thing about living in Gibraltar? The sunshine throughout the year is wonderful and there are two fantastic beaches to enjoy. Sunrises/sunsets are spectacular and you are guaranteed to find a pod of dolphins swimming in the Straits. Having Spain on the doorstep for family weekends away is just amazing. In our time we have travelled widely and last year we went to Morocco which was a fantastic experience for the children. There are plenty of hidden gems to be found; the Roman Baths in Manilva, the rock pools at Benahavis and the wild animal sanctuary in Casteller to mention a few.

FROM: Kelly, Si, Saskia (8), Miley (3) and dog Simba.

WHERE: Gibraltar


Here’s another benefit of being a member of the armed forces SAVE AS CH AS MU



Reasons to join the AA affinity scheme: 1



• More dedicated Patrols than all other UK breakdown services combined3 • Members are rewarded with enhanced breakdown benefits at renewal • A continued 20% off at renewal2 • You will have the option to put your AA Membership on hold, for example when you are on duty overseas

To join, call

0800 048 0075 quoting reference F1140

Breakdown Cover 1. Applies to Family Roadside & Relay cover in first year only. Other levels of cover are available and varying discounts apply. Offer only available to members of the armed forces by calling the number given, quoting the stated reference and paying annually by direct debit under a recurring transaction arrangement. Enrolment offer available to new Members for their first 12 months of Membership only. Offer not available in conjunction with any other offer/discount or on any other AA product/service. Details correct at time of issue. 2. Renewal offer available to members of the armed forces who are existing AA Members, or who join under the enrolment offer, and will be available at each renewal date until they cease to be a members of the armed forces or the withdrawal of this scheme. 3. Mintel – UK Vehicle recovery report, September 2014. Automobile Association Insurance Services Limited is an insurance intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: Fanum House, Basing View, Basingstoke RG21 4EA. Registered in England & Wales, number 2414212.


CO-ORDINATOR CHAMPIONS Local co-ordinators are AFF’s boots on the ground, working hard to find solutions to your concerns… “CarillionAmey is now holding monthly housing meetings with families at Abingdon, Hermitage and Lyneham after AFF highlighted a need for it.” Nicola Kellock, Oxfordshire

Sharing success

If you want something changed – anything to do with your life as an Army family – tell AFF. Our local co-ordinators across the UK are here to listen to your issues and take action. Here are some examples of where we’ve made a difference… COMMUNITY WIN When families based in Arborfield, Berkshire, learned that their community centre was closing due to relocation of troops, AFF North Hants Co-ordinator Amanda Foote was their first port of call. Approached by around 70 families concerned about the negative impact of the closure, she was determined to seek a solution. A petition was set up which quickly gathered 670 signatures – a sign of how passionate families were about keeping the facility open. Amanda said: “I have always been impressed by the number of activities offered at Arborfield community centre. The facilities are fantastic and the families love coming here. It’s a lifeline to families living in a fairly remote location.” The centre is a meeting place for families, with many living in SFA at Arborfield whilst their soldier works elsewhere and several of MEETING DEMAND An influx of families to Marne Barracks on the outskirts of Catterick Garrison has meant preschool places are in high demand, particularly as many spouses and partners can’t drive. Catterick village pre-school was only able to open for morning sessions until AFF’s Yorkshire Co-ordinator Suzie McGann got involved. She worked with unit welfare officer Maj Jenkins to collate how many families needed a place 40 Army&You summer 2016

them do not drive. It’s the only facility within walking distance and there was a feeling of disappointment that it would close. HIGHLIGHTING THE PROBLEM Sarah Magee, Community Development Worker for 11 Brigade, told Army&You: “This is such an important part of how families get out of the house and meet people – how they socialise.” AFF approached Garrison Commander Lt Col MacGregor with the petition: “The key driver behind it all was that AFF came to me and explained the issue which allowed us to better focus on what needed to happen. It was a good example of how we can work together.” The site is now remaining open with garrison funding, those involved are looking to not only maintain but increase the provision available – a huge success for the families of Arborfield! – resulting in the pre-school operating an afternoon session too! One mum told us: “I’ve been able to pick up more hours at work now my child attends afternoon pre-school.” Suzie added: “This is a great example of how working together can directly benefit Army families. It’s made such a big difference and if further funding is received then more places may be offered in the future.”

“I recently worked with the chain of command to encourage them to find a more appropriate venue for coffee mornings.” Audrey Nealon, London “When a soldier received his posting order earlier than expected, he applied to retain SFA so his wife could complete her midwifery course. DIO initially refused, but with help from the UWO we got the decision overturned.” Deborah Lynch, East Anglia Families in Aldershot came to me about poor street lighting, antisocial behaviour and lack of policing on their estate. I worked with the military, CarillionAmey and DIO to find solutions. The lighting is fixed, police and RMP patrols have increased and a neighbourhood watch scheme is planned.” Amanda Foote, North Hants “Two families have now had their garage roofs repaired after months of complaining. Once we got involved, DIO agreed to fix the problem.” Abi Wrigley, Wales “By signposting a family to the appropriate charities, they are better placed to deal with their soldier’s recovery.” Zoe Teale, Scotland “An event outlined the top seven military issues facing the Welsh government. Four are familyfocused with AFF mentioned as working in partnership.” Annabel Ingram, Regional Manager North @ArmyandYou


Case Study

Visa refusals

As well as having to meet the English language and minimum income requirement, Foreign & Commonwealth spouses wishing to come to the UK also have to prove their relationship is ‘genuine and subsisting’. Many visa applications are refused because of a lack of evidence, but also because caseworkers make mistakes. Katherine Houlston, AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, looks at what steps can be taken to avoid a refusal and what to do if you find yourself in this position…

ISN’T A MARRIAGE CERTIFICATE ENOUGH? No, UK Visas & Immigration will want evidence of your continued contact – especially if as a couple you’ve lived separately for a number of years. If you have only recently married they will want evidence of your contact from when you first met. Be very careful with the dates and information that you put on your application form – you will be asked to provide evidence of every statement.

or explain if you’re unable to provide any evidence. If you have referred to enclosed evidence there is less chance that the caseworker will overlook it. CAN I ASK MY UNIT TO WRITE A LETTER? Yes, they should provide you with a letter which will confirm: l Your details l Income l Length of service l Provision of accommodation for you and your spouse.

WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE SHOULD I PROVIDE? l Print outs of all VISA REFUSALS: SHOULD I UK Visas & Immigration communication (Skype, Viber, APPEAL? will want evidence of Facebook, texts, letters and Unfortunately, appeals are your continued contact cards) taking up to a year to get to l Phone statements showing the hearing stage at a tribunal. – especially if you’ve your spouse’s number However, each application lived separately for a l Photos of visits and your is reviewed before it goes number of years. wedding forward, so the decision may l Plane tickets/passport stamps to be overturned at the review stage show visits (approx four-to-six months) if enough l Money remittance slips (if you have been supporting evidence is provided. If you believe providing for your spouse financially) that a mistake has been made, then it is l Supporting statements. advisable to appeal.


THE IMPORTANCE OF SUPPORTING STATEMENTS If you are the sponsor: it is recommended that you write a letter confirming your relationship and that you are supporting the application, as well as further details about where you plan to live. As the spouse: your statement should provide further details of your relationship, how you met, how you stay in touch. Refer to the evidence you have provided

RICHARD Baafi married Rebecca Boakye in Ghana in April 2015 after starting a relationship with her in December 2014. He visited her again in July during his pre-tour leave but was then deployed to Afghanistan in August. Rebecca made a visa application in September. Despite including many of the documents referred to left, as well as a unit letter to confirm his deployment, it was refused due to a lack of evidence showing the times they had spent together. AFF believes that much of the evidence was overlooked. Richard was in Afghanistan when he heard about the refusal. He said: “I am trying to stay strong, to carry on with my job but deep within me I am very depressed about this decision.” Richard has now appealed and sent more photos and a supporting statement. If you need help, please contact the AFF F&C team at

l You will have 28 days to make an appeal l Appeals are usually made online l £90 paper appeal, £140 oral appeal (it is better to attend the hearing personally) l 42 per cent of appeals overturned at the hearing. If you don’t want to wait this long, then the only other option is to apply again. For further information about applications and the appeals process, visit the AFF website at summer 2016 Army&You 41

THE HOME OF FORCES TELEVISION 24/7 SKY 264 | VIRGIN 277 | FREESAT 652 | Drama 9pm (UK) and British Forces News 5.30pm and 7pm (UK) weekdays


Deposit details If you’ve decided you’d like to own your own home, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier. Saving for a deposit is often the biggest hurdle before you get on to the property ladder. Here are some ideas from MoneyForce to get you started...

How much deposit do I need to buy a house? Try to save between five and 20 per cent of the cost of the home you would like, so if you want to buy one costing £150,000, you’ll need to save at least £7,500. Saving more than five per cent will make it easier to apply for a wider range of cheaper mortgages.

Make sure you can afford your monthly repayments If you are a first-time home buyer, the most important thing to bear in mind is whether you can really afford to take this step. It’s wise to put together a budget before you start looking for a property and remember to factor in potential interest rate rises.

Finding money to save As an Army family, you’ll be able to get a fairly clear idea of how much your income might rise over the next few years. You might decide to accept a reduction in living standards now for the sake of owning your own place, in the knowledge that you are likely to catch up in a few years. Only you can decide where that balance lies.

Take a long, hard look at your budget and use an online savings calculator to work out what money you've got coming in and going out. How much can you afford to save every month? What can you cut back on to save those extra pounds? There are lots of budgeting tools available online to help you.

valuation fees l Stamp Duty (or Land and Buildings Transaction Tax in Scotland) l Solicitor’s fee l Survey cost l Removal costs l Initial furnishing and decorating costs l Buildings insurance.

Ways to boost your deposit

Find the best savings account for your money

The Forces Help to Buy scheme offers an interest-free loan of up to 50 per cent of salary (capped at £25,000) repayable over ten years, which can be used for your deposit. There are also a number of governmentbacked schemes aimed at giving first-time buyers – and movers – a helping hand onto the property ladder.

Compare savings rates online to get the best deal for your deposit. The Help to Buy ISA pays first-time buyers a government bonus. For example, save £200 a month and they will add £50, up to a maximum of £3,000, boosting your ISA savings of £12,000 to £15,000.

More than just the deposit As well as saving for the all-important deposit, don't forget to budget and save for all the other costs you may have to pay – even before you get to buy any new furniture: l Mortgage arrangement and

Further information:

l MoneyForce’s GoalSaver tool – l l Forces Help to Buy – guidance/forces-help-to-buy l Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel – summer 2016 Army&You 43


A roof over your head Homes for Veterans is an initiative of Alabaré, a charity caring for the South West and Wales’ most vulnerable people by providing shelter, practical and emotional support. Army&You found out more about the service it provides…


44 Army&You summer 2016

THE charity identified a need for bespoke homeless services for veterans who were struggling to adjust to life in the civilian world. Alabaré's Sarah Bowie said: “Homes for Veterans now has 24 homes across the south west of England and Wales and can accommodate up to 127 residents at any time.” The demand for homeless support services for veterans has increased rapidly, making 2016 a busy year so far. Sarah explained: “We have opened Ty Dwer, a state-of-the-art home for 12 veterans in Wrexham, developed in partnership with First Choice Housing Association and funded using MOD Veterans’ Accommodation Fund monies. “We support veterans like Rhys, who was referred to us by a community care society which had some real concerns for his wellbeing. "In 2015, Rhys moved into one of our homes in Carmarthenshire where, with the help of our experts, he was able to begin to rebuild his life.” Rhys added: “When I came to Alabaré’s Wales Homes for Veterans, I was in a very bad place. I was self-harming, had no support from anyone and life seemed very bleak. “My support worker was very calm. He listened to what I had to say and showed me that there is always a solution.

“Accepting their offer of accommodation has changed my life. Their support has allowed me to take steps that, four months ago, I would never have thought possible. "I am moving into my own place, hoping to travel again and I have the confidence to enter into a new relationship. “I cannot praise the work that Wales Homes for Veterans and Alabaré do highly enough. They have literally saved my life and given me hope and support for the future.” HELPING VETERANS Despite Homes for Veteran’s rapid growth, it is reliant on the generosity of Army families and is asking people to help support its work by fundraising in their local community or by volunteering some of their time. Rebecca Mullen, the charity's events fundraising manager, said: “It is brilliant that we are expanding as rapidly as we are to meet the needs of vulnerable veterans but it does mean that we need more support than ever to ensure that our dedicated staff can continue their life changing work. “So whether it’s a coffee morning on your patch or a daring fundraising feat, we’d be so grateful for your support.” n



Giving something back For Army families, taking part in a charity fundraiser often means much more than a cash boost for a good cause. Events bring people together, create a sense of community and cement lifelong friendships. We spoke to several spouses who are giving something back…


HAT do you do when you are based overseas and want to raise money for charity while getting the whole community involved? Create your own event, of course. That’s what Army wives Sharley Mclennan, Victoria Booth and Claire Sebburn did to fundraise for Cancer Research UK. Living in Germany, the trio couldn’t take part in national events like Race for Life, so in 2013 they invented spinning challenge StatCyc 4 Life which has since gone global and raised almost £40,000. Founder Sharley explained: “I had the idea to raise money in a fun way with my friends. I never knew it would become such a huge success.” Claire added: “There were no other events like this in Germany. Being an avid spinner, this was the perfect opportunity. I believe

every little helps having lost someone close to me every year for the last ten years to this cruel disease.” Last year, more than 350 spinners took part in StatCyc 4 Life in seven different countries including Canada, Kenya, Cyprus and the UK, bringing many military families together. “I lost my mum to cancer,” said participant Britta Forrest. “Being based in Germany means I have the privilege of being part of an event for an amazing charity.” Next time you see a StatCyc 4 Life event in your area, drop some coins in the bucket or, better still, encourage your friends, family and colleagues to form a team and take part in your local gym, community hall or Army barracks. This year’s event takes place on 11 June at 4pm GMT. For more information, email Victoria at or visit

TESTED TO THE LIMIT A group of Army wives from Edinburgh will be resilient and blister free and will embark upon an epic adventure that the toilet stops will not be too this summer – The Yomp, a military harrowing,” said Naomi. term for a long-distance march. The team want to raise the Team captain Naomi profile of the support Hurst and her friends networks available in the Sarah Stone, Eugenie British Army, raising It is a great Brightman Price, money in aid of ABF opportunity to get Sophia Coombes and The Soldiers’ Charity. fit whilst exploring Claire Turner will walk, They’ve set themselves some of Scotland's saunter and crawl, a minimum target of pushing themselves beautiful countryside £1,600 which they physically and mentally hope to exceed in Sophia to complete 54 miles the build up to their Coombes in 24 hours across the challenge. rugged terrain of Perthshire in the Scottish wilderness. l The event takes place 11-12 “We hope that in June the Scottish June. To find out more, go to www. weather will be forgiving, that our legs



I’d like to get to know the women on my patch a little better. It’s nice to get an insight into the physical training our husbands do.” Eugenie Brightman Price

Inspired? If you want to get your friends together to help a good cause, look for events online and in your local press. You can search for a charity by key word or registered number in the Charity Commission section of For up-to-date news on Armed Forces charities, go to

summer 2016 Army&You 45


How I met my soldier University and MIRANDA was studying at Leicester carer. oral Scott was working there as a past nactment They met one night at a medieval re-e tt an axe-man. when Miranda was an archer and Sco ws but he Miranda shot Scott with one of her arro later they s year didn’t hold it against her and two were married. met but had Scott was in the Reserves when they ular and in always had a desire to become a Reg Corps. They ical March 2011 decided to join the Med y to Catterick have recently returned from German twins. and are enjoying life with their newborn

Army&You revels in a good romance and we want to know how you were struck by Cupid’s arrow. To feature in a future “How I met my soldier”, send your tales of true love to

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46 Army&You summer 2016

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Health in your community Last year Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, was involved in developing guidance for health visitors supporting the wellbeing of military families. Here, she investigates how they are working with Service communities… BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS A group of health visitors in Bedfordshire, including Army wife Emma, wanted to build relationships with the Service population and break down any barriers by finding out what their needs were. They chose their local military base to run a “building community capacity” project – aimed at getting to know the Forces families. “This was done by arranging one-to-one appointments for families that preferred private discussions,” explained Emma. “We also offered a two hour drop-in session so all the military community could voice their ideas and needs.” One mum added: “The drop-in session was invaluable because I had the opportunity to discuss my experiences and make suggestions.” IMPROVING AWARENESS There were a few hurdles for the health visitors to overcome too. Emma’s colleague Arlette had never had any contact with the military before. Arlette explained: “When I was offered the position of covering the base it was quite a daunting prospect. At first, signing in at the guardroom was a nerve-racking experience and learning the ‘lingo’ was like learning a whole new language.” Something I’m sure we can all relate to! Arlette’s experience highlights the

importance of military awareness and this is something the health visiting team would like to improve upon through training and study days. Their future plan is to regularly drop in to playgroups on camp and to attend families’ days, so that they’re visible and approachable to those people living there. The team’s work on developing the project was acknowledged when they received a highly recommended award in improved patient experience within their NHS Trust. “We’re proud of our success and we’re happy with the continued positive relationship with our Service community,” added Emma. FINDING SUPPORT Health visitor services vary across the UK. Depending on where you live, you should be automatically referred to your health visitor when your newborn is around ten days old. If you’re new to an area and require support from your health visitor, speak to your GP. AFF has contributed to Public Health England’s guidance to health visitors, highlighting the unique experiences and challenges you face as a Service family. You can find the guidance at gov. uk or, if you are having difficulties accessing support, contact Karen at n

KNOWING YOUR HEALTH VISITOR If you have a child less than five years old, your health visitor will offer support and encouragement from pregnancy and birth through your child’s early years. They work in partnership with you to identify specific needs, and can help you with health related matters such as breastfeeding, postnatal depression, behavioural issues, immunisation programmes and domestic abuse. Search for more information. summer 2016 Army&You 47


Army life, working life y erstands the challenges militar Knowing that your employer und make a real difference. can life can present for your career k for winners of the Defence wor who s Army&You asked spouse the e (ERS), a programme set up by Employer Recognition Schem ces For ed Arm the t por sup to s MOD to encourage organisation ier… ir working lives that little bit eas the ke ma y the how , nity mu com


ODAFONE was awarded a silver ERS in 2015. Beth Harris (right) has worked in ten different retail stores, moving across regions as she accompanied her soldier on postings and is now based at Vodafone headquarters. She has found the company to be very supportive of her being an Army spouse and has benefited from flexible HR policies, adjusting her working hours to accommodate childcare needs. Beth said: “During half-term while my husband was away I visited my family. With Vodafone’s national network of hot desks I could maintain a presence at work, while my parents and children could spend time together.” Beth is also involved with Vodafone’s military forum where ex-Service personnel, Reservists and family members can come together at special events and online. AGILE WORKING Deloitte was awarded a gold ERS award earlier this year and has

a number of HR policies that military spouses may find particularly helpful. The company advocates agile working where employees have choices around where and when they work. “Employees are judged on their output not on the hours they work,” Debbie Stevenson from human resources explained. “Part of the approach includes our ‘Time Out’ programme whereby employees can request up to four weeks’ extra unpaid leave.” Deloitte recognises this could be particularly useful for Army families during deployment or R&R. “Staff can also take up to two years’ unpaid leave as a career break, a way of perhaps accommodating an overseas posting without compromising your career,” added Debbie. Helen Millen (left) has worked for Deloitte for more than 13 years, during which time she has made use of some of these policies. She has also accessed the company’s emergency childcare provision, a scheme which

provides a limited number of free/partsubsidised childcare hours in certain circumstances; a vital support for Helen when her soldier was on duty. Helen feels strongly that thanks to Deloitte’s policies and the attitude of colleagues, her career hasn’t been disadvantaged by Army life: “I have always felt supported by my managers. I am trusted to deliver and this allows me to flex my working hours and still achieve my goals.” Deloitte extends its support to spouses looking for employment by mentoring Recruit for Spouses, a recruitment agency that focuses solely on the family members of Service personnel. For more information about the Armed Forces Covenant and the Defence ERS, visit or go to the Covenant pages at WHAT’S YOUR STORY? If you have a story to tell about your working life as an Army spouse, contact us at

WHAT DOES THE COVENANT ACTUALLY MEAN? We set ourselves a challenge to describe the Armed Forces Covenant in terms that mean something. Here’s why we believe all Army families should know about the Armed Forces Covenant… Championed by the government, it establishes how you and your soldier should expect to be treated. Faced disadvantage due to your link to the Forces? The Covenant seeks to stop this happening. Businesses and local authorities also make pledges to demonstrate their support for the Forces community. Did you know that all LAs in Great Britain have signed a Community Covenant? The likes of BT, ASDA and Amazon UK have also signed

48 Army&You summer 2016

Corporate Covenants. AFF works hard to ensure those who have signed the Covenant understand the impact of Service life on you and your soldier, such as frequent moves, separation and a lack of wider family support. Many of you already help us do this by sharing your experiences and giving us your feedback. What has the Covenant achieved? l The introduction of the Service

Pupil Premium l Three cycles of IVF guaranteed for seriously injured personnel l Raising Council Tax Relief to nearly £600 while the Service person is deployed l The launch of a £30 million Covenant fund grant scheme for local projects. The government has increased commitment to ensure the Covenant is truly meaningful. AFF is keen to see

what new measures are put in place to further benefit Forces families. We want your feedback Our new “Did you know?” campaign is dedicated to bringing you key Covenant facts. In support of the campaign we will also seek to capture your experiences and feedback by asking “Have you ever…” So, have you ever faced disadvantage because of your Forces link? Tell us at


Downtime Getting kicks from karate

Army spouse Andria Denton tells Army&You why karate is a great way to escape the stresses of military life…


F YOU had said to me eight months ago that I would study karate, I’d have laughed so hard I’d have had a six-pack in minutes! After yet another move I found my confidence taking a blow so I decided I needed to do something about it. I always had an interest in martial arts but never thought I could do it. I was wrong. I went to my first class full of nerves but I absolutely loved it. The huge obstacle I had to overcome was the kiai (the loud shout). I simply couldn’t do it for weeks. Eventually, I realised that I stood out more by not doing it – a bit like wearing clothes on a nudist beach! Summoning all my courage during one class I had a strong word with myself and just did it. Now it’s a part of my karate and there’s no stopping me. I’ve met some lovely people from all walks of life and made lasting friendships with my fellow karate-ka. I took my first grading last September and was very proud of myself when I received my 9th Kyu (orange belt). Since then I’ve taken my second grading and received my 8th Kyu (red belt). Studying karate isn’t

limited to the dojo. While I’m waiting for the kettle to boil I’ll practice my kata or stances, and sometimes I “punch” my way from one room to another. I’ve turned into a real karate bore and I’m sure my friends switch off when I harp on about it! Karate has given me a real focus enabling me to take quality time out to switch off from the issues and worries that come with Army life. The downside will be another posting and finding a new dojo to train in, so it might take me much longer to get my black belt – but I won’t give up! l What do you do to escape the stresses of Army life? To tell us about your hobby and feature in Downtime, email n

iting a w e I’m , and l i h jo. W stances ther o d the ata or to ano o t ited ce my k room m i l ’t ne cti n o s a i r m p e arat boil I’ll way fro k g yin ttle to my d ” u h t c S e ke I “pun h t r fo mes i t e som

summer 2016 Army&You 49

A STITCH For all the hi-tech kit which has made soldiers’ lives easier over the centuries, wool has enjoyed an enduring relationship with the Services. We caught up with Joyce Meader (left), author of Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns and wife of a Territorial Army veteran, to find out more about the role knitting has played – and continues to play – in the military... A&Y: Where did the idea for Knitskrieg come from? JM: I’ve always had it in my mind but never had time to get around to it because of work and children. Then Uniform Press found me on the internet and somebody rang me up. They came down to see me and it went from there.

How did you find the process of writing the book? I’m slightly dyslexic and somebody once said to me that I write the longest paragraphs in the world, so it was really helpful that they gave me an editor. I just scribbled everything down for her to put into readable words.

How much research did you have to do? It was nearly all there – it was the modern stuff I had to go hunting about for. Most people want to know about the earlier stuff because the modern stuff isn’t really part of history yet. I zoomed around the internet to find the extra bits.

When did knitting and the military first cross paths? Back in medieval times – that’s when we know things started to be knitted in a very large way. That

50 Army&You summer 2016

was the instigation of the Monmouth cap, which is the horrible wooly thing that Civil War reenactors wear. It’s just a knitted round cap with a button on the top, which is also knitted and felted and is to stop the tin hat from bashing your brains in as you run like a demon across the battlefield. It acts as padding because tin hats were not lined with nice comfortable bits of foam.

What are the main items knitted for soldiers throughout the years? Socks and stockings. In the 1500s, frame knitting started. It was cut-andsew where they would knit this huge piece of cloth and then cut it up and sew it together, so that’s what stockings were at that point. They were handknitted and there’s a whole lot of history about it. I personally don’t go further than the Crimea because I collect commerciallyprinted patterns and before that time people just knew knitting and did it

as it was taught. The first pattern we know of for anything is 1817. I have a copy but not an original – I’d love to have one, but I don’t think I’m wealthy enough to buy it!

You provide talks for groups interested in learning about knitting. How are they going? It’s very popular – I give talks about the history of knitting and especially military knitting and I’ve had three this week! It’s quite busy and I’d love it to be my full-time job. I go to Women’s Institutes, townswomen’s guilds, pensioners’ groups, nursing homes – anybody who wants it. Anyone that rings, if I can get to you, I will go. It would be wonderful to meet with Army wives.

Is knitting still relevant to modern-day soldiers? Today, knitting is a comfort item. It’s a remembrance of home and that you’re not forgotten. The Americans are very into this – they have the Ships Project ( One poor lad wrote home saying he



IN TIME needed some bed socks because it was cold in the desert at night. They were sent out and by return of post [the project] got 40 other requests. Now they knit the items, take them down to the depot and they get shipped out. It went to naval people originally because some of those serving during the first Iraq war had been at sea for longer than Nelson’s navy and hadn’t been home for three years.

Is knitting something Army families could try their hands at? It’s a very easy thing to get into. YouTube is a wonderful place! You just pop in what you’re after and you will get all sorts of guides. You can even learn how to knit if you’re left-handed.

What about for the soldiers themselves? In the back of my book there’s a piece about a radio operator based just outside of Kandahar who was sat there really bored and he was whizzing around YouTube when he found a video about crochet. He taught himself to crochet while he was waiting for messages to come in! There’s a

lovely picture of him holding this huge blanket up and he said that he got to the point where he was waiting for parcels from his sister because that’s where all the yarn was coming from. It can also be used for therapy – there’s lots of research into mental illness and knitting and how good it can be for you.

Is it an expensive hobby? It can be cheap if you hunt around to buy the yarn, but it can also be quite expensive! If you want something nice, fluffy and comforting then it costs a bit more. I normally knit with 100 per cent wool and try and stick to British sources. We have more than 70 breeds of sheep in the British Isles. I use Shetland a lot.

What are some of the more obscure military-inspired knitted items? In the Great War, rifle covers and covers for the trigger area so they didn’t get wet. There’s a specific pattern for those. There were also lots of military hospital comforts like stump warmers for the amputees and splint covers – when you break your femur and have your leg up in the metal contraption, there’s a knitted

cover for it. The most useless item on God’s earth was a knitted sling. Because knitting stretches as the day goes on, they weren’t very useful at all! A lot of it was utilitarian things like socks, up-and-over jumpers, balaclavas and “cap mufflers”, which were all hand-knitted. n l For more information about Joyce, including her demonstrations, visit her website at Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns is out now priced £18.99 and is published by Uniform, an imprint of Unicorn Publishing Group. Army&You readers can purchase a copy direct from the publisher for £15, including P&P, by sending a cheque made payable to “Unicorn Publishing Group” to Acorn House, Tonbridge Road, Bough Beech, Kent TN8 7AU.


YOUR OWN COPY OF KNITSKRIEG We have teamed up with Uniform to offer three readers the chance to win a copy of Knitskrieg. For your chance to win, tell us when the first military knitting pattern was produced. To enter, visit the giveaways page at www. For more information, see page three.

summer 2016 Army&You 51

OUR EXPERTS COOKING ANNABEL WOOLMER Army wife and author of The Tickle Fingers Cookbook (www.

MONEY ADAM SMITH Forces Financial head of mortgages (www. )

TRAVEL LISA WALKER Army wife/independent travel counsellor (www.travelcounsellors.

HOUSING ALISON SHIMMENS Head of Joint Service Housing Advice Office (search for JSHAO at

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

Q Should I buy a new-build home? A

YOU can’t drive into any built up area at the moment without seeing developments popping up, particularly near major garrison towns. If you are thinking of buying a new-build, consider the following tips... FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT Ask the developer what the ultimate size will be. Will it stretch across adjacent land? How long will it take to finish? If you’re buying one of the first to be completed or off-plan, will you be happy to live in a building site? Bear in mind that if you had to resell during the development period, it could be difficult. ASK HOW MANY PROPERTIES ARE CURRENTLY AVAILABLE If a large number of the units are still for sale, the builder will be keen to secure a few early sales and may be open to offers. If it’s a phased development, check if properties in the earlier phases are now being offered for resale and compare the asking price. SCRUTINISE SPECIAL DEALS There is no such thing as “free carpets, curtains, kitchen appliances, etc” – these special promotions are built into the price of the house. A builder may be prepared to offer a good cash discount instead.

NEGOTIATE A PRICE FOR FINISHES AND APPLIANCES You may be able to come to an agreement on upgrades to your liking. AVOID PAYING A DEPOSIT OR RESERVATION FEE ON YOUR FIRST VISIT Have a think about it first. Look at other houses being offered for resale within the development and other new developments before making a final decision. ENQUIRE ABOUT MILITARY DISCOUNTS Only when you’ve got to a figure you’re happy with. Many developers give a percentage discount for being in the military but this may not be something you tell them at the beginning! PROPERTY AFTERCARE Make sure the developer subscribes to the National House Building Council or similar scheme which offers a ten-year warranty to cover any defects which might arise. Just as with any other insurance policy, it is wise to carefully check the terms and limitations. CONSULT YOUR SOLICITOR Don’t agree any payment with the builder or sign any documents without first consulting your solicitor. Alison

Q What are some healthy alternatives to ice cream for the kids? A

AS THE weather warms up, the easy option for snacks and desserts is to buy ice cream and lollies in bulk. But the downside of shopbought ones is most use artificial flavouring, have little nutritional value and contain a lot of sugar. It doesn’t take much to fill the freezer with good-value, homemade options using real fruit. Here are some ideas:

Frozen yoghurt lollies So easy that a little chef as young as one could have fun making them. Mash a fruit like strawberries or raspberries in 52 Army&You summer 2016

a bowl. Mix in Greek or natural yoghurt. Sweeten with a dash of vanilla extract or honey (optional). Spoon into lolly moulds. Freeze.

Semifreddo Literally means half frozen and doesn’t need churning once in the freezer. You can find lots of recipes online. For an easy life, look for ones without Swiss meringue. I make mine in a loaf tin and

then just slice off portions.

Sorbets Mix pureed fresh fruit with sugar syrup (sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves) and freeze. Then, to break up the ice crystals, mash the mix with a fork every two hours until it feels firm.

Fruit lollies Just freeze freshlysqueezed fruit juice in lolly moulds. AW



Q What are the benefits of booking with a travel agent? A

BOOKING your holiday online might be quick and easy, but is internet shopping for your next getaway as good an option as using the services of a dedicated professional? Lisa Walker provides eight reasons why you should consider calling on a travel agent.. Rather than scrolling through hundreds of online holidays, it’s worth speaking to a travel agent about how much you’re willing to pay so they can find the best deal within your budget, such as a better hotel or room upgrade. If you’re overbudget, you could make savings like removing inflight meals.


Prices you see online are not always what you actually end up paying. There can be a number of hidden costs – so don’t assume that online prices are always cheaper.


Be flexible with dates, if it is possible. Weekends are always a bit more expensive and unsociable flight times are cheaper.



Local airports are normally more expensive than large airports like Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.

Look at alternative resorts and be open to suggestions. Majorca and Menorca are popular family destinations but can be more expensive in the school holidays, so consider locations like Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta or Portugal for example.


For last-minute holidays, be aware that prices can fluctuate due to availability. You may get a quote only to find that the price has jumped up a day or two later when you’re ready to book.


Set out your holiday wish list. A travel agent can advise you on visas, travel insurance or other entry requirements. They can even speak with the hotel before you travel to make restaurant, kids club or crèche reservations if you need them.



Whoever you book through, make sure they are ATOL, ABTA and financially protected. LW

Q How do I achieve or maintain a good credit rating? A

ARE you hoping to get approved for a mortgage? Follow these six tips to boost your chances...

Check your credit report Using a company like Experian, Equifax or Noddle at least once a year provides the basic view lenders will have of your financial history. Check all your details are correct and rectify any inaccuracies immediately.

Build up a credit history If you have little credit

history, even if it’s good, applications can often be rejected because your future credit conduct is harder to predict. Taking out a credit card, making small purchases on it and paying the balance off in full each month will help build up your credit profile.

Avoid financial pitfalls Things like online gambling and payday loans are red flags to a lender. To be approved for a mortgage you need to show at least

12 months clear of this type of activity, but ideally you should avoid these completely.

Tidy up your bank statement Most lenders will request copies going back three months. They’re looking for well-maintained balances with no overdraft limits exceeded or charges.

Be a good borrower Make sure that you pay back money on time every month. Late or missed payments

are visible for six years and lenders won’t want to take a risk if there is any evidence of payment problems in the past.

Register to vote If you’re based overseas or expect to be posted abroad in the next year, it makes sense to register as a Service voter. This allows you to be registered at a fixed address in the UK even if you move around – it helps if lenders can trace you to your address history. Adam summer 2016 Army&You 53

GIVEAWAYS Enter this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

Star prize

HOW TO ENTER Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 3 July 2016. See page three for competition rules.

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

Messing about on boats

Discover the joys of a holiday spent winding along the UK’s canals by entering our competition with Anglo Welsh, the narrowboat holiday company. You could win a short break on a boat for four people, worth up to £785.

From rural retreats to waterside city centres, Anglo Welsh offers a choice of more than 160 boats from 11 bases across England and Wales. Visit iconic sites like the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire or the World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in

North Wales for a magical experience afloat. You don’t need to be an expert – tuition is provided as part of the package, and Anglo Welsh offers all British Service personnel up to 15 per cent off.

Visit or call 0117 304 1122. l See entry rules on page three and go to www. for full terms and conditions.

The art of a great day out the permanent collections and you’ll love the world-class exhibitions. There are also fabulous arty activities during every school holiday and for underfives during term time. Go to to see what’s on. Army&You has two family day tickets (two adults and up to four children), worth £30 each to give away.

Picture: John Cleary Photography

For a great family outing this summer, why not head to Warwickshire’s Compton Verney art gallery and park? Enjoy playing games in the wide open spaces, walking around the lake, trying out the dipping platform to see what’s hidden in the lake’s watery depths and spotting animals from the bird hide. In the gallery, backpack guides will take you on a journey around

WANT TO WIN? Enter any of our giveaways online at

54 Army&You summer 2016





1. CREATURE COMFORTS Your dog will love to get comfy on the new super-absorbent Scruffs Noodle Dry mat. Soaking up excess moisture, it enables your canine’s coat to dry quickly. Micro-fibre chenille is used to produce the “noodles”, made from millions of textured, ultrafine strands. Measuring 90x60cm and machine washable, the mat soaks up water like a sponge and provides a comfortable surface for your four-legged friend to rest on. Available from www. l You could win one of three Noodle Dry mats, worth £24.99 each. 2. GET HANDS ON AT EUREKA! At Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, nothing is behind a glass cabinet. It’s the only fully interactive museum totally dedicated to children aged 0-11 in the UK. Situated in Halifax, Eureka! has more than 400 hands-on exhibits designed to inspire enquiring minds to find out about themselves and the world around them. There are six zones to discover, each



with a different theme. Go to www. to find out more. l Army&You has three annual family passes (up to five people), worth £64.75 each, to give away. 3. WINGS & WHEELS 2016 Rev up for a fantastic event this summer when Wings & Wheels returns to Dunsfold Aerodrome, Surrey, on 27 and 28 August to celebrate its 12th show. Five-hour air displays showcase jets and helicopters, while on the ground, the Wheel Zone features a crowd line parade and hair-raising stunts. As the last plane touches down the party starts across the arena with a mix of musical entertainment. To book tickets, visit l We’re offering one weekend family ticket with camping, worth £165, plus two runner-up prizes of a family ticket, worth £60, for either the Saturday or Sunday. See our website for full T&Cs. 4. SMART COVERS Customise your mobile with a stylish wooden phone cover engraved with your


soldier’s regiment or corps. Military Covers is a family business run by Army wife Hayley Rowley from a quarter in Colchester. It’s licensed by the MOD to use current and disbanded military insignia on its products. Cases are available for all iPhones from the iPhone 5 onwards, and for Samsung S5, S6, S6 Edge, S7 and S7 Edge models. Order yours at l You could win one of three personalised covers, worth £24.99 each. 5. SUMMER SPEED AT SILVERSTONE Silverstone Classic – 29 to 31 July – is the world’s biggest classic motor racing festival, featuring more than 1,000 cars taking part in 20+ races and in excess of 10,000 privately owned classic vehicles displayed on the infield. Enjoy the race paddocks, covered grandstand seating, live action on the big screens, interactive driving activities and a free funfair. At sundown, acts including The Boomtown Rats take to the stage. l One lucky reader will win tickets for four (two adults, two kids) for either the Friday or Sunday.

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

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

STAR LETTER On the road: Penny Mordaunt during a visit to Kenya

‘DEPENDANT’ OUT-OF-DATE I AM writing in relation to the use of the term “dependant” to describe the spouses/ partners of members of the Armed Forces. As has been pointed out, the term is used in both international and UK law and not just in relation to Defence. Whilst it is certainly not meant to be offensive or discriminatory, I accept that it is old-fashioned and, occasionally, inappropriate. Within Defence, we often use alternative terminology such as “entitled family member” where there is no underpinning legislation that includes the term dependant. I have asked that guidance be issued stating that in future the term should only be used where strictly necessary and that when policies are reviewed, my direction should be taken into account. While it is not possible for the MOD to act unilaterally and remove the term from legislation, I hope you agree that this is a significant step forward. Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister for Armed Forces Response from AFF Chief Executive, Sara Baade: We are

delighted to see this change! AFF has for a long time campaigned for this and we are very happy to see that our proposal has been heard.

Keep talking about mental health


HANK you for the article Back from the brink in the autumn edition of Army&You. I was convinced it was written about my husband until I saw the name. Like Capt Taylor in the article, my husband was posted overseas straight from seven months in Iraq without Post Operational Tour Leave. In our case, it took five years of physical symptoms and two-and-a-half years of endless investigations without a diagnosis. Then I suggested that he might need to see someone about it being a mental health issue – not an easy subject to put to a six-foot infantry officer. He was seen by DCMH and received professional support. Eventually they diagnosed a form of combat stress due to his body being under high levels of stress for such a long time. His body was unable to switch off and his brain made him have physical symptoms (aches, muscle spasms, pain in limbs, night sweats, poor sleep quality to name a few) to try to keep him safe. As a wife, it was hard not knowing how to help. He says I was a great support, but it took its toll. He was moody, would overreact to the smallest thing and was, at times, distant and went off to follow hobbies as his way of escape. It all got too much for me and I contacted Healios (, which was great. Most importantly it was someone to talk to. He is on the mend and has recently qualified via the Army as a mental health first aider and instructor. He is hoping to raise the profile of

mental health and help others. The number of people I have spoken to who say their soldier is similar is quite alarming. A soldier doesn’t have to have seen atrocities on deployment to be affected. It is a hidden/taboo subject that people don’t like to discuss. The most useful thing for families in our situation is getting the chain of command to recognise this as an important issue and take it seriously. Extremely heavy workloads across the Army are having a huge impact on the mental health of soldiers. So please keep up the profile of mental health issues. It doesn’t just affect the soldier but the family too. Name and address supplied Response from Army Personnel Services Group (APSG): The Army is committed to improving the mental health of our personnel. It is our policy that mental health issues should be properly recognised and appropriately handled and that every effort should be made to reduce the stigma associated with them. We know that mental illness can be a serious and disabling condition, but one that can be treated. We understand that, for some people, there remains a stigma attached to mental illness. We are working hard to reduce this stigma through specific campaigns, such as Don’t Bottle It Up; briefings to Service personnel, their families and chain of command, and the use of programmes such as Mental Health First Aid courses.

THE WRITE STUFF The writer of this letter wins a gorgeous fountain pen from PLOOMS. Company founder Sally Page believes that some words need to be written in ink, and it was this thought that inspired her to create her range of fountain pens, currently available in eight colours. Find yours at, priced £59, or follow @ploomspens on Twitter and Instagram.

GET INVOLVED: Look out for our #WinWednesday competitions at or follow us on social media.

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GUIDANCE NEEDED ON IVF MY HUSBAND and I have just finished our first round of IVF, which has unfortunately been unsuccessful. After trying for a baby for more than three-and-a-half years, this is obviously a disappointment. Our first round was via my civilian GP through the NHS, which was a very long route to go down. When we tried to approach the Medical Officer (MO) at my husband’s medical centre before we went to my civilian GP, we were told there was “no process” in place to get the ball rolling for funding and were sent away with just an FMED letter to prove he is a serving soldier, which was absolutely no good at all. This was way back at the end of 2014 so it has taken a long time to sort out. Through my own investigations, help from other wives, our current clinic, and generally going round in circles, I have found all the relevant forms to take to the MO, who has to fill them in and send them off to the relevant NHS body for our region. If the MO had known how the process worked in the first place, we could now be in the system for military funding and not having to go through new tests to start the process from scratch. Why don’t MOs/medical centres know the process? We are not the only couple who have ever needed IVF treatment. Medical centres in Germany were much more on the ball and knew the process from beginning to end. It is a shame that our medical centre didn’t seem to know what

to do with patients who need fertility treatment, leading to frustration and delay. Name and address supplied. Response from Karen Ross, Health & Additional Needs Specialist: It is unfortunate that you have had to experience these problems, particularly when infertility can be a very sensitive and emotional issue. From my experience I would suggest that this situation is relatively unusual and I am informed that MOs in all Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) medical centres in England should have been informed about the NHS England Armed Forces Assisted Conception Commissioning Policy when it was first released. This commissioning policy closely follows NICE guidelines and may entitle you to up to three cycles of NHS funded IVF treatment if you meet the treatment criteria. One of the criteria is that Service personnel must be registered with a DPHC medical centre in England. However, you do not necessarily have to apply for treatment through the MO at the DPHC medical centre because this can also be accessed through your civilian GP or your fertility specialist.

I am concerned that CarillionAmey has refused my request to stay in SFA even though a welfare professional recommended that I did – and there are empty properties available. Surely a welfare professional’s advice should be acted upon, otherwise why waste people’s time getting a report together? This is clearly an issue and it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s something I would like taking to the highest level. Name and address supplied Response from Mandie Thorpe, DIO Occupancy Manager: Unfortunately, medical or welfare letters do not automatically result in permission to remain in SFA. All requests to remain for medical or welfare reasons are considered weekly by CarillionAmey in consultation with DIO, following which a decision is made. There are certain criteria, detailed in JSP 464, which are considered when a request to stay is made and if these are met, the request will be granted regardless of availability of SFA. SFA is only for serving, entitled personnel and their families and therefore if the criteria are not met, unfortunately the request to stay must be denied. There is an appeals process through DIO’s Occupancy team where feedback can be given and, if additional information is provided, a decision can be reversed. If following this you are still unhappy with the outcome, the matter can be escalated to the Single Service Housing Colonel for resolution.

l For more information on assisted conception wherever you are posted, search for “IVF” at www.armyandyou. or visit the health pages at

GET INVOLVED: AFF’s Big Survey is coming! Air your views on Army life from 5-30 September.

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RECEIVED my CAAS letter confirming our new SFA charges. After discussing it with friends, I’m confused. We live in Larkhill in a two-bedroom, end of terrace SFA with a small third box room. We have a new kitchen, but the cupboards are already falling off. There is one toilet and one bathroom – both are so old and desperately need replacing. There’s no shower or vents in the bathroom and the sides of the bath are made from pressed wood and are coming apart due to getting wet. Our windows and doors let in a draught which makes it a nightmare to keep warm. We have been allocated a garage a mile away and have to use communal parking. My friend lives two miles up the road in Bulford in a new-build. They have three toilets, two bathrooms (one is en-suite), a large kitchen, attached garage and driveway. It’s a lovely area too, as opposed to the rundown Larkhill roads. Two very contrasting houses in two different areas and, shock horror, we will be paying the same CAAS charge. DIO’s letter confirming the house grade

is confusing and it is unreasonable to expect anyone to read through JSPs before challenging. I also struggle to understand how our property has been assessed as “Decent Homes’” standard. Name and address supplied Response from Dave Simpson, CAAS Programme Manager, DIO: To hear of the problems with the kitchen is disappointing. There is a checking process during and 12 months after completion of installation and this should pick up workmanship issues, but as with all faults they should also be reported to the CA Helpdesk to resolve. DIO continues to invest in the SFA estate, including Larkhill, and work is in progress to improve thermal efficiency of Heath Square houses. We have carried out kitchen, bathroom and whole house upgrades previously and the majority of the roads have been resurfaced. We understand there is still work to do and we have a planned £60m UK improvement programme in 2016-17 which includes bathrooms at Larkhill. We have installed 1,200 showers in SFA over the

last 18 months and will consider further installations along with other competing priorities. The CAAS Band letter went through many alterations before being finalised and included input from the three Services and Families Federations. We will continue to revise and remove areas of uncertainty. CAAS does not look at local aesthetic factors but looks at the individual dwelling assessing it against a “decent” standard. With location and scale also in the mix there will be charges for different estates that come out the same but the make up of the charge from condition, scale and location is different. Finally, CAAS has been a fundamental change in how SFA charges are assessed, and all the work could not have been achieved without the co-operation of all SFA residents, so I would like to use this as an opportunity to say thank you. Editor’s note: CA has responded to the family directly regarding making a challenge to their CAAS decision. The challenge period is now closed except for exceptional circumstances – operations or welfare – although you can still make a challenge within 28 days of moving in to SFA.

Voting overseas made impossible OUR experience of registering to vote and actually voting when located overseas other than Germany or Cyprus is rubbish and, it would seem, fairly representative. Following cuts to BFPO services, anyone posted to an ISODET location such as Belize and USA was told to use local postal services. A few places near to a UK Embassy have an incoming-only mail service. In Italy, letters would take three-to-six weeks to get to us and sending post back was hit-and-miss. In 2010, all of the above combined with the short time-frame for registering and voting meant we were effectively disenfranchised. Six years later we find ourselves in the Middle East, where we have only an incoming mail service courtesy of Foreign & Commonwealth Office goodwill.

Outgoing mail requires the use of courier services or friends who take letters back to the UK. There is a local postal service, but it is erratic and unsecure. While we can register to vote online, the process is still more analogue than digital. Once you’ve registered your intent to vote by post, you have to complete a form which is posted to you and needs to be returned to your voting district. Last year, I applied to vote by post two months prior to the election date, but because of BFPO postal delays there was no way of getting the form back to the UK in time. Unless you can guarantee that the postal/proxy voting paperwork will arrive and be able to be sent back in time, you are wasting your time. If we can complete our taxes online, how come we cannot

complete the entire voter registration process or even vote online? There are reasons given as to why so much of the process is still paper-based, but it is astounding that serving members of HM Forces and their entitled family members are excluded from exercising a basic democratic right. I’m hopeful that by the time there is another important referendum or election, it’ll be a simple matter of completing the process online. Name and address supplied Response from Tom Hawthorn, Electoral Commission Head of Policy: I was sorry to hear about the problems you experienced trying to vote at the 2015 general election. We heard similar concerns from other

voters overseas last year, and our report on the election highlighted that Government and electoral administrators need to make improvements for future elections. As you have found, registering to vote has never been easier – you can apply online in minutes at www. We advise electoral administrators to prioritise postal votes for voters overseas to allow as much time as possible for voters to complete and return them. However, we know that postal services in other countries can be less reliable and voters overseas should also consider appointing a proxy in the UK to vote on their behalf. Online voting could make taking part easier, but it must be reliable and secure. We’ll keep monitoring the technology, but the UK isn’t ready yet.

GET INVOLVED: Take part in our #ourarmyfamily feature and share what makes your Army family unique

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