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Army&You Summer 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Parenting special BABY ON BOARD

What to expect when you’re expecting – and beyond

I want to give my family everything I didn’t have


One family’s long road to parenting

Discover the soft side of TV tough guy Ant Middleton


Planning for new arrivals while posted abroad

Also inside... GIVEAWAYS






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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 //

Putting families first

OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 //


SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 //

KENYA GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 //






© 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


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 One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date is 2 July 2017 unless otherwise stated. Winners’ names will be published on the A&Y 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 for details


summer 2017 Army&You 03


Post generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust


Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity;

to say on pages 26-27. The summer months are always a busy time for moving house and another posting often equals another school. Our education special (pages 42-43) looks at moving between the devolved regions and the many variations in schooling. Of course, it’s your stories that help make and shape the magazine and this edition is packed with contributions from Army families – check out OurArmyFamily (page 33), Postcard from Canada (page 51), Downtime (page 36) and booming business Created for Keeps (page 30). And if you fancy a break, don’t forget to enter our fabulous giveaways on pages 62-63 – there’s a two-night trip to be won!

XPANDING your Army family is an exciting but daunting time – especially if you’re a long way from loved ones or your soldier is away. In this summer’s Army&You, we’ve explored preparing for parenthood looking at your support networks and the experiences of first-time parents through to fostering and fertility advice. We’ve explored the ins and outs of pay and allowances for new parents and checked out the rules on housing entitlement for your growing family (page 35). Armed Forces supporter and TV tough guy Ant Middleton shows his softer side as he tells us how he ensures his family remain his number one focus (pages 56-57). With potential changes on the horizon for the way Army families live, we submitted your questions to the man at the top, Maj Gen Rob Nitsch, to find out how the Service is keeping the wellbeing of its soldiers and families at the forefront of its planning. Find out what he had

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

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Contents SUMMER 2017


10 AFF in Action Boosting your employability when moving to civvy street 30 Created for Keeps Forces friends' business flies thanks to TV dragon 33 Our Army Family The Kellocks on life as an Army family of eight 36 Creative Stress-busting Service spouse shares her crafty hobby with Army&You 42 On the Move How changing schools can affect military youngsters 51 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Canada


16 Positive about Parenting What to expect when adding a baby to your Army family 18 A Place to Call Home Army families sing the praises of fostering 20 Focus on Fertility Exploring the options open to prospective parents 21 Long Road to Parenthood Forces couple share their emotional IVF journey 22 Family Finances MoneyForce's top tips on budgeting for a baby 56 Ant Middleton TV's tough guy explains his family focus


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 12 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 60 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with housing, relationships and more 62 Giveaways Win an opulent overnight stay and a roar-some prize 65 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


FAMILY GUY Army veteran Ant Middleton, who is a brand ambassador for Forces Cars Direct PAGES 56-57 Picture courtesy of Forces Cars Direct (

Army&You Summer 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Parenting special BABY ON BOARD

What to expect when you’re expecting – and beyond

I want to give my family everything I didn’t have


One family’s long road to parenting

Discover the soft side of TV tough guy Ant Middleton


Planning for new arrivals while posted abroad

Also inside... GIVEAWAYS






Family planning overseas: What can Army families expect if they find out they are pregnant while posted abroad? Find out on pages 24-25

summer 2017 Army&You 05



Childcare seems to be high on the agenda of Army families at the moment. The pilot 30-hour childcare schemes have been running for a while and we’re gearing up for this to start across England in September. You can find out if you’re eligible on the gov. uk website, but remember that you need to be earning a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, depending on your age. The MOD hopes to mirror this in school settings overseas. Look out for further updates at

The F&C team is always grateful to our contacts at the Home Office, who often go out of their way to assist us with difficult cases. Recently, we successfully argued for a visa extension for a spouse who had only been granted a visa up to their soldier’s four-year point. The correction request had already been refused twice and the spouse’s visa was due to expire. On investigation, it turned out it was down to confusion over military terminology – specifically the difference between the run-out date, length of posting and minimum engagement. We wrote to our contact explaining these terms in detail and were very pleased to hear a few weeks later that the visa had been corrected.

Porto and the Douro with friends

Mountain biking in the Alps

06 Army&You summer 2017


AFF has highlighted a number of Covenant successes recently for those posted overseas such as fairer mobile phone deals, mortgage companies allowing you to rent out your UK home, access to student loans and car insurance companies offering fairer no claims bonus and cancellation policies. We work with several organisations to ensure you get fair access to commercial goods and services and have been delighted by the commitments that have been made. I would love to hear any positive examples if you’ve taken advantage of the offers businesses are now making. Contact Kusadasi, Turkey – beautiful beaches and a brilliant waterpark for the children


This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

With the weather warming up, we asked our specialists about their best-ever summer holiday...





As part of AFF’s transitions work, I have been investigating support for new parents and some of your feedback has been used to inform our feature [see pages 16-17] in this edition. I am particularly interested in the support you have received or are receiving if you are diagnosed with perinatal or postnatal depression. If you would be happy to share your experiences, please contact me at

Compared to the previous two winters, the number of families coming to me with boiler and heating issues has decreased significantly this year. I hope this is a sign that improvements are being made by CarillionAmey (CA). It’s important that AFF continues to monitor this contract, so please make sure that you keep on reporting all maintenance and repair jobs when you find them and log complaints if you feel that CA hasn’t followed the correct process. Don’t forget to let us know as well so that we can continue to note any trends – email

It’s never too early to start preparing for your life after the Army. If your soldier is intending to stay in the military for many years to come, you may not have thought about life on civvy street yet but there are areas where it’s helpful to plan in advance. Have a look at our new ‘transition top tips’ feature in each edition [see page 10] for ideas to get you started. For more information and advice on what you can do now, take a look at the transition pages at

A year in Australia, swimming with crocodiles and climbing Ayers Rock – utterly amazing!

My honeymoon in St Lucia

Six weeks travelling thousands of miles along the Brazilian coastline

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summer 2017 Army&You 07

This post is generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.



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Effective communication by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive


N A recent meeting, I was asked: “Why is it that Army families’ morale is so low at the moment and why are they so averse to change?”

At the time, I responded briefly but it has been playing on my mind and I’ve been giving it a lot more thought. As a group, are we really that negative? Do we struggle with change? No, I don’t think so. I think quite the opposite is true.

“The families I come across are resourceful, positive and have a real ‘cando’ attitude.”

The families I come across are resourceful, positive, have a real ‘cando’ attitude and are resilient to change and uncertainty. In reality, you probably deal better with change than most people I know.


There is a difference between chosen change and forced change and I think it is the latter that has affected many of you. There have been changes to pay, pension and Service Families Accommodation rates and now we are facing further seismic changes to our lives through the potential implementation of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM).

Whether the offer has been eroded or not is almost irrelevant. You are feeling that your way of life is vulnerable and, as a result, some of you

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? How do we raise morale again? Well, I think a lot of the problem is the way in which families are communicated with – or not, as is often the case.

The negative feelings have come from not being included or consulted properly. I have asked the MOD and the Army for improved, honest communication with you. I have asked that your views are really listened to and taken into consideration prior to decisions being made – all fairly straightforward requests.

I do, however, think morale is a real problem at the moment and this is linked to change – not because we struggle with it, but because we have had so much of it lately.

Many of you who approach us feel that the terms and conditions that you and your soldier originally signed up to have changed significantly and the ‘offer’ has been eroded. This is certainly what we pick up from your concerns.

have lost faith and are now critical of anything that is being communicated by the Army or MOD.

The MOD and the Army have responded positively to these concerns and I think we must give them a chance to show that they are willing and able to try. I’m really pleased that in this edition we have an interview with DPers General Rob Nitsch (pages 26-27), who has overall responsibility for all personnel issues in the Army. We used this interview as an opportunity to ask him some of your questions that you submitted via

Contact AFF @The_AFF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or via

social media.

MOD’s Chief of Defence People, Lt Gen Richard Nugee, has also responded to our FAM manifesto following your feedback from our Big Survey last year – We’ll continue to push for more effective communication and consideration and I encourage you to get in touch ( if there’s anything we can do to help you raise your morale. I look forward to hearing from you. &

summer 2017 Army&You 09


SURVEY SHINES LIGHT ON SCOTTISH POSTINGS A RECENT AFF survey focusing on families posted to Scotland highlighted the positives and negatives of Army family life north of the border and helped shape the themes for the AFF Scotland Roadshow, which was held in Kinloss in March. People from more than 30 locations completed the survey and highlighted challenges including differences in education, issues with public transport and being so far from family support. Views differed between those expressed by Scottish families and those from outside Scotland. 45 per cent of you said it was difficult to see family and close friends, compared to postings outside Scotland. A large number of families reported difficulties accessing appropriate childcare places, with one respondent saying: “I left my position with the NHS to become a self-employed childminder due to the lack of flexible childcare options available locally.” Nearly two-thirds of you felt you were not receiving enough information about possible future movements of Army units. In contrast, positives of a Scottish posting included easy access to doctors and dentists, the opportunity for outdoor activities and, for those originally from Scotland, being close to family. 62 per cent of respondents indicated that if they were able to, they would choose to settle in Scotland, with one comment stating: “Despite the distance, we’ve fallen in love with the area and would like to buy a house here.” The differences in Scottish education were a concern for some, particularly when moving between education systems. Information ahead of postings and support when moving schools is crucial for families. [See pages 42-43 for information on schooling in devolved regions.] AFF used these findings to shape the Scotland Roadshow. Annabel Ingram, AFF’s Regional Manager North, said: “People travelled from as far away as Glasgow and Penicuik to attend. There was a lively debate from families and soldiers on topics including bus services, issues around tax, FAM and concern from F&C soldiers if Scotland becomes independent. The main issue was education – school places, curriculum differences and the later starting age. AFF is working on your concerns and will feed back as progress is made.”

10 Army&You summer 2017

Preparing for civvy street When leaving the Army, there’s a lot to consider and Rosie Buxton, AFF’s Transition Liaison, is looking at all aspects of your switch to civvy street. In this edition, Rosie shares ideas on boosting employability…


ANY of you have experienced challenges in your career due to your soldier’s profession, whether this is due to frequent moves or juggling family responsibilities whilst your soldier is away. When the time comes for your soldier to leave the Army, you may be looking for a job too. Aside from the obvious financial advantage, it can also be a great way to meet people as you transition.

ENHANCE YOUR CV Army life can play havoc with your CV, but if you have gaps in yours, all is not lost! A CV does not have to be chronological – it can be qualifications- and skills-based instead. Don’t sell yourself short: as the partner of a soldier you

are probably adaptable, dependable and resilient. For tips on how to prepare a great CV, check out

VOLUNTEER Volunteering can be an excellent way of boosting your skills whilst working in an area you are passionate about – and the time commitment can be minimal. See if you can volunteer in your new location – it has the added bonus of demonstrating commitment on your CV. To find a volunteer position to suit you, visit or

RBLI LIFEWORKS Royal British Legion Industries runs free employability courses to help Army families get into work. Courses are usually

held over three days in a number of locations. Help and advice is also available over the phone and online at

WORK FOR YOURSELF You don’t have to have a unique Dragon’s Den-style idea – or budget – to be your own boss. Think about what skills or hobbies you already have that you could turn into a business. You could also consider becoming a franchisee. For more tips, visit the ‘be your own boss’ pages at

EDUCATION & TRAINING Furthering your education doesn’t have to mean signing up to be in one place for years. There are a number of flexible options and organisations that offer financial assistance. Visit to find out more about training and the work AFF has been doing to support Army families. For information on improving your employment prospects, contact AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin at or, if you’re transitioning and would like to be part of AFF’s research, email & @ArmyandYou

Grapevine Really useful bits about Army life. Get involved – email

APP-ETISING ADDITION FOR MOBILE MUMS MUSH is a free app that connects mums with others with kids the same age, enabling meet-ups with people who know what you’re going through. It’s especially useful if you’ve moved to a new house to kick-start your

involvement in the wider community. Born through the experience of its founders Katie and Sarah, who had two small children between them and found the days long, lonely and isolating, Mush launched in spring 2016 and has

been credited for more than 200,000 friendships from its 80,000 members from the UK and around the world. One Army wife who Mush has been a lifeline for is Hannah Routledge, who said: “Mush has been a life saver for me.

“It’s not just always about physically meeting up but it’s about having a support network at your fingertips. “Army life can be lonely, but I don’t feel lonely any more.” For more details, visit &

KEEP IN TOUCH A NEW system to replace the e-bluey has been introduced by the MOD, meaning your soldier can still receive hard copy secure mail from their family and friends for free via the internet. The imail INtouch system allows you to send up to eight pages, including high definition photographs and official documents. “Communication with families whilst on operations is vital for morale and it’s encouraging that this service will offer a raft of ways for families to stay in touch with their loved ones,” said AFF Chief Exec Sara Baade. “We will monitor this contract to make sure it is offering families the best service possible.” The number of e-bluey downloads per month had decreased by 98 per cent since the drawdown from Afghanistan in 2014, so savings made from the introduction of the new service will be reinvested into welfare provision.

For more information, visit

Good news! Service personnel assigned within the UK or overseas will no longer have to pay cancellation fees for their broadband and media packages to providers who cover 95 per cent of the market – BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media. The exemption only applies if the provider does not operate in the area to which the Service person is assigned and you’ll be required to provide proof of your soldier’s assignment. Let us know how you get on –

GET INVOLVED: Follow us on Twitter @ArmyandYou and @The_AFF

12 Army&You summer 2017




Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Focus ST-Line range: urban 33.2-67.3 (8.5-4.2), extra urban 60.1-83.1 (4.7-3.4), combined 46.3-74.3 (6.1-3.8). Official CO2 emissions 140-99g/km.

The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience. *Military Saving programme available to current and ex-Service Personnel. Including veterans and retired members of the UK Armed Forces. Customer savings of 5% to 20% off the On The Road price available across the Ford range (excluding KA+, Mustang, Focus RS and selected Mondeo, Edge and Ranger models) on vehicles contracted from 1st April 2017 and 30th December 2017 and registered between 1st April 2017 and 30th June 2018. Retail customers only. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with other manufacturer promotions or incentives. At participating Ford dealers – for terms and conditions, including the eligibility criteria, eligible models and customer savings visit:


A selection of the best Army pictures...

The facts about car seats MANY of you have been contacting AFF’s Coordinators about the new laws regarding child car seats which came into effect in February, so we asked the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for a definitive answer. The law states that all children travelling in the front or rear seat of any car, van or goods vehicle must

use the correct car seat until they are either 135cm in height or 12 years old, whichever they reach first. Babies and infants still need to be carried in rearwardfacing baby seats. If you currently have a backless booster cushion, you can still use it and will not be breaking the law. The new rules mean that manufacturers will no longer be allowed to introduce new

models of booster cushions for children shorter than 125cm and weighing less than 22kg – roughly aged four-to-six. RoSPA advises that highbacked booster seats are a better option than backless ones because they offer more protection against accidents, particularly in side impacts. You can find a full guide at

Picture credits: Royal Hospital Chelsea (picture one); RCET (picture three)


From top: Jolly veterans enjoying the sunshine at the Royal Hospital Chelsea Marham Military Wives Choir celebrates turning five Ryan Humphries and his son at Leuchars station

Why ACT? THE police and the security and intelligence agencies depend on information from you. They want members of the public to be their eyes and ears and help keep yourself, your family and your local community safe by looking out for

14 Army&You summer 2017

A GRANT of £28,664 has been awarded to Anglia Ruskin University to conduct an audit of services available for, and provided to, Commonwealth serving and ex-Service personnel and their families to identify their specific needs during their transition from military to civilian life. This eight-month study is an important step in understanding the issues facing Commonwealth personnel and their families. Louise Simpson, AFF Policy & Research Director and chair of the Cobseo Foreign

& Commonwealth Cluster, said: “AFF is delighted at the news of this funding as it will really help us as a group to develop an action plan around tackling issues.” Ray Lock, chief executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, added: “This unique study, which we are very pleased to fund, offers the opportunity to better understand and identify future ways to improve outcomes for Service personnel and their families as they transition into civilian life.”

suspicious activity and reporting it to the police in confidence. You may see or hear something that could be vital in stopping a terrorist attack. By working together with the police, staying alert and thinking about your safety and security at home, work or when you are out and about, you can make it harder for terrorists to plan or carry out an attack. If you have any information about

suspicious activity or behaviour, you can report it in confidence, either by calling the police or making an online report. Call the police confidentially on 0800 789 321. To find the online form or more information, visit Action Counters Terrorism at Remember, if you need urgent police assistance in an emergency, you should always dial 999.

Visit for more.




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Pictures, clockwise from above: Jenny Hayes’ children, baby Cora and Poppy (2); Vikki Adams and family with baby Kayla; Ellie Wepener with husband Alexis and children Annabelle and Christopher.

Adding a baby to your Army family When you have been trying for a baby, a positive pregnancy test is an exciting but daunting moment. As an Army family, you might have to bring up your first child a long way from their grandparents or cope as a single parent when your soldier is away. However, there is support available to help you find your feet... Words: Jill Misson


YNETTE Dickson’s husband Stuart deployed to Afghanistan when she was six months pregnant so she agreed a date to be induced and he booked his R&R. Stuart was on the flight home when Lynette’s waters broke. “He arrived at the hospital still wearing his uniform and Eryn was born with her dad present,” she recalled. “He spent ten days with her before returning for the remainder of his tour.” Lynette admitted: “There’s regret and resentment that he missed those first few months but when you marry someone in the military you always prepare for plan B.” Jenny Hayes added: “My husband was deployed to Iraq when our baby was two weeks

16 Army&You summer 2017

old. He is still out there now so I have my hands full with a twoyear-old as well!”

SHARING THE JOY A serving father is entitled to two weeks off upon the birth of his child which should only be deferred by his commanding officer for operational reasons. Soldiers are also eligible for Shared Parental Leave which can give a family more flexibility when choosing how to care for a child in their first year. Leave policy is being amended

to allow a soldier to ask for up to two days’ special leave to accompany his partner to antenatal appointments such as scans – see JSP 760 for details and updates.

SERVICE MUMS When a soldier becomes pregnant, she can take time off to attend appointments and has access to physical training advice and peer support through forums such as the Army Servicewomen’s Network. Major Caroline Wade, SO2

“I was gobsmacked by the cost of childcare and had to manage without my husband, who was in Afghanistan.” – New parent Laura Maloney

Welfare, explained what happens once the chain of command has been informed: “They are required to conduct a risk assessment which will take into account the type of duties she is expected to undertake and whether these are appropriate during pregnancy. “There are certain locations where a soldier would not be able to remain during pregnancy due to the need to provide appropriate medical care. “When to start maternity leave and how long to take is a decision for the soldier but advice about entitlements to pay, allowances and future career management can be sought through the administrative and welfare staff.” Laura Maloney fell pregnant while serving in Aldershot and found her boss to be very supportive even though he was preparing to deploy. She said: “I was able to fulfil my role and left only a few weeks prior to Charlotte making her grand entrance. I was also promoted during my pregnancy.” However, Laura struggled when she returned to work, explaining: “I was gobsmacked by the cost of childcare and had to manage without my husband, who was in Afghanistan.”

EXPANDING THE NEST Babies need a lot of kit, from prams to clothes, but having your first child doesn’t entitle you to a bigger quarter. “A married couple living in a two-bed SFA can only request to move to a three-bed should they have twins,” said AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder. [see page 35 for more] Having a baby around the time you’re due to be posted can be an added stress for Army families. Cat advised: “You may be allowed to retain your quarter due to serious illness, welfare need or an impending or recent birth but robust supporting evidence is required.” MOD policy states that a couple undergoing IVF treatment can request to retain housing even if the soldier cannot be @ArmyandYou

FEATURE extended in post★.

MONEY MATTERS There are a range of maternity benefits payable depending on your employment status and family income, so it is important to find out what you are entitled to claim [see page 22 for more]. AFF’s Money Specialist Laura Lewin said: “If you accompany your soldier on an overseas posting, you can still be paid Maternity Allowance due to a reciprocal agreement in EEA countries. Thanks to a policy which has recently been updated and improved in consultation with the Department for Work and Pensions, there is also an MOD Ex-Gratia Payment in lieu of Maternity Allowance payable to Service spouses in countries outside the EEA.”

See 2016DIN01-052 for more

OVERSEAS BIRTHS If you are posted abroad, in many permanent locations you will receive very similar care to what you would get from the NHS. In Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, Brunei and Gibraltar, you can see a SSAFA midwife. “Maternity care looks to mirror the services that are provided in the UK,” explained Fiona Donaldson-Myles, SSAFA’s head of midwifery services for overseas commands. “Our midwives explain the different birthing and screening options, offer parenting courses and carry out antenatal and postnatal care.” In some more remote locations, there is only home nation medical support. The British Army and Defence Primary Healthcare give maternity and neonatal care the utmost priority, so women stationed in Nepal and Kenya must return to the UK before the 32nd week of pregnancy. Vikki Adams had her daughter Kayla in Paderborn in November 2016 and was impressed by the maternity care and community support in British Forces Germany. “I saw the midwives regularly on camp and had my scans in the German hospital where I

gave birth,” she said. “They were really attentive during labour and keep you in for 48 hours to make sure both mother and baby are OK. “I had a health visitor who visited me at home and she runs a drop-in clinic. I’ve made some great friends through the groups organised by Home-Start.” The family support charity Home-Start has been working in BFG for more than 30 years. “In addition to home-visiting schemes, we help to reduce loneliness by running drop-in sessions as well as lunch clubs, social events and subsidised outings,” said regional manager Amanda Rearden.

FRIENDS AND FAMILY Even on a UK posting you can be living a long way from close friends and relatives. The Armed Forces Covenant in the Community encourages activities which help to integrate the Army community into local life. When Ellie Wepener (pictured below) moved to Hadleigh, she was so disappointed with provision for parents that she raised her concerns with Suffolk County Council. She worked with service providers to form Better Together, a project which aims to increase contact between Army families and local people through a toddler group and a breastfeeding group. “I’m so glad that making my feelings known has helped other parents,” she told us. “Social isolation can be a real problem to new mums –

especially those in the military who do not have family support locally.”

GET THE RIGHT SUPPORT While many spouses suffering from Post Natal Depression (PND) have been well supported by the chain of command, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross has encountered spouses with PND who have felt unsupported. She explained: “Being posted can be hard when you have built up a support network and it can be quite an ordeal to apply for retention of SFA and have to submit personal, confidential medical information when unwell.” If you think you might need some help, talk to your GP or health visitor and check out for a range of organisations that can assist you. The NSPCC Tidworth Service Centre helps prospective parents from the Army community with its Pregnancy in Mind course, which strives to

improve the emotional wellbeing of those at risk of anxiety or depression. Service manager Helen Connaughton said: “We have received positive feedback and it has been rewarding to see mums who have previously felt socially isolated having increased confidence, self-esteem and attunement to their babies.”

COMMUNITY MATTERS Kirsty Finnie gave birth to her baby boy Conall on Christmas Day 2016. She and husband Mike are based in Kinloss, a great distance from their families. Kirsty said: “I think living in an Army community is a positive experience for new parents as there is a ready-made network of supportive and knowledgeable people. “Mike is due to go on tour soon so there is additional uncertainty but there are regular coffee mornings offering a space to discuss upcoming deployments. “I feel privileged to have such invaluable support from other parents on the patch and there is a lovely sense of camaraderie.” &

USEFUL CONTACTS SSAFA Home-Start NHS AFF Specialists summer 2017 Army&You 17

A place to call


Pictured: Army family Danny and Karen with their children and foster children

Local authorities desperately need foster carers and many are recognising that Service families have the background, skills and support needed. Army&You spoke to AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross to find out more…


AREN receives a steady stream of enquiries about fostering from Army families. She said: “Some find it difficult to start the process with the local authority or agency because they feel their unique mobile lifestyle may be a barrier. However, this is often not the case and some are able to successfully foster – and it is something that the MOD is actively encouraging.”

DECIDING TO FOSTER It’s often making the decision to foster that is the most daunting. Danny, a serving soldier based in Oxfordshire, explained his story: “‘How serious are you about fostering?’.

18 Army&You summer 2017

The question seemed to hang in the air. “I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a social worker in the living room when I came home for lunch. It had only been a week since my wife Karen and I had discussed the possibility and seemingly discounted the option because we thought a local authority would never accept someone in the Army as a carer. “Well, they did. It’s been four years since Toni and Ruby joined our family and I wouldn’t change the decision we made.” Hampshire-based serving soldier Stuart and his wife have also gone through the process with their local authority. It took the couple around eight months



from their initial enquiry to receiving a successful panel decision. The couple have two young children of their own and the youngsters were their biggest consideration in the initial decision to foster. Stuart said: “It’s very important to us that a placement is a good match for our family and of course the young child who is placed with us. “So although as a couple, we have been really keen to start our fostering journey and throw ourselves into it, we’ve probably had a much steadier start than most foster families, which really suits us.”

NOT ALWAYS EASY Fostering is a huge commitment and different to adoption, which is permanent. “With fostering, the link to the other family is enduring,” said Danny. “Providing a safe space for the children to eventually return home is the ultimate aim. “Whilst this is unlikely for our girls, we still take them home for ‘contact’ every couple of months to maintain links with their birth family. “So yes, it can be difficult. Your role is to provide love and stability. “It can be heart-rending and there may not be any certainty, but it is incredibly rewarding. “The children involved deserve a chance, and I wouldn’t change our girls for the world.”

Fostering while overseas Core Assets is the MOD contracted social work provider for BFG (Germany), EJSU (European areas), BATUK (Kenya) and BATUS (Canada), jurisdictions permitting. Under Core Assets, British Forces Social Work Service (BFSWS) recruits foster carers, although due to the drawdown in BFG the numbers have reduced. If BFSWS needs to recruit foster carers,

HOUSING ENTITLEMENT Most local authorities insist on the child having their own bedroom, unless sharing with a sibling. This requirement may mean that you need a larger SFA. You’ll need to provide proof that you are fostering to CarillionAmey ( “It was established during our initial telephone enquiry whether we had a spare bedroom and it’s the first thing the social worker checked on her initial visit,” Stuart said. It’s also important to inform CarillionAmey that you are foster carers so that they meet the standards required by the local authority for placing foster children, such as ensuring doors, bannisters and windows are child-safe. If you are moving, include this information on your e1132.

OPERATIONAL ASSIGNMENTS Fostering shouldn’t affect your soldier’s operational capability, but if you are fostering a child with an additional need and/or

“The children involved deserve a chance, and I wouldn’t change our girls for the world.” – Foster parent Danny

it will advertise in Sixth Sense or on BFBS radio. To see if it is recruiting in your location, email crt. SSAFA is the social work provider for Cyprus, the Falklands, Brunei and Gibraltar. If you are interested in fostering and live in these locations, contact the SSAFA Social Work Service – contact details can be found at

disability, you may need to ensure that extra support is in-situ for your family before your soldier deploys. Karen Ross advised: “It is always best practice for your soldier to discuss the situation with their RCMO and social worker, particularly if the child is just about to be placed with you and a deployment is imminent.”

THE HURDLES Stuart experienced some reticence from the local authority about being in the military. He said: “To be successful in our fostering assessment, it was a requirement for us to be extremely settled into family life. “This is something that was raised as a possible vulnerability due to the nature of postings with the Armed Forces.” However, this didn’t prevent them from becoming foster carers. Karen Ross added: “One question families ask me is whether a foster child can accompany them on an overseas assignment.” This can be difficult because regular contact with the local authority and birth parents is required. Danny explained: “We are now legal guardians for Toni and Ruby. This change in status means that we are

permitted to take the children on holidays and travel abroad for up to three months without referral to the local authority.” Wherever you are located, there are lots of things to consider. Contact Karen Ross ( who will be happy to point you in the right direction. &

AVENUES OF SUPPORT Your soldier can check JSP 464 and the MOD’s Defence Instructions and Notices policy (DIN) reference: 2008DIN01-189 via the Defence intranet. Cornerstone Partnership Can help with links to local authorities in the south east requiring foster carers Fostering People Places children in need of foster care in the Midlands, north of England and Scotland The Fostering Network UK charity Barnardo’s Support for fostering Coram BAAF Adoption and Fostering Academy

summer 2017 Army&You 19

The MOD’s Health & Wellbeing team explains the options open to prospective parents...


ITH all the day-today challenges that being part of an Army family presents you with, fertility preservation may not be high on your agenda. However, with the uncertain nature of Service life, not to mention the general unpredictability of our own reproductive health, it could provide an option to safeguard and plan for your future.

PRESERVING FERTILITY Medical advances now mean it’s possible for both men and women to undergo fertility

preservation. However, the procedure is much more invasive and expensive for women, as it requires cultivating eggs inside the body prior to extraction under general anaesthetic. The treatment can take between two and five weeks and costs around £5,000. For men, the sperm collection process takes up to four clinic sessions and costs between £150 and £400. It’s worth noting that neither the MOD nor the NHS funds fertility preservation costs – currently only cancer patients receive full funding.

For men, there is no age limit for sperm collection. For women the recommended age range for harvesting eggs is up to 40 years. Once collected, the sperm or eggs are stored until you need them – storage costs apply. In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is the medical procedure for initiating conception when the time comes.

THINGS TO CONSIDER If you are considering fertility preservation, male and female soldiers are advised to consult their unit’s medical staff as the

process may temporarily affect their medical employment standard. The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority regulates fertility clinics – a list of clinics can be found via Searching the web for ‘fertility costs UK’ will also guide you to a range of different clinics’ costs, some of which offer military discount. Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, can advise you if you have any issues. Email her at &

FUTURE POTENTIAL The process is like an insurance policy that can provide you with the potential to have children in the future, should you wish. It is even possible, in some cases, to collect sperm posthumously, if prior consent has been established.


More affordable boarding Choose a state boarding school and save more than 50 per cent on fees Whilst boarding is an attractive option for many army families seeking stability in their children’s education, some can find the ongoing costs prohibitive. This is where state boarding, with its fees of around £4,000 per term is an attractive

option. Fees are less than half the cost of comparable independent boarding schools and well below the maximum Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA). As with any boarding school, the MOD still requires those qualifying for CEA to pay 10 per cent of charges, but with state boarding this means term fees of just £400 or less. Some Forces families receive further assistance in the form of Childcare Vouchers and these can also be put towards the parental contribution, further reducing costs. Fees are kept at this manageable level because the education in state boarding

schools is paid for by the state and parents are only asked to cover the cost of boarding. That’s why this value doesn’t come at the cost of quality. State boarding facilities are now indistinguishable from those in the independent sector following a £20 million programme of investment in boarding accommodation in recent years. Following the national curriculum, academic performance in the sector exceeds that of many other schools and state boarding schools regularly top league tables of results. The quality of the teaching is frequently judged as "Outstanding" by Ofsted and the stability offered by the boarding community also enables pupils to grow in confidence and make the most of their respective abilities. State boarding is a popular choice for military families, especially those serving overseas, and around 10 per cent of children in the state boarding system’s 30plus schools are connected to the Armed Forces in some way. To find out if state boarding could suit your family’s needs, go to

20 Army&You summer 2017


See assisted conception and fertility policy 2016DIN01-052 for more.

Fertility focus


The long road to parenthood Lizzie Allan and soldier husband Steve welcomed baby girl Matilda Poppy to the world in February – five years after they first began trying to conceive. Lizzie chatted to Army&You about their IVF journey… A&Y: How did it all begin? Lizzie: It was shortly after getting married and settled in our first quarter that we decided to start trying for a baby. After six months of no success, I assumed that it was down to my health as I have psoriatic arthritis. We spoke to my GP who advised that they couldn’t investigate until we had been trying for at least 18 months. As Steve was often on exercise or deployment, it actually took three years to reach a timeframe where we could investigate. It was mid-2015 that we were able to start tests, nice and simple for Steve, but a lot more invasive for me! After various blood tests and a few operations, I was found to have low-level endometriosis and our fertility was deemed to be ‘unexplained fertility issues’.

Has Steve’s chain of command been supportive of both of you? It took us two rounds of IVF to fall pregnant. Emotionally, the whole process and treatment has been incredibly draining however, the Army was always supportive of Steve having to attend appointments, tests and scans. During our second round of treatment Steve received a posting which has given us stability during my resulting pregnancy

NHS England has updated its commissioning policy

During the treatment, the Army community and those friends and neighbours who were aware were always fantastic.

Have you had any extra hurdles to jump such as moving or being away from family?

What advice would you give to any other Army families embarking on assisted conception? Do not be afraid to talk about it. When you’re in a military setting and your partner is away you will need a group of close friends to confide in and to support you. It’s a very sensitive thing to go through and making sure you surround yourself with a good support network will make all the difference. &

Our GP at the med centre was fantastic and sorted out all the funding for us to undergo IVF treatment. We also had the option of choosing our clinic, which I am confident had a positive impact on our overall treatment.

for Armed Forces families, outlining the pathway and criteria for you to access assisted reproduction methods such as IVF and Intracytoplasmic

How have your neighbours on your patch helped you?

We have just bought our own house, so Steve managed the move five days after Matilda was born whilst we were still in hospital. All our family clubbed together to get everything sorted. It was manic and we still have a lot of work to do, but we are in – and Matilda is settled!

How did you eventually get help from the Army?


and the first year of our baby arriving.

Sperm Injection. You can find more about the criteria on the AFF website ( and there’s also some useful information on devolved

regions and what to do if you’re overseas. If you’re experiencing any problems with accessing fertility treatment or would like to

give feedback regarding the treatment you’ve received, contact AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross, at

summer 2017 Army&You 21


Parenthood and pay: what you need to know Understanding your leave and allowances when you’re pregnant or becoming a parent can be a bit of a minefield, so we’ve teamed up with MoneyForce to make sense of it all…


F YOU are having a baby, you’re entitled to maternity leave no matter how long you’ve worked for your employer. The earliest your paid maternity leave can start is the 11th week before your due date or if your baby is born early, it starts the day after the birth. You don’t have to take the 52 weeks you’re entitled to, but you must take at least two weeks off work following the birth.

WHAT WILL I BE PAID? You may be entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay through your employer or if you’re a soldier, the Armed Forces’ own scheme. If you don’t qualify, you can claim maternity allowance through the benefit system. If you earn at least £113 a week on average, Statutory Maternity Pay is the legal minimum your employer should pay while you’re on maternity leave. You’ll get this if you have worked for your employer for 26 weeks when you reach the 15th week before your due date:

22 Army&You summer 2017

l First

six weeks – 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings before tax l The next 33 weeks – £140.98 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings (whichever is less) l The next 13 weeks – unpaid. If you’re self-employed or earn less than £113 a week, you might be entitled to maternity allowance from the government instead. The Armed Forces Occupational Maternity Scheme provides qualifying soldiers with full pay for the first 26 weeks. To be eligible for this you must have at least a year’s continuous service and intend to return to work for a minimum of 12 months. If you decide not to return to work after 52 weeks, you might have to pay back any extra maternity pay from your employer. Check with your HR department. The website also has information on what to do if you’re adopting and how and

when to claim your pay or allowance.

WHAT ABOUT DADS? For soldiers, the Armed Forces Occupational Paternity Leave Scheme provides fathers with 14 days of statutory paternity leave on two weeks’ full pay. If you’re an employee elsewhere, you’re entitled to either one or two weeks of paid statutory paternity leave which must be taken as a whole week or consecutive weeks once the baby is born.

WHO’S ELIGIBLE? To qualify, you must be the: child’s biological father mother’s husband or partner (including same-sex partners) l child’s adopter or intended parent (if using a surrogate). l

l child’s

You must also have been working for your employer for at least 26 continuous weeks by either the 15th week before the due date, or the week that

you’re told you’ve been matched with your child for adoption. Paternity pay is £140.98 per week or 90 per cent of your average weekly earnings, whichever is less.

SHARED PARENTAL LEAVE If you live in England, Wales or Scotland, you may be eligible for shared parental leave, which allows you to share up to 50 weeks’ parental leave and 37 weeks’ pay with your partner. If you’re eligible, you can even take the leave in up to three separate blocks. Qualifying Service personnel may be able to take up to 26 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave in order to care for their new child if the mother/coadopter has returned to work. For more advice, check the MOD’s Defence Instructions and Notices policy, reference: 2011DIN01-037 on the Defence intranet, visit uk or go to the AFF website, & @ArmyandYou


Family planning overseas Being posted overseas offers many opportunities and challenges but how does it work if you fall pregnant in a location that’s not home? AFF’s overseas team has been finding out… KENYA Wherever you are posted, you may choose to return to the UK to give birth but, if you are accompanying your soldier to Kenya, that decision will be made for you. Expectant mothers in Kenya cannot stay in the country after 32 weeks’ gestation or earlier if your pregnancy is high risk.

24 Army&You summer 2017

You cannot return until the baby has completed their primary immunisations and can take malarial chemoprophylaxis (at approximately four-months old). This is to protect you and your baby in case of any complications or emergencies. Abbie Allatt, who will be returning to UK to have her baby, told us: “The medical staff provide excellent care

but there’s no contact with a midwife.” Abbie also raised concerns about the inevitable strains that will be placed on her family having to be separated for around a six-month period and that, on return, there is no health visitor in Kenya to conduct regular routine baby checks. AFF’s Kenya Co-ordinator ( will be able to help with any concerns.

Khaleesi Abbie Allatt & daughter @ArmyandYou


Sarah Rothwell GERMANY In British Forces Germany, the standards and type of care are broadly equivalent to that in the UK. A community midwife will be the main point of contact for your

maternity care. Expectant mothers are given a ‘mutterpass’ (maternity record) which is updated by the midwife and should be taken to hospital appointments and kept close to hand should you travel. In German hospitals ‘gas and air’ is not routinely used whereas other relaxation therapies such as homeopathy and aromatherapy are likely to be offered. All this information and more can be found at Sarah Rothwell, a new mother living in BFG, said: “The treatment I received in BFG was second to none. If anyone is thinking of a posting here but has concerns about healthcare, you have absolutely nothing to worry about, in my experience.”

CYPRUS In Cyprus, the situation is not dissimilar to Germany. The process begins with a visit to the medical centre where a midwife will be appointed. Hospital care in Cyprus is provided by the Polyclinic in Limassol but it is worth noting that no home or water births are available. Rebecca Whitting, who went into labour at the 1 Lancs Officers’ Mess Christmas function, explained: “Lots of information can be obtained from the medical centre and midwives where you are based.” Rebecca’s biggest piece of advice to prospective parents is that it is important to get facts rather than other people’s experiences. She said: "There will always be horror stories and people willing to tell them!”

Rebecca Whitting

DO YOUR RESEARCH It is imperative that expectant mothers research the confinement policy and provision for the specific location, plan ahead, consider

the impact on the whole family and be prepared to have a different cultural experience. Returning to the UK may have cost implications for you and your family in

terms of travel and loss of allowances. It’s important to find out the process and procedures specific to your location before making any decisions. You or your soldier should

Families in Brunei told us there are midwives in the Medical Reception Station (MRS) in Tuker Lines, Seria, but the customer care in local hospitals is not equivalent to UK. AFF received glowing reports from families about the midwives from MRS, but less-flattering tales of the bedside manner of staff at KB hospital. Cultural differences and the lack of choice can cause issues, but one wife who elected to give birth at RIPAS hospital, said: “I had a very positive experience as the hospital was a modern facility and more in line with UK practice.” AFF’s Brunei Co-ordinator is there to help with any issues –

CANADA In Canada, pregnancy will be confirmed by a GP at BATUS medical centre and you will be referred to the maternity unit of the nearby Medicine Hat Hospital for all further care. There’s no community midwifery service but the SSAFA health visitor makes home visits to provide local information. Army spouse Elizabeth Dolan was very happy with the care she received when her daughter Charlotte was born: “I would highly recommend Medicine Hat Hospital. The staff were amazing on the delivery ward.”

EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT (see for a list of locations)

If you’re living in any of the areas that come under the EJSU, care is provided depending on location. Those that fall under the SSAFA Limited Liability Partnership are looked after by a SSAFA health visitor and locations under the Healix umbrella are covered by local support facilities. Care provision can differ greatly so consult the EJSU section of the website to find out more about your specific location or contact AFF’s EJSU Co-ordinator at

speak to your Regimental Admin Office, Unit Welfare Officer or Medical Officer for more details to check whether your family’s needs can be supported overseas.

SEEKING HELP If you have concerns about starting or expanding your family overseas, contact Karen Ross, AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist, at summer winter 2015 2017 Army&You 35 25


FROM THE TOP Army&You gave you the chance to submit your questions for our exclusive interview with Maj Gen Rob Nitsch, Director of Army Personnel, who has overall responsibility for the wellbeing of soldiers and their families. We were overwhelmed by your response and some clear themes emerged – a big thank you to all of you who took part. Here’s what he had to say…

26 Army&You summer 2017


SPOTLIGHT Families have raised concerns over lack of flexibility for their soldier to support family life. What is the Army doing about it? The Army values family life and we recognise that a supportive family is a significant influence on how service in the Army is perceived. The nature of military service means that it is not always possible to prioritise family requirements above those of the Army, although we always seek to do so in extremis, for example bringing personnel home as quickly as possible from operations if a close relative is very ill. But when the needs of the Service are not so paramount, I would hope that we are being flexible, for example enabling parents to drop children at school where it is practical. My personal experience is that these small accommodations are more than repaid by those in receipt of them. I would strongly encourage personnel to explore the possibilities with their chain of command as needed. From a policy perspective, there are two initiatives that will help flexibility; Flexible Working, which is being trialled now, and the Flexible Engagement System, which we hope to introduce in 2019. This will change current employment arrangements so that regular personnel will be able to lower their commitment and reserve personnel can increase theirs should they wish to.

One of the main barriers to spousal employment is childcare. Does the Army recognise this and what measures is it putting in place to offer support? As a parent myself, I absolutely recognise that access to childcare is highly significant, both for those spouses

wishing to work and also more widely. There are places where childcare provision is on-site, but I recognise that this tends to be the exception not the rule and that in other places, including overseas, access to childcare is a challenge. In recognition of the importance of the issue, we have made it a target area this year. Whilst it would be unrealistic to promise immediate progress, I hope that our efforts will lead to sustained progress over time. We will involve AFF in our work.

Many families have told us that they feel worse off because of all the changes in the last few years. Are you concerned that if families’ accommodation is no longer part of the package under the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), the ‘offer’ may diminish further? We absolutely get the impact of the ‘offer’ on morale, retention, recruitment and a general sense of fairness. From the very top down, the Army is committed to seeking appropriate pay, allowances and conditions of service. But, I recognise that elements of the offer have been difficult to sustain at previous levels. In part this has been the result of tighter economic circumstances, but it is also important that we adapt and modernise the offer over time if it is to remain relevant and reflect changes in wider society. Whilst aspects of the offer are undeniably less generous than they were, there have been some improvements such as overseas school children visits. Recent work has also confirmed that aspects of the offer continue to compare favourably with civilian comparators, for example incremental pay. At times, the detail of the offer is not well understood, so we have circulated the analysis through the chain of

“Depending on the model that emerges, we understand that we will need to revisit our welfare practices and provision to ensure they are fit for purpose.” command and encouraged wider discussion of it. On FAM specifically, and as someone who has lived in quarters nearly all my career, I understand many families’ preference for Service accommodation. But similarly, the current SFA arrangements do not meet the needs of everyone. There is a risk that FAM could further diminish the offer but this is something that the Army is working on with the MOD. FAM is still in the design phase and presently there are a range of proposals being considered. We will be looking to ensure that FAM does not degrade operational effectiveness or lead to greater dissatisfaction and intend that FAM should improve retention through offering more choice to personnel.

local variations in rental costs.

One of the most common issues around FAM is the potential change from a rank-based to needsbased policy. How will you ensure you retain your soldiers under this proposal? Whilst we await the detail of FAM, it is difficult to ascertain the impact of any changes. But taking up the point on retention, the Army is very focused on how length of service is recognised in the whole Armed Forces People Programme, of which FAM is a part. We would like people to serve for longer and we understand that the offer can be very influential in this decision.

Families questioned how the current rental market can support an influx of Army families in terms of availability, cost and suitability. What are your areas of consideration?

There is a general concern that in the future, families could be spread over a wider geographical area. How is the Army going to ensure that families have a welfare team to support them when they need it?

As part of the FAM initiative, there has been detailed analysis of the rental market, including availability, cost and the impact of more Service families into local markets. We will scrutinise this analysis and intend to ensure that it’s a fair and reasonable assessment of the situation. From the Army’s perspective, we are pressing to ensure that all options are considered as part of FAM, including the retention of SFA. The options recognise that the local rental market will not support the Service community in some locations and that, should we choose to use the rental market, we must protect personnel from

The welfare support the Army provides is a critical enabler and it is something that we work hard at doing well – I certainly appreciate the work of all those who are employed in this area and recognise that it can be hugely difficult work at times. There are no plans to reduce the number of personnel working in the welfare area under FAM. Depending on the model that emerges, we understand that we will need to revisit our welfare practices and provision to ensure that they are fit for purpose. We will consult with AFF and other stakeholders to ensure that we get any changes right. & summer 2017 Army&You 27


Powering up AFF has teamed up with workforce expert Manpower to give Army families in the Salisbury Plain area the chance to access free-of-charge employability advice and support. We attended one of the sessions to find out more…


POUSES in Bulford have been taking advantage of a range of support including CV advice, interview techniques and how to approach the job market, as well as gaining access to live job opportunities. The informal, family-friendly sessions were available during regular coffee mornings. One Army spouse, Wendy Evans (pictured above), has already found work with a little help from Rhys O’Leary, one of the Manpower consultants. Wendy had been a stay-at-home mum for

more than ten years and felt the time was right to find something for her. Rhys suggested some tweaks to her CV and encouraged her to give it to her prospective employer in person to show that she really wanted the job. “He just gave me that little bit of a shove that I needed to say: ‘actually, I can do this!’” said Wendy. Laura Lewin, AFF’s Employment and Training Specialist, explained why AFF went into the partnership: “We wanted to provide support to enable family members to become employment ready. “We’ve collaborated with Manpower to ensure that we addressed barriers spouses often tell us about such as access to local provisions and childcare.”

EMPLOYMENT INSPIRATION Sarah, an Army spouse and jobseeker, gave us her reasons for attending: “I have found in the past that some companies are not supportive with my spouse being in the military. However, coming along has been beneficial in getting my CV up-to-date – a lot has changed since I did my last one. “Having the support from Andy [from

Manpower] has been fantastic. He is very knowledgeable and easy to talk to. I’ve also received support to do online courses, which I can do from home. “Laura and all the other staff made me feel at ease as I was slightly nervous at the first session. “I’d encourage anyone to come along even just if it’s for an informal chat – you can even bring your children with you. They are very welcoming, supportive and nonjudgemental. You have nothing to lose.” Rhys agreed: “Entering the workforce again or for the first time can be daunting. “We’re really pleased to be able to use our years of experience to support military families. “We know people will have different questions and concerns and that’s why we’ve been offering support, coaching and practical advice as well as discussing live job opportunities. We hope to do more of these workshops moving forward.”

WHAT NEXT? Feedback has been positive with numerous spouses telling us that they have gained new skills and confidence. AFF hopes to continue the sessions in the Salisbury Plain area and roll out to further locations in the future. & summer 2017 Army&You 29


CREATED FOR KEEPS Rachel Day and Merry Whitaker are friends, mothers and former serving soldiers who are married to military personnel. Their company, LoveKeepCreate (lovekeepcreate., began as a kitchen table business and has grown into a successful venture that’s just received investment from Deborah Meaden on TV’s Dragon’s Den. We caught up with Merry to find out more…

WIN Army&You is giving away a LoveKeepCreate

keepsake animal plus embroidery and postage, worth £69.50. See page three for details on how to enter or go to

30 Army&You summer 2017


OVEKEEPCREATE, which makes bespoke keepsake items out of baby’s clothes, was born when Rachel’s husband was in Afghanistan and she wanted to send him something to keep his new-born son close. She decided to make his babygrows into a patchwork blanket. Rachel put a picture on Facebook and all her friends and family loved it. She soon had requests flooding in and demand was still going strong 18 months later, but she was struggling to keep up whilst managing the administration work.

JUGGLING ACT It was in January 2013, over a glass or two of wine in Rachel’s quarter, that the pair brainstormed ideas and Merry bought into the business as a partner. “With me in Germany and Rachel in Nottingham, we launched,” explained Merry. “We had four children aged three and under between us. “It was extremely tough trying to manage with deployed fathers, frequent moves and operating a business out of our spare rooms.” It wasn’t until Merry and Rachel got a workshop in Devon and staff to help out that they applied for Dragon’s Den in October 2015. They impressed entrepreneur Deborah Meaden (pictured below) enough to secure a £50,000 investment, enabling them to grow their business further now

that both their soldiers have left the Army.

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE Clothes can have such strong emotional connections to both people and places. In Army families, Merry and Rachel have a captive audience and they’ve received fantastic feedback. “They are so pleased to know that there is a way of using the clothes they can’t bear to part with,” said Merry. “They tell us how much it helps them to feel connected during absences. “I have a keepsake dragon made from some little shirts my son wore in Cyprus. They were all sun bleached, but every time I look at that dragon it reminds me of that lovely posting.” LoveKeepCreate also makes keepsakes from adult clothing, such as uniforms, as Merry explained: “People like to have them made for their soldier when they leave the Army as a memento of such a big part of their lives.” Merry’s advice for any Army spouse or partner starting a company is to be realistic. “Running your own business to fit around family is great, especially if it’s something that you can do wherever you’re based, but it can take a long time for any money to start coming in and it’s extremely hard work,” she advised. “I think it’s like building a house – everything is harder and takes longer than you think!” &


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

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

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


If you go down to the woods today... Army&You and Reading Force, the national shared reading charity for Armed Forces families, have teamed up for our popular Book Club, where young readers review the latest children’s releases. This edition, three Service youngsters have been reading Vicky and the Magic Wood, by former RAF airman Mike Clegg...

Supporting Army Widows The Army Widows’ Association was formed by Army Widows for Army Widows

We help by:

Contact us for more information: 0300 666 0136

Offering support and friendship


Funding professional counselling

Engaging with the MoD

We are proud to be working in association with Cobseo The Confederation of Service Charities © Army Widows' Association 2017. Registered Charity No. 1127921




“Bored during the holidays, 11-year-old Vicky Pootle goes for a stroll in a mysterious wood. Never in her wildest dreams does she imagine that she will meet a ‘tatterdemalion’, become friends with the king of the elves and cross paths with an evil witch planning to take over Elfinia! I really enjoyed this book. It is suitable for readers age eightand-up who enjoy adventure stories.”

“This book is really great and has a very interesting storyline. What I enjoyed the most about this book is how adventurous it is – it makes you feel like you are on the adventure with Vicky.”

“I absolutely loved this book. It took me to a place full of wonders and adventure. Vicky was the main character and she found out she was a halfling – half-elf, half-human. She fought through lots of dangers to get to the witches’ castle and helped lots of endangered species, dragons and mystical creatures to safety. Thank you for encouraging me to read it.”

Contains images from AWA and Sam Wildridge Fine Art photgraphy copyright protected.

That’s my

dream job! Join for JUST £38


deployments and

or register online at


You’ll receive a free

and sell award-winning children’s books with a flexible business opportunity that fits around your family

It’s free to take part

book and scrapbook to

in Reading Force,

fill with your thoughts,

To find out more about this opportunity or to make a purchase, If you would like to find out more contact Usborne Books at Home Team Leader Maria Caraman:

where families share

letters, drawings and

a book and talk about

photographs. It's a fun

it, together at home or

way to keep connected.

Facebook: Website: Mobile: 07447 924121

32 Army&You summer 2017

over Skype or FaceTime if separated due to

Take part via your children’s school, HIVE,

If your children would like to review books for Book Club, email hattie@ with their names and ages @ArmyandYou

Vicky and the Magic Wood is available now, priced £7.99.

Signposting to financial information


#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories

Nicola Kellock and her husband Chris tell us about life as an Army family of eight…


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

Chris, who is the padre to 1 RRF, and I have been together for ten years. We have six children – five boys, one girl – two dogs and a cat, all in SFA on the patch. I guess you could say life is fairly busy! We have been stationed in Colchester and are currently in Tidworth, soon to be on the move again. Although our time in the Army has been relatively short, Service life is not new to us so we have a good understanding

of how tough and rewarding it can be. The best part is the opportunity to experience new areas with every posting and meet people who understand Army life. But the worst thing is having family and friends spread all over the UK and the world – planning to see them is like a military exercise. Living on the patch has its ups and downs as I have said farewell to many friends

over the years. But the sense of family and community is important and you always meet up on another posting. I’ve had Forces friends for 20 years! I work part-time which makes life a little easier for the family logistics. Juggling my leave, Chris’s regimental leave, boarding school holidays and Scottish holidays has been a challenge and it’s fair to say I am now an expert.

In our two-and-a-half years in Tidworth, Chris has been deployed six times including Sierra Leone, France, Brunei and Canada. Deploying to Sierra Leone at the height of the Ebola crisis was a worrying time for our family as he was working in a dangerous environment and was also away over Christmas. My one piece of advice? Always have a plan B! &

summer 2017 Army&You 33

Featuring details on downgrading CAAS and housing entitlement expertise

Dos and don’ts of downgrades In certain circumstances, you may be able to apply for a temporary downgrade of your CAAS band which determines the amount you pay for your Service Families Accommodation (SFA) or SSFA (hiring). AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder gives us the facts… When can you apply? THERE IS no downgrade for a reduction in amenities lasting seven days or less except for major refurbishment works or repairs. However, you can apply because of the following issues: l If there is a significant reduction in amenities – such as loss of heating, hot water or cooking facilities for more than seven days l Environmental disruptions – such as building works adjacent to your home which restrict access to the house or significantly affect living conditions due to noise or dust l If there is a permanent or intermittent failure of water or sewerage by the relevant authority – such as the water board – which is likely to last for between 7-93 days l A reduction in amenities because of a major refurbishment or repair affecting the overall CAAS banding – for example; ✔ A kitchen/bathroom refurbishment ✔ A boiler replacement ✔ A new roof ✔ New doors and windows ✔ Any major repair which would change your current CAAS banding outcome

How much reduction will you get? DIO can authorise a temporary reduction of up to two

rental bands for the period of disruption as follows: l A two-rental band where the problem substantially reduces the current CAAS banding l A one-band reduction where there is an environmental disruption – noise or dust from a building site – which impacts on you but wouldn’t result in a change to the CAAS banding l If the issues are still ongoing after the initial 93 days, DIO will review the situation and can extend the downgrade. If the issue continues after 186 days, the property will be reassessed and re-banded l Major refurbishment or major repairs which would impact on the CAAS banding will attract a two-band reduction for the duration of the works regardless of how long they last

How do you apply? l Call

CarillionAmey on 0800 707 6000 option 3 and ask them to initiate the request for a temporary downgrade l Unit welfare staff can also request temporary downgrades either on your behalf or on behalf of an estate if there is a wider issue l For refurbishment projects, CA should be contacting DIO directly about downgrades but if your soldier sees no change in their pay statement once the project starts, then you’ll need to contact CA or ask your welfare team. &

Still unsure? Contact Cat at



Expanding family? Check your housing entitlement Army&You asked Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, to give us the lowdown…


FTEN families ask if they can apply for a bigger Service Families Accommodation (SFA), whether removals will be paid and if they will be entitled to Disturbance Expense. Whilst officers are currently allocated SFA based on rank, other ranks are allocated based on family size. WHAT ARE YOU ENTITLED TO? Other ranks: ● If you have one child you are entitled to a B type house (two-bed) ● If you have two or three children you are entitled to a C-type (three-bed) however, if you are pregnant with your second child and there is a shortage of three-bedroom SFA in the area, you will be expected to stay in your current

and you meet the criteria to be entitled to a larger SFA, you can apply at the four-month point of your pregnancy and will be able to move into the new SFA at the six-month point. In the case of ages, you can apply four months prior to the tenth birthday of your youngest child and move once they have turned ten.

two-bedroom property until your eldest child turns five ● If you have three children all over ten-years-old or four or more children, then you are entitled to a D-type (four-bed).

based on rank however, if you have three children all over ten or if you have four children and are in a type V (three-bedroom SFA) you’ll be entitled to a type IV (four-bed).

Officers: ● You are entitled to housing

GROWING FAMILY? When your family size increases

WHO PAYS? If you move SFA because of a change of entitlement, this will be considered as a move for service reasons and you will be entitled to removals and Disturbance Expense – even if the move is during your current posting. If you’re not sure and need help, contact Cat by emailing &

READY TO TAKE CHARGE OF YOUR CAREER? Enhance your employment prospects beyond your military career Prepare for the next step in your career by studying a University degree while serving in the military. Our flexible online courses equip you with the skills, knowledge and support needed to develop professionally, providing you with the practical transferrable skills essential for advancement during your service and resettlement.

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summer 2017 Army&You 35


ORMER soldier Brendan West lost his leg through injuries he suffered 36 years ago. He became friends with Claire Bhela through a mutual love of photography, and they embarked on a hard-hitting project to highlight the real-life experience of amputees. “I felt privileged when Brendan asked me to help him reshoot a very dark, moody, monochrome self-portrait titled 'frustration',” said Claire. “It was one that he had taken at a very low point and you could see the visible anguish throughout it.” When their initial session was shared with the British Limbless

Ex-Servicemen Association (BLESMA) Facebook photography group, it was greeted so positively that they arranged a second shoot. Claire explained: “The theme was to focus on Brendan’s scars and movement to portray the demons and physical hurt expressions that sat behind the trauma he has suffered. “It was a very intimate session and it took a significant amount of courage for him to complete it. The shoot went well, but it was as Brendan was refitting his prosthesis that the natural images of his efforts became evident. It was those few images that made an impact

and stayed with me. “It’s so easy for us take for granted the ease we have in our lives, simply putting on our socks and shoes. "By comparison it’s a monumental effort for any amputee, not just maintaining the missing limb, but how the whole body and persona has to over-compensate and manage this disability.” Through his work, hobbies, and membership of the BLESMA, Brendan inspires and supports others who suffer from life-changing disabilities. To find out more about BLESMA, visit &


Creative stress-busting

Service spouse Emma Lambert shares her crafty way to relax...


HIRTEEN years as an Army spouse has meant two children, five moves, three SFA, a change of career and a small business to boot. Maintaining my hobbies is key to managing stress levels and giving me a reason to relax. I’ve never been one for just sitting. I like to keep busy and to create, so upcycling furniture, drawing and general crafts are things I always have on the go – although I admit to having a lot of unfinished projects! For me, the escape is about the process rather than the result.

CRAFTING FRIENDSHIPS Crafting has been great for getting out and meeting others. I had always wanted to make a memory quilt with my

36 Army&You summer 2017

boys’ old clothes, so I enrolled in a weekly craft group with my neighbour at a café near our patch. It was a great way to meet others in the wider community and my neighbour and I have since become close friends. The quilt isn’t finished but it will be at some point. I love that, as my boys grow out of clothes, they ask for items to go into it. My children love watching creations develop and they have both now learnt to knit.

SOCIAL CROCHET During our last posting, I attended another craft group where I was introduced to crochet – as well as a lovely group of like-minded spouses. We have an old VW camper and I

had been keen to make some ‘retro’ accessories. A few YouTube tutorials later and my first blanket was underway! Recently, we’ve bought our own home and I’ve already discovered lots of crafting neighbours. We’ve had our first monthly get-together and now have a regular ‘crochet and cocktails’ evening – although if cocktails are involved, it could mean yet more unfinished projects! My next plan is to convert a shed into a craft room where we can all get stuck into new projects. I have an old pallet to

Happy hobby: Emma Lambert (left) and friends use crocheting as an opportunity to get together, practise their craft and enjoy a drink or two!

turn into a coffee table and want to learn upholstery to change the seating in the campervan. &

For more from Claire, visit

Friends through a lens

Amelia, Harvard University. Tom, Oxford University. Both received Wycliffe Scholarships.

School fees fixed at CEA +10% of the school fees – there is no more to pay.* * Terms and conditions apply

Well-versed on the home front


HEN Bryony Doran's son flew to Afghanistan in October 2010, she was determined to use the time positively by cracking on with her second novel. The mission began well, but by January Bryony found herself lacking the mental strength to continue writing. Rather than putting her pen down, she decided to swap chapters for verse and try her hand at poetry. Bryony found that inspiration for her new genre would strike at the strangest times – including one day when the postman knocked while she was frying onions in her dressing gown, leaving her imagining what would have happened if it had been the Army at the door. That experience served as the basis for her poem Dressing Gown and revealed the mental benefits of her new passion. “Writing poetry became the only time I could rid myself of

the awful numbness I felt," she explained. "They were beautiful moments where I seemed suspended in time.” Bryony's poems are published in Home Front alongside verses from three other military women who all share similar experiences. All of the quartet were experienced writers, so poetry became a natural outlet for their feelings and a good way to express their emotions. Bryony added: "We had become part of a modern day myth, and maybe that is why we needed our voices to be heard. “I hope when Army families read our poetry they will find comfort in the understanding that they are not alone. I would encourage anyone to write and to not be afraid of it. Writing can be a great solace, a way to meet new friends and to share.”


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Army&You has three copies of Home Front, published by Bloodaxe, to give away. Turn to page three for details on how to enter.

Nurturing Potential Co-educational from 2-18

Call 01935 423514 or email The Park School, Yeovil, Somerset, BA20 1DH summer 2017 Army&You 37

an 2017)_Layout 1 11/05/2017 12:25 Page 1

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Meet Senior staff and pupils and tour the school as you see Christ College at its best. School transport service to Heathrow with stop-offs along M4 corridor at Exeats and School holidays. Current Forces parents offer a buddy scheme offering advice on choosing a school for your child. Many years experience of educating and nurturing Forces children. A close community where everyone counts and warmth and support purvey.

Independent Day and Boarding Education for Boys and Girls aged 7 – 18

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38 Army&You summer 2017



Military-minded: Wavell School’s 2016 Camo Day helped raise funds for SSAFA and the Nepal Earthquake Fund

School report

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

We have a wellbeing centre for Service children. We employ two pastoral mentors and have a large SEN and pastoral team to support students.

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

ool Name of sch

The Wavell School Farnborough

Number of s Service pupil

161 out of 958

Are there any military links?

Are there any special projects involving Service children?


A military club runs once a week and we have a breakfast club running twice a week, enhancing a feeling of belonging. The touring theatre group An Invisible Man visited us and performed the excellent Wherever Home Is. Military students were able to share their experiences with non-military students and this work will be used to continue the ethos in our PSHE programme for the whole school.

Yes, with the local garrison. Our head teacher is a member of the

national committee, Service Children in State Schools (SCISS) and the school is the southern regional hub school in the support of Forces families.

We are currently developing a sensory garden and have a gardening club with the military students. We run university visits for students regularly throughout the year and there’s leadership training for Army cadets at school events. On Camo Day we work with the local cadets and community.

What do the kids say?

One pupil told us: “The military drop-in is very friendly and you get to know others in the Army too.” And another added: “You are around other people who are in the military, so you can talk about when they are going away without getting sad.” &

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

summer 2017 Army&You 39


Girls 3 - 18

A life-changing education is closer than you think. PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £900 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2017/18. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

LEADING THE WAY Allow us to introduce Mr Mortimer, our Headmaster. His passion for education is only matched by his love of sport – a keen rower, he’s twice rowed the Atlantic. At Warminster we don’t only choose the best teachers to educate our pupils – we choose the most interesting ones. From Special Constables to mountaineers, our diverse interests and passions spur us on to do things a little differently. 01985 210160

40 Army&You summer 2017



Cross-country curriculum Another posting, another school. At best it helps build resilience and independence, but it can be a challenge, especially if your family is moving between devolved regions – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. AFF Education Specialist Lucy Scott tells us more...


DUCATION is a ‘devolved power’ which means each country within the UK can set its own rules for both primary and secondary schooling. There are many variations including term times, class age groups, the curriculum and funding, which can be confusing for Army families. As part of AFF’s work, we’re looking at how Service children are supported. We want policy makers to better understand the impact that moving from one devolved area to another can have on your child. I bring your enquiries to the

attention of policy makers through regular meetings with the MOD, local authorities, the Armed Forces Covenant team and other organisations to help raise awareness of issues. Our website – – is frequently updated to reflect your questions, so look out for updates.

children face are recognised and accounted for. It enables us to gather evidence to push for policy changes. For example, school admissions, including across borders, is a top reason for families getting in touch, and we have brought this to the attention of MPs.



Your voice is important in ensuring that the unique circumstances that Service

This year’s AFF Scotland survey and roadshow highlighted your concerns

about your child’s date of birth affecting school year places and more than half of you were worried about curriculum differences. We pulled together this evidence in a report which is now with the Scottish Government and we await a response. Whatever your issue, you should be able to find the right help for your children’s needs and we will continue to work on your behalf to help smooth the transition between devolved areas. & Turn the page to read families’ experiences crossing borders…

Sparkling WITH



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summer 2017 Army&You 41

On the move

Army families have been giving us their views on the impact moving between devolved areas has had on their children. Here’s what they had to say… SCOTLAND TO NORTHERN IRELAND Mum Rose, and daughters Keziah (P4) and Tamara (P3) BIGGEST WORRY The age that children start school.

THE REALITY Keziah was put in P2 because of her birthday, therefore missing P1. She had never done phonics which her peers were already doing. I raised the issue and it was only when I proposed moving schools that the teachers took it


seriously. Now, Keziah has more friends, is more confident and has caught up. Tamara was two weeks shy of starting P1 however, I was confident that she could handle it instead of another year in nursery. The principal was really supportive.

Mum Joanne and son Stanton (P5) BIGGEST WORRY Moving my son into a school miles from home with no other military children.


MY TOP TIP You know your child – you know if they can handle it or not. I would rather move

them one class down – there’s no point a child struggling to catch up.

The move from St Athan to Edinburgh was complex. I knew the school wasn’t right for him, so I visited four others and explained – at times emotionally – and three of them offered Stanton a place. His new school let him start the next day and even provided a temporary uniform. He was the only military child and they made a fuss of him, so he integrated really well.

MY TOP TIP: We often accept what is thrown at us, but when it affects our children we become more protective. Moving him was the right decision.

42 Army&You summer 2017




SCOTLAND TO ENGLAND Mum Nicola and children Tom (year ten), Harry (year seven) and Rebekah (reception)

What else you need to know...

BIGGEST WORRY: Moving during GSCE years.

IN ENGLAND… l Children must be in education,

THE REALITY: Scotland has different exams and Tom was about to start his final year. No state school in England would put him back a year and he would need to catch up in his own time, so both boys ended up at boarding school. The pastoral support was excellent. Rebekah didn’t get a reception place until six weeks into the term, so she went to a private nursery where she was the eldest. She took a while to settle.

MY TOP TIP: Do your research, especially around GCSE and A-level years as the curriculum is very different. Get as much help as you can and find out if your child is entitled to any support.

BIGGEST WORRY Both schools in NI were much bigger.

THE REALITY It helped that Imogen joined at the start of the school year and, as the three classes in the year group change each year, it meant that new friendships were made – an unanticipated advantage of a large school. It’s turned out to have lots of positives.

The starting date for primary school.


THE REALITY: There are classroom assistants to help out and I feel there are more opportunities. There is a big emphasis from P5 onwards on the AQE (11+) too.

MY TOP TIP There was lots of info and support as it was a unit move, but if you’re moving individually, contact the school, HIVE or the AWS CESO (RCAWS-N-Lisburn-CESO@

IF YOU are moving from a devolved region with school-aged children, take a look at our handy education comparison table on the AFF website ( to see clearly

IN SCOTLAND… l Children study towards a


Mum Jennie, dad James and son Joshua

Mum Anna and children Imogen (P5), Erin (P3) and George (P2)


different exam system l Classes are labelled differently, but your child will be placed in a year group with children of a similar age l Autumn term starts in August l See the DCYP education in Scotland booklet (




employment and/or training until they are 18 l MOD schools overseas follow the English curriculum l Schools can claim £300 per Service child to provide extra support under the Service Pupil Premium

Joshua went from FS2 in Germany (reception) back to nursery in Scotland. He wasn’t unhappy but he was bored and not being challenged. Many of his friends who were only a few weeks older were able to go to school. When our move to England was put back, we applied to move early to get Joshua into school. It meant that he had seven weeks in reception to make friends and get ready to move to year one.

MY TOP TIP: The education system in Scotland is very different. Do your research and ask for help.

which school year your child will be in, or contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) on 01980 618244. Don’t forget to ask your school if they can use the

Pupil Information Profile to help ease your transition; this has been created specifically for Service children moving schools. If you have any queries email Lucy at

IN WALES… l School years are the same as

in England but children can leave school at 16 l The Welsh language is part of life in primary school. Your youngster can get extra support l You can find a useful toolkit for parents and schools at Visit IN NORTHERN IRELAND… l The school day is shorter;

children in P1-P3 finish at 2pm Some schools do not have a February or May half-term – maybe just a day l All schools finish at the end of June and have a nine-week summer holiday l There’s a dedicated Children’s Education Support Officer who can help with all education issues. Email AWS-N-Lisburn-CESO@ Visit summer 2017 Army&You 43

Exceptional hammock made by Albie (age 16).

CHAFYN GROVE Excellent Co-educational Day & Boarding School from 3-13

Encouraged to flourish

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Chafyn Grove, Bourne Avenue, Salisbury, Wiltshire SP1 1LR

Co-educational state boarding and day school for students aged 11-18

“Quality of care and support is outstanding. ” Boarding Ofsted 2015 The Wellington Academy is a unique, state of the art modern co-educational state boarding school for students aged 11-18, set in a 22-acre community campus in Tidworth, Wiltshire. The award winning design reflects the surrounding countryside, with stunning open and light filled spaces. • Outstanding results - 57% A*-C grades at A Level • Top University places - 70% of all 6th Form students progressed to universities • Sports centre, gymnasium, fitness suite, floodlit all weather 3G sports pitch, football, rugby and cricket pitches • Offsite engineering and manufacturing centre • Stand-alone CCF centre with its own indoor firing range

“The Academy is a multi-cultural and inclusive environment, where young people’s individuality is celebrated and equality of opportunity is promoted. ” Boarding Ofsted 2015 Contact: or call 01264 405060 to arrange a visit.

44 Army&You summer 2017

wellington college Sponsor of w e l l i n g to n c o l l e g e ac a d e m y t ru s t

‘If anyone is going to bring out what your child is good at, Port Regis will.’ GOOD SCHOOLS GUIDE

A co-educational, day and boarding school from 3 -13

A first class education in the Dorset countryside

Port Regis has a full pastoral and academic structure in place to support military families t. 01747 857914 | | e. @PortRegisSchool |



Enjoyable education: Pupils at Chafyn Grove School include trips to Cornwall, acting in school plays and writing stories among their first-year highlights

END-OF-YEAR REPORT As the latest academic year draws to a close, pupils – and staff – share their secrets on successfully settling in their new surroundings...


OR children up and down the country, the first year at a new school can be one of the most daunting prospects of their young lives. From forging friendships and studying different subjects to settling in to strange surroundings, a host of challenges awaits each youngster as they continue their educational evolution. But as big a step as a change in school may be – even for the adaptable offspring of Service parents – Britain’s boarding schools are past masters in providing the ideal environment for a stable transition.

SETTLING IN A positive frame of mind allowed new pupil Charlotte to quickly find her feet at The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS) in Dover. The year seven student admitted that while living in a dorm with girls with different interests and personalities was a challenge, it has ultimately helped her to thrive. “We’re all different and coping with those differences

has been hard at times, but it has opened my mind to other people’s opinions and made me more of an understanding person,” she said. “I think that the ups and downs of boarding life help you to move forwards and grow as a person, so the challenges that it brings are definitely worth it. “I’ve enjoyed meeting new people from different places – it’s introduced me to a wider world of things and I’ve made loads of loyal Dukie friends.” The value of close classmates and supportive staff is also appreciated by Zeynep and Marta, who are in years 11 and 12 at Shropshire’s Adcote School. “The first months were quite hard because I tried to get used to the new environment and lifestyle,” explained Zeynep. “Then, thanks to my friends, family and teachers, I am really comfortable here.” Marta added: “My first year here has been really fun – I’ve met a lot of very nice people, tried new activities and learnt a lot of good things.” The need to form strong relationships is especially ›› summer 2017 Army&You 45

“A lovely place to study” GOOD SCHOOLS GUIDE 2016


B oarding

27/04/2017 10:56


H azlegrove

A community where your child can really belong, where they can grow in confidence and self-esteem and make lifelong friendships... Evenings and weekends are packed with activities and fun - there is always something going on for the children to enjoy in the company of their friends! Pastoral care is excellent with more than 30 adults resident on site looking after nearly 100 boarders.

...making the most of childhood Visitors are always welcome. Just come along, with or without your children, to one of our many open mornings or call to make an appointment. We look forward to meeting you! For more information call Sarah-Jane on 01963 442606 46 Army&You summer 2017

Hazlegrove, Sparkford BA22 7JA @ArmyandYou

EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL important for boarding pupils who are living away from family members, some for the very first time. Ozo found herself in this boat, but the welcoming atmosphere at Reigate’s prestigious Royal Alexandra and Albert School (RAAS) soon put her anxieties to rest. She told us: “I’ve been enjoying my first year a lot. I think it’s because I really like my boarding house. “On my first day, I was nervous and afraid, but there were people to help me. Now, every time I walk into my house the smell makes me feel happy and safe. I love that I’m part of a bigger family. “The best part of boarding is being with friends. There is always something to talk about, always someone to talk with and always someone who is fun and entertaining.” With year after year of children negotiating similar journeys into new schools, Cambridge’s The Leys harnesses the experiences of older students for the benefit of those following in their footsteps. The co-educational boarding and day school runs a big sister/ little sister programme which pairs pupils from the same boarding house but who are in

“Millie has found it useful as it matches her with a sixth former who provides a supporting role.” – Charlotte, The Leys – different year groups. The system has worked well for Millie, a year nine pupil, and her “big sister” Charlotte, with the Dale House duo developing a close friendship. Charlotte said: “Millie has found it useful as it matches her with a sixth former who provides a supporting role; someone with experience who can help with any small problem or is just there for a general chat. “Millie and I have coffee dates at our school cafe, Balgarnie’s, to talk about life at the school. At first we discussed how

she was settling into her new environment, but more importantly life – or gossip – in the year nine dorm!”

KEEPING BUSY Charles, who is from a military family, managed his move to North Dorset’s Port Regis School by throwing himself into the wealth of extra-curricular activities on offer. Already at home thanks to being around some of the school’s other Service children, the 11-year-old sampled sports including squash, cricket and fencing; took part in lectures

and debates; played musical instruments and even tried his hand at computer coding during a busy first year. He said: “It has been really enjoyable – it is my first experience of boarding and it has been great fun. “Settling in was the biggest challenge as it was my first time at boarding school and it was a big change from my previous schools.” The diversity of school life has allowed new pupils at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools to swiftly settle in their new surroundings. Issy (12), from Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, explained: “I have really enjoyed it. There are a lot of clubs and we have so many opportunities to try new things. “I like netball and swimming and all the lessons. I’d never done home economics before coming here.” Fellow student Leah (12) has filled her time with netball and art, while Monmouth School student Sam (11) has enjoyed the opportunity to play cricket in the evenings. Sport and being in the great outdoors are also common themes at Farleigh School, near Andover. Year three boarders Jemima and Henry both ››

“It’s been really good and lots of fun!” – Jemima and Henry, Farleigh School –

summer 2017 Army&You 47

admitted to loving playing in the nearby woods, with Jemima also learning the rules of hockey, rounders and netball. Ellen, whose dad is serving in Germany, is another highlyactive youngster. Her first year at Christ College Brecon has been filled with swimming, netball and rounders as well as additional opportunities laid on by the school. “I like the activities we do as boarders and the excursions,” she said. “My favourites were go-karting [and trips to] the trampoline park and leisure centre.” Forces-friendly Queen Victoria School, based in Dunblane, ensures pupils are never at a loose end by providing a stellar set of out-of-classroom activities. One year seven pupil enthused about the “interesting and fun” nature of their introduction to life at the Scottish school, singling out highlights

“If you’re a boarder, do all the activities you can. It’s really fun and the best thing to do to make new friends and not exclude yourself.” – Ellen, Christ College Brecon – including a trip to a laser game centre in Falkirk and the chance to try knitting, hockey, rugby and even bread making. The same is true for students at Salisbury’s Chafyn Grove,

who provided an equally diverse set of memorable moments from their first year at the school. A trip to Cornwall’s Eden Project went down well with day students from year five, while one year four girl enjoyed having a role in the school play and being selected for the swimming gala. A gymnastics club, the school’s adventure playground, the opportunity to write stories and being around caring staff were also among the appreciated extras.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES Being in alien surroundings is just one of the issues facing pupils embarking on education at a new school. Ellen, from Christ College Brecon, pointed to homesickness as a “big challenge”, but the combination of being used to her military dad being away a lot and keeping busy with school life has helped her to overcome it. She added: “I like having a set place – there’s lots to do in the house and I have really good friends who are really nice to me.” Homesickness was also a short-lived issue for Sam from Monmouth School. He

48 Army&You summer 2017

explained: “The welcome was good and it helped me a lot. There’s always something going on and I really enjoy it. It’s like a home-from-home.” Living alongside others proved to be a bit of a culture shock for Charlotte, from The Leys, who put extra effort into trying not to be too dominant in group situations. She said: “Everyone should be equal in order to work efficiently together. “It takes a while to understand this and get used to everyone’s different ways of thinking, but when you do, I can assure you that you are inseparable as a year group.” Anxiety over making new friends is a common preoccupation for many children, but Henry from Farleigh School assures anyone new to a boarding school that “it doesn’t take long” to form close bonds with classmates. In the classroom, Adcote School’s Marta said that an initial adjustment to new styles of teaching is now paying dividends. She said: “The way subjects are taught is completely different to what I was used to – but it’s better!” Ensuring she was well prepared for her academic endeavours was key to Royal Alexandra and Albert School student Ozo’s enjoyment of her opening year. “When I first started, I wasn’t as organised as I should have been,” she told us. “I had to learn to write down my prep and keep on top of everything I needed to.”

SUPER STAFF Starting at a new school can be just as nervous a prospect for staff as it can for pupils, but husband-and-wife team Regan and Gail Schreiber found they fitted right in when they became head of boarding and house parent at Hazlegrove School in Somerset. Describing their opening year as “exhilarating”, Regan @ArmyandYou


“As teachers, we have witnessed a degree of professionalism, creativity, accountability and dedication that is awe-inspiring.” – Regan Schreiber, head of boarding, Hazlegrove – said he and Gail have been re-energised and had their love for teaching rekindled by the happy, flourishing pupils under their care. He added: “As teachers, we have witnessed a degree of professionalism, creativity, accountability and dedication that is awe-inspiring. “During our time here, we have felt valued and part of an amazing family of like-minded staff. Children, parents and staff all need people who are deeply committed to their roles and who are constantly reminded that all we do is for the children’s well-being.”

The close-knit community at Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools sits at the heart of the advice offered by Leah and Issy. Leah said students should “be excited about coming here because it’s like one giant family,” with Issy adding: “We would both choose to come here again if we had the choice.” Ellen from Christ College Brecon suggests taking advantage of the incredible opportunities on offer. She explained: “If you’re a boarder, do all the activities you can. I realised that it’s really fun

EXPERT ADVICE From nervous newcomers to seasoned students, each of the children we spoke to highlighted the admirable adaptability of youth. But having been through the rigours of the first year at a new school, what advice would they pass on to those that follow? A pupil at Queen Victoria School recommended forming close friendships to help out through good times and bad, with Ozo, from RAAS, also praising the power of people. She said: “Don’t be afraid – people are nice! When I got lost during my first days, people were happy to help and show me where I needed to go.”

“Don’t be afraid – people are nice!” – Ozo, Royal Alexandra and Albert School –

and the best thing to do to make new friends and not exclude yourself.” Charlotte, from DOYRMS, agreed: “There are countless opportunities open to you, so go for anything that appeals – you never know, you might find you’re really good at something you never thought about before. “Take every chance thrown your way – I promise you won’t regret a single one.” Staying “open minded” is praised as a strategy for success by Marta from Adcote School, who urged: “Enjoy every moment – take the opportunity to broaden your horizons and try new things.” And Port Regis pupil Charles said that fellow first-timers shouldn’t fret about settling in: “Be confident,” he said. “Relax and don’t get stressed about anything as there are great teachers and staff at Port Regis to help you all the way.” Whatever concerns potential pupils might have prior to starting at their new school, Charlotte, from The Leys, concluded that children should follow the wisdom of her “little sister” Millie. She said: “Her advice is simply to be yourself. It’s great to do this from the outset, as getting to know your peers, teachers and members of house staff is so useful.” n

THE DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL Dover, Kent FARLEIGH SCHOOL Andover, Wiltshire HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS Monmouth, Wales HAZLEGROVE Hazlegrove, Somerset THE LEYS Cambridge THE PARK SCHOOL Yeovil, Somerset PORT REGIS SCHOOL Shaftesbury, Dorset QUEEN VICTORIA SCHOOL Dunblane, Scotland ROYAL ALEXANDRA AND ALBERT SCHOOL Reigate, Surrey WARMINSTER SCHOOL Warminster, Wiltshire WELLINGTON ACADEMY Tidworth, Wiltshire WYCLIFFE COLLEGE Stonehouse, Gloucestershire summer 2017 Army&You 49

Smart kids Smart parents Choose a state boarding school and save more than 50% State boarding is less than half the cost of independent boarding because government pays for the education. Offering comfortable and homely boarding, top-class facilities and great academic results, state boarding schools are an attractive, affordable option for forces families. Take a closer look and see how your Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) could work harder for you and your family.

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A postcard from...

c a n a da How long have you been an Army family? Six years. Time in Canada: One year. How many other military families live in Canada? Around 164 families. The majority either live in Ralston Village or Medicine Hat but there are a handful of families living in Calgary. What's your quarter like? It's a bit of a Tardis. The houses here have the quaintest white picket fences and although they appear fairly small, they have lots of space inside and the garden is a good size. We have a huge basement with a utility area and kids' play area which serves as our family's dumping ground! Are there employment/training opportunities? They are limited but they do exist - either on camp, in the village or in the town nearby. I went through a transition of keeping my UK job by working remotely from Canada before becoming self-employed to gain flexibility. Where do Army families get together? BATUS has an incredible sense of community and families get together wherever possible. Skiing in northern Montana

is so popular with Army families here that it's often referred to as "Little Ralston". Who supports families? The welfare units, both Canadian and British, SSAFA, AFF and the base chapel all do a great job of supporting families. What's the best thing about living in Canada? The skiing opportunities! There are elements of living out here that are challenging but it just takes adjustment. The winters are cold and are unlike anything we are used to in the UK - as low as -40c! - but there's infrastructure to manage it. We all bemoan the summer exercise season, particularly those of us whose soldiers are "prairie staff" and work long hours away but the flipside is that we look after those left behind and rally together as a community. Would you recommend BATUS as a family posting? Definitely. Be prepared to make the best of it. I would rather have moved to Mars than come here at first, but one year on, having seen how we have all grown and benefitted from the opportunities, I know it has been good for us as a family.


Hannah, Mark, Joshua (2), a baby

on the way and Labrador Lily


summer 2017 Army&You 51


Case study

F&C partners Soldiers often ask AFF’s F&C team: ‘Do I have to be married to bring my partner to the UK?’ Katherine Houlston, our Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, looks at the options… IF YOU haven’t been living with your partner for the previous two years, then you have two options:

COMING TO THE UK AS A FIANCÉ(E) TO GET MARRIED AND REMAIN HERE The non-serving partner can come over on a fiancée visa which will be granted for six months but which

costs the same as a full settlement visa. You will be required to show evidence that you intend to get married during this six-month period. Once you are married your partner will then need to apply for a visa under the Armed Forces rules. Current cost for both visas is £2,457.


WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF A PARTNER? ✔ Spouse ✔ Civil partner ✔ Fiancé(e) or proposed civil partner ✔ A person who has been living together with the applicant in a relationship akin to a marriage or civil partnership for at least two years prior to the date of the application

QUICK questions F&C Assistant Jessica Harriman, answers some of your F&C queries...

AS A VISITOR FOR SIX MONTHS TO GET MARRIED This visa allows you and your non-serving partner to get married in the UK but they will need to leave the UK after six months. Once back in the home country your partner will need to apply for a settlement visa to come to the UK. Current cost for both visas is £1,553. Search for marriage visitor visa at for more information.


Can I get a refund for the health surcharge? How long will it take? Yes but unfortunately, we cannot give a timeframe for the refund. You must contact us with specific details, which we then pass onto UKVI. We cannot influence how long it will take them to process the

It’s important that you read the information at the following link gov. uk/marriages-civilpartnerships/foreignnational

WHAT IF MY PARTNER IS IN THE UK ON A DIFFERENT VISA? If your partner has a valid visa issued for more than six months, then it is possible to switch onto the Armed Forces rules. However, you must either be married or have been living together for the previous two years. &

refund. If you apply for a visa in the UK, you should not have to pay the health surcharge. Can I apply for a visa if I don’t have a valid passport? Yes. You must not let your visa expire, so even if you have sent your

Philipe Brown (pictured left) met his fiancée in America whilst deployed there last year and had been looking at the options for bringing her to the UK so they can settle down together. Due to personal circumstances, getting married in America was not an option. Philipe contacted AFF’s F&C team, who outlined the options and provided advice on coming to the UK. He said: “We have been overwhelmed with all of the legal expectations required for a US national to get married in the UK. “Often, information is ambiguous and we are very concerned that any mistakes in our application could be expensive and see much time wasted.” Need help? If you’re unsure of the process or need some support, contact AFF’s F&C team for advice –

passport off to be renewed and it hasn’t been returned, you should still apply. You should provide a covering letter with the application to explain the situation and provide alternative ID (such as a driving licence) which includes your full name, date of birth and nationality. summer 2017 Army&You 53


The Covenant and you Over the last few years, many of us will have heard the word Covenant being used in relation to the Armed Forces community. But what does it actually mean for you and your family during a posting to Wales? We take a look at the Covenant work being completed in Wales and how AFF is involved every step of the way.

LIFE IN WALES The Houghton family share their experience of a posting to Wales…

How long have you lived in Wales? We’ve had three years in Crickhowell and almost two years in St Athan. What is your quarter like? I’ve had two! Both have been the older style quarter but both spacious and with great gardens. Do you work? Yes. Since all three children started school I work part-time, around 16 hours per week. I like to contribute to the family pot of money each month.


LL local authorities in Wales are involved in supporting the Armed Forces community. AFF makes it a priority to engage with them to share first-hand knowledge and evidence of military family life and some of the issues that you face. AFF’s Wales & Borders Coordinator, Abi Wrigley, attends some of the local meetings that are held in the areas where there is a large Army footprint. She explained: “I will give updates on major UK-wide issues for Army families and smaller local specific issues if there are any.”

KEEN TO OFFER SUPPORT The Powys County Council and Covenant Partnership group are in the process of organising a community day for families

based in Brecon to highlight the Covenant work they are doing for the military in their area. Annabel Ingram, AFF’s Regional Manager North, said: “I attend the seven Regional Covenant Partnerships that cover the whole of Wales. This means whether you live on a patch or in your own home we have you covered. These meetings are held quarterly and I raise issues that are affecting families. It could be lack of school places or local connection issues for separated spouses. If you bring issues to us we can raise it on your behalf.”


AFF is part of the panel in Wales to make sure that families are represented. “Every year the Welsh Government holds a Covenant Conference in Wales that we attend,” said Annabel. “We spoke at the last conference and updated a large audience about our work and the issues you tell us about.” Annabel added: “There is a good chance you may not see the Covenant work being completed on your behalf but rest assured it is happening regularly and your input is vital for us to paint an accurate picture of family life in Wales.”

With the Covenant Grant scheme in full flow many organisations look at ways to secure funding and support different aspects of the Armed Forces community.

If you would like more information about any of the above, please contact Annabel on &

How do you feel about the schools/ childcare in the area? I chose a smaller school for my primary age children and they have both settled incredibly well. My eldest has been to two secondary schools here in Wales and both have been outstanding. His current school has a very good policy for supporting military children. Are there any places for families to get together? There are groups for parents with toddlers. The welfare team put on some great trips and activity days during the holidays. What is your take on life in Wales? I have loved my time in Wales. I honestly couldn’t imagine living anywhere else now. I think of South Wales as my home.

54 Army&You summer 2017

SPEAKING WELSH IF YOU are posted to Wales and have children of school age, they will get the chance to learn

Welsh. In primary school it is very much greetings, general words and answering the register to begin with. The older years will start answering questions and facts and use more Welsh words as

they progress. In high school, children will learn Welsh as part of their timetable and study it as a GCSE. If parents want to help their children with the language, there are often adult beginner lessons

available in libraries and community centres. Some shops may greet and thank you in Welsh, so learning a little yourself will go a long way and may help you to feel part of the community. Diolch! @ArmyandYou


HEART OF THE COMMUNITY Community Support Development Workers (CSDWs) are the people on the ground delivering activities and events to garrisons and camps across the UK. Do you know yours? Army&You caught up with Caroline Cossens, AFF’s North East Co-ordinator, to find out about CSDWs in her area… SINCE I started at AFF, I have come to know some of the CSDWs in my area and have been hugely impressed by the service that they offer the Army community to make our lives more fulfilled. They organise meet-and-greet sessions, toddler groups, youth clubs and many other things besides. Alanbrooke Barracks in Topcliffe is, like several camps in the north east, quite isolated and lacks basic amenities like a pint of milk within walking distance. For the last few years, the CSDW has been working with Thirsk Rural Arts to deliver the Stitched Together Project. “I was being asked what was available for adults,” said CSDW Donna Poynton. “At a meeting, I met someone from Thirsk Rural Arts and the idea grew.” Between eight-and-12 spouses now come every week for sessions led by an artist who has taught everything from patchwork to lampshade making and embroidery.

The course is also running in Dishforth and Catterick.

Great feedback Leigh, from Dishforth, said: “I look forward to every session. It’s the highlight of my week.” Anne-Charlotte, who had never sewed before, agreed: “I didn’t think I would do more than one or two sessions before giving up but that was nearly a year ago, and I’m still coming! “I now have a machine at home too. Donna puts a lot of effort into organising things, so it’s great to support her and a fantastic way to make friends.” Dana added: “The childcare is a bonus and makes it possible for many of us to attend. I’ve made good friends.”

which hasn’t had any community support for two years. She’s been canvassing families’ views on what’s needed. “The main answer seems to be events for the whole community,” she said. “We have many Gurkha families in Fulford and it would be wonderful to celebrate their traditions. “There’s also a need for under-fives provision and weekend activities. I’ve got limited resources so I want to get everyone involved in fundraising to improve that.” “It’s hugely beneficial to the volunteers who get involved,” she explained. “Two spouses recently gained their basic expedition leaders award, so they’re now able to deliver the scheme elsewhere. “Both are now using it in their next posting.”

Get involved Volunteers form a vital role in what the CSDWs can provide. Vicky Semons is an Army spouse and mother-of five-who is passionate about volunteering: “AWS has given me full training which includes safeguarding and first aid, useful things in daily life and skills for the future. “I’ve helped run coffee mornings, youth clubs and now in Catterick I’m helping our CSDW at an after-school club for six-to-11 year olds. It’s vital for Army children to feel they are part of a community.” Check local Facebook groups and your HIVE for more about activities or volunteering with AWS or contact Caroline at &

Tight budgets CSDWs in the UK are working with limited resources and provision is more established in some areas than others. In York, Lynette Nelson has taken up the CSDW post at Fulford,

“I didn’t think I would do more than one or two sessions before giving up but that was nearly a year ago, and I’m still coming!” – Stitched Together participant Anne-Charlotte summer 2017 Army&You 55

Your military career and television programmes have required extended periods away from loved ones. How have you and your family managed the separation? It comes down to trust. My wife trusts me not to put myself in danger and I trust that she has full control of the home and family whilst I’m away. My wife was already used to me being away with the military before the TV work started. She’s a very headstrong person and I am lucky because it takes a certain type of woman to understand that I have to be away for so long. She literally is a super mum – she just gets on with it. She coped when I was away with the Forces and she copes when I am away filming. She was pregnant for the duration of Mutiny being filmed. I had absolutely no communication with home and she was fine with that! I made it home just in time for the birth of my son, Bligh. I am extremely lucky that I have found someone like that. We know each other inside out, we respect that, trust each other in what we do and respect what needs to be done for our family.

How much does having a family and being a father inspire you? They are my inspiration – I do it all for them. I want to give my family everything that I didn’t have. If I didn’t have my wife and children, I probably would have taken an easier option. I want to inspire my children and let them know that if they put their minds to it, anything is possible. If you get your head down and work hard you can achieve great things. My wife pushes me to be the best I can be and when I look at my children, I want to not only be an inspiration to them but to let them know they can achieve anything. I don’t want them just to struggle on


Family guy He’s best known as the rugged, all-action star of Mutiny and SAS: Who Dares Wins, but Army veteran Ant Middleton tells Army&You that he’s equally as proud of his starring roles as a doting dad and loving husband...

through life, I want them to work hard and believe in themselves and achieve great things. If I didn’t have my wife and kids I wouldn’t be doing the things I am now, they are my anchors and my motivation. They never put worry on me when I’m away, so if it wasn’t for them then I certainly wouldn’t be where I am today.

our families whilst we are serving as they put a roof over our heads and there is always a welfare officer that the wives, husbands and families can use. There is good stuff in place for sure and it is also great how the different families stick together and look after one another whilst their loved ones are away.

How did the military help you and your family when you deployed?

When you were away, did you try to keep in regular contact with home?

There is a family community in the military. They hold meetings every now and then to let families know as much as they can about what’s going on. The military looks after

I used to call every couple of weeks, [but] it really depended on how I felt. I obviously wanted to catch up with the kids, but I never wanted them to worry and Emilie didn’t want me to worry about her either. Some people get a lot of comfort out of calling their family, but I liked to keep my head down and focus on what I had to do so didn’t contact home very much. It sounds selfish, but it saved us all a lot of worry. We would reap the benefits of being a family when I got home and we were all together.

“I want to give my family everything that I didn’t have. If I didn’t have my wife and children, I probably would have taken an easier option.” 56 Army&You summer 2017

Forces focus: Ant in his Army days (far right) and serving as an ambassador for Forces Cars Direct (above right, see forcescarsdirect. com for more)



“I’m not Superman, I’m just lucky that I have a mindset that’s full of positivity and I use it to my advantage.” How difficult was it to adjust from operational deployments to living a normal family life? I was very lucky that I never found it a problem. I managed to operate as if I had two heads. I would have my Army operational head on and that would be quite non-emotional, notthere-to-make-friends and just there to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. I used to take that head off as I got on the plane home and would have my husband and family head on, which would be completely different to my work head. So when you see me on SAS or Mutiny, that’s my work head. I’m serious, I don’t mess around and I get the job done, but then when you see me in my social life I’m a completely different person.

How have you coped with becoming a household name and attracting your own army of fans? What does your family think? Setting sail: Ant took on the role of Captain William Bligh when he led a daunting recreation of the 4,000-mile odyssey that followed the Mutiny on the Bounty for Channel 4’s Mutiny Pictures: Channel 4

It has made me a better person because its gone from being an exciting new venture to being a big responsibility because I receive tons of daily messages from people telling me that I inspire them and they want to be in my position. They are from all walks of life – eight-to-nine and 50-60-year-olds tell me how I have changed their mindsets and motivated them. All of that has made me a better person, but I realise it’s a massive responsibility and it has changed my outlook on life and made me want to better myself for them. I’m just a regular lad who was brought up like anyone else. I’m not Superman, I’m just lucky that I have a mindset that’s full of positivity and I use it to my advantage. My wife and children have taken it in their stride. We all stay grounded and Emilie now sees the positive effect it has on people. Emilie is

fully behind me. At first it took some getting used to for both of us, but after the initial shock we got our heads together and learnt to deal with it. We take all the positives out of it and take it in our stride.

How have your military experiences helped you manage the challenges of filming Mutiny and SAS: Who Dares Wins? Without my military and Special Forces career I never would have been involved in SAS: Who Dares Wins, so of course that helped me with the challenges for the show. I know how to build the courses and mirror the selection process – albeit a diluted version – and had I not been through it myself then I wouldn’t be able to the job that I do on the show. When it came to Mutiny, it was a different ball game. The guys in the crew weren’t military men so I couldn’t deal with them in a military manner as it wouldn’t have helped them. The only thing I took from the military was my determination to finish the journey and make sure the job was done. I motivated them in a military manner but without dishing out orders. They are two such different shows and one is so obviously military and the other is so far removed from the military that it was a whole new challenge that I drew on my other life experiences for. & summer 2017 Army&You 57

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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: 58 Army&You summer 2017



Contact with your children From living arrangements to visitation rights, Imran Khodabocus, of the Family Law Company ( and Jill Cameron, of Scotts Wright Solicitors (, explain what families with children should expect in the event of a relationship breakdown... In the event of a relationship breakdown, who decides where my children will live?

Contact Imran Khodabocus at and Jill Cameron at

Imran: It is usual that your child will live with his or her ‘primary carer.’ The primary carer is the person who has been responsible for looking after the child for most of the time. If you have been equally involved in your child’s upbringing and if it is practical (if your duties with the army allow it, for example), it may be possible to share your child’s living arrangements. This is called a ‘shared care arrangement.’ It is up to you and your ex-partner to decide where it is best for your child to live. If you cannot agree or if you think your ex-partner poses a risk to your child, you may have to apply to the court for a ‘Child Arrangements Order.’

If I am the parent not awarded residence, what contact can I expect to have with my children? Jill: The general presumption is that, as long as it is safe to do so, children will have regular and meaningful contact with the parent with whom he or she no longer lives. However, there aren’t any set rules to determine the type, frequency or duration of any particular contact session. Each child is different and each set of circumstances is unique to each individual family. Young babies generally can’t spend lengthy periods of time away from their primary care giver, so short frequent visits are more appropriate. As your child gets older, he or she can spend longer periods of time with you, including overnight stays,

weekends and holidays. It may well be that contact is dictated by practical arrangements. If you live relatively close to your former partner, then this can increase the appropriateness of mid-week contact after school, but being in different areas of the country or stationed overseas reduces the chances of anything other than weekend and/or holiday contact. Don’t forget the other forms of contact that are now available. You can telephone, email and Skype and most children love receiving letters, cards and gifts the old-fashioned way – by post.

How much of a say do my children have in where they wish to reside? Imran: The older and more mature a child is, the more important their views will be. Other important factors are whether they have family, particularly siblings or half siblings, who are going to stay with you and whether any plans to leave would be disruptive – for example, if they are about to sit exams. If a child is at risk of harm from the other parent, this would be a very serious consideration. Ultimately, your child’s view is only a factor in the decision.

What about the rights of other family members? Jill: Whilst aunts, uncles and grandparents don’t have automatic right to contact with your children if there is an estrangement in the family, the family courts do recognise the invaluable role that these people can play in a child’s life. Only people with parental responsibility for a child (for

example parents, step parents or guardians) have the automatic right to apply to court for a Child Arrangements Order. Other family members have to apply for permission (known as 'leave') to apply for an order. When deciding whether or not to give permission to apply, the courts will consider: l The applicant’s connection with the child l The nature of the application l Whether the application might be potentially harmful to the child’s wellbeing in any way If permission is granted, the family member can make a formal application for contact. When deciding on that

application, the court will always consider the child’s full circumstances and the court must only make an order where it is considered better for the child than making no order at all. For example, the court might have to balance whether or not that family member’s continued contact with the child might have a negative impact on the rest of the family. As in any application for a Child Arrangement Order, the family member who wishes to obtain contact with your child will have to attend a mediation information & assessment meeting and the court will urge all parties to try to reach agreement wherever possible. n

Specialists have an advantage

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

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summer 2017 Army&You 59

Ask the experts Got a question you want to pose to one of our team? Send it to us and we'll get it answered! Email

How can I get back into studying? Lucy Foster, from The University of Derby Online ( online), on the merits of making a return to learning... THE prospect of returning to education after working for a while can be daunting for many reasons. Choosing an online course can be a really good option, giving you the flexibility to fit your studies around other commitments and work at your own pace. For example, if you are out on deployment, or can’t access the internet for a few days, all course content is kept online to catch up on your return. Available courses range widely, from full MBAs, degrees and foundation certificates to short personal development modules. You can choose from subjects as diverse as engineering, environmental studies and nursing, to business and management. You could even try a free

60 Army&You summer 2017

taster course online to see if studying this way suits you. If you left school with few qualifications, that’s not a problem. Consider completing a Foundation Certificate in Higher Education to begin with. This can be achieved within 12 months and is ideal for anyone wanting to study at higher education level and includes modules on English, maths and study skills. It’s also suitable for those who have a wealth of work experience and a range of qualifications, but may not have previously studied at university. If there’s an area you would like to study but you’re unsure where to start, don’t be afraid to seek advice – admissions teams will be very happy to help.

What legal help do I need to climb onto the property ladder? Looking to make your first moves in the housing market? Helen While, residential conveyancer at Goughs Solicitors (, has some top tips... WHETHER you are considering buying a house to move into with your family or viewing a property as an investment, a conveyancer will represent you through the entire process – from the time you place an offer, right through to the time you pick up the keys. If you are utilising the Forces Help to Buy Scheme, which has been extended to 2018, they will also liaise with the Ministry of Defence with regards to the drawdown of your Forces Help to Buy Advance. I’d recommend using a

Service-friendly law firm that understands the impact military life can have on a transaction, so that the buying process does not stall in the event of your soldier deploying on exercise or operations. Ensure a suitable communication plan is in place to mitigate unexpected absences and be aware that you may need assistance with the preparation of Power of Attorney, this enables someone (such as a family member) to deal with a purchase on your behalf. @ArmyandYou

How can I keep my relationship on track after the arrival of our new baby? Army spouse Taryn Elkington, of, shares her advice on keeping love alive once your little one is on the scene... IN MY experience, it’s the small things that help your relationship thrive after your baby is born. Your life will change and you’ll both need to adjust. Here are a few tips that will help you along the way...

Trust each other You may fight about the ‘right way’ to change nappies or to feed and dress your baby. You’re both new at this and learning as you go, so don’t be so hard on each other or yourself. A more effective way of handling this conflict is to share any expectations you may have with your partner. Write them down together and agree on what’s best even

before the little one arrives. The more you trust each other, the more relaxed you’ll be.

Communication is key You’re just so busy caring for your baby that you forget to properly talk to each other. Always tell your partner how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking. Don’t be shy to ask for more or less of the other person. You’re a team! It’s important not to neglect talking about your sex life because this will change too and it’s

essential for both parties to be supportive, open and patient.

Stick to date night Your baby will take up most of your time, but it’s important to make time for each other. Have a sit-down dinner after your baby has gone to sleep or take a shower together. Have no other distractions and enjoy each other’s company. Instead of a night out, it might be a night in but make sure you have fun too.

Stay positive Especially when you are away from home, family, your partner and friends. Sleep deprivation can take its toll and mess with your mind and ability to have perspective. A great way to keep these negative feelings at bay is to keep a positivity journal and write down what you’re grateful for every day. Write positive affirmations about yourself, for example 'I am a great mother/ father', or 'I am confident in my parenting'. Repeat them. Don’t let negative thoughts get the better of you.

What are some must-have buys for new parents? BEFORE enjoying the excitement of the patter of tiny feet, prospective parents have to do a lot of leg work to prepare themselves for their new arrival. But while child-proofing the family home or kitting out the perfect nursery may require the most effort, there are a number of smaller purchases you can make to help smooth your transition to parenthood. First on any must-have list for mums-and-dads-in-waiting is a quality changing bag. A prerequisite for leaving the

house, this Tardis-like device will swallow the plentiful paraphernalia of parenting – from nappies and wipes to snacks and spare clothes. Space and ease of access are key, so make sure your bag comes equipped with enough pockets. There are also

a number of different styles available, so select one that suits your look. Next up is the ubiquitous sleepsuit. Although it does what it says on the tin, there are some important innovations to bear in mind when selecting a snuggly garment for your little treasure. For example,

JoJo Maman Bébé's Little Elephants Baby Sleepsuit (pictured left) offers built-in scratch cuffs to protect delicate skin and lining in the feet to provide warmth and cosiness. Finally, no newborn should be without a swaddle to keep them safe, warm and secure. When you're shopping for yours, keep an eye out for baby-safe Velcro fastening and ensure it provides comprehensive cover. While not an exhaustive list, these items should form part of any new parent's arsenal. summer 2017 Army&You 61

Little Elephants Sleepsuit (£15),

Laura Tenison, founder & MD of JoJo Maman Bébé, provides a key three-item shopping list for all soon-to-be military mums and dads...


Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 2 July 2017 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Opulent overnight stay ENJOY an indulgent overnight getaway, including a delicious breakfast and three-course dinner at the picturesque Tylney Hall in Hampshire. Set in the perfect location for a tranquil escape, the luxury country house hotel is nestled in 66 acres of beautiful historic gardens with a boathouse lake and Victorian orchard. Relax and unwind with full access to the hotel’s wellness centre with indoor pool, gym, whirlpool and sauna; or get active on the tennis courts, and make the most of the free bike hire and jogging trails. Find out more at tylneyhall. Enter for your chance to win an overnight stay for two. T&Cs: Prize based on two guests sharing a suite. Open to serving Regular and Reserve families only. Valid one year from receipt, available Sun-Thurs excl. bank holidays and high season, subject to availability.

Roar-some family prize ARE you brave enough to visit Jurassic Kingdom, an extraordinary new animatronic experience with more than 30, life-sized dinosaurs and installations taking over parks across the UK? See Diplodocus heads poking amongst the tree canopy as Triceratops escort their young. Hear the earpiercing screeches of the Pterosaurus and beware of the spitting Pachycephalousaurus. You’re also never far

62 Army&You summer 2017

from the most famous dinosaur of all – Tyrannosaurus Rex, standing 18 metres from head to tail. Catch them in Manchester, Blackpool, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. Tickets on sale at Enter Army&You’s giveaway for your chance to win a family ticket for two adults and two children (up to 16 years) or one adult and three children. @ArmyandYou









Whether in the garden, at a picnic or at the beach this summer, stay protected from the sun – or the elements – with the Instant Sundome from Coleman. Lightweight and easy to pitch with preattached fibreglass poles, the Instant Sundome provides SPF50 UV protection. Its groundsheet zips up in seconds leaving you with a spacious interior with inside pockets for your valuables, or to provide a private changing area.

Home to lions, tigers, elephants and more, West Midland Safari Park is an award-winning attraction with lots to do and see. Come face-toface with the baby rhino and giraffes, discover the land of the living dinosaurs and see the meerkats in the African village. Open daily throughout the summer season, the park is full of family fun. Included in your ticket price are the safari as well as the Discovery Trail, animal encounters, African Village and live shows.

The Lightning Seeds and legends Reef and Cast will headline family-friendly Camper Calling 2017 – and with Space, Ordinary Boys and Musical Youth also joining the line-up, this is a festival not to be missed. The event takes place at Ragley Hall in Warwickshire from 25-27 August – bring your tent, motorhome, caravan or campervan; there’s free hot showers, a family zone and VIP glamping. Tickets on sale now, under-fives go free. Call 01244 881895 for more.

With 30,000 maturing trees and more than 330 memorials across a 150acre site, the National Memorial Arboretum is a lasting tribute to those who have served and continue to serve. Landscapes of Life is a new interactive exhibition that delves into stories behind many of the memorials. Younger visitors can walk the path of leaves and design their own memorial landscape. You’ll also have the chance to record your own messages of remembrance.

Wings & Wheels returns to Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey on 26-27 August. Famous favourites will be on show in the air and on the ground and the attractions in the arena will keep you buzzing for the whole weekend. The ‘wings’ will treat you to a five-hour air display, which includes the RAF Red Arrows, and you don’t need to be a petrol head to enjoy the ‘wheels’ event, as awe-inspiring icons display power and speed down the Top Gear track.

l Normally £34.99, enter for

l Army&You is excited to offer

l Win a family camping pass

l Win one of two family

l Two families will win three

a chance to win one of these handy shelters.

three prizes of a family pass for four people, worth £92 each.

for two adults and up to four children under 16. ▲

tickets to this wonderful exhibition, usually £20 each.

nights’ camping. Two runnersup will win family day passes.


Valid for three nights from Friday 25 August.


summer 2017 Army&You 63

Your Financial Ally We understand the needs of the Armed Forces and we source the most cost effective and comprehensive cover possible on a wide range of products. Our passion and commitment is to deliver the best possible service to our customers. As a not for profit organisation we try hard to be a positive force in the military community and offer a wide range of products and services including travel, holidays and discounts on the things you love.

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

Star letter THE writer of this letter wins a Millie Marotta Journal, a ruled hardback journal interspersed with illustrations for colouring and doodling; Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom box of 50 postcards; and a pack of three paperback journals, perfect for note taking on the go. Based on her bestselling colouring books, Millie’s Marotta’s intricate wildlife illustrations decorate journals, postcards and other stationery products that will appeal both to fans of colouring in and of Millie’s signature illustration style. Find out more at Batsford. com/MillieMarotta

Relationship breakdown support I WANT to know why, on separation, the non-serving partner does not get Disturbance Allowance and the support they need? They put their lives on hold to follow that person around and support them, but on relationship breakdown the serving member is put up in accommodation with as little disruption to their life as possible. In my case, I have been in a hostel for seven months with three children and one of them has started self-harming due to the stress. We are a six-hour drive away from our family network and will financially struggle to set up home. We have had zero help from the regiment, or anyone. Please tell me how this is acceptable? Name and address supplied Response from Maj Caroline Wade, SO2 Welfare A and ExO: I am very sorry to hear about the breakdown of your relationship and for the stress this has placed on your family. You are correct that

Disturbance Expense is not available in event of a familial separation; it is provided to offset the costs incurred when personnel move on assignment only. Housing support for recently-divorced spouses is something that’s been raised through AFF to the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) team. There are only a few local authorities which have so far put divorcing spouses on parity with veterans. The AFC team is in conversation with the Department for Communities and Local Government to try to influence the other local authorities. It has also been raised at the Covenant Reference Group meeting. The unit welfare team are there for families as well as serving personnel; this is mandated in Army Welfare Policy. The welfare team will be in a position to assist you with seeking local authority accommodation and should also signpost you to the Child Maintenance Service to help with obtaining child support and other organisations to provide advisory and practical assistance.

Response from AFF Chief Exec Sara Baade: AFF recognises the current demands placed on providers of social housing. However, we are concerned about the discrepancy in housing allocation policy which currently leaves divorced and separated spouses of service personnel, and crucially their children, vulnerable. These spouses have been equally disadvantaged by the inability to establish a local connection due to the Armed Forces lifestyle. Ideally, AFF would like to see housing allocation policies amended so that a local connection criterion is not applied to service spouses within five years of separation, to mirror the provision for service personnel. We realise that not all providers will be in a position to adopt this policy change, but to uphold the principles of the Armed Forces Covenant, which has been signed by every local authority in Great Britain, we ask that policies address the local connection issue for a spouse’s immediate move out of SFA at the very least. We will continue to push for change.

summer 2017 Army&You 65

POSTBAG ADDRESS ANGST AS AN Army family living abroad (we’ve had two other overseas postings), submitting BFPO addresses when ordering online is very frustrating and is never a simple process. We have had so many problems, especially when it comes to changing our address online with most companies, that we end up having to phone them up and change it verbally, or shove various towns in the box for town, city, county and hope for the best. I don’t understand why the UK doesn’t have automatic drop down boxes for BFPO addresses, just like they do in the USA and Canada. Many UK companies and organisations just don’t cater for Service personnel living abroad. Name and address supplied Response from BFPO: Over the years, BFPO staff have worked hard to develop a close relationship with a number of carriers and couriers, which provide a service from the UK to overseas, as well as Royal Mail, to ensure that Army families are not disadvantaged by serving abroad. All BFPO addresses have had a UK postcode since 2012. These are held in the Postal Address File (PAF), which is managed by Royal Mail. This file allows BFPO addresses to be recognised online but it does rely on companies to incorporate the BFPO annex in their software. We have created the conditions for companies to use PAF, but we can’t force them to do so as this is purely a commercial decision – and therein lies the problem. 66 Army&You summer 2017

Equal footing: Is the term ‘dependant’ derogatory towards the independence of family members of serving soldiers?

Dependant or not? AT A recent information evening I found myself drawn to the presentation heading titled ‘Dependant pre-deployment brief’. Each detailed and helpful slide was headed by the title. I often find myself in the camp of agreeing that as a nation we have gone a bit PC mad, yet can’t escape the feeling that the use of ‘dependant’ for the immediate families of serving personnel in an establishment that operates around rank and title, is somewhat questionable. I posed the question to a social media group for the concerned dynamic to gather their thoughts. Responses were mixed; many expressed their disinterest in labels in general, and others stated their dislike for the term, regarding it as derogatory and discrediting to their independence. What was very evident was the belief that their serving partners depend deeply on them to keep the ship afloat (one for the Navy) whilst time is

spent away, and this is perhaps the one particular aspect challenged by the label. At this time of economic uncertainty, many military relationships are dependent more than ever on both partners contributing to the pot. I’m a silent cheerleader for those who succeed in pursuit of their own career goals, often funded by themselves, affected by postings and accessed around limited childcare and an absent soldier. Not forgetting all those that have committed to a married unaccompanied arrangement when independence, often on behalf of settled children, should be commended. Perhaps the jargon within the

Forces remains as traditional as the uniforms, or maybe the term transcends the paper it’s printed on, and identifies the committed partner or spouse who has their own distinct list of duties. Name and address supplied. Response from AFF Chief Exec Sara Baade: We agree that this is an outdated term and AFF has long campaigned for it to be replaced. We were delighted to see former Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt take up the cause and direct the MOD to use the term ‘entitled family member’ when policies are reviewed. Of course, it will take time for this to become the norm, but it’s a step in the right direction.

“I can’t escape the feeling that the use of ‘dependant’ for the immediate families of serving personnel in an establishment that operates around rank and title, is somewhat questionable.” @ArmyandYou

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Army&You Summer 2017  

The Summer 2017 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

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