Page 1

&You Summer 2019

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}



Forces kids share their stories of life at boarding school KIDS WHO CARE

Meet the youngsters looking after loved ones FLYING HIGH


Service children share their own experiences of forces family life WIN: A SKYDIVING ADVENTURE AND A CANAL BOAT BREAK A host of fun-filled family days out also up-for-grabs in our exciting giveaways

Why solo flights can be a blessing for young travellers PLUS HOUSING UPDATE BETTER BIRTHS COMMUNITY CHAMPION SHARED PARENTING


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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 Homes England and the Ministry of Defence. †Bovis Homes specify the flooring offered within the scheme. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Please ask your sales advisor for further information. Photograph shown depicts a typical Bovis Homes interior. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT.



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{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie

DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314

ArmyandYou on Facebook or visit

AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REBASING REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 //

Young voices Growing up in an army family throws up some unique challenges – separation from parents, moving schools and changing friendships to name a few. So, what impact do these factors have on our service children and how much of a say do they have on their lives? In this edition, we find out. In our special feature Our youngsters’ voices (pages 32-33) children share the highs and lows of their army lives. There’s an insight into boarding school from four military children being educated away from home (pages 36-37), and we meet the youngsters travelling alone on their long school runs in Flying high…and solo on pages 50-51. Nine-year-old Bethan opens up on how attending a Poppy Adventure Break gave her a much-needed boost to her confidence (page 48), and Ruby (9) shares a snapshot of her army life through her creative writing talents (page 49). Kids who care (pages 30-31) looks at what it means to be a young carer in the armed forces community and, for new parents, Better births (pages 16-17), explores maternity care for mums-to-be.

LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH & CENTRAL 07824 534357 // NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // NORTH WEST 07733 147001 //


07585 333115 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 //

Elsewhere in the magazine, our increasinglypopular blogs have your thoughts on forces family life (pages 65-66), there are some fabulous giveaways to get you out-and-about this summer (pages 62-63) and our super-cute reviewers tell all in our latest Book Club (page 46).

AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT CANADA KENYA BRUNEI GERMANY 0049 (0)176 351 87 774 // PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // ESBA



CONTRIBUTIONS If you’ve got a story to tell about army life, then let us know – email SUBSCRIPTIONS In your own home or private rental? Subscribe for FREE via – you can unsubscribe at any time via the same link or by emailing unsubscribe@

PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission AFF Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered in Scotland with registered charity number

SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 23 June 2019. ADVERTISEMENTS Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: Tel: 01252 714870 Web:


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Posts generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity


summer 2019 Army&You 03


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Flying high... and



to stop at McDonalds,” Italy, said: only Joanne, based in she explained. “The is the “The first time I waved unpleasant surprise was goodbye to my girls extortionate cost.” aware very emotional, especially Parents should be through off watching them go that anyone dropping see d minor security until I couldn’t an unaccompanie much until after them. They were (UNMIN) must wait than I was.” so happier about it the flight has departed, mum for a taxi It was the same for you could be liable Kenya, the parking Helena, living in driver’s time and very who admitted being fee. teenage added: USA worried about her the Lynda in from Dover, children getting “Getting the UNMIN flying by across London, and sorted was a bit paperwork done I’d involving themselves: “Once time-consuming, talked the airline.” a little research and repeated calls to relieved to the school, I was to to book school transport forms the airport at a reasonable Pick up spare UNMIN the need for a signed one cost, minimising at drop off, send connections.” child for public transport to school with your quashed keep a Liz in Canada soon the return flight and about her her initial concerns spare at home. taxi ride children’s two-hour drivers are to the airport: “The If your school doesn’t – as I know DBS checked, and offer a droptracking service, from off every mile on consider


24 Fairness For Forces Meet the group looking out for all forces families 28 The Parent Gap Exploring the rules for bringing F&C parents to the UK 36 Members Of The Board Service kids share their boarding school stories 52 A Postcard From... A snapshot of life in Ascension Island 55 Movers And Shakers Rebasing update ahead of the big move from Germany 56 Pilot Site For Aldershot Latest news on the Future Accommodation Model



my mobile phone – they drive with the utmost care and even fulfil requests


Many parents have expressed concerns going about things not


to plan.

06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... AFF's Sara Baade and Major General Sharon Nesmith 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 46 Book Club Young readers give their verdict on The Boy Who Flew 62 Giveaways Win a canal boat break, family days out and more 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life



Forces kids share their stories of life at boarding school KIDS WHO CARE

Meet the youngsters looking after loved ones


Service children share their own life experiences of Forces family WIN:


A host of fun-filled family days out

also up-for-grabs in our exciting giveaways

FLYING HIGH Why solo flights can be a blessing for young travellers PLUS HOUSING UPDATE BETTER BIRTHS COMMUNITY CHAMPION

Emma Shayler is one of the service youngsters who've shared their thoughts on life as part of an army family. Turn to pages 32-33 to find out more.


around exam time is always a problem Luggage allowance study material. to bring back so much as youngsters have bags (up to 8kg), cells can book extra Although unit travel and manage the it difficult to distribute a children often find girls had to purchase Italy recalled: “My the weight. Joanne in and repacked at at great expense new bag at Heathrow was quite fraught.” check-in desk, which after his younger pressure of looking Damian (16) felt the a year on he finds to begin with, but journeys long sister on has stopped and even his sibling it much less daunting boarding pass. He for her passport or I check my persistently checking and around airport staff said: “There are always phone for flight info.”


their passports in the luggage trolley, resulting in a stressful 24 hours while they

UK which did fluster them, but they had all the correct

paperwork including parental consent letters. On one

occasion they

were retrieved. “Hopefully they’ll never make the same mistake again,” said Joanne. “I

about the Liz was almost overwhelmed Georgina (11) and enormity of her children to 4,000-mile journey Alfie (9) making the

instead make the journey of your children, something does for that Helena now

William Safety first: way Hall making his through security

for Allow plenty of time stress. check-in to minimise

shares with her daughter coand the school travel either ordinator, so that can sort out an issue.

enough money. Lynda obtains a code from the airline in advance, which she

she I was much happier,” by the UNMIN staff like royalty.” said. “They get treated


enables you to Don’t panic. Technology your child’s journey. track every mile of

parent hearing As a UK-based boarding to stories, I decided all these positive children home from trial flying my own to another for half one regional airport Thomas. It cost the term, writes Esther me a 16-hour drive, same and saved time away from work overnight stay and our girls bounced All went well and full of confidence. through the door in airlines With the recent reduction many parents offering UNMIN services, Higgs after about managing Safe arrival: Romilly JFK airport have contacted AFF landing at New York’s overseas assignmen the logistics of an our fears are greater but it seems that and overall their than our children’s life-enriching. experiences are about your If you have concerns email rmoverseas children’s travels, to or go

summer 2019 Army&


to and available of the policy are aware Lamont, SO2 said Maj Paul the first year give advice,” off work in to share time or placed with cated family service policy. child is born to modern you have communi worked after their be split in ITH attitudes . ShPL can “Ensure that and in , Shared Parental of command them for adoption can take it life changing ns more with your chain of ways: you is becoming financial implicatio on any number be off together. Leave (ShPL) have Although out the timings, and half, or effects it may is 50 new parents. turns, do half nts and the potential amount available popular amongst low, take potential deployme The maximum considerably mother must gly career courses, take up is still 52, as the are increasin birth as weeks, not bills.” employers – and and monthly progressive who have weeks following two the option s families first four the employee We spoke to giving their maternity leave. exception. e their compulsory the ShPL route… forces is no actively encourag staff gone down the armed shared “Units should occupational all unit HR gives The military’s to use it and personnel and pay scheme l flexibility parental leave reserve personne regular and






they have in the army and Both serving and Dexter twin boys, Jenson

was followed. problem we the same “The biggest “James wanted his was the misto look after encountered opportunity and MOD servicewomen match of hospital children as has now been leave. When policy, which do on maternity allowed ShPL was rectified. I wasn’t but my the policy on the same weeks to go past 38 published around date could were expecting return to work time that we As a result, applied to not be changed. our twins, James with me two weeks’ off we had to use take six months boys the before the work after annual leave returning to nursery. two weeks. y started mandator s aside, worked for “These formalitie “Our decision ShPL is an met with surprise we feel that us but was in ity. The I had been amazing opportun boys from others. six and the fewer than bond James my new unit ly due to they had never have is undeniab in the months and least for them with it, not him caring had to deal lives. policy was months of their first because the expectant my chain of I would advise new. However, not have embrace it parents to command could time with accommodating, and enjoy their been more James’ unit their babies.” working with process to ensure the


navy army, Andy ex-royal Sally is in the and George, two sons Oliver, four and they have


they in the army and Both serving , Charlotte have a daughter they were Thankfully, I was very helpful. “Once we knew accepted wanted to live “It was eventually pregnant we best solution a family and and was the together as months in when one of us leaving until three considered I didn’t want stumbled I decided that the army. We work. Taking and it seemed to return to across ShPL We that unlike ShPL meant to be the solution. n to maternity applicatio straightforward started the give applying required to was months, I 12 leave, share notice – it was each over the 12 months’ for six months . very upsetting same dates. seemed our plan with “We altered “The process back to work it wasn’t. Both Sam going simple, but were me taking unpaid earlier and chains of command knew - I returned but no one parental leave supportive, our daughter entailed. People to work when what ShPL g ths-old. time persuadin was nine-mon spent more this, I would 12 months’ “Despite all me to take nd ShPL. rather than still recomme maternity leave e couples to If we had not I’d encourag helping us. face-toI think we speak to someone If we’d been so driven, options. given up. Sam face about would have our through the we do now, known what and I muddled been would have but eventually application paperwork, nal the occupatio very different.” had to ask e. for assistanc health team

minimise impact inclusive to busy with Andy in had a very “We’d both over Christmas deployments ational role. a non-oper few years with with for the “The process and I had suffered after n person was postnatal depressio knew pregnant service the we felt that born. We unclear and Oliver was time out to set up for the we needed system was When non-serving. as a family. woman to be reconnect I was pregnant back and forth After a few we found out to apply granted forms we were again, we decided three months three take and took for ShPL ShPL and tly. after my six months concurren concurrently to command maternity leave “My chain of months’ I -world trip they knew were happy; go on a round-the van! earlier if in a camper would be back recommend rather than “I’d highly I took ShPL With my families. Just maternity leave. ShPL to other lot back to the there was a keep going husband’s, busy’, ‘you’ll ask as many clerks and of: ‘we’re too will your you can. It pressure on questions as put undue requested We work out.” colleagues’. to January November



can Making an applicationare be complex, so here our top tips:

criteria the full eligibility Start by reading in the JSP admin team/civilian Talk to your unit – it’s earliest opportunity employer at the before an informal chat advisable to have


they have in the army and old Both serving who is nine months a son, Arthur,

easy and “It was very we r any at ShPL as we didn’t encounte I took “We looked so with our son In the end obstacles. wanted time relationship Alec took the 19 weeks and he has a strong We would 100 us. Plus, I didn’t last seven. with both of e other loads of time per cent encourag want to take if it’s just fo job. I’m staying to apply, even off due to my in 32 Regiment few weeks. where I am has just going back husband with my “It helps RA, but ba new posting. know your started his work if you a commander other parent “My battery is with the , and it’s ing officer and command not in childcare e. to hav very supportiv good for babies were both paren posted, the bond with both When he was happy to new unit were uphold it.

making a decision in as early as possible Get your paperwork payslips to ensure Keep an eye on your and have been made that relevant changes

any is team if you spot notify your admin go to JSP 760 Chap To find out more Tra AFF Employment, at, or contact Specialist Laura Lew Money & Allowances

summer 2019 Arm

2019 26 Army&You summer


benefited Left: A baby who from Katy’s hypnobirthing Seed Below: Francesca with her children

Go on a

prenatal course


Take control

of your pregnancy journey by seeking out the information you need to make informed choices


For the serving partner, consider able when you will be to do courses during

BETTER BIRTHS feel supported and Every woman should y about the maternit have their voice heard , especially pregnant care they’re receiving partners who might military spouses and have their soldier be new to an area, ion. g to access informat away, or strugglin y Voices is the group Maternit National in Partnerships (MVP) of Maternity Voices ent group of women, England – a independ and ioners, midwives families, commiss of local the development doctors reviewing spoke to two army maternity care. We y care support… spouses offering maternit ILITARY spouse is Francesca Seed a mum-of-three, coqualified doula and

Lancashire. chair for MVP Central access to She believes that and continuity information, support move in care is key: “Families women are regularly and many transition. pregnant in this

that 73 “Our feedback shows moving were not per cent of those military or NHS in supported by the maternity care – transferring their

this needs to change.” gathering Francesca led research, with fellow feedback from families, mum-of-three military spouse and covers the Katy McGarry, who area. Catterick Garrison

this time If it looks likely

don’t want to be, considering hiring a doula – some charge, but others

her training as a

midwife, ,

Utilising hypnobirthing Katy also provides and antenatal guidance her business relaxation through

Mumborneveryminute. a passion She said: “I have mums are to make sure new support and empowered through the opportunity information. Having alone and to to feel you are not that can assist gain the knowledge start in you in having a positive being a mum.” by far the biggest Katy feels this is families: “I’ve problem for military number of women lost count of the about their who have told me deployments or partner going on while they being sent on courses trimester or near third their in are their due date. feel that “These women then

cent shows that 73 per “Our feedback rted by g were not suppo of those movin their in transferring the military or NHS change.” – this needs to maternity care @ArmyandYou

up to 12 weeks third trimester and said. “It’s so postnatally,” she couples to important for these Having go through this together. appreciate it won’t served myself, I but I also happen for everyone, courses could be know that some time for done at a more convenient parents is lifea couple. Becoming changing.” research was Feedback from the Armed Forces presented to the NHS England, Commissioner for a plan to and it is formulating of maternity improve the provision in the north ahead services, initially of a nationwide rollout.


there are lots

In the meantime, help yourself of ways you can you’re – especially by ensuring knowledge armed with as much

as possible. go to prenatal “Some mums don’t their classes, either because they don’t want partner is away and or they don’t to go without them, are because know where classes area,” explained they’re new to an class allows you Katy. “Going to a a friendship to meet others, form group and gain support.” ask for help are volunteers Don’t be afraid to health visitor or from your midwife, absolutely normal 5 Even if you because welfare team. “It’s they have little support have a challenging overwhelmed to feel completely their partner there they don’t have pregnancy, try to or postnatally,” in pregnancy, birth close by. or family and friends life is turned maintain a positive said Francesca. “Your feel anxious help This can make them have good days attitude which will birth and upside down, you’ll about their pregnancy, you to have a positive don’t put too much and bad days, so becoming a mum. birth experience support and pressure on yourself. “I want to give women you are a “Cherish the times when they’re Approach your information so that We had no 6 unit. family and complete their labour making choices for two weeks MVP – an independent visitors for the first so informed.” birth, they are doing NHS advisory body two were born; after my youngest and suggested agreed coFrancesca the most of reviewing and we wanted to make of call for that a single port the fact that producing maternity either the paternity leave and service families within services with women daddy was ‘home’. the NHS would armed forces or something and their families “Ask visitors to do as the family’s a hold of help. “It would act than simply have health other the advocate between 7 Everything is making a cooked your baby – like from to where provider they depart your choice. If you’re your favourite meal or fetching she explained. it; they’re posted to,” shop.” unhappy, question drink from a coffee in the transfer Ask “Preventing delays maternity want to know more? care If you’re accessing of birth plans, pregnancy area, talk to that a services in your your and other NHS services 8 Don’t feel your local MVP, feedback a family requires.” it as a safe pressured to make experiences or use see more know You Katy would like to decision. information on place to find out from the military acknowledgment While helping you, your body, your your birth choices. for pregnant women. help other baby, your children yourself, you could see soldiers not & “I would love to and your family military families too. or on deployment sent on courses are in their while their partners


that you’re going to be alone in your or pregnancy, birth you postnatally, and


discounts for military families

Farnborough The Meads Shopping Centre Farnborough GU14 7GL 360 Play Farnborough

Most airlines have standard parental consent forms – you can have them translated into the language of the destination country.


the It’s possible to reverse Visits School Children’s you can allowance so that

Invest in luggage school scales to keep at their so they can weigh bags beforehand.



Canada alone. relaxed, happy children “After meeting two rotten who had been spoilt at Calgary airport

for the have been overseas lives in last ten years, now travels Belgium and mostly tunnel by car through the back to the UK. likes Her son William (12) “I prefer it better than flying: shorter school holidays: going in the car because to do up, we “It’s fantastic for me once we’re picked also about the legwork whilst worry to don’t have to can just connecting the children anything else and in the family and friends sit back and relax.” more two, his UK, although it costs Weighing up the and “I don’t for onward transport sister Olly (13) said: and does getting accommodation, about have to think get to but I mean that they don’t somewhere on time, airports.” see their dad so often.” do miss the fun of family Anna Hall, whose



during exam periods when their mind is



Four-wheel make it easier for their children to manage

military children, having to cope with travelling independently



nerves, ask To ease parental you photo your children to send journey. updates on their

It might not look trendy, but it’s worth for having a small wallet all the paperwork.

what would happen in advance and make sure they have means and of contacting you

have been questioned by passport control on return to the

your phone

Keep some emergency in case of delays.

felt completely responsible and sometimes I feel like we ask too much of our

Joanne’s two girls Lydia (15) and Emily (17) (pictured right)

Remember luggage. charger in your hand





Sharing the lo



The key your that both you and child are emotionally prepared. Talk through


such mixed Jennifer (15) had journey that feelings on her first and crying: she was shaking to be going “I was so excited the flight as home but dreading and find it I have a fear of flying difficult to sleep.” (13), who In contrast Romilly had a travels to New York, on her first luxury experience moved to first flight as she was that she class. She admitted when managed couldn’t have but she first started boarding it to would now recommend “I’m still not other teenagers: but I’m happy ready to ‘fly solo’ service. I flying with an UNMIN and I’m love the independence organised.” learning to be more

2019 50 Army&You summer

Summer 2019

{for everyone with a soldier in their

asking friends/ guardians to help with airport keep Georgina and runs to Coming to Canada: airport costs down. Alfie Ellwood at Calgary

3. DETOURS AND DELAYS is to ensure

16 Better Births The support on offer for maternity in the military 22 The People's Pavilion How an army couple created a hub for their community 26 Sharing The Load Meet the couples making use of shared parental leave 30 Kids Who Care What it means to be a carer in the armed forces community 32 Our Youngsters' Voices Army children share their thoughts on forces family life 50 Flying High... And Solo Why flying on their own can be a positive for service kids



for a daunting prospect and home can be Manager boarding school as AFF’s Regional e… Travelling alone between – especially if it’s abroad. But you it as a positive experienc your children – and d, many families see Thomas discovere Overseas Esther

summer 2019 Army&You 05


Army HIVE has launched a new a remote service for overseas locations. International HIVE, known as iHIVE, w provide you with relevant informatio wherever you’re li su topics covering as health, educati welfare, local faci useful contacts an details of policies

yo Developed to help understand more abo th locations overseas, t service can be used decide if specific loca are suitable for your needs before you mo

The iHIVE blog also f useful information overseas communit chain of command organisations. Sign receive daily alerts at any time.

In addition, there’s information suppo available by email phone to handle s enquiries regardin postings or anyth Enquires can be m direct to iHIVE or any HIVE.

To keep up-to-da you’re overseas guides, the blog iHIVE, visit ihive com – details of HIVE can be fou

summer 20


Our experts

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

Laura Lewin

Katherine Houlston

Cat Calder

Jilly Carrell

Karen Ross

Employment, Training, Allowances & Money

Foreign & Commonwealth


Education & Childcare

Health & Additional Needs

I’ve been investigating employment vetting issues and passed your evidence to the Armed Forces Covenant team. As a result, the MOD has introduced a new process to enable those of you who’ve spent time overseas with an alternative method of assurance. This will give you the opportunity to obtain a certificate of good conduct from the service police crime bureau at no cost. It’s a positive step in the right direction. I’m delighted to hear that the Defence Security Vetting team is working with the Cabinet Office and its security colleagues across government to incorporate this change into wider vetting policy. Experiencing issues gaining employment after accompanying your soldier on an overseas posting? Contact me at

The minimum income requirement issue has been generating much interest in recent months. The Times wrote an article about the effects on soldiers and families, and AFF gave evidence to the Parliamentary Defence Select Committee. Sara Baade, our Chief Executive, is keeping the momentum going during her meetings with the army and ministers. Sir Richard Dannatt has promised to raise it in the House of Lords, Shailesh Vara MP has a date to discuss it with the Prime Minister and Gen Ty Urch is looking into how the army can best support soldiers with this issue. It’s great to see people really getting behind this. We will keep you updated on progress.

I’m seeing an increase in issues with families being granted the 50 per cent council tax reduction for second homes – these must be furnished but vacant – while living in SFA. If anyone is having problems accessing this discount, get in touch – – and don’t forget that the discount isn’t applicable if you're posted overseas. However, if you're rebasing and have a second home in the UK, you should be able to apply for the discount going forward. Take a look at the AFF housing pages at for more information.

It’s time that we started thinking about our service children as people in their own right. What unique challenges do they face? We know that moving schools and parental deployment can make life tough at times, but we’re keen to hear about the strengths that army children are able to develop as a result of their unique lived experience. Are they more resilient, better communicators, stronger advocates for other children and more culturally aware? Talk to them and ask them what they think. We’d love to hear from you and more importantly from them – the voice of our service children has never been more important. Contact me at

I represent the families federations on the medical supportability working group, which discusses the prescreening process and supportability in overseas locations. This working group has informed the development of the Global Medical Supportability Cell (GMSC) and its new pre-screening process started in April for army families. Within the GMSC will be a virtual practice, providing medical support and advice for all overseas locations. Visit for an overview of the new pre-screening process and, if you have any questions, contact me at additionalneeds

What ’s top of your holiday packing list?

What ’s top of your holiday packing list?

What ’s top of your holiday packing list?

What ’s top of your holiday packing list?

What ’s top of your holiday packing list?

A good book

At least four books and a copy of the latest A&Y, obvs.

Lots of books - and SPF 50

My running shoes so I can escape from time-to-time

My iPad with lots of chick lit and music downloaded

06 Army&You summer 2019

Read mo re about the natio press cov nal erage of the minim income re um quiremen t on page 12





Host a Big Brew Up with family and friends to raise vital funds to support our Armed Forces. At SSAFA, we support the person behind the uniform; any time they need us, for as long as they need us. We’re here for those currently serving, reserves, veterans and their families. And we couldn’t do it without people like you. HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO OUR FORCES

Download your FREE Big Brew Up fundraising pack for lots of fun, easy ways you can support our Forces family at:

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AFF Chief Executiv e Sara Baade (left) and General Sharon N esmith


FAMILIES: THE ARMY’S HEARTBEAT AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade and Major General Sharon Nesmith, the army’s new Director for Personnel, share their thoughts on the importance of supporting our service children...


hen I first started at AFF more than three years ago, a military mum said to me ‘we can deal with most things army life throws at us as long as the children are settled and happy’ – and this has resonated with me over the

years, writes Sara. As a mum of nine-year-old twins, I can really relate to this. Getting it right for our children, their education and seeing them thrive and grow, is one of the most rewarding experiences

AS A proud mum of two very energetic and slightly exhausting near-teen boys – I recognise just how important our families are to the heartbeat of the army, writes General Sharon While I love just how much army life can contribute to a happy home, I am very alive to just how challenging this can also be. Within the Directorate, we work hard to protect aspects of service life which are

vital to easing the burden, particularly on our children, and to ensure we improve how we communicate what support is available. The Service Pupil Premium, Education Support Fund and Continuity of Education

any parent can have – but the opposite can also break us. We know that the mobile army lifestyle can be particularly challenging for your children and moving schools regularly can, for some, become the norm. This, together with the stress of time apart from their serving parent, can at times paint a rather hectic picture for many children. Army children, their education, wellbeing and support is therefore something that is always high on AFF’s agenda. We constantly look at how we can make the Armed Forces Covenant work to support children, such as with school admissions, and ensure families’ voices are heard when policies relating to them are developed. Recently we have seen more

Allowance are good examples. The recent introduction of Flexible Service now offers us the chance to have greater certainty in our working life, at a time of our choosing. The Families Resilience Project, being developed in partnership with the Army Welfare Service, is another great initiative to focus on supporting our children better.

external bodies starting to pay attention to service children’s issues, which is excellent news. The University of Winchester has done some interesting research into military youngsters’ progression on to university (compared to non-serving). The Service Children’s Progression Alliance is currently undertaking more research following on from that report focusing particularly on the voice of service children. This is exciting news because the research provides us with the important evidence needed to ensure your children’s education and wellbeing is considered at the highest level. We’ll continue to work closely with these partners and others to champion the voice of service children.

But I know that there’s more for us to do. I hugely appreciate the contribution made by the Army Parents Network, and especially the Army Families Federation – not only for the invaluable direct support provided, but for being the voice of my immensely supportive husband and much-loved young boys. & summer 2019 Army&You 09

r-legged d their fou Families an with our al t for a w k friends mee Corridor Coe/M4 Oxfordshir phreys ah Ann Hum r o at ordin Le



TRANSITION TIPS Is your soldier leaving the army from an overseas posting? Transitioning to civvy street can be more complex if you’re living abroad but settling back in the UK or another country. Forward planning is key, and AFF now has specific information available online at


BROWSE THE BLOG Have you checked out AFF’s new blog yet? We cover all sorts of topics related to army life and you can get involved by leaving your comments. Take a look at





AFF’s co-ordinators are looking at different means of engaging with families and one way that some find beneficial is a ‘walk with AFF’ event, where you can get together for a stroll around your local area and talk about issues that might be affecting your army life. It’s a great way to be sociable, meet new people and, crucially, find out how AFF could help. Events are normally advertised on noticeboards and in local Facebook groups, so look out for one near you.

AFF’s London co-ordinator, Becky Green, has been working with the Windsor and Maidenhead Armed Forces Champion on schooling for service children in Windsor. She arranged for her to visit Alexander First School, which has a high percentage of service children, to see first-hand the support it gives to army families – but also the challenges young families can face.





Moving to Wiltshire this summer? Help is at hand. To ease your transition, AFF has a dedicated rebasing coordinator working alongside our Wiltshire co-ordinator, Carol Morris. Amy Pearson will be able to assist for any issues or concerns. Contact her at

The latest edition of AFF’s Families’ Concerns, available via the AFF website, brings together all the evidence we’ve collated from your enquiries and questions throughout last year. It’s read by key people in the chain of command as well as policy makers, ensuring they see what’s affecting your army life. Go to


10 Army&You summer 2019

If you live in the Bovington or Lulworth areas, you may have seen AFF’s South West Co-ordinator, Jenna Richardson trudging around the estate in the dark taking photos of street lights. Poorly-lit roads have been an ongoing problem, so Jenna has been working alongside the chain of command, DIO and Amey to resolve the situation. Like other patches with military quarters, there’s confusion over who’s responsible for fixing streetlights. “I reported 17 broken streetlights to the Amey helpdesk and after the accommodation officer surveyed the area, most of them have been fixed,” explained Jenna. “We still have a problem with ones that come under a different contract, so that’s my next battle.” We may have lighter evenings in the UK at this time of year, but these things take time to fix so continue to report broken streetlights to Amey or your AFF co-ordinator.

Carol (cen tre foregroun d) chats to families in BFG


NOW that rebasing is in full swing, AFF’s Regional Manager South, Julie Mounfield, and Wiltshire Coordinator Carol Morris paid a visit to families about to leave Germany. With some families feeling nervous about moving to the UK after living in BFG for so long, Carol and


Julie were able to offer reassurance and guidance about access to healthcare, public transport, childcare costs, visas, setting up bank accounts and much more. They also discussed the positive aspects about living in Wiltshire and met with local welfare teams who have organised the moves.

“I feel reassured that families will have a smooth transition and are very well supported by our brilliant AFF team in Germany and the welfare teams,” said Julie. If you have any rebasing questions, chat to our co-ordinators – details on page three.


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SMALL WINS, BIG DIFFERENCE Spotting trends and helping to change policies that affect your lives is a key part of AFF’s work, but just as important are those cases from individuals or pockets of families that our co-ordinators and specialists get involved in. Here are a few recent examples of where we’ve made a difference: Secured a complete reclean of a quarter in Amesbury that was taken over in a shocking condition by proxy. Ensured that a dangerous leak at a property in Bulford was taken seriously when Amey initially regarded it as non-emergency. Helped a divorcing spouse when the local council told her she wasn’t entitled to stay in Wiltshire due to a lack of a local connection. An impact statement from school and supporting letter from the unit and her university enabled her to remain in the area. Worked with the garrison, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Amey to support a family in getting their very old and unsanitary kitchen replaced this led to other families being able to get similar works completed. One family with complex needs in Ilchester were able to move into a more suitable quarter after securing support at a housing surgery organised by AFF.





Catterick Garrison employment fairs for forces families have been a resounding success this year – so much so that organisers have had to find a bigger venue. The brigade has worked closely with the Department for Work & Pensions to grow the event, which features many companies and organisations looking to recruit from the military community. You can also take part in sessions on CV writing and interview techniques. AFF is on hand to answer your queries on employment and training, so look out for the next fair on 25 September.

AFF’s work highlighting the plight of Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers who are unable to bring their spouses and children to the UK because of the minimum income requirement has recently been picked up by the national press. The Times reported that many F&C soldiers are having to take second jobs to bump up their salaries so they can meet the threshold, something we covered last year in Army&You. “We are really pleased to see that the issues around the minimum income threshold are starting to be recognised,” said AFF F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston. “This is an area we have campaigned on for a long time and there needs to be a change in Home Office regulations to better support these soldiers.”

A date for your diary

In our recent communications survey, AFF was your top source for finding information… per cent of you found AFF’s information easy to understand Receiving information via social media was popular, but some of you had concerns about security Facebook was the top choice of social media platform Some of you expressed concerns about information that comes from the army and MOD Nearly half of respondents felt that face-to-face communication with senior army personnel involved with decisions that affect families was important 91 per cent wanted to communicate to the army, with AFF being your preferred method per cent thought an army-created online platform with access to information would be very useful

Got an issue? Talk to your local AFF coordinator, details on page three.


STEERING SERVICES AFF has been an integral part of the Yorkshire Covenant Partnership group – North Yorkshire, York, Scarborough, Richmondshire and Hambleton local authorities, which received funding to help embed the Covenant into their councils. Our Regional Manager North & Central, Sarah Gilbody, said: “It has been a pleasure to see

12 Army&You summer 2019

the councils take on board feedback and acknowledge what improvements they can make. “Some of the frontline staff have been trained on the Armed Forces Covenant and how it can be honoured and implemented in the community. “They now include information about the Armed Forces

Covenant on their websites. “So, if you’re living in the Yorkshire area, you should find that people working in services provided by your council are clued up on the nuances of military life.” To find out more about the training, visit warwickshire. and search ‘Covenant e-learning’.


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

Find out more or request a copy of our Will Guide at Contact the Legion’s legacy manager at or call 020 3207 2253

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

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

3 s Social Media Spouses member hie Sop y, read McC y Mist (from left) ach tenb Rau ie Jack and es and Fern


Amanda Barnes (right) with Sarah Gilbody, AFF Regional Manager North and Central


COUNCIL CONNECTION If you contact your local council or use any of its services, it can be frustrating to come across staff who have no understanding of forces life. One project, Forces Connect South East (FCSE), has been working behind the scenes to ensure this is not the case. By training local authority employees and creating specific ways to refer families in areas such as social care and homelessness, the FCSE programme should help to ensure you’re not disadvantaged as a service family. So, if you live in the South

14 Army&You summer 2019

East and have a question on any council services such as social housing or school admissions, you can feel confident that you’re getting the right advice. A new app called ‘Forces Connect’, with links to hundreds of services, is available. “We are already seeing the benefits,” said FCSE Covenant programme officer Amanda Barnes. “Public sector employees who have received Forces Connect training said that it made a significant difference to their understanding of the needs of the armed forces community, as well as to their confidence in being able to signpost them to the right services and support.”

Kim Garland, supervisor in adult social care, explained: “In the contact centre we now ask whether you or a family member has served, which was the biggest take-away from the training.” Alan, an employee in a Surrey Council call centre added: “I now have a better understanding of the difficulties that the forces community may face.” The programme is set to roll out across the country with training workshops and toolkits available for local authorities who wish to take it up.


l Visit forcesconnectse for more.

l For further information, visit

FUNDING TO BE FOUND The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has reopened the Armed Forces Covenant Local Grants programme following a short closure, with guidance to help develop strong bids. The scheme makes grants of up to £20,000 for local projects that improve integration between military and civilian communities or delivers services and projects that meet a need within the forces community.



SOCIAL MEDIA SPOUSES There is a real need among forces families to obtain skills to find flexible and interesting work that fits around military life. BFBS is helping plug that gap with its new online social media training programme specifically for military spouses and partners. Funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, Social Media Spouses offers detailed training to help grow your business, or to find a career in social media. This 12-week course helps you build professional skills and covers a range of topics including algorithms, strategies, campaign planning, community management, photography, video, ads and analytics. Course leader Jackie Rautenbach, BFBS social media

manager, said: “As a military wife I understand the challenges that spouses and partners face in finding employment that fits around military life. “Even though there has been an increase in support for spouses and partners to set up their own businesses and find employment, no other course offers free social media training. “That’s why this is so important and provides the much-needed support for these individuals in their chosen careers.” Once you’ve completed the course through a learning platform from anywhere around the world, you’ll become part of an exclusive community receiving advice on social media careers, content and campaigns, plus ongoing support and feedback from experts. l To apply, find #SMSpouses on Facebook.



One of the many services that SSAFA, The Armed Forces Charity, provides is a national registered adoption agency, supporting members of the armed forces. They understand the military lifestyle and they can help to ensure that you’re not disadvantaged as a result of your service. Applications are welcomed from all members of the serving community and also those who have left the armed forces in the last three years.

Moving this summer? Your housing provider Amey has a new guide. Available to download, it tells you everything about your Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and is for every service family, whether you’re moving into SFA for the first time or you’ve moved numerous times and need to know the new processes. The guide will take you through applying for your quarter, furniture and removals, the move-in process, emergencies, repairs and maintenance, your responsibilities, troubleshooting, annual safety checks and arranging your move-out, as well as important links and contacts.


l For more information, contact the SSAFA adoption team on 020 7463 9326 or visit


l Visit ameydefenceservices. for more.

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

020 7928 4814

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summer 2019 Army&You 15

BETTER BIRTHS Every woman should feel supported and have their voice heard about the maternity care they’re receiving, especially pregnant military spouses and partners who might be new to an area, have their soldier away, or struggling to access information. National Maternity Voices is the group of Maternity Voices Partnerships (MVP) in England – an independent group of women, families, commissioners, midwives and doctors reviewing the development of local maternity care. We spoke to two army spouses offering maternity care support… ILITARY spouse Francesca Seed is a mum-of-three, qualified doula and cochair for MVP Central Lancashire. She believes that access to information, support and continuity in care is key: “Families move regularly and many women are pregnant in this transition.

16 Army&You summer 2019

“Our feedback shows that 73 per cent of those moving were not supported by the military or NHS in transferring their maternity care – this needs to change.” Francesca led research, gathering feedback from families, with fellow military spouse and mum-of-three Katy McGarry, who covers the Catterick Garrison area.

Utilising her training as a midwife, Katy also provides hypnobirthing, antenatal guidance and relaxation through her business Mumborneveryminute. She said: “I have a passion to make sure new mums are empowered through support and information. Having the opportunity to feel you are not alone and to gain the knowledge that can assist you in having a positive start in being a mum.” Katy feels this is by far the biggest problem for military families: “I’ve lost count of the number of women who have told me about their partner going on deployments or being sent on courses while they are in their third trimester or near their due date. “These women then feel that

“Our feedback shows that 73 per cent of those moving were not supported by the military or NHS in transferring their maternity care – this needs to change.” @ArmyandYou

FRANCESCA & KATY’S TOP TIPS Left: A baby who benefited from Katy’s hypnobirthing Below: Francesca Seed with her children

1 Go on a prenatal course 2 Take control of your pregnancy journey by seeking out the information you need to make informed choices 3 For the serving partner, consider when you will be able to do courses during this time 4 If it looks likely that you’re going to be alone in your pregnancy, birth or postnatally, and you don’t want to be, considering hiring a doula – some charge, but others are volunteers

they have little support because they don’t have their partner there or family and friends close by. This can make them feel anxious about their pregnancy, birth and becoming a mum. “I want to give women support and information so that when they’re making choices for their labour and birth, they are doing so informed.” Francesca agreed and suggested that a single port of call for service families within either the armed forces or the NHS would help. “It would act as the family’s advocate between the health provider they depart from to where they’re posted to,” she explained. “Preventing delays in the transfer of birth plans, pregnancy care and other NHS services that a family requires.” Katy would like to see more acknowledgment from the military for pregnant women. “I would love to see soldiers not sent on courses or on deployment while their partners are in their

5 Even if you have a challenging pregnancy, try to maintain a positive attitude which will help you to have a positive birth experience 6 Approach your MVP – an independent NHS advisory body reviewing and coproducing maternity services with women and their families 7 Everything is your choice. If you’re unhappy, question it; want to know more? Ask 8 Don’t feel pressured to make a decision. You know you, your body, your baby, your children and your family

third trimester and up to 12 weeks postnatally,” she said. “It’s so important for these couples to go through this together. Having served myself, I appreciate it won’t happen for everyone, but I also know that some courses could be done at a more convenient time for a couple. Becoming parents is lifechanging.” Feedback from the research was presented to the Armed Forces Commissioner for NHS England, and it is formulating a plan to improve the provision of maternity services, initially in the north ahead of a nationwide rollout.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF In the meantime, there are lots of ways you can help yourself – especially by ensuring you’re armed with as much knowledge as possible. “Some mums don’t go to prenatal classes, either because their partner is away and they don’t want to go without them, or they don’t know where classes are because they’re new to an area,” explained Katy. “Going to a class allows you to meet others, form a friendship group and gain support.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your midwife, health visitor or welfare team. “It’s absolutely normal to feel completely overwhelmed in pregnancy, birth or postnatally,” said Francesca. “Your life is turned upside down, you’ll have good days and bad days, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. “Cherish the times you are a complete family unit. We had no visitors for the first two weeks after my youngest two were born; we wanted to make the most of paternity leave and the fact that daddy was ‘home’. “Ask visitors to do something other than simply have a hold of your baby – like making a cooked meal or fetching your favourite drink from a coffee shop.” If you’re accessing maternity services in your area, talk to your local MVP, feedback your experiences or use it as a safe place to find out information on your birth choices. While helping yourself, you could help other military families too. &


Army HIVE has launched a new remote service for all overseas locations. International HIVE, known as iHIVE, will provide you with relevant information wherever you’re living, covering topics such as health, education, welfare, local facilities, useful contacts and details of policies. Developed to help you understand more about locations overseas, the service can be used to decide if specific locations are suitable for your family’s needs before you move. The iHIVE blog also provides useful information for the overseas community from the chain of command and other organisations. Sign up to receive daily alerts or access at any time. In addition, there’s a HIVE information support officer available by email or phone to handle specific enquiries regarding overseas postings or anything else. Enquires can be made direct to iHIVE or through any HIVE. To keep up-to-date while you’re overseas, access the guides, the blogs or contact iHIVE, visit ihiveinfo.blogspot. com – details of your nearest HIVE can be found at army.

summer 2019 Army&You 17

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coming along – TMR Military Mums is about being sociable rather than competitive, helping mums to become happier and healthier through running. “I’ve lived in four different locations and I exercised throughout, always with friends on military bases, but more often than not they, or I, moved away and the hunt for a fitness buddy and social life around my children would start again.” The new group launched in Tidworth in March with a fantastic turnout for the first session and now meets twice a week. Army wife Caroline Taylor went along: “I was a bit hesitant about coming to be honest, but now I’m here I’m really chuffed that I came – you just run at your own pace and there’s no judging.”

This Mum Runs Military Mums gets underway in Tidworth


The life of a military mum is short on headspace and can be lonely – moving to new postings, managing on your own when your partner is away. Sometimes you need to connect with others who understand the challenges and the rewards of forces life. And that’s where This Mum Runs Military Mums comes in...

THIS Mum Runs (TMR) is a national network of running communities that

provides a way to meet new people, be part of an inclusive local group and give you time out for yourself. Army wife and mother-of-three Roz Oram had the idea to extend the initiative to the military community, where support and friendship of fellow mums is at the heart of everyday lives. “You don’t have to be an experienced runner,” said Roz. “Even if you’ve never put on a pair of trainers it’s worth

Join our family Contact us today

Roz Oram (left) hopes the group promotes health and happiness

TMR Military Mums has launched in Gloucestershire and plans to reach other areas. Could your community benefit? Join the closed Facebook group at TMRMilitaryMums &


{for everyone with a soldier

in their life}


Service spouses share the secrets of their business successes MONEY


How you can reap the rewards from being frank about finances


Meet the youngsters looking after loved ones




Why solo flights can be a blessing for young travellers

The marathon mum who put paralysis in its place

The cost of serving






How the Army inspires singer Annabel Allum


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Families share their transition experiences

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Meet the families successfully striking a balance between employment and Army life


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summer 2019 Army&You 19

FIT FOR THE QUEEN Army spouse Kathryn Cuthbertson has been a pastry chef all her career and has worked for some of the world’s most prestigious five-star hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants. She told us how she’s juggled her career with army life and how she’s giving back to the military community by sharing her skills with others… ATHRYN is a member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and was awarded a Member of The Victorian Order by The Queen. She said: “I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside some of the industry’s leading chefs in different countries and cook for royalty and celebrities. “It was a great honour to be asked to join the royal household as Her Majesty’s royal pastry chef in 2006. There are many highlights from my time working for the royal family including creating and executing menus for state occasions, royal weddings and royal christenings. Examples of some of my work can be seen in the two royal collection publications: Royal Teas and A Royal Cookbook.”


Though Kathryn was based in

“There are many highlights from my time working for the royal family including creating and executing menus for state occasions, royal weddings and royal christenings.”

Buckingham Palace, her role took her to all of the royal residencies. It was whilst at Balmoral that she met her husband and her army life began: “Our first marital home was in Edinburgh then we moved to Belfast, Aldershot and Penicuik. “Due to my professional responsibilities, I remained in London but was able to travel home most weekends. We were finally able to live together in one place when I made the decision to leave the Palace and we were posted to Catterick in 2018.”


Picture: Lisa Linder

20 Army&You summer 2019

Kathryn now specialises in creating bespoke cakes and hand-crafted chocolates using high quality sustainably-sourced ingredients and the utmost attention to detail. “I’ve been running pastry masterclasses for local residents, mainly military families, showing how to create professional desserts in their own kitchens,” she said. Feedback has been very encouraging so far. Course attendee Josephine Hutchinson loved it: “It was a fantastic evening: fun, informative and we learnt lots of top tips from a pro – those things that cookbooks don’t tell you. Kathryn

is a natural teacher, relaxed and very professional. I hope to do more.” “They are an enjoyable way of meeting people too,” added Kathryn. “Catterick Garrison is very friendly and families are very supportive.”


Although catering has been an incredibly rewarding career for Kathryn, she feels it’s a lifestyle as opposed to just a job: “It takes incredible passion and determination to achieve success. “Long hours, antisocial working and demanding deadlines are features of the work. In many ways, there are parallels to being a member of the armed forces!” If you live near Catterick and are interested in joining one of Kathryn’s classes, visit @ArmyandYou

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N O I L I V A P S ’ E L P O E THE P is an ISHFORTH Yorkshire facilities isolated camp with few r working for families to go to afte ime difficult hours – making downt g personnel are away. especially when servin was agreed. d Chris ject Fay and serving husban “Aligned with the cafe pro ir walk the s ces (pictured right) used to suc the of k and on the bac n on the d dog past an old pavilio rte sta b, clu of the gardening me it base and felt it was a sha g the by Padre James Hardin . had been left to go to ruin up with e cam we previous year, n She explained: “We ofte nt tme allo g atin the idea of cre building discussed how much a e, caf the ide spaces alongs like that could offer the s their which would give familie ring e and community and, after hea duc pro ate own area to cre way, others talk in the same of se sen r ate hopefully a gre k of a decided we should thin said Fay. community cohesion,” benefit use for it which would the everyone. We settled on Involving others where e caf nity mu com a idea of ning The main issue was gai and spouses could volunteer y had the e onc permission but ns hopefully gain qualificatio nding ma com the the support of ce along the way.” fen De h wit gs officer, meetin d After speaking to Heled and ion sat ani Org Infrastructure ruit for Kendrick, founder of Rec and contractors were set up ating nce Spouses, the idea of cre “O ld: bui to interest began spouses a, an office space where ide our ut abo people heard s could run their businesse

22 Army&You summer 2019

renovation underway.”

Helping hands

The initial work inside the ir – Fay, pavilion was a family affa n ldre chi Chris and their two . nds helping at the weeke s great “Our kids thought it wa lls,” wa the knocking plaster off y pan com added Fay. “A local and ors do installed windows, ich made facias at cost price, wh budget. our a huge difference to the in “All the woodwork by two pavilion was completed nings eve up soldiers who gave ” Fay ject pro they were enthusiastic, the and weekends. As mission re mo and continued. “[Gaining] per re moved forward mo g took h wit ist to refurbish the buildin people offered to ass this ches.” about five months. During painting and finishing tou sity of e cam time and with the genero o The community als g us a ty, par g a local contractor loanin together for a paintin tments that they digger, work on the allo without which Fay said rred time for in d got underway and spu wouldn’t have finishe . interest in the community the grand opening. 00 In the “We secured an initial £1,5 “We were so thankful. al council spent we in funding from the loc ng run up to the openi l bid to e, caf and made a successfu the many late nights in for ing The Royal British Legion dd we including our first ing enjoyed an external grant, receiv anniversary where we get the £9,500. We could finally


said: “Anyone and lots a pizza, a bottle of wine living locally of painting.” couldn’t fail to the Both the regiment and notice how much n very welfare team have bee time and effort t and its supportive of the projec Fay and Chris ve. impact has been positi have gone to. There are family events “They have mer including Dishfest – a sum ploughed hours ues, festival – family barbec into the project. nd cafe sports events, a weeke Without their pavilion. and family days at the vision and nal It also offers an additio commitment, it , which venue to hire for parties wouldn’t have ney for has helped generate mo happened. welfare activities. “Fay has an eye for interior The future design, so not only does its A local unit has offered functional the community have a te a few apprentices to comple – a rarity space, it looks beautiful t of their remaining tasks as par on army camps. hen uptraining and, with the kitc fortable, “We have a lovely, com r chef is and-running, the maste e safe place to spend tim through putting cafe volunteers as a and s ilie fam as er, togeth ates. their food hygiene certific et.” community. It’s a real ass create There are also plans to by d pire ins n bee ’ve If you ground a bike track on the waste ion. leg tish bri it vis t, jec this pro in for the with a nature trail built rg,, anningtontrust.o younger children. your or k g.u .or und ntf covena llough Army spouse Kate McCu

dern interior of Forces facelift: The mo community hub rth hfo Dis ed amp rev the

tion local council for informa g. din fun about scared Fay’s advice is not to be they to ask. Nearly everyone help, approached agreed to ile, although it can take a wh ns. pla any to in this tor so fac is dia me ial soc of r we po “The g ctin nta immense,” said Fay. “Co ws allo ok companies via Facebo olvement inv ir the re sha to them & to gain free advertising.”


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


Bluetooth a Rosie-Lee DAB Digital Radio & s win and ion mp Cha y nit mu y&You readers an Fay is our summer Com VQ, which has also offered all Arm nd bra tish Bri m fro 9) 9.9 £12 P on checkout. speaker (RR and use code ARMYVQ My it Vis . Lee ieRos a on 0 £5 e exclusive offer to sav

hforth Airfield All change: The old Dis has been Youth Centre building for the entire transformed into a hub tireless community thanks to the efforts of Fay and Chris

summer 2019 Army&You 23


FAIRNESS FOR FORCES When it comes to understanding service life, companies and employers don’t always ‘get it’, that’s why there’s an organisation working on your behalf to help ensure the armed forces community is treated fairly in the consumer and job market – Defence Relationship Management (DRM). One of its national account managers, Nat Haynes, is a military spouse herself, so she identifies with many of the issues that are brought to DRM’s attention. We caught up with Nat to find out more about what the organisation does for service families…


I’m the DRM lead for service families and feed all issues through to employers across all sectors. We aim to help organisations understand the value of signing the Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) and provide advice on employing military spouses and partners.


We’ve helped with commercial fairness policies that aim to stop service families being disadvantaged due to mobility. Phone and broadband contracts,

for example, can now be terminated without penalty. When this has not happened, we’ve been able to raise issues with companies and the fees have been quickly waived. A common issue when applying for a mortgage is the potential lender not recognising BFPO numbers as a valid address for credit checks. In the majority of cases escalated to us by the families federations, we’ve been able to get the lender to review the application positively. We’ve also been able to secure commercial discounts and positive recruitment policies for service families.


The AFC and the Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) are key areas of work for us. ERS encourages employers to support the forces community and inspire others to do so through an award scheme.


We have employers that operate guaranteed interview schemes for service families. Commercial fairness is also making a real difference across telecommunications and financial services organisations. We love to hear about organisations getting it right! We work closely with AFF to gather evidence of negative and positive experiences, so get in touch at

24 Army&You summer 2019

INTRODUCING... FORCES Families Jobs – a brand new website specifically designed to support you in your hunt for a job or training. It will feature roles from employers who are committed to supporting the service community and are actively recruiting forces family members like you. When you apply for a vacancy advertised on Forces Families Jobs, you can feel confident that you won’t be discriminated against because of a chequered CV or gaps in your employment history due to military life.


Last year, AFF published a report from the research project into spousal employment run in partnership with the University of Warwick; the creation of an employment platform was one of the key recommendations.


Our research found that although there are several excellent employment initiatives out there, many of you haven’t heard of them or don’t know where to find more information. The platform will deliver a ‘one-stop shop’ for any family members to access employment and training opportunities. Whether you’re looking for information about starting up your own business, help with writing a CV, preparing for an interview, training courses or careers fairs, Forces Families Jobs will be the place to go. You’ll be able to search for, and apply directly, for jobs live online and employers will be able to match your CV to roles they’re recruiting for.


We’ve been collaborating with the other families federations to ensure that it’s going to be an effective tool for all forces families. We’ve also been working closely with DRM (see Fairness for Forces, left) and other key organisations to develop the content and encourage companies that have signed the Armed Forces Covenant to advertise their job opportunities on the site.


Forces Families Jobs launches this September, so keep an eye on social media @The_AFF and #forcesfamiliesjobs, talk to your local AFF co-ordinator or contact Laura at for updates. @ArmyandYou

MAKE their DEBUT one to remember Bespoke publications and photography placing your young superstars in the sporting spotlight Find out more at or



d a o l e h t g Sharin DOMINIKA & JAMES STEVENS Both serving in the army and they hav twin boys, Jenson and Dexter

“James wanted the same opportunity to look after his children as servicewomen do on maternity leave. When the policy on ShPL was published around the same time that we were expecting our twins, James applied to take six months off with me returning to work after the mandatory two weeks. “Our decision worked for us but was met with surprise from others. I had been in my new unit fewer than six months and they had never had to deal with it, not least because the policy was new. However, my chain of command could not have been more accommodating, working with James’ unit to ensure the process

26 Army&You summer 2019


was followed. “The biggest problem we encountered was the mismatch of hospital and MOD policy, which has now been rectified. I wasn’t allowed to go past 38 weeks but my return to work date could not be changed. As a result, we had to use two weeks’ annual leave before the boys started nursery. “These formalities aside, we feel that ShPL is an amazing opportunity. The bond James and the boys have is undeniably due to him caring for them in the first months of their lives. I would advise expectant parents to embrace it and enjoy their time with their babies.”


Both serving in the army and they have a daughter, Charlotte “Once we knew I was pregnant we wanted to live together as a family and considered one of us leaving the army. We stumbled across ShPL and it seemed to be the solution. We started the application to share 12 months, applying for six months each over the same dates. “The process seemed simple, but it wasn’t. Both chains of command were supportive, but no one knew what ShPL entailed. People spent more time persuading me to take 12 months’ maternity leave rather than helping us. If we had not been so driven, I think we would have given up. Sam and I muddled through the paperwork, but eventually had to ask the occupational health team for assistance.

Thankfully, they were very helpful. “It was eventually accepted and was the best solution until three months in when I decided that I didn’t want to return to work. Taking ShPL meant that unlike straightforward maternity leave, I was required to give 12 months’ notice – it was very upsetting. “We altered our plan with Sam going back to work earlier and me taking unpaid parental leave - I returned to work when our daughter was nine-months-old. “Despite all this, I would still recommend ShPL. I’d encourage couples to speak to someone face-toface about options. If we’d known what we do now, our application would have been very different.”


ITH attitudes to modern family life changing, Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) is becoming more Although popular amongst new parents. low, ably ider take up is still cons ngly progressive employers are increasi and – on opti the es loye giving their emp n. ptio exce no is es the armed forc ed The military’s occupational shar s give me sche pay and parental leave y bilit flexi el onn pers rve regular and rese

year to share time off work in the first with ed after their child is born or plac in split be them for adoption. ShPL can in it take any number of ways: you can together. turns, do half and half, or be off is 50 The maximum amount available t take mus weeks, not 52, as the mother as birth the first two weeks following compulsory maternity leave. e their “Units should actively encourag staff HR personnel to use it and all unit



y Sally is in the army, Andy ex-royal nav two rge, Geo and they have sons Oliver, four and inclusive to minimise impact “We’d both had a very busy over Christmas with Andy in few years with deployments a non-operational role. and I had suffered with “The process for the postnatal depression after pregnant service person was Oliver was born. We knew unclear and we felt that the we needed time out to system was set up for the reconnect as a family. When woman to be non-serving. we found out I was pregnant After a few back and forth again, we decided to apply forms we were granted for ShPL and take three ShPL and took three months months concurrently. concurrently after my six “My chain of command months’ maternity leave to were happy; they knew I go on a round-the-world trip would be back earlier if in a camper van! I took ShPL rather than “I’d highly recommend maternity leave. With my ShPL to other families. Just husband’s, there was a lot keep going back to the of: ‘we’re too busy’, ‘you’ll clerks and ask as many put undue pressure on your questions as you can. It will colleagues’. We requested work out.” November to January

lable to are aware of the policy and avai SO2 ont, Lam l Pau Maj give advice,” said service policy. icated “Ensure that you have commun worked and d man com of n with your chai ions licat imp l ncia fina out the timings, on have may it cts effe l and the potentia ents loym dep l ntia pote career courses, and monthly bills.” We spoke to four families who have gone down the ShPL route…

e Both serving in the army and they hav old ths a son, Arthur, who is nine mon “We looked at ShPL as we wanted time with our son so he has a strong relationship with both of us. Plus, I didn’t want to take loads of time off due to my job. I’m staying where I am in 32 Regiment RA, but my husband has just started his new posting. “My battery commander and commanding officer were both very supportive. When he was posted, the new unit were happy to uphold it.


Start by reading the full eligibility criteria in the JSP

making a decision

Making an application can be complex, so here are our top tips:

Talk to your unit admin team/civilian employer at the earliest opportunity – it’s advisable to have an informal chat before

Keep an eye on your payslips to ensure that relevant changes have been made and

Get your paperwork in as early as possible

“It was very easy and we didn’t encounter any obstacles. In the end I took 19 weeks and Alec took the last seven. We would 100 per cent encourage others to apply, even if it’s just for a few weeks. “It helps with going back to work if you know your baby is with the other parent and not in childcare, and it’s so good for babies to have a bond with both parents.”

notify your admin team if you spot any issues To find out more go to JSP 760 Chapter 27 at, or contact AFF Employment, Training, Money & Allowances Specialist Laura Lewin at

summer 2019 Army&You 27



For more useful inf o or to contact the AFF F&C team, visit k

In July 2012, new rules made it almost impossible for Foreign & Commonwealth families to bring their parents to the UK. AFF continues to receive lots of queries about this, and with applications currently costing £3,250, we’ve asked our F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston to explain things…


They will need to demonstrate that they require long-term personal care, such as help with everyday tasks like washing, cooking and dressing. They must show they can’t access this care in their home country, either due to cost or availability. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to argue that there are no family members available back home to look after them; the Home Office states that the family in the UK could, and should, pay for carers to visit the relative, or place them in a care home.


There has been a massive decrease in the applications rate since the new rules were introduced. Between 2010 and 2014, the success rate dropped from 65 per cent to less than 10 per cent, with the majority only successful on appeal. To make matters worse, there’s no automatic right of appeal, because the Home Office doesn’t consider separating adult relatives to be contrary to their human rights.


28 Army&You summer 2019

According to the Home Office, the main aim of the new rules was to reduce the burden on the taxpayer, ‘in view of the significant NHS and social care costs to which adult dependant relative cases can give rise’.


In May 2017, a campaigning organisation called BritCits challenged the rules through the Court of Appeal. It argued that the rules are disproportionate and therefore unlawful; that they give little regard to the psychological and emotional needs of the parent or the cultural norms for looking after elderly relatives. It said that a reduction in NHS and social care costs could have been achieved with a requirement to take out health insurance or pay for all treatment received, or by imposing an income threshold on the UK sponsor. The court dismissed the challenge, stating that ‘significantly fewer dependants will be able to satisfy the new conditions, but that was always the intention’. However, it found that the rules could be interpreted more generously – giving a little more scope for arguments about the emotional needs of the parent.


Read the guidance first to see if your application is likely to succeed. If so, then seek experienced, qualified immigration advice. We don’t recommend making an application if it’s likely to fail, as you’ll lose the money and the refusal could have a detrimental effect on your parents’ ability to obtain a visit visa in the future.


Two-, five- and ten-year visas are available, but the maximum time that can be spent in the UK on one visit is six months. It’s important that your parent isn’t spending more time in the UK than in their home country, or they could be refused entry. The Home Office has tightened up on the visit visa rules, making it a lot more difficult to bring elderly relatives to the UK if you cannot prove they intend to return home after six months. Applications from some locations, such as North Africa, are more likely to be refused than others. Although AFF can’t provide specific advice on these applications, there’s information at &

RUSILA Halofaki’s father passed away recently in Fiji. Her mother is now alone and is financially supported by Rusila and her husband, who own their own house and would love for Rusila’s mother to move to the UK so they can look after her. Unfortunately, she won’t meet the strict requirements. Rusila said: “It’s expensive for us to keep travelling home and to have mum come here on short trips. The constant worry of her wellbeing weighs us down emotionally and psychologically. There will come a point when my mum won’t be able to travel the 24-plus hours from Fiji to visit us. The strict requirements should be considerate of those of us who are in a financially sound position to support our parents, as our intentions are honourable. Why can't the armed forces community bring our parents under the same dependants’ visa we originally acquired when we joined our spouses?”


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lives with her Young carer: Grace (12), who who has autism brothers Jacob and Adam,

Kids who care AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross has been looking at what it means to be a young carer in the armed forces community… ORE than 800,000 children and young people across the UK, some as young as five, are caring for family members. The Children’s Society study on young carers in the armed forces obtained data indicating that there are 512 young carers in military families, but this is thought to be underestimated.

30 Army&You summer 2019

If you’re under 18 and regularly help care for a family member with an illness, additional need or disability, you are a young carer. Care can include cooking, cleaning and helping someone wash and dress. If you are 16-25 you will be considered an adult young carer. Many children and young people don’t think of themselves young carers,

despite caring for a family member. Grace is 12 and lives with her brothers Jacob and Adam, who has autism. She helps to look after him and Jacob when her parents go out and helps Adam with his homework, packed lunch and getting him ready for school – but she doesn’t regard herself as a young carer. “I find the term to be very

formal, almost as if referring to someone who’s in no way related to Adam,” she told Army&You. “I’m just a sister trying to help my younger brother. Sure, it isn’t easy – and sometimes we fight like cat and dog – but it’s also a joy as he is so clever, funny and super talented. “I’m not ashamed to say Adam has autism because we are @ArmyandYou

family and I love him.”

The impact of caring

Caring can impact on general and mental health, education, life opportunities and social life. Evidence suggests that young carers are more likely to be bullied in school and miss an average of 48 days of lessons each year. Young adult carers are more likely not to be in education, employment or training. For young carers in the army community there’s the added impact of frequent moves, changes of school and long periods of separation from the serving parent. Grace has experienced some negativity herself: “When I was joining a new school, there were many questions and rude remarks from children about Adam and his autism. Overall, I’m not embarrassed to talk openly about his condition, he’s absolutely remarkable.” The Children and Families Act details the rights of young carers and states that local authorities must assess whether a young carer requires support and identify their needs. If under 18, young carers have a right to a carer’s assessment.

Support in schools

The Young Carers in Schools (YCiS) programme is run jointly by The Children’s Society and Carers Trust and aims to make it easy for schools to identify and support their young carers, and be rewarded for good practice. The Children’s Society provides tools, an e-newsletter, training for professionals and an award, while the Carers Trust’s step-by-step guide contains resources for leaders, teachers and non-teaching staff. An important element of the YCiS programme is that it encourages a whole-school approach, which ensures a supportive and non-stigmatising ethos. Army young carers may

lp my I’m just a sister trying to he ’t easy, younger brother. Sure, it isn clever, but it’s also a joy as he is so funny and super talented.

unique needs. They’re also developing specific resources and a toolkit. Several initiatives have also been developed to support carers in the armed forces community. Jill Baines, charity executive of Andover Young Carers in Hampshire, told us: “When I arrived here a lot of young carers with military connections were hidden, even if identified and supported by us or other organisations, links hadn’t been established with the Army Welfare Service (AWS) or veteran charities. “We’ve had an initial meeting with AWS to raise awareness of our work, and we hope to increase access to our services. I’m designing some marketing materials to send to local schools with military children.” Wiltshire and Suffolk also have specific ‘military families leads’ providing support, while NHS England has appointed a leadership support manager who oversees carers from armed forces communities. If you have a young carer in your army family and need support, get in touch at &

struggle to tell their peers about their caring role, or the impact that having a serving family member has on them, so by encouraging this sort of atmosphere, a young person is more likely to seek help. Grace admitted she doesn’t ask for support because she feels many people don’t understand how to help or aren’t aware of disabilities such as autism: “I feel that many people only notice disabilities that can be recognised easily. “If I needed support, I would probably ask my parents, find a group of people that know what it’s like, or talk to one girl I know at school who also has an autistic brother.”

USEFUL LINKS AWS Intake and Assessment Team (IAT): 01904 882053 or AWS-HQ-IAT@

Identifying needs

One outcome of The Children’s Society’s report is the creation of a steering group for armed forces young carers, which will help identify and support their young-carers our-work/armed-forces

summer 2019 Army&You 31


OUR YOUNGSTERS’ VOICES Growing up in an army family throws up some unique challenges – separation from parents, moving schools and changing friendships to name a few. So, what impact do these factors have on service children’s education, and how much of a say do our youngsters have on their army lives? Jill Misson reports…


HEN you talk to children about their serving parents, even the youngest will have something to say. Sevenyear-old Emma Shayler, for example, told us: “Sometimes he’s away so much that I feel like I have no dad. I’m sad and I cry but I’ve learned to be brave.” Jess Parfitt (13, pictured below) said: “My dad has gone away 72 times since I was born. I feel low-spirited due to the fear of losing him but I’m proud and full of admiration because he’s protecting our country.” AFF is

working with people from the University of Winchester on vital research, as AFF Education Specialist Jilly Carrell explained: “Decisions are made for a military child about moving house, moving country and moving school. We need to hear from the children themselves if we are to make changes to improve their young lives and their educational outcomes.” Matt Blyton from North Yorkshire County Council agreed: “Pupils of armed forces personnel are a special group who bring many strengths and talents to their schools, but the lifestyle often presents challenges not of their choosing, so at times they require additional support.” Matt ran a conference in 2012 inviting more

than 60 service school children to share their views. One key message emerged: “We don’t want to be treated differently but we do want to be understood and to be given extra help when it’s needed.”

Encourage expression

Some children may struggle to articulate feelings, which is when a dedicated service pupils’ champion or an emotional literacy support assistant (ELSA) is an asset. At St George’s Catholic Primary in Warminster, Archie Harriman (6) goes to see “the string lady” as he calls the school’s ELSA. Mum Jessica said: “They created pictures showing everyone in our family connected by a string so when Archie is upset, he can pull on

the string so daddy will feel it.” Headteacher Kate Saunders’ army background enables her to understand the needs of service pupils. She said: “They experience stress when a parent is deployed, and this can be hugely exacerbated by what they see on the news. “Even if the parent is not in a dangerous location, it leaves a gap in their lives. Children may have to change schools frequently and leave friends behind.” When Jessica Parkinson (9) left one school her classmates gave her a picture featuring all their fingerprints. She told her mum: “I don’t want to make any new friends because you’re just going to move us again.” The first day in a new school is the hardest,

according to Ava Kerr (9): “I feel nervous that I don’t know anybody and scared that I won’t make friends.” She was helped to settle at Priory Church in Wales School by their military liaison officer, who organises group activities like fitness and cookery. Social media helps children to maintain long-distance friendships, as Amy-Lea Price (9) explained: “I try to download games that you can play with your old friends online.”

Raising awareness

In 2018 there were 76,319 service children being educated in England, with many more in schools in the devolved nations and throughout the world. In Scotland, Colin Flinn from the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET) said: “The different education systems abroad and within the UK mean pupils can experience gaps in their learning, covering topics more than once or not being able to access subjects they were studying.” In Wales, schools don’t receive Service Pupil Premium funding but there are other funding streams to support service children. Term dates vary across the UK, with a nine-week summer holiday in Northern Ireland. Many teachers still have a lot to learn about the @ArmyandYou

We need to hear from the children themselves if we are to make changes to improve their young lives and their educational outcomes life of military children. Colin added: “There’s a perception that forces pupils are resilient and will simply get on with the challenges they face as that’s what they are used to.” A seminar was held in March this year for trainee teachers at Kingston University. Dr Alison Baverstock, founder of the charity Reading Force, said: “Within PGCE courses, students cover how to spot a child with special needs, or one who is potentially at risk, and we think it would be helpful for all teachers to gain some understanding of what it’s like to be a child in a forces family. “We are planning to share our information with the Department for Education and Skills and HE Ministry, in the hope of influencing wider practice.” The Little Troopers at School project aims to educate the educators, as charity founder Louise Fetigan explained: “We have developed a series of story books that are a great asset to any school library and roleplay outfits for military representation in early years settings. “This year we introduced resources for children with additional needs and coming soon is the military child wellbeing course template.”

Aiming for attainment

Parents want their children to be happy at school, but academic progress is also important. A 2019 report by Hampshire County Council concluded: “It would appear that as service pupils grow up, their relative attainment in comparison to non-service, nondisadvantaged pupils weakens, and the gap grows negatively.” Research also shows that children from military families are less likely to go to university, which is why AFF is working with partners such as the University of Winchester to investigate. But discouraging statistics can’t stand in the way of a young person with aspirations to achieve. Jess Parfitt said: “I wish to study law at Oxford or Cardiff when I grow up. Being a military child has given me many advantages like confidence and good communication skills and I’m grateful for those opportunities.” AFF’s Jilly Carrell added: “Without their experience and unique perspective, we cannot truly represent service children’s views. We should also be celebrating their achievements and ability to adapt to complex challenges.” &

Next generation: Service pupils Emma Shayler (top); Archie Harriman (centre); and Jessica Parkinson

Useful contacts AFF Education Specialist Jilly Carrell: RCET: Reading Force: Little Troopers: summer 2019 Army&You 33


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SERVICE PUPIL PREMIUM: WHAT IS IT? Did you know that if your child goes to school in England, they are eligible for £300 from the Department for Education to help support the unique challenges that they may face?


If your child attends a state school, academy or free school in England, and is in reception to year 11, then they are entitled to receive SPP funding if they meet certain criteria


Once you have informed the school that your child is a service child, they can apply via the census that takes place every January.

WHAT WOULD BE A GOOD WAY FOR A SCHOOL TO SPEND THE SPP? There are lots of good examples, but the best approach is to speak to the head teacher. It could be being part of a club, being able to have books to support deployment, friendship groups or something different.

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY CHILD GOES TO SCHOOL IN OTHER PARTS OF THE UK? Northern Ireland Service children in Northern Ireland receive additional support under the provisions of the Common

Funding Scheme. For more information, contact the MOD education support officer in Northern Ireland at RC-AWS-N-38X-0Mailbox@

Scotland A service child indicator is available and service families should be encouraged to register. Currently there is no SPP for service children living in Scotland, but the Scottish Government strategy for school funding considers areas such as mobility when looking at allocating additional support.

Wales SPP is not available in Wales, but for 2018/19 the Welsh Government provided £250,000 to support children of armed forces personnel in Wales, administered by the Supporting Service Children in Education Cymru project and hosted by the Welsh Local Government Association. For more information, contact Jilly Carrell, AFF Education Specialist by email at &


1. A parent is serving in the regular armed forces 2. A parent is full-time reserve service 3. Your child has been registered as a service child within the last six years, even if the parent has left the service.

A QUICK GUIDE TO CLAIMING CEA Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) is exactly that: an allowance to provide continuity of education for our children as the army moves us between assignments. If you’re considering boarding school for your children, here’s a guide to what you need to know... Is your family home within 50 miles of your service person’s place of work? Is your family likely to move more than 50 miles in the next four years? If the answer is yes, then you are highly likely to be eligible.

➜ Firstly, speak to and register with the Children’s Education and Advisory Service ( for detailed guidance.

➜ Visit as many schools as possible, looking at quality of education and facilities, pastoral care and fees. Many schools offer armed forces discounts.

➜ You’ll have to make a minimum ten per cent contribution to the fees. On top of this there will be extras such as music lessons, so be certain that you can budget for all of it.

➜ Finally, once you’ve selected a school and your child has been offered a place, your soldier can submit your eligibility certificate via JPA – the MOD’s intranet system. Your regimental admin office will be able to advise you on this.

➜ It goes to the Army Personnel Centre to confirm eligibility, then to the commanding officer for authority before going to the Pay and Allowances Casework and Complaints Cell for final authorisation. This can take a number of weeks.

➜ Once you have authorisation, confirm the place – and go out and buy the uniform!

summer 2019 Army&You 35

MEMBERS OF THE BOARD There are so many unique experiences to being an army child; frequent moves, parental separation and educational challenges. AFF is working with the University of Winchester and the Army Welfare Service to learn more about the impact of service life on children – including hearing from the young people themselves. Jilly Carrell, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, spoke to four army children about their experiences of boarding. Here’s what they had to say... HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING AN ARMY CHILD? Sophie (11, year six at Port Regis): I always think of myself

as an army child. It’s what my childhood has been made up of – all the house moves – and it’s the reason that me and my brothers go to boarding school. My dad has been on three tours since 2016 and only been at home for four months during this time. I keep in touch with him by letters and cards mostly. We Skype him from home but because of the time differences, I can’t Skype him from school. If I’m missing him then I find my friend Matilda – her dad is also in the army, so this really helps. I can also go to my teacher – there are quite a few army children at my school, so she understands.

Ben (13, year eight at Port Regis): I feel like I’ve had a

different experience growing up because of the moving. It can

36 Army&You summer 2019

be hard because you have to leave all your friends and change schools, but I’ve been boarding for six years and this has helped because I know I can cope without my parents. My dad deploys a lot, but I miss him more when I’m at home as I have no-one to play rugby with. At least when I’m at school, I have my friends and my clubs. It can be hard at boarding though because my bed isn’t quite as comfy, and I don’t get to say goodnight to my parents.

Scarlett (13, year eight at St Mary’s Shaftesbury): I try not

to think about being an army child. I just think of myself as part of a normal family – I don’t really know any different.

Bibi (11, year seven at St Mary’s Shaftesbury): Boarding for me when my dad was away was comfortable and the other girls looked after me – in fact I was able to forget my worries.


boarding difficult in the past but weekly boarding can make things much more manageable.

Sophie: People think I’m a lot


tougher as a result of moving and dad being away a lot. Sometimes people refer to me as an ‘army kid’ but I don’t see it as a bad thing.

Ben: It’s hard to see the

day kids going home and sometimes I mind about not seeing my mum. But on balance, I’m glad that my parents decided to send me to boarding school, as I have been awarded a sports scholarship – it makes the moves and upheaval worthwhile.

Scarlett: Going to boarding

school has given me different opportunities. I have found

Sophie: The hardest thing

is that people can treat us differently and think we’re tougher than we are. We are just kids and it doesn’t mean my feelings are less than others because I put on a brave face.

Ben: Saying goodbye to friends. Scarlett: Moving around has

been hard – and living in army houses which have often not been good quality. I find it hard to leave my friends behind.

Bibi: A lot of people don’t really


On board: Boarding school has provided unique opportunities for arm y children (from left): Ben, Scarlett, Bibi and Sophie

face the challenges that life throws in my direction. It can be an adventure.

Ben: I think I’m good

at making friends – my friends come from all over the world. I feel proud of my dad. I know he is doing good things for our country, it makes me want to do something to make him proud in return.

Scarlett: I’ve learned that you don’t need both parents to be there all the time. It has taught me that life is about moving on and you can’t stay in the same place forever. I’d find it hard not to be looking forward to the next challenge. For a full life you need to meet new people. Bibi: I have experienced new

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places and as a result I’m a little less afraid of change than some of my friends. &

understand what it feels like for their parent to be away – it takes some getting used to.


army child. My dad has taught me to get on with life and to

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summer 2019 Army&You 37

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

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d’s r chil Is you that going ort school s to upp e il m extra ren? child r service ke you you li d l i ou e W ur n to feat l oo ct h c s Conta ture? s fu the detail ou for Y & k y Arm .org.u d@aff at depe

School report

ools worldwide show our Army&You highlights the support that sch ding to Staffordshire... military children. This edition, we're hea How does the school help service children settle in?

One of our core values is ‘family’. We are a smaller-than-average primary school on the outskirts of Stafford, with a village school feel. All the children are very welcoming. The school is used to children coming and going because service parents have regularly deployed or moved. We have an open-door policy where we actively invite parents to contact us should their children have any issues. We also celebrate successes as children who feel safe and happy, succeed.

What practical support do you give service pupils?

The social and emotional wellbeing of our children is paramount. We find some need a lot of support to settle in. St , Andrew’s may be a service child’s third d lishe estab have fourth or fifth school. We to ps grou re breakfast clubs and nurtu provide opportunities for children to express their feelings and make new friendships. We have also improved the school grounds where children freely s socialise. Morning breaks and lunchtime free of week a s offer more than six hour time. We have invested considerable as funds and time into making free time ible. poss as enjoyable and engaging

Are there any military links?

The governing body always has a representative from the MOD on the board – usually a parent. They have always been pro-active; supporting with grant applications, arranging activities and for the children during ‘values week’ ies. famil ce servi for ear ing listen a being the We meet termly at MOD Stafford with ss discu to ols scho r othe and team welfare tice. opportunities and to share good prac

What do the kids think?

“I Recalling when she arrived, Evie said: the , away ht straig ds frien of lots made teachers are nice, and it was easy to settle in.” Mikey agreed: “The teachers are always kind and keep us focused.” Reflecting on her first experience of St r Andrew’s, Rachel explained: “I remembe my trial day, everyone was really nice. Everyone knows each other. I like the like class sizes and the range of facilities s.” shed ing read the and trail ity the activ

NAME OF SCHOOL St Andrew’s Church of England Primary LOCATION Weston, Staffordshire NUMBER OF SERVICE PUPILS 35 out of 182

And the parents?

Mrs Kelly said: “My boys are happy and they love to learn. They don’t want to ing move again.” Mrs Heynes added: “Com d up from Paris, St Andrew’s quickly picke ol scho The e. ledg know son’s my in gaps d rstan unde to nd beyo and e abov goes & parents and their children’s needs.”

summer 2019 Army&You 39

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40 Army&You summer 2019



Good neighbours: Farleigh School’s pupils spend time with a youngster from the nearby Icknield Special School as part of a well-established community link-up

HEART OF THE COMMUNITY We find out how pupils benefit when schools forge links with their near neighbours...


S 17th century author

both immediate and long-term, and

state primary and secondary schools

over the years I know how many

invited to attend STEM, creative arts

are introduced to – and make friends

Farleigh pupils have benefited from,

and academic events throughout

island – and the sentiment holds

with – their neighbours thanks to

and enjoyed the opportunity to be

the year.

true for more than the individual

weekly visits from counterparts at

part of, this activity.

man and woman on the street.

Icknield Special School.

John Donne famously wrote, no man is an

Mr Donne’s reference to the power

heart of their local community. Starting in year seven, youngsters

Farleigh’s pupils welcome their

“It is certainly one of the best things we offer to our children.”

with pupils from four local primary

of community in personal growth is

visitors and use imaginary and role

equally applicable to the education

play to give them an exciting hour

gates to other groups, including

1,000 children aged four and older

sector, where savvy schools are only

in the grounds or the school sports

adult and child swimmers who

and even offering a year seven

too aware of the benefits of exposing

hall, while events such as Christmas

make use of the swimming pool and

scholarship to one youngster.

their pupils to people and places

and Easter are marked with present

the Kids on Track charity – founded

beyond the front gates.

giving and an egg hunt.

by Farleigh parents – which runs

of Highfield and Brookham Schools,

activity camps on the grounds

where a whole host of projects give

during holidays.

pupils a solid sense of their place in

Whether forging links with other

Miss Redmond, Head of Religious

Farleigh is also quick to open its

It also operates the Levels Academy Trust, which engages schools, providing events for up to

Community also sits at the heart

establishments, volunteering at

Studies and organiser of the

good causes or taking on fundraising

sessions, said: “Both of these are

challenges, there are countless

eagerly anticipated by the children

forthcoming when it comes to

examples of students gaining from

from both schools and watching

sharing its facilities and experiences

walk every year to raise funds for

giving back to those nearby.

our children’s delight as they help

with the wider community.

Highreach Holidays, a week-long,

Andover’s Farleigh School may sit

the Icknield pupils enjoy these

Taunton School is equally

An outreach programme is an

the world. Youngsters complete a sponsored

volunteer-run residential break on

in 70 acres of park and woodland,

occasions is a very special moment.

integral part of the calendar at the

school grounds for children with

but its pupils are very much at the

“The benefits of such a club are

Somerset centre, with pupils from

severe learning disabilities. ››

summer 2019 Army&You 41

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42 Army&You summer 2019

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Traditionally Different 06/05/2019 13:31



Community spirit (clockwise from top left): A sixth form student at Millfield School volunteers at South Lawns care home; Gordon’s School pupils wash a car as part of the MAD 24hour scheme; Youngsters having fun during the Kids on Track Easter camp hosted by Farleigh School; Swimming during a Highreach Holiday at Highfield and Brookham Schools

Highfield and Brookham takes part in the Haslemere Hounds

certainly not hard to find. On a professional level, it

Headmaster Gavin Horgan explained: “The school is grounded

Day specifically designed to impact positively on the community.

initiative, launched by local

welcomes academic staff from

in the strength of relationships

mayor Brian Howard, which sees

outside of its gates onto much

that are the bedrock of all

hours, youngsters picked up litter,

businesses and other groups

of its continuing professional

great communities.

washed cars, volunteered at primary

painting hound statues along the

development and teacher

theme of community.

training programmes.

And the Highfield Centenary

Volunteers also give up their time

“We are proud to have a

afternoon tea to elderly residents

community as active members

living nearby.

to assist with organisations such

of Somerset and the south

access to education at the schools.

as Shapwick Moor, Street Harvest,

west region.

Southlawns Care Home, South

schools and made and served

long association with the local

Bursary Fund aims to broaden Phillip Evitt, Headmaster of

During the most recent MAD 24

“The school does this by widening

And 31 students put themselves in the position of the homeless by sleeping on the school’s parade

Highfield School, said: “We place

West Volunteers and Cheddar Vale

access through financial support,

ground in cardboard boxes after

great importance on children

Gateway Club.

sharing facilities, resources and

listening to a talk from national

And when it comes to providing

knowledge with local state schools,

charity Launchpad.

additional opportunities to nearby

involvement in community projects,

youngsters, a rich schedule of

teacher development and offering

that Gordon’s is integral to the local

grounds children are encouraged to

art, music and sport projects are

life-changing opportunities to

area and the school is committed to

fully engage with the wider world

in place.

disadvantaged children.”

giving something back.

understanding their place in the wider community. “Looking beyond the school

and to find the part that they play in society and as global citizens. “We achieve this through

Recent examples include cyber

Ensuring that community

Deputy Head Rob Pavis explained

“Our charitable events provide

security and Lego learning festivals

outreach is much more than an

opportunities for students to

for local secondary schools,

afterthought is also a feature at

consider their wider community, the

close links with our immediate

outreach tennis courses at primary

Surrey’s Gordon’s School.

difficulties experienced by those less

community and further afield.”

schools, guided walks at Worley

Examples of Somerset’s Millfield

Alongside candlelit carol services,

Hill and a robot workshop for

arts evenings and school fairs, the

School working alongside and

High Ham and Kingsbury Episcopi

Woking-based establishment runs

benefiting its near neighbours are

Primary Schools.

an annual Make a Difference (MAD)

fortunate and how their actions can make a positive impact,” he said. “A small act such as picking up litter really can ‘make a difference’.” ››

summer 2019 Army&You 43

Prep, Pre-Prep & Nursery | 3-13 years Hampshire | | 01428 728000

There was a special bond between all the military children, we all got each other. Also, the community we lived in was the best thing about my time at Highfield. Eleanor age 14

Our children both started boarding at Highfield in Year 4. When Eleanor (our eldest, now aged 14) started, we had just moved from Wattisham in Suffolk down to Gosport and Ptolemy joined his sister 2 years later. Eleanor’s lasting comment once she’d done her trial board was “can I keep my friends for 5 years?” It made us focus on how moving around was affecting her. Our youngest, Ptolemy, is in his final year at Highfield and it is fair to say that we are all dreading our last day at school, as it has become such a huge part of our lives over the last 7 years. Why did you choose Highfield over other schools? We chose Highfield because of the family feeling we got when we came to visit. We loved the warm, nurturing atmosphere, especially in the junior boarding house. It is not easy leaving your 8-year-old for weeks on end, and I certainly couldn’t have left either of them if I was not completely sure that they would

be well cared for pastorally. This is where Highfield stood out for us; the children that showed us around all those years ago were clearly happy, outgoing and independent children who loved their school and wanted to share this love with us. This enthusiasm has not changed in the time we have had children at the school. Why boarding? The children needed to have continuity and by boarding at Highfield they would have that. What does Highfield boarding have to offer that other boarding schools didn’t? The grounds are spectacular! The woods where forest school, camping and outdoor cinema happens are wonderful, as are the extensive playing fields. It was important for us that Highfield was a ‘full’ boarding school, not a day school that offered boarding. Highfield definitely fits this, with daily after school clubs

and many boarders who stay in at weekends (quite a few military). The Sunday activities that are organised for them are fantastic. What advice would you offer to other forces families looking for the right school? Look for a school that is ‘full’ boarding where there is a strong boarding ethos and leadership team and I would make sure that a good number of boarders stay in at weekends. Location is also important – is the school easily accessible from motorways and airports? Is it close to family if you are overseas and need a guardian? Take advantage of trial boarding and make sure you ask your children what they think – important as it will be their ‘home from home’ for several years. You can find out more about Highfield School and their fantastic boarding facilities at To arrange a visit call 01428 728 000 or email

I think the grounds are one of the best things. I get to enjoy playing with my friends all the time. Ptolemy age 13



Good neighbours (clockwise from top left): Gordon’s School pupils during their sleep out; The Highreach sponsored walk at Highfield and Brookham Schools; A Millfield lower sixth student helps out with a joint art project; Taunton School proudly uses local food suppliers


our students benefit from being

While examples of the benefits

challenged, given responsibility, and

the wider community receives

interacting with complete strangers

always been an active member of

from these schools sharing their

in familiar and completely new

the local area and we are proud to

facilities, projects and manpower

environments, whilst contributing

be both a leading employer and a

are numerous, the positive results go

to their local community.

keen participator in community and

Pupils at Farleigh School are able to grow and develop through

“It also provides lasting memories for all of them.” Taunton School further

Gavin Horgan said: “Millfield has

“Our work on a local and national level seeks to promote accessibility

demonstrates its awareness of its

and collaboration at all levels and

project, which has seen them visit

place as part of a community thanks

I look forward to expanding our

Lion Oak Court and Harrier Grange

to a community orchestra and choir

relationships still further in the

residential care homes in Andover.

attended by children, parents and

future and encourage everyone

staff from outside the school gates.

across the country to do the same.

Those taking part in the Icknield

Pupils are able to learn practical

Together we can make a difference.”

been running for 21 years, do so

and personal skills through

under a leadership programme,

volunteering activities held as

Schools, the impact of looking

providing them with invaluable life

part of a thriving co-curricular

beyond the school gates has been

skills at the same time as allowing

study programme.

recognised by the Independent

the visitors to explore and enjoy. Rob Pavis, of Gordon’s School, was

The school is also proud to

And at Highfield and Brookham

School Inspectorate, which recently

play a part in the economic

concluded that pupils’ “awareness of

full of praise for the positive external

and environmental health of

moral responsibility for others and

and internal impact of engaging

its local area, including having

the wider world, is well developed”.

with the wider community.

its in-house catering team

In addition to its MAD 24-hour activities, Gordon’s welcomes the public to Insight Talks from the

Phillip Evitt concluded that the

sourcing most of its produce from

school’s community is animated by

nearby suppliers.

a sense of mission to draw the best

While swelling the coffers of the

out of everyone, sharing values of

likes of Maj Gen Mungo Melvin and

local economy may not be most

Jeremy Paxman, hosts cookery and

schools’ primary motivation, it is

He added: “We are acutely

painting sessions, runs guided tours

undoubtedly a welcome bonus –

conscious of the importance of

and holds choral evensongs in its

and it is one clearly in evidence at

service, duty and care to others

Victorian chapel.

Millfield School.

in our local community and the

Rob added: “It is wonderful to

2018 saw the school surpass £73

compassion and generosity.

children benefit from learning the

see members of the community

million in contributions to the UK’s

value and importance of giving

enjoy events at the school while

GDP, with £38 million contributed to

something back.” n


educational partnerships.

schemes such as the buddying

Special School scheme, which has



To read more from our panel of experts, visit

both ways.

the Mendip area in which it is based.



n a copy of Enter our giveaway to wi Reading Force The Boy Who Flew and a for entry rules. scrapbook. See page three



HIGH-FLYING FICTION In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, three service youngsters share their thoughts on The Boy Who Flew by Fleur Hitchcock. Here’s what they had to say…

The Boy Who Flew, published by Nosy Crow, is available in paperback £6.99

CHARLIE AND EMILIE (BOTH 9) WE THINK it is a really good story. It starts with a mysterious death, which the main character Athan Wilde, who is 11, has to solve. He finds this tricky, but he keeps persevering. We think that’s a good quality to have. The book is fast paced, going from one problem to solve to another, all linked to the main story. There are a lot of characters, which can get a bit confusing, but most of them are really interesting. We would recommend this to anyone aged eight or over who likes mysteries.

ROBBIE JOHNSON (10) THIS book is mysterious, it keeps you in suspense until near the end – although it isn’t for the fainthearted because of the actions of the main perpetrator. My favourite character was Athan. He is a boy that I would like as my friend – he’s adventurous and determined. The Boy Who Flew is a good read. The age recommendation of nine-plus is about right. I’d give it four-and-a-half out of five.

READING Force is the free shared reading initiative for forces families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or over Skype or FaceTime if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or register online at

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


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46 Army&You summer 2019



#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 social for more stories Lonje Mzungu and her serving husband Neddie have been an army family for ten years and have little girls Ayanna (7) and Annisha (4). Here Lonje tells us about their military family life…

It’s important to us that our family remains one and routines continue, regardless of where we are posted. We unpack quickly after each move so that our girls are surrounded by familiar things. The best part about being a military family is that it has allowed us to travel around the world and make new friends. I try to sort out children’s schools and nursery and look at jobs before we move. I have found the HIVE is a good place to go for info. My kids do gymnastics, so we also get them enrolled as soon as we can.

We try to be honest with the kids and tell them that daddy will be going away again. My husband sends them postcards and video calls and our school is brilliant with army kids. It has a group for military children which means kids get to talk about their army life. I get involved on the patch, but it can be hard as I’m also working. However, I have loads of friends on camp and we sometimes arrange nights out, coffee

mornings or quiz nights. The worst thing is leaving behind good friends. Frequent moves have also affected my career but as I am a nurse, I’m lucky that I can get a job wherever we live. This is important to me as it helps me ‘to be me’ regardless of where we go. When the kids were little it didn’t bother them so much, but as they are growing up, it makes them feel sad to leave their school and friends behind. However, moving has also made them confident, friendly and outgoing

little girls who make friends quickly. Neddie and I dated for four years before getting married so I did have a rough idea of what army life would be like. Communication is very important. It has helped us to be strong as a family. When Neddie is away, we make sure we keep busy and plan our weekends. We join in activities in the area which helps the days go faster. My advice to a new army family would be to make your own experiences. Sometimes people have negative things to say about military life, but it’s good overall. You have to be open to moving and understand that sometimes you’ll be on your own – your military friends become your family. As hard as it is for family members left behind, it’s also hard for our soldiers who miss out on family life. &

GET INVOLVED: Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmy Family? Send your details to

spring 2018 Army&You 31

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

Break’s boosting benefits Designed to be exciting, challenging and fun, Poppy Adventure Breaks take place around the country for service kids. Last summer, community support development workers (CSDWs) from Newcastle and Catterick delivered a getaway with a difference for 12 service youngsters. It comb ined arts, culture and the chance to live side-by-side on a farm in rural Northumberland. Army&You spoke to Beth an (9), one of the lucky dozen who took part…


ETHAN has lived in six houses, attended three nurseries and two primary schools. Her soldier dad is away all week, coming home most weekends. She misses him. Mum Janette is a teacher, spinning lots of plates to look after the family. Although initially uncertain, Bethan said: “Lisa, the CSDW for Newcastle, told me and my mum about the breaks. I was nervous about meeting new people, but I am not any more and was so glad I chose to go. “The best bits were holding the fluffy microphone to record sounds, which was a big responsibility. I liked swimming outside and the buffet was good.” Bethan relished communal living

48 Army&You summer 2019

and recalled: “The bunkhouse was cosy and I enjoyed sharing a big bedroom with other girls. Me and Mia made a pudding with meringues and fruit, and everyone ate it.” The break created lots of happy memories, but Bethan’s confidence has also skyrocketed: “Recently we had auditions at school for a big production of Annie. I couldn’t have done that without my new confidence. I even have a solo part.” Janette agreed: “The opportunity for Bethan to try things without the usual safety net of her family has really helped her grow. Seeing older girls enjoying life and succeeding was reassuring for her. “Since we moved, we haven’t

lived within a significant service community and the break has been a chance for her to connect with her peers and share experiences of army life. “A sense of belonging and being understood is important – even more so for children from military families.”

Vital learning

Lisa is an enthusiastic advocate for residential trips: “The chance to live alongside peers and adults outside the family unit is exciting and offers a platform for accelerated learning. “When you’re living with people you may not know all day, you learn a lot about yourself and about the skills you need to

build relationships and challenge misconceptions or prejudices. “We see children grow in self-esteem, confidence and assertiveness, and become more willing to continue trying new things. Residentials offer the chance to take managed risks in a safe environment be it abseiling, barbecuing or exploring a busy city. “They are particularly vital for children from service families, who may be isolated from social and cultural opportunities.” Find a Poppy Break near you at, contact your local AWS community support team or visit army.mod. uk/personnel-and-welfare &


RUBY’S STORY Part of AFF’s work this year is to focus on service youngsters – their voice and views of army family life. Nine-year-old Ruby Callaby has moved schools a lot over the last seven years, is passionate about creative writing and has shared her story with Army&You… how I MY DAD is in the army, so it’s tough e. mov to always have t School My first ever school was Talavera Infan my and I was excited. I had butterflies in I made my day. first my y enjo to tried stomach; I y to have first ever friend called Lela. I was luck for us. I elets brac e mad She her. someone like now. still have it, but it fits my baby sister – looking We used to play queens and maids always back I feel harsh now because she was n. I sat on a the maid and I was always the quee in a posh big wooden chair and I would declare ”. “Yes, voice “go get me some chocolate cake your queen,” she would reply. my Just as I was about to go into year two, ol scho a to ing mov was I me parents told started called Weeton Primary – and the pain and all over again. I was sobbing in my room ing. I mov with do to e mor hing anyt t didn’t wan g to move thought it was the last time I was goin but it wasn’t. e were We arrived, and it was massive, ther army and p cam the nd arou all es metal fenc to get a had dad My t. fron the at ding men stan n’t people special pass, so they knew we were finally got who wanted to hurt other people. We was in a past the gates to the house. My mum n’t clean. bit of a grump because the house was e. Me, my Our nan came over to the new hous was going sister and brother had no idea what

we got an on but when dad explained it to us, it was e, hous their to idea. Our nan took us one day for ed stay We y. about four hours awa iture in furn the all put while our mum and dad , we ning mor the In ere. and cleaned everywh and tub hot their in had time to have a swim watery there was no stopping me – I love their new our to back t wen bowl of hot water. We . I must look new the with house and I fell in love The . dise para new le have stepped into a who with room a ed shar still downside was that I a room by my little sister when I really wanted myself. r I joined It was like I had a butterfly-itis wheneve ng. feeli y funn a ng havi a new school. I started nine at ed start only ol Scho We could walk there. me. for o’clock, more sleep round After the weeks went by, we were sat : “I’m said omly rand mum the dinner table and at?” “Wh r.” siste or her brot pregnant with a baby t. quie got enly sudd It . table I shouted across the for the scan We were on our way to the hospital My dad girl. a or boy a to see if the baby was and sed refu I but nie, wanted to call her Con a. Olivi d calle be wanted the baby to

move. Now Fast forward two years and another inster and Warm in ol Scho ue we are at The Aven Weeton from an Meg d frien best life is good. My ns, dow melt little have still I day. calls me every see. can one no so but in the bathroom Apart from that, life is great. PS: Olivia is a cheeky little monkey!

summer 2019 Army&You 49

Flying high... and solo Travelling alone between boarding school and home can be a daunting prospect for your children – and you – especially if it’s abroad. But as AFF’s Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas discovered, many families see it as a positive experience…

1. PRE-FLIGHT NERVES Joanne, based in Italy, said: to stop at McDonalds,” “The first time I waved she explained. “The only goodbye to my girls was unpleasant surprise is the very emotional, especially extortionate cost.” watching them go through Parents should be aware security until I couldn’t see that anyone dropping off them. They were much an unaccompanied minor happier about it than I was.” (UNMIN) must wait until after It was the same for mum the flight has departed, so Helena, living in Kenya, you could be liable for a taxi who admitted being very driver’s time and the parking worried about her teenage fee. children getting from Dover, Lynda in the USA added: across London, and flying by “Getting the UNMIN themselves: “Once I’d done paperwork sorted was a bit a little research and talked time-consuming, involving to the school, I was relieved repeated calls to the airline.” to book school transport to the airport at a reasonable cost, minimising the need for Pick up spare UNMIN forms public transport connections.” at drop off, send a signed one Liz in Canada soon quashed to school with your child for her initial concerns about her the return flight and keep a children’s two-hour taxi ride spare at home. to the airport: “The drivers are DBS checked, and – as I know If your school doesn’t from tracking offer a dropevery mile on off service, my mobile consider phone – they asking friends/ drive with the guardians to utmost care help with airport Coming to Canada: Georgina and runs to keep and even Alfie Ellwood at Calgary airport fulfil requests costs down.


2. CHECK IN Luggage allowance is always a problem around exam time as youngsters have to bring back so much study material. Although unit travel cells can book extra bags (up to 8kg), children often find it difficult to distribute and manage the weight. Joanne in Italy recalled: “My girls had to purchase a new bag at Heathrow at great expense and repacked at the check-in desk, which was quite fraught.” Damian (16) felt the pressure of looking after his younger sister on long journeys to begin with, but a year on he finds it much less daunting and even his sibling has stopped persistently checking for her passport or boarding pass. He said: “There are always airport staff around and I check my phone for flight info.”

TOP TIPS It might not look trendy, but it’s worth having a small wallet for all the paperwork. Four-wheel suitcases make it easier for children to manage their luggage. Invest in luggage scales to keep at school so they can weigh their bags beforehand.

Safety first: William Hall making his way through security

Allow plenty of time for check-in to minimise stress.

3. DETOURS AND DELAYS Many parents have expressed concerns about things not going to plan.

50 Army&You summer 2019

The key is to ensure that both you and your child are emotionally prepared. Talk through

what would happen in advance and make sure they have means of contacting you and

enough money. Lynda obtains a code from the airline in advance, which she

shares with her daughter and the school travel coordinator, so that either can sort out an issue. @ArmyandYou

4. IN-FLIGHT EXPERIENCE Jennifer (15) had such mixed feelings on her first journey that she was shaking and crying: “I was so excited to be going home but dreading the flight as I have a fear of flying and find it difficult to sleep.” In contrast Romilly (13), who travels to New York, had a luxury experience on her first flight as she was moved to first class. She admitted that she couldn’t have managed when she first started boarding but would now recommend it to other teenagers: “I’m still not ready to ‘fly solo’ but I’m happy flying with an UNMIN service. I love the independence and I’m learning to be more organised.”

TOP TIPS Remember your phone charger in your hand luggage. Keep some emergency funds in case of delays. To ease parental nerves, ask your children to send you photo updates on their journey.

5. TOUCHING DOWN Joanne’s two girls Lydia (15) and Emily (17) (pictured right) have been questioned by passport control on return to the UK which did fluster them, but they had all the correct paperwork including parental consent letters. On one occasion they left

their passports in the luggage trolley, resulting in a stressful 24 hours while they were retrieved. “Hopefully they’ll never make the same mistake again,” said Joanne. “I

felt completely responsible and sometimes I feel like we ask too much of our military children, having to cope with travelling independently during exam periods when their mind is elsewhere.”

Most airlines have standard parental consent forms – you can have them translated into the language of the destination country.

6. HOME SAFE AND HAPPY Liz was almost overwhelmed about the enormity of her children Georgina (11) and Alfie (9) making the 4,000-mile journey to Canada alone. “After meeting two relaxed, happy children at Calgary airport who had been spoilt rotten

by the UNMIN staff I was much happier,” she said. “They get treated like royalty.”

TOP TIP Don’t panic. Technology enables you to track every mile of your child’s journey.


7. ALTERNATIVE ROUTES It’s possible to reverse the School Children’s Visits allowance so that you can make the journey instead of your children, something that Helena now does for shorter school holidays: “It’s fantastic for me to do the legwork whilst also connecting the children to family and friends in the UK, although it costs more for onward transport and accommodation, and does mean that they don’t get to see their dad so often.” Anna Hall, whose family


have been overseas for the last ten years, now lives in Belgium and mostly travels by car through the tunnel back to the UK. Her son William (12) likes it better than flying: “I prefer going in the car because once we’re picked up, we don’t have to worry about anything else and can just sit back and relax.” Weighing up the two, his sister Olly (13) said: “I don’t have to think about getting somewhere on time, but I do miss the fun of airports.”

Safe arrival: Romilly Higgs after landing at New York’s JFK airport

As a UK-based boarding parent hearing all these positive stories, I decided to trial flying my own children home from one regional airport to another for half term, writes Esther Thomas. It cost the same and saved me a 16-hour drive, overnight stay and time away from work. All went well and our girls bounced through the door full of confidence. With the recent reduction in airlines offering UNMIN services, many parents have contacted AFF about managing the logistics of an overseas assignment, but it seems that our fears are greater than our children’s and overall their experiences are life-enriching. If you have concerns about your children’s travels, email rmoverseas or go to

summer 2019 Army&You 51


A POSTCARD FROM... Fish (aka Alex) Kelly, Harry (11) and Layla (8) tell us about their army family life on the remote Ascension Island in the South Atlantic Ocean… How long have you been an army family? 15 years.

Time in Ascension Island: One year.

How many other military families live there?

There are no other military families or army personnel on the island. There’s an RAF detachment of approximately 15 people.

What's your quarter like?

It’s a three-bedroom detached bungalow in Georgetown. There’s a lovely big open-plan living/dining room and the bedrooms are all a very nice size too. The garden is great and we get visits from the local donkeys.

Are there employment/ training opportunities?

There are limited opportunities at the school or at the Ascension Island government. Internet is very expensive so although you can do online courses, you would need to pay for the extra allowance.

What about schools and childcare?

Two Boats School caters for children aged three-to-16. Classes are merged (years one and two, three and four etc) but class sizes are still small. Harry and Layla really enjoy it.

Where do service families get together?

We have the odd social at our house and the wing commander has organised functions at her

house with a mix of military personnel, civil servants and contractors. Formal functions are also held in the all ranks mess throughout the year.

living in Ascension?

Who supports you?

Would you recommend Ascension Island as a family posting?

The RAF detachment is really good and we also get support from DIO in the Falklands and DIO UK.

What's the best thing about

Being able to see the sea wherever you are. The clear sky at night allows you to enjoy the stars and the wildlife is amazing.

Yes, the peaceful island is a fantastic place to raise the kids, and the weather allows them to be outdoors every day. &

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing 52 Army&You summer 2019



MEETING NEEDS OVERSEAS Before you take up an overseas posting, you must get educational clearance for your children to ensure they can be supported in your new location. It’s normally straightforward, but if your child has any additional needs or disabilities, it can be more complex…

IF YOUR child has already been identified as having Special Educational Needs or Disabilities (SEND) you must register with the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) who will be able to offer you advice and guidance. When applying to an MOD school overseas, contact the school directly to begin the educational clearance process. When applying to a non-MOD school, contact CEAS who will guide you through the process. It’s best to start this process as soon as possible as it can take up to nine weeks. If your child currently has an Educational Health Care Plan or equivalent, this will not be reviewed or remain current whilst you’re overseas.


It’s important to be open and honest during supportability checks, as the commanding officer of the European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) highlights: “No one is trying to stop people been posted overseas, we just need to confirm that we can support you once you’re there.” If your child’s needs can’t be met, you’ll be

advised not to proceed with the overseas assignment.


Provision varies dependent on location, but every MOD school has its own SEND offer. MOD schools are supported by DCYP SEND services, which include educational psychologists, special advisory teachers

USEFUL CONTACTS CEAS +44(0)1980 618244 or Once you receive an overseas assignment order, email the Families Section The clearance process is part of the MOD’s Assessment of Supportability (MASO) Info via JSP 770, Chapter 2A Your local AFF co-ordinator details on page three or at Regional Manager Overseas Esther Thomas Education Specialist Jilly Carrell Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross

and nurse advisors. Anna Vrahimi, DCYP assistant head SEND services leads SEND across the schools and said: “Each school has its own SEND offer and it’s important for parents to understand what each geographical area has available. “Our team of professionals supports children, families and schools across of range of SEND needs.”


AFF has had some great feedback from families about the MOD schools’ system. Dee, whose daughter was diagnosed with autism in EJSU, said: “After our MOD school identified an issue, we now have a management plan in place and we’re receiving support.” However, we’re also aware of a few families who have been assessed as ‘non-supportable’ following a SEND assessment, resulting in them being short-toured and returned to the UK. The key thing to remember is that every overseas location is different, and decisions are made on a case-bycase basis. &

DIGITAL DOCS EVERYTHING is going digital these days to make our lives easier – and healthcare is no exception. The introduction of the eRedbook to record your child’s progress is certainly benefiting service families overseas. Following its roll out in the UK, military families in Cyprus and Kenya are now able to download the eRedbook through a SSAFA project, enabling them to access their child’s birth-to-five health and development records from anywhere – no more packing the Red Book away for removals and not being able to find it for months. “It’s easy to use and handy to have at your fingertips,” explained military spouse Danielle Gill (pictured above), currently living in Cyprus. “I love that I can include photos as my daughter grows. “The fact that eRedbook is an app means I always have easy access to information and can update it wherever I am, even when waking in the middle of the night.”


Local SSAFA content is now included in the eRedbook, meaning that information on nearby services and events, such as baby clinics, is now available directly. So, if you’re posted to Cyprus or Kenya soon, you can take a look at what you and your little ones can access on your arrival. The development of the eRedbook is an ongoing process with more exciting functions being worked on – so watch this space. Jane Bojdys, SSAFA Cyprus public health lead, said: “SSAFA is proud to be at the cutting edge of service provision for our community, enabling them to not only access new technology but directly influence the future development to meet the needs of our highly-mobile families.” Find out more by emailing

summer 2019 Army&You 53

Food on the go fruit sweets which have the It’s that time of year bonus of making up one of your when almost every five-a-day. plan you make seems Spice up the savoury to involve reference No army social is complete to a picnic or a packed without curry. What better than a hand-held option from Jake & lunch. Our food Nayns’ Naansters – naan breads editor AJ Sharp has filled with curries and not nearly been exploring eating as messy as they sound. If you like extra spice, consider on the go. Whether packing a bit more punch with Encona chilli sauce. Choose it’s fuel you take to work, dishes for a day from Sweet Chilli or Carolina Reaper Chilli (not suitable for out or a relaxed meal children) to really liven up your afternoon. in the garden, she’s Finish at the start, with homebeen checking out cut crudities, a pot of hummus, a Laughing Cow cheese triangle what’s new, exciting, or an original Babybel. healthy and, most of all, delicious... Plant-powered

Upside down picnic

If you’ve ever watched a child eat a packed lunch without supervision they usually start with the sweet things and finish with the savoury, so we thought we would design a reverse packed lunch – and it seems we are bang on trend. Starting sweet, the best-tasting ‘no added sugar’ snacks we tried were made by Squirrel Sisters. The range includes cacao orange natural raw bites, which are perfect for sharing, or energy boosting raspberry ripple or cacao brownie flavoured natural energy bars. Zoo Imagination has created a range of flavourful crunchy dinosaur shaped biscuits, which are both gluten and lactose free, perfect to share with friends. Fruit Bowl range is a firm favourite on a picnic; delicious

54 Army&You summer 2019

To be truly on trend this year you need to be plant-powered. The newest plant-based cake range has been created by Alternative Foods and comes in four flavours: victoria sponge, lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge cake and salted caramel. If your sweet tooth still isn’t satisfied, look no further than Free From Fellows range of traditional classics sweets, like midget gems or cola bottles, made without sugar, gluten or gelatine.

A little tonic

Give your picnic some style with a miniature gin and tonic. There are many artisan gins, but none so evocative as the poppy seed botanical inclusion in Tommy’s Gin from Isle of Sky Distillers. The spirit is available in miniature bottles and eponymously named in memory of distillery co-founder Tommy

“If you’ve ever watched a child eat a packed lunch without supervision they usually start with the sweet things and finish with the savoury, so we thought we would design a reverse packed lunch – and it seems we are bang on trend.”

Wilson, who served in the Suez invasion and passed away in 2016. This limited-edition bottle honours the memory of all Tommies that have served and, for every bottle sold, a donation is made to a military charity. & @ArmyandYou


MOVERS AND SHAKERS More than 4,000 people from British Forces Germany are rebasing this summer. The majority are moving back to Wiltshire, but also to other UK locations and Cyprus. We’ve been finding out how it’s going…

USEFUL TIPS Your passport should have at least six months remaining Make sure you have a valid pet passport and that rabies vaccinations are up-to-date, with final tick/tapeworm treatments a month before leaving BFG Check with your insurance provider that you’re covered for transit of household contents You can apply for a dentist and GP in the UK whilst still resident in Germany – see for more UK insurance and service contracts should be initiated two months prior to moving For information on obtaining a Good Conduct Certificate before you move, visit aff. You can redirect your mail at

THERE has been extensive building over the last year to accommodate families. New schools and nurseries have been created to support the influx to the new areas and close liaison between local authorities and the MOD means it should be a smooth transition. Carole Rudd, AFF Regional Manager Germany, explained: “Here in BFG people are anticipating the move with a heady mix of excitement and nerves, but if you need

information, contact us at or visit – we’re here to help.” A unit welfare officer in BFG added: “We have spent considerable time preparing troops and families for the drawdown and most are looking forward to their move back to the UK.” And one family told us: “Rebasing is a bit like pregnancy and childbirth, you can prepare as much as you like but ultimately, one thing is for certain: this baby is happening no matter what.” &


Larkhill Woodbridge Tidworth Bulford Cyprus

Lack of pre-arrival information has been a consistent issue reported to AFF’s Cyprus team but something the chain of command has been tackling head on, with a temporary post created to address the situation and a comprehensive guide also available for families moving from Germany. “It’s good to see that efforts have been made to improve pre-arrivals communication as it’s important to manage families’ expectations,” said AFF’s Regional

With thousands of army families on the move this summer, here are a few nuggets of housing info to help you on your way… All allocations have been based on entitlement and proximity to duty station – some of you will have been allocated new builds and some will be in older style Service Family Accommodation. Significant work has been done to many of the older style quarters in the Salisbury Plain area, but some upgrades may be done after you’ve moved in. The majority of move-ins will be done by proxy. As a result of feedback from AFF and experience from previous unit moves, Amey and DIO have undertaken to train proxys so that they are up-to-speed on expected move-in standards. If you’re moving into a new build, you’ll receive a Home User Guide on how to manage the property – boiler, hot water, location of stopcock etc – and some information about the local area. Amey has committed to follow up with you once you’ve moved in, either by phone or face-to-face, to ensure you’re happy. The move-in standard is available to read at – take a look before you start the moving process.


ISLAND INFO With rebasing in full swing, HQ British Forces Cyprus has improved communications for families moving to the island.


Manager Cyprus Carolyn Aggar. “Cyprus is sometimes seen as a ‘holiday posting’ with the opportunity for more family time but be aware that it’s often not the case as your serving person may be very busy and regularly away on exercise or deployment.” POSTED TO CYPRUS? If you need any support or would like to know more about living in Cyprus, the guide is available via the HIVE or go to AFF’s Cyprus pages at Your soldier can also download details via the Defence Intranet. See page three for AFF’s Cyprus team’s contact details. &

Once you’ve moved in, don’t forget to complete your 14-day report and make sure you keep a copy for when you move out. This is only for issues you don’t want to be charged for at move-out, such as chipped tiles or marks on the carpet. Report cleanliness or repair problems to Amey on 0800 707 6000.

RETURNING TO THE UK For those of you moving from Germany, especially if you haven’t lived in the UK for a while, you may find that UK houses are smaller than you have been used to however, the military community on patches is alive and well and AFF would like to give you a warm welcome. If you need us, contact your local co-ordinator or specialist via

summer 2019 Army&You 55

PILOT SITE FOR ALDERSHOT A Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot has been developed to help understand how forces families will choose to live in the future and how FAM can be improved. It’s a chance for the MOD to test the policy and the way it’s delivered before a decision is made about whether to roll it out across the UK… WHERE AND WHEN? The confirmed pilot site for army families is Aldershot Garrison, starting from 31 January 2020.

WHAT IF WE’RE POSTED TO THE PILOT SITE? You’ll be kept updated as the pilot is developed and you can

find out more at – the JSP is available this summer.

PILOT OPTIONS If you’re posted to Aldershot and your soldier has fewer than four years’ service, current policy will apply. If your soldier has four years or more, you’ll be able to express

a preference for the types of accommodation listed below (subject to availability). If you’re already living in Aldershot, you won’t need to move unless you want to.

WHAT ABOUT NON-PILOT SITES? The pilot is expected to last three years before a decision is

made about rolling it out across the UK. If this is confirmed, the majority of bases will gradually transition to FAM over the next decade. To find out more, search ‘FAM’ at or speak to the chain of command. There’s a FAM video on YouTube, you can talk to your HIVE or contact AFF –



✔ You can choose to rent a home equivalent to SFA for broadly the same personal cost

✔ You can buy a home whether you’re single or in a relationship

✔ You can rent in the location of your choice, with the people you want to live with

✔ If you buy a home once assigned to a pilot site, you’ll get the new core accommodation payment towards your mortgage payments

✔ If you need to leave a tenancy early for MOD reasons, MOD will pick up the cost

✔ You can also make use of Forces Help to Buy



✔ SLA will continue to be available for all personnel

✔ If you’re in a long-term relationship you can apply for SFA at a pilot site, subject to availability

✔ If you currently own or rent your own home and get the Get You Home (Travel) allowance, you can use your new accommodation payment for SLA in the working week

56 Army&You summer 2019

✔ SFA will not be sold as part of the pilot ✔ Personnel assigned to a pilot site choosing SFA can retain their current entitlement, subject to SFA availability @ArmyandYou



STAYING PUT Moving home when your child is in the throes of taking exams is stressful for the whole family, but can also have a serious impact on their chances of success. So, there are some circumstances when the army accepts that it’s necessary for your family to delay a move for educational reasons. AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder highlights how, with the right supporting evidence, you may be allowed to stay in your current quarter…

A HUGE thank you to everyone who filled in AFF’s big survey on the future contract for housing; your responses have been presented to decision makers to help them create the best deal for families. Here are the main outcomes:

➜ You wanted the ability to apply and track allocations, repairs and complaints via an online portal which both you and your soldier can access

➜ 52 per cent of you wanted to continue the high street voucher scheme which compensates for missed appointments IF YOUR child, who lives with you permanently in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) or hiring (SSFA), is reaching critical exam periods such as GCSEs, A Levels or a degree, retention is admissible for up to four months – one academic term – leading up to the final exam. Where it’s not possible for your child to transfer schools within three years of public exams, retention of SFA/SSFA may be possible up to the public exam, but you’ll need to re-apply before each retention period runs out.


If your child is already undergoing statutory assessment for Special Educational Needs (SEN) at their current school, you may be able to stay in your quarter for two academic terms or until the end of the academic

year. Get in touch with the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS), which can provide an impact statement to support your application. In cases which fall outside the regulations, where there’s clear evidence that a service child with identified SEN would suffer significant educational, social and/or emotional disadvantage, CEAS may, on an exceptional basis, issue an impact statement recommending retention.


To apply: JSP 464 at CEAS: dcyp-ceas-enquiries@ AFF:


The law in England states that all young people must continue in education or training until at least their 18th birthday, so if a course, such as an apprenticeship or training, can’t be replicated at your new posting, you may be able to stay put. Applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis. CEAS can help with an impact statement.


Retention is for a fixed period of no longer than 12 months, although if the circumstances continue you can reapply. Where official retention can’t be granted it may be possible to stay in your quarter on a surplus license, where availability allows. This may impact allowances such as removals, so check with your admin office to make sure you have the facts. &

➜ You wanted more control over what’s recorded at move-in and more information on the standards prior to the appointment

➜ The most popular request was for the correct tradesperson for repairs to be sent with a fully-stocked van

➜ You’d like follow-on works to be booked before the contractor leaves the house – it’s one of the main issues that you contact AFF about!


Your comments have been fed back to the procurement team, which has assured us that it will make sure that the future contracts take into account your recommendations and meet your needs. “We’re hopeful that the new contract will be more in keeping with what we all expect from modern services, with the flexibility to change and improve during the lifetime of the contract,” said AFF’s Housing Specialist Cat Calder. The three families federations will continue to engage with the programme team to get the best outcome for families. Keep an eye on for updates.

LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIPS The MOD has changed its policy on cohabitation. If your soldier has served for four or more years, and you can prove you’ve been in a long-term relationship for at least 12 months, then you can apply in areas where surplus quarters are available. Cohabitation is an extension of your soldier’s eligibility, not a widening of entitlement. More at

summer 2019 Army&You 57

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.

Tel 01392 421 777 | 01752 674 999 |

Have you got a Will? Making a Will is vital if you want to be certain that your wishes are carried out after you die.

Do you need an existing Will updated? If you have recently got married, or formed a civil partnership you should be thinking about changing your Will. Upon marriage or the formation of a civil partnership, any existing Will is automatically revoked and is no longer valid. If you do not make a new one, then when you die the laws of intestacy decide how your assets are divided.

JOIN OUR HAPPY FAMILY Interested in advertising in Army&You? Visit email or call 01252 714870

If you have recently separated without a valid Will in place, your estranged or former partner could inherit. Upon divorce, your former spouse is automatically removed from your Will and so it is important to review its terms. Megan Phillips, our Wills and Probate lawyer will advise you using clear and simple language, and will work with you to produce a Will tailored to your wishes and circumstances. Email her at GET IN TOUCH 56 Commercial Road, Swindon SN1 5NX T: 01793 615011 W:

58 Army&You summer 2019


LAW ADVERTORIAL and possessions? BLB: In this country we have a tradition of ‘testamentary freedom’, meaning you are free to leave your estate to whomever you wish. While it is important to consider family, many people choose to benefit friends or charities instead. Often clients want to benefit a family member in a vulnerable position. It may be preferable to place their inheritance in trust so they do not inherit absolutely. A solicitor will be able to advise you.

Prudent planning We quizzed Elliot Chambers, of Goughs Solicitors, and Megan Phillips, of BLB Solicitors, about the hows and whys of wills... I’m young, happy and healthy. Why should I concern myself with making a will now rather than when I retire? BLB: It is never too early to make a will. It can be a simple process that will leave you certain that your estate will pass to those people who are important to you. Goughs: The short answer is that we cannot tell the future. A will comes into effect after we have passed away and, unfortunately, not all of us will live a long life through to retirement. It is important to have a will in place to make sure that you are prepared and that your wishes shall be carried out after you pass away, regardless of when that might be.

I don’t own a house or have lots of money in the bank. Why should I go to the expense of making a will? BLB: It is important to make a will even if your assets are not

substantial. If you are a parent, a will can be the best way of ensuring that your children are provided for if you die while they are minors. Furthermore, having a will in place makes the administration process much simpler for those you leave behind, setting your mind at rest that your whole family will be taken care of financially after your death. Goughs: Whilst a will will deal with any property and money that you have when you pass away, it can also record your wishes and deal with a number of other issues that might be of concern to you. For example, in your will you could appoint guardians for any minor children you may leave. These are the people who would be responsible for caring for your children if you were to pass away whilst they were still minors.

Other than family, what else can I do with money

Goughs: If you wished to leave a set amount or a share of your estate to friends or charities you are able to do so. You are also able to gift specific personal possessions to whomever you please. That being said, there are rules that would allow certain people to challenge your will if they have not been reasonably provided for.

I’m confused about how to divide my estate. Can a solicitor assist with this? BLB: When considering who to benefit in your will, it is important to consider who may be entitled to make a claim against your estate if sufficient provision has not been made for them. A solicitor will be able to advise you on these potential claims and this will assist in deciding how to divide your estate. Ultimately, however, it is your decision. Goughs: How you choose to divide your estate is a personal decision that must be made by you. A solicitor is unable to tell you how you should divide your estate, but can provide you with practical advice to assist you in making your decision.

How often should I review my will? BLB: We suggest reviewing your will at least every five years to ensure that it is still in line with your wishes. Legislation changes regularly and so we advise seeking up-to-date legal advice to ensure that your will is best

suited to the current law. This is particularly important when it comes to inheritance tax laws. Goughs: There is no set rule as to how often a will should be reviewed. Whenever there is a change in your circumstances (such as if you were to have a child or to inherit money), it is a good idea to read through your will to make sure that it is still in accordance with your wishes. You should also review your will if one of your executors or beneficiaries were to fall ill or pass away or if you have changed your mind about how you would like your estate to be divided.

What happens if I die without a will? BLB: Your estate will be administered in accordance with statutory rules known as the Intestacy Rules. These govern which of your family members will inherit and often lead to unsatisfactory outcomes such as an estranged family member inheriting an estate. There are many misconceptions about these rules. For example, if you are married and do not have a will, your spouse will not necessarily inherit your whole estate. These very inflexible rules do not always suit the modern family. Second marriages are now common and it is an increasing concern of our clients to ensure that children from previous relationships are protected when it comes to their inheritance. Goughs: Intestacy rules identify the order in which classes of your relatives will inherit your estate. These rules can often lead to your estate passing to people you would not ordinarily wish to benefit and it is not advisable to rely on these rules to divide your estate how you would like. l If you want to discuss making a will with the experts at Goughs or BLB Solicitors, visit goughs. or blbsolicitors. for information and contact details. n summer 2019 Army&You 59

AN END TO THE BLAME GAME? With new legislation set to make "no-fault" divorces quicker, easier and less acrimonious, our autumn 2019 advertorial will be exploring what difference the changes will make to Army families. If your firm would like to get involved, email 60 Army&You summer 2019



Stress-free school holidays Imran Khodabocus, Associate Solicitor from The Family Law Company, looks at how school holidays can affect existing parenting plans and child arrangement orders... SCHOOL holidays cannot override child arrangements orders setting out when one parent should spend time with their children. If one parent is supposed to have the children at a weekend during the summer holidays under the terms of a court order and this clashes with the holiday plans of another parent, the children cannot go on that holiday. The way around this is to see if you can agree with the other parent to make occasional changes for periods like school holidays. Courts do expect such alterations to court orders, particularly as children get older. Try to confirm any changes in writing. You could, if you know which weeks you usually take your holiday with the children, provide for this in a court order – for example specifying the second and third week of the school holidays. The school holidays naturally cause disruption to day-today parenting and many parents find it hard to balance having to work with childcare. Sometimes extended family members such as grandparents will be able to help. Otherwise, plan in advance to help you to deal with anything unexpected. Is there any flexibility to extend access periods to allow for long-haul travel? Yes. Many parents I work with have family living a long distance away, so an extended holiday makes sense. The key to successfully arranging such a trip is to explain the need to the other parent. The more organised you are, the more reassured the other parent

will be, particularly if the trip involves younger children. If your trip is to visit distant family members, reassure the other parent by asking them to see the visit’s benefits through your children’s eyes. If the other parent doesn’t agree, you may have to apply to the court for a court order. What happens if unforeseen circumstance such as flight cancellations and delays mean I can’t keep to an agreed timetable? This happens a lot and is no-one’s fault. The key is to communicate any problems to the other parent so they can be reassured about the children’s wellbeing. If there is a court order, you shouldn’t end up being penalised by the other parent having to miss a day due to travel problems. Do I need permission from my ex-partner as to where I take my child on holiday and what activities they can do? If you and your ex-partner share parental responsibility then you will need written permission to go outside of England and Wales with the children. You may have parental responsibility if you are or

were married or in a civil partnership with the other parent, or if you are named on the child’s birth certificate. If one of you has a Child Arrangements Order stating that the children live with you, then you can go abroad for up to a month without needing the other’s written consent. However, holidays are always more enjoyable when the children know that they have gone away without the other parent feeling upset. This is why I recommend letting the other parent know of any holidays in advance. In terms of activities, you are free to do what you all enjoy. What happens if an extended family member wishes to take my child abroad? Most extended family members have no automatic right to spend time with your children, let alone go away with them, and will need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility. However, many parents value the time children spend with extended family members and welcome such an opportunity for their children. Plan well in advance and let the other parent know early on. Be prepared to compromise if the other parent

needs you to. If they are not happy, then either the extended family member could come on holiday with you or make their own application to court. If they do, they may have to first obtain the court’s permission, which is known as ‘leave’. There are some family members who do not need ‘leave’ – for example if the child has lived with them for a certain period of time. When looking at ‘leave’, a court will consider the nature of what’s being applied for and the connection with the child. Only if they are granted ‘leave’ will a court consider if it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with extended family members for a holiday. A court will look individually at every case, so it is worth them getting expert legal advice. What happens if the school holidays and my need to work cause a childcare headache? Can I ask my ex to do more? Yes, you can. However, there is nothing you can do to force your ex to do more. Instead, try to plan for school holidays early and see if you can have flexibility at work. This gives more time for the other parent to make changes to their own schedule. Having to juggle school holidays and work means you may have to call on extended family members to help – no doubt they will enjoy the chance to spend more time with the children. l Visit for advice on these and other family matters.

summer 2019 Army&You 61


Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links before entries close on 23 June

up to 15 per ilies can get Book m fa es rc Fo sh. h Anglo Wel .uk cent off wit el w lo g at an your break

WONDERFUL WATERWAYS Iconic sites and waterside destinations await you on a magical experience afloat with Anglo Welsh.

One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 23 June 2019 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Choose from more than 160 canal boats and 11 bases across England and Wales, including a new centre at Whixall on the Llangollen Canal in Shropshire.

Charming Chatsworth Adventure awaits at historic Chatsworth in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District National Park. With an action-packed programme of events including animal handling, a woodland playground, 105 acres of garden and new exhibition ‘The Dog: A celebration at Chatsworth’, you’re guaranteed a great day out for all the family.

We have two family passes (two adults and up to three kids, RRP £66 each) to the house, garden and farmyard, valid until 31 October 2019, to give away.

62 Army&You summer 2019

No boating experience? No problem. You’ll receive tuition as part of the holiday package to ensure you’re well equipped to take in historic sites such as the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Gas Street Basin and more. One lucky reader can win a three- or fournight break on a boat for four people, usually costing up to £845. Prize open to serving regular and reserve families only. Full T&Cs at

DINE OUT IN STYLE With something for every taste, you’re sure to find the perfect, fine-dining treat for two with Buyagift’s dining smartbox. From artistic appetisers to decadent desserts, choose from a wide range of locations, from award-winning city-centre

restaurants, country manors, grand hotels and more. Wherever you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable experience. Visit for inspiration. Win a fine-dining experience at one of hundreds of venues, retailing at £89.99


ide, why not With more than 70 sites nationw ount on a disc t make the most of a 25 per cen ed forces? arm the in one full-day session for any

Have a ball Put down the games console and immerse yourself in some live action. UKPaintball offers top-ofthe-range paintballing equipment and action-packed game zones to challenge first-timers and hardened veterans.

Let your dreams of flying become a reality with iFLY, your indoor flying experience! Available in Manchester, Milton Keynes and Basingstoke you’ll get to grips with basic skydiving moves before making two trips into the flight chamber where you’ll feel your legs lift from under you as you take flight! Discover your flying adventure at Two winners (aged three upwards) will receive an Anytime Kick-Start flight voucher and media package usually priced £250.

Awesome awaits Discover the LEGO Movie 2 experience and explore an actual set from the film with a trip to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort. Have a spook-tacular time at the brand new Haunted House Monster Party ride and see LEGO City come to life in a new 4D movie. With rides, shows and attractions, there’s something for all the family. Plan your visit at We’re giving away a £240 day ticket for two adults and two kids.

LEGO, the LEGO logo, the brick and knob configuration, the mini figure, DUPLO, NINJAGO and LEGOLAND are trademarks of the LEGO Group.

Fly high

One reader will win a package usually costing up to £147.80. You’ll receive 20 admission tickets including a full-day session, equipment hire, semi-automatic gun-hire, unlimited gas-refills and marshals to host your day. The organiser gets 100 free paintballs (other players can buy 100 paintballs for £8). That’s not all, depending on your venue, you’ll also receive a BBQ lunch.

Out of this world Join British astronaut Tim Peake at the Royal International Air Tattoo this summer as the world’s most exciting air show turns its spotlight into space. Visitors will get an out-of-this-world experience at the three-day event at RAF Fairford on 19-21 July. Space will be a core theme as the show takes place on 50th anniversary of the first manned landing on the moon and Airbus DS will be showcasing an ExoMars rover prototype. Win a pair of tickets (under 18s go free), retailing at £114, for the show on Sunday 21 July.

summer 2019 Army&You 63

When ex-Army glider pilot Jim developed macular degeneration and glaucoma in his nineties we helped him rebuild his life. Photograph: Glyn Dewis


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

Deployment makes a mummy’s girl

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te s a Pro Sla Sarah win sy t courte 10 EE table nology of DXC Tech

By Sarah

Before Jamie left for Afghanistan, our daughter Olivia was a huge daddy’s girl and I was dreading him leaving. Of course, the situation wasn’t ideal. I was studying my bar professional training course in London, working part-time and not driving. Looking after Olivia was another part of my hectic life I had to arrange on my own. I felt I wasn’t good enough. Every new mum feels that way sometimes, but I was convinced she hated me. She would be angelic for her daddy but really misbehave for me. She used to be so clingy to him and all of a sudden, he wasn’t there. There’s no way of preparing them for one of their parents

leaving. I didn’t tell her in advance and he left late at night, so he didn’t say goodbye. We told Olivia that daddy was going to work. That evolved into laughing that daddy was on holiday. It was rough at first, she asked for him all the time. Jamie had wifi access, so video-calling became part of our routine. She stopped asking for him so often. At the same time, she became a lot clingier with me. Morning drop offs at the childminder became more difficult because she just didn’t want to leave me. Eventually, she

got used to the fact that she just had me around. Maybe she got a little too used to it. Now, she’s flipped and is all for mummy, all the time. I can barely go to the loo by myself, because she wants to be with me. Deployment changes lots of things, but I never expected it

to change the way our little girl was with us. She still adores her daddy, but it took some work getting her to be okay with him when he first came back. Even now, she’s a mummy’s girl at heart. After all the trials and tribulations, it really did bring us closer.

My wife is in the army

On any military camp, there’ll usually be some sort of wives’ club set up and most people not connected to the forces automatically assume that we’re the serving member of the couple! With more women joining the armed forces, there will be more military husbands around and I hope that by reading what I have to say, others can relate to my experience. I want to reach out to new husbands entering the military world and tell them about things like the banter (getting referred to as ‘the wife’) moving around a lot and social opportunities within the military environment – how to make the most of these and get involved.

My wife and I have been really lucky to have had quite a few overseas postings, each providing their own experiences. My favourites so far have been Germany and the Falklands. If you get the chance to go to either of these places, grab every opportunity to get out and about. Being a military husband has been great. You hear a few moans from various people but, in my opinion as a spouse, we get a good ride, we get well looked after and we get to do things we wouldn’t normally do. I write about all of this in my new blog, as well as tips to prepare

other husbands for their first exposure to military life. I’m hoping to interact with other service husbands, share information about our experiences and provide advice for anyone that might need it.

By Chris

I’m Chris and I’m an army husband. I don’t feel like there’s much representation for us… if you Google military spouse, so much comes up about military wives but not a lot about us husbands.

“Deployment changes lots of things, but I never expected it to change the way our little girl was with us.”

Sound like yo u? Get in touc h with Chris at chris.keen@ themilitaryhu

summer 2019 Army&You 65

Big fan of blo gs? Check ou t AFF’s latest p osts! Find ou t more at .uk/blog

Pride and dread By @CorporalMum

My son joined the infantry three years ago, which was when I coined my own motto ‘pride and dread’, because that is what I felt. Dread first – in bucketloads – but also, of course, huge pride. I was sure the infantry wasn’t the right choice then, or for the future. I started worrying almost immediately but soon realised that, firstly, it was not the time to worry, and, secondly, I wouldn’t be able to function or support him if I became overwhelmed with worry. I started a blog to write about his army experiences and made a conscious decision to keep it light hearted. It helped me feel connected to him as well as connecting me to other army parents, it was amazing to get messages from other mums saying it reassured them about their own child. After training, and shortly after joining his regiment, disaster struck, he

66 Army&You summer 2019

suffered a sports injury and had to be medically discharged, albeit with a view re-joining after treatment. Picking him up from outside the gates was awful; as awful as seeing him go in for the first time. We had watched him become a soldier, and him losing that was dreadful. I only realised how much of a soldier my son is, when he was out. Other jobs just weren’t for him. After completing his treatment programme, he was given the all clear to reapply. By then I was actively asking him when he was going back. I knew it was what he wanted. So different from the first time.

Thank you, army community By Nicola Many people voice their frustrations at the failings of some parts of their military lives. I’d like to redress the balance by publicly counting my blessings and expressing how very grateful I am to be part of the army community. My husband and I are both teachers employed in MOD schools in Cyprus, having arrived here four years ago from Hohne, Germany. Our SFA is old, but spacious and homely, and should anything go wrong in the house, a single email or phone call results in a fast repair – no calling round for plumbers or footing extortionate bills. We have access to excellent healthcare, incredibly cheap gym membership and welfare support within the base. Our children attend schools with small class sizes and state-of-the-art resources. My overwhelming gratitude is directed towards the community experience that we never had in our UK civilian home. Our neighbours and friends can always be relied on for support – we all understand how it feels to live far away from family. I accept that it’s tough to move houses, or even countries, every two or three years, and we are fortunate in that respect. However, for my children, I believe they are learning acceptance and resilience in a similar way to the military children they make friends with, as they are always the ones who are left behind when their peers move on. Thank you, army community, for all you have given us.

He had to go back to Catterick to re-do various aspects of training and is now joining his new regiment. I do think differently now, I see the infantry as his career and believe there are good opportunities ahead for him. We are infantry, and this is where he belongs. It’s lovely when he’s home, we support him with extra food and extra kit. Of course, pride and dread are still my friends, but it’s not time to worry yet. @ArmyandYou

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

Find out more or request a copy of our Will Guide at Contact the Legion’s legacy manager at or call 020 3207 2253

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

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




Host a Big Brew Up with family and friends to raise vital funds to support our Armed Forces. At SSAFA, we support the person behind the uniform; any time they need us, for as long as they need us. We’re here for those currently serving, reserves, veterans and their families. And we couldn’t do it without people like you. HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE TO OUR FORCES

Download your FREE Big Brew Up fundraising pack for lots of fun, easy ways you can support our Forces family at:

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Army&You Summer 2019  

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

Army&You Summer 2019  

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