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Army &You SUMMER 2014

WWW.ARMYANDYOU.CO.UK

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

PROPERTY PITFALLS Your guide to negotiating the mortgage minefield

BEAR necessities Chief Scout Grylls answers your questions

DIVIDED BY DUTY Learning the lessons of long-distance love

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

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

Free* voicemail Family and friends based in the UK, Germany and Cyprus can leave voicemail messages for entitled UK Service personnel currently serving on operational duty overseas. Entitled deployed personnel can retrieve voicemail messages for free in-theatre. Entitled deployed personnel, family and friends can top-up WelComE Account Cards via the Online Account Manager. Visit www.mywelcome.co.uk for details.

WelComE Customer Contact Centre customer.support@mywelcome.co.uk www.mywelcome.co.uk * Free when calling from a UK, German or Cypriot landline Mobile and international call costs may vary. Check with your mobile/service provider

10255 - Š Paradigm. All rights reserved. WelComE is a Registered Trademark of Astrium Limited.

Online top-up service


{ FROM THE EDITOR }

ARMY&YOU IN NUMBERS

1.2

New horizons

The amount, in millions of pounds, that Red Lion Foods has raised for Forces families (pages 28-29)

A

S THIS edition lands on Army families’ doormats, for some, the reality of the Tranche 4 redundancy announcement will be beginning to kick in. If you are affected, you will find the most family-friendly information on this complex topic right here. Our two-page feature will guide you through the most commonly asked questions. With change also on the radar for families in Germany, our handy tips will help you plan for the big move back – including support to find those often elusive who answers your questions. school places. And don’t forget, AFF’s Find out how to set Conference, our Big up a Military Wives Debate, is on Tuesday AFF’s Choir from scratch 21 October. Make sure and feel inspired you note the date in Conference, our by Army wife and your diary now. This Big Debate, is former soldier Louise is your opportunity Fetigan, who set up to ask questions on on Tuesday 21 My Daddy is a Soldier Army life direct to October Adventures – a charity policy makers. See supporting children page 11 for details. across the globe who have soldier parents. From pop-up gardens to archaeology digs, there are plenty of ideas to get stuck into this summer. We also catch up with the ultimate adventurer in Chief Scout Bear Grylls, CHARLOTTE EADIE, EDITOR

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Charlotte

WWW.ARMYANDYOU.CO.UK

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

PROPERTY PITFALLS Your guide to negotiating the mortgage minefield

BEAR necessities Chief Scout Grylls answers your questions

DIVIDED BY DUTY Learning the lessons of long-distance love

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

The percentage of you who have had problems getting a mortgage due to the Forces lifestyle (pages 24-25)

6 The number of books which made the Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction shortlist (page 53)

8.5 The number, in thousands, of members of online group Dad.info which offers support for fathers (page 14)

On the cover...

&Army You

SUMMER 2014

85

aff

@ArmyandYou

Chief Scout and former soldier Bear Grylls, who answers your questions in this issue of Army&You. Turn to page 54.

F

Armyandyou

Picture: The Scout Association

K

www.armyandyou.co.uk

DID YOU KNOW? Bear Grylls became one of the youngest people to summit Mount Everest when he reached the peak in 1998 aged just 23. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 03


{ CONTACTS }

CONTACT AFF

?

Do you have concerns, questions or feedback on any issues affecting you? Use this list to find your local co-ordinator or the relevant point of contact.

AFF UK

Find us on Facebook or tweet @The_AFF

CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 us@aff.org.uk

SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 southhants@aff.org.uk

AFF VIRTUAL CO-ORDINATOR 07974 970696 coord@aff.org.uk

SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 salisburyplain@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk

SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 southwest@aff.org.uk

OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 oxfordshire@aff.org.uk

SOUTH EAST 07733 147001 southeast@aff.org.uk

NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 northhants@aff.org.uk

LONDON 07901 778948 london@aff.org.uk

AFF GERMANY

@affgermany

HOHNE (0049) 01522 547 7710 hohne@aff.org.uk

(0049) 05221 297 9644 germany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH (0049) 01762 548 5762 gutersloh@aff.org.uk

PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 paderborn@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 rmcentral@aff.org.uk

EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 rmnorth@aff.org.uk

YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 yorkshire@aff.org.uk

SCOTLAND 07780 093115 scotland@aff.org.uk

WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 westmids@aff.org.uk

WALES 07527 492868 wales@aff.org.uk

EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 eastmids@aff.org.uk

NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 ni@aff.org.uk

AFF OVERSEAS (0044) 07795 687930 overseas@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2110 rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

@affcyprus

ESBA (00357) 9932 4990 esba@aff.org.uk

CANADA (001) 403 544 4600 canada@aff.org.uk

WSBA (00357) 9789 2230 wsba@aff.org.uk

KENYA (00254) 07198 51834 kenya@aff.org.uk

YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS

EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

HOUSING

FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

EMPLOYMENT TRAINING & MONEY

COVENANT LIAISON

07552 861983 additionalneeds@ aff.org.uk ✪ Post generously

07527 492869 ec@aff.org.uk

07789 551158 housing@aff.org.uk

fcassist@aff.org.uk

07799 045955 etam@aff.org.uk ✪ Post generously

07833 448352 covenant@aff.org.uk

sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

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Charlotte Eadie

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DID YOU KNOW? You can get your questions answered by the chain of command through our Postbag pages. Turn to page 63 to find out how!

04 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


ADVERTORIAL

Why the Armed Forces should be up in arms!

Major General John Moore-Bick CBE DL General Secretary of the Forces Pension Society

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ICE FO ST

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FOR

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ou need to be aware of the future treatment of your wives and widows for the next 40 years, following the Government’s refusal to honour the Armed Forces Covenant and treat Armed Forces widows of the future with equality. In his report on the Covenant in December 2013, the Defence Secretary acknowledged that: “There are unique barriers that spouses and partners face as a result of Service life that can hinder their employment, including frequent moves.” So the Government already recognises the demands and turbulence of Service life uniquely militate against wives of Servicemen being able to accrue any sort of occupational pension or even the full state pension. After all, it is not unusual for Service families to move postings 15-20 times in the course of a career, often abroad.

S WID

And yet the great majority of current and retired Service wives and future widows face being stripped of their Service widow’s pension if they live with a man, or remarry. Most women affected by this are receiving pensions of less than £3,000 a year, yet in many cases they and their new partner cannot afford to do without it, and so they are forced into a life of solitude. According to the Government’s own figures, the total cost of rectifying this injustice would be only £250K a year. Yet as long as it remains in law, the state may be spending much more than that monitoring, tracking down, and in some cases arresting and prosecuting women who decide to cohabit in secret. The latest widows pensions schemes have been amended to remove this unfairness: the Government has already accepted our case. But it has so far refused to change the existing schemes due to the risk that it might ‘read across’ to the rest of the public sector. These schemes affect not only

current Forces widows, but also most future widows until 2050! Here is the recent testimony of one such widow. “I was woken up by the MOD police knocking on my door. I had four officers in my house, one of them read me my rights and told me he was arresting me for two counts of fraud and one for money laundering. I was shocked to my core, as I really wasn’t aware that I had done anything out of place. I was taken by car to a police station where I was formally arrested, searched and booked in, then held in a cell. Once a duty solicitor arrived he told me why I was there.” Are we prepared to let this to go on for 40 years more until the present generation of Servicemen and their wives, on the 1975 Armed Forces Pension Scheme, die out? The Forces Pension Society, fully supported by the Families Federations and the Royal British Legion, are calling on MPs to challenge these draconian and cruel rules. The introduction of the new Armed Forces Pension Scheme in 2015 provides a once in a generation opportunity to harmonise the rules and dispense some much-needed fairness. Service widows must be spared the choice between a lifetime of solitude and a dawn raid! If you would like to know more and if you are interested in joining The Forces Pension Society, visit www. forcespensionsociety.org The Forces Pension Society, 68 South Lambeth Rd, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL 020 7582 0469 www.forcespensionsociety.org

The Covenant demands no less!

A member of

Cobseo The Confederation of Service Charities


Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Open Morning Sat 20 Sept 2014 Admissions Deadline Thu 15 Jan 2015 Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

www.qvs.org.uk


{ CONTENTS }

IN THIS ISSUE... 9 A WORD FROM... Chief Executive Catherine Spencer outlines the AFF’s wealth of welfare

11 LONDON CALLING Find out all about this year’s capital-based AFF Big Debate

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16 CREATING CHOIRS Our handy how-to guide on setting up a Military Wives Choir on your patch

20 NEXT-DOOR NUISANCE Top tips on how to successfully deal with problem neighbours

24 HOME ALOAN How you can use the Forces Help to Buy scheme to unlock the property market

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29

I KNEW I HAD TO DO SOMETHING TO HELP CHILDREN WHO HAD LOST A PARENT

28 ROARING TRADE Food philanthropist on raising a sevenfigure sum for Service charities

34 AUF WIEDERSEHEN, PETS Moving back to the UK from Germany? Don’t miss our essential guide

42 DIVIDED BY DUTY Army&You examines the pros and cons of being in a long-distance relationship

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44 MARCHING ON We look at the support available to families of soldiers taking redundancy

49 FACING MY DEMONS A young dependant shares her story about overcoming an eating disorder

50 GIVEAWAYS A family holiday, exciting days out and a date with Peppa Pig are all up for grabs

54 BEAR NECESSITIES Catching up with Chief Scout, former soldier and now A&Y cover star Bear Grylls

59 PANDA PUNDITRY A&Y puts Fiat’s fun-yet-functional family off-roader to the test

64 POSTBAG Your views about every aspect of Service life

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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THERE IS A WEALTH OF ADVICE AVAILABLE FOR THOSE LEAVING THE FORCES

44 summer 2014 Army&You 07


VA L U E | S E R V I C E | C O M M I T M E N T

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Being near to Marble Arch means we are ideally located for visits to world famous museums, Hyde Park and a whole host of other sights which are perfect for family days out.

• Children are given something to entertain them when they come for lunch or dinner. • Special Kids’ Menu

Summer Kids Eat Free*

• Goody bag on arrival

T: 0207 723 4474 | E: res@vsc.co.uk, mem@vsc.co.uk | W: vsc.co.uk Victory Services Club | 63-79 Seymour Street | London | W2 2HF

Opening Doors to Independence by providing specially trained assistance dogs to injured and disabled men and women of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services. Want to open the door, or know someone who might... We’re accepting applications from those with injuries or disabilities from any combat zone, or degenerative conditions.

or just want to fundraise... Then contact us at

enquiries@houndsforheroes.com

or join us at

www.houndsforheroes.com www.twitter.com/houndsforheroes www.facebook.com/houndsforheroes

Hounds For Heroes is registered in England, Wales and Scotland as a charitable company, limited by guarantee. Regd. Charity: 1134359 and SC043751

08 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


{ A WORD FROM }

A WORD FROM...

CATHERINE SPENCER, AFF Chief Executive Follow Catherine on Twitter @AFFChiefExec

range of studies and projects which are contributing to changes in areas such as housing, rebasing, Reserves and redundancy. We rely on you to tell us your views, what issues you have and what you think of Army life – this ensures that when we talk to the Adjutant General and the Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans we’re illustrating issues using your views.

Picture: Berties Photography

WHAT’S YOUR QUESTION? Our “Big Debate” – AFF Families’ Conference in October puts you in the driving seat – giving you the chance to tell top decision makers what you think of Army life and to hear their frank views on what the future holds. We know that you will have plenty of questions such as:

It’s good to talk

O

seeking employment. VER the course of a year, AFF Through our new volunteer programme, advises and guides thousands we have opportunities to volunteer of Army families through with AFF to help us reach even our specialists and local comore Army families – www. ordinators. Many more of aff.org.uk/volunteer you rely on the news and We rely on you You may only need information available to tell us what to contact us when through Army&You and your views are, you hit a specific issue our ever-evolving social what issues you but we’re continually media presence on have and what working for you. Facebook and Twitter. you think of Our contacts within the Our website – www. MOD and government aff.org.uk – provides Army life have enabled us to provide an enormous amount of advice and guidance to decision valuable information on all makers, influencing policy at a time aspects of Army family life, whilst the when there’s enormous change sweeping Army&You website – www.armyandyou. across defence. co.uk – carries news stories and includes AFF has been consulted during a wide our Jobs&You portal for those of you

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l Will there be enough quarters ready for the big move back from Germany? l Will pay ever rise to a more acceptable rate? l What will Army housing costs be in the future? l Will working hours improve? l Will defence cuts continue to impact on our soldier? As well as being at the very heart of the debate, you will also have direct access to our highly experienced AFF Specialists who will be on hand to listen and help with any issues you may have. And amongst this year’s exhibitors will be potential employers and trainers – organisations interested in offering you a job or providing training opportunities. Tickets will be popular, so book your free place at www. aff.org.uk/bigdebate or see page 11 for further details.

DID YOU KNOW? AFF’s Big Debate 2014 takes place at London’s prestigious Institute of Education on 21 October. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 09


Diamond Estates British Army

Legal Advice and Guidance You Can Trust... Forces Law Network Solicitor members offer legal services to serving and retired personnel throughout the world (including Reservists, the Civil Service and their families). Initial advice and guidance is FREE with 10% discount thereafter. Our reputation is well supported with over 60 years’ experience in legal assistance to the Armed Forces. Forces Employment Resettlement Grants Wills and Probate Lasting Powers of Attorney House Sale or Purchase (LSAP)

We can help you through the minefield that exists when trying to fund the purchase of a home. Now is the time to buy with interest rates low and prices tending to rise. We have a number of innovative schemes which include:-

Litigation Personal Injury Courts Martial Criminal Law Family Law

Obtaining a mortgage for first time buyers. Re-mortgaging for existing home owners. Equity release for existing home owners. Buy to let for everybody.

0845 6011260 Quote: A

www.forceslaw.com

10 Army&You summer 2014

Photos © Crown copyright 2013

We will come to you except for the Falklands Islands!

The proprietor was a lance bombardier with 50th medium RA. Asked for Hong Kong and got Scotland!

Mob. 07958 644 540 @ArmyandYou


{ AFF IN ACTION }

Join the Big Debate

I WHAT? AFF’s Big Debate 2014 WHEN? Tuesday 21 October, 10.30am–4.30pm WHERE? 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL WHO? You! It’s for anyone with a soldier in their life WHY? Because your voice counts HOW? By putting your questions to the panel

F YOU are keen to know more about the future of the Army and how families fit in, or want to vent your frustrations about finding a job, your quarter or any issues encountered securing a school place, the Big Debate – AFF Families’ Conference – is for you! Perhaps you’re concerned about the big move from Germany to the UK, or want to buy your own home? Maybe your soldier is a Reservist and you feel isolated when they’re away? Whether you are loving or loathing life as part of a military family, this is your chance to get involved, meet other Army

spouses and ask those burning questions. Decision makers from the Army, government and the civil service, together with organisations that provide vital services and support for military families, will be there to provide some answers. ALL WE NEED IS YOU Come armed with your questions and your honest opinions on Army family life. Check the AFF website, Facebook page or Twitter for updates and news about the day. Tickets are FREE so don’t miss out – register to reserve your seat at www.aff. org.uk/bigdebate. Lunch is provided.

PUBLICITY COUNTS Would you like to support AFF’s work with Army families? Our volunteer programme offers a variety of roles. Rachel Fallows, AFF Volunteer Manager tells us about our latest initiative… LOCAL PUBLICITY VOLUNTEER We’re looking for people who are out and about in their local community; it might be at a toddler group, a book club, fitness sessions or military wives choir. All we’ll ask you to do is help distribute our publicity material and this year, promote AFF’s Big Debate to encourage

families to attend. Not for you? Don’t worry AFF has lots of different roles to suit your location, time commitments and interests such as our internet-based publication feedback group which can be joined from anywhere in the world. Alternatively you may wish to be involved on a more local basis by representing AFF at our events. For lots more information, visit www.aff.org.uk/volunteer and find your volunteer role today.

CASE STUDY Volunteer minute-taker Natalie Sutton explains what her role entails… “I attend the AFF trustee meetings, record comments and write up minutes for their records. My role gives the trustees and AFF the confidence that their ideas and observations are a true and accurate account of what was said and can be used for future reference. “I have received the warmest of welcomes since I started earlier this year. As an Army wife, I was familiar with the work AFF does for Army families and I see volunteering as an opportunity to use some of my experience. It has enabled me to develop new skills and rediscover old ones after a career break. Being able to demonstrate reliability, responsibility and note-taking skills will be good attributes for future employers. “I spotted and applied for a role on the AFF volunteer website that looked exciting and which I felt I was well suited to and which fitted in with my other commitments. I am so glad that I did, as I feel I’m doing a valuable role but also gaining a huge amount personally. I recommend AFF to anyone thinking of volunteering.”

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Call me

87 per cent of Army families responding to AFF’s recent quick poll had experienced difficulty in being released from a mobile phone contract when being posted overseas. Only 5 per cent were offered the option of moving to a pay-as-you-go contract, with 47 respondents still paying their monthly contract fee. Twenty five of you were made to pay the remainder of your contract costs or a compensation lump sum in order to cancel and worryingly, one respondent said that this had affected their credit rating. AFF is looking to encourage mobile phone providers to sign up to the Corporate Covenant and address this issue. If you have experienced problems with your mobile phone contract overseas, do contact our Overseas Director Phil Robertson at overseas@aff.org.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 11


Union Jack Club Your Family friendly Club in Central London for Serving personnel and their dependents

Opposite Waterloo Station Safe and secure atmosphere Restaurant with tailored children’s menu Bar and Espresso bar Located close to top attractions in London Family rooms & Flats available Games Room Parking For special offers visit our website Please call 020 79026000 and quote UJC/FAMILY www.ujclub.co.uk

www.flypets.co.uk

At Flypets we take away all of the stress of transporting the furry members of your family abroad.

Call 01932 875 227 10% disco unt for all military and Ex-Pats.

We go further 12 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


GRAPEVINE Really useful bits about Army life

{ GRAPEVINE } GET INVOLVED

Have you got a story you would like to share with Army&You? If so, contact the Editor at editor@aff.org.uk

Visit archhistory. co.uk to start discovering your heritage

Living history: BBC presenter Neil Oliver with a German MG08 machine gun (BBC Scotland)

Piecing together our heritage CONNECT with the people and stories of the First World War through the Army Children of the First World War project, established by The Army Children Archive (TACA). Countless British youngsters became “temporary” Army children at that time, when their civilian fathers joined the Army as volunteers or conscripts. Drawing on a wealth of material, TACA highlights their plight using two online galleries on Flickr. Visit www.flickr.com/photos/ armychildrenarchive to view this fascinating collection. Do you recognise those pictured? Can you fill in the gaps and, if possible,

Top tweets We have a saying in our house – never defrost the chicken. In all the years, they rarely go or come home on dates given!

@lisarogerson3

identify these forgotten faces? Browse the selection of First World War sentimental postcards too (pictured above). Many of these images were intended to tug at the heartstrings, arouse patriotic feelings and reflect on the national preoccupations prevalent during that time.

iWonder about World War One iWonder, part of the BBC’s World War One season, features interactive guides by experts including Dan Snow, Kate Adie and Neil Oliver. Rich with original video and audio content, iWonder guides give you access to interactive, thoughtprovoking content to challenge, inform and captivate. From the trenches to poetry and propaganda; whether the subject of WW1 is new to you, or something you have grappled with at length, the guides enable you to interact with the Great War like never before. View the guides and more information at www.bbc.co.uk/ww1

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

So, I have a day and a half to pack the house, clean it and paint it back to magnolia. Time starts... Now!

@DudeWhereMyBaby

So, they’ve changed our next move from Devon to North Scotland. Right...

@ForcesWG_UK

The real deal magazine for heroes to follow – @ArmyandYou

@glorytotheboys

DID YOU KNOW? ABF The Soldiers’ Charity marked the anniversary of the First World War by reproducing the Wipers Times newspaper. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 13


Snap shot

©British Crown Copyright

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

1. Welcome home Mercian soldiers are reunited with their loved ones on their return to Fallingbostel

2. Canine encounter The Duchess of Cambridge makes friends with an Irish Wolfhound via @poppypride1

3. Senior seeders Chelsea Pensioners plant poppies on Sloan Street via @SloanStreetSW1

4. Striking soldier Celebrating heroes past and present via @CISimonNelson

Paternal portal for digital dads DAD.info has an abundance of articles, videos, daily blogs, news and tips, as well as a forum with a community of more than 8,500 members, all at the click of a mouse. Run by the Family Matters Institute, the site has expert advisers offering support with birth, child law, finance and debt, relationships and maintenance advice. If you have an issue, Dad.info may be able to help. The team of coaches offers separation, relationship and life coaching services, while partnerships with Relate, Family Rights Group and the Child Maintenance group bring you free

advice, as well as access to some of the world’s top fatherhood and family experts. Having trouble talking to your teenager? Need to make time for mealtimes? Or do you simply want to speak to other dads about parenthood? For all this and more, log on to the site at www.dad.info

DAD.INFO NEEDS YOU The group is looking for a new military blogger. If you’re a dad and interested in sharing your experiences with the community on a weekly basis, contact info@DAD.info for more details. All published blogs are paid.

‘MOMS’ THE WORD FOR MILITARY FAMILIES THE MOMS (Mums of Military Service Personnel) Facebook group “A Mums War” offers an opportunity for parents, in-laws and wider family members to chat, support each other and access information. Everyone is welcome. If your son or daughter is serving on the frontline, MOMS promises that you don’t need to face it alone. Most members have been or are going through the same experience, so it’s a great place to make friends and share your thoughts. Find the group online by searching for “A Mums War” on Facebook and making a request to join.

Fire up your grill to help Britain’s heroes THINKING of holding a BBQ this summer? Why not turn it into a Help for Heroes BearB-Q to raise money for our wounded heroes? From sizzling sausages to chargrilled chicken, get ready to dig out your chef’s hat and put the “fun” back into fundraising with your friends, family or colleagues. You could even hold a gathering in your community! The Bear-B-Q event runs from 1631 August and taking part couldn’t be easier; just set a date, pick a venue and register your event to receive your free fundraising pack. l Visit www.bearbq.org.uk or call 01980 846459 for more information.

FRESH AND SEASONAL WE all know strawberries are at their best in June and brussels sprouts in December, but what about courgettes in September? Eat Seasonably is a nationwide campaign for better labelling of “in season” fruit and veg, backed by a plethora of supermarkets,

restaurants and top chefs. The website has a great section on how to create your own garden of juicy fruits and crunchy veg, with tips to get planting no matter how much space you’ve got. Visit eatseasonably.co.uk for info, tips, news and events.

DID YOU KNOW? You can put your own photos forward to appear in Snapshot! Tweet your snaps to @ArmyandYou

14 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


Creating choirs

Help for Heroes activity book helps Service children share their feelings

BEAR ESSENTIAL IF your soldier has been wounded, injured or is sick, the My Hero’s Helper Activity Book might assist. Designed by Help for Heroes and the Defence Medical Welfare Service, it will help you talk to your children about the pain and suffering we feel when someone close to us is injured. It encourages them to write and draw how they’re feeling with help from Hero Bear, who appears throughout the book. You can use it to express and share your anxieties and fears together, as well as celebrate the special times as your soldier moves along the road to recovery. Email the family support team at bandofsisters@helpforheroes.org.uk

For Michelle Alston, one of the saddest things about moving was leaving her Military Wives Choir. Faced with a commute to the nearest ‘girl group’, she decided to start one on her own patch. She tells us how she did it…

T

HE choir was a fantastic source of support during my husband’s tour; so when we moved to Upavon I missed the singing but I missed the friendship of the other wives more. The camp is small and isolated and the more I thought about setting up a choir, the more I felt it would be a really positive thing for families living here. DRUMMING UP SUPPORT By posting on our camp’s Facebook page, I was delighted to find there was some interest. From our first meeting, the enthusiasm for singing and friendship was infectious. After receiving support from the Military Wives Choir Foundation, we got permission from the station commander, secured a rehearsal venue and advertised our first session – cakes were a big incentive! We recruited a musical director who was a fellow wife living on camp; we just had

to hope that people turned up. READY TO SING Twenty five ladies came along, which was fantastic, and by the end we were singing a gospel medley in a round! It was wonderful to hear the sound we could make but more important to bring women in the military community together. We have members from Upavon and Netheravon, a daughter of a retired soldier and a current serving soldier. This mix is exactly what the network of around 70 Military Wives Choirs is all about and the spirit was summed up by one member, who said: “I have lived here for a year and barely met anyone. Now I am making friends through the choir.” We have received fantastic support from other choirs and look forward to carrying on singing and making friends. As the title of the second Military Wives Choir album suggests, we are “stronger together”.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! WOULD you like to appear in the latest blockbuster movie or hit series? If so, register with Soldier In Blue, which helps to place ex-Service personnel and dependants of serving soldiers as extras or military advisers. The company is the brainchild of Xander Rawlins and Charlie Rotheram, who both worked on the set of Les Misérables shortly after leaving the Army, and helps filmmakers find the right people for their productions. Aside from providing a source of income, the experience of working on set can be a welcome distraction when your soldier is away on duty. Visit www.soldierinblue.com to register.

16 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


{ YOUR FAMILY }

❝I missed the friendship

I don’t want a divorce!

❝Cakes were a big incentive

GOING SOLO?

garrison publications, via HIVE, local radio, posters and social media pages

The Military Wives Choir Foundation (MWCF) offers some handy tips to set you on your way...

Read through our terms of membership – your committee can sign on behalf of your members

Form a group of at least three to act as the temporary committee before one is formally voted in

Set up a bank account and ask one of your committee to act as treasurer. Community accounts via high street banks are best – with two signatories

Contact the MWCF for our guiding principles Find a venue – preferably free of charge with an adjoining room for a crèche and/or coffee-making facilities Look for a musical director through school teachers, your camp, church or local ads. They’ll need to teach with musical accompaniment Fix a date for a taster session and promote it with flyers, through regiment/

As part of the MWCF network, you will receive: l a choir email address and password l a choir-specific logo l access to our intranet site l access to our copyright-free repertoire l membership of our closed Facebook pages l a free fundraising kit l access to all our guidance documents. For more details, email enquiries@militarywiveschoirs.org

Playing with the past ARMY families have been unearthing some ancient treasures during a 13-month programme run by Wessex Archaeology. Budding archaeologists of all ages and from garrisons around Salisbury Plain took part in Project Florence. The work at the Barrow Clump site in South Wiltshire gave volunteers and children a chance to learn new skills and complemented Operation www.armyandyou.co.uk

Nightingale – a military recovery initiative for injured soldiers. Families enjoyed activity days and guided tours of the area and got hands-on with clay pot making, games, podcast recording and processing excavation finds. The Playing with the Past archaeology club for 8-to-16-year-olds was set up with the assistance of the Army Welfare Service in Bulford, giving military

youngsters a chance to explore their local heritage and develop creative talents. Participants built Neolithic houses, discovered underwater archaeology and partied Victorian style. Wessex Archaeology is planning more projects involving Army communities in the future. Keep an eye on their news blog at www. wessexarch.co.uk

Picture: © Liz Rhodes

Consultant Solicitor Mandeep Gill considers the options available when a relationship breaks down... What is the secret to a successful marriage? The answer is as unique as the couple. If your relationship is failing, take time to evaluate your situation before deciding to terminate it by divorce. WHAT CAN YOU DO? Relate offers counselling for every type of family relationship; including help with family life, parenting, your physical relationship and help for children. If you decide that separation is the best option for now, but are not ready to divorce, you can make a formal agreement known as a Deed of Separation or Separation Agreement. This is for both parties to record how they’d like their assets to be dealt with now – and in any future divorce proceedings – and to record arrangements for the children. If you cannot agree, you may want to consider mediation. An independent mediator will assist you, where possible, to reach a constructive agreement. Some couples may wish to separate permanently without divorcing, because of religious reasons for example. In these rare cases, a judicial separation may be necessary. Whatever you decide, consider counselling for your children; it can help them understand and deal with what is happening. USEFUL LINKS l www.resolution.org.uk l www.rcpsych.ac.uk l www.familylives.org.uk l www.gingerbread.org.uk Do you have a legal question you would like Mandeep to answer? Email deped@aff.org.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 17


{ YOUR FAMILY }

Beauty&You Make-up artist and Army wife Grace Brown’s top beauty tips…

Sun salon

Worth remembering

S

EARCHING for a great place to visit with the family this summer? Look no further than The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, the UK’s year-round centre of remembrance. Not only is it a spiritually uplifting place which honours the fallen, recognises military service and sacrifice and fosters pride in our country, it’s also a wonderful venue for families. Within its beautiful wooded landscape, there’s an abundance of wildlife and a dedicated children’s area for all to enjoy. In addition, every Saturday and throughout the school holidays, visitors to the Arboretum can take part in a variety of inspiring craft and discovery activity sessions. CENTRE STAGE The Arboretum, which is part of The Royal British Legion’s family of charities, has nearly 300 diverse memorials set within its 150-acre landscape, many of which www.armyandyou.co.uk

JOIN IN THE ARMED FORCES DAY CELEBRATIONS ON 28TH JUNE

are dedicated to individual people and regiments. Taking centre stage is the iconic Armed Forces Memorial – the UK’s tribute to the 16,000 men and women who have been killed on duty or as a result of terrorist action since 1948. Names are added annually to the giant Portland stone walls and it’s been designed to allow a shaft of sunlight to fall across its central sculpted wreath at precisely 11am on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – an incredibly poignant sight. COMMEMORATION The First World War centenary programme includes a family-friendly discovery trail to help you to learn much more about the stories and people behind the memorials. Guided walks also take place each day or you can explore with a ride on the land train service. The Arboretum is open daily from 9am to 5pm and admission is free. www.thenma.org.uk

ESSENTIALS Summer is here and matte pastel lips are all the rage this season. I love 1,000 Kisses lip tint by Rimmel. It lasts hours, looks natural and doesn’t leave your lips feeling dry. Another great product for the warmer weather is Estee Lauder’s Double Wear “stay in place” foundation. The alcohol in the product absorbs any oils you produce, so you don’t have to worry about looking sweaty! The best mascara I have come across is Rimmel Lash Accelerator Waterproof. It stays put all day and contains a growth complex, so your lashes are literally longer!

SHADY DEAL The skin around our eyes is the most sensitive to sun and this is a perfect excuse to invest in a pair of sunglasses. They don’t have to be super pricey, just make sure they have 100 per cent UV protection (see page 63). TAN-TASTIC If you’re brave enough to fake the sun’s kiss, I recommend an instant fake tan so you can see the results as you’re applying it. However, if you’re like me and petrified of doing it yourself, nothing beats a spray tan. Shades and tones vary, so you can get the perfect colour which lasts two weeks and is streak free. Find a beautician that comes to your quarter so you don’t have to feel the shame of posing naked like a starfish in a salon! summer 2014 Army&You 19


HOW TO DEAL WITH NUISANCE NEIGHBOURS When you live next door to someone who makes so much noise it constantly disturbs you, it’s no fun. Whether it’s a barking dog, loud television or parties going on into the small hours, it can truly impact on your quality of life. But what can be done about it? AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder looks at your options…

20 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


{ YOUR FAMILY }

I

T MAY sound obvious but start by talking directly to your neighbours – it may be that they simply don’t realise how much the sound is travelling or that their dog is barking the whole time they are out. There are ways to do this; plan what you are going to say, and always stay calm and polite. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME If the issue is noisy parties, it’s probably not a good idea to go round mid-party after they’ve had a few drinks, wait until it’s over and then talk about it. Remind them that you have children or need to get up for work and ask them to let you know about a party in advance or to turn the sound down after a certain time. WHAT IF THE PROBLEM CONTINUES? If you can’t come to an amicable agreement, you need to contact your Unit Welfare Officer (UWO) and DIO for assistance. Make sure that you have a record of nuisance behaviour – dates, times, duration and the effect it had on you – eg kept you awake until 4am or you couldn’t hear your TV over theirs. Keep a note of all the names of people you have spoken to, a brief synopsis of what was discussed and copies of all letters. If necessary you can contact Environmental Health to record the noise levels. If at any time you feel that you are being threatened or illegal behaviour is occurring you should call the police. Your UWO could act as a mediator to sort things out but if this doesn’t

www.armyandyou.co.uk

work you may need to get your chain of command to liaise with the HASC, which might result in you or the other family being moved. NOISY CIVILIANS Who do you go to for help if you are living next to civilians? Try to resolve it yourself and keep your UWO informed. You can get in touch with your local council, their landlord (if they have one) or contact the community police for advice. Attend community meetings from time to time in your area. BEING A GOOD NEIGHBOUR What should you do if YOU are approached about YOUR noise levels? Always listen to them. You might be taken aback as it could be the first time that you have heard that there’s an issue, but try to stay calm and polite. Try to see the problem from their point of view and how you would feel if it was happening to you. If your dog barks all day when you are out think of ways to prevent this – get a dog walker or leave the radio on if that calms them down; go next door to listen to how loud your TV or music is in their house and think about turning the volume down later in the evening. If you’re having a party, it’s courteous

to let your neighbours know in advance. THE RULES Remember that under the terms of your licence to occupy an SFA, you have agreed that: ✔ You must not racially, sexually or in any other way, harass your neighbours or cause a nuisance or annoyance or allow members of your household, invited guests or pets to cause a nuisance or annoyance to any neighbours ✔ You must not make or allow members of your household, invited guests or pets to make any noise that causes a nuisance to your neighbours between 11pm and 8am. If the terms of the licence are breached it is DIO’s right to terminate it. If you’re having issues on this topic, contact me at housing@aff.org.uk MORE INFO l Contact your UWO via your soldier’s unit l DIO/HASC contact details www.gov.uk l For Environmental Health, contact your local authority l Neighbours From Hell in Britain www.nfh.org.uk l Citizens Advice www.adviceguide.org.uk

THE GRRRS NEXT DOOR: CAUSES FOR CONFLICT ✔ Noisy neighbours ✔ Barking dogs ✔ Dogs entering your garden ✔ Parking disputes

✔ Neighbours’ children ✔ Harassment, intimidation and bullying ✔ Rubbish and litter ✔ Anti-social behaviour

summer 2014 Army&You 21


A stylish new home is more affordable than you think Move into your own home by buying through shared ownership with Waterloo Homes Part buy, part rent through shared ownership

1, 2 and 3 bedroom homes across the Midlands and Lincolnshire from around ÂŁ26,000 for a 25% share

0845 450 3995 www.waterloohomes.org.uk

@waterloohomes waterloo_ homes


{ YOUR HOME } HOUSING HIGHLIGHTS HOME IMPROVEMENTS If you’re thinking of making changes to your Service Families Accommodation, you need to seek permission from DIO. You especially need to ask first for items such as gas and electrical fittings which can pose serious safety issues if tampered with. Mail the HASC with your request or go to www.gov.uk to find HASC email contacts in your area. QUARTER QUERIES? Did you know there are lots of handy online guides all about living in SFA? From fire safety to running a business and saving energy, visit www.gov.uk and search for customer guides for Service families or follow @mod_dio on Twitter. PICTURE THIS Hanging up artwork makes quarters more homely, but what about when moving out? Generally four hooks per room will be fine. You can make good holes more than 4mm wide, minor blemishes or dents with patch painting, as long as it’s in keeping with the rest of the room.

You’ve got your posting to a far-flung location and now have to put a lot of your belongings into storage. Your items will not be insured against damp or mould, so it’s VERY important that you do all you can to prevent this occurring. Here’s Army&You’s quick guide to protecting your possessions... WHY DOES MOULD OCCUR?

HOW TO PREVENT MOULD GROWTH

l Mould spores are present in most houses and given the right conditions will grow and spread

l Ensure there’s no extra food source such as crumbs in sofas

l Spores will grow on most surfaces and need minimal moisture levels and prefer a reduced air flow

l Ensure all belongings are totally dry/ aired before packing; items fresh from the tumble drier or iron may feel dry but will have residual moisture

l The change in temperature between a centrally-heated house and a storage unit can increase the storage container’s humidity, which can encourage mould

l Ensure that white goods are dry before being stored – this may mean not using them for a few days. Silica gel sachets or desiccants may help

l Even slightly-damp items placed in storage will grow mould if the air flow is virtually eliminated.

l Pack items into plastic bags (vacuum bags are ideal) to reduce the damage should mould occur.

Make sure that you follow the removals assessor’s instructions on how to pack. For more information, contact your Agility co-ordinator or send an email to rso@agilitylogistics.com

Just because you are only living in your house for a short time, it doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your garden. Donna Rowe-Green, from Dig In North West, shares her tips for making the most of your time and your garden… Crazy containers

We all know that planting in pots is an easy way to transport your garden when you move, but why stick to every-day containers? Try making a boots garden – each time you go to throw away a pair of worn out shoes, think about where you have been and what you have achieved while wearing them. Plant them up and build your own roaming story!

Grow your own

There are plenty of dwarf varieties of fruit and vegetables that can be grown in pots, so create your own portable allotment.

Take cuttings

Plant things in your garden that are easy to maintain. Shrubs and perennial plants are better than lots of bedding or high maintenance roses etc. When it’s time to move, take cuttings or collect seeds from your favourites, and take them with you.

Pop-up gardens xx Army&You summer 2014

Start a legacy

Plant an apple tree (sizes available to suit all gardens). Take a photo of it when you plant it and again when you leave. Put all of these pictures into an album along with your favourite apple recipe –

leave it for the next family and ask them to do the same.

Plant up bulbs

Pop them in large containers then sink them into the ground. When you come to move you can lift the containers, and have instant colour for your first winter/spring in your new house. Have fun with your garden and build up some great memories – you can take those anywhere.

Gardening in your quarter l You are responsible for keeping any garden in a tidy state: cutting grass and keeping borders weed free l At move-out the garden should be tidy and free from rubbish/personal possessions l Contact your maintenance helpdesk regarding issues relating to trees

Go to www.diginnorthwest.org or find them on Facebook.

@ArmyandYou


MORTGAGE MINEFIELD

A recent AFF poll revealed that

per cent of you have experienced problems getting a mortgage due to the Forces lifestyle. Caroline Mayne, AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist, finds out why and examines the help available...

O

VERSEAS postings, BFPO postcodes and frequent changes of address can make credit checking difficult

for lenders. Many high-street lenders use the Royal Mail’s postcode address file to check credit histories and struggle to process a BFPO address. Although Royal Mail is working to overcome this, one family told us: “I could

W

HETHER looking for your forever home or in desperate need of an extension, property is an expensive business. Thankfully, the government has introduced a Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) scheme in an effort to ease the finanical burden on military families. Army&You quizzed Rachel Preston of the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) to get the lowdown on the new home ownership loan. Sounds like a positive move [pun intended]. Tell us more. The aim of the scheme is to support first-time buyers and those of you who have to move home because you are posted elsewhere. If you have a change in circumstances – such as needing another bedroom because you have a baby on the way or there are medical reasons why your current home is unsuitable – the

24 Army&You summer 2014

only get two lenders to offer a quote on returning from Germany. “The others said I had not been in the UK and didn’t care about me being in the Forces! This has forced me to take a higher interest rate; increasing payments by more than £100 a month.” An AFF review of six of the biggest high-street lenders revealed that only half have mortgage application systems that accept BFPO addresses. The remainder

will manually review applications. Another family told us: “The mortgage company was unwilling to lend because they didn’t consider us to be UK residents. “When explained that our residency was legally enshrined within the Armed Forces Covenant and that we were not to be discriminated against, they told me that our situation was like any other UK ‘nonresident’ and isn’t accepted within their terms and conditions.”

HOME A-LOAN Forces Help to Buy scheme aims to provide Army families with the keys to unlock UK’s pricey property market scheme can also help you move or extend your existing property. However, a loan cannot be used for the purchase of a second property. Can anyone in the Armed Forces get a loan?

FHTB is designed to help lessen the impact mobility has on your lives, in line with the Armed Forces Covenant, and is therefore open to Regular personnel only. To qualify, your soldier must also: l Have served for two years and have

@ArmyandYou


{ MONEY&YOU }

❝❞

THEY DIDN’T CARE ABOUT ME BEING IN THE FORCES This experience is certainly at odds with the Armed Forces Covenant, which states: “Those who serve in the Armed Forces should not be disadvantaged because of their occupation. Mortgage applications will be treated fairly and consistently with civilian counterparts and will not be automatically rejected purely on the basis of a BFPO address.” OVERCOMING THE BARRIERS The Corporate Covenant is raising awareness of these issues and the MOD is continuing to work with several organisations to improve access to financial products and services for serving personnel. AFF would also like to see better understanding of the BFPO system and of the Armed Forces lifestyle from smaller, specialist lenders.

APPLYING FOR A MORTGAGE: l Provide lenders with full details of your postings, addresses and time spent there, backed up by written confirmation from a commanding officer or person in authority l Make sure you get onto the electoral roll

l Check that the details each agency holds are correct. If you can prove that they are not, the agency will amend your record and inform the lender

l If you maintained a relationship with a UK bank while you were overseas this can help with your credit history

l Consider adding a note to your report explaining your period overseas, preferably with a confirmation letter from someone in authority

l Check what information each of the main credit reference agencies

l Quote the Armed Forces Covenant – details at gov.uk

HELP US, HELP YOU Do let us know if you are experiencing barriers in arranging a mortgage. As well as providing you with guidance and signposting, we will use your case as evidence to help affect positive change.

So how much money are we talking about? Your soldier may borrow up to 50 per cent of their salary (including specialist pay), capped at £25,000 for higher earners, repaid over a period of up to ten years. The loan limit has been set to ensure you don’t borrow beyond your ability to repay. Be aware that approval for a FHTB loan is no guarantee that a lender will advance a mortgage and use of a FHTB loan may affect entitlement to Service accommodation.

completed Phase 2 training l Have at least six months left to serve at the time of application l Not have owned a property within 50 miles of the proposed house purchase in the last 12 months.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

– Experian, Equifax, and Callcredit – hold on you. A credit report costs no more than £2

What about those leaving the Army? Will soldiers facing redundancy in Tranche 4 be able to take advantage of the scheme? Both applicants and non-applicants can apply for a short-term, interestfree loan of up to 90 per cent of their

Email us at etam@aff.org.uk USEFUL LINKS: www.moneyforce.org.uk www.gov.uk www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

redundancy lump sum or £68,000, whichever is the lower. The loan amount will automatically be recovered from your soldier’s redundancy lump sum when they leave the Army. The money can be used to buy your first home, modify your existing one or move locations. FURTHER INFORMATION MOD FHTB Team: perstrg-NEM-Mailbox@mod.uk Service Personnel & Veterans Agency: JPACEnquiryCentre@mod.uk JSHAO: AWS-JSHAO-Mailbox@mod.uk Find full details in JSP 464, Part 1, Chapter 12-13 AFF Housing Specialist: housing@aff.org.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 25


A helping hand for * the Armed Forces Elan Homes has the deal for you The Government has recently launched the Forces Help to Buy, a deposit loan scheme for regular Armed Forces members to use along with Help to Buy. The scheme enables servicemen and servicewomen to borrow up to 50% of their salary, interest free, to buy their first home or move to another property on assignment.

Harbin Fields, Yeovil BA21 5AT

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Call 01761 437 819

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Images are representative only and may include optional upgrades at an additional cost please ask Sales Executive for further information. *Terms & Conditions apply please see www.gov.uk/forces-help-to-buy for further information.


{ SPOTLIGHT }

What drives someone to set up a charity for Service children? To dedicate hours to building a community supporting Forces families? For Army wife and former soldier Louise Fetigan – the founder of My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures – the answer is no more complex than...

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A mother’s love

HY did I found My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures? Simply because at the time my seven-year-old daughter Madison was really struggling. She was finding long periods of separation really hard to deal with. I was a soldier and my partner still is. We had encountered Kosovo, Iraq, Cyprus, Canada and Afghanistan many times before she was born and more since. Add exercises onto that and we calculated daddy had been away accumulatively for more than four years of her life. We lived away from barracks, Madison went to a predominantly civilian school and the Army had very little involvement in our lives. BROKEN SLEEP Madison’s changes in behaviour were subconscious. She wasn’t aware they were a result of anxiety or worry as they were subtle; waking twice a night, every www.armyandyou.co.uk

night. Regressing to the behaviour of a very small child – not dressing, not wanting to do anything alone and asking where I was going even if I was just leaving the room! I searched and searched but couldn’t find the support I knew she needed – nothing child specific; nothing to distract her; nothing to explain her recent behaviour. Nothing purely because “I am seven and I’m sad because I can’t see or speak to my daddy when I want”. START OF AN ADVENTURE My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures was born when three little troopers trekked to conquer Snowdon to help raise awareness of the challenges Service kids face. Three years on and an amazing community has evolved for all Army families, Regular or Reserve. What bonds everyone is the Service. You don’t have to be married, you don’t have to live in a quarter and it doesn’t matter what

rank or regiment you are – we are here to support children with soldier parents. We ensure there are resources and activities to ease separation and a community for all that is welcome and familiar. STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Celebration is something I also try to achieve; we are all part of something really special and it can be a positive for adults and children. With our annual summer camp we get as many people as possible together to celebrate being British Army families. Our little girl is now 11, we have moved back into a quarter and I continue to volunteer and grow the charity in order to reach as many of you as possible. As a family we are all stronger because of the My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures community and I really hope I will meet many of you as the journey continues. www.mydaddyisasoldieradventures.org summer 2014 Army&You 27


G N I R ROA E D A R T ltruism and flair for a r fo e it et p p a s n’ a How one m es ers of Service chariti ff co e th l el sw to g in food is help

me in the way that most teenage girls do when receiving advice from their dad and said ‘if you care so much, why don’t you do something?’. “On the next page of the newspaper there was a story stating that Paul Newman salad dressings had raised more money for charity than the gross from all of his films. “That’s when I thought, given my background in the food industry with big brands like Cadbury, John West and Unilever, I could do something.”

I

NSPIRATION for business ventures often comes from unlikely sources but with a prologue featuring Paul Newman and a parental pep talk, the story of Red Lion Foods stands out from the corporate crowd. However, the unusual raw ingredients that provided the catalyst for the firm’s formation in 2011 are not the most remarkable aspect of this retail tale. Shunning commercial convention, Red Lion Foods was set up with the aim of raising funds for Service charities rather than revenue for shareholders and donates 100 per cent of its posttax profits to the military community. With its products currently on sale on the shelves of Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Waitrose, this gesture has seen the company pledge more than £1.2 million in support of Britain’s Armed Forces. POWER OF THE PRESS Red Lion Foods’ founder Andrew Gidden (top right) told Army&You how the simple act of reading a newspaper delivered the genesis for his generous grocery business. “On successive pages there was an article on a Second World War veteran, a photograph of a flag-draped coffin of a young man passing through Wootton Bassett and an interview with Joanna Lumley talking about her father [who served in the British Indian Army] and the campaign for Gurkha rights,” the entrepreneur explained. “At that point my daughter came into the room and I took the opportunity to point out how Joanna Lumley hadn’t been given a job to do the right thing but was doing what she felt was right, giving it her best shot and said ‘you should be trying to do that as well, young lady’. “In reply, my daughter rolled her eyes at

28 Army&You summer 2014

1.2

The amount in millions Red Lion Foods has raised for Forces families

CHARITABLE CALL TO ARMS Despite having never served himself, the decision to select the British Armed Forces as the benefactors of his venture was a simple one for Andrew. “I have a fundamental core belief that in our society there needs to be more respect and that should start with the group of people who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice,” he said. “That extends to not just those serving in our Armed Forces but also their families, because they are the ones left at home worrying and bringing up the kids.” The 46-year-old businessman added: “You don’t need the badge to pick up the flag; everyone can do their bit and there are plenty of other people doing so. “The attitude, bravery and heroism of those in the Forces – and their families – inspire non-military people to do something to help.” RECIPE FOR SUCCESS Although Red Lion Foods is fully-focused on its altruistic aims, the company’s operation is based on sound business acumen. When Andrew developed his benevolent brand he was determined to ensure sales did not rely on the public’s high regard for the Armed Forces or the goodwill generated by the likes of Help for Heroes and national events such as The Sun Military Awards. “I’d love to say it [public affection for British troops] has helped us but the world of grocery and food retailing is so competitive that the fact that we support the military is probably number three on the list of things we talk about,” he @ArmyandYou


{ SPOTLIGHT } explained. “Number one has to be the brilliant quality of our food because otherwise there is no point in anyone buying it. “Second is that our products are great value for money; which could be bigger pack weights, higher meat content, lower prices or hopefully a combination of all three. “I have seen lots of charities try to launch food products and the mistake they always make is making the charity their number one. Consequently, you tend to get poorer quality products at an inflated price, which ultimately then won’t succeed because people aren’t stupid – they need to make their money work.” HEALTHY MARGINS Testament to the success of Andrew’s approach is the latest round of cheques presented to Service charities before Wales’ 2014 RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland. Among the donations dished out at the fixture were £100,000 to Help for Heroes; £20,000 to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity; £18,000 to Scotty’s Little Soldiers (see below) and £18,000 to The Royal British Legion. Despite his wealth of industry experience, Andrew, who does not draw a salary from Red Lion Foods, has found the act of supporting charities far from easy.

£18,000

100

The percentage of post-tax profits that Red Lion Foods donates to military charities

“It has been the most challenging thing I have ever tried to do,” he concluded. “Getting the finance together, delivering through the pressure of trying to run a company and getting as many people to work on the project for free; all of those things have been hard. “However, whenever I’ve felt under pressure I’ve reminded myself that it is not nearly as hard as the job of maintaining peace in Afghanistan or of deploying on a submarine and not seeing your family for a long time. “All I have ever done pales into insignificance when relative to the people we are trying to support.” www.redlionfoods.com

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IN OUR SOCIETY THERE NEEDS TO BE MORE RESPECT

‘Inspired’ investment WHILE the sums pledged to Armed Forces charities by Red Lion Foods are extraordinary, the company’s founder is quick to dismiss his philanthropic actions as being exceptional. “It is the responsibility of being a Brit to get on with it,” Andrew told Army&You. “There are thousands more doing their bit and I’ve been inspired along the way by people like Nikki Scott [who set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers following the death of her husband, Cpl Lee Scott (RTR), in Afghanistan in 2009].” For Nikki, who watched her children – five-year-old Kai and seven-month-old Brooke (pictured left) – struggle to cope without their dad, inspiration to act came after seeing a rare smile on the face of her mourning son. “[It] was on holiday with the children, about nine months after Lee had been killed, that I watched Kai smiling and having fun in the pool and suddenly realised I hadn’t seen him laugh like that in months,” said Nikki. “That’s when I

knew I had to do something to try and help him and other children who had also lost a parent.” That something was Scotty’s Little Soldiers – a charity providing bereaved Service children with gifts, activities and family breaks. It currently supports more than 140 children and has purchased holiday homes in Great Yarmouth, Devon and Blackpool. The three-bedroom lodges are filled with everything a family could need while away and can be used whenever members need a break from the struggles of living life without a loved one. The charity is able to cover visiting families’ travel expenses and provides a £100 gift voucher on arrival. For more information, visit scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk l There’s lots of help out there for Service families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. Go to www.armyandyou.co.uk for details of guidance and support groups.

This summer a team of ten Army wives will attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro to raise money for Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The group (pictured below) is covering the costs of the expedition to ensure as large a sum as possible can be presented to the charity to help all of its members during the year ahead. To donate, go to bmycharity.com/4ourlittlesoldiers

www.armyandyou.co.uk


A little help has meant the world to Kyle

Opening 2014: Bellrock Close, Glasgow 51 new flats for let to Armed Forces veterans

Kyle Warren is a triple world champion piper. He built his success with a helping hand from the Royal Caledonian Education Trust when it mattered most. • The Trust provides a lifeline to children and young people of Scots who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces • Many of the families we support are struggling to make ends meet, or are living with illness or disability which means family members are unable to work after active service

• We help pay for school clothing, after-school activities and other education essentials for children of current and former Armed Forces families who have difficulty funding these themselves

 21 one and two bedroom independent

properties

Registered Charity Commission Number: 310952 Scottish Registered Charity Number: SC038722

If you or someone you know needs our help please get in touch. We can help make a world of diff erence. difference.

For more information, visit www.rcet.org.uk or call us now on +44 (0)207 463 9232

support provided

 Wheelchair adapted flats available  Gym, café, Wi-Fi and landscaped gardens

For more details see www.svronline.org SVR is a registered Charity No. SC015260 Email: info@svronline.org Phone:0131 556 0091

Warminster Prep School

e rc Fo

nt s ou ie isc r mil o f a sF

D

Chafyn Grove

 30 one bedroom flats with transitional

salisbury

Co-educational, Day and Boarding from 3 - 13

Founded 1707

Independent boarding and day school for boys and girls aged 3 – 11

Warminster prepares pupils for life beyond school

‘ ‘

‘ ‘

Education is Inspiration

Education is Inspiration

‘Both of our daughters have thrived during their time at the Prep School. It is nurturing and supportive and prepares pupils for the Senior School.’ Mr & Mrs Hartley

‘Academically and pastorally Warminster School has exceeded all of our expectations.’ Major General & Mrs Eeles

Warminster Prep School, the home of EXCELLENT learning, teaching and achievement Excellent pastoral care • Day, weekly & flexi boarding Variety of scholarships • Armed forces discount Bus routes – Bath, Chapmanslade, Devizes, Frome, Larkhill, Market Lavington, Melksham, Pewsey, Trowbridge, Salisbury, Shrewton, Tisbury

9 grades of EXCELLENT ISI Inspection Report February 2013

For further information please call 01985 210100 or email admissions@warminsterschool.org.uk

Co-educational Day and Boarding from 3 - 13 • www.chafyngrove.co.uk • 01722 333423 • 30 Army&You summer 2014

Chafyn_Army&You_Summer.indd 1

16/05/2014 16:15

Warminster Prep School • 11 Vicarage Street • Warminster BA12 8JG 01985 210100 • admissions@warminsterschool.org.uk

www.warminsterschool.org.uk

@ArmyandYou


{ UNITED KINGDOM }

UK

End of an era? This September, the people of Scotland will decide whether they want to remain part of the United Kingdom or become an independent nation. Kate Finlayson, AFF’s WSBA Co-ordinator in Cyprus and herself a Scot, outlines how you can have your say…

O

NLY people resident in Scotland will be entitled to vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum unless they fall into one of the exceptions, which include those of you who are registered as Service voters at an address in Scotland. You must also be a British, qualifying Commonwealth or European Union citizen. DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO VOTE You need to act now. If you’re on an overseas posting, you should check that you are registered as a Service voter at an address in Scotland. Then decide if you plan to be in Scotland on Thursday 18 September 2014 to cast your own vote, or if you wish to appoint a proxy to vote on your behalf.

Although it’s possible to have a postal vote, it’s unlikely that your ballot paper will be sent to and from a BFPO address in time as they are not normally issued until around one week prior to the election. ELSEWHERE IN THE UK Being on the electoral role at your current address in other parts of the UK will not entitle you to vote in the referendum even if you have lived in Scotland in the past or plan to return there. You must still register as a Service voter at a residential address in Scotland. The age for voting in the referendum has been reduced from 18 to 16, so if you have teenage children, they will also need to be registered to cast their vote. Take a look at www.aff.org.uk for the MOD’s guidance to Service families or go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk to find out more. You can contact AFF’s Scotland Co-ordinator at scotland@aff.org.uk FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE AT:

Scotland's Loch Tummel

www.armyandyou.co.uk

✔ www.yesscotland.net ✘ www.bettertogether.net summer 2014 Army&You 31


GERMANY

How to choose a school remotely If you’re moving back to the UK and looking to secure a school place for your child, there’s lots of research you can do in advance. Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, looks at where to start...

O

NCE you know where you’re posted, start with the gov.uk website as it covers all types of schools in England and has links to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. If you’re moving to London, you can use the eAdmissions website, which can

54 Army&You spring 2014

be found at www.eadmissions.org.uk Have a look at how a school has spent its Service Premium, the facilities and what outside space is available, their recent newsletters and Ofsted reports. The Schools Admissions Code could help you in your application. Details specifically for Service families are available on the gov.uk website –

paragraph 2.18 might be useful to quote from. For more information and help with infant class sizes, email me at ec@ aff.org.uk NEXT STEPS When you begin the application process, remember to keep a copy of everything and ask to be notified by both email and


{ GERMANY }

post to save documents being lost if you are moving. Different authorities allocate places at different times which can be confusing. Here at AFF, we are monitoring this so if it has been a problem for you, please let me know. Although you can use your unit address if you don’t yet have a residential address when applying for a school place, there are some difficulties with this. It may not be suitable if your quartering address is in a different local authority to the unit, for example in London. AFF is campaigning for this disadvantage to be removed. Visit our website at www.aff.org.uk for further details. KEY STAGE EXAMS If you have a child studying for public exams, it may be possible to stay in Germany until their exam period is complete. Contact your Unit Welfare Officer to apply for retention of dependant status. You’ll also need to request to retain school places. Contact SO3 G1(PS), HQ BFG on 05219254 ext 2500, for details. SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS If your child has any additional needs

❝❞

Contact CEAS if you have any problems with your school application. They will endeavour to represent you at an appeal hearing if you live abroad and provide a “Moving Schools Pack”.

make sure the information is kept upto-date through your soldier’s unit on AGAI 108. It’s essential to register your child with Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) as they can work on your behalf with schools and external agencies to help to ensure that your child’s needs are met. HELP IS AT HAND Contact CEAS if you have any problems with your school application. They will endeavour to represent you at an appeal hearing if you live abroad and provide a “Moving Schools Pack”,

which is available from all HIVEs. The Parent Partnership Service in BFG also answers enquiries on educational issues including SEN, school applications/moving to the UK. Call 0521 9254 2683 or visit the website at www.bfgnet.de KEEPING THE SCHOOL INFORMED Don’t forget to inform your child’s current school that they will be leaving. This gives the school time to prepare a transfer folder for you to take with you. BOARDING SCHOOL If your child is boarding, call CEAS to explain you are moving and request a new certificate to say you are entitled to claim Continuity of Education Allowance. USEFUL CONTACTS ✐ Contact the headteacher of your child’s school ✐ CEAS – call 0044 (0)1980 618 244 or email enquiries@ceas.uk.com ✐ HIVE Europe – visit www.hiveeurope.co.uk ✐ SCE – email info@sceschools.com ✐ OFSTED – www.ofsted.gov.uk/reports ✐ If you are facing disadvantage applying for a school place, contact me at ec@aff.org.uk or call 07527 492869.


GERMANY

Auf wiedersehen, pets You are leaving! Posted, rebased, moving, uprooting; whatever way you describe it, your time in Germany is over. You may be dancing a jig or you may be passing the tissues, but do have a quick read of this; it might just save you some time, hassle and even a few pounds. The AFF Germany team has some handy advice… SERVICE FAMILIES ACCOMMODATION (SFA) l Inform your Housing and Community Support Office (HCSO) of your posting within 14 days of receipt of an assignment order l Apply for SFA to the HASC in the UK as soon as possible l Apply for removals – don’t worry if you don’t have an actual address yet l Book your move-out through your HCSO, including a pre move-out visit six weeks before l For adaptations to 34 Army&You summer 2014

SFA, visit gov.uk or email additionalneeds@aff.org.uk HEALTHCARE l Inform the medical and dental centre as soon as you know you’re posted l Fill out a moving form so that your notes will be ready for your new doctor/dentist l If you require ongoing treatment or an operation, speak to your doctor at the earliest opportunity l For a copy of your medical notes, apply in writing to the med centre

l Your soldier must complete AGAI 108 if a family member has a disability or additional need to ensure wherever possible, employment will be found that meets your family’s needs and enables your soldier’s career to develop l Ensure each family member has their EHIC card with them. Visit www.nhs.uk for details. MONEY l Cancel kindergeld before you leave. Send the cancellation letter through the German post and ask for the

“signed for” service as proof l In the UK you will have to pay for a TV Licence (www. tvlicensing.co.uk), car tax, MOT and gas and electricity l You can close your German bank account when you wish and either transfer your funds into a UK account or withdraw your cash (if you have any!) TELEPHONES l Give your phone service provider appropriate notice in writing of termination or you could be charged for the unused months before your @ArmyandYou


{ GERMANY }

contract ends. Examples of cancellation letters in English and German are available at www.bfgnet.de/hive-europe POST l A Redirection service is available at the German Post Office (Nachsendeservice). Visit www.deutschepost.de CARS l De-register your car from Germany and register it with DVLA at your local VLO (Vehicle Licensing Office) l Download e-registration forms from www.bfgnet.de l To sell your vehicle locally, ask the VLO for advice PASSPORTS AND VISAS UK citizens: l Allow plenty of time to apply or renew your passport before your move date. This will be paid for at public expense l You should have more

than six months left on your passport on date of travel Non UK citizens: l If you don’t hold a British passport and are a citizen of a non-EEA country, you will require a valid UK entry visa. This will be paid for at public expense, but meeting the criteria will be your responsibility l Ensure your SOFA status is cancelled by your soldier’s unit before leaving BFG as this will be checked at the airport l Contact your Unit Welfare Office at the earliest opportunity if you don’t have a valid visa, passport or SOFA status l For more info, visit the AFF’s F&C pages at www.aff.org.uk PETS l Don’t forget to include details of your pets when you apply for housing! Some SFA

and SSFA are pet free-zones l Ensure vaccinations are up-to-date l Your pet must be microchipped and been vaccinated against rabies – if you have a puppy, this cannot be done before 12 weeks of age. 21 days must then elapse before your pet can travel l Between 1 and 5 days before you travel, tapeworm treatment (dogs only) must be administered by a vet. Accurately record it in the pet passport l Use an approved route to enter the UK. Don’t forget to book your pet in with your chosen method of travel. Go to gov.uk or call the helpline +44 (0)870 241 1710 EMPLOYMENT l If you are employed by the Labour Support Unit (LSU), give them eight weeks’ written notice

l If you have worked for the LSU for two years or more, you may be eligible for a gratuity if you provide the full notice l If you are posted at short notice, discuss this with them as soon as you can. Further details are at www.bfgnet.de l When you leave, the LSU will issue you with a BFG form 126. This confirms your period of employment and reason for leaving. This document may prove useful when claiming benefits in the UK l To claim Jobseeker’s Allowance, register as a jobseeker at your new Jobcentre within a few days of arrival and submit your claim. For Forfurther furtheradvice adviceon onmoving moving back to the UK, contact back to the UK, contactAFF AFF Germany Germanyon on05221 0522129 2979 79 644, 644,email emailgermany@aff.org. germany@aff.org. uk or visit uk or visityour yourlocal localHIVE. HIVE.

PREPARING TO MOVE: NEXT STEP CIVVY STREET THE Career Transition Partnership (CTP) works with the MOD to support you and your soldier if you are leaving the Army. If you’re living in Germany there’s a Regional Resettlement Centre in Herford, which supports the BFG community as well as those of you living in Brunssum and SHAPE. The CTP website (www.ctp.org. uk) is the perfect place to start and includes information on UK jobs, so if you are trying to decide where to settle, it’s worth taking a look. Some CTP workshops, such as Business Start Up, are open to spouses. Herford’s Resettlement Centre runs transition fairs providing opportunities for your soldier to meet employers, training providers, support organisations and industry specialists.

In the UK, there are regular transition fairs in garrison areas which are open to families. For those of you thinking of making your home in Germany, there’s a CV-writing/living and working in Germany workshop in Herford with a specialist member of the team who links with German companies to help find jobs. To help you with your transition to civvy street, MOD also provides housing and finance briefings which can be accessed at any time in a soldier’s career and are open to families. The next housing briefs are on 25 June and 8 October in Herford. l For more information, contact Herford CTP on +49 5221 9953388 or email rrcherford@ctp.org.uk

MOVING TO GERMANY? If you are posted to Germany and would like to see what employment opportunities are available to you before you go, pay a visit to www.bfgnet.de www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 35


OPEN DAY

B E PA RT O F T H E D I S C O V E R Y

Saturday 4th October —10 am arrival Please contact us to reserve your place Co-educational day & boarding: ages 13 –18 > telephone: 01823 328204 admissions@kings-taunton.co.uk > www.kings-taunton.co.uk

Is your relationship falling apart? To the military allowances?

To our well-being? To our finances?

What will happen... To our children?

To our

To the pension?

To relationships with

We can help you sort out all your family extended family and accommodation? separation issues without the hefty legalfriends? fees We can help you sort out all your family separation issues without the hefty legal fees

We welcome visits from parents and prospective pupils at any time, please call to come and see us. Conveniently located close to the M1, Manchester and East Midlands aiport the school benefits from fantastic and easy communications.

0300 4000 636 www.nfm.org.uk 36 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


FOREIGN&COMMONWEALTH

Don’t hesitate, ‘activate’ If your soldier is a British Citizen, you are currently overseas and were granted a visa for 27 months before 1 December, it’s likely that you will not be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) at the end of this period. Katherine Houlston, AFF F&C Specialist, takes a closer look at the rules…

T

HE immigration rules require you to return to the UK within the first three months of obtaining your visa in order to “activate” it. If you don’t, your time spent overseas will not be counted as residence. You need to have two years’ residence in order to meet the requirement for ILR. HQ British Forces Germany is currently raising this issue with the Home Office. Furthermore, if you’re on this type of visa and have activated it or were granted it before moving overseas, you must return to the UK in order to make the application for ILR. AFF has raised this issue as there’s a clear disadvantage to these spouses, but the Home Office states there’s nothing it can do. If you’re unable to return to the UK then you will be issued another visa for 27 months and will have to apply for ILR once you’re back. Your soldier’s unit will pay for the 27-month visa but will not pay for your ILR application. If you are married to a Commonwealth soldier or your visa was issued before your partner became British, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) whilst overseas.

‘Help families make informed choices’ AN Army spouse married her soldier in March 2010 and was granted a two-year spouse visa until March 2013. She then accompanied him to Germany in April 2011. In March 2013, after her husband was informed of his posting back to the UK, the couple contacted UK Border Agency to ask whether they should apply for ILR in Germany or back in the UK. They were incorrectly advised that they could apply in Germany, so instead of being granted ILR,

ILE is the same as ILR but issued overseas. Units will refund the cost of the ILE application if your visa is due to expire within 28 days. k AFF is trialling a new Facebook group for the Foreign & Commonwealth

the spouse was granted a visa for 27 months and may now have to start her route to settlement all over again. Summing up their frustration, her soldier said: “If the information coming from UKBA is to be consistent there should either be a department that Service personnel can contact or improved MOD signposting which assists families in making informed choices. “The specific immigration rules for Army spouses make it challenging to understand the requirements and there are very few immigration lawyers that can assist effectively.”

community. The portal will be a great way of letting you know about the latest immigration information and a place for you to share information and experiences. Just type “AFF Foreign and Commonwealth group” into the Facebook search box, then click on “join group”.

Crown Service success stories ONE way to resolve your visa issue if you are married to a British soldier on an overseas assignment is to consider applying for citizenship using the Crown Service rules. A group of spouses in Hohne Garrison, ably assisted by Maj Hefferman, the garrison’s F&C Desk Officer, have all recently had their applications for citizenship approved. Jess Barbier-Marsden, one of the successful applicants, said: “The most important parts of the process are double-checking that www.armyandyou.co.uk

Happiness in Hohne: F&C families celebrate

you meet all of the criteria or are covered by an exemption, making sure that you send all of the supporting documentation with your application. Ensure you have the correct address so that your documents can be returned to you. “You will then be invited to the consulate in Hamburg to take part in your citizenship ceremony, which can be quite emotional. Several of the spouses were the only member of their family not to be British, so it is a wonderful feeling to finally attain citizenship and be a British family.” summer 2014 Army&You 37


{ FOREIGN&COMMONWEALTH }

FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH COMMON CONUNDRUMS:

CAN I? Still use my Life in the UK certificate even if I took the test before 28 October 2013? Yes – the certificate remains valid regardless of when you took it. Just don’t lose it! Be included on my soldier’s application for ILR? Yes – it doesn’t matter how long you or your children have been in the UK.

CAN MY SOLDIER? Apply for ILR on discharge even if they haven’t served for five years? Yes – they just need to have served for four years (exceptions apply for medical discharges). Apply for citizenship before discharge even if I don’t have ILR? Yes – you can make your own application for ILR Use their military literacy qualifications to meet the English language requirement for citizenship applications? No – unfortunately these are not English for Speakers of Other Languages qualifications so they don’t meet UKBA’s requirements.

Visa victory AFF’s sustained campaigning over the past four years has eventually paid off – there’s now no longer a need to change your visa if your soldier becomes a British Citizen. You will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) once your soldier has served for five years and you have been married for two years and you do not have to take the English language or Life in the UK test. Unfortunately if you

applied for the two-year spouse visa after your soldier became a British Citizen, then you will now have to remain on that visa until 28 days before it is due to expire before being eligible to apply for ILR. You will also need to take the Life in the UK test and may need to take an English language test at B1 level. All applications now use the form SET(AF). Go to the F&C pages on the AFF website www.aff.org.uk for further information.

The Royal School Hampstead Trust DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEES FOR SCHOOLS, COLLEGES OR UNIVERSITY? The Royal School Hampstead Trust provides financial assistance to help with the education and training of the dependents (up to the age of 25 years of age) of members or ex-members of the UK Armed Forces. For more than 150 years we have helped to provide betterment through education for thousands of the needy dependent children of members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force. If you require assistance with fees please visit our website and follow the steps outlined to have your cry for help answered.

Contact us through: www.rshtrust.com 38 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


LUCTON SCHOOL

Building on tradition Flourishing on innovation Set in beautiful rural West Midlands countryside, Lucton offers outstanding educational, sporting and extra-curricular opportunities to boys and girls from Pre Prep to A level. Lucton is currently home to many forces children and offers a happy, family environment. Please call to arrange a visit or to receive a copy of the prospectus.

FOUNDED 1708

• Excellent results • Sixth Form Centre • Sport for all • Equestrian Centre • CCF

BURSARIES AVAILABLE FOR FORCES CHILDREN LUCTON SCHOOL

Lucton, Herefordshire HR6 9PN

01568 782000

www.luctonschool.org

New Equestrian Centre

Cundall Manor is a coeducational independent school welcoming children from 2 1/2 to 16 years of age. Whatever their age, our aim is to equip our pupils with the knowledge, skills and personal qualities that will serve them in their future. We do this by cultivating a ‘yes’ mentality amongst our pupils, by encouraging them to engage with the wider world, and to think and act independently and without inhibition; and by developing the confidence, compassion and judgement that underpin future success. Whether they leave for Public School entry at 13+, for Sixth Form at 16, or whether they are simply moving to the next phase of learning within Cundall Manor, they do so, ready and willing to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

We prepare the way. • Boys and Girls 2 1/2 to 16 years • Termly, weekly and flexi boarding from Year 3-11 •

• 12% discount and CEA scheme for HM Forces families • A unique experience, an exceptional school Winner of The ISA Sporting Achievement Award 2014

Cundall Manor School, Cundall, York, YO61 2RW tel: 01423 360200 email: headmaster@cundallmanor.co.uk online: www.cundallmanorschool.com Registered Charity No 529540

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 39


WOW!

Tom served to protect us all. Now we need to be there for him. The Royal Star & Garter Homes is a charity that provides brilliant care to disabled members of the military family with high care needs. We are there for people like Tom, who was badly wounded at Monte Cassino in 1944 and had to have his left leg amputated. Like all of our residents, Tom receives specialist care from a team of supportive staff to help him live life to the full.

Boarding in a top Surrey school for £4,640 per term. l Boarding and Flexi Boarding for boys and girls aged 7-18 l Huge range of extra-curricular sports and activities l Excellent academic results l Situated in 260 acres of parkland near Reigate, Surrey l Thriving Sixth Form

OPEN MORNINGS

Sat 27th Sept and Sat 11th Oct 9.00 – 10.30am Gatton Park Reigate Surrey RH2 0TD www.raa-school.co.uk 01737 649001 @RAASchoolGatton 40 Army&You summer 2014

As a charity, we do not receive any direct government funding and rely on the generosity of our supporters to fund the high level of specialist care that we provide. This Armed Forces Day, please spare a thought for our residents and the sacrifices they made to protect us all. Show your appreciation for Tom and others like him, today. Make an instant donation to The Royal Star & Garter Homes:

Call 020 8481 7676 (Quoting AD14)

or visit www.starandgarter.org

Registered Charity Number 210119

@ArmyandYou


{ OVERSEAS }

OVERSEAS

AFF – wherever you are

W

E LAUNCHED a new Overseas Branch at the start of this year to ensure that we represent Army families effectively – wherever you are in the world. Our key aim is reaching out to those of you based abroad through our existing network of staff and through electronic and social media, writes Phil Robertson, AFF Overseas Director. Many of the issues will affect you no matter where you are stationed overseas. By telling us your concerns, we can build a global picture of the disadvantages you face as a Service family abroad. AFF will use this evidence to speak to policy makers and look at what can be done to make an overseas posting more attractive, such as changes to allowances.

are still having trouble. We’ve also heard of difficulties with bank cards being cancelled when you’ve tried to use them in your new location, despite the fact that you had informed your bank in advance. MOBILE PHONE CONTRACTS One Army spouse told us that she tried to renew mobile phone contracts for her children at boarding school in the UK, but this wasn’t possible because she was overseas. This is the kind of disadvantage that needs to be addressed. EMPLOYMENT AND TRAINING The inability to work, lack of employment or poorly-paid jobs can cause real financial

FINANCE ISSUES Some families have had real difficulties maintaining a good credit history because they are living at a BFPO address. Despite the Armed Forces Covenant trying to tackle this issue, many of you

Mountain man: AFF’s Canada Co-ordinator Pete Norman

hardship for families overseas and many of you would welcome access to grants to undergo training, which could help you learn skills for the future. POSITIVES We want to hear about the positives too. For example, those of you in Canada have told us you are very happy with the healthcare you are receiving! EVIDENCE = SUCCESS! AFF recently campaigned for Service Children’s Visits flights to be reinstated for full-time university students. Based on your evidence, we worked with the chain of command to secure a change in the allowance system. If you’ve experienced any issues or concerns, contact AFF – more evidence is stronger evidence. Get in touch at overseas@aff.org.uk

Esther Thomas, AFF Regional Manager Cyprus, tells A&Y how joining a uniform group can be a great way for your children to experience new adventures, gain skills, develop a sense of community and have fun when posted overseas… GIRLGUIDING NETWORK After three years’ stability in Germany, our two daughters were anxious about how they would make friends in Cyprus. I too was feeling a little weary about developing a fresh social network! Luckily, we’re all involved in girlguiding,

Adventure time: Sea Scouts on a mission in the Troodos

www.armyandyou.co.uk

so through the British Guides in Foreign Countries unit we soon made lots of new friends and rekindled friendships from previous postings. There are a number of groups, including Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Sea Scouts, here in Cyprus, all offering great experiences such as outdoor challenges, map reading and camping. Brownie Molly Mae Dufty would definitely recommend it. She said: “Brownies is awesome as we do lots of exciting things and have loads of fun!” JOIN IN! The groups can benefit adults too as they’re always looking for leaders. As a

Fun in the sun: Girls from Episkopi

Brownies

Sgt Emily Burns, MOD Britis

h Crown copyright

Guiding our youngsters

volunteer, you gain qualifications, make connections and build confidence – all of which can help with your CV. Jen Wilson, an adult leader with the Sea Scouts, says she enjoys giving something back to young people. She explained: “I’m pleased to be gaining experience working in a youth environment as it may be useful for me in the future.” With limited employment for spouses in Cyprus, it’s a great activity to consider. To find out more, contact your local HIVE. l Army&Me with Bear Grylls – Page 54 summer 2014 Army&You 41


S

PENDING a lot of time apart can put a strain on the strongest of couples, writes Kate Viggers. But for many spouses and partners of serving personnel, the challenges of long-distance relationships are part of everyday life. As the Army looks towards greater stability and the encouragement of home ownership, many families will continue to experience periods of separation whether by choice

]

l Longer Separation Allowance for personnel who experience separation beyond that compensated for within basic

Category (PStat Cat) and whether they are involuntarily or voluntarily separated. “Where mistakes are made by an individual not declaring or knowing their PStat Cat, this can result in a claw back of allowances to which they were not entitled.” For advice on separation allowances, your soldier should consult their Regimental Administration Office and ensure the chain of command is informed of any change in

Divided Can spending too much time apart ruin a relationship? Or does absence really make the heart grow fonder? Army&You talks to spouses and partners of serving personnel about the ups and downs of long-distance relationships...

or necessity. Laura Gray lives in Barnsley with Ava (6) and Stanley (3). Since 2003, her husband has been based 250 miles away with 3 Rifles in Edinburgh. “We have lived this way for a while but we do miss Damian,” she says. “Being on your own with little adult company can be frustrating. And being a lone parent for the majority of the week is tiring.” For Nikki and Chris Durnell [pictured opposite] coping with frequent, lengthy separations during their marriage has also presented problems. “Not being able to plan anything more than a couple of weeks in advance and going to social gatherings alone has been hard,” Nikki says. PRACTICAL SUPPORT The Army recognises that the professional demands

42 Army&You summer 2014

it places on its soldiers can impact their personal lives. Separation allowances are available to eligible personnel to compensate for the effects of long-distance relationships. Damian Gray, for example, receives Get You Home (Travel) to offset his commuting expenses. Others include:

pay, for example when the location of their duty makes it difficult to get home and back at weekends. l The Army Over 37 Provision supports those who serve unaccompanied later in their careers, by helping with the cost of settling their family in the UK and enabling them to work at their duty station without financial penalty (free mess accommodation, for example). l Contact housing provides a “meeting point” for couples and families, and is managed on a local basis through Army Welfare Offices. “Separation payments can be quite complicated,” warns Caroline Mayne, AFF’s Allowances Specialist. “Eligibility is determined by a soldier’s Personal Status

personal circumstances. EMOTIONAL SUPPORT Whilst practical assistance is of course welcome, emotional support – available through organisations like Relate – can be of equal importance to struggling couples. Relate counsellor Christine Northam says: “[We] might recommend seeing a counsellor together, so the couple can get an objective view and be supported to think [how] they could improve their relationship.” Reuniting couples should be wary of putting themselves under too much pressure. Homecoming can be an anticlimax and it takes time to readjust to being together, so “some tension is entirely normal” explains Christine. Hayley and Alec Walton were married in 2008 but have only @ArmyandYou


{ FEATURE } lived together for the past two years. For them, being reunited is sometimes just as difficult as being apart. “At times Alec felt bewildered looking after the children, especially when they were babies,” Hayley says. “I then felt resentful as I would be expecting to ‘share the load’ at weekends. “You never want to have cross words because you have such little time together. “You tend to brush issues

contact – a conscious effort has to be made.” Christine adds: “If the couple sees the need for energy and effort when it comes to communication, longdistance relationships can work.” Thankfully modern technology helps loved ones

spark alive. I see friends get complacent, whereas my partner and I really love our time together.” Hayley agrees. “You appreciate each other more. Alec [gets] a real break from the Army, as he is physically

] by duty

under the carpet, which can cause a bigger problem.”

TALKING IS KEY Indeed, good communication is recognised as crucial to a happy, lasting relationship. Ashleigh Smith, whose partner is based away from home, believes physical distance can undermine this. “Keeping in sync is very important,” she says. “It is so easy to get caught up in your own life and neglect constant

connect quickly and easily but, as Nikki says, a webcam is a poor substitute. “Having a rant on Skype is just not the same as a big hug when you’ve had a bad day!”

THE POSITIVES Long-distance relationships have their upsides, too. Couples who rarely see each other usually invest more in their relationship than those who are seldom separated. Ashleigh says: “It keeps the

distant from his place of work. I also like the fact I have less washing!” Most couples agree that whilst being apart isn’t easy, the positives of long-distance love far outweigh the negatives. “The children get quality time with dad and have established a great relationship with their grandparents,” says Laura. Nikki concludes: “If we can get through two years of being apart so much, anything going forward won’t be a challenge!”

RELATE’S ‘FOUR PLAY’ TO MANAGING LONG-DISTANCE RELATIONSHIPS 1. Speak regularly 2. Plan what you will do when you next see each other 3. Be realistic about the pressure you’re both under and acknowledge it 4. Be open and honest with each other about your separate lives

USEFUL CONTACTS: www.relate.org.uk www.army.mod.uk/ welfare-support

❝Having a rant on Skype is just not the same as a big hug when you’ve had a bad day ❝

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 43


FINAL MARCH TO

CIVVY STREET

I

F your family has been affected by the final redundancy round, you will now be trying to make the most of this transition period. Where you settle, your housing and employment options and your choice of schools will all be major considerations. There is a wealth of advice available. Your soldier should speak to their chain of command or the Army Redundancy Cell in Glasgow (94561 3071). You can also seek advice from unit welfare staff and here at AFF we have lots of information on our website – www.aff.org.uk TIMESCALES Your soldier will have been told if they have been selected for redundancy on 12 June. As an applicant, they will be discharged on 11 December 2014 and non-applicants will

leave on 11 June 2015, giving you either six months or a year to plan for civilian life. EMPLOYMENT FOR YOU It’s not just your soldier who will be thinking about future employment. If you will move away from your last posting area, then it’s important to start thinking about jobs and the training you might like to undergo now. There’s plenty of support out there. For more information, contact AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist at etam@ aff.org.uk YOUR SOLDIER’S PLAN All soldiers made redundant will have access to the full resettlement programme – no matter how long they have served – and it’s important to

make best use of this. Your soldier may be entitled to seven weeks’ resettlement, which can be used at any time between being notified of redundancy and their discharge date. Personnel will also get four weeks’ terminal leave plus the balance of any annual leave entitlement. FINANCE MATTERS Everyone who is selected for redundancy is entitled to financial compensation. The size of payment will depend on the time your soldier has served and the pension and redundancy scheme they belong to. Some individuals may qualify for an immediate pension, but regardless they will receive a pension aged 60 or 65. The Redundancy Calculator,

which is on the Defence Intranet, will give troops a forecast of the benefits they could receive. HOME COMFORT Where to live is one of the biggest issues for families, but don’t worry – there’s help available. In the short-term, normal rules apply for occupation and vacation of Service Families Accommodation (SFA). Those who apply for redundancy will have six months’ notice and be allowed to remain in their current SFA for up to 93 days after date of discharge/retirement at entitled SFA rates. Non-applicants will be given 12 months’ notice after which they may apply for an extension of 93 days at nonentitled rates. The housing briefings offered by the Joint Services Housing Advisory Office (JSHAO)


{ EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING } during resettlement are a good source of information and families are welcome to attend. JSHAO’s monthly magazine, Housing Matters, is available online or at your local HIVE. Be aware that social housing is in short supply and you’re not guaranteed to get a council house. Visit AFF’s housing web pages for further information. For information on the Tranche 4 Forces Help to Buy Scheme, see pages 24-25. SCHOOLING The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) provides dedicated support exclusively for Service families, giving professional advice on children’s education in the UK and overseas. If your youngster is in boarding school, there are circumstances in which Continuity of Education Allowance will be paid up to the next educational stage. For children in state education, contact the local authority in your new location for details of their policy on school admissions as soon as possible. Again, CEAS and AFF will be able to help. It may be possible for those

close to exams to continue in Service schools overseas. Contact AFF’s Education Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH There are no special immigration concessions for F&C soldiers or their families on redundancy. However, the UK Border Agency has agreed to prioritise applications. They have also allowed those being made redundant to apply six months in advance, which is a considerable concession. If you wish to make residency or nationality applications you must do so as soon as possible after redundancy notification.

The rules in this area are changing so do seek advice as early as possible. Contact AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist through our website or look at Annex F in the Redundancy DIN, which provides specific guidance on immigration. AVENUES OF ADVICE This guide is by no means exhaustive so arm yourself with as much info as you can to make your leap to civvy street as smooth as possible. Get in touch with AFF for further information.

USEFUL LINKS Army Pension Calculator – www.mod-pc.co.uk Army Redundancy Cell – call military 94561 3071 Regular Forces Employment Association – www.rfea.org.uk Career Transition Partnership – www.ctp.org.uk British Forces Resettlement Service – www.bfrss.org.uk Joint Service Housing Advice Service – 01980 618925 Children’s Education Advisory Service – 01980 618244 Money Force – www.moneyforce.co.uk Citizens Advice Bureau – www.citizensadvice.org.uk Forces Pension Society – www.forcespensionsociety.org Money Advice Service – www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk The Royal British Legion – www.britishlegion.org.uk ABF The Soldiers’ Charity – www.soldierscharity.org Big White Wall – www.bigwhitewall.com

HIRE POWER AFF’s Jobs&You portal promotes companies who are looking to identify, attract and recruit Army spouses. To look for jobs, simply browse the online page – www. armyandyou.co.uk/ jobs – and if you have any questions, contact the employers direct or email AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, Caroline Mayne (etam@aff.org.uk). If you know of any employers who would like to advertise vacancies on Jobs&You (at no cost!), then contact us – we would love to hear from them.


BRONZE SILVER OR GOLD...

ARE YOUR SWIMMERS WINNERS?

Have you had a family or are you thinking of having children? *FERTILITY PRESERVATION - Special rates for sperm preservation for all service personnel, as insurance before you are deployed abroad or to continue fertility treatment if you are away. We also freeze sperm for patients prior to surgery or chemotherapy. *DONATION – We are recruiting fit and healthy males aged 21 – 40 years old for sperm donation. Can you help others with the ultimate gift of a family? *MALE FERTILITY INVESTIGATIONS – If you are experiencing a delay in getting pregnant or would like to know your status for the future!

Olivier House, 18 Marine Parade, Brighton, BN2 1TL FORACONFIDENTIALCHATANDMOREINFORMATIONABOUTSPERMDONATION PLEASECALL: 01273620165or EMAIL:INFO@BRIGHTONFERTILITY.COM ANDCHECKOUTTHEWEBSITE:WWW.BRIGHTONFERTILITY.COM 46 Army&You summer 2014

www.brightonfertility.com 01273 620165 @ArmyandYou


{ EDUCATION & CHILDCARE } the substitute accommodation helpdesk. “Running a business in your Service home” at gov.uk has more details. If you move, make sure you repeat the process. HOW MANY CHILDREN CAN CHILDMINDERS CARE FOR? Generally, you can care for up to six children under the age of eight. This includes your own children or grandchildren. Only three of the children may be under the age of five and normally only a single child under the age of one.

Picture: Goran Bogicevic

HOW DO I SET MY FEES? Most childminders will have a set hourly rate which varies depending on the age of the children and what you provide.

CH ILD’S PL AY? Being a registered childminder can be a professional and rewarding career offering flexibility to decide your own hours and allowing you to look after your own children. You can even take it with you if you move. Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, considers the pros and cons of working in childcare…

THINKING OF BECOMING A CHILDMINDER? YOU will need to complete training which includes a pre-registration course and paediatric first-aid. The new Level 3 Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce is now the industry-standard qualification. You have to show that you conform to the requirements set and your registration certificates must be displayed at your property. It can take two-to-three months to complete the process. Public liability insurance is an important requirement and you will need to go through Disclosure and Barring Service checks, along with any other people living at home. Contact your local authority for lots of advice on registering and training. www.armyandyou.co.uk

CHILDMINDING IN SFA? To run a business from your SFA, you must ask the garrison commander and the HASC for permission. If you live in SSFA, you should contact

WHAT ABOUT TAX? The HMRC helpline for childcare providers will give you advice for the childcare element of working tax credit. You can find additional business advice on their website. Call 0345 300 3900 or log on to www.hmrc.gov.uk HOW CAN I PROMOTE MY BUSINESS? Parents can access your details via your registered provider, for example the Ofsted website, so make sure your information is kept up-to-date. It is also worth promoting your business locally in places such as your HIVE, community centre, GP surgery and parent and toddler groups. POSTED ABROAD? l The British Forces Early Years’ Service regulates childminding in SFA in north western Europe meeting English standards. Call 0049 2161 472 4644 or email BFG-HQ-G1-BFEYS-Dir@mod.uk l SSAFA covers or gives advice about everywhere else. Call 0207 463 9229 or visit www.ssafa.org.uk

FOR INFORMATION, ADVICE AND IDEAS ON CHILDMINDING: l Ofsted: www.ofsted.gov.uk or 0300 123 1231 l Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years: www.pacey.org.uk or 0300 003 0005 l Health and Social Services Trust in Northern Ireland: www.hscni.net l Northern Ireland Child Minding Association: www.nicma.org or 0871 200 2063 l Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland: www.scswis.com or 0845 600 9527 l The Scottish Childminding Association: www.childminding.org l Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales: 0300 062 8800 l PACEY Cardiff: 0845 880 1299 or paceycymru@pacey.org.uk l HIVE: www.mod.uk/hive summer 2014 Army&You 47


{ EDUCATION & CHILDCARE }

Childminding in Cyprus As a SSAFA–registered childminder, you will be trained and qualified in child safeguarding, undergo background checks and complete a paediatric first aid course. You will also understand and apply the principles of the Early Years Foundation Stage. To discover more, contact Jill Shaw on (00357) 9961 8672. You can find out further details by collecting a registration pack from your local SSAFA office or HIVE.

© SAC Helen Rimmer, British Crown Copyright

I

F YOU are posted overseas, it’s important to know that there are childcare options available when your family network is not close at hand. It’s also a great place to offer a childminding service. Jill Shaw, the SSAFA Childminding Co-ordinator in Cyprus, has been working with agencies to review the registration process. The result is a new simpler and quicker process! Now SSAFA is looking for new childminders.

FORCES wife and SSAFA childminder Gemma Knight has been running her own business in Akrotiri since 2012. Gemma chose childminding because of the opportunities it offers - from making a difference to children to being your own boss and working from home. She says: “I wanted to get back to work and this was the perfect solution. Operating from my own home has allowed me to choose the hours I work and the type of service I provide. I also know that if we move, childminders are always needed, so it will be a transferable skill.”

HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOLS

Preparing for life’s journey

PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £850 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2014/15. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

MONMOUTH SCHOOL AND THE GRANGE

HABERDASHERS’ MONMOUTH SCHOOL FOR GIRLS AND INGLEFIELD HOUSE

Currently Archant Best British Boarding School BOYS 7 - 18 with boarding from 9 Tel: 01600 710433

GIRLS 7 - 18 with boarding from 9

Tel: 01600 711104

www.habs-monmouth.org 48 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


{ YOUNG GENERATION }

Facing my demons Young dependant Hazel Aitken shares her heartfelt story of how she developed - and overcame - an eating disorder…

G

ROWING up in the military is hard, no one can deny. With it comes a unique set of problems that no civilian child could ever truly understand. Sometimes when these problems intertwine with personal ones, it can become a great struggle to see the positives military life gives you, as well as finding any happiness.

Personal demons I moved to Germany when I was six and spent the next 12 years there until leaving for university. In that time we faced family problems, a deployed father, and the constant uncertainty of where we would go next – issues that I am sure all military children can relate to. But in that time I came to develop my own personal demons, fighting with the image that I had of myself and my attitude towards food. I stopped eating in a sick desire to starve myself to skinniness, even going as far as making myself throw up when the guilt of eating became too much. I couldn’t see what I was doing to myself. All I saw was fat, when in fact I was reducing myself to skin and bone. I looked gaunt, sickly and tired. It became my every thought. For a long time I told myself there was nothing wrong; that I could stop whenever I got to my goal weight. What I didn’t realise – and what a lot of people in the same situation do not realise – is that goal was surpassed long ago.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Getting better

“No matter how hard things may get, always remember that we are not just a community. We are a family.”

I don’t recall the moment of realisation, but somehow I came to terms with the fact that there was something wrong with the way I was seeing food – and myself. Although it was hard, I slowly managed to start eating normally again. Getting better is not the end, whether it is an eating disorder, depression, selfharming or anything like this. The thoughts will always be there, but you cannot let them take hold and bring you down. You have to fight.

Military life As much as growing up around the Army may have contributed to my problems, it’s also the main reason why I am still here. Military life is about family. We get each other through the rough times, and we support each other every step of the way. I realised that after everything my family had gone through together, I couldn’t just give up. They were my anchor. They were the reason I decided to get help and get healthy. So no matter how hard things may get, always remember that we are not just a community. We are a family. WHERE TO GET HELP NHS Choices: www.nhs.uk Young Minds: www.youngminds.org.uk Beat (Beating Eating Disorders): www.b-eat. co.uk; Helpline 0845 634 1414; Youthline 0845 634 7650 ABC: Anorexia and Bulimia Care: www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk; 03000 111213

summer 2014 Army&You 49


GIVEAWAYS Bag yourself a spring treat with this issue’s competitions!

HOW TO ENTER Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 16 July 2014. See page four for competition rules.

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

DISCOVER YOUR EDEN

A jam-packed year THERE is always something to see or do in Yorkshire with English Heritage. With 18 different properties in some of the most stunning locations, from commanding coastal castles and moorland abbeys to grand countryside estates, and a fantastic programme of live action events, you will be spoilt for choice!

Visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/ yorkshire for a full list of fascinating venues, opening times and charges and get exploring this historic part of the UK. l We have teamed up with English Heritage to offer a “money can’t buy” pass for up to two adults and three children for any English Heritage sites within Yorkshire for a whole year.

EXCITING, inspiring and fun, the Eden Project explores our relationship with nature. Discover fascinating events and exhibits, including the biggest rainforest in captivity, and more than a million plants at this must-see venue for any family trip to Cornwall. Travel the world in a day: from the Rainforest Biome, where you can travel through the treetops on the Rainforest Walkway, to the Mediterranean Biome. With music gigs and events like den building in the summer, Halloween activities and ice-skating in the winter, there is something for everyone all year round. Visit www. edenproject.com/armyandyou for more information. l Army&You has teamed up with the Eden Project to offer a family ticket, with lunch worth £100.

Have your eureka moment A PRIZE FIT FOR PETS THE Huge Grizzly Bear Paw dog bed by Scruffs measures a whopping 130cm in diameter. Available in either teddy or brown, dogs big and small can lounge in the lap of luxury. Visit www. petslovescruffs.com to view the latest beds and accessories from Scruffs. l Army&You has one of these canine cushions to giveaway.

50 Army&You summer 2014

EUREKA! The National Children’s Museum based in Halifax, West Yorkshire, is not like other museums. Let your kids get hands-on exploring more than 400 interactive exhibits; from All About Me, discovering how amazing our bodies are and how we can look after them, to Living and Working Together, where your children can navigate their way through a child-sized town square including a house, shop, bank and post office. What’s more, standard admission also gets you an annual pass, so you

can visit as many times as you like for a whole year. Visit www.eureka. org.uk for more information – there’s so much to do and see. l Army&You has five annual family passes up for grabs.

@ArmyandYou


{ GIVEAWAYS } HEAVENLY SNACKS – HONEST! OUR Honest Foods is on a mission to fill the awkward gaps between meals. Once a month, they send out a Snackorium – a heavenly box of tasty British treats – to customers across the UK and via BFPO. Giles Mitchell, one of the founders and the son of a Royal Engineer, says the Snackorium offers a taste of home: “I remember moving around frequently as I was growing up, mostly on overseas postings. I always missed some good British food.” Snacks change every month and include classics and surprises such as Isle of Wight biltong, Clearly Scrumptious dried golden berries and banoffee pie chocolate truffles. Order your Snackorium, priced from £9.99, by logging on to the company’s website at www.ourhonestfoods. com l You could win one of five Snackorium boxes with Army&You.

CHARLIE AND THE DRAGON WHEN RAF search and rescue pilot Matt Prosser deployed to the Falkland Islands, he packed his sketchbook and created an enchanting book, Charlie and the Dragon, so he could give something special to his nephew. He was persuaded to publish his rhyming story about Charlie, a boy with flaming red hair who wakes to find a small dragon called Ember in his sock drawer. She is crying because she became lost in bad weather and can’t find her mum, so the pair set off into the countryside to get Ember home. Order your copy at www. redhairbooks.co.uk l Army&You has five copies of Charlie and the Dragon, worth £6.99 each, to give away.

Make a splash with Peppa Pig JOIN in the fun with Peppa, George and their friends as they tour the UK with the new theatre show Peppa Pig’s Big Splash. An all-singing, all-dancing adventure full of songs, games and muddy puddles your little one will love! There’s plenty of fun to be had as Peppa and the gang set up a fête to raise money for Mr Bull to carry out the repairs to the nursery roof.

There’s also a champion puddle jumping competition judged by Mr Potato, where everyone gets wet and Peppa needs to find her golden boots. Peppa Pig’s Big Splash is on tour until October 2014. Visit www. peppapiglive.com for venues, times and ticket prices. l We are offering the chance to win one of two family tickets (four people, minimum one adult) to see this fun-filled show.

BRILLIANT BRITISH BIBS FOR STYLISH TOTS SKIBZ, maker of the original bandana dribble bib, has launched new designs for its Made in Britain range to keep your tot looking cute and stylish. From strawberries to elephants, Skibz has your little one’s fashion fix covered. Visit www.skibz.co.uk to view

the full range. l Army&You is delighted to offer two lucky winners the chance to win the London design featuring the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Her Majesty’s Royal Guards, each worth £10.

An original approach to languages FLUENT in 3 Months, by Benny Lewis, harnesses the power of the internet to help you learn a new language wherever you are. Described as a “fool-proof” method to master foreign languages, the book debunks myths such as “I’m too old to learn” and “I don’t have time”. It provides a list of apps and websites, invaluable for Army families posted abroad, and will teach you how to make the most of technology such as finding Skype practice partners and streaming radio from all over the world. l Army&You has four copies of this inspiring book up for grabs to get you well on your way to loving languages. Bonne chance!

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 51


{ GIVEAWAYS }

Free-range fun at Bluestone W

OULDN’T it be great to escape from the day-to-day stresses of Army life, unwind and have fun? You can at Bluestone National Park Resort in spectacular Pembrokeshire, where free-range fun and relaxation are the order of the day. No matter what the weather or time of year, Bluestone has lots to offer any Army family. With luxury lodges, cottages and apartments; not to mention Blue lagoon water park, The Well Spa Retreat, shops, a pub and restaurants all within 500 acres of private countryside. Visit www. bluestonewales.com today and start planning your break. Army&You is offering you the chance to win a mid-week break at Bluestone for up to four people in a luxury Caldey lodge (worth at least £299) on a self-catering basis; including access to the Blue Lagoon water park and Adventure Centre. See page 50 for entry details. TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Prize includes a mid-week break in a luxury Caldey lodge between 1 September and 1 December 2014 (excluding 17 October to 2 November) subject to availability, for up to four people; not including travel to or from Bluestone, food or beverages or activities. No cash alternative will be provided and the prize is non-negotiable.

52 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


{ ENTERTAINMENT }

Family fun Giraffe feeding Chessington World of Adventures £10 per person SURREY may lack the panoramic majesty of Africa’s sprawling Serengeti, but did you know the suburban jungle provides would-be safari goers with the opportunity to come face-to-face with the world’s tallest land animal? Visitors to Chessington World of Adventures who look up to giraffes can book to begin their day out by hand feeding the lofty lodgers of the park’s Wanyama reserve.

Close encounter: Feeding giraffes gives you the perfect chance to check out just how long the animals’ tongues really are

The experience entitles guests to a half-hour, eye-level audience with Chessington’s giraffes and buckets full of fresh food that ensure an extremely close encounter. A plentiful amount of antibacterial hand gel is also, very welcomely, provided.

Although renowned for having long necks, it is the length and agility of the giraffe’s saliva-soaked tongue that is guaranteed to steal the show. l For more details, visit the website at www.chessington.com

Bookshelf

Army&You’s take on the six books nominated for this year’s Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction...

THE UNDERTAKING

BURIAL RITES

THE LOWLAND

THE GOLDFINCH

AMERICANAH

Audrey Magee

Hannah Kent

Jhumpa Lahiri

Donna Tartt

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A rare book about the German side of the fence during the Second World War, Magee’s debut novel is driven by dialogue and is powerful whether describing the bloody reality of the battlefield at Stalingrad or wartime life in Berlin.

Set in 19th century Iceland, this story – based on real events – of a condemned woman’s final days before execution is as bleak as the environment it is set in. An engrossing read that doesn’t fail to stir the emotions.

Dealing with the divergent lives of two brothers growing up in Calcutta as the Naxalite movement takes hold in the 1950s and 60s, this is a beautifullywritten study of family laced with moments of both hope and tragedy.

A weighty tome, this epic read begins with a terrorist attack in New York and spends some 880 pages relaying the turbulent life of survivor Theo Decker and his relationship with the eponymous painting. Lengthy but gripping.

This rich novel from the Half of a Yellow Sun author documents the lives of two young lovers from Nigeria who leave their homeland to seek their destinies. At times funny, frequently touching and ultimately insightful.

Falling firmly into love-it-or-hate it territory, McBride’s debut novel tells the turbulent tale of a young woman’s childhood in Ireland in an uncompromising style that too often acts as a barrier to the reader.

U UU U U

UUUUU

UUUUU

UUUUU

UUUUU

UUUUU

A GIRL IS A HALFFORMED THING Eimear McBride

DID YOU KNOW? Judges for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction picked their final six from a longlist of 20, which can be found at bit.ly/1gZNTIi www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 53

Picture: Chessington World of Adventures

ENTERTAINMENT


ARMY&ME BEAR GRYLLS

Chief Scout, Adventurer You come from a Service family yourself. Is that where you discovered your spirit for adventure? My late dad, a Royal Marines Commando and a climber, started taking me out into the wild when I was a child where we climbed sea cliffs, made boats and built tree houses. He gave me the confidence to go for it, work things out through trial and error and to always listen to that voice within when it comes to risk. Adventure gave me the opportunity to explore and test my limits, whilst testing myself in bad weather on the seas and in the mountains. From a young age, I realised that it was when it got tough that I came alive and in doing so, I found an early form of expression and identity. Adventure brings out the best and worst in people – we don’t always let ourselves get pushed to our limits. However much we prepare, things go wrong and it is then that the real adventures begin. My experience has shown me that people are stronger and more capable than they think. Was your decision to join the military based on a sense of family tradition or the appeal of an active lifestyle? It is what I wanted to do right from when I was as a small child. I always loved being dirty, covered in mud and climbing anything and everything, so the British Army seemed a good place to get to do more of this. But it gave me so much more, such as a chance to really train in survival and climbing and that in turn built my confidence. The close community within the Special Forces world is unique. The world of mountaineering and our TV expeditions have been the closest thing to re-finding that intimacy in adversity that binds SF soldiers together. What is it about the role of Chief Scout that most appeals to you? One of the greatest privileges of my life is being appointed as the youngest ever Chief Scout of the Scout Association, especially since the young people played such a part in my recruitment. I love the job essentially because it represents so much of what the Scouts stand for – friendship, family, faith and adventure. If I do nothing else with my life, I will always feel super proud to have held this position supporting and representing our members and I want all Scouts to know that I am here for them. My mission as Chief Scout is to bring the opportunity of everyday adventure, challenge, fun and friendship to millions of young people across the world. Scouting is all about ordinary people serving as leaders and impacting their communities as well as giving young people confidence, a sense of purpose and an extensive breadth of skills that are hard to find anywhere else.


What benefits can scouting offer Service children? Service children who find themselves separated from their families undoubtedly benefit from scouting in terms of the ethos as wherever you are in the world, the promise, values and uniform remain the same. This gives them a sense of community and belonging. What attributes does the movement instil in young people? Scouting values consist of being trustworthy, honest and following your word. As Scouts, we are part of a worldwide family united by a common passion of adventure and friendship. In addition to this, courage has been at the heart of scouting ever since our founder, Baden Powell, distinguished himself in the face of immense adversity at the siege of Mafeking. But courage is by no means limited to the military. An 11-year-old boy from Hungary who is fighting a life-threatening disease and immense pain is the bravest person I have ever known. He is frightened, yet he takes on each day with courage, hope and a smile. True scouting values. One of the challenges that the Scout movement faces is finding more volunteers – why should parents get involved? One of my big challenges as Chief Scout is to encourage people across the UK who have the enthusiasm to put something back into their communities and volunteer for this inspiring movement. It is my mission to make it as easy as possible for adults who volunteer with us, to give as much or as little as they are able – it is how we change our society. We have got such a wonderful, gifted nation and I want that talent to be used to support young people to take an active, positive part in the adventure that scouting offers. While lots of people know that scouting is all about adventure, they often don’t realise that adult volunteers get to do just as much as our young members through their involvement. I would like to extend a massive thank you to all of our volunteers on behalf of all the young people who benefit from scouting. It’s because of you – you make the adventure possible.

56 Army&You summer 2014

@ArmyandYou


SCOUT’SHONOUR! Army&You readers Gryll Bear... What has been your most challenging adventure? Joe Weston (12), Colchester I led a team in a small inflatable boat attempting to cross the Arctic Ocean a few years back, we hit some monster storms off the ice packs of Greenland and in truth we should have died. During the night one of our crew, Nige, who was not a believer, saw an angel sitting on the front of the boat. The size of these giant waves alongside the gale-force conditions, icebergs and hail, were threatening to overturn the boat for two days, but we came through it – humbled and so grateful to be alive. What’s it like being away from your family and home so much? Jack Simms (6), Surrey I struggle with it – the hardest thing about what I do isn’t the snake bites or the storms, it is being away from my family quite a bit. I have a satellite phone call every day back to the boys, whatever time zone I am in, to say goodnight. For me the goal is to come home safe and to be together more and more. I make up for it though when I am at home and we love to plan fun expeditions away all together camping or messing about in the hills of Wales where we live. Who would win in a survival contest, Bear Grylls or Ray Mears? Natalie Adams, via email The wild isnt about being better than anyone else, it is about being the best we can be ourselves. What’s the most disgusting thing you have eaten? Harry Simms (8), Surrey Raw goat’s testicles or maybe yak eyeballs or urine or bear poo! Why do you squeeze wee out of elephant poo? Is it really worth it? Tilly, Andover It’s not pleasant but it just might save your life! l Guiding our youngsters – Page 41 www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 57


PRIDE • SELF-DISCIPLINE • CHARACTER • SPIRITUALITY • SPORTSMANSHIP • LEADERSHIP • RESPECT FOR OTHERS

An independent school style education at an affordable price The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a full state boarding academy for children aged 11 to 18. Historically established for military families, we now welcome applications from any student who wants to study at our unique school with its strong military ethos and traditions.

Why study with us?

• We are in the top 100 non-selective state schools for GCSE results. DfE 2013/14 • Every student is actively encouraged to achieve the very best they can - developing their self-confidence, teamwork and leadership skills while living and studying in a friendly and supportive community.

“One of the strongest parts of the Dukie community is having your friends around you all the time. One of my proudest moments of being a Dukie was watching the school marching band play the anthem for the England rugby team at Twickenham.”

• Our military ethos, ceremonial parades and Combined Cadet Force will help your child to develop essential life skills including

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character and resilience.

• They will enjoy an active independent school lifestyle with sport, music, drama and activities all playing a key role while studying for their GCSEs and A Levels.

• Our £24.9 million School refurbishment will be completed by September 2014.

Your child will benefit from purpose-built classrooms, a new Sports Centre, new and refurbished boarding houses, and a drama studio.

For 2014/15 our fees are £3,665 per term. We are competitively priced because you only pay boarding fees. Please call us to arrange a hosted tour of the School.

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58 Army&You summer 2014

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MOTORING

{ MOTORING } REVIEW: FIAT PANDA 4X4

'

To find your nearest local dealer, visit www.fiat.co.uk or contact a Fiat adviser on freephone 00800 3428 0000

Endangered: Panda put-downs

W

HEN I took on the task of reviewing the Panda 0.9 TwinAir 4x4, I didn’t expect Fiat to serve my family with a fable of Aesop proportions, writes Andy Simms. Disregarding such wisdom as not making judgements based on appearance and “little friends may prove great friends”, my eight-year-old son greeted the arrival of the all-wheel drive supermini with disdain and the damning declaration of “I’m not getting in THAT”. In truth, his contempt for the car was contagious because, put bluntly, this Panda is no pin-up. Far from being an icon of Italian style like its Fiat 500 stablemate, the new 4x4’s longer, wider and taller exterior looks as though it was created in the popular block-building game Minecraft and is largely devoid of attractive features. There is, of course, a considerable “but” to this automotive anecdote. With the Panda 4x4, true beauty really does come from within.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Inside, the car’s box-like outer translates favourably into plenty of headroom, super all-round vision, clever storage space and multiple seat configurations. Even the boot, while not cavernous, had plenty of room to stow a family-of-four’s luggage for a weekend break in Dorset. And it was on the South Coast that the Panda silenced its doubters. The throaty soundtrack provided by the two-cylinder 85bhp TwinAir Turbo proved enough to convert the cynicism of those in the back, while the adult audience were warmed by the town car’s performance on the open road. The conversion was complete for all when hilly, rain-soaked farmers’ fields replaced the tarmac beneath the Panda’s 15-inch alloy wheels. Faced with a proverbial sticky situation, this supermini bounded across steep, boggy ground that would certainly have forced the abandonment of any frontwheeled drive model. The Panda’s all-wheel drive system,

which employs two differentials and an electronically-controlled coupling governed by an intelligent control unit, is fully automatic; providing torque-ondemand to the rear wheels when the terrain gets tricky. It is a credit to this incredibly capable off-roader that the transfer of traction is only noticeable to the driver in the form of improved grip. As at ease traversing pot holes as it is scaling scarps and competitively priced at sub £14,000, this half-pint SUV is ideal for those families posted to remote corners of the UK who have no desire to fork out for a full-sized 4x4. The moral of this story? Don’t rely on prepubescent Panda punditry.

Design Performance Value Overall rating

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summer 2014 Army&You 59


ADVERTISING FEATURE

Sellafield sparks success for Service veteran I

Name: Kevin Rishworth Job Title: Maintenance Delivery Manager Company: Sellafield Ltd

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The professionalism, leadership, drive for results and versatility gained in the Forces are qualities that are quickly recognised by civilian employers

JOINED The Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) in December 1990, aged 18. I qualified as an Electronics Engineer and gained the BTEC national certificate in electronics engineering. I served at 12 Armoured workshop REME, 1 Bn REME, The Queen’s Royal Lancers LAD, King’s Royal Hussars LAD and 39 Regt RA WKSP REME. I deployed on several tours to Bosnia and 1 tour of Kosovo. I participated in exercises in Germany, Poland and Canada. Family circumstances then forced me to leave the Army after 12 years service. I had already gained employment as an engineer for a food processing company, so did not undertake resettlement training. I found it difficult being inside a factory all day so I secured a position of service engineer for Capital Compactors, based in Bognor Regis, where I carried out the service and breakdown response of hydraulic compaction machines used in the waste industry. I covered the area from Birmingham to Glasgow. A change of circumstance then meant my wife needed to return home to Cumbria. I submitted a speculative letter and CV to Sellafield Ltd and was invited to an interview. Following the interview, I underwent a medical and security clearance (this was the drawn out part of the process). I was offered a position of Operational Engineering Advisor and started on 26 February 2007 with induction training. I was assigned a mentor, who guided me round the plant, and through the Sellafield Ltd processes and procedures and ensured I was booked on required training courses. The role was to plan and prepare safe systems of work for the craft teams to deliver scheduled maintenance activities and respond to breakdowns to maintain safe operation of the plant. I was promoted to Senior Operational Engineering Advisor after 3 years. During this role, I began deputising for the Engineering Support Manager.

As the site was going through the Integrated Change Program, there was a major change for engineering. It was to split to become 2 entities, engineering and maintenance. I saw an opportunity for progression and actively sought to take the position of Maintenance Delivery Manager. I have been in position for 12 months now and thoroughly enjoy it. I am the appointed Duly Authorised Person, under a legal site licence condition (28) responsible for the delivery of all examination, inspection, maintenance and testing activities. I currently manage 3 shift maintenance delivery teams and deliver all maintenance activities and respond to breakdowns for the plant area under my responsibility. I also manage a fabrication workshop consisting of fabricators, welders and fitter/turners who provide a service for the whole operating unit. I then manage the maintenance support team, who provide technical advice on maintenance activities. Overall, I have a team of 50 people. I start my day at 0730 when I receive an update from my shift team leader. I attend the Plant Operational Control Centre at 0815, where nuclear safety issues are discussed and priorities determined. I then co-ordinate all maintenance and breakdown activities to ensure the right people are working on the right task at the right time. The ultimate goal is to ensure the plant continues safe operation. The best aspect of the role is using the leadership skills gained in the forces to keep my team focused on the ever changing priorities. I see my future development over the next 5 years taking me into engineering as an Engineering Manager. The best advice I can give Service leavers is the professionalism, leadership, drive for results and versatility gained in the Forces are qualities that are quickly recognised by civilian employers. You will stand out and have the opportunity to progress if you keep those values true. n


{ EATING }

Prawns with chorizo by Mark Sargeant This simple tapas recipe makes the most of chorizo’s smoky flavour. Serve with bread, slices of Manchego cheese and a glass of sherry. Heat a frying pan until medium hot, add the olive oil and garlic and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the chorizo and fry for a further 1-2 minutes, then add the sea salt and prawns and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the prawns are just pink. Add the dry sherry and stir with a wooden spatula to deglaze the pan. Tip the chorizo, prawns and all their lovely juices into a serving dish and sprinkle over the parsley.

Serves 4 B 2 tbsp olive oil B 2 garlic cloves, sliced B 300g cooking chorizo, cut diagonally into 1/2cm thick slices B 1 pinch sea salt B 8 medium-sized prawns, shell on B 50ml dry sherry B 2-3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley

SATURDAY KITCHEN COOKING BIBLE is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Hardback £20, eBook £11. Photography: Andrew Hayes-Watkins www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 61


BOARDING TOWN & COUNTRY

COLLEGE OPEN MORNING

VISIT THE PREP SCHOOL

Saturday 27 Sept 2014, 9.30am start

Call 01793 750 275 for an appointment

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A world-class education in the heart of Bristol.

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

“Emily started at Wycliffe Preparatory School in September 2011 as a boarder in Year 3. We chose Wycliffe because of its family atmosphere and the ethos of the Head, Mr Palmer; “if a child is happy then they are able to learn.” The pastoral care is second to none and, for Emily, Wycliffe has become her second home.” Warrant Officer Andy Kerslake, RAF Police and Flight Sergeant Emma Kerslake, RAF M Emily Year 5 and Billy Year 3

Full boarding available with an exciting weekend activity programme. Small class sizes.

Open Evening: Tuesday 7th October Open Morning: Wednesday 8th October Badminton nurtures intellectual curiosity and challenges enquiring minds in a supportive community. Our girls’ enthusiasm for the arts, sport and their many activities keeps the School vibrant – come and see for yourself! T: 0117 905 5271 • E: admissions@badmintonschool.co.uk • www.badmintonschool.co.uk

62 Army&You summer 2014

@AcorntoOakBris

Wycliffe makes

the difference

Wycliffe Nursery, Preparatory, Senior School & Sixth Form For more information please call Charlotte Phillips on 01453 820412.

Wycliffe, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire GL10 2JQ Twitter @WycliffeCollege www.wycliffe.co.uk * Terms and conditions apply ** We accept Childcare Vouchers

@ArmyandYou


{ RETAIL THERAPY }

RETAIL THERAPY

All images courtesy of www.sunglasses-shop.co.uk

Here comes the sun!

Army&You's guide to the smartest shades to be seen in this summer...

Men

Women

Kids

Animal V6

Superdry Cotton

J Banz Square

£27

£32

£15

Carrera 85s

Le Specs Runaways

Polaroid Junior

£117

£38

£17

Persol Gangster

Ray-Ban Clubmaster

Ray-Ban Junior

£184

£147

£60

DID YOU KNOW? Army&You’s Twitter feed – @ArmyandYou – is a great place to access the latest news from across the military family. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 63


POSTBAG

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

CONTACT US

To have your say on the issues affecting you, send your letters to the Editor at editor@aff.org.uk

downtime for soldiers and their families.

Name & address supplied

Picture: iStock

Response from Brigadier John Donnelly, Directorate Personal Services (Army): I can fully understand

STAR LETTER

Give us a break! ONE of my bug bears of being a family married to the Army is not being able to plan a break or holiday in advance. My husband went to Afghanistan in 2012 and prior to that did training, an exercise in Canada and a few career courses, so everything was on hold and family time was limited and very precious. Last year was a repeat performance with another trip to Canada and more training and career courses and adventurous training. This year will be the same. I know the importance of the role of the Army and that soldiers are technically never off duty, and I know a break away is a luxury compared to the circumstances of others in the Army and in civvy street, but this situation seems to be having a detrimental effect on family life and morale.

You have nothing to look forward to because you can never plan anything in advance for risk of losing out financially; being separated whilst your soldier gets left behind and the disappointment and strain it puts everyone under. We’ve had to cancel a holiday because of an impromptu course and we recently booked a weekend trip for our daughter’s birthday, only to be told that the regiment has plans and we may not be able to go, causing upset for us all. It just seems that since the start of redundancy tranche one, the Army has lost sight of the wellbeing of the soldier and the families by squeezing more out of those that are left. I know I am not the only one who feels this way or has been in this situation. The Army should recognise the importance of

The writer of this letter wins a £30 bouquet from Nursery Fresh Postal Flowers, to give or receive anywhere in mainland Britain. Nursery Fresh offers discounts to Army personnel and their families. Beautiful presentation bouquets can be sent anywhere in the UK by overnight carrier via our secure online shop www.loveflower.co.uk Log on to www.nurseryfresh.com to place your order or find out more.

64 Army&You summer 2014

your frustration; it is unfortunately an unavoidable aspect of Army life. The impact Service life has on the ability of soldiers to take leave is recognised within the “X Factor” as part of the Service pay award. Annual leave is a vital component of morale for both the soldier and their family. Time spent away from duty enables personnel time to recharge their batteries and remain fit and refreshed. It remains Army policy that wherever possible Service personnel take their full annual leave allowance in the leave year in which it is granted. We are working particularly hard to ensure that this is achieved. In the current operational climate this is not always possible but work continues in this area. There’s also a responsibility on soldiers to plan their leave with due regard to their commitments such as operations, training and courses. Your soldier has access to unit forecasts of events and activities for the year ahead. With regards to cancelled holidays, you are strongly advised to make adequate insurance arrangements against the possibility of last minute rescheduling or cancellations as a result of unforeseen and unavoidable requirements. There are circumstances when a Refund of Nugatory Holiday Expenditure is available to contribute towards financial losses. Your soldier can find details in JSP 752, Section 8 to Chapter 10.

AFF comment: AFF takes issues with working hours seriously and we are monitoring families’ concerns, working closely with command. Email us@aff.org.uk

@ArmyandYou


{ POSTBAG }

Picture: Chalabala

Response from Paul Ballard, DIO Service Delivery Accommodation Contract Manager: SFA has not been

RAINY DAY RESERVES? DOES DIO have contingencies or an emergency fund in place to handle repairs after periods of severe weather? I ask because since the recent floods and storms, I seem to hear nothing but complaints from other Army families about the repair service from MHS. I’ve heard about families going weeks without heating, fallen trees and broken fences that could take up to a year to repair, scaffolding being put up in the wrong place, patch-up jobs that require further work, missed appointments and parts taking ages to come through. Putting in an official complaint is pointless as it still takes time to process, and meanwhile you’re stuck with your dodgy boiler or leaky roof. Surely if extra funds are not available, DIO could channel existing resources from areas not affected to support hardhit locations?

Name & address supplied

immune from the prolonged period of severe weather. In February alone the MHS helpdesk received in excess of 39,000 calls. This is 4,500 more than predicted for the time of year, and equivalent to nearly every SFA in England and Wales calling in the same month. Despite this volume, 78 per cent of calls were answered within 120 seconds and between 94 and 99 per cent of normal response repairs (subject to urgency) were completed on time. Where there is an immediate threat to life or property, MHS will take emergency action to make safe. However, for “out of scope” works families may notice a delay before the permanent repair is completed as these have to be priced, evaluated and contracted separately. Funding remains available to undertake repairs and we will work with MHS to ensure that works are completed as quickly as possible. I appreciate that some families have experienced delays and inconvenience and I apologise to those affected. DIO and MHS are working to resolve any problems brought to our attention. If you are concerned, you can ring the helpdesk and request an update. If you believe you have a serious cause for complaint you are also encouraged to use the complaint service, which normally resolves most issues.

SURVEYING SFA SAGA WHY does Modern Housing Solutions (MHS) make it so difficult to book a surveyor? The helpdesk will negotiate a time and date for general repairs, but if any major work needs doing you need an assessment first. However, the surveyors’ office runs separately to the helpdesk, which has to ring for an appointment and there’s never anyone there. I’ve requested that someone calls me to arrange a convenient day, but instead they send out a letter with an appointment time – usually with about two days’ notice! I’ve had to cancel a number of times as I can’t get out of work and this saga has gone on for more than six months. They don’t understand that Army spouses also have jobs and aren’t always free for a five-hour slot.

Name & address supplied Reply from MHS: We are sorry that you’ve had difficulties. When a survey is requested, the details are passed to the local office who have access to our technical officers’ diaries to arrange appointments. This system has been found to be more effective than arranging through the helpdesk. We aim to contact the family by telephone to arrange an appointment. Where this is not possible a letter will always be sent to confirm an appointment. Some surveys are urgent (within five working days) and some are routine (15 working days), hence why some are arranged at short notice. If this issue is still outstanding, please call the helpdesk on 0800 707 6000.

NURSERY PLACES

Response from Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist: At the moment, the MOD helps with childcare

WITH the introduction of free nursery hours for disadvantaged two-year-olds in England, I wondered if there is any way that the military can assist Forces families with childcare costs. Although we do not qualify for the free hours outlined by the government, military spouses still struggle to afford reasonable childcare for under-threes as a result of high levels of unemployment. If our children, who are also at a disadvantage because of Army life, are to be on-par with those receiving benefits, the military should offer help just as they are doing with the extra funding for Service pupils in schools.

costs through Sodexo Armed Forces Childcare Vouchers. Details of the existing and new scheme can be found by visiting the childcare pages of the AFF website – www.aff.org.uk Tax credits can also be used to help with childcare costs and I can advise you further if you require more information – ec@aff.org.uk Free early years funding for two year olds is decided by individual local authorities and is offered in only a handful of areas of the UK. Unfortunately, the criteria list does not include Army families in the main however, this is something that AFF is monitoring. As far as I am aware there is no funding for childcare settings to apply for specifically for Service children.

Name & address supplied

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2014 Army&You 65


{ POSTBAG }

Picture: Pixelbliss

POTL WATERS ARE MUDDY

WHERE’S MY BILL? THE electricity and gas supply in my SFA in Larkhill is under the “Fuel and Light” system. Readings are taken by an agent and I am billed through my admin office, with the amount deducted straight from source through JPA. However, when I didn’t receive my quarterly bill in September I contacted my admin office and was informed they had not yet received anybody’s bills in the region. Sometime in October/ November we received a note through our door from the Fuel and Light people saying that they were experiencing an office move and subsequent staff shortage. It asked for patience while they trained new individuals to produce the bills. Again no bills were received in December for the fourth quarter period. I discovered that they were still experiencing staff shortages and they hoped the bills would be out by the end of January – in my case eight months after my last bill! Our admin office pointed out that as the bills would now be higher than normal, families may struggle to pay. They were told “enough notice was given and personnel should have been putting money aside to offset the bills when they arrived”. At no stage was any advice given to put money aside. I know it may appear obvious to many people, but to others living within our family community,

66 Army&You summer 2014

maybe spouses of deployed personnel or those for whom English is not their first language, it may not have been so apparent. I fear that this situation could cause a lot of families to be in debt through no fault of their own. If it were any other energy supplier who had not billed anybody for more than eight months, I’m sure the country would be up in arms. However, it seems that we in the military are expected to not question the fact and just pay without complaint in fear of reprimand. I can’t help but think that if the boot was on the other foot and the fault was at the tenants’ end, then disciplinary action would be taken. Surely something should be done to avoid this situation ever happening again.

Name & address supplied Response from Defence Infrastructure Organisation: We apologise for delays in the recovery process which have resulted in some Service personnel having not been charged their utilities bills for some months. This means larger than usual repayments are now being requested. Where this is the case, families can be reassured that a payment plan can be put in place to ensure repayments are manageable; personnel should contact their pay office for more details. We have been working to clear the backlog and expect to have raised most charges soon.

DURING the recent flooding, my soldier was taken off Post Operational Tour Leave (POTL) to help on site at one of the floodhit areas. While I appreciate these were extraordinary circumstances, I felt that taking him off leave still owed to him from October was extreme. He was told the reason is that he is one of very few with a certain “skill set”. A clear skill gap has been identified within our regiment and rather than address the problem by training other soldiers, the answer has been to overwork those already qualified. This situation has caused him to turn down a future course as he fears the same level of dependency will once again be placed on him. POTL is provided for a reason and not having the chance to take it has had a detrimental effect on my soldier’s mental wellbeing and that of our whole family. At what point will the Army recognise that there is too much responsibility being put upon too few good soldiers?

Name & address supplied Reply from Directorate Personal Services (Army): POTL is essential for the wellbeing of Service personnel and as such it should be taken where practicable as soon as possible following the qualifying operational deployment. However, and as with all forms of leave, the ability to take it is subject to the general needs of the Service. There will unfortunately be occasions such as the recent unprecedented flooding which resulted in the need to provide military assistance. Under such circumstances the need to postpone leave may have to be undertaken, but it should not be cancelled. In such instances the unit should record the number of days affected and these days may then be taken as soon as possible thereafter.

@ArmyandYou


How many armed forces personnel are in debt? At the moment, no one knows. But we DO know that debt is a national crisis – and it doesn’t care who it

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Army&You Summer 2014  

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

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