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Army &You SPRING 2015


{for everyone with a soldier in their life}



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.

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&Army You

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Perfect your planning


S MANY of us have experienced, Army life can throw up all sorts of challenges, so this edition is all about pre-planning.

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

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


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

NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863 // northhants@aff.org.uk SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // southhants@aff.org.uk SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783 // salisburyplain@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // southwest@aff.org.uk SOUTH EAST 07733 147001 // southeast@aff.org.uk LONDON 07901 778948 // london@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // rmcentral@aff.org.uk YORKSHIRE 07557 977141 // yorkshire@aff.org.uk WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // westmids@aff.org.uk EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // eastmids@aff.org.uk EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // eastanglia@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // rmnorth@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // ni@aff.org.uk GERMANY (0049) 05221 297 9644 // germany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH (0049) 03221 214 9895 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk

PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk OVERSEAS (0044) 07795 687930 // overseas@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2110 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk

e of Public PS: Army&You scooped a silver award at the Chartered Institut t! suppor your for you Thank . Awards Relations’ 2014 PRide

© All MOD British Crown Copyright images courtesy of Defence News Imagery

OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 // oxfordshire@aff.org.uk

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



Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 2, Zone 3, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ

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

Charlotte ArmyandYou

DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314

AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk

From advice on getting yourself CV-ready before you move, to making sure you’re up to speed on the new rules for moving to your next quarter, there’s lots of useful tips and guidance to get you on track. When things go wrong in a relationship, for Army families it can mean there are additional complications without access to family nearby. In this edition, A&Y investigates advice and support for those dealing with divorce. No matter what challenges we face as Army families, there are some great organisations willing to help. We highlight some of those through heart-warming stories from the Military Wives Choir, the Band of Sisters and FAB holidays. Don’t forget to enter our fabulous reader giveaways – there’s a family holiday up for grabs and tickets to get you out and about this spring. You can get involved in your magazine by joining the Army&You Book Club, writing to our postbag and following us online via our website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.


EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk



ESBA (00357) 9932 4990 // esba@aff.org.uk WSBA (00357) 9789 2230 // wsba@aff.org.uk CANADA (001) 403 544 4600 // canada@aff.org.uk KENYA (00254) 07198 51834 // kenya@aff.org.uk

COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 29 March 2015. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website. SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free! Visit www. armyandyou.co.uk for details.

YOUR AFF SPECIALISTS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07552 861983 // additionalneeds@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07527 492869 // ec@aff.org.uk HOUSING 07789 551158 // housing@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcassist@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING & MONEY✪ 07799 045955 // etam@aff.org.uk COVENANT LIAISON 07833 448352 // covenant@aff.org.uk ✪ Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

spring 2015 Army&You 03








I have been busy getting up to speed on the new contract with CarillionAmey for housing allocations and repairs and maintenance. There are a lot of changes so make sure that you’ve read the new CarillionAmey guide or visit carillionamey.co.uk AFF is monitoring the early months of the contract very closely and we are feeding back all the issues to CarillionAmey so that they can be addressed as quickly as possible. I urge all families to put in official complaints to CarillionAmey if you have any issues as this will ensure that they are recorded.

Progress has been made under the Armed Forces Covenant to help ensure that the military community has the same access to commercial products and services as any other citizen. However, families continue to tell AFF of many issues including cancelling mobile phone or media contracts, applying for mortgages and opening UK savings accounts whilst overseas. AFF has presented this evidence to the MOD Armed Forces Covenant Team which is now working to address disadvantages faced by families overseas. If you have any problems accessing commercial services, email covenant@aff.org.uk

AFF has been working in partnership with Wiltshire Mind and Healios on the Help for Carers in the Armed Forces Community project, funded by a grant from the Forces in Mind Trust. The project is an online support service for carers of a family member with serious mental health illness in the Armed Forces community. I have been helping with promoting and recruiting for the project and have also presented to those delivering the online service at Healios on all aspects of military life.

Our experts We quiz AFF’s experts on what they have been up to over the last quarter. Their contact details can be found on page three, so please get in touch if you have any questions or comments.


BWBF radio “ isMyinvaluable -a real lifeline!

We asked our experts how many jobs they have had as Army spouses...



Dave Cole, ex Royal Engineer


TEXT £5 or £10 to BWBF00 on 70070 British Wireless for the Blind Fund | 01622 754757 | www.blind.org.uk Registered Charity No.1078287 | Scottish Charity No.SC041582

04 Army&You spring 2015












Many of you have been given the wrong type of visa because the people who assessed your applications were not applying the unique Armed Forces rules. After raising this, the Home Office agreed to correct all visas so that paying for a new application is no longer necessary. I now have a contact in the error corrections department who is helping to sort this out. However, this does take time and some of you have been waiting for many months. The lead on Armed Forces policy at the Home Office has agreed to look into ongoing cases to get them resolved ASAP. Watch this space!

A high percentage of my enquiries relate to Service Premium spending in state schools in England. You are often worried whether your child has benefited from it. It’s essential that mobile Service children receive pastoral support in order to reach their full potential. I know that there are some schools which work really hard to ensure that Service children are supported. I am writing an advice sheet for the Department for Education on examples of best practice and our AFF Excellence for Forces Children (Service Premium) Award will run for its third year to continue to highlight the best uses of this fund.

I have been involved in the Universal Credit review into children in distress. This allowed me to highlight the unique needs of Armed Forces children and their parents and carers. With so many queries on the Forces Help to Buy scheme, I have put together a Q&A which you can find in the money section at aff.org.uk Debt, payday loans, surprise deductions taken from your soldier’s pay and the stressful topic of pensions when divorcing are some of the areas I have been helping families with. I have also been working with the MOD on improving access to maternity allowances for overseas families.

Experts in Military Family Law

Watching out for YOU… …whilst YOU watch out for others Gorvins Solicitors are a leading provider of family legal services in the UK. Whilst you protect your country our aim is to protect you on any legal issues you may be experiencing.

Cost effective: Fixed fees and flexible pricing for military officers, personnel and families.

Family Law Services • Divorce and separation issues

Expert team:

• Disputes over children

Specialists in military pension system on divorce and dissolution and specialists in family law.

• Military pensions on divorce

Prompt service: Free initial consultation (you don’t need to be local to speak to our team); no matter is too small.

• Wills, trusts & probate • Residential conveyancing • Dispute resolution mattaers • Personal injury claims (on or off duty)

Call our Military Family Law Solicitors for a free, confidential chat on 0845 6347 999, e-mail paul.longmire@gorvins.com or visit us at www.gorvins.com www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 05

Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Open Morning Sat 19 Sept 2015 Admissions Deadline Fri 15 Jan 2016 Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY


Contents SPRING 2015

insight 35 Catterick Conversion How will the garrison town’s overhaul help Army families? 37 Cool Country Discover what’s great about living in Germany 39 Key Questions The big concerns of Foreign & Commonwealth families 47 Credit Crackdown What you need to do to deal with your debt 49 Early Years Education Our guide to free education for your young ones 53 Pedal Power How one Army wife fell in love with cycling

features 17 Dealing With Divorce A&Y’s guide for Army families facing separation 24 Behind Closed Doors What to do if you are affected by domestic abuse 29 Sisterly Support A grateful mother sings the praises of Help for Heroes 32 No Place Like Home Exploring the impact of the Forces Help to Buy scheme 45 A Passion for Business Army spouses share their entrepreneurial expertise 51 Daddy Never Came Back One young girl’s honest experience of PTSD

regulars 04 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 10 AFF at Work We celebrate one council’s marvellous military mindset 13 Grapevine The latest bitesize bits of news from across the Army 54 Giveaways Win museum tickets, family days out and more 61 Ask the Experts From money to childcare, our panel are here to help 65 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here!

ON THE COVER PRE-POSTING PLANNING Big move on the horizon? Find out why continuing your career should be among your top priorities PAGE 44

&Army You SPRING 2015


{for everyone with a soldier in their life}





A postcard from...

K E N YA are British Army. The rest come from expat and local families so there's a happy mix of nationalities, cultures and religions. Older children either board in the UK or weekly commute to Nairobi, which is about three hours away. Where do Army families get together? Everyone is live in Nairobi. really friendly and supportive, more so than anywhere What's your quarter like? Our house is large. There we lived in the UK, probably because none of us are four bedrooms with a big garden, perfect are at work so there are more social events; for barbeques and sundowners. Although it's the barbeques in the mess, coffee mornings and parties standard magnolia that we all know and love, at weekends. It's easy to integrate with the local somehow the sunshine makes it better! community too; a lot of the expats are former British Army and are all really friendly and welcoming. Can spouses work? Work permits are very difficult and expensive to get and the wages from any Who supports families? The UWO is helpful and other employment probably wouldn't cover the cost. You spouses are full of information about things to do in can volunteer locally though. I've used my time here the area, especially those who've been here a while. as an opportunity to study and have recently finished What's the best thing about living in Kenya? Waking an Open University course. up to the breath-taking view of Mount Kenya every What about schools? The small primary school morning, the sunshine, safaris and experiencing a in Nanyuki has a lovely family feel and open-air culture like no other! classrooms. Roughly 40 per cent of the children

How long have you been an Army family? 10 years. T ime in Kenya: 18 months. How many other military families live there? We live on the new Peacock estate with around 10 families. Another 40 are in Nanyuki and eight BATUK families


FROM: V icky, Jeff and Tag the dog WHERE: Kenya

autumn spring 2014 2015 Army&You Army&You 35 xx

AFRICAN ADVENTURE: Find out what life is like as part of an Army family in Kenya in the first of our A Postcard From... features on page 42.


spring 2015 Army&You 07

MAKING SENSE OF DIVORCE The simple answer is yes. If you have decided to separate but do not want to divorce for the time being then it would be sensible to consider a separation agreement. A separation agreement can address a variety of issues, such as arrangements for children as well as maintenance and the division of assets and debts.

If you are going to commence divorce proceedings in England or Wales then you must have been married for more than 12 months. You When can must also be able to show the court that your marriage has broken I get down beyond repair. Five facts can be used to prove this: adultery, divorced? unreasonable behaviour, desertion, two years separation with both parties agreeing to divorce or five years separation.

I am stationed overseas and my children are in England with my ex -wife who is preventing me from speaking to them. Can a court do anything to help me or do I need to wait until I am back in the UK?

Bad behaviour, or conduct, must be very serious for the court to take it into account when assessing financial claims. Generally conduct will only be considered if it is “gross and obvious”. By way of example, the court would not take infidelity into account but, on the other hand, it is likely to take into account gambling away your family savings when reaching a financial settlement.

Will the court take my husband’s behaviour into account when considering a financial settlement?

A court can help you secure time with your children now even though you are based abroad. As your children are living in England it is the English courts that will assist you. A court will encourage contact unless there is good reason to believe that contact would not be in the children’s best interests. A court has the ability to consider a wide range of contact arrangements, such as contact by telephone, email, Skype and FaceTime. If arrangements are not agreed when both parents are in England you would be required to attempt mediation as a first step.

I am going to be posted abroad for the next six months but my husband and I have agreed to divorce. Do I have to wait until I am back in the UK before proceedings can commence?

No. If you are agreed then the divorce will be what is known as “uncontested” and you will not be required to appear in court. Divorce proceedings can be dealt with as a paper exercise either by you directly or by a solicitor acting on your behalf. It will only be necessary to attend court if you cannot agree a financial settlement or arrangements for your children.

How long does it take to get a divorce?

If the divorce is agreed and both parties deal with matters promptly then a divorce will normally take between four and six months.

When your family circumstances may be about to change, we offer local advice at a time to suit you. The thought of separation, divorce and the subsequent change in family circumstances can be very daunting. Clients often have not yet made the final decision to separate when they first come to us for advice. We refer clients to couples counselling whenever there is a possibility of the relationship being saved or to help the couple separate in the least painful way possible. Our clients tell us that they often feel vulnerable, confused and scared of what the future may hold when they first turn to us for advice. We understand these fears and concerns. Our family lawyers work to ensure that you fully understand your position, the processes and the likely outcomes should you decide the breakdown of your relationship is irrevocable. We will help you find the right solutions for you and your family and protect your interests throughout the process. Seddons’ family team offer confidential fixed fee appointments at times convenient to you. Please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Sterritt, solicitor, for a confidential discussion on: E: Victoria.sterritt@seddons.co.uk T: 020 7725 8066

Seddons, 5 Portman Square, London, W1H 6NT


My wife and I have separated but we do not want to divorce at the moment. Can we formally separate without getting a divorce?


Picture: Nicci Shayler


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

Expect the unexpected: AFF Chief Executive Catherine Spencer has urged Army families to ensure they have a plan B in place

Be prepared


HE Army has been subjected to a wild ride over the last five years. Redundancy may be behind us, but it has highlighted that having a plan B for supporting your family is crucial. Fortunately more help is available to encourage partner employment, but obtaining funding remains a barrier to training courses and being an Army spouse


Ensuring that both of you in the relationship have well-paid, sustainable work to support each other can be key to getting your soldier through transition

may put more obstacles in the way of work. I have been lucky to reestablish my career after a break of seven years to bring up children. Work is a positive part of my life as it is for thousands of other soldiers’ partners, but others need more help to access training and employment. AFF will be focusing on increasing the skills and experience of our family

members so that, should the worst happen, you are better prepared to support yourself and your family. Death, divorce and disease are not cheerful subjects, but all three are life-changing events which could see you coping alone. A patchwork CV and childcare issues can make it difficult for some of you to access well-paid work, which is vital for families wanting to get on the property ladder and has the added bonus of ensuring that partners have a backup plan for supporting themselves should their relationship break-down (see our divorce feature on pages 17-21). Ensuring that both of you in the relationship have well-paid, sustainable work to support each other can also be key to getting your soldier through transition as I saw when a friend’s husband was made redundant – the family were supported by her role as a house mistress and teacher, providing accommodation and a salary and allowing the soldier time to find the right role. It’s absolutely right that the bereaved receive maximum support, but in reality divorce or disease are the more likely fates to beset a family and that’s why it is important to build your employability to support your family and to ensure you have a back-up plan. We know that many former Army spouses have found the transition to civvy street alone to be exceptionally hard. For advice on getting yourself job-ready, turn to page 44. n

AFF NEEDS YOU! Look out for our surveys online at www.aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 09

Picture: Sgt Paul Morrison, RLC


Forward thinking: Thoughtful planning from Cheshire West and Chester Council ensured that 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, pictured during a parade to mark their move, settled in well in their new home

Making the most of Mercians’ move


HESHIRE West and Chester (CW&C) is a great example of how a local authority can work with the military community in its area to ensure that an Army basing move runs smoothly. During 2014, 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment moved to Dale Barracks, Chester. With well-established working relationships with the military in place, CW&C Council used some initiatives to ensure the move went well, including: l Regular meetings: The council’s Armed Forces Community Covenant representatives met with the Unit Welfare Team and HIVE. l Local authority support: The Armed Forces Champion Jill Houlbrook liaised with the battalion and the council. l School places: The council’s education services and representatives from Dale Barracks ensured that accurate information was exchanged

10 Army&You spring 2015

on the number of school places required. l Giving you a voice: A member of the Armed Forces is part of the School Admissions Forum which ensures Service pupils are represented. l Employment help: Work zones across the area helped families with job-hunting and employability skills. l Advice and support: Sessions for personnel, veterans and families. Captain Jason Peach, Unit Welfare Officer at 2 Mercian, said: “The transition for our families has been seamless, not just in relation to settling within the military side of life but also becoming part of the local civilian community and accessing services such as schools, doctors and dentists. “From the very earliest stages, CW&C’s Armed Forces Champion and staff met with us to find out about the needs of our families, so that


The transition for our families has been seamless, not just in relation to settling within the military side of life but also becoming part of the local civilian community and accessing services such as schools, doctors and dentists.

provisions were in place prior to their arrival.” In addition to the move, the council is also helping families who want to settle in the area permanently by giving social housing priority to those who are serving or have served within the past five years. It has also become one of the first local authorities to include support for separated and divorced Service spouses in its social housing policy. See our article on divorce on pages 1721 for more information. Julie Lowe, AFF’s Covenant Liaison, explained: “Similar work is being carried out by local authorities across the country, which is incredibly reassuring for families yet to relocate as part of the Army basing plan.” To further support the whole Armed Forces community, CW&C Council has launched a website – westcheshirearmed forcescovenant.co.uk – which outlines the help provided. n @ArmyandYou

Work for the Armed Forces? Enjoy up to 20% off Vodafone plans Great savings for you and up to five friends on Pay monthly plans with Vodafone Employee Advantage Power to the brave

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Lines open 7 days a week, 8am-8pm, except bank holidays. Call us free on your landline, standard network charges apply to all calls made from a mobile phone. One minute minimum call charge applies. Terms apply. Subject to credit check. You must apply for the discount online within 30 days of connection. 12 & 24 month SIM only and handset plans only.



Full and weekly boarding from September 2015 Open Day: Saturday 14 March 2015 Contact us to book a place or to arrange a personal tour and interview

The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a state boarding school for students aged 11 to 18. We welcome applications from any student who wants to study GCSEs and A Levels at our unique and iconic school with its strong traditions.

Why choose us? Good in all areas by • Graded Ofsted. GCSE success rate is • Our significantly higher than the national average.

student is encouraged • Every to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

lifestyle including • Active sport, music, drama and activities.

million refurbishment • £24.9 has delivered a new sports centre, high-quality accommodation and teaching blocks and a performing arts centre.

ethos helps develop • Military have the flexibility • Students character and life skills. of full and weekly boarding from September 2015.

2014/15 fees are just £3,665 per term.*

Enquiries: 01304 245073 admin.office@doyrms.com

www.doyrms.com *Fees are reviewed annually

Really useful bits about Army life


Managing your money


HETHER you’re buying a property, saving for life after the Army or just want to gain control of your finances, MoneyForce can help. If you’re wondering where all your pay goes, it might be best to start with the budget planner. Enter your income, commitments, spending and savings for a full breakdown of your finances.

The planner will prompt you to include everything you spend during the year and encourages you to put aside enough money each month to cover all your current and future commitments. You’ll find interactive calculators and handy hints designed specifically for Armed Forces families at moneyforce.org.uk l Money&You – turn to pages 46 and 47.

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

Snap shot Our selection of the best images we have come across during the production of Army&You... Crown copyright Capt Richard Willing



1. Downtime Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West (via @Forces_TV)

One-click support for the Services Check out the AFCOM Directory, a new website created by the Veterans Council charity for the Armed Forces community. It provides a single point of contact for health, education, employment, housing, welfare and legal services – with qualified staff able to support users through the process where needed. Every service provider listed on the site has been vetted to ensure they are aligned to the Armed Forces Covenant and understand the issues faced by serving personnel, veterans, Reservists and their families.

2. Ace instructor Devizes School pupils with Invictus Games competitor Andy Phillips

Ava Clarkson

The charity is encouraging GPs, professionals and organisations from the public, private and third sectors working with the Armed Forces community to register their services. Go to afcom.directory to see what’s there for you. 3. Happy family The Clarksons are reunited after dad’s return from his tour of Afghanistan

GET ON TRACK WITH FORCES RAILCARD IF you’re new to Army life or have been living overseas, you might not know about the HM Forces Railcard. It costs £15 and will save you a third on most rail fares throughout Great Britain for 12 months. Spouses and civil partners of Regular and Reserve soldiers are eligible, plus children aged 16-18 and those over 18 in full-time education.

Your railcard can be used for leisure travel any day of the week including public holidays. Bear in mind that if you travel before 10am Monday to Friday (except during July and August), a minimum fare will apply. HM Forces Railcards are available from your unit admin office and the cost will be deducted from your soldier’s pay.

DID YOU KNOW? The 2015 General Election is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 7 May. www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 13


CHIP CHANGE DID you know that it will soon be compulsory to have your dog microchipped? The new law comes into effect this April in Wales and by April 2016 in England. It’s being brought in to encourage more responsible ownership and should help to:

Out and about: Discover 2 Empower gets people into the great outdoors for activities including bushcraft and woodland skills.

Work on your well-being


one-to-one and group support and outdoor activities such as bushcraft, woodland skills, coastal activities, surfing, fishing and cycling. Courses are free for people on benefits and have been designed to get you feeling good about yourself again and ready for work. If you or someone you know could benefit from a D2E course, go to discover2empower.com to find out more.

O YOU need to build your confidence, self-esteem and get motivated? If so, Discover 2 Empower (D2E) could be for you. It’s a new company that supports the Armed Forces community with creative and practical activities to inspire your personal well-being. D2E’s main activities are based around employment training, skills identification,

TOP TWEETS Best wishes from all at the GWT for a special year ahead – the 200th anniversary of #Gurkha service! @Gurkha200


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

As an army mum, I learned very quickly never to say “goodbye” to my lad – just “see you later”


@Official_REME 2 serving generations. Sgt Walker 126 Fd Coy & Cfn Walker on completion of Phase 1 training. #proud @2519walke

Make it easier to return a stray dog to its owners Ensure greater traceability of owners Establish liability and prove ownership Assist in control measures in case of diseases that can be passed from dogs to humans Deter dog theft Owners who don’t comply could face fines up to £500. For more info, go to thekennelclub.org.uk

GO CAMO IF YOU are aged between 14 and 16 and are looking for more information on life in the Army, then Camouflage is for you. It’s got lots of cool stuff covering everything from equipment, training and skills to sport and adventure. You can get up-close-andpersonal with real soldiers through articles and behindthe-scenes videos and also find out what the Army is doing in your area. Visit army.mod.uk/ camouflage or facebook. com/ArmyCamouflage

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

14 Army&You spring 2015


If you think membership of the Forces Pension Society isn’t relevant to you, read on

We’ll help your family get the most from your Armed Forces pension As the pension watchdog for all the Armed Forces, we exist to help families get the most from their pension through access to our experts. We also lobby government as we have in our Justice For Widows campaign (with the result that from April 2015 all Forces widows will be able to retain their pension on remarriage or cohabitation). And we help ensure that Armed Forces pension schemes remain in the vanguard of public sector pensions.

Access to our Experts Most tangibly membership means helping you get the most from your Armed Forces Pension. Society Members (mainly married couples) can access the acknowledged experts in our Pension Advisory Service who can advise on crucial questions such as when to leave (and when not to), how to top up your pension, commutation, divorce and how the new AFPS15 will affect you and your family.

Plus money-saving services In addition, membership of the Society gives you FPS LEGAL & FPS HEALTH FPS TRAVEL FPS MOTORING FPS PERSONAL FINANCIAL access to many discounted through-life services covering Travel, Legal & Financial, Healthcare and Motoring, from our trusted affiliates. FPS HEALTH




And a free £100 City Break offer There’s never been a better time to join us. Simply visit our website at www.forcespensionsociety.org quoting Promo Code AAY2015 and we’ll send you a £100 City Break discount voucher (T’s & C’s apply). Membership for you and your partner costs just £35 per annum.

JOIN US AND PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S INTERESTS Forces Pension Society 68 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL Tel: 020 7820 9988 - email: memsec@forpen.co.uk - www.forcespensionsociety.org

A member of

Cobseo The Confederation of Service Charities

Family matters? That’s why we’re in your corner.

Catherine Jones Partner 0161 828 1857 catherine.jones@jmw.co.uk

Beth Wilkins Partner 0161 828 8363 beth.wilkins@jmw.co.uk

James Brown Partner 0161 828 8365 james.brown@jmw.co.uk

Ranked Band 1 for Family/Matrimonial work in Manchester by legal directory Chambers and Partners 2015 Edition with 4 Partners and 1 Associate ranked.

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The breakdown of any marriage is an emotional and distressing journey for everyone involved. But for separating military couples, the unique nature of Service life can make the experience more difficult. In this extended feature, A&Y investigates advice and support for Army families dealing with divorce... www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 17


XCHANGING vows “until death do us part”, newly-weds never believe it could happen to them. Yet statistics reveal that 42 per cent of marriages end in divorce, writes Kate Viggers. There are many reasons why a high proportion of marriages today fail. Modern life is often blamed. Welfare cuts have placed more financial strain on households; juggling childcare and working long hours means some couples barely focus on each other. Army families have been feeling the pinch too and Service life brings added challenges. “Marriage can be tough at times, let alone if you add the pressures of [the] military,” says Sarah Wilmot from the Army Welfare Service (AWS). “A [Service] family will be acutely aware of the many sacrifices they make and the toll this can take.” Such sacrifices can 18 Army&You spring 2015

damage even the strongest relationship, as Emily* discovered. “The unique demands of the military required my husband to make that his first priority, not his family or my needs. “Both wishing to have a career was a sticking point we couldn’t get past. When the children were ill or during school holidays, it was me who had to take time off. It caused frustration on both sides.” HOUSING Whatever the reason for their separation, couples will need to find alternative accommodation. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation’s Loss of Entitlement Team (LET) offers support throughout the process. Initially, the soldier can move into Single Living Accommodation or the mess for a 93-day “cool off” period. If there is no

reconciliation, a notice to vacate (NTV) Service Families Accommodation (SFA) is issued when the soldier’s PStat category (marital status) changes, triggering a final 93day period. Educational impact on children or other factors may allow an extension. Any adult named on or occupying SFA without permission becomes an irregular occupant and both spouse and soldier would be liable for eviction and court costs. The rules can be confusing, so it’s very important to seek early advice from the LET. Hannah was living in SFA when she split from her Welsh Guards husband. “I had trouble understanding the legal jargon regarding my eviction and struggled to raise the money for a deposit on a house to move out. I had to leave work and start receiving benefits, then [couldn’t] find a

landlord who would accept a tenant on benefits.” Accommodation options include the Services Cotswold Centre and SSAFA Stepping Stones homes, or a spouse may decide to apply for social housing and should be eligible regardless of local connection to an area. AFF has heard from former spouses told by councils they are not “part of the Forces community” anymore – even though their children still have a serving parent. Happily, Barking & @ArmyandYou


Dagenham and Cheshire West and Chester Councils have recently adapted their policies to include divorced/separated spouses (see page 10). A spouse overseas should be offered a funded move to the UK before the start of the 93-day NTV period. Divorcing Foreign & Commonwealth spouses without Indefinite Leave to Remain must apply to stay under a different immigration route from within the UK; their visa is dependent on being married to a soldier. www.armyandyou.co.uk

CHILDREN AFF recognises that soldiers are disadvantaged by divorce. There are around 100 welfare houses across the UK (and seven overseas) to support parental contact but, as Andrew* explains, these are not an adequate solution. “The welfare flat is booked up months in advance. The Army has told me to share my bed with my son, or stay with my parents. At Christmas, when the mess shuts down, I was advised to take him somewhere on holiday.” Anecdotal evidence suggests that divorced soldiers wishing to secure full custody or regular contact are hampered because of their “single” living arrangements; a judge ruled that one father could not have his teenage daughter stay overnight in his mess room. “I appreciate that the Army is short on SFA, but giving us

DIVORCE: THE STATS More than one third of marriages end in divorce. More than 30 per cent of couples will split before their 20th wedding anniversary. “Unreasonable behaviour” is the most common reason for seeking a divorce among both men and women. One-in-seven divorces is granted on grounds of adultery. Partners who marry young are more likely to divorce than older couples. Sources: Relate Factsheet: Separation & Divorce – a summary of statistics for the UK, updated March 2014 England & Wales Office of National Statistics 2013

a quarter would be a stable solution for both parent and child,” says Andrew. Overseas duties can also be a significant barrier to regular contact. School Children’s Visits (SCVs) contribute towards the cost of reuniting children with their parents during holidays. But one father stationed in the Middle East was not entitled to SCVs because he is not the “prime mover” in his children’s life. He paid more than £1,600 for flights. Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) can only be accessed by prime mover soldiers too. This led to one divorced mother becoming estranged from her sons. “On separation, the boys asked to stay at their current boarding schools,” she told us. “My ex was then absolutely insistent [about having] residency to fulfil the criteria for receiving CEA.” spring 2015 Army&You 19

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FEATURE PENSIONS With separation from children and housing worries fuelling negative emotions between couples, it’s no surprise that the “admin” of divorce can be stressful. Dividing the CD collection can become a point-scoring exercise, let alone reaching agreement over finances. Since 2000, the Service Personnel and Veterans Agency has administered more than 10,000 requests for a valuation of pension for divorce purposes. “The division of marital assets, including pensions, usually compounds the misery of divorce and there is often a reluctance not to co-operate with legal requirements, so it’s essential that those involved understand the implications of any settlement,” says David Marsh of the Forces Pension Society, which advises on the implications concerning Armed Forces pensions and the possible, sometimes unintended, consequences of any pension settlement. The full value of the soldier’s pension is considered in England and Wales, not just the number of years they were married while in Service. Where marital assets match or exceed the pension value likely to be given to the spouse, they can be offset against the pension to negotiate a fair division. “Many military spouses are unable to work and cannot fully build their own personal pension,” says Caroline Mayne, AFF Employment Specialist. “This needs to be taken into account when looking at future finances.” It’s sensible to instruct a solicitor with experience of dealing with the Armed Forces. Legal aid can reduce the divorce bill. THE TRUE COST But it’s the emotional rather than financial cost of divorce that lingers. In-laws and mutual www.armyandyou.co.uk

friends often take sides. And for the non-serving partner, the sense of belonging to a regimental family is lost. Hannah says: “I poured my heart and soul into the regiment but felt abandoned the day PStat was changed. [It felt] that the welfare staff were purely interested in the gossip of my marital breakdown.” Sarah Wilmot responds: “AWS supports both parties through separation; no-one should feel they have to go through this alone. “Couples may feel apprehensive or embarrassed; however the AWS has a strict confidentiality code.” Brig John Donnelly, DPS(A), adds: “The close-knit military community can create a goldfish bowl effect whereby a family feels everybody knows their business. “When [a soldier’s] marital status changes, support from AWS or professional agencies is still available – however, entitlements to various allowances and benefits will be affected by who has primary care of any children.” COUNSELLING Talking things through with a neutral party can help couples achieve an amicable separation. “Expressing grief over the loss of the relationship and understanding why it went off track can reduce anger,” says Christine Northam from Relate, which offers subsidised Forces’ sessions. “We encourage couples to find a civilised way of interacting for the future.” The law expects couples to consider mediation before going to court, except in cases involving domestic abuse (DA). Sarah says: “Where there are disclosures of DA, along with supporting the family, AWS has a responsibility to share information in order to safeguard children and the adult victim. “Soldiers and their spouse

without children can also gain emotional support and advice on how to form a safety plan or access services to coordinate the safe exit from an abusive relationship.” CAMPAIGNING AFF understands the issues facing both sides and is working to bring about fairer policies on housing, employment, transition to civvy street and maintenance payments to remove disadvantage caused by divorce. “PS4 fully appreciates the difficulties many couples face,” says Brig Donnelly. “It’s important that a coordinated approach is adopted to provide the most effective support both to the Service person and their family. “We would advise [couples] to seek support at the earliest opportunity; those who do reach out are less likely to experience complicated welfare issues.” Emily concludes that it is important to not let children be used as a weapon. “They pick up on more than we realise,” she adds. “And be financially sound – the safety net of the institution won’t always be there.” Hannah adds: “Keep your own identity. While it is an immensely proud feeling to be a wife of a soldier, don’t make it your absolute everything because nothing is guaranteed in life.”

USEFUL CONTACTS AFF Specialists (Housing; Education & Children; Employment, Training, Money & Allowances; Foreign & Commonwealth) www.aff.org.uk Joint Service Housing Advice Office 01252 787574 or AWS-JSHAOmailbox@mod.uk Defence Infrastructure Organisation Loss of Entitlement Team 01904 418000 or DIOSDAccnLOETeam @mod.uk Army Welfare Service Ask your UWO, call military directory enquiries on 02072 189000 or visit www.army.mod. uk/welfare-support Forces Pension Society 020 7820 9988 or www. forcespensionsociety.org Services Cotswold Centre 01225 810358 or sccreceptionist@mod.uk SSAFA Stepping Stones 020 7463 9398 or www. ssafa.org.uk/how-we-help/ housing/stepping-stonehomes/ RBL Recruitment www.civvystreet.org Relate www.relate.org.uk Mediation www.familymediationcouncil. org.uk (England & Wales) www. relationships-scotland.org.uk or www.familymediationni.org.uk

l Affected by this article? Fill in AFF’s divorce survey online at www.aff.org.uk n

spring 2015 Army&You 21

22 Army&You spring 2015


Our Family & Relationships Department provides expert advice in relation to all family matters. For many years, our experienced lawyers have assisted Forces families with the particular problems and stresses which can arise from life in the Forces. We act for UK based personnel and families and also for those serving abroad. We have offices in Andover and Salisbury and can also arrange appointments in London if required. In our team of five, we have two Collaborative lawyers and a Mediator so we can tailor the advice and assistance to your particular needs. We ensure that all cases are approached with integrity and sensitivity and are resolved quickly, pragmatically and cost effectively. We value our Armed Forces clients and through our bespoke Military Department, our ex military lawyers can also assist with the full range of service issues such as Administrative Action, Service complaints, Continuous Education Allowance claims and if you have been medically discharged. For full details of our services please contact Tricia Gower on 01722 412000 or visit our website


Domestic abuse is not easy to discuss, but it is very important that victims, their friends and families know who to go to for help. Army life can also make it more difficult to take the first steps to seeking support because it can involve additional factors such as housing, the lack of proximity to family and friends and often financial dependence on a partner. The following is an overview of how to keep safe and suggestions about who to talk to‌

24 Army&You spring 2015



DOMESTIC abuse includes violence, controlling, coercive and threatening behaviour as well as psychological, physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse between those aged 16 and over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

I AM A VICTIM OF A VIOLENT INCIDENT If you are in immediate danger or your life is threatened you should call 999. All domestic abuse calls are considered high priority. The MOD police or RMP may also attend if you are in Service Families Accommodation (SFA).

WHAT WILL THE ARMY DO? The Armed Forces will not tolerate any form of domestic abuse. Many victims are reluctant to report abuse because of the potential impact on the perpetrator’s career and therefore family. Be reassured that command follows clear guidance and any decisions about your quarter, child’s education, finances or employment will be made with the appropriate agencies there to support you.

MY PARTNER IS BECOMING VERY AGGRESSIVE AND CONTROLLING The Army Welfare Service (AWS) can support soldiers and their families who are suffering domestic abuse regardless of gender, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They understand the unique difficulties of military life and that there will often be feelings of apprehension or embarrassment about seeking assistance. However, AWS has a strict confidentiality code which will be explained at the outset. If there is no immediate danger or threat to life, but you are concerned for your safety and would like advice, call 101 and ask for the police safeguarding team that deals with domestic abuse – this should particularly be considered if you have children.

I WANT TO LEAVE AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP This is one of the most difficult decisions to make, particularly if you have children. If it has been disclosed that domestic abuse has occurred in a household where there are children, AWS has a professional and legal obligation to share information to safeguard them.


AWS will discuss options with you around keeping safe whether you wish to remain in the relationship or not. The most vulnerable and volatile time is around separation, therefore additional services should be considered to ensure the safety of the adult wishing to leave the relationship. Stepping Stones Homes exist for women and children with a military connection who need temporary accommodation, whether as a result of homelessness, marital breakdown, moving house or compassionate reasons. The two properties offer a safe homely environment and staff are trained to support families in welfare, finance, immigration and emotional issues. Referrals and enquiries can be through unit welfare teams, AWS, SSAFA caseworkers or direct via SSAFA.

MY FRIEND/NEIGHBOUR IS A VICTIM OF DOMESTIC ABUSE If you think that your friend or neighbour may be in immediate danger or there is a threat to their life you should call 999. If the victim is not in immediate danger then they should be encouraged to seek help through any of the organisations listed right. If you are concerned about the wellbeing of a child, you have a duty to report your concerns to Children’s Services or AWS. Showing that you care is very important to victims of domestic abuse and some of the ways you could help support someone is by offering them a safe place to come to so they can use the internet or telephone and helping them to contact organisations that can provide support.

I AM LIVING OVERSEAS If you are living overseas it can be difficult being away from close friends and family but there are a number of organisations that provide you with help and support.

I AM IN GERMANY bfgnet.de lists all the emergency and nonemergency military police phone numbers, contact details for AWS and other resources. Call Victim Support Western Europe 0049(0) 5421 843040.

WHERE TO GET HELP Army Welfare Service 0207 2189000 or email AWS-HQ-IAT@mod.uk Stepping Stones Homes www.ssafa.org.uk English National Domestic Violence Helpline 0808 2000 247 www.nationaldomesticviolence helpline.org.uk Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 80 10 800 www.allwaleshelpline.org.uk Women’s Aid Federation (Northern Ireland) 0800 917 1414 www.womensaidni.org Scottish Women’s Aid 0800 027 1234 www.scottishwomensaid.org.uk National Centre for Domestic Violence 0844 8044 999 www.ncdv.org.uk Men’s Advice Line 0808 801 0327 www.mensadviceline.org.uk Mankind Initiative 01823 334244 www.mankind.org.uk Broken Rainbow 0800 999 5428 www.brokenrainbow.org.uk ChildLine 0800 1111 www.thehideout.org.uk Perpetrator programmes and support 0808 802 4040 www.respectphoneline.org.uk If you are the serving soldier Joint Service Policy (JSP) 913 tri-Service Policy on Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence and the Army Briefing Note (ABN) Serial No: 103 – 1 are available on the Army Intranet. Army Families Federation www.aff.org.uk

I AM IN CYPRUS Visit ssafa-cyprus.org

spring 2015 Army&You 25

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On song: Jacqueline Hastings received support from Cyprus and beyond when she was hit with a cancer diagnosis

Community’s caring chorus Being part of a Military Wives Choir (MWC) is about much more than just singing. The support and understanding between members has become part of the group’s success. Jacqueline Hastings (pictured) explains how the network helped her cope when life took an unexpected turn…


T WAS early June last year when my world came crashing down around me when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My first thought was how am I going to tell my children, who are 13 and twins aged six? I decided to remain positive and strong and tell my family and friends with a smile on my face even though I felt very low. A BLANKET OF LOVE I currently live in Cyprus where I sing with the Akrotiri MWC. I knew that these special ladies and Gio, our wonderful choirmaster, were among the first people I had to tell. So with the support of my good friend Debbie I broke the news, trying hard not to cry. A picture paints a thousand words and the look on their faces was so overwhelming. I immediately knew I would be wrapped in a blanket of love and support. My treatment plan began in late July when my family and



It’s a totally selfless, kind, compassionate and genuinely committed support to help me through my cancer journey JACQUELINE HASTINGS

I were sent to the UK. I was to have a mastectomy at the Salisbury Breast Care Unit. This was a distressing time for us as a family. We were in a welfare house on Salisbury Plain with only a few personal belongings and it was especially difficult for the children who were on their summer holidays helping to nurse their mum. During this time my choir in Akrotiri posted a message on the MWC Facebook page explaining my situation and wishing me well. I began to receive good wishes from many choirs throughout the UK and offers of help from local choirs. It was through this that I was contacted by Ami Hartfield, a member of the Salisbury Plain MWC. Ami is a busy wife and mum to young children and she knew exactly what I was facing as she too was on a similar journey. She visited me armed with toys for the children, the offer

of childcare, a delicious cake and so much help and advice. Her conversation was such a comfort to me, her endless energy, beautiful smile and her compassion gave me hope. We were complete strangers bonded by our situation. FRIENDSHIP In Ami and the Military Wives Choirs I have found a very different kind of friendship, something I have never experienced before. It’s a totally selfless, kind, compassionate and genuinely committed support to help me through my cancer journey. At that time Salisbury was a very frightening place for me; Ami understood and shared my fear. I truly believe in fate. Fate brought us together and I am so lucky to have Ami in my life and to be part of a Military Wives Choir. l If you would like to join a MWC, visit militarywiveschoirs.org n spring 2015 Army&You 27

Brilliant breaks: FAB camps provide the perfect environment to help young people develop

FAB for Forces’ families


AMILIES’ Activity Break (FAB) provides camps in the UK for bereaved military families, supported by volunteers from the Armed Forces, civilians and exService personnel. The getaways offer an adventurous yet safe environment which encourages children to interact and develop selfconfidence and resilience, all while having fun. You are eligible for a FAB camp if you have a child under 19 who has been affected by the loss of a loved one who was serving in the Armed Forces. A loved one can mean a parent, a step parent, child’s legal guardian, carer or siblings – it is open to all family members. As well as the adventure on 28 Army&You spring 2015

offer, the breaks provide the opportunity to mix with others who have experienced a similar loss. HELPING HAND Although the breaks are not intended to be bereavement holidays, families may need support during the week. This is where the FAB volunteer scheme is so important. Each family is allocated a volunteer who is there to give confidence and support the family throughout their FAB camp. They can be found hanging off rock faces or paddling up a river, ready to give encouragement to the kids – and adults – or to sit and talk or, importantly, listen. TIME TO HEAL Amanda Brumpton was 30 years old and a mother of two


I know it sounds dramatic, but FAB and the volunteers saved my neck

young children when she lost her husband, Leading Aircraftman Gary Brumpton, while he was in training at RAF Halton in 2010. He had served in the Army prior to rejoining and transferring to the RAF. For the past five years, she and Connor (15) and Amy (10) have attended a FAB camp in Whitby, North Yorkshire. Amanda said: “I honestly don’t know what we would have done without FAB. Nobody really understood what my kids and I were going through, but every other family at FAB understood and had been through the same thing. The activities they offer are fantastic, but the real value of FAB is that it restores confidence and creates bonds that help a family heal and cope with loss.” Amanda added that although losing a partner can make it feel like you have lost your future, the understanding of those at FAB is a huge help. She explained: “For me, it was a brilliant confidence boost after becoming a single mum. I thought, I can do it.” Another mother told us: “For the first time in my entire life I was able to let go of so much emotional baggage that, if they hadn't taken the time to listen to me, I think in the end it would have killed me. “I know it sounds dramatic, but FAB and the volunteers saved my neck.” GET INVOLVED If you know of a bereaved military family with a child under the age of 19 who would benefit from a FAB holiday, or you would like to be a FAB volunteer, visit the website at www.fabcamps.org.uk n @ArmyandYou

Sisterly support


Charmaine Cosgrove (pictured below) tells Army&You about the support she and her family received from Help for Heroes when her soldier son Peter was injured while serving in Afghanistan… Why do you have a connection with the charity? In November 2009, only two weeks before he was due home from a tour of Afghanistan, my son Peter was in a vehicle that drove over an IED. He returned to the UK for surgery at Selly Oak Hospital and physical rehabilitation at Headley Court. It was during this time that new facilities funded by Help for Heroes were being built, and Peter appeared on the front cover of Heroes magazine to promote them. When I called Help for Heroes to ask for a copy, I was told about the Band of Sisters and haven’t looked back since! What is the Band of Sisters? It’s the Help for Heroes support network for the families and loved ones of those who have been wounded, injured and sick during their service. Being able to confide in people who have been through similar

experiences takes such a load off your mind. I remember Ali Richmond, who manages the Band of Sisters, telling me: “It’s alright to be angry and upset.” It was such a relief to hear someone say that! I’ve done loads with friends from the Band of Sisters, from cake sales and collections to joining in the Diamond Jubilee celebrations where my family and I were given tickets by Help for Heroes. That was the first time we had been together for a long time, a memory that I cherish. How did Help for Heroes support you and your family? When Peter came home it was tough. I wasn’t on the base so didn’t have that patch support. Help for Heroes and the Band of Sisters helped connect me with others in my situation for mutual support as well as taking off some of the pressure. It doesn’t matter

how old your youngsters are, you always want to be a mum and take the pain away and Help for Heroes is there to help you with this. The charity continues to support us, which is so reassuring particularly following Peter’s PTSD diagnosis last year. Did your experience impact on Peter (pictured below)? It most certainly did! Having come through the recovery process and used the facilities at the Recovery Centre at Tedworth House, he became part of the Band of Brothers, the network for the wounded, injured and sick. This year Peter completed the Big Battlefield Bike Ride from Paris to London with friends a couple of weeks after getting married. I will never forget the look of achievement on his face when he cycled down the Mall. Help for Heroes got him a bike with adapted pedals – a

relatively simple gesture which has been a real turning point in his recovery. How would you describe what Help for Heroes does? Before Peter was injured I had heard of Help for Heroes but never realised what a huge part they would play in my life. For me, the support they give is like having a big cuddle! They lift your spirits so much and always go the extra mile. They’ve been so good to my son, who still faces challenges following his medical discharge. In many ways, things are harder for him than when he was in the Army. He can still use the Recovery Centres as a veteran and enjoy the comradeship of the Band of Brothers while I still get support from the lovely Band of Sisters. Help for Heroes have been real life savers and they have certainly saved this mum! n

Find out more at www. helpforheroes. org.uk or call 01980 844280


spring 2015 Army&You 29


Volunteer for senior service

Army life means we don’t always live near our elderly relatives but there are plenty of opportunities to give something back to your local older population. WO1 Debbie Trownson, Senior Army Welfare Worker at Army Welfare Service London, explains how you can get involved… CONTACT the Elderly is a national charity dedicated to tackling loneliness and social isolation among older people. The charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of people aged 75 and over who live alone. Each older person is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home. I would love the military community to get behind this charity. There are three main ways to show your support – become a volunteer driver, host a group or become a co-ordinator. These tea parties are a real lifeline for older people who have little or no contact with family or friends. They bring people of all ages together and give them something to look forward to each month. It is a simple concept, but it has far-reaching benefits. I hosted a tea party in the Officers’ Mess in Wellington Barracks this year and it was so rewarding.

David, one of the older guests, was a Rifles veteran and he was so excited to be there. Being a volunteer host is easy; all you need to do is provide a simple afternoon tea for six-to-nine guests and their volunteer drivers, for two-to-three hours. The only essentials are a big teapot, a downstairs toilet and easy access to your house or whatever space you wish to use. You only need to commit to one or two parties per year or more if you wish. You don’t have to use your own home to be a host – serving personnel could use mess facilities or Army families could host a party in a nearby community centre. The possibilities are endless and there’s a real opportunity for the whole community to become involved. To volunteer, send an email to info@contact-theelderly.org.uk, call 020 7240 0630 or visit the website at www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk n



30 Army&You spring 2015


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Help to Buy cements

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ORE than £34million has been loaned to Armed Forces families to enable them to buy their first homes or to move up the property ladder. 3,500 families have had their Forces Help to Buy applications approved and have bought, or are in the process of buying, their own homes since the scheme was launched in April 2014. The £200m pilot scheme will run for three years to address the low rate of property ownership in the Armed Forces. The scheme enables your Service person to borrow up to 50 per cent of their salary (capped at £25,000), interest


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house in Tidworth will give free, to buy your first home or Sgt Brett and his wife, Jayne, move to another property on a permanent base in which to assignment or as your family’s bring up their children. needs change. The money Sgt Brett, who works at the can be used towards a deposit headquarters of the Armoured and costs such as solicitor’s Infantry Brigade in Bulford, and estate agent’s fees. said: “Without the Forces Forces Help to Buy is part of Help to Buy scheme it would the New Employment Model, have taken an extra couple of a long-term programme to years before we had modernise the terms enough saved for a and conditions of deposit. If house Forces service For more prices continue to better reflect details on to increase the needs and Forces Help-tothen it may aspirations Buy, visit gov.uk/ have taken of today’s forces-helpeven longer. personnel and to-buy Everyone their families. eventually wants The scheme to purchase their follows Armed own property – being a Forces Continuous home owner ensures longAttitude Survey results which term stability for my family. showed a key worry for troops Now no matter where the was not being able to afford their own homes as they move Army may send me, I know my family will not be affected during their careers. by my movements. If Service One soldier to have used the personnel want to get on the scheme is Sergeant Nicholas housing ladder, then Forces Brett, who moved into his Help to Buy is the quickest first home before Christmas. and easiest way.” n The three-bed detached @ArmyandYou


Avoid mix-ups at move-in Posted again? Off to pastures new? Among the frantic arrangements, you need to be aware that there have been some changes to the move-in process under the new service provider, CarillionAmey (CA). AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder tells us more…


HEN moving into a quarter, there are new procedures which the Arrangement Officer (AO) must follow. During the move-in appointment, the AO should now go round the house with you with a 22-page tick sheet for you to ensure that the house is at move-in standard. This may seem over the top, but AFF receives many calls from families concerned that that the move-in appointment didn’t give them enough time to check everything. The new process should help to reduce issues, but if you experience difficulties at move-in or the AO is not going through the tick sheet with you, please do make an official

complaint to CA on 0800 707 6000 (option 5) and let AFF know by emailing housing@ aff.org.uk so we can monitor the new contract closely. It’s very important that you do this – once you sign the paperwork you are agreeing that it is at move-in standard. If any issues come to light during the walk round, the faults should be fixed within 24 hours of move-in. If you miss anything and report it later on it will be treated as a routine repair and will take longer to rectify. The AO will leave you with your 14-day report sheet at the end of the move-in process, so if you find anything which you don’t

CONTACT CARILLIONAMEY Helpdesk: 0800 707 6000 (Open 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year) Repairs: 0800 707 6000 (Option 1) Housing enquiries: 0800 707 6000 (Option 3) Email: occupancyservices@carillionamey.co.uk To report an accident or near miss: 0800 707 6000 (Option 1 then option 4) To raise a compliment or complaint: 0800 707 6000 (Option 1 then option 5)

want to be charged for on move-out (remember this report isn’t for repairs) make sure you fill it in and send it back in time. AFF would always advise that you keep a copy for yourself as well. If a fault which cannot be fixed is discovered just before or at move-in, alternative accommodation will be sourced for you. Examples of these faults can be found on the tick sheet. For more information, read CarillionAmey’s guide to living in SFA or go to carillionamey.co.uk and look at the move-in section – this has the tick sheet and all the other details you need. n

Polished product THERE is a new walk-away cleaning scheme being offered when you move-out of your SFA. It is competitively priced and is cheaper than it would be if the issues were picked up at move-out and you were charged. The costs are worked out on a schedule of rates so you can see what you are paying for. For example, if you live in a C type SFA a basic clean would cost you £175 and then you could add a cooker clean for £60, a carpet clean at £10 per room and, if you have pets, a whole house insecticide treatment for £50. The scheme is not compulsory and you still have the option to clean your SFA yourself but make sure you follow the move-out guide and tick sheet to ensure that you have covered everything so that you don’t get charged. For more information, go to carillionamey.co.uk and look at the moving out section.


spring 2015 Army&You 33

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k ic r e t t a C in e g n a h c ll A on which will benefit Army n is undergoing a £25m transiti riso Gar ck teri Cat s ire’ ksh Yor North s out more... . AFF Director UK Jill Baines find ure fut the in and now re the live families who


N ALL-toofamiliar thought to many an Army spouse when they are first notified of their next move is “what are the shops like?” Nobody expects a John Lewis within walking distance, but it’s nice to know that you can at least get the essentials without jumping in the car. GOOD NEWS For families moving from Germany to Catterick and existing residents alike, work is in hand to improve amenities. A new retail complex, located in Gough Road, should be completed this summer and will have a sevenscreen cinema at its heart. More than 80 per cent of the retail spaces are already let, with tenants including NEXT, Starbucks and Pizza Express and the plan also includes a 60-bedroom hotel, restaurants, cafes and bars. INVESTMENT = JOBS As well as boosting the local economy, the development will create around 700 new jobs. With the military population set to increase


HELPFUL LINKS HIVE BLOG catterickhive.blogspot.co.uk BFBS CATTERICK 106.9FM or follow on Twitter @BFBSCatterick ARMY WELFARE SERVICE COMMUNITY SUPPORT TEAM facebook.com/AWSCatterick CATTERICK GARRISON ONLINE catterickgarrison.org CITIZENS ADVICE BUREAU enquiries@richmondshirecab. org.uk RECRUIT FOR SPOUSES a.durban@recruitforspouses.co.uk

– especially for families under rebasing, the extra rebasing to Catterick facilities and employment from Germany who might prospects could not be be worried about their better timed for Army employment prospects. families. “AFF is working closely “I think it is fantastic,” with the organisations said one Army spouse. involved to ensure that “It’s just what Catterick Armed Forces families Garrison needed. It will are made aware of all job open up so many jobs to vacancies as soon as they military spouses and that are available.” alone will be great. in “We need more MORE OF THE SAME? Catterick Garrison As the Army moves to because we don’t have a more settled future, many big shops, which with less frequent moves means long journeys to and families settling for Darlington. I can’t wait.” longer, wouldn’t it be nice AFF Employment if investment were made Specialist Caroline Mayne to provide this sort of added: “I’m delighted that development close to all the Princess Shopping large military garrisons? Centre will help to remove If you’re based in employment barriers in a Catterick or are posted remote location. there soon, get in touch “The job opportunities with our Co-ordinator offered by the cafes, bars, Suzie McGann at restaurants, shops, cinema yorkshire@aff.org.uk n and hotel will be welcome


pe’s biggest Arm A snapshot of life at one of Euro new project titled a ugh camps will be taken thro a sense of daily ture cap to s aim It Garrison Voices. cting photographs life in Catterick Garrison by colle their experiences ut and interviews with people abo be collated for will l eria mat across the decades. The sule. Want to cap time and site an exhibition, web es.webplus.net get involved? Go to garrisonvoic

spring 2015 Army&You 35

The Royal Hampstead Education Fund DO YOU NEED HELP WITH FEES FOR ANY SCHOOL, COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY IN THE UK? The Royal Hampstead Education Fund provides financial assistance to help with the education and training of the dependents (up to 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 for any school, college or university in the UK, please visit our website and follow the steps outlined to have your request considered by our grants committee.

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What we do is different. Specialising in Armed Forces car finance, we offer both lowest rate and lowest price guarantees on all our vehicles and finance - more details of which are available at www.mkcarfinance.co.uk. Whether you have good credit or have had credit issues in the past, with 5 branches, and over 3000 cars available at any time, we have something for everyone. We even give you 7 days to return the vehicle if you just don’t get on with it. For an informal chat with one of our specially trained Armed Forces car finance Account Managers, please call 03335 775533, calls charged at standard landline rate. Alternatively, you can go to www.mkcarfinance.co.uk and fill in the straightforward application form 24 hours a day and we will get back to you during office hours.


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With so many families moving out of Germany as part of the Army’s rebasing plans, you might be wondering why a posting there is still a good idea. AFF’s Germany team quizzed BFG families… COMMUNITY SPIRIT Living here is like being part of one big family, allowing you to be part of a close community. Go to bfgnet.de to see what’s near you. TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES Germany is a beautiful country and the rest of Europe is within easy reach. MAKE HISTORY Experience a different way of life and be part of history as we will be the last British Army families to have lived and served here. HEALTHCARE Easy access to doctors, dentists and hospitals, often with much shorter waiting

times than in the UK. TAX-FREE CARS Plus you can fill up with taxfree fuel! You’re also able to purchase many other items using the tax-free system. BRUSH UP ON YOUR SKILLS There are lots of free courses at your local Army Education Centre – learn to speak German, for example. More at army.mod.uk

❝❞ As with any posting, if something goes wrong you can talk to AFF. We will be here until the last family leaves BFG, so if you have any concerns, get in touch at germany@aff.org.uk

TRAVEL PERKS You are entitled to three funded return trips back to the UK, so you can still get home to see your family. EXCELLENT EDUCATION Children can attend Service

Flexible working DON’T listen to Dolly Parton, you don’t have to work nine-to-five. If you’re living in BFG and seeking employment or have a part-time job and wish to do additional work, check out the Labour Support Unit (LSU). With more families leaving Germany there’s been an increase in the number of vacancies across BFG. In order to attract people just like you, the LSU is aiming to be as flexible as possible. WHAT DOES BEING FLEXIBLE MEAN? Have a chat with your local LSU and let them know what kind of work you’re interested in, and the hours you’re able to commit to. They may consider job sharing and www.armyandyou.co.uk

reduced hours if you’re suitable for a particular role. If you don’t find anything for you on the jobs list, consider moving away from your chosen career. You might discover a whole host of skills you never knew you had! It also means that when you return to the UK you will have something current on your CV and more confidence to look around for other types of work. While some of the jobs may not be as well paid as you hoped, don’t forget that you won’t pay tax on your salary. On top of this the LSU offers bonus schemes which are paid to those eligible twice a year. You can find details of your local LSU and how to register at bfgnet.de

Children’s Education schools which really understand what life is like for Army families. Find out more via gov.uk ADDED BENEFITS You may qualify for Kindergeld (the German equivalent to child benefit). It’s not means tested. RETAIL THERAPY Your local PRI shop stocks everything from perfume, aftershave and household goods to cards and gifts. It’s also a great way to support your regiment. FAMILY FOCUS Shops are closed on Sundays – a chance to spend quality time with friends and family. n

CASE STUDY Gillian Low started work as the Community Link Officer in October last year after a two-year career break to have her two children... I have been in BFG for four-and-a-half years. It has taken me a while to settle back into work and use my brain again but the whole process has been really enjoyable. My two children are at nursery and I have managed to work my hours around childcare in a way that means working is affordable. It's given me a bit of independence from being a full-time mum. The LSU is very understanding, as are both of my line managers. I would highly recommend working in Germany.

spring 2015 Army&You 37



To vote in the 2015 General Election you must be registered Your vote matters – make sure you’re in Visit www.gov.uk/register-to-vote-armed-forces




What matters to you Army families’ enquiries and responses to AFF surveys help us to understand what’s affecting you so we can raise your concerns with the relevant people and push for change. Here are just some of the Foreign & Commonwealth issues we’re currently working on… CAN I GET A NATIONAL INSURANCE (NI) NUMBER OVERSEAS? F&C spouses overseas who don’t have an NI number are usually unable to apply for child tax credit because you have to make a joint claim with your soldier. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is supposed to give you a temporary number to allow you to claim, but this doesn’t always happen. Not having an NI number also prevents many spouses from working overseas. WHAT’S BEING DONE? The issue has been discussed at Armed Forces Covenant Reference Group meetings and we have raised it with DWP. We’ll let you know when we hear more. WHY IS GETTING A FULL PASSPORT SO DIFFICULT? If you are naturalised whilst on an overseas assignment, you are only eligible for a one-year passport until you return to the UK to attend an interview for a 10-year passport. However, many of you have found it difficult to get a full passport even when you have returned to the UK because F&C spouses can’t follow the usual route for UK residents. No information has been given about the route spouses are supposed to follow and we are aware of two cases where Army spouses have spent more than three months in the UK waiting for their passports. Spouses can apply to renew their one-year passport for www.armyandyou.co.uk


Many of you have found it difficult to get a full passport even when you have returned to the UK because F&C spouses can’t follow the usual route for UK residents

free, but many of you have been told you have to pay. WHAT’S BEING DONE? The MOD has asked the Home Office to issue F&C spouses passports for the length of their soldier’s overseas posting. They await a response. WHY DOES TIME SPENT ON AN OVERSEAS POSTING AFFECT ELIGIBILITY FOR INDEFINITE LEAVE TO REMAIN (ILR)? Spouses or children who have spent time on overseas assignments are not eligible for ILR under the long residence route because their time overseas is not counted as residence in the UK. WHAT’S BEING DONE? We have put evidence to the Home Office and the chain of command. The Home Office is considering whether to grant ILR on a case-by-case basis. WHY CAN’T CHILDREN BORN DURING AN OVERSEAS ASSIGNMENT TO F&C PARENTS BE BRITISH? Children born to an F&C parent during an overseas posting are not born British, so it’s necessary to apply for them to become British before a passport can be applied for, which currently costs £669.

If you’re affected by any Foreign & Commonwealth issue, get in touch with AFF’s F&C team at fcassist@aff.org.uk

WHAT’S BEING DONE? We have called for this to be changed as it’s a disadvantage because of your soldier’s Service. The MOD agrees and is looking into funding to pay for applications. n

PASSPORT FRUSTRATIONS Two families tell Army&You how AFF has been helping them... LANIANA booked an interview through the premium passport service and flew to the UK with her family. However, her application to extend her passport was turned down. She was told she must apply by post and she would then be sent a letter confirming she can attend an interview. Laniana explained: “The trip to the UK was a complete waste of time and money and was very stressful.” AFF has used this case as evidence which we hope will prompt the chain of command to resolve this issue as soon as possible. ISOA Tupou is a 21-yearold student and the son of a serving soldier. He has spent more than half of his life in the UK but despite this, when he made an application for ILR under the long residence rules he was refused because of a three-year gap when he accompanied his father on an overseas assignment in Germany. The Home Office took 14 months to assess his application resulting in him having to defer his place at university. He was eventually granted ILR after AFF intervened but it did not arrive in time for the start of the academic year. He therefore had to register as an international student. As a result, he is now fighting to remain at university because his claim for financial assistance has been rejected. spring 2015 Army&You 39


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CYPRUS RESIDENTS URGED TO GO GREEN FAMILIES in Cyprus are encouraged to go “Greener Together” with a new recycling initiative on the island. Sodexo has introduced a number of new ways that you can care for your environment, with the introduction of door-to-door recycling, community recycling banks and large station recycling centres in Episkopi, Akrotiri and Dhekelia. Energy-efficient fridges and freezers have also been installed in garrison shops to reduce carbon footprint. Fifty per cent of any profits generated from recycling activities will be reinvested in further waste reduction initiatives in BFC. Find out how you can get involved with some top recycling tips and information about collection days at sodexo-cy.com/bfc www.armyandyou.co.uk

Travel budget: Packing up for overseas postings can leave Army families significantly out of pocket

Living overseas – the true cost


URING 2014, families from all over the world told us that Disturbance Expense (DE) did not compensate them sufficiently for the cost of being posted overseas. AFF ran a survey so that we could provide evidence and represent you accurately to the chain of command. More than 1,000 of you responded from 48 countries spanning six continents. A staggering 90 per cent of you did not think that DE was enough. In other words, nine-outof-10 respondents felt that an overseas posting left them out of pocket. We fed your thoughts directly to the MOD. UNDER REVIEW DE is currently £1,036 plus a child element of £81, designed to “contribute towards the necessary additional expenses”


I have served abroad on a number of occasions and every one of those moves has cost me significant amounts of money

of moving house on a posting. The MOD is investigating whether this amount is enough together with other aspects of the overseas package. At our Big Debate in October, even the Adjutant General admitted that the current level of DE was insufficient. A COSTLY MOVE? Whether you have to shell out thousands for a car or buy white goods because your quarter is not supplied with them, the vast majority of you said that serving overseas

costs you dearly. One family said: “I have served abroad on a number of occasions and every single one of those moves has cost me significant amounts of money. “Why should I pay out myself when I am following an order?” You also provided us with crucial evidence about what and how much you spend. Many of you made it clear that there is confusion about what DE covers and what is covered by other allowances. You can find the full report about the survey’s findings on our website, aff.org.uk YOU HAVE A VOICE We’re keen to represent your opinions on the whole overseas package. If there’s anything you would like to raise, drop us a line at overseas@aff.org. uk and keep an eye out for future surveys so that you can continue to help secure a better deal for Army families. n spring 2015 Army&You 41


A postcard from...

K E N YA How long have you been an Army family? 10 years. T ime in Kenya: 18 months. How many other military families live there? We live on the new Peacock estate with around 10 families. Another 40 are in Nanyuki and eight BATUK families live in Nairobi. What's your quarter like? Our house is large. There are four bedrooms with a big garden, perfect for barbeques and sundowners. Although it's the standard magnolia that we all know and love, somehow the sunshine makes it better! Can spouses work? Work permits are very difficult and expensive to get and the wages from any employment probably wouldn't cover the cost. You can volunteer locally though. I've used my time here as an opportunity to study and have recently finished an Open University course. What about schools? The small primary school in Nanyuki has a lovely family feel and open-air classrooms. Roughly 40 per cent of the children

42 Army&You spring 2015

are British Army. The rest come from expat and local families so there's a happy mix of nationalities, cultures and religions. Older children either board in the UK or weekly commute to Nairobi, which is about three hours away. Where do Army families get together? Everyone is really friendly and supportive, more so than anywhere we lived in the UK, probably because none of us are at work so there are more social events; barbeques in the mess, coffee mornings and parties at weekends. It's easy to integrate with the local community too; a lot of the expats are former British Army and are all really friendly and welcoming. Who supports families? The UWO is helpful and other spouses are full of information about things to do in the area, especially those who've been here a while. What's the best thing about living in Kenya? Waking up to the breath-taking view of Mount Kenya every morning, the sunshine, safaris and experiencing a culture like no other!

FROM: V icky, Jeff and Tag the dog WHERE: Kenya

autumn 2014 Army&You 35 @ArmyandYou




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As well as sorting out the house, schools, doctors, vets and more, many of us will need to look for a new job when posted. This can take time, so to minimise the loss of a second income, start looking for a job as soon as your soldier brings their assignment order home. Here are Army&You’s tips to making a head start… GET YOUR CV IN ORDER If you haven’t worked for a while then make sure you turn this gap in your CV to your advantage. List any voluntary work you have done, how you managed overseas or with general military life, your organisation skills and any obstacles you have overcome. To create the best CV, visit: l nationalcareers service.direct. gov.uk l www.militarycvs.co.uk l cvwriting.net l Recruit for Spouses have lots of great CV writing advice and hold an online CV clinic every Friday recruitforspouses.co.uk l Ask friends and family to review your CV to make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors. RETURNING FROM OVERSEAS If you are returning from Germany and have worked for the LSU, obtain a reference for your new employer before you leave. Getting your German qualifications recognised is crucial if you are looking for UK employment. If you are experiencing difficulties with this, visit ecctis.co.uk If you think your future employment in the UK will require a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) or security check, then take action as far in advance as you can to avoid delays in getting 44 Army&You spring 2015

back in to work. If you’ve been living and working in the Service community overseas for five years or more then the DBS Service in the UK will hold no relevant information on your criminal status. If you have been living in Germany, you can apply for a free reliability check. Visit bfgnet.de to find out more. If you are applying for jobs whilst still abroad, ask potential employers for an initial Skype interview in advance of your posting so you don’t miss out. LIFEWORKS FAMILIES’ COURSES If you have been out of work for a while and feel nervous about reentering the job market, Lifeworks Families is perfect for you. The free course looks at skills such as CV writing, interview techniques and how to navigate the job market. For course dates, go to rblilifeworksfamilies.co.uk LOOKING FOR JOBS AT YOUR NEW POSTING Once you know when you can realistically start work, you can then take steps from your current location to get you ahead of the game. l Sign up with the National Careers Service l Look online for recruitment

agencies where you will be living l You will find advice, tips and links to recruitment agencies on the AFF website at aff.org.uk BEING YOUR OWN BOSS You may be thinking about setting up your own business. If so, there is lots of support out there. l The University of Wolverhampton (wlv.ac.uk) runs a free business start-up course for spouses and dependants from anywhere in the UK and Germany l Groups such as x-forces. com can provide start-up loans, mentoring and support l Contact the local council or chamber of commerce where you are posted to. There are often council-run initiatives for business start-ups – Wiltshire Council’s “Enterprise Network”, for example, is hugely supportive of Armed Forces spouses. For further information, contact Caroline Mayne, AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, at etam@aff.org.uk n



A PASSION FOR BUSINESS Army&You meets two Services spouses who are successfully running their own companies around the unique demands of Army life…

After ten years as a physiotherapist in the military, Helen Durrans launched Local Physios in 2013… I left the military because of the demands of having a young family with a serving husband. Like most Army families, we’ve moved frequently – my two year old is already on his fourth house! I became frustrated by continually losing my client base and having to apply for new jobs, then going through the drama of sourcing and paying for childcare. My husband and I decided to set up Local Physios where I treat patients from home, offering flexible appointments whilst being in control of my hours. The business quickly took off, with multi-national insurance companies contacting me to send me patients. We soon realised there would be others in similar positions, so we offered the concept to other military spouses or physios. Now, when I move, I search for another physio to take over my client list, who then becomes an affiliate of Local Physios but runs their own business. My first affiliate took over from me in Shrivenham and she has just moved to Germany, where she is setting up over there. We now have five affiliates and we’re always on the lookout for more. We’d love to hear from other military spouses who are interested in teaming up with us. Go to localphysios.com

Fiona Crouch became a textile artist by accident after serving for 14 years with the Royal Signals… I have always enjoyed sewing and knitting – not common knowledge during my years of service – and for the last year or so I have been writing poems and short stories for my children. I decided to combine both activities and hand-sewed my first poem, Dream. The reaction from friends and family was amazing – people wanted to buy their own copy! I was encouraged to apply to exhibit and sell my work through a local gallery, Fisherton Mill in Salisbury, and was incredibly proud when I was accepted. Now, I write, design and sew poems and pictures as Fiona Crouch Creations. I don’t know where the journey will take me next but wherever we go, all I need is a needle, thread, some felt and a sense of humour. I’d really encourage other military partners to exploit their interests and hobbies as a business venture. If it’s already a passion, you’ll have the equipment you need to get started and you’re more likely to stick at something that you enjoy doing – even if you’re home alone for a lengthy deployment. You can find me on Facebook at fionacrouchcreations

Inspired by our entrepreneurs? The Real Business Club’s Co-founder Isabel King has some advice on turning your business idea into a successful venture…

It can be an exciting, frightening or challenging time. For some of you it may be an opportunity to earn and find satisfaction. For others, having a business may be the way to handle being moved around and overcome prejudices and limitations of the jobs market. A simple, meaningful, punchy business plan can be a good starting point. It should: l Describe your strengths, your


weaknesses and why you want to start and run a business l Outline your idea – being clear about what it is, who wants it and how much they will pay! l Work out what you know about your ideal customers, what messages they want to hear about what you are going to offer and how you will reach and sell to them l Have systems for managing money that you are comfortable with – not

complicated but sufficient. l Make sure you (and your idea) have what it takes to keep going and reach profit and that you can fit it in with your family commitments. The Real Business Club runs workshops for people who want to run their own business in the Thames Valley area. For further information, go to therealbusinessclub. co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 45

TAKING CONTROL If you have had trouble getting credit for a loan or mortgage as an Army family, you’ll be pleased to know that things might be about to change…

Key benefit: The government’s new Universal Credit system aims to ensure people are better off working than they are on benefits

Universal appeal


F YOU are an Army family claiming benefits or receiving tax credits, you’ll eventually be moved onto the government’s new Universal Credit (UC) system. UC aims to make it easier to start a new job or work more hours, so you will be better off working than you would be on benefits. It has already been introduced in some areas of the UK and will be rolled out nationwide by the end of October 2017. WHAT IS UNIVERSAL CREDIT? In simple terms, UC is a new type of financial support for people who are working, looking for work, sick or disabled or caring for children or a disabled person. It’s replacing: l Jobseeker’s Allowance l Housing Benefit l Working Tax Credit l Child Tax Credit l Employment and Support Allowance l Income Support UC is means tested so it will depend on your family’s individual

46 Army&You spring 2015

OUR WORK WITH DWP AFF continues to represent Army families and has contributed to a UC review, highlighting that parents and carers should be exempt from the condition of searching for work in cases where you need to support a distressed child. This includes when the soldier parent is deployed, suffering from PTSD or physical injury or deceased. In simple terms, this means that UC can still be claimed without having to search for a job.

circumstances and income. It will affect families of Service personnel who are currently claiming Child Tax Credits or Working Tax Credits, but it isn’t limited to that category. For example, if you are currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and your soldier is on a low income you could still be entitled to claim. You can apply for any other benefits you’re eligible for such as contribution-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or carers and disability related benefits in the usual way.

AS part of its work to improve access to financial services and tackle debt management for the Armed Forces community, the Ministry Of Defence has been looking at forming links with existing Credit Unions (CU). CUs are financial cooperatives whose members pool their savings to provide each other with credit at low rates of interest. Joining can help you take control of your finances because CUs encourage you to save and borrow only what you can afford to repay – a much more ethical choice than payday loan companies and loan sharks! CUs are also regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority which means your money is protected up to a limit of £85,000. STARTING WITH WILTSHIRE The Army is working with South Wiltshire Credit Union which has agreed to bring its services to soldiers and their families based in Wiltshire. This has been rolled out in Tidworth Garrison.

HOW WILL IT WORK? UC will be administered by Jobcentre Plus paid as a single monthly payment into your bank account. Claims will be made online at gov. uk. You will then be invited to an interview with your work coach to sign a “claimant commitment” – the responsibilities you have accepted in return for receiving UC.

AFF’S VIEW We welcome moves to set up a Credit Union for the Armed Forces but remain concerned that the effect of pay restraint and increasing costs of living can only be resolved by a significant pay increase for all of our Forces personnel.

l For more information, search gov. uk for Universal Credit or contact AFF at etam@aff.org.uk n

To find out more, visit moneyforce.org.uk or findyourcreditunion.co.uk @ArmyandYou


Credit crackdown Still counting the cost of Christmas? Get on the road to recovery with Army&You’s seven-step guide to dealing with your debt...


NY OF us can get into debt and it’s normal to feel the pinch after the spending extravagance of the festive period, but if the pinch is more like a gaping hole in your bank balance then you need to take serious action. If you are struggling to repay a loan, credit or store card, getting behind with your mortgage, or you are thinking of using payday loans to make ends meet, then here are some handy tips. 1 SEEK HELP Speak to your unit welfare officer. Your soldier may worry this will impact negatively on their career but having debts is no longer a “dischargeable” offence and the Army is now far more sympathetic to this issue. It’s better to be honest and to work to resolve the problem. 2 DO THE MATHS Work out exactly how much


you owe and who you owe it to – don’t leave anything out. 3 AVOID THE VULTURES Steer clear of toxic payday loan companies, doorstep lenders and loan sharks. Although they appear to offer a “quick fix”, AFF is aware that some payday loan companies specifically target the Armed Forces community. Let us know if you come across any by emailing etam@aff.org.uk 4 STOP BORROWING Don’t take out any more loans or credit until you have repaid what you already owe. 5 BUDGET Make a schedule for repaying your debts and any other family bills. Be realistic and work out what you can afford to repay and stay within your budget. The MoneyForce website has a brilliant budget planner designed specifically for Armed Forces families.

❝❞ I’m so worried about my son’s state of mind. He has two payday loans and is in so much debt. He’s due to deploy soon and I’m scared he won’t be focused because of his debt worries. A CONCERNED ARMY MUM

6 SAVE Could you get a better deal from another utility supplier or transfer to a cheaper credit card? 7 GET ADVICE Contact non-commercial debt organisations, such as charities, for advice. Be aware that commercial, for-profit companies may offer free initial advice, but they will then charge for setting up debt management plans, bankruptcy, IVAs and so on. WHERE TO GET HELP MoneyForce moneyforce.org.uk RBL Benefits and Money Advice Service britishlegion.org.uk or 0808 802 8080 Step Change stepchange.org National Debtline nationaldebtline.org Citizens Advice citizensadvice.org.uk n spring 2015 Army&You 47

suitable for your child’s needs. HOMEWORK This is an important part of school life and is regularly set according to age and ability. As children progress, more will be expected of them in terms of content and the length of time spent on it. TIMINGS All schools start at about 9am but finish times vary: l 2pm for P1-P3 l 3pm for P4-P7 l P1 children will finish at midday for the first few weeks l Post-primary finishes at 3.30pm. Some offer breakfast clubs, after-school clubs and extra-curricular activities. All change: Children born in July or August who move to Northern Ireland may find themselves in different classes than in English, Welsh or SCE schools

Sizing up schooling Many of your Northern Ireland- (NI) related education questions to AFF run along the lines of “how do I find a school?”, “are the academic years the same?” and “what about homework every night?”. Children’s Education Support Officer Paula explains more…


CHOOL life in Northern Ireland is really not that different from the rest of the UK. The most frequent comments we receive from parents are about the longer summer holidays, which run from the end of June until early September. It’s great for the kids but not so good for parents if your soldier is away and you are working. However, community support in NI runs an extensive summer scheme. NI has the lowest statutory age of entry to school in the UK. A child who is four on or before 1 July must start primary school in September that year. The 12 years of compulsory education (seven years at primary and five post-primary) are divided into five stages.

48 Army&You spring 2015


There’s not a ‘one size fits all’ solution, but schools will work with parents and pupils to work out what’s best for your child

JULY/AUGUST BIRTHDAYS If your child was born in July or August, they may be in a different class if they are moving from another part of the UK or Service Children’s Education school. Schools that cater for Service children in NI are adept at dealing with this. There’s not a “one size fits all” solution, but schools will work with parents and pupils to work out what’s best for your child. The aim is to integrate children with their peers as soon as possible. SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS Children arriving with a statement or an Education, Health and Care Plan have a separate admissions process to make sure the school is

TRANSPORT Transport assistance is only available where there are no suitable school places within the qualifying distance (two miles from home for primary schools and three miles from home for post-primary). If there are suitable places within the qualifying distance and you opt to go further afield then you will be responsible for getting your child to school yourself. GRAMMAR SCHOOLS To transfer from a primary to a selective grammar school, children need to take an entrance assessment (formerly known as the 11+). Registration takes place between May and midSeptember, with assessments in November/December. If your child arrives after the registration period, you can make use of “special provisions” to apply for a grammar school. Consult the admissions criteria of your chosen school for details. WHAT TO DO FIRST If you are posted to NI, contact me for details of schools and the application process. Call 028 92266347 or email AWS-38X-CESO@mod.uk n @ArmyandYou

Early years enquiries The number of hours, its name and the choice may vary but whether you are in Cyprus, Haverfordwest, Inverness, Lisburn or Dishforth, free early years education should be available. Lucy Scott, AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist, answers some of the most common questions that Army families ask. provider that you left know where you are WHERE CAN I ACCESS ONLINE moving to as well as the new setting for INFORMATION AND SUPPORT? funding purposes. Family Information Services are available via local authority websites (see right). WHEN DOES FREE ENTITLEMENT Northern Ireland has an app that is an START? online directory of registered childcare It usually begins the term after your child’s provision and family support services. third birthday. Search your app store for “FSNI”. Information on overseas WHAT ABOUT FREE childcare settings is EARLY YEARS available on the AFF FUNDING FOR MY website and via the TWO YEAR OLD? MOD Children’s AFF: aff.org.uk Army families Education Advisory Scotland: scottishfamilies.gov.uk do not generally Service. Northern Ireland: fit the criteria. familysupportni.gov.uk However, a handful AT WHICH TYPE Wales: wales.gov.uk of areas offer it OF CHILDCARE England: fct.ritdns.com to Army families SETTING CAN CEAS: 0044 (0) 1980 618244 or enquiries@ceas.uk.com and a few cases I ACCESS FREE have been accepted HOURS? by local authorities on a Nurseries, children’s referral basis. centres, pre-schools and childminders can offer this but not all do, so WHAT ARE FS1 AND FS2? you will need to check before choosing Foundation Stage 1, or FS1, is the term a setting. used in Service Children’s Education settings for children aged three or four WHAT IS HEADCOUNT WEEK? before they start school. FS2 is the This happens at the beginning of term equivalent of reception or primary 1, so the setting can access funding. If you depending on birthdays and location. n move after this, it’s important to let the


Champions: Last year’s worthy winners from St Mary & St John CEVA Primary School

It’s back! WE are delighted to announce that our AFF Excellence for Forces Children Service Premium Award is back for its third year. The nomination window will be open in the second half of the spring term so encourage your child’s school to enter. The winning school will receive a £500 prize donated by Sodexo. To find out more, visit the Service Premium button on the education pages at aff.org.uk

IT is worth knowing that children of Service personnel who have been killed on active duty since 1990 may be eligible for funding for further education scholarships and for university tuition fees and maintenance costs. It’s not means-tested, so if you know a family who could benefit from this, contact our Education Specialist for further details at ec@aff.org.uk

Get set for school place d-day IS YOUR child starting primary or secondary school in September 2015 in England? If you met the deadlines, you will find out your child’s school place on National Offer Day. The dates are: l Secondary: 2 March 2015 l Primary: 16 April 2015 If you moved recently and missed the deadlines, you won’t hear on the day and will be classed as a late application. If you have been given the place that you asked for, then www.armyandyou.co.uk

all is good. If not, here are several things to consider: l Put your child’s name on the school waiting list l Appeal. You can appeal to more than one school but only to each school once l You can do this and still accept the place offered as appeals are independent l It’s vital you keep to key dates in your correspondence l Four key words for appeal writing: History, Argument, Impact, Result. Don’t tear your


Don’t tear your HAIR out – help is available!

HAIR out – help is available! l Think about why the school place of your choice is the most suitable for your child. I have lots of new information on appeals including details in the admissions code, free downloadable advice and how to make a complaint. Send me an email at ec@aff.org.uk or contact MOD Children’s Education Advisory Service on 0044 (0) 1980 618244 or by email at enquiries@ceas.uk.com n spring 2015 Army&You 49


Daddy never came back A soldier's young daughter tells Army&You how PTSD affected her family's life


I WAS born in April. My daddy was 22 and in the Army. He wasn’t there when I was born as he was away. He came to see me when I was two weeks old. He never put me down; I was a daddy’s girl already. I was two months old when mummy and I went to live in Cyprus for six months with daddy. He was so proud of me and showed me off to all the other soldiers. He would come home whenever he could just to spend five minutes with me. When I got my first tooth he left work just to come and have a look. He said he loved me to the moon and back. My first memory of my daddy was when he came home at weekends from work. I would sit by the window and wait and then run out to him as soon as his car pulled up. He would pick me up and throw me in the air; he always caught me. He was so big and strong and looked so smart in his uniform. I was so proud of my daddy – he was my hero. My daddy went to Afghanistan. I felt so scared but full of pride for my very brave daddy. I cried and couldn’t stop. I wanted to hug him forever so that he wouldn’t leave me. I was hugging him when I heard the dreadful sound of the train. This meant daddy had to let me go. I watched him go until I could see the train no more. A few months later I was on the platform again; he was home from Afghanistan. As the people began to leave, I saw him, my daddy, my hero. I ran across the platform, everyone parted and let me through. As I reached him, he knelt down and opened his arms and I jumped into them. I could see people on the train and platform watching and crying. I had my daddy back for good or so I thought. Daddy had been injured but I couldn’t see it. He had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. My daddy was never the same. I was no longer daddy’s girl. Daddy treated me like the enemy. When I ran to him, he told me to go away. I tried to cuddle him and he said he didn’t want me anymore. I was so upset, angry and confused. I never thought daddy would hurt me like this.

in his head. He said he loved us but had to go as he didn’t want to hurt us anymore.


That was two years ago. I haven’t seen him since. I will always love my daddy; he will always be my hero. Daddy went to Afghanistan but daddy never came back.

IF YOU’VE BEEN AFFECTED BY THIS STORY AND WOULD LIKE HELP AND ADVICE, CONTACT: ChildLine 0800 1111 or www.thehideout.org.uk Forcesline SSAFA’s free support line 10.30am-7.30pm. UK: 0800 731 4880; Germany: 0800 1827 395; Cyprus: 800 91065; Rest of world: +44 (0)1980 630854. To contact your local Army Welfare Service, call the military directory on 02072 189000 Any soldier showing signs or symptoms of PTSD should be encouraged to contact their unit TRiM practitioner, welfare support officer, padre or call Combat Stress on 0800 138 1619 or Samaritans (24 hours) on 08457 909090.

Mummy told him to leave. Then daddy had a breakdown. He told us all the horrible things going on


spring 2015 Army&You 51

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


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

How are you going to display your Poppy? Here’s the perfect solution For every stand sold, a £1 donation will go to the Tower of London Remembers project, making the perfect gift.



£19.99 (+P&P)

3 – 18 Spring Open Mornings Prep School (3-13) Sat 7 March at 9.30am College (13-18) Sat 14 March at 9.30am

Generous UK Armed Forces discounts available Please contact the Admissions Office on 01242 265662 or visit www.cheltenhamcollege.org to register

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52 Army&You spring 2015




Lucy Scott on the ups – both literal and figurative – and downs of cycling...


HEN the soldier in my life injured himself, he underwent a serious amount of physio and I realised that this was my moment to start training with him. I have always liked the idea of a bicycle, so I grabbed the chance. I went out for a trial ride with my son. As he is six foot three, it was a bit like a greyhound racing with a basset hound but I was determined not to be deterred. We cycled to the next village and back and I survived! Painfully slowly I progressed a little further each time. I realised three things pretty quickly:

l There is nice tarmac and not-nice tarmac. l Hills are everywhere – even on flat roads. l Lycra is necessary, although doesn't make you go faster. Being married to an enthusiast, I pick from his wardrobe and wear his Afghan “sunnies” to stop things flying into my eyes and his furry dungarees which offer the most protection. Through cycling, I’ve discovered beauty; greeting cows at the gate, watching


wildlife in the fields and riding in rainbows. I’ve discovered freedom, feeling the wind in my face. I have also discovered myself. Despite being a very long way from a size 10, it is perfectly possible to feel fitter and miles better in a relatively short time. Six months on, I am recovering from the embarrassment of being overtaken by a tractor. It took a large mug of tea to realise that they travel about 35 miles -an-hour. Having lived happily for years not really part of the fitness “thing”, I never thought I would be writing this. Some of you may have found yourself thinking the same thing and I just want to encourage you. I couldn't have done this without help from my nowrecovered, cycle-nut husband. Don’t think too far ahead, grab the opportunity when it arises and see where it takes you. n

spring 2015 Army&You 53

GIVEAWAYS Enter this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

Star prize

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 29 March 2015. See page three for competition rules.

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

Terrific treetop trip

ONE lucky Army&You reader can pick a midweek break for up to six people in a fabulous safari tent or luxurious treehouse with Harvest Moon Holidays. Situated right by the beach adjoining John Muir Country Park, east of Edinburgh, this coastal paradise features seven treehouses commanding panoramic views from a high treelined ridge, while safari tents snuggle under the trees by the beach. All treehouses and tents have wood-burning

stoves, en-suite loos and hot showers. On site there’s a farm shop, BBQ and campfire facilities as well as a kids’ corner with chickens, ducks, bunnies, lambs and ponies. To book a holiday you’ll remember and treasure, go to harvestmoonholidays.com Our winner can take the break either in April, May, June, September or October this year (excluding Bank Holiday weekends and subject to availability).

Take a trip back in time YOUR family is guaranteed some great days out with ten attractions to choose from at Ironbridge

Gorge Museums in Shropshire. Chat to the Victorians at Blists Hill Town, marvel at the Coalport China Museum, walk through period rooms at Jackfield Tile Museum then test your reactions against the speed of a robot at Enginuity. At the Darby Houses, Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and the Museum of The Gorge you can discover stories about the early ironmasters and why the industrial revolution started in the Gorge. For more details, visit the website at ironbridge.org.uk or call 01952 433 424. Enter our giveaway to stand a chance of winning one of three family Passports (two adults and up to three children), worth £68 each, allowing daytime entry into each of the ten museums. Passes valid for one year.

A SPECIAL flypast marking the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain will be among the highlights of this summer’s spectacular Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire. The three-day airshow, on 17-19 July, is themed “Securing The Skies – Past, Present, Future”. It focuses on aircraft from around the world whose primary role is to protect their nations’ airspace whether in support of combat missions, intelligence gathering or delivering humanitarian aid. Expect legendary aircraft such as the Spitfire and Hurricane, the iconic Vulcan bomber plus the RAF Tornado and Typhoon to be cruising through the skies. To buy tickets and to view enclosure options, visit airtattoo.com We have three pairs of tickets for Sunday 19 July (all under 16s go free), worth £72 each to give away.

WANT TO WIN? Enter any of our giveaways online at www.armyandyou.co.uk

54 Army&You spring 2015






1. VIRGIN EXPERIENCE DAYS GIFT CARD Virgin Experience Days activities are all about getting out there to try new things or enjoy doing something you love. From live comedy nights, go karting and segway adventures to a lunch cruise along The Thames or glass of champagne at the top of The Shard, there’s plenty of choice to do something different together. Find out more at virginexperiencedays.co.uk One lucky Army&You reader will win a £100 Virgin Experience Days gift card to spend on an activity of their choice.

2. TICKETS TO ARMY V NAVY RUGBY The annual clash for the Babcock Trophy takes place on 9 May and you could be among the 79,000 fans packing out Twickenham Stadium. Join the crowds to witness the Army Women tackle their Royal Navy counterparts, the Army Masters take on the Royal Navy Mariners and the Combined Services U23 play Oxbridge before the main event. If you are not lucky enough to win a pair




of tickets with Army&You, then don’t miss being part of this exciting day – tickets are available at armynavymatch.org priced £20 for adults, £10 concessions and £40 for a family (two adults, two children).

3. CUDDLEDRY TOWELS Out of the bath and into your arms, in the cuddliest, most natural way possible. The Cuddledry towel is worn like an apron, keeping you dry and leaving both hands free to lift your baby from the water. Put its hood on the baby’s head and they are instantly snuggled into a warm and soft double layer of gorgeous bamboo and pure cotton, and you can give them a lovely cuddle without getting wet. It’s simple and it’s safe. Find out more at cuddledry.com Win one of four original white apron towels, worth £29.99 each.

4. ARTILLERY CARDS GIFT VOUCHERS Artillery Cards are designed with soldiers and their loved ones in mind and feature

images, poetry and words fitting to Forces life. Personalise your chosen cards by uploading pictures from any electronic device. If you want to tell dad you’re missing him or send a Remembrance Day card to grandad, Artillery Cards has it covered. Order before 2pm (Mon-Fri) and it will be dispatched the same day! Get 10 per cent off at artillerycards.com with code AR10NEW. Offer ends 30 April. We’re giving away five £10 vouchers to spend at Artillery Cards.

5. BAROO CHILDREN’S DUVET SET Transform your little one’s bedroom with stunning, fun and imaginative duvet sets and accessories from baroo. The new collection has six designs ranging from the soft colours of the Tweet Dreams and Sweet Pea collections to the contemporary Urban Fox set. Go to baroo.co.uk to view the full range. Snuggle up with Army&You and win a duvet and pillowcase set from baroo, worth £24.99.

spring 2015 Army&You 55


Forest Holidays welcomes families, couples and groups of friends. Choose from nine locations in the UK. To book your stay, go to forestholidays.co.uk/ armyandyou to claim five per cent off using code ARMY2015

Forest family time

Family fun: Michelle, Charlie and Ashley Ward put a Forest Holidays break to the test

Guest reviewer and Army wife Michelle Ward on why a luxury log cabin break with Forest Holidays was the perfect treat after a hectic year…


HEN our little boy Charlie arrived, my husband Ashley was on tour in Afghanistan and remained there until his son was more than three months old. He then took up a posting in Scotland whilst we remained in the Midlands. Quality family time became precious and we lived for the weekends. Our Forest Holiday experience at Cropton in North Yorkshire was just that – quality family time – and it could not have been more of a treat! WARM WELCOME The Silver Birch cabins were beautiful and spacious and the location was simply stunning. From the moment of booking, the service was faultless. We were even allowed to take our pooch, Paddy, at no extra cost. On arrival, the reception staff greeted us with friendly smiles and made a real fuss of Charlie. We were able to buy fresh lasagne, bread and a bottle of wine from the on-site shop and were all set to begin our holiday. When we opened our cabin, the free travel cot and highchair were waiting. The hot tub was freshly serviced and everywhere was spotlessly clean. It was always warm and there was constant hot water. The modern kitchen was big enough to house a six-seater table,


with all the utensils you could need – they even go as far as providing dishwasher tablets and tea towels. There was a large double room with en-suite shower and a slightly smaller twin room. The bathroom with another shower over the tub meant no hold-ups when trying to get ready in the mornings! PEACEFUL SURROUNDINGS When the weather allowed, we enjoyed sitting out on our own decking overlooking the woods and wildlife. The hot tub was amazing – nicely secluded from other residents and a real luxury with a glass of wine in the evenings. There was so much to do on-site and in the local area that we were spoilt for choice on how to spend our weekend. Bike hire was available at a reasonable price and the beautiful Yorkshire Moors are on your doorstep. We indulged in some sightseeing around York and visited the Steam Railway Museum. There are all sorts of activities for families with older children and it’s equally delightful for a romantic couples break, with spa treatments, BBQ and movie packs and champagne and chocolates to order directly to your cabin. We could have happily stayed a lot longer and highly recommend Forest Holidays. n

Rooms with a view: The accommodation offers impressive views over North Yorkshire

Word perfect: Forest Holidays employed the Scrabble set to welcome Michelle and family

Cosy confines: The cabin’s interior is spacious, comfortable and stylish spring 2015 Army&You 57




To find out more please contact the Military Sales Team, visit www.jaguar-militarysales.com or call +44 (0)1733 213231 or at salesmanager@jaguar-militarysales.com




We were lent the keys to a F-Type 3.0 S by Marshall Military Sales, who sold more than 700 cars to Armed Forces personnel in 2014

F is for flash, not families


T doesn’t take an automotive aficionado to deduce that families were far from the minds of Jaguar’s engineers when it came to designing and naming the F-Type. Just one glance at this charismatic convertible provides plentiful clues as to the car’s unsuitability for school runs and supermarket sorties. No back seats for boosters, check; no boot space for buggies, check; and a luxuriously-rimmed interior you’d do anything to protect from grubby fingerprints, check. And therein lies this British gem’s true appeal; the F-Type is an antidote to the monotony of motorway driving with twopoint-four children and the dullness of your daily commute. This front-engined, rear-wheel drive convertible is unashamedly built for two. Practicality and sports cars have never been happy bedfellows and the F-Type makes no effort to buck the trend, concentrating instead on looking fantastic and thrilling its passengers. It does both

with aplomb. Visually, it is a class act with a wide grille flanked by twin “shark gill” openings and sweeping lines that scream speed. The car’s unbroken curves are delivered through the discreet use of technology, such as deployable door handles that remain flush with the door panels until activated and a hidden rear spoiler which raises at speed in order to balance front and rear lift. Inside, the driver sits at the heart of an enveloping cockpit, with all of the controls immediately to hand. The design is once again complemented by innovative gadgets, which include a touchscreen interface and a ventiliation system boasting concealed vents that only appear when required to provide rapid temperature regulation. Powered by a 3.0-litre V6 supercharged petrol engine, the F-Type satisfyingly and none-too-subtly roars into life with a touch of its push-start button – bragging about its plentiful brawn to all those within earshot.

And this Jaguar’s bark is more than matched by its bite. Capable of hitting 60mph in under five seconds, the F-Type is exhilarating to drive and those who are more accustomed to ferrying kids about in a people carrier will quickly develop a deep sense of gratitude towards its engineers for providing incredibly responsive steering and brakes. While comparable with a Porsche 911 price wise (even the basic model will set you back in the region of £58,000), few would disagree that Jaguar’s classic two-seater is the best British sports car to have hit roads for a long, long time. The F-Type may not be for families but it is a must for patriotic big kids with big bank balances. n

Design Performance Value Overall rating

' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' ' '

WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit.www.jaguar-militarysales.com www.armyandyou.co.uk

spring 2015 Army&You 59



What to buy

How to buy

Where to buy

Whether you need to navigate your way through the mortgage minefield or want to make the most of your Service quarter, this summer’s Army&You will be packed with housing hints to help you make your dream move. Make sure you get your copy this June – visit armyandyou.co.uk/subs to subscribe for free! armyandyou.co.uk





OUR EXPERTS FAMILY JULIET NEWSON Army wife and health visitor who works for Millpond Children’s Sleep Clinic

BEAUTY GRACIE BROWN From top tips on new products to looking good on a budget, Grace has the answers

MENTAL HEALTH CAT WILLIAMS Counsellor and Army wife Cat specialises in confidence. More at staycalmandcontent.com

FINANCE NADINE MONKS Military wife working to empower women financially. More at evolutionforwomen.co.uk

Q How can I help my baby sleep better? A

HERE are ten tips to help:

1. Body clock Help your baby to differentiate day from night. Don’t tip-toe around during the day and take them out – light and fresh air help. At night, keep it dark and quiet.

Q&A SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS! Whatever your query, send it in to us and we’ll find an expert to give you an answer. EMAIL editor@aff.org.uk

2. Bedtime routine Introduce cues so your baby knows it’s time to sleep, including quiet play, bath, story, lights out. Use the same routine each night and your baby will learn.

3. No stimulation Avoid active physical play or food and drinks one hour before bedtime. 4. Bedtime feed From three months, separate out the bedtime feed. Aim for the baby to have the last milk feed downstairs before starting the bedtime routine so they learn to fall sleep without relying on sucking. 5. Go to bed awake Put your baby in their cot drowsy but not asleep so they

learn to fall asleep independently.

feeds on schedule during the day.

6. Aim for 15 minutes This is the longest it should take your baby to fall asleep. If it takes longer it could be the final nap was too late or bedtime is too stimulating.

9. Keep daytime naps consistent This helps to establish predictable times for eating and sleeping and makes your baby a better sleeper at night. From nine months, avoid late afternoon naps.

7. Room temperature Children sleep better at a comfortable 18 degrees. 8. Wake your baby Do so in the morning as it’s when we reset our body clock and will keep naps and

10. Make sure your baby isn’t hungry Provide regular feeds in the daytime. From six months, all babies need calories from food to help them through the night. JN

Q How can I get perfect-looking skin for spring? A

TO GET that perfect skin, you have to tackle the dermis first – that deeper layer of skin that you can’t see. This glorious bit of skin is the reason we have natural collagen and a dewy glow, but if you don't feed and hydrate the dermis by drinking plenty of water, your visible layers will suffer, leaving you with unwanted dry skin and future wrinkles. Avoid using very hot cloths or water as this breaks your skin. Instead, use an antibacterial face wash with lukewarm water, every day. www.armyandyou.co.uk

Afterwards, a splash of ice cold water will temporarily shrink any large pores. You can now apply a suitable moisturiser; if you’re oily or spotty, stick to water-based cream. Always exfoliate every fortnight to get rid of any dry skin. Your skin is your biggest organ and that’s why you should never be ashamed of taking care of it – and that includes our gentlemen readers! Perfect skin doesn't come overnight but with only a few weeks of TLC, I promise you will eventually notice the difference. GB spring 2015 Army&You 61


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www.habs-monmouth.org/forces 62 Army&You spring 2015



Q How can I stay on top of my finances? A

KEEPING track of your finances, over-spending or overcompensating when your other half is due to go away, has gone or just returned, is a common problem. The truth is there is only one solution to this – BUDGETING. I know it sounds simple, but if more of us took ownership of our spending and used a few simple money management techniques, then the post tour bonus would actually be that, instead of a means to repay the bank! I’m sure a lot of you will be saying I already do this, but often I find clients can list fixed outgoings like utilities and loans,

but when it comes to takeaways, socialising and clothing, they don’t really know. This is always where the money goes adrift. In order to budget properly you need to work out how much you can actually afford to spend on these non-essential things and then stick to it. It really is that easy. l Evolution for Women offers a FREE downloadable budget planner for you to use at evolutionforwomen.co.uk or visit moneyforce.org.uk NM

Q How do I improve my confidence? A

CONSTANT change due to moving house, country, job and children’s schools and so on can have a knock-on effect on our confidence. We can all do with a boost now and then, so here are three steps you can take to help you bring it back. STEP 1 Acknowledge that the loss/ change of familiar aspects of our lives have naturally led to www.armyandyou.co.uk

a drop in our confidence. The people who bounce back the quickest don’t criticise themselves for feeling unsure, they focus instead on accepting themselves and finding positive and effective ways to progress back to being at their best. STEP 2 Can you accept what you cannot change but change what you can? Everything we do can


Focus on building the confidence of others and you won’t be able to avoid helping yourself at the same time

contribute to our feelings of confidence – our job, fitness, diet, how much fresh air we get, hobbies, friends, whether we volunteer our time or skills. What can you change or try? STEP 3 Other people will feel the same as you but may not have the confidence to say so. Focus on building the confidence of others and you won’t be able to avoid helping yourself at the same time. CW spring 2015 Army&You 63

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@ArmyandYou Chafyn_Army&You_Spring.indd 6

06/02/2015 16:34


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.

Cry for help: Could the Army do more to help families before, during and after birth?


Help us battle baby blues AFTER seeing your article on postnatal depression in the winter edition of Army&You (above right), I wanted to share my view that the effect of having your soldier away when pregnant or with a newborn is wholly underestimated. I am fine now, but I suffered from postnatal depression and believe the Army could put more in place to support families when their soldiers are away. This is what I would like considered: l Better practical support, such as transport to the doctors, for those who have difficult births or caesarean sections. l Scheduling of R&R around the birth wherever possible. Obviously there will be times this cannot be done, but birth should be treated as a “big deal” and the Army should do their best to achieve this. l More respect for a work/life balance. My husband was away for over nine months out of 12 and narrowly missed being sent on a course that would have made it 11 months out of 12. Surely this links into retention and morale? l Consider offering paternity leave

during a tour. It’s only two weeks and it means a lot to families. l Better training for welfare staff. A specific call or contact made to pregnant wives and girlfriends when their soldier is deployed. Some will need extra support. l Fast-track counselling/support for those diagnosed with postnatal or antenatal depression. l Change the attitudes around “you know what you are signing up for”. It’s not helpful, sympathetic or in my case even true. Unless the attitude of the military changes, there will be many more women struggling to cope with pregnancy or their newborn baby.

Name & address supplied Response from Directorate Personal Services (Army): Thank you for sharing your thoughts as to how we can better support families with newborn babies or babies on the way. May I reassure you that we do

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

appreciate how difficult it is for families whose soldiers are away during pregnancy and you will be pleased to hear that the Army already has policies in place that address many of your suggestions. However, it must be recognised that in certain circumstances the demands of the Service, particularly during operations, may take precedence. Our unit welfare officers are taught to ensure all families know who to turn to for support in a range of circumstances, including pregnancy. Pregnant wives or partners can expect to be supported during a deployment so your soldier must inform the welfare staff of your pregnancy before they go. Transport is a little more difficult. It is not the MOD’s responsibility to provide it to medical appointments for family members. However, commanders and welfare officers can authorise the use of MOD road transport where there is a clear welfare case. With regard to paternity leave, serving applicants should notify their commanding officer (CO) of their planned dates for Ordinary Paternity Leave (OPL) no later than 15 weeks before the beginning of the week of the expected birth date. If your spouse or partner is on an operational deployment then it can be possible to plan R&R around the due date and OPL can be authorised as well. This is dependent on the nature of the operation and the individual’s role. Soldiers are also entitled to additional paternity leave but, as with OPL, COs have the discretion to defer this. The Army sets a guideline for the amount of separated service a soldier could be expected to do. This “harmony guideline” is set at 415 days in a 30-month period and would ordinarily include time away for training, a sixmonth deployment, support to training and courses. Separated service is counted as time away from the home base rather than from the family. Latest figures show that for the last 30-month period, 3.8 per cent of the Army breached the harmony guideline.

spring 2015 Army&You 65


TAX GRAB MEANS LSA NO LONGER BENEFITS US THE amount of Long Separation Allowance (LSA) my soldier is entitled to is £18.39 per day. The allowance now attracts NI contributions and tax, so after tax is deducted his allowance is reduced to £11.03 per day as he is in the 40 per cent tax bracket as a WO2. The whole point of this allowance is to compensate for your soldier being away from home, but we find that he receives less than a junior rank because of his higher tax rate. I would like to know why it was changed as it is no longer the benefit it once was.

Name and address supplied Response from Caroline Mayne, AFF’s Allowances & Money

FIRE WITH FIRE AS an Army wife I am intrigued when fire fighters strike. My soldier has had the same punitive changes to his pension and yet is unable to strike. So what can soldiers do to protest? The MOD should not take lack of reaction as endorsement – it is simply resignation from a group who have unlimited liability to protect the nation but no rights to protest over the erosion of pay and pension.

Name & address supplied Reply from Col Mark Pomroy, AD PS10 (Army): You are correct in saying that the Armed Forces have no union representation or right to strike. The Armed Forces Pay Review Body takes this into account when they set the rate of X-Factor, which is a pensionable

Specialist: LSA has always attracted a liability for income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NICs). JSP 752 states that the aim of LSA is to support and improve retention by compensating those personnel experiencing separation over and above that compensated for by basic pay’s X-Factor element. As a general principle, it is paid at increasing amounts in order to target those who experience the most separation throughout their service. I asked PS10 (Army Allowances) to look at your question and they checked back to when the JSP was first introduced in 2005. The first edition states that LSA attracts a personal liability for income tax and NICs. Also, the two allowances that came together to form LSA ten years ago, Longer Separated Service Allowance and Married Unaccompanied Service Allowance, also attracted tax. Only certain allowances/expenses, such as food, travel, messing or disturbance expenses are not taxable. To put it simply, if an allowance enhances a salary (such as LSA) then it will be taxable. This is also how civilian employers work. Of course, some allowances, such as Operational Allowance, are not taxable and this dispensation has been granted by the Treasury.

addition to our basic pay. The team that designed the new pension scheme did engage with Service personnel to ensure that their concerns were taken into account. The team also consulted with a number of non-Service organisations, such as the Forces Pension Society (FPS) and AFF. The FPS recognised that it “is probably the best proposal out of all the public sector scheme choices”. This is, in part, because it remains a non-contributory scheme and we will receive an early departure payment after only 20 years of service (if we are over 40 years old). Now the scheme has been finalised, no changes can be made without the approval of a new pension board, which includes personnel and will allow the wider Service community to voice their concerns.



I CAN’T help being slightly dismayed that there seems to be a disproportionate amount of complaints compared to letters of praise and thanks for the military lifestyle in the Army&You Postbag. I am a proud and independent military spouse who has experienced pretty much every aspect of Army life over the past eight years – long-distance relationship, living in quarters, married unaccompanied, posting abroad and now we have a child. Numerous exercises/operational tours have resulted in months of separation and last-minute changes to plans. In fact, I’m still awaiting a honeymoon! I have worked, been unemployed and am now a full-time mummy, studying. Throughout all these scenarios the Army continues to be a wonderful life. Whilst I acknowledge there are areas that could be improved, on the whole the “green machine” is superb – welfare fantastic, information in abundance, community activities plentiful and housing great. I find that upon every new posting a little self-initiative goes a long way. I look at some of the questions proposed in Postbag and can’t help but wonder if we lose the purpose of the Army and what it’s actually there for. I fully appreciate the need for organisations like AFF, which does a marvellous job in speaking out for families and spouses where there are issues that need addressing. However, I do feel that some of the questions raised are far too negative and in some cases, unrealistic. As a family we share the same concerns as many other families, but having lived the civilian life compared to military life, I know without doubt where I’d rather be.

Name and address supplied Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think are the pros and cons of life as part of an Army family by email (editor@aff.org. uk) or tweeting us @ArmyandYou

GET INVOLVED: We often ask for your opinions on Facebook. Like us at facebook.com/ArmyandYou to have your say.

66 Army&You spring 2015


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Army&You Spring 2015  

The official magazine of the Army Families Federation

Army&You Spring 2015  

The official magazine of the Army Families Federation