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Winter 2015

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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

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

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FROM THE EDITOR

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

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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

A warm winter welcome

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INTER is upon us, so it’s time to grab a cuppa, find a comfy chair and have a read of your latest Army&You. It’s packed full of stories of Army family life – from practical advice on how to prepare for leaving the Army behind through to what you can do to ensure your future includes a pension. We hear heart-warming stories from an Army spouse who came through her cancer journey and a couple who share their experience of adoption to complete their family unit. There is much creative talent out there in Army communities – we catch up with five 15 bloggers who all paint a different and fascinating picture of their Service family life; an author talks about her successful @ArmyandYou

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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.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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ArmyandYou

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

change of career and, as seen on our front cover, there’s the art of remembrance depicting both war and peace on canvas. If a posting is on the horizon, read our guide on how to master your move-out, find out what it’s like to live in Brunei and what support is available for families in Scotland. If you fancy getting away, we’ve got plenty on offer: a fantastic holiday in Scotland to win, advice on where 16 to take the family skiing without breaking the bank and tips on seeking out some sun. The Army&You team would like to wish all our readers a happy and peaceful festive season – we will be thinking of those families who are apart from their loved ones.

Charlotte CHARLOTTE EADIE, EDITOR K

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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

@armyandyou

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 10 January 2016. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website. SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit www. armyandyou.co.uk for details.

Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // us@aff.org.uk REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // regmgrsouth@aff.org.uk OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883 // oxfordshire@aff.org.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 AFF OVERSEAS (0044) 07795 687930 // overseas@aff.org.uk CANADA canada@aff.org.uk KENYA kenya@aff.org.uk GERMANY (0049) 01744 946209 // rmgermany@aff.org.uk GUTERSLOH (0049) 0176 254 85 762 // gutersloh@aff.org.uk PADERBORN (0049) 01520 744 9741 // paderborn@aff.org.uk CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2110 // rmcyprus@aff.org.uk ESBA esba@aff.org.uk WSBA wsba@aff.org.uk EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT ejsu@aff.org.uk 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

winter 2015 Army&You 03


We asked our experts what they would like in their Christmas stocking...

I DON’T CARE AS LONG AS IT FEELS HEAVY AT THE END OF THE BED!

WHAT CAN I SAY, DIAMONDS ARE A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND

A WINNING LOTTERY TICKET

CAT CALDER HOUSING

KATE MCCULLOUGH COVENANT LIAISON

KAREN ROSS HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS

A year into the new maintenance contract with CarillionAmey (CA) families are still coming to AFF concerned about the standard of their SFA at the move-in appointment – AFF has put together a survey to monitor your experiences. At the time of writing we had more than 400 responses in three days. We will collate the results and use the evidence to discuss the process with CA and DIO, highlight any issues and ask for changes to be made to improve it. Keep an eye out on the AFF website (www.aff.org.uk) for updates.

We continue to support those struggling to suspend mobile phone contracts as they accompany their soldier overseas. We’ve been lobbying mobile phone providers and were delighted by the Defence Secretary’s October announcement that: “Armed Forces families posted overseas will be able to suspend their contracts.” The details of offers made by Vodafone, EE, Three and O2 vary, but the acknowledgement is that current arrangements are a commercial disadvantage for Forces families – a big step forward. AFF will continue to monitor the situation and help hold the mobile phone companies to account. Affected? Email covenant@aff.org.uk

Cat Calder and I continue to work on improving the Additional Needs Adaptation (ANA) to Service Families Accommodation (SFA) process as some of you are still waiting a considerable amount of time for ANA to be completed. One issue is that there doesn’t appear to be a timescale for DIO to agree funding, which can delay the process and leave families struggling in unsuitable accommodation. The type of medical information families have to provide to justify adaptations is also a concern. AFF is investigating further. We would like your feedback on ANA – additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

Our experts AFF’s Specialists provide families with trusted, expert knowledge. We find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch. 04 Army&You winter 2015

@ArmyandYou


OUR EXPERTS

A PLANE TICKET TO SOMEWHERE HOT

A BENEFIT MAKE-UP VOUCHER OR PINK CHAMPAGNE TRUFFLES

SANTA LOST TRACK OF WHERE I LIVE AFTER MY FIFTH MOVE

KATHERINE HOULSTON FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

LUCY SCOTT EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

LAURA LEWIN EMPLOYMENT, TRAINING & MONEY

The AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Facebook group has been active for 18 months and, at the time of going to press, has nearly 1,000 members. If you’re on Facebook it’s a great way of receiving news and updates on issues that affect F&C spouses and soldiers. We also encourage you to share your views and experiences on the page. All military personnel and their families are welcome to join. We allow some enquiries to be posted where the information can be usefully shared, but more specific issues should be directed to fcassist@aff.org.uk

My enquiries have become increasingly varied, so I’ve completely rewritten AFF’s education & childcare web pages to try to better answer your questions. Included are new tabs on childcare and early years, boarding, MOD education allowances and a who’s who. You can now access information on everything from school transport and special needs to boarding school questions and how to apply for a school place when you move. You can also find out about the Service Pupil Premium. In each subject area, there are signposts to who to contact if you have more questions – go to www.aff.org.uk

Families frequently tell us about the problems they have with finding suitable employment or training courses that will fit in around their mobile lives, and the inability of their soldier to provide reliable childcare. My first job as the new Employment & Training Specialist will be to ensure that our approach to dealing with these issues is targeted at the right people – policy makers, employers, trainers and the MOD. We need to remove barriers to employment so that those who want to work can. Contact me at etam@aff.org.uk if you have experienced problems with gaining employment or accessing training.

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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 0 3 3 3 5 7 7 5 5 3 3 , calls charged at standard landline rate. Alternatively, you can go to w w w . m k c a r f i n a n c e . c o . u k and fill in the straightforward application form 24 hours a day and we will get back to you during office hours.

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The representative APR means 51% or more of our customers who apply through the website and take up an offer of finance pay a rate of 19.9% APR or less. If you are accepted and your credit history is good you could potentially be offered an APR lower than this rate, if your credit history is poor you could potentially be offered an APR higher than this rate. Finance applications are always subject to status and affordability checks, written quotations are available upon request. *Not all applications for finance will receive an offer. For details please contact us by phone or visit www.mkcarfinance.co.uk Unique Financial Services South East LTD T/A MK Car Finance Constable House, 20 Simpson Rd, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK2 2DE Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 666832.

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

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

www.qvs.org.uk


Contents WINTER 2015

insight 33 Master Your Move-Out A&Y’s lowdown on avoiding unwanted charges 37 A Postcard From... An Army family tells us about life in Brunei 44 Home Learning Why taking your child out of school might be a good thing 50 Your Pension, Your Future What you need to know about planning for retirement 51 The Debt-Free Way Learn how to keep on top of your finances 57 How Can I... Have a family skiing holiday with young children?

www.armyandyou.co.uk

features 16 What’s Your Story? Bloggers with Service links tell their tales 20 Next Stop: Civvy Street We explore the ins and outs of transition 25 Healing Hidden Wounds One charity’s psychological support mission 29 Our Army Family Discover what makes the Nugents tick 30 A New Way of Life Find out about SSAFA’s adoption service 31 Beating Breast Cancer How a diagnosis failed to beat one Army family

regulars 04 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... AFF’s Communications Director Beth Spencer 11 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 60 Giveaways Win a Scottish holiday, a family day out and more 62 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with cooking, parenting and more 64 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here!

ON THE COVER POWERFUL PAINTING Artist Jacqueline Hurley is just one of the creative individuals featured in this issue of Army&You PAGE 15

Winter 2015

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

www.armyandyou.co.uk

aff

winter 2015 Army&You 07


LEADERSHIP

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A WORD FROM

A WORD FROM...

BETH SPENCER, AFF Director of Communications Follow AFF on Twitter @The_AFF

To view our film, search for #ourarmyfamily on YouTube

Serving our Army family

I

REMEMBER well the day I first heard of AFF. I was at home with a newborn, had just been made redundant, my husband was away again and the back door was broken. I had gone from an independent career woman to totally dependent in a heartbeat and, if I am honest, I was struggling. I couldn’t get the backdoor fixed as “I had a front one” and it made me feel as though I had no voice. Through the letterbox came a ray of light in the form of the AFF magazine. It explained

❝❞

At AFF, the one thing I hold in my mind when working is that no two families are the same. We are all different and we have different needs.

what my entitlements were, what I could do and should say to get problems fixed and who I could go to for help. As I looked at the pages I saw people like me, and some unlike me, but we were all in the same boat. Today, my role is to ensure AFF’s communications reach you. We do this through Army&You and our AFF Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also have a website – www.aff.org.uk – with more than 100 pages of accurate and up-to-date information.

Families have busy lives and newsy snippets can be a quick, easy and useful way to find out about issues. As a result, we created a short film to explain what we do and why. The best bit of this process was working with the film makers at Inspired Films, who really understood the needs of our families and helped find the voice of AFF. We ensure our products are vibrant, fun and our information easy to understand. We work hard to strip away “staff officer speak” – it has its place but, let’s face it, might as well be a foreign language for many of us. I am always surprised at how much support there is for families but how often people don’t know about it. There are also times when we are let down – allowances need changing or a service needs adjusting. So part of my role is packaging our evidence and laying out a case for change. None of this I do alone. I work as part of a team with my AFF colleagues, command and other organisations. It is great fun preparing and delivering radio and TV briefs, particularly for BFBS. They are also on hand to provide expertise on digital media. On occasions we work with national newspapers and the BBC; their agenda is not always the same as ours, so we have learnt to tread carefully. However, it is important that our families’ voice is heard. At AFF, the one thing I hold in my mind when working is that no two families are the same. We are all different and we have different needs. This is #ourarmyfamily and together we can make life better. n

GET INVOLVED: Look out for “A Word From” AFF’s new Chief Executive, Sara Baade, in spring’s Army&You. www.armyandyou.co.uk

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grapevine REALLY USEFUL BITS ABOUT ARMY LIFE. GET INVOLVED – EMAIL EDITOR@AFF.ORG.UK

CHARITY

IN BRIEF WALES’ DONOR CHANGES

GRANTING YOUR WISH DID you know that The Annington Trust regularly provides grants for all sorts of military community projects including support for contact houses, crèches, preschools, youth clubs, community centres, libraries and music groups? Grants are generally around £1,000, but some have been in excess of £10,000. The Trust recently contributed towards the cost of a piano player for the West of Scotland Military Wives Choir, outdoor picnic furniture for families at Weeton Barracks, educational toys for pre-

school children at the ABC Nursery at Aldergrove Flying Station and the refurbishment of the Temple Herdewyke Community Centre. Additionally, it has sponsored more than 90 young people from Service families on “The Annington Challenge”, Outward Bound adventure courses in Scotland, England and Wales. l If you know somewhere or something that could do with a financial boost, apply online at www.anningtontrust.org

FLEXIBLE WORKING IN THE ARMY IS YOUR soldier’s erratic work schedule causing havoc with family life? AFF is delighted that the Army has agreed to run a flexible working trial addressing your concerns about the effect a lack of work/life balance can have on families, and on soldiers’ retention. Flexible initiatives will include variable start and finish times, compressed hours and home working, transfer of leave, enhanced leave and a call forward of www.armyandyou.co.uk

leave from next year and unpaid leave including a career intermission. The initial trial, which will run for a year from 1 December 2015 and will involve 50 Regular soldiers, will see some soldiers work less than full-time hours, with others working full-time but with limited deployed duties away from home. Your soldier can find out more by contacting DPersCapSO2-PlansB on (Mil) 94391 7528 or (Civ) 01264 381 528.

FROM December, the Welsh Government is changing the way people choose to become organ donors. This will affect Army family members aged 18 or over who have lived in Wales for at least 12 months. The new “soft opt-out” system means that if you want to be a donor you don’t have to do anything. Unless you specifically opt-out of being an organ donor, you’ll be treated as if you want to be one – known as “deemed consent”. Regular soldiers posted to Wales as part of their Service will not be affected. Visit organdonationwales.org or call 0300 123 2323 for more information.

THE RIGHT LINK TO HEALTH IF you are applying for or renewing your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), make sure you use the right link, which is www.ehic.org.uk. AFF has heard from families who have had issues. An online search for EHIC may lead you to other links and these organisations will charge you. They often won’t recognise BFPO addresses either, so your application could be refused. The official link will give you your EHIC card free and has an option to use a BFPO address. If you are having problems, call the EHIC helpline on 0300 330 1350 or contact Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk WHAT IS THE EHIC CARD FOR? It enables access to state-provided healthcare in European Economic Area countries, including Switzerland, at a reduced cost or sometimes for free. It will cover your treatment until you return to the UK. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk winter 2015 Army&You 11


GRAPEVINE

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

1. Royal role Princes Harry and William lend a hand at a DIY SOS project to benefit veterans in Manchester

ARE YOU COVERED? DID you know that your licence to occupy SFA or SSFA states that you are liable for damage up to at least the sum advised by the MOD, currently £20,000? A burst pipe caused by turning your heating off while away over Christmas could be deemed your fault by DIO, so avoid stress and financial hardship, should the worst happen, by having the correct insurance in place. You are classed as a licensee in SFA, not a tenant, so standard home insurance policies do not cover your liability. Buildings insurance is not appropriate either.

Liability cover, while not compulsory, is recommended – it’s not usually available as a stand-alone product, but can be included in home contents insurance policies. The Services Insurance & Investment Advisory Panel holds details for a number of providers which offer specialist home contents policies for Forces families that include liability cover as standard. l Visit www.siiap.org for more details. Alternatively, check with your current insurance provider to ensure you are covered.

2. Pooch partner Ajax became the first canine trained by Service Dogs UK to assist a veteran

3. Great bake A familiar logo was the showstopper on this creation from The Little British Cake Co

4. Upwardly mobile This Mercian Regiment mascot has been promoted to Lance Corporal, complete with pay rise

TOP TWEETS Seeing our Armed Forces coming home to their families and friends always makes me cry 5. Two-wheeled warriors 30 cyclists raised thousands for SSAFA by covering 500 miles in five days for the Ride of Britain

12 Army&You winter 2015

@Guns_and_Arrows

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

I am wrapped up in about 5 blankets one of them being a heating blanket. Only thing I need now is my hubby to cuddle. #armywife #deployment @darkfoxxxxxxx

God bless you all [@3pwrr returning home], enjoy making up for lost time with your families, shoulder to shoulder with all who serve! @ullyse5 @ArmyandYou


Competitive home cover Protecting what matters All home and contents cover is the same, isn’t it? You may think so but, if you’re serving or have a military connection, you’ll find a real difference with The Military Mutual.

Is The Military Mutual home cover right for you? Our cover is designed for the whole military community, including veterans, reservists and all those who care about our Armed Forces. And because The Military Mutual is owned by our members, all surpluses are re-invested to benefit our members and improve our services.

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TOP TIPS FROM THE MILITARY MUTUAL How to Maintain a Good Credit Record When You’re In the Military Are you a good or a poor credit risk? You may not know until you submit an application for a loan or credit. The result can sometimes be surprising. Moving around with the Armed Forces doesn’t always help your credit score, so here are some useful tips to help maintain a healthy credit score regardless of your location.

How does a credit rating score work? Your credit score measures you as a financial risk. A poor credit score can make it difficult to borrow money. This can affect your application for credit cards, motor finance, a mortgage and other services such as mobile phone contracts.

How is your credit risk measured? All lenders want different things and have their own ways of scoring but are likely to take into account details such as occupation, address history, length of employment and annual income.

How to help your application for credit when on the move

What is likely to make you a poor credit risk?

• • • •

State you are a member of the Armed Forces when applying for credit Provide a full postal address including postcode Register to vote in the UK, which will put you on the Electoral Register Manage your debts and pay your bills on time Check your credit report before you apply for any credit

• •

Excessive debt with no spare income to support more credit Too many credit searches within a rolling two-year period Poor credit history such as missed or late payments

For the full article go to: themilitarymutual.com/magazine Tel: 0800 088 22 83


! art )

SPOTLIGHT

remembrance

Artist Jacqueline Hurley, who painted her first work as a tribute to her friend, a Royal Marine killed in Afghanistan, tells us more about her War Poppy Collection…

B

EING part of the final generation whose grandparents lived through the Second World War, Jacqueline has a strong desire to teach children that the freedom they enjoy came at a price. This was the inspiration for the artist’s War Poppy Collection, a set of 24 paintings created to evoke emotion, reflection and as a personal thank you to our troops and their families. “There is a lot of traditional military art, but I wanted to bring the two together in a more modern expressionistic style,” said Jacqueline. “The paintings flow from my heart onto the canvas and although my scenes depict war, I try to bring in an element and sense of peace. “They are highly textured and include lots of layers. As with emotions, what’s hidden is equally as important as what is visible.” The collection draws on a simple monochrome palette which emphasises the stark redness of the poppy to create contrast against gritty impressionistic landscapes. “All my paintings feature silhouettes which often make them more personal and sentimental to the people I paint for,” added Jacqueline. When her first painting was complete, the artist felt an

www.armyandyou.co.uk

overwhelming need to use her work as a way of keeping remembrance alive. “I hope to convey and express this message,” she said. “Visual art is a powerful means of communication.” The collection is also helping to fundraise for Forces charities, with 10 per cent of print sales going to The Royal British Legion and The Royal Marines Association charity “Adam’s Hoofing Hut”. The War Poppy Collection will be exhibited at the National Memorial Arboretum early next year. You can take a closer look at www.poshoriginalart.co.uk or follow Jacqueline on Twitter @POSHoriginalART WIN Enter our giveaway to be in with a chance of winning a stunning signed print of My Knight In Body Armour from the War Poppy Collection. See page 60 for details.

winter 2015 Army&You 15


What's your story? Blogging can build your confidence, give you a sense of identity, improve your writing skills, influence others, grow your business or simply offer an escape from real life. There are millions of digital diaries lighting up the blogosphere and Army&You caught up with five bloggers with military connections, who all have different reasons for putting fingers to keyboard…

THE PARENT Mum, M & More, www.mummandmore.blogspot.co.uk “I live with my husband Rob, who’s an Army musician, and little girl Matilda. I used to be in too but left due to the stresses of trying to juggle Army life and childcare. “I started writing my blog the day before I went back to the Army after maternity leave. I wanted to be able to look back on how I managed Army life and having a baby. Now, I love to document our life. We enjoy baking, crafts, fashion and fun days out. “I love writing and my blog is my online diary. It’s sometimes hard to fit it in to daily life with a toddler, but I just go with the flow. When Rob is away, it’s nice to have something different to focus on. The blogging community is so lovely and there is always someone to chat to on social media.”

16 Army&You winter 2015

THE SOLDIER Papa_Tont, www.papatont.com “I’ve been a soldier for 14 years and a blogger for two. I started blogging on advice from a community psychiatric nurse who recommended that I find an outlet for my pent-up emotions. “I was struggling to live up to expectations of what it meant to be a good husband and father whilst simultaneously trying to satisfy a demanding chain of command. “I felt I had no one to talk to. Work had left me feeling weak because I could not cope and I broke mentally. My blog has given me a faceless outlet for balancing family and work life. “It has opened my eyes and given me a new perspective on life and a support network for issues that I’m too embarrassed to share with colleagues.”

@ArmyandYou


THE ARMY MUM Mummy’s Little Soldier, mummyslittlesoldier.wordpress.com

Picture: MOD Crown Copyright

“My son joined the Army and I was filled with dread. I actively made a decision to only worry when I had to, and it’s not that time yet. Relatives were interested and were asking questions: ‘What’s the base like? Does he do a lot of exercise? Do they really peel potatoes as a punishment?’ “So I started writing emails to update people. As the mailing list grew and I started getting requests for the next instalment, I decided to turn to blogging. “Writing the experiences down helps me feel connected to what he’s doing. It’s written from my perspective. I hope others enjoy it or may even be reassured by it. I would like to continue it throughout his career, but it is slightly tonguein-cheek and I’m not sure how that will work when it does become time to worry.”

THE BUSINESSWOMAN THIS IS CARRT, www.thisiscarrt.co.uk/thisisablog “When I started my blog, it was solely to drive traffic to my website to support my photography business. Thankfully, my cynical reason has now developed into a pleasurable task as it has organically grown to refer to travel too. I review the hotels and destinations that are the basis for my images. “It’s incredibly important to me because being an Army wife, you don’t always have a means to express your career wants and desires. I can blog from wherever we are posted and I find that having something that is purely mine, that I can rely on always to be there, is very reassuring. “I imagine that it will be a source of comfort to me if my husband is deployed. In fact, he’s sometimes a distraction, so I welcome his short absences! Having a project to work on has given me much needed stability and confidence.“

www.armyandyou.co.uk

THE HOUSEWIFE The Real Military Housewife, www.therealmilitaryhousewife.com “He, Baby, Dog and I had moved three times in 18 months; the same amount of time we had been married. I quit my career, my lifestyle and my relationships to follow this uniformed man around the country, often spending weeks alone, just me and my thoughts. “My blog began as a blank page on which to empty my emotions to a platform where fellow military wives can reassure themselves that our lives are not normal… although that, in itself, is normal. Our pride for our serving spouses often outweighs the craving for our own identity. I aim to get the balance. There are no ranks when you are a military wife, we need to serve each other too.”

winter 2015 Army&You 17


Watching out for you

Nicola Williams is the Service Complaints Commissioner for the Armed Forces. At the start of 2016, her role will become the Service Complaints Ombudsman. Here, Nicola explains how she can help Service families – both now and in the future…

What is your role?

I provide an alternative point of contact for serving personnel to access the Service complaints system. I also oversee how the complaints system is working and report on it to Parliament via my annual report.

How can you help soldiers and their families? The system drags on too long at the moment in too many cases and even if the right result is arrived at in the end, the time it takes is unfair on everyone involved in the process – including the families. We can help by referring a complaint to the chain of command if the Service person doesn’t want to do that themselves. We also monitor the progress of complaints referred by our office. Often, we find an independent eye on the process can speed things up. For example, where a soldier hasn’t received their testimonial when they leave the Army and can’t get a new job, it has an impact on the whole family. In many cases, once we get involved, the testimonial is produced in a matter of days.

Why is your role changing to an Ombudsman? Dr Susan Atkins, who was the first Commissioner, reported consistently that the Service complaints system was not efficient, effective or fair. She also told Parliament she did not have sufficient powers to make the changes that were needed. She believed the role should be strengthened to that of a Service Complaints 18 Army&You winter 2015

Ombudsman. In 2014, the MOD announced reforms, so I think you can say that they listened to her!

What will your new powers be? I will be able to review and overturn decisions by the chain of command not to accept a Service complaint. Also, once a complaint has completed its internal process, we will be able to review its handling and investigate the substance (facts) of the matter if the complainant wishes us to.

Will family members be able to ask the Ombudsman for help? Only a person subject to Service law can make a complaint, however, my office often receives calls from family members and we are able to provide general advice, including signposting to alternative organisations that may be able to assist them.

What are your personal hopes and objectives? Long before I complete my five-year term, I want the process to have become much more transparent and fair, and complaints to be dealt with more speedily without compromising the quality of the decisions.

l Your soldier can find out more on the defence intranet, JSP 831, or you can go to armedforcescomplaints.independent.gov.uk Contact the Commissioner on 020 7877 3450 or email contact@oscc.gsi.gov.uk Look out for a new website and email address when Nicola becomes the Ombudsman. n @ArmyandYou


SPOTLIGHT

SERVICE COMPLAINTS: FAST FACTS 1. The Commissioner provides an independent route for serving and former Service personnel who believe they have been wronged to submit a complaint to their chain of command 2. If your soldier contacts the Commissioner with a concern, she will – with their permission – refer it to their chain of command. 3. A complaint to the Commissioner does not become a formal Service complaint until it is submitted to the chain of command in writing, usually using an Annex F form. Time limits apply. 4. The Commissioner has asked the Services to try to resolve 90 per cent of new complaints within 24 weeks. 5. The Ombudsman will have extra powers which will include the ability to investigate some cases if the complainant requests once the internal process is complete.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2015 Army&You 19


Pathway to From housing and education to allowances and welfare, the military provides a raft of day-to-day assistance to Service families. But what happens when your soldier decides to hang up their uniform? Army&You takes a closer look at the realities of making the switch to civvy street...

F

OR all of the hair-pulling and nail-biting that it causes, being part of an Army family comes with a good amount of ups to counter the downs. From relative job safety, allowances and a good pension to the opportunity to be part of a strong, caring community, having a soldier in your life has its advantages. But whether it comes one, 22 or more years after signing up, every military family will eventually have to cut its ties with the Forces and ride the rollercoaster of transition. Managing the move from the Services side of the fence to civilian life is something the Army urges soldiers to start thinking about as soon as they join and this long-sighted approach is endorsed by HQ 11 Brigade Transition Officer Maj Jodie Kennedy-Smith. “Transition is not a solitary activity – it’s a life changing event which affects the whole family,” she said. “It takes planning, research and commitment. Spouses and partners will have views on where to live and where the children will go to school. You will have careers to transfer or build, finances to manage, homes to set up and emotional support to give. 20 Army&You winter 2015

“The key to success is not to leave your transition until your soldier enters the resettlement stage. It’s far better to identify areas of concern and take responsibility much earlier during Service life. “A useful tool is the ‘Hardfacts’ document available from your unit or HIVE. It helps show how prepared you are as a family for civvy street.” IT’S NEVER TOO EARLY Although the nuts-and-bolts of transition may have to wait until closer to resettlement, there are key areas where you can lay foundations on which to build your post-military life. Transition can be expensive, so getting finances in order and developing the habit of saving can make the process less stressful. Equally, researching the support available – whether funding, practical help or simply sources of information – will ensure you know where to turn should you need assistance (see right). Maj Kennedy-Smith urged families to attend Career Transition Partnership briefings and events, locations and dates of which are advertised at www.ctp.org.uk “There’s a wealth of information for families at these events and on the website to

❝❞

By giving yourself time to think and plan as a family, you will make your journey far easier

help you to prepare,” she explained. “If an individual is medically downgraded, they can apply to start resettlement early – prior to the medical assessment board. Transition has become a through-career activity and it should become easier for families to plan ahead.”

RAPID RESETTLEMENT Planning ahead is sound advice as you never know what lies ahead, but what happens when resettlement is forced on you before you have a chance to put plans in place? That was the situation which faced the Botma family – soldier Stefan, wife Heidri and daughters Grace (3) and Beth (1) – when Stefan was medically discharged from the Army. He went before a medical review board in January 2015 and was told that he would be out of the Service in just six months. “It was a process which was going on for two years, but the actual discharge was really quick,” Heidri told Army&You. “We thought we would have a year, so it was a shock to find

out we only had six months to decide where we were going to live and what we were going to do. You can think about it and analyse it as much as you want, but it is daunting.” Finding out how little time they had left as part of the Army community left the Botmas facing logistical and financial challenges. The family lived in SFA, Grace and Beth were enrolled in daycare on camp and Heidri had to juggle family responsibilities with a job as a cook at a local primary school. With so much to be done in a short period, Heidri felt the resettlement process placed too heavy a burden on Stefan and believes greater involvement for a soldier’s spouse would make things easier for all involved. “If there was some sort of service so that spouses know what’s going on as well it would be very helpful,” she said. “There’s a lot of jargon, a lot of paperwork and we get pushed to the side a bit. “It’s almost like we’re not part of the process – the soldier is being discharged so it falls on @ArmyandYou


FEATURE

MASTER YOUR MINDSET Another person to have trodden the transition path is Sarah Davies, who left for civvy street after serving for eight years with the Royal Logistic Corps. She now runs a coaching firm – iamstrongcoaching.co.uk – helping others to take their first steps after transition. Sarah acknowledges that leaving the familiar surroundings of Service life can be daunting, but highlights the exciting potential for change that it brings. “Often with work, home, school, community and social lives changing for our whole family all at once, transitioning into civvy street is a new chapter that needs careful thought, honest discussion and realistic planning as a family,” she explained. “Ask yourself what you want www.armyandyou.co.uk

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS Whatever the motivation for deciding to leave the Army, families seeking fresh pastures on civvy street have to navigate a complex path. Having travelled along the same route herself, Heidri advises others to fully consider their options. “Make sure you dot your Is and cross your Ts because there are a lot of little things to account for,” she concluded. “Civvy street is expensive and you need money in the bank and something to fall back on. “Before you make the decision, don’t take for granted what the Army gives you because the grass isn’t always greener.” n

SOURCES OF SUPPORT EMPLOYMENT Prepare your CV, polish your interview techniques, register with recruitment agencies, attend employment fairs and look out for transition events in your area. Visit Jobcentre Plus – ask if there’s a regional Armed Forces Champion. More information about claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) is available at gov.uk and spouses and ex-soldiers are eligible to join the Work Programme within 13 weeks of claiming JSA. MONEY Ask your soldier to check out the Armed Forces Pensions Calculator on the Defence Intranet, which will give a forecast to help you plan. Remember, it will be different for each soldier. Unit HR staff are available to answer any questions on pay/allowances. The Money Advice Service has tools to help you get your money under control and get financially prepared. Visit www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk HOUSING Social housing is in extremely short supply so you are not guaranteed a council house. Contact your local authority to apply. The Armed Forces Covenant includes legislation to ensure Service personnel can establish a “local connection”. The Joint Services Housing Advisory Office (JSHAO) has information whether you are applying for social housing or buying/renting your own home. You can attend briefings with your soldier. Search for JSHAO at gov. uk or find information on housing on AFF’s website, aff.org.uk If you are living in SFA, you will normally be given 93 days’ notice to vacate to coincide with your soldier’s discharge date. A further 93 days’ occupation may be granted at non-entitled SFA rates provided you have the correct permissions. AFF’s Housing Specialist can advise you. Email housing@aff.org.uk The Services Cotswold Centre in Wiltshire may also be able to provide temporary accommodation. Email sccreceptionist@mod.uk Final moves are not normally publically funded, so budget for this. There may be instances where it’s possible; speak to your unit admin office for more information. For

those overseas, you are entitled to a single relocation back to the UK or, if you intend to settle abroad, you can claim up to the equivalent cost of a move from overseas. EDUCATION CEA is paid up until the end of the term that your soldier’s end of service date falls. If it falls in a holiday period, then CEA is paid up until the end of the term before. Check the small print of your child’s boarding school as some layout a minimum number of terms; otherwise you may be liable for the full fees (without CEA) for the remaining time. If your soldier is leaving on redundancy or for other reasons, the CEA rules may be different – contact our Education & Childcare Specialist at ec@aff.org.uk for details. Parents with children in a Service Children’s Education (SCE) school who are working towards key examinations should seek advice from AFF’s Education Specialist and the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) on 01980 618245. JSP 342 Pt 1 has further information. Ensure an Education, Health and Care Plan is completed before moving. Contact AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist by emailing additionalneeds@aff.org.uk FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH Your soldier should apply for residency or nationality status at the earliest opportunity if they wish to remain in the UK after discharge. Contact our F&C Specialist through our website, www.aff.org.uk USEFUL LINKS Army Transition Advice www.army.mod.uk/welfare-support Transition DVD (YouTube/ArmyNet) www.armynet.mod.uk Army Pension Calculator www.mod-pc.co.uk Career Transition Partnership www.ctp.org.uk www.moneyforce.org.uk www.citizensadvice.org.uk www.forcespensionsociety.org www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk www.britishlegion.org.uk www.soldierscharity.org

winter 2015 Army&You 21

Main picture: Jackie Rautenbach

them to relay everything and sometimes that’s difficult when they have a lot going on. “If we got included more in the process and knew what we were entitled to, we could feel part of the whole thing rather than being dragged along.”

your future to look like; what you need to do to achieve that; and what support will you need along the way. “Together with the physical realities of changing job, house, location and family routine, resettling requires a gradual mental adjustment and acceptance of change. By giving yourself time to think and plan as a family, you will make your journey far easier. “Not only will you have your feet back on the ground in no time, you may just hit civvy street running.” After being launched into a whirlwind transition, the Botma family are beginning to settle into their new lives as civilians. Stefan is currently working abroad as a deckhand on a superyacht, while Heidri, Grace and Beth moved into a new house last September. Having managed the move herself without the safety net of Army welfare, Heidri has encouraged other families going through transition to be aware of what is involved. “There is lots to think about – moving into a civvy house isn’t like moving into SFA,” she said. “Everything isn’t done for you. There’s not one person you can go and have a moan to and things get sorted.”


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@ArmyandYou


your family FEATURING HOME-START, HIDDEN WOUNDS AND THE MILITARY WIVES CHOIR

Letters from the heart

Above: Michelle Clarke-Stables is using correspondence between women and their soldiers as the basis for her project.

Right: Michelle’s grandmother, Midge.

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YORKSHIRE-based artist Michelle Clarke-Stables’ current project is a labour of love. During the Second World War Michelle’s grandmother Midge, received a love letter from a young soldier. Sadly, she would never see him again. This note was the inspiration for a project that will focus on women’s experience of war through the correspondence they send and receive. GETTING INVOLVED The exhibition will include portraits of the women, text-based paintings, sculptures and sound to create an engaging, interactive experience for visitors. Over the next couple of years, Michelle will be collecting letters, emails, texts and photographs from the public. Your participation is vital. One letter already sourced comes from Helen Keen in Middlesbrough, who sent correspondence to her boyfriend during his time in Iraq. To remind him of home, she excitedly dishes the dirt on what’s happening in that week’s episode of Coronation Street, giving an insight into the social context and reminding us that home is about the simple, everyday pleasures. Helen’s letter evokes hope and positivity. Even though she admits to having some difficulties, she keeps these under wraps. During the First World War, families were encouraged to write hopeful letters as they were seen as essential for a soldier’s morale. Their

letters were also subject to censorship. A picture emerges of what life was like and although censorship dictated what could and could not be discussed, the letters sent and received were a lifeline, linking families together. Michelle is looking to incorporate the experiences of modern women in the Forces and their messages, whether that is through a traditional letter or postcard, or a social media site, email or text. l Send your photographs and messages of love to michelleclarkestables@yahoo.co.uk or via Twitter @withlovefrom #Lettersfromtheheart. n

winter 2015 Army&You 23


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YOUR FAMILY

Healing hidden wounds Help for Heroes’ Alexandra Hodges tells us about the charity’s support for Service families…

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ENDY Wakeham, wife of a former lance corporal, always assumed Help for Heroes was only there for the battlefield injured, but when friends told her about its Hidden Wounds psychological wellbeing service, she made the call. “I had apathy and no motivation to get up. I used to be outgoing and active but all of a sudden my days lacked routine,” Wendy said. “My dogs suffered because I stopped walking them, I no longer spent time gardening or seeing my friends. I was a prisoner in my own house. “You know what? My amputation was that I’d disconnected from my life.” Although calling Hidden Wounds was hard for Wendy, she soon started attending weekly sessions at the Help for Heroes-run Recovery Centre in Wiltshire, developing skills with a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) to help her manage the feelings of depression. “I was very low. I just wanted to curl up on the beanbag, lock the door and leave myself to it,” she explained. Wendy kept a diary of activity that showed a lack of daily routine and exercise. So, together with her PWP, she created a new diary combining necessary chores, routine activities and “me time” to ensure each day featured both boring jobs and nice ones. After finishing her treatment with Hidden Wounds, Wendy is feeling positive about her future, although mindful that it is still early days.

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She said: “Now, when I feel myself heading back towards the beanbag I know I need to sort myself out.” She regularly socialises with friends, walks the dogs and enjoys the garden – as well as cooking dinner and tidying the house. “It’s great to have Hidden Wounds there because they understand there can be things inside that are beating you up,” she added. “They’re there to help you and it’s absolutely fantastic. Pick the phone up; life is for living. You only get one chance at it so make sure every day is the best day possible.” Further information Hidden Wounds is for veterans, their families and the families of those still serving. Free and confidential support for common mental health challenges such as worry, low mood, stress, alcohol and anger is available by phone, Skype and face-to-face. Contact Hidden Wounds weekdays, 9am-5pm on 0808 2020 144 (free from UK landlines), email hidden.wounds@helpforheroes.org.uk or visit www.helpforheroes.org.uk/hidden-wounds winter 2015 Army&You 25


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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@ArmyandYou


YOUR FAMILY

Hitting the right notes Lilian Wiles tells us how and why she joined her local Military Wives Choir…

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HEN we moved to the Nottingham area in 2014, it was yet another posting into a completely new area and away from familiar faces. This was quarter number 17 in a 25-year history of being “married to the Army”. The kids had all grown up so there were no opportunities to meet other mums and I was also at work full-time, so coffee mornings and social events were a non-

starter. I began to worry that this might be a very lonely posting. A chance encounter with one of my new neighbours led to the question: “Do you sing?”. My first response was: “Only to myself.” She told me about the Military Wives Choir and how it was open to anyone with a military connection – no audition necessary. These women take pride in their choir but their aim is to provide a place where members can be assured of a

friendly face. A cup of tea is a staple of any get-together – but the continuity of these choirs is about much more.

Pa rentin g pa rtn ers Tracyann Wheeler, Senior Coordinator at Home-Start Swaffham and District, told us how the charity can help Service families with young children in the UK and abroad… HOME-START trains volunteers with hands-on parenting experience to visit families and offer much-needed support. The volunteer and coordinator help parents develop confidence, strengthen bonds with their children and engage in their local community. Tracyann explained: “Parents who benefit from Home-Start support often feel isolated, are having a hard time coping with their own mental or physical health or that of a child, and are struggling with self-esteem and accessing new services.” FAMILY HELP This was the experience of Tanya after moving to Norfolk,with her husband Craig, twin five-year-old girls Emily and Freya and threeyear-old son Joseph. As with any Service family, a new posting comes with its

www.armyandyou.co.uk

reservations. Tanya was hit with anxiety and a return of her depression. She said: “The girls had just finished their first year at school and Joseph was under the care of a paediatrician following a diagnosis of cystic fibrosis. Prior to the move both our parents had been close enough to assist with childcare and check in while Craig was away.” Not knowing who to turn to, Tanya confided in her health visitor, who recommended Home-Start. She was matched with volunteer Christine who supported the family for up to twohours-per-week in the run up to Craig’s six-month deployment. Christine also supported Tanya through her depression and anxiety, took Tanya and Joseph for hospital visits and encouraged Tanya to engage in the local children’s centre where she met

other mums. Through Christine’s support, Tanya gained a place on a part-time college course. BRIGHT FUTURE As the months went by, Tanya felt her anxieties reduce so she was able to enjoy the little things in life. “I was able to engage with Joseph’s development as a healthy and happy three year old,” she said. Craig was comforted knowing that the family had weekly support while he was away. The support Home-Start gave was just what the family needed. l If you relate to Tanya’s story or feel you could support a family, contact your local Home-Start. Each scheme is an independently registered charity, set up and run by people from the local area. Visit www.home-start.org.uk for more information n

Each one offers a no-strings chance to feel like a member of a larger community which shares a willingness to try something new and have fun. “Can you read music?,” she asked. “No,” I replied. “If I like the song then I learn the words and the tune by listening by ear.” She grinned. “Great, you will fit right in.” And that was it. The following Monday I found myself in our little garrison church, singing. Two taster sessions later, I was convinced. I joined Chilwell Military Wives Choir and found out that I am an alto – no squeaky high notes for me. Since then, I have made 28 new friends and we sing on Monday nights – two hours of my week that I really look forward to. I have practised to backing tracks at home and at other altos’ houses too, preparing for some really special performances. With no particular talent, I have performed in public five times in the last year – even managing to sing a whole programme without the folder of words and music to hide behind. I feel valued and appreciated. Being part of such a great group of women, singing because we want to and sounding pretty fabulous, is unbeatable. l To join your local choir, visit www.militarywiveschoirs.org or follow on Facebook and Twitter @milwiveschoirs n winter 2015 Army&You 27


Downtime DAYS TO TREASURE

The Lewis family – soldier John, Sharon and their six children – sing the praises of stress-busting geocaching…

H

AVING six children ranging from age fourto-14, it’s often difficult to find something we can do together that doesn’t require a second mortgage. We’d heard about geocaching so one Sunday we asked the kids if they fancied a walk. We got the usual grumbled “no”, so thinking quickly we turned it into a treasure hunt – the day culminated in some very tired children who’d covered almost five miles without a single whine. Geocaching is a treasure hunt using a GPS device and a hint. There are currently almost three million geocaches hidden around the world,

so there’s bound to be a handful within a mile or so of your location. We enjoy geocaching because it allows us to escape – no phones or DII, just the family, dogs and air. One of our most memorable days was in Yorkshire where the trail was winding uphill. We kept going, picking up caches along the way and

reached a breath-taking viewpoint. Sharon claims it’s a bit geeky as I often go caching on my own when I’m overseas. But when she went to Canada with the Military Wives Choir, she logged a few caches of her own! It’s also an educational thing. Cameron and Ben are learning about how GPS works and about land and geology. For the younger Lewises, it’s all about fun – taking it in turns to find the treasure or be in control of the magic box that gets us there. l You can find a “how to” guide at www.geocaching.com – registration is free. n

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OURARMYFAMILY

Meet... the Nugents Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your Army family. Follow our hashtag #ourarmyfamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories… James Nugent, a soldier, and his wife Natasha have two little girls, Evie-Rose and Elsie-Rose… WE have been living in a quarter for just over a year and I married Natasha in 2014. I have been in the Army since 2007 and I have had mostly good experiences. Our youngest girl, Elsie, was diagnosed with a terminal genetic condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy type one, in September 2014. The Army has been very supportive by letting us move closer to Hastings, where we are both originally from. They have also given me time off so that I can take Elsie to appointments.

Our older daughter, Evie, is four and has just started school. She’s an amazing and bright young girl and we couldn’t ask for a better sister for Elsie. Evie helps us with all the health care that her little sister needs and they have a very strong bond. Evie makes sure Elsie can play and do things she likes. The best points about our Army life are the friends we have made. For me, boxing for the corps team, passing my pre-parachute selection course and getting downtime in different countries after exercises have been highs. Natasha thinks Army life is

like Marmite – you either love it or hate it – and she loves it. We have received so much support from my regiment and other families from the estate. She said it is horrible to be away from family with the situation we have, but we manage and we are very much looked after.

not she will be coming home with us. Our welfare officer, Lt Col Walker, 1 RSME Regiment, has helped us with both emotional and financial support. We’ve had help to buy equipment for Elsie as we don’t get any funding from the NHS because she is less than three-years-old.

We do get involved in patch life as much as we can. We have been to the Armed Forces Day events and we recently did a local charity car wash with friends to raise money for Elsie’s wheels.

We cope with Army life because we are lucky to have such great family and friends. Even strangers we meet through Elsie’s Facebook page, who read her story, have helped us raise money for a powered wheelchair so that she can move around independently.

Natasha and I know that although Elsie is doing well at this moment, her life is going to be a short one. We wonder every time she gets ill and goes in to hospital whether or

I would describe our Army family as unpredictable, loving and crazy. n

GET INVOLVED Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to editor@aff.org.uk

www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2015 Army&You 29


A new way of life Have you ever considered or are you currently thinking of adoption? Would you adopt a child who has had a difficult start in life? If so, read on…

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S THE only national adoption agency catering specifically for members of the Armed Forces, SSAFA has placed 18 children with military families in the past year. Postings, deployments and misconceptions about the military lifestyle can put Service families at a disadvantage when it comes to adoption. But SSAFA believes that Forces families have significant strengths and can make ideal adoptive parents for vulnerable youngsters. FORCES SPECIALIST SSAFA Adoption Service Manager, Corienne Strange,

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explained: “We specialise in finding families for older children and sibling groups and we find military families make ideal parents for some of the most vulnerable young people. “People in the Forces tend to be resilient, tenacious and resourceful. More often than not they also have a cando attitude, a sense of humour and an ability to assist children who have experienced difficulties – all excellent qualities in a potential adopter.”

You can apply to adopt through local agencies, but SSAFA’s expert adoption team understands the unique challenges of military life and is well-placed to guide and support you.

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ONGOING SUPPORT Anna and Ben have recently been through the adoption process. Anna said: “We chose to adopt through SSAFA because we were both serving and we did not want to have to restart the process if we were posted.

You don’t have to give birth to someone to have a family

“We also knew that SSAFA would offer us lifelong support and we would be able to pick up the phone and get help if we needed it.” SSAFA staff offer a wide range of extra support including practical help and assistance from local volunteers and a dedicated post-adoption social worker, who you can speak to at any stage in your post-placement journey. Ben said: “The adoption process was actually relatively quick for us. Our social worker saw us initially and arranged for us to do a four-day preparation course. The course is intense but it gives you a great grounding. I cannot speak highly enough of our social worker. She really got to know and understand us.” Anna and Ben found meeting the children for the first time a nervewracking and emotional occasion, but in the event it was a perfect match. Anna said: “[It was] like going for the best job interview in the world. I remember being so nervous. What if they don’t like us? But from the moment we went to meet them that was it. “We are just like any normal family now. You don’t have to give birth to someone to have a family. You just need to be able to give them the love and attention that they need.” Anna and Ben’s child has learning difficulties, something that Anna admits can be a challenge. She added: “It’s timeconsuming but it’s so rewarding. People said that you don’t get any ‘firsts’ if you’re not adopting a baby. but the first time my daughter said ‘I love you mummy’ I was in floods of tears.” l To find out more, contact the SSAFA Adoption Service on 020 7463 9326, email adoption@ssafa.org.uk or visit www.ssafa.org.uk n @ArmyandYou


HEALTH

Beating breast cancer Morag Payne served in the Army for 11 years and enjoyed an active lifestyle and a love of all things sport. When she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer while her husband Richard was in Kenya on exercise, it was news neither of them were expecting to hear. Morag told Army&You how she coped with her cancer journey and Service life…

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HE Army was extremely supportive and ensured Richard was able to quite literally drop his things, leave the training area and get home on the first available flight. We were also just about to move on posting. Both his chain of command and the welfare unit were very sympathetic and supported our application to retain our quarter and enabled Richard to take compassionate leave to be with me during and in the days after my chemotherapy sessions and surgery. SETTING A GOAL If someone had told me that I would be cycling 100 miles around London and Surrey a year after my third cycle of chemotherapy, I would have laughed. But that is exactly what I did. Along with two friends, we set off from Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and followed the 100-mile route to The Mall in Central London. Why? I did it to fundraise for two great charities – Help for Heroes and Frimley Park Hospital Breast Care Appeal.

riders, we made our way to the start. We had trained hard so we could enjoy the day – and it was brilliant! Everyone had their own personal reasons for entering and mine was never far from my mind. I wanted to put the last year behind me and raise as much money for my chosen charities as I could. Finishing on The Mall was emotional, especially when we spotted our families at the end. It was the perfect end to a perfect event. The day after Ride London I entered my next event, Ride 4 Frimley to raise funds for the Breast Care Appeal. How could I resist?

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You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have

KEEPING ACTIVE Throughout my treatment I walked or cycled with my children to and from school and when I began to feel stronger, I started running and swimming again. I believe being active has been a crucial part of my healing process. It was an opportunity to digest what the consultants told me, to think about my family’s future and to keep physically strong in preparation for surgery and radiotherapy. COMPLETING THE CHALLENGE On 2 August, along with 25,000 other

BREAST CANCER SUPPORT FOR MEN AND WOMEN www.armyandyou.co.uk

Breast Cancer Care www.breastcancercare.org.uk Breast Cancer Now www.breastcancernow.org Cancer Research UK (inc. overseas organisations) www.cancerresearchuk.org Hereditary Breast Cancer 01629 813000 (24-hours) or breastcancergenetics.co.uk

STAYING STRONG Having breast cancer was something I never thought would happen to me – but it did. I never imagined it was going to be easy but nothing could have prepared me for what my body was about to endure. It was relentless and just as I began to feel well the next cycle of chemotherapy would be upon me and it would all start again. I believe that by staying strong physically and mentally, by surrounding myself with positive, supportive friends and family and being open and honest helped me not only get through a very difficult and challenging year but emerge stronger and more determined than ever before. You don’t know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

l If you would like to support The Frimley Park Hospital Breast Care Appeal or Help for Heroes, visit www.fphcharity.org and www.helpforheroes.org.uk n

Inflammatory Breast Cancer Support Group www.facebook.com/groups/ibcsupportuk Lymphoedema Support Network www.lymphoedema.org or 0207 351 0990 Macmillan Support line 0808 808 00 00 or www.macmillan.org.uk Haven Breast Cancer Support Centres Free drop-in centres, www.thehaven.org.uk winter 2015 Army&You 31


your home FEATURING RENTAL HELP FOR SERVICE FAMILIES AND ESSENTIAL MOVE-OUT ADVICE

Rental remedy

THE MOD has launched a scheme that allows Service personnel to apply for a loan to meet the cost of a deposit for a rental property. Moving home within the private sector is very competitive and can be expensive. Sometimes affording a deposit can be a barrier to securing a lease and has now been recognised by the government and the MOD. The scheme will help you to exercise greater choice in where and how you live your Army life, and it complements wider efforts under the New Employment Model, to modernise terms and conditions for Service personnel. EXTRA HELP WHEN RELOCATING The advance of salary loan is limited only to the

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cost of the deposit and must be repaid within 12 months or prior to your soldier’s last day of service. Repayments are recovered from your soldier’s salary on a monthly basis – which most Service personnel will be familiar with. Critical to the scheme is that, having paid your deposit, your landlord must put it in a government-backed tenancy deposit protection scheme. You have 45 calendar days to provide your line manager with evidence (usually a certificate) that this has happened. For further information on eligibility for this scheme and how to apply, soldiers should search under “Tenancy Deposit Loan Scheme” on the MOD Defence Intranet. n

@ArmyandYou


YOUR HOME

Keeping up APPEARANCES

Master your move-out

Leaving your quarter? Here’s Army&You’s lowdown on how to make sure you avoid any unwanted charges... PAINTING AND DECORATING l If your property hasn’t been redecorated within the last four years, no penalties will be incurred for fair wear and tear but damage will be charged for. l The accommodation officer (AO) must detail the reason for any charge, the cost and when the room was last decorated. Make sure this is on the paperwork and contest it if it’s not.

unserviceable – no longer than eight years. l No charge is made for cleaning curtains and only damage to curtains will be chargeable.

PROTECT AGAINST UNDUE CHARGES l Keep a copy of your move-in paperwork and 14-day report. l Fill in your 14-day report at move-in noting any damage in the property so you are not charged at move-out. Send it back CARPETS within the timeline stated. Experiencing l Carpets are assessed against l Take photographs of damage/ issues relating normal wear and tear and the state of furnishing at move-in age of the carpet; charges and make sure these are dated to move-out? should only be raised where online or on the image. Attach Contact AFF damage has occurred. these to your 14-day report and at housing@ l Charges will be discounted by keep a copy. aff.org.uk the age of the carpet: 25 per cent l Ensure that your address is on over two-and-a-half-years-old, 50 every sheet of paperwork at moveper cent over five years and 75 per cent out and that both you and the AO sign over seven-and-a-half years. each sheet. If you disagree with a charge, tick l No charges will be made for carpets that the relevant box and make sure that you both exceed 10 years. sign the page. Take photos of the area you l You should not be charged for cleaning your disagree with as evidence for your dispute. carpets in lounge and dining rooms where l Not signing the page doesn’t mean that you the carpet was cleaned over three years won’t be charged for it – you need to sign to previously; five years for bedrooms. show that you have seen and disputed the l If you have pets, use a pesticide to ensure information. there are no fleas – you can be retrospectively l Score out any spare lines on the charges part charged for a flea infestation up to six months of the form before you sign it. after leaving SFA. l To dispute charges, follow the process outlined in your paperwork. If your challenge CURTAINS is unsuccessful and you still disagree, raise a l DIO will replace curtains when they become stage 2 complaint in writing to DIO. n

WHAT DO YOU PAY FOR SFA?

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Everyone in SFA (in the UK) should have received a letter this summer with their estimated band for charge under the new charging scheme. Over the winter you will get another letter with the firm band for your particular SFA. Once you receive this, you will be able to challenge your banding if you

think it is incorrect. You will only be able to challenge it based on factual inaccuracies. The letter will detail how you can check the facts against government statistics, how you can challenge it and the time scale for doing this. Remember that a challenge could

AFF continues to get calls from families concerned about cleanliness when moving into Service Families Accommodation (SFA), writes Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist. It is important that you check your SFA for cleanliness and condition before you sign the paperwork. The CarillionAmey (CA) website has lots of advice – www. carillionamey.co.uk CA’s YouTube film takes you through the move-in steps and your accommodation officer should follow this process at the appointment. Be thorough – anything you point out which is classed as an “inhabitable fault” such as a wobbly door handle, a leaking tap or cleanliness will be rectified within 24-hours of moving in. Regardless of how the SFA was left at move-out, if it was cleaned by the family or through the walk away scheme, it is CA’s responsibility to ensure it is up to move-in standard. If you have issues with move-in or any aspect of CA’s service, call 0800 700 6000 option 5 and, if logging a complaint, get a reference number.

result in the charge going up or down. The process will also be available on the AFF website once the final letters begin to go out. l If you have any issues or concerns on this process, email housing@aff.org.uk n

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OVERSEAS

Branching out to AFF’s Overseas Director, Julie Lowe, shares her recent visit…

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RECENTLY visited Brunei for the first time. It is the only sovereign country completely located on Borneo and the remaining territory belongs to Malaysia and Indonesia. Arriving in Brunei 24-hours after leaving the UK, the first thing that hit me was the heat and the humidity. I was assured you get used to it but it’s safe to say I “glowed” for most of the visit! Fortunately the welcome received from

families and the chain of command at HQ British Forces Brunei was equally warm. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE THERE? Army families were keen to present the positives about living in Brunei. There are incredible opportunities for travel, for example to Thailand and Vietnam, and many commented that they had run out of pages in their passport! At the heart of the community

is the outstanding Hornbill Primary School (see right). There’s also a choice of two international schools for secondary education. There is a familiar welfare structure which includes unit welfare support and personal & community support from the Army Welfare Service and SSAFA. A recent building plan has seen a new community centre host all these agencies and there’s modern family housing.

WHAT CHALLENGES AWAIT ARMY FAMILIES? When the soldiers are away, it can be tough. “Any longer than a month of my husband being away is very difficult in an environment like Brunei”, one spouse told me. Employment opportunities are extremely limited. This has several effects; the lack of a second income and yet another gap for spouses’ CVs. It also means that there is no vocational education for

AFF’s Overseas Branch provides support to families wherever you are posted outside the UK. If you would like advice or support where you are living, get in touch via overseas @aff.org.uk

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Brunei 16-18-year olds. Whilst the increase in the number of School Children’s Visits from three-to-six per year is seen as a positive, families would like the ability to be able to reverse these in light of the travelling time to Brunei. The costs associated with moving to Brunei and settingup home were also highlighted. It’s clear that the MOD Covenant Fund (see page 40) could be utilised to great effect in Brunei and other overseas locations. One of the themes of the new fund is removing barriers to family life, so there’s

considerable scope for it to be used to support Army family life in these environments. There’s a very good HIVE within the garrison, so if a posting to Brunei is a possibility, contact them. Engage early with the local chain of command; get as much information as possible on whether Brunei is a good fit for your family and try to speak to families currently living there.

l For further information on AFF’s findings, log on to www.aff.org.uk n

A SPECIAL PLACE TO LEARN DESPITE being 7,000 miles from the UK with limited networking opportunities, operating in 36-degree heat with 98 per cent humidity, high mobility of pupils and on the edge of a jungle environment, Hornbill School is described as outstanding by Ofsted. If a posting to Brunei is on the horizon and you have primary school aged children, you can be rest assured that Hornbill School is experienced in the challenges of Service life. Four out of five pupils have been there for less than two years and it caters for families with diverse cultural needs – 50 per cent of children speak English as an additional language. RISING TO THE CHALLENGE Hornbill maintains a higher than average academic performance and is one of the top 150 UK

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primary schools. Deputy headteacher, Craig Gill, explained: “Our children take pride in themselves and their work. “Children, parents and staff work in partnership to create and maintain an atmosphere where the school’s values and principles are encouraged and promoted at all times.” One year 4 pupil certainly agrees: “I love coming to Hornbill School because I know that the teachers will always help me progress at whatever I need to get better at.” l Off to Brunei? You can find out more at www.hornbillschool. com or contact the school directly at hornbill.office@ sceschools.org If you have any questions about education overseas, email overseas@aff.org.uk

winter 2015 Army&You 35


THE KINGFISHER MONTESSORI NURSERY SCHOOL

EXCELLENT OFSTED, JULY 2015 • A well established nursery-school for 21/2 - 5 year olds • Small classes in a happy, caring, learning environment • A full and stimulating teaching programme provided • Large nursery area with its own enclosed playground UNDER NEW MANAGEMENT Opening Times Monday to Friday 9.15am - 12.15pm Monday to Thursday 12.15pm - 3.00pm South Street, Wilton, Salisbury SP2 0JS

For a prospectus and further information please telephone Tel: 01722 744585 Mob: 07557 023037 http://www.kingfishermontessori.co.uk kingfishermontessori@yahoo.co.uk

what a piCtUre! WHAT A PHOTOGRAPH!

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Thick luxurious varnish with flittered highlights Coloured fluorescent envelopes Great value at C50 RRP £1.75 For more information, please contact us on: Tel: 01799 520200 • Fax: 01799 520100

Early Years Job Opportunities in Wiltshire If you are moving to Wiltshire and have childcare qualifications, the Bourne Valley Nursery Group may have the perfect job for you! We have 4 lovely Nurseries in Durrington, Amesbury, Winterbourne Earls and Odstock. These locations are easily reached from Tidworth, Bulford and Larkhill Army Camps. Please send your CV to: admin@bournevalleynurserygroup.co.uk or give us a call on 01722 417977. To find out more about our nurseries visit: bournevalleynurserygroup.co.uk

www.nigelquiney.com 36 Army&You winter 2015

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OVERSEAS

A postcard from...

BRUNEI How long have you been an Army family? 9 years. T ime in Brunei: 2 years, 10 months. How many other military families live there? We are one of 350. What's your quarter like? This is our first Army quarter having lived in our own home before. It's a very spacious three-bedroom bungalow with an open garden, a large patio and palm trees. We are five minutes from the beach. Can spouses work? Yes, but jobs are limited. I work for SSAFA as a health visitor clerk and I also volunteer for them. What about schools? Luke is lucky to attend Hornbill Primary School. He really enjoys the small classes, extensive sporting opportunities and the wealth of resources the school offers. Secondary-aged children either board at international schools in the capital city about an hour away, or back in the UK. Where do Army families get together? The community

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here is very close, we spend a lot of time socialising, enjoying the year-round summer weather. The community centre hosts different kinds of events, from bingo to coffee mornings. There are mums and tots groups held by our AWS team plus after-school clubs and an active mess life. We can also become members of a local ex-pat club. It has an incredible array of sports and clubs for all the family to enjoy. Who supports families? There is a proactive Army Welfare team in BFB plus SSAFA social workers and volunteers and a HIVE. We also have a number of secure Facebook pages which are great for new families. As we are so far away from home, families here need to support each other. What's the best thing about living in Brunei? It is such a beautiful, relaxed, chilled country. We feel very lucky to be given this opportunity. Travel opportunities are superb; we have been to Singapore, Bali, Thailand, V ietnam and Malaysia. The best part of our posting was that our daughter Daisy was born here!

FROM: Mel and Andy Rawlinson Luke (8) and Daisy (nearly 2)

WHERE: Brunei

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UNITED KINGDOM

Community spirit AWS Community Development Workers (CDWs) are there to support your family in any way possible to help ensure your posting is an enjoyable one. It’s a job that requires dedication and commitment, making the most of a shoestring budget to provide events and activities for the Forces community. They also rely heavily on volunteers, and that’s where you come in…

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F THERE are community groups, courses, events and activity programmes in your area, chances are your CDW is running them – from bingo to fundraising events, school holiday activities to adult learning, messy play sessions to pantomimes. Mandy Ford has been responsible for the community development work at Blandford Camp and West Moors in Dorset for 13 years. “We don’t have any kind of budget,” she said. “I spend a lot of time fundraising or applying for grants either to purchase equipment, resources or to subsidise the cost. “I have been lucky in recruiting a great team of volunteers, some of whom have really gone above and beyond what’s required. Some 38 Army&You winter 2015

are spouses and some are suggestions and keen to see currently serving. Through new projects up and running. partnership work with the local “Volunteering is a way authority, young volunteers of having a voice into how have also had the opportunity community programmes to gain awards in recognition are run and gaining skills of their work.” which could enhance your AWS’s new volunteer CV and lead to future scheme enables employment. you to build “With the With the right level portfolios, access right level of of enthusiasm and training and gain enthusiasm and a bit of time and accreditation. If a bit of time and commitment you you have time to commitment you can make a real lend a hand, look can make a real difference into opportunities difference. with the CDW in your “I volunteered area – you never know nearly 30 years ago and where it might lead. benefitted from the knowledge Worthy Down CDW Cathy shared by other people. I have Sherlock started out as landed jobs purely based on a volunteer and is now my volunteering experience.” offering opportunities in her Andy Simpson, Chief community. Community Development She said: “Without volunteers Officer for AWS, added: “A we can’t do our jobs. range of community support “We are always open to activities run by a dedicated

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team is a key component of AWS’s welfare provision, but these are reliant upon volunteer workers; quite simply, no volunteers, no community support. “We are extremely grateful to our volunteers and the support they provide, whether on a weekly basis in a youth club, supporting weekend activities or participating in running residential courses. “This contributes directly to improving the welfare of the Army family community. We are delighted that we have doubled the number of volunteers since last year.” l The AWS Community Support teams are again seeking to double their numbers of volunteers in the coming year. If you would like to find out more, have a chat with your local CDW. n @ArmyandYou


UNITED KINGDOM

Scotland – we’ve got it covered AFF Regional Manager North, Annabel Ingram, introduces you to Zoe Teale – a woman on a mission ZOE aims to make sure that all Army families in Scotland are aware of her role as AFF Scotland Co-ordinator. She is also striving to make sure that any issues and concerns that you have whilst living in the country, or about moving there, are resolved and highlighted to the relevant organisations. WHEREVER YOU’RE POSTED Zoe lives in Edinburgh and can regularly be found meeting families at coffee mornings and events in the garrison. She can also be seen driving through the countryside visiting families in places further afield such as Leuchars, Kinloss and Inverness. With such a large area for one person to cover, AFF Virtual Co-ordinator Hayley Walton is also on hand to help

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Zoe support families in hard-to-reach locations such as the Shetland Islands. SOLVING PROBLEMS Due to the differences between the devolved regions, issues such as education, health and housing can mean families have many questions and concerns about a posting to Scotland. Zoe will be able to answer them or know someone who can. It isn’t just local work that AFF completes on a day-to-day basis. Whilst Zoe meets regularly with local welfare staff and organisations, I meet with brigade personnel, agencies and government departments. I take to these meetings

all the evidence gathered from you about life in Scotland and problems that may need addressing. We also tell them about the positives and what is working well for you. If there is an excellent initiative in one area, we highlight it and ask for wider coverage. We are lucky to have so much support in Scotland with strong links and access to people that want to help Army families. GET IN TOUCH We will help you with support, advice and resolution, so rest assured that your voice will be heard. Contact Zoe at scotland@ aff.org.uk or Hayley at coord@aff.org.uk n

autumn 2014 Army&You 39 35 winter 2015


COVENANT

Grow your community with Covenant cash

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OR the last few years local authorities, charities and other interested parties have been able to bid for funding from a £10 million pot for projects that help integrate civilian and military communities. The Community Covenant Grant Scheme, as it was known, paid out millions in the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant and catalysed new play parks, community centres and support projects throughout the country. In July, a new annual fund worth £10 million took its place. The money has four themes: l Removing barriers to family life l Extra support after Service for those who need help l Measures to integrate military and civilian communities l Non-core healthcare services for veterans. The priorities for the 2015/16 round are: l Local Armed Forces community

integration projects l The co-ordination and delivery of support to the Armed Forces community l Veterans in the criminal justice system. Grants may be awarded for projects that fall within at least one of the themes and priorities. Bidders can apply for a small (up to £20,000) or large (up to £500,000) grant and bids submitted by groups of partners will be particularly welcome.

introduce you to possible partners and help develop your idea to give it the best chance of success. For more information on bid criteria and deadlines, visit www.gov.uk and search for Armed Forces Covenant Fund or contact Kate McCullough, AFF’s Covenant Liaison, at covenant@aff.org.uk The timeframe for bidding in this round is tight but this is an ongoing programme so there will be future chances to apply. n

HOW TO APPLY If you have an idea for a project, why not apply to the new Covenant Fund? Local teams will be able to offer advice,

NEWS. FEATURES. REVIEWS. Keep in touch with the military family wherever you are.

www.armyandyou.co.uk 40 Army&You winter 2015

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FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH

Success for F&C spouses AFF is delighted to announce that after five years of lobbying, a change has now been made to the immigration rules for many spouses on discretionary leave visas. AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, Katherine Houlston, reports…

WHAT IS DISCRETIONARY LEAVE (DL)? Prior to July 2012 discretionary leave (DL) was used to grant a right to remain in the UK to people who had no right to remain, but who couldn’t be removed due to their human rights. It was created to provide a route for failed asylum seekers. Someone with DL was only able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) after spending six years on this route. WHY WERE SO MANY SPOUSES OF SOLDIERS GRANTED DL? Purely because many of them incorrectly applied for ILR after their soldier had become a British Citizen. Most people (including immigration solicitors, and Home Office officials) did not realise that once the soldier became British, the spouse was no longer eligible for ILR. They were instead required to apply for a visa for two years as the spouse of a British Citizen, before being eligible for ILR. This was a problem faced uniquely by spouses of soldiers because of the

CASE STUDY www.armyandyou.co.uk

complex immigration rules at the time. Instead of granting DL, caseworkers should have told spouses to apply for the two year route – a much quicker and cheaper route to ILR. WHAT DO THE CHANGES MEAN? If you are an Army spouse and have DL as a result of making an incorrect application for ILR after your soldier became a British Citizen, then you may be eligible to apply for ILR without having to wait for your visa to expire, and without having to apply for a further grant of DL.

F&C ISSUE? Contact the AFF F&C team at aff.org.uk

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I HAVE DL? You should consult the F&C web pages at www.aff.org.uk which has further information. Click on “visas” and then select “overstayers and discretionary leave”. The new guidance is not applicable to spouses who were granted DL because they were in the UK as an overstayer. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A SOLDIER BECOMES A

Cpl Pun contacted us in September last year. He was due to leave the Army and was concerned about his wife’s visa status. She had been refused ILR in March 2012, because he had naturalised, so she had been granted DL instead. To make matters worse she had then applied for ILR

BRITISH CITIZEN NOW? Thankfully, as part of the new Armed Forces immigration rules introduced in December 2013, the Home Office agreed to remove the requirement to switch to a different visa once your soldier becomes a British Citizen. If you are in the UK with a visa issued prior to 1 December 2013 and you didn’t change your visa after your soldier became a British Citizen, you can remain on this visa and apply for ILR once your soldier has served for five years. If you were granted your first dependant’s visa after 1 December 2013 then you should have been given a visa for five years. You will only be able to apply for ILR 28 days prior to the five-year visa expiring. WHAT DO I DO IF I DID CHANGE TO A TWO YEAR VISA? You will need to remain on that visa for the full two years and can apply for ILR up to 28 days before the visa expires. Go to AFF’s F&C web pages for further information. n

under the long residence route in August 2013, but was again refused because of time spent overseas on assignment with her husband. The case was raised to the Home Office and, as a result this, new guidance has been issued and Cpl Pun is now able to apply for ILR for his wife.

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education childcare FEATURING AN EDUCATIONAL PLAY, ADVICE ON HOME LEARNING AND SIMPLE STEPS FOR SPECIALIST EDUCATION

Moving mobile drama AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott, has been finding out about a fantastic project that helps support Service children when moving home…

42 Army&You winter 2015

NORTH Yorkshire County Council has teamed up with An Invisible Man theatre company, led by director Stephen Burke. Stephen writes and performs plays that respond to a live agenda, subject or community interest – in this case mobility of Service children. After considerable research visiting schools in the UK and Germany, and working with groups of children, parents and staff who have contributed their knowledge, Stephen’s interactive drama, Wherever home is has been delivered to more than 20 schools so far, thanks to funding from the MOD’s Education Support Fund.

schools, often many times over.” Matt Blyton, Lead Adviser of The Council’s Education and Skills Service, added: “Any move can be viewed as being disruptive. “With large numbers of pupils relocating, it is essential to provide a secure and understanding environment to either prepare for transfer or receive new pupils.” l Find out more at www.aninvisibleman.co.uk n

HOW DOES IT WORK? In between the two acts, children take part in exercises based on the play and then share their discoveries after the drama. The project, aimed at junior school pupils, helps develop the emotional resilience of pupils and staff and prepares them for the arrival of new children into school. Annabel Hall, Service Pupils’ Champion in the area, summed it up: “This positive and empowering experience helps enable both Service and non-Service children to talk about and explore what it feels like to start and leave new

@ArmyandYou


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Home learning Case Study Sara Kernohan shares her story of home educating for GCSEs… IT BECAME clear that our son, Patrick (15), was profoundly unhappy in school and nothing we could do would make his life easier. The school acknowledged that they couldn’t stop the bullying so, in desperation, we pulled him out and joined the growing ranks of home educators. Within three weeks he was laughing and more relaxed. He secured sound GCSE results of mainly As and Bs, mostly through independent learning with close direction and encouragement from me. I employed a tutor as back up in maths, physics and English and, even though I have no teacher training myself, was confident enough to find the information he needed and follow a syllabus. I quickly realised that I just needed to be organised and know where to go for help. I’ve amazed myself at how much I’ve learnt too. Looking back I wish we’d home educated him sooner. He would have been much happier and furthermore we could have accepted any Army posting at any time and none of it would have impacted on his education. SO HOW DID WE DO IT? We chose to provide evidence to our local authority to show how we were educating Patrick. As long as you are encouraging your child to learn, you are free to educate them any way you see fit. We reconsidered the GCSEs he wanted to take and explored which exam boards offered what and where. I was lucky to find a willing school nearby to take him as an external candidate. He joined the local home ed social group (which is full at 60 children) and a drama group which ran a home ed session every week. Through a vibrant social media community, I quickly built up an amazing network of fellow home ed friends. We met regularly and assisted each other with finding exam papers and resources – it’s so inclusive and supportive. Patrick made more friends in 18 months than he ever did in nine years of school. His self-belief and confidence grew until he felt that he would really like to try school again in sixth form. I think that he will succeed now that he has had the space to find himself and repair the damage done by his previous experience. 44 Army&You winter 2015

When Emma Lambert and her family were posted, she seized the chance to try home education (HE) for her son as she was unhappy with his school. She believes it’s the best decision she ever made and has set up a learning consultancy to support families. Army&You caught up with Emma to get some top tips on teaching children away from the classroom...

H

OME education is a perfectly legal choice and Emma thinks it could suit some military families: “The law doesn’t state where education has to happen,” she said. “School is the norm but, let’s face it, we didn’t marry into the norm. It can be a viable option until the right school place comes up.” Emma left her job as a deputy head and entered the world of HE. Her son, Connor, is clearly enjoying being taught at home. He said: “It’s really fun because I get to choose my own topics and we don’t do lots of stuff in boring books.” ONLINE SUPPORT Emma supports parents by providing curriculum materials so you can be confident your child is ready for their return to school. There are lots of free resources available at www.pleasemissmummy.com Army&You readers can also claim free planning (curriculum for HE) and monthly subscription for only £5 – quote code AFFeducation. EMMA’S TOP TIPS l Start with your child’s interests. Ask them what they want to learn about and use this as your vehicle for teaching. You can incorporate research, reading, writing, nature study, science, PSHE and maths. l Don’t feel like you have to be sitting at the

table; most learning happens by “doing”. l Avoid cheap work books. They are suitable for practise, not teaching. Find real reasons to write, keep it purposeful: Letters, blogs, leaflets for friends, stories to share with the family. l Use tablets – they’re not all about games! Follow teachers and education apps to collect ideas. l Get organised – children still need some structure. It doesn’t matter how you do it, you will feel more in control once you have found a routine that works. l Join groups. Find out about activities and get support from others locally and on social media. l Look at next steps in learning and explore ways to teach them so it’s tailored to your child and not a set of generic guidelines. For example, if your child has written with clear sentences, move on to paragraphs or dialogue. USEFUL LINKS: Facebook group Home educating/homeschooling forces families National Curriculum Assessment Criteria www.gov.uk Education Otherwise www.educationotherwise.net Netmums www.netmums.com/children/homeeducation Law & Parents www.lawandparents.co.uk Wiki www.home-education -exams.org.uk

Picture: Emma de Silva

@ArmyandYou


EDUCATION & CHILDCARE

Find your FIS for fantastic family support FORCES families can have unique childcare needs. Most of you don’t have the luxury of relying on informal support networks such as family members and frequent moves mean you’re often searching for new childcare providers or wrap-around care for school-aged children. Grandparents are the most frequently used childcare provider in the UK, yet few Army families live close enough to their relatives. It’s particularly difficult when both of you are serving. For those of you moving back to or based within Great Britain, local authority Family Information Services (FIS) is a good place to start looking for Ofsted registered childcare and other family services. FIS provides information about local childcare and offers

advice on how to get financial support. It can also help you find out about local children’s centres, play and sport activities, youth clubs and parenting classes. If your child is disabled, all councils in England are required to publish a local offer which informs families about local services and how to access them. Parents of children with special educational needs or disabilities can also ask FIS for help finding suitable childcare. With a new tax-free childcare scheme soon to be introduced, it’s worth contacting FIS to find out what help is available to pay for your childcare and which financial support system will save you the most money. Find your local FIS at www.familyandchildcaretrust.org

Simple steps for SEN

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HETHER you are at the start of finding out if your child has Special Educational Needs (SEN), or you have already experienced multiple moves with a child who has SEN, AFF recognises through your enquiries that experiences in accessing help can vary. Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott has been along to one Local Authority which was willing to share what has helped families in its area. Hopefully this in turn will help you wherever you are. Alison Szalay and Debbie Langston are Specialist Advisory Teachers with Wiltshire Council’s SEND Service, supporting children www.armyandyou.co.uk

and young people with Special Educational Needs. If you’re a Service family with concerns around your child’s learning, they recommend a few steps. The first port of call is the Wiltshire Council website that contains news, information on living and working in the county and advice on schools. Specifically for children with SEN, the local offer site allows you to explore guidance on support services. School sites are also useful if you know where your child will attend. The aim is for you and your child to become familiar with Wiltshire, its schools and people that can tell you more such as local authority staff, head teachers and SEN Coordinators.

INFORMATION GATHERING Moving to a new school can be daunting for some children with SEN but the transition can be made smoother if school staff have access to the complete “picture” of your child. Useful information to provide includes your child’s strengths and interests (in and out of school) and those things important to them. Prior school reports will show how your child has been progressing and, if they’ve experienced difficulty with literacy or maths, details of any previous support will be helpful. Pulling all this together will take time, but it’s worth it – far better than starting again from scratch at the new school. The SEND Service Single

Point of Contact helpline will answer any questions or direct you to relevant SEN support services in Wiltshire. Call 01225 757985 (Mon to Fri 9:00am – 4:30pm). Single Point of Contact www.wiltshirelocaloffer.org.uk/ send-service Wiltshire Council www.wiltshire.gov.uk Local Offer www.wiltshirelocaloffer.org.uk If you type “Local Offer” along with the name of your council into your search engine, you should find similar information for your area. There is an SEN tab on the education pages of AFF’s website and you can email Lucy at ec@aff.org.uk n winter 2015 Army&You 45


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‘I wouldn’t change a thing’

Lucy McLane tells us why she is glad to have grown up in a military family...

I

HAVE been an “Army Brat” since birth. With my father’s 38 years of service I could not be prouder of him and the life he has given us but reflecting back it has in no way been an easy or simple way of life. Having a parent in the military looks quite glamorous and adventurous; you move around the world, you make more friends than the average six-year-old and you look pretty darn cool with an “Action Man” for your dad. MANAGING MOVES It’s a personal choice to lead a military life so we can’t moan too much or call for pity, but a recent survey showed that the average family will move home eight times in their lifetime. I am 22 and have already moved 16 times! The thought of an interesting global move sounds nice, but the reality is we can be posted somewhere quite remote – and that’s far from nice as a teenager. I’ve learnt to get on with it as you know the next move probably isn’t too far away! ARMY LIFE AND EDUCATION As an Army child, I went to three primary and two secondary www.armyandyou.co.uk

schools. I never saw it as a problem as I was too young, but my learning was disrupted. At the age of 12 when another move was imminent, I decided to go to boarding school. This was the best decision of my life. Not only did it provide me with uninterrupted education, it gave me independence and the chance to settle for just over five years. WHEN YOUR PARENT GOES AWAY One key aspect to Army life as a child, for me and many others, is when your parent goes away. Not just to war zones but also for training and other duties. Even though it becomes routine, you never really learn to accept

YOUNG GENERATION it – especially as you get older and begin to understand the current affairs surrounding tours and the possible dangers. I have learnt to appreciate my father and not to take him for granted. Every moment of his R&R was spent doing things together; these become memories you cherish forever. SHAPING OUR LIVES The military has shaped us into how we are as a family. My mother also served and this is how my parents met – so my family is truly a product of the Army. We follow the traditions; the excessive displays of military paraphernalia exhibited in the downstairs toilet, watching the Queen’s speech at Christmas and understanding the importance of Remembrance. We even attend the Army v Navy rugby at Twickenham. We have certainly embraced the military lifestyle! Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing. I have lived in Germany, travelled the depths of England, been to Buckingham Palace to see my father collect an MBE, met Princess Anne, and the Army even helped towards my education. The positives outweigh the negatives and I am proud to be the family member of someone serving in the British Army – so far life has definitely been an adventure. n winter 2015 Army&You 47


&

employment training FEATURING ENTERPRISING EMPLOYMENT AND A PADRE’S WIFE-TURNED-CHILDREN’S AUTHOR

Talent spotting Lots of people in the military community need flexible employment – and many small businesses need extra skills to grow but can’t afford to take on employees. We hear how Enterprising Office (EO) plugs the two together...

48 Army&You winter 2015

“WE wanted to create a social enterprise that employs spouses, dependants, ex-Service personnel, civilians living within military communities and wounded, injured or sick Service veterans,” said James Murdock of EO. “The skills these people have are utilised to support businesses with temporary or permanent staffing solutions.” Using cloud technology, EO’s vision is to have a sustainable, positive impact to start-up organisations, military families and the wider civilian and business communities. “Through regular training and the ability to work from home with flexible hours, our staff are able to balance work, family and Forces life. “It’s a great way to get back into employment and we can even help if you have a dream to start your own business,” he added. l To find out more or check out current vacancies, go to www.enterprisingoffice.co.uk n

CASE STUDIES Nicola, EO telephony manager “Working for EO has helped bring back my identity and confidence after a period of time out of work due to ill health. I started out as a team member and have progressed to my current role. I am also home based which provides great flexibility especially when relocating.” Lorna, manager of Aldershot Enterprise Centre “EO had my CV on file and contacted me when the opportunity became available. Besides the obvious financial contribution, I am happier being available for my children and yet still feeling useful. My children see both their parents working which is important to me. With my husband away most of the year, EO understands the military set-up.”

@ArmyandYou


By the book

EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

Children’s author Anne Middleton tells Army&You about her dramatic career change…

I

DID NOT meet my husband Darren until I was 35, so when I got married I left behind my self-employed work as an actress and drama therapist. I knew that as a minister’s wife I would have to move every five years, but when Darren came out with the idea of being an Army chaplain, I feared that I would never again be able to have a career of my own. However, it was Darren who came up with the idea of

being a writer. My daughter’s favourite toys inspired me to put together a series of children’s books, The Adventures of Piggy and Woof. Watching her play made me realise what an excellent medium this was for exploring the worries and concerns that military children can face at any time. The books are based on Grace’s real-life experiences as her dad joined the Army.

Munns Antoinette trated by us ill f, o o W Piggy and

EXPANDING LIBRARY I set up a Facebook page and a website and in February I uploaded my first book, Piggy and Woof Move House, on Amazon Kindle. Since then I have been storytelling in infant schools using my books as a tool for children from military families. Through writing short stories I now have a resource for use

in classes, assemblies and church services. It’s a slow process and I have no idea where it will lead, but I can now be excited about my own adventures in my career and as a padre’s wife. l Go to annemiddleton.wix. com/piggy-and-woof or look on Facebook to see more on Anne’s books. n

PROVIDING FRONTLINE SUPPORT FOR OUR FORCES SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, provides lifelong support to Regulars and Reserves, who are serving or have ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force. We also provide support to their families.

CALL 0800 731 4880 ssafa.org.uk

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winter 2015 Army&You 49


CASE STUDY

Your pension, your future We know the mobile nature of Army life can disadvantage your career, but it can also impact on you in later life. Your state pension may not be enough to support you through a comfortable retirement, even in today’s improving economic climate. It’s wise to start planning now. Army&You looks at your options…

The issue of a pension first came to mind only when I decided to go self-employed a few years ago, writes Kate McCullough. Before then I had been lucky enough to be part of a generous contributory scheme and took it for granted that I was slowly growing a nest egg for the future. Becoming an Army spouse, a parent and a period of unpaid maternity leave also brought the issue into sharp focus. I have since arranged to continue to pay into the pension that was originally set up for me by my previous employer and have taken out a pension through my current employer. Sacrificing a bit of salary can seem a difficult choice each month but it’s a small amount that I don’t really miss. I now have two pension pots that I hope, with many more years of working life ahead of me, will be worth enough one day to help me enjoy my retirement! 50 Army&You winter 2015

STATE PENSIONS AND ARMY SPOUSES There are measures in place to protect your state pension as an Armed Forces spouse. If you’ve accompanied your soldier overseas and have been unable to work and make UK National Insurance (NI) contributions, you can claim NI credits for your time overseas (since April 2010). It means that the basic state pension and some benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, are not affected. If you have decided to be a full-time parent or carer, your state pension will be protected because the government identifies those caring for children full-time based on who is receiving child benefit, and adds NI credits to your record. WHY DO I NEED A PERSONAL PENSION? Heledd Kendrick, founder of Recruit for Spouses, said: “We need to be thinking about our future and our pensions as military spouses. A dual income is a now a necessity and no longer a ‘nice to have’.” The maximum basic state pension of £113.10 a week is far below what most people say they hope to retire on. HOW CAN I BOOST MY RETIREMENT FUND? The law has now changed meaning every employer with at least one employee must enrol eligible staff into a workplace pension scheme and contribute towards it. A percentage of your pay is put into the pension scheme automatically and, in most cases, your employer also adds money into the scheme for you. You also get tax relief from the government.

If you are working for a small business it’s worth asking whether they have a pension scheme set up or are making provisions to do so – they must comply with this with this legislation by 2018.

you may wish to set up your own private pension (where only you will contribute) or another tax-free savings product such as an ISA. Unless you are financially savvy, seek advice from an independent financial adviser.

IF YOU CHANGE JOBS Moving frequently to follow your soldier doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your pension. If you don’t carry on paying into a workplace scheme, the money will still be invested and you’ll get a pension when you reach the scheme’s pension age. If you change jobs, you can join another workplace scheme and either carry on making contributions to your old pension or combine them. Consult your pension provider to see what’s best for you.

USEFUL LINKS www.pensionsadvisory service.org.uk www.moneysavingexpert.com www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk www.gov.uk/workplacepensions/about-workplacepensions www.siiap.org Military family members can join the Forces Pension Society. Visit www.forcespension society.org n

IT’S YOUR MONEY SO CLAIM IT! Do you have a pension pot that you may have forgotten about in one of your many house moves? Contact the free Pension Tracing Service – call 0800 122 3170 or go to www. pensiontracing service.com I AM SELFEMPLOYED – HOW CAN I SET UP MY PENSION? If you are running your own business, choose not to work or are unfit for work, @ArmyandYou


MONEY & YOU

THE DEBT-FREE WAY Unnecessary spending is like dieting – great fun in the short-term but its effects are much harder to shift. Army&You has a few tips to help you avoid debt in the first place…

PLAN YOUR BUDGET www.moneyforce.org.uk has a great budget planner tool to help you balance your sources of income against all your expenditure each month. REDUCE UNNECESSARY SPENDING Are you the king or queen of unnecessary purchases? We all deserve treats but once you have identified how much you are spending each month, you might be able to see some areas where you can cut back. PRIORITISE Always make sure you can

pay your utility bills first as well as your mortgage or loan payments. The consequences of not paying these can be severe. Shop around to get the best deals. BE READY FOR THE UNEXPECTED Most of us living the Army dream will have to save for luxury items such as holidays. More importantly however, you never know when things might go wrong and having a pot of money to hand can often take some stress out of a difficult time. If you have money left over in your budget at the end of each

month, try to build up a “rainy day” fund in a savings account. Set a target of how much you want to save for emergencies. CREDIT CARDS Use them carefully and avoid the temptation to use credit to buy things you couldn’t normally afford. Make sure you have enough to pay off your balance in full each month.

l If you have any financial concerns, contact AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist at etam@aff.org.uk n

USEFUL LINKS www.moneyforce.org.uk www.moneysavingexpert.com

SEEK HELP If you do get into financial difficulty, there is help available. MoneyForce is a good starting point for tips on managing your debt.

www.stepchange.org www.debthelpcompare.com www.incomemax.co.uk www.citizensadvice.org.uk

Unions provide credit where it’s due

A

RMED Forces families can now access safe and sustainable finance thanks to a new MOD-backed credit union service. Under an arrangement with three leading unions, Service personnel, Reserves and those in receipt of a military pension will be able to apply for loans and make savings through a trusted source. Anyone making use of the credit unions will have their repayments or savings taken directly from their salary or pension, making it easier to keep on top of finances and helping those in the military avoid payday lenders. Mark Lancaster, Minister for Defence and Personnel and Veterans, said: “I’m delighted that credit union services will today be available to Armed Forces personnel. www.armyandyou.co.uk

“It is crucial that those Service people who work so hard to keep Britain safe, both at home and abroad, can access easy and affordable ways to save and borrow. “This helps to tackle an issue that has caused disadvantage and disappointment to some Service members.” In addition to providing an alternative and safer source of finance to payday lenders, the service will help mobile military families who have previously struggled to get credit due to incomplete credit records and subsequent poor ratings. One of the first Servicemen to sign up to the new scheme was Victoria Cross recipient Lance Sergeant Johnson Beharry (pictured right), who has joined London Mutual Credit Union. He said: “It is often difficult for people in the Armed Forces to gain access to financial

services, especially those serving overseas who have little or no way of getting credit in the UK. “By joining a credit union, personnel will be able to access affordable loans when they need them and to plan for the future by saving directly from their pay packets through payroll deduction.” London Mutual Credit Union will work collaboratively with the PlaneSaver and Police Credit Unions. Its chief executive, Lucky Chandrasekera, added: “We are delighted to be offering credit union services to the British Armed Forces. “We look forward to helping many military personnel benefit from safe savings and affordable loans.” The launch of the credit union

service complements existing financial support for those in the military and their families, including the MoneyForce programme which was launched in 2013. l For more information about the scheme, visit joiningforcescu.co.uk n

winter 2015 Army&You 51


JOININGFORCES SAVINGS & LOAN REPAYMENTS TAKEN STRAIGHT FROM PAY The MoD has made it possible for three of the UK’s leading credit unions to join forces and make simple savings accounts and loans available to the armed forces and their families.

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ADVERTORIAL

Tailored travel from the Service specialists

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HEN it comes to booking the perfect holiday, the sheer amount of options open to today’s travellers can be bewildering. From scouring the high street for the perfect package break to trawling the internet for the best hotels or cheapest flights, there is an awful lot of legwork to be done before you can head for the sun. Those in the military face the added complication of finding it harder than most to plan too far in advance, so how can Forces families snap up the best breaks? SERVICE SPECIALIST Luckily, help is at hand from industry expert Forces Travel. Whether you’re looking for a

romantic weekend break or a Armed Forces audience and full-scale fortnight away with regularly updates its offerings the children, the company is both online and in branches well placed to find you the on bases in the UK, Germany ideal getaway. and Cyprus. In 2014 alone, Forces Travel If you know you want to processed nearly book a holiday but can’t 10,000 bookings decide where to go, GET IN for holidays and Forces Travel’s TOUCH travel, helping innovative 00 800 00 01 02 03 Service families Inspiration tool is get where they on hand to help info@forcestravel.com wanted to go. you make up your forcestravel.com mind taking into PERSONAL TOUCH account everything In order to provide a from rainfall and bespoke service, Forces temperature to local currency. Travel’s experienced agents work on a one-to-one basis MAGIC TRIP with every customer to Of all of Forces Travel’s many tailor each holiday to their providers, one of the most individual needs. enduringly popular choices for The company hand-picks its families is Disneyland® Paris. travel providers to ensure the Building on a long-lasting deals it offers appeal to the relationship with the French

theme park, the travel firm is able to provide those in the Armed Forces with some truly magical deals. One of the current offers – as featured below and available exclusively for Army&You readers – is for free travel insurance on trips booked by 8th February. Even the insurance is tailored towards those in the military as it is provided by Forces Financial. The offer covers you and your personal posessions and, most importantly, protects against the event of military call-up whether your trip is before or after your tour of duty. Whatever your travel plans, if you are considering getting away from it all then look no further than Forces Travel for a Services-specific solution. n

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winter winter 2015 2015 Army&You Army&You 53 xx


Never too soon to take the plunge Santa may still be making his list and checking it twice but Army&You’s resident travel expert insists there is no time like the present to settle on your source of summer sun...

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T’S THAT time of year when attention turns to thinking of warmer climes as the chilly weather bites and the annual holiday advertising campaigns roll across our TV screens tempting us to book for summer 2016. Although the ability to plan ahead is often hampered by Service life and your immediate priority is likely to be finalising Christmas celebrations, there is good reason to get into the holiday mindset and book as soon as possible if you can. Firstly, to take advantage of the abundance of early-booking accommodation offers and, secondly, the very low air fares that you can pick up. Flight prices tend to increase as you draw nearer to the departure date so reserving early can often save hundreds of pounds. So, where to go? TASTE OF PARADISE The almost impossibly beautiful Maldives islands are normally associated with honeymoon couples, but this destination also works well for families. Many of the resorts have kids clubs with playgrounds and daily activities, children’s pools and menus, baby-sitting services and recreation areas for teenagers. The islands are to die for with dazzling 54 Army&You winter 2015

beaches of pristine white sand, crystalclear waters teeming with fish, cobalt blue skies and year-round sunshine. The flight time from London to Malé is around 10 hours and then the fun begins immediately with either a speedboat or seaplane transfer to your chosen resort. IDEAL ISLAND Close to the Maldives lies Sri Lanka and its maritime borders with India. It’s six years since the civil war there ended and this pristine island boasts lush jungle and rainforest trails, palm-fringed surf beaches, plentiful wildlife and enthralling history as host to eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. Furthermore, Sri Lanka has an array of highly affordable boutique-style hotels which offer a great introduction to the Indian Subcontinent. A private tour guide/driver will help maximise time and knowledge on a visit here. It makes for an intriguing twin-centre holiday with the Maldives too. SriLankan Airlines flies non-stop to Colombo, the capital, and the Maldives is then a 90-minute onward flight. AS GOOD AS IT GETS The lakes of Italy – in particular

Como, Garda and Maggiore – are often overlooked as a main summer holiday destination with travellers often preferring to head for the Italian coastline and islands. However, the beauty of the lakes cannot be overstated enough. The mountainous scenery is stunning; there are fascinating villages to discover by walking and ferry hopping. Sunning yourself in a lakeside setting is about as good as it gets – especially with the authentic Italian food and wine as an accompaniment. A good access airport for the lakes is Milan, just under two hours from London. TAKE TO THE SEAS When it comes to luxury cruising, familyowned Silversea Cruises takes the biscuit. It is one the world’s best and operates a fleet of eight small ships carrying 75 to 302 passengers, therefore keeping it intimate and personal on board. Its expedition ship experiences provide a range of encounters, from penguins in Antarctica to a visit to view ancestral tribe traditions in Papua New Guinea. Next summer’s highlights include a 10-day cruise from Athens to Istanbul, via the Greek islands, or an 11-day Southampton @ArmyandYou


ADVERTISING FEATURE

A&Y EXCLUSIVE OFFERS Maldives – 12-night all-inclusive break from £1,750 per person. Sri Lanka & Maldives – 7 nights in each from £1,995 per person. Lake Maggiore, Italy – 6-night breaks from £795 per person. Silversea Cruises, May to September – To include complimentary flights from the UK to the European disembarkation city. Cuba – 10 nights (3 nights Havana, 7 nights beach) from £1,400 per person.

to Lisbon via Bordeaux. Silversea Cruises are all-inclusive with all meals, room service, selected wines and premium spirits and gratuities included, keeping out-of-pocket expenses to a minimum.

Seasonal sizzlers, clockwise from above: Snorkeling at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives; take a tour of Sri Lanka’s Tea Trails; one of Havana’s “Yank Tanks”; and a snapshot of the scenery seen aboard a Silversea Cruise

All prices include flights from the UK and are based on double occupancy in a 4 star hotel including breakfast (Maldives and Cuba beach all-inclusive) and private transfers. Terms and conditions apply on all offers.

CARIBBEAN COMPETITOR The most popular holidaying Caribbean countries of Barbados, Antigua and St Lucia are being challenged these days by the mystique of Cuba and its welcoming people. Cuba is opening up for more tourism and caters for all holiday styles and budgets – beach and relaxation, family, adult-only resorts, touring and activity. Mix-up a city and beach holiday with a few nights in historic Havana, with its inspiring architecture and tales of revolution, coupled with a week sipping rum cocktails by Varadero Beach. l If you are interested in any of these destinations and offers, or anywhere else in the world, contact David at Halcyon Travel Collections, which offers Army&You readers preferred rates on any packaged holiday they create. Email: david@halcyon-collections.com, call 07976 287 301 or visit www.halcyoncollections.com n www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2015 Army&You 55


FREE CHILD PLACES

25 YEARS OF FAMILY SKIING Ski Famille was founded 25 years ago with one simple aim, to make family skiing holidays as enjoyable and hassle free as possible for both parents and children. As parents we know that taking children skiing can be amazing fun and with carefully selected chalets, our exclusive in-chalet À La Carte Childcare, delicious menus and attentive service, we have shown many thousands of families that a skiing holiday can be a magical and restful experience. • EXCLUSIVE À La Carte Childcare 0 -12 years all in your own beautiful chalet. No snowy trudge to a central crèche: just pop on your skis and leave the rest to us • Superb ski schools and exhilarating activities for children of all ages • Nationwide flights, Eurostar from London direct to the Alps • Your dream Family Christmas from just £799 per adult and £399 per child

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Picture: © Ski Famille 2014

TRAVEL

How can I... Have a family skiing holiday with young children? For adventure-loving military couples, strapping on skis and hitting the slopes can be an ideal retreat from the rigours of Service life. But what happens if you have to factor tots into your travel plans? Army wife Charlie Morton (above right) explores whether offspring stop you getting a piste of the action... FAST FACTS

LOCATION Les Menuires, France GETTING THERE Drive via the Eurotunnel, fly from Gatwick to Geneva or catch the Eurostar from London St Pancras to Moutiers LENGTH OF PISTES 160km downhill; 28km cross-country LIFT FACILITIES 34 ski lifts, 14 chairlifts, 6 gondolas, 6 cable cars, 6 drag lifts, 1 bucket lift APRES SKI 90 shops, 61 bars and restaurants, 6 discos, 2 cinemas FIND OUT MORE en.lesmenuires.com

www.armyandyou.co.uk

A

S a ski-obsessed couple, my husband Mike and I made a habit of hitting the slopes whenever and wherever the frantic pace of Army life allowed. From the pistes of Europe to the resorts of North America, we shared an avalanche of special snow-filled memories. Skiing was our holiday of choice, but when we had two children we wondered whether our downhill dreams would have to be put on hold until the new additions were old enough to enrol in ski school. After a bit of experimenting, however, we discovered that there are companies out there whose mission is to enable entire families to share in the magic of skiing. One of these child-friendly firms is Ski Famille and we headed to Reberty, France, to put their 16-person Chalet Eva to the test. SCENIC SURROUNDINGS Nestled at a height of 2,000m

in the picturesque Trois Vallees region, the chalet is ideally located for anyone wanting to explore the surrounding slopes, which together make up the world’s largest lift-linked ski area. We were greeted by our host Lewis and were able to call on a dedicated cook and fully-qualified nannies throughout our stay. For families with children too young to strap on skis, the on-site crèche is a godsend. Both of our little ones were under three when we visited, so while we headed out onto the slopes they were whisked away for mornings filled with crafts, games and walks. FAIR ON THE FAMILY? Although the arrangement answered the question of whether it is physically possible to enjoy a skiing holiday with young children, we still wondered about the emotional aspect. While we were zipping down the runs, we shared a nagging feeling of guilt. Were the children OK?

Were they miserable without us? Why were we missing them after only being away for one morning? Most days we were out and about until 3pm, by which time we were itching to get back and spend time together as a family, whether going sledding, making snow castles or visiting a café. The children enjoyed building new friendships and the ability for Mike and I to explore the slopes made the lingering guilt a price worth paying. With my husband’s operational commitments meaning we are unlikely to return to the mountains this winter, the week we spent together was wonderful and something from which I believe the whole family benefited. We are already looking forward to returning to the slopes next year – especially as my children will be old enough to ski. n

l To find out more about Ski Famille, visit www.skifamille.co.uk winter 2015 Army&You 57


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MOTORING

MOTORING REVIEW: NISSAN MICRA N-TEC

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We take a closer look at Nissan’s technologically-advanced reimagining of its classic Micra hatchback

Micra’s major modernisation

F

OR gadget-loving drivers keen to deploy the latest technology during their daily commute, the Nissan Micra is unlikely to register too highly on any wish-lists. The Japanese company’s humble hatchback is well-regarded in motoring circles thanks to a reputation built more on reliability and value than flair, suggesting that those in search of space-age accessories might be better served elsewhere – including with the manufacturer’s Juke and Qashqai models. But anyone thinking of writing off the Micra should first check out the newlylaunched N-TEC model, which packs a dazzling array of hi-tech kit into its compact chassis. Positioned between the Micra’s existing Acenta and Tekna models, the N-TEC is kitted out with enough technological bells and whistles to keep even the most innovation-hungry driver happy. Central to the experience is the N-TEC’s gloss black centre console in which is mounted a 5.8-inch colour touchscreen display. The screen provides users with

access to the NissanConnect system which boasts useful tools including satellite navigation and smartphone integration. Even better, it also comes with advanced features such as Google’s Send-to-Car technology, which allows owners to plan journeys on their PC or tablet at home or in the office and upload the instructions directly to the car. With its low-profile exterior, the Nissan Micra has always been adept at fitting into spaces too compact for other vehicles. Now, thanks to an innovative onboard system, the N-TEC makes parking easier than ever before. The car utilises rear sensors and a

parking slot measurement tool to judge whether the Micra can be safely steered into any available bay. Drivers are alerted to whether parking is possible though a dashboard display and the system can even be adjusted to account for amateur, normal or expert skill levels. Additional nods to the N-TEC’s technological pedigree include automatic climate control, rain sensing windscreen wipers and automatic headlights. And while this Micra model ticks all the boxes for gadget lovers, it also impresses aesthetically. Sporty 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, rear privacy glass and even a leather-covered steering wheel ensure the car’s looks match its kit list. Available from £12,400 with a 1.2-litre engine, the N-TEC may well change a few opinions about the Nissan Micra. n

Design Performance Value Overall rating

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WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit.bit.ly/nissanntec www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2015 Army&You 59


GIVEAWAYS Enter this issue’s selection of cool competitions!

HOW TO ENTER Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 10 January 2016. See page three for competition rules.

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

Star prize

Rest and relax at rural retreat WE are offering you the chance to win a four-night stay with Douneside House, a country retreat in rural Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Owned by The MacRobert Trust, Douneside House provides luxury, country house hospitality to Service personnel at preferential

rates following the specific behest of Lady Rachel MacRobert, who lost her pilot sons during the Second World War. Douneside House is an exclusive hotel which also offers self-catering cottages and apartments, all set in landscaped gardens.

Currently undergoing an extensive refurbishment programme, it re-opens in spring 2016. With 7,000 acres of estate to explore, state of the art leisure facilities, and the spectacular Cairngorms National Park on the doorstep, there’s

plenty for your family to do. Find out more at www. dounesidehouse.co.uk l Enter for your chance to win a four-night stay for up to four people in a luxury self-catering cottage (off-peak season, subject to availability).

Win on the waves ONCE home to a crew of up to 950 men, HMS Belfast London, part of Imperial War Museums, tells the stories of those who lived and worked on board this warship during the Second World War and beyond. Imagine sleeping in one of the tightly-packed hammocks or being stationed deep in the bowels of the ship when she opened fire in support of

Allied troops on D-Day. Explore nine decks of seafaring history. Immerse yourself in the midst of a battle in the Gun Turret Experience, take control of a fleet in the interactive operations room and hear veterans’ stories in the Life at Sea exhibition. l Army&You has a family ticket (two adults and two children), worth £42, to give away.

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

60 Army&You winter 2015

@ArmyandYou


GIVEAWAYS

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Picture: Brian Slater

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1. UNDER STARTER’S ORDERS And they’re off! Army families can enjoy a day at the races when playing this devious board game from Rascals. Just as in a real race meeting, players race their horses around the board to win at all costs. Have fun double crossing and bluffing your opponents – bet on your own horse or someone else’s but don’t tell anyone who you’ve backed. The object of the Really Nasty Horse Racing Game is to win the most money at the race meeting by getting your horse placed first, second or third or by placing bets on winning horses. There is also a set of mischief cards to help you create havoc with the other horses and riders. For two-to-six players or teams and ages 12 to adult. l Army&You has three board games, worth £19.99 each, to give away. 2. PERSONAL TOUCH Looking for a unique gift for that special someone or a personalised keepsake? Crafty so n sew, created by Army spouse Mandy Nunn, could have the perfect

www.armyandyou.co.uk

solution. Mandy makes items including memory animals, patchwork blankets and pillows made out of loved ones’ clothes as well as children’s reward charts, glass light blocks and much more. Everything is designed and created inhouse, so if you don’t see something you like, Mandy will design a bespoke piece. l One lucky Army&You reader will win a £35 voucher to spend at www.craftysonsew.co.uk 3. BAGS OF BEAUTY Sharon Stirrat, owner of Bling & Beautiful Boutique, believes that goodlooking jewellery and accessories should be available at competitive prices. She brings new designs and only stocks limited amounts to ensure exclusivity. The business has also joined forces with charity Scotty’s Little Soldiers and is raising funds through online sales. Check out www.bling-beautiful.co.uk l Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a handbag, scarf and purse of your choice. 4. BONNIE AND BRITISH After endless searching, two Army wives

have found the solution to their quest for classic children’s clothing. Sally Douglas and Lucy Bryant created Bonnie UK to produce pure British knitwear – soft lambswool that is machine washable and easy to wear. Classic styles are the perfect addition to every outfit. Bonnie’s range for 7-14 year olds includes polo and box jerseys, crew necks, hoodies and cardigans all manufactured in Scotland using Yorkshire wool. See the full range at bonnieuk.com l Two readers can win an item of their choice from this season’s range. 5. TOUCHING TALE ON TOUR Northern Ballet brings its magic to the Tortoise & the Hare, touring the UK through to May 2016. Its production of the much-loved Aesop’s fable is the perfect opportunity for your little ones to enjoy live ballet, music and theatre. These child-friendly performances last approximately 40 minutes. Book or find out more at www. northernballet.com/tortoise l We have four tickets for a performance of your choice, subject to availability/T&Cs.

winter 2015 Army&You 61


OUR EXPERTS RELATIONSHIPS CAT WILLIAMS Counsellor offering services via telephone and Skype (www.stay calmandcontent.com)

LAW MANDEEP GILL Experienced solicitor

PARENTING MATT SANDERS Prof Sanders founded the Positive Parenting Program (www.triplepparenting.uk.net)

COOKERY ANNABEL WOOLMER Army wife and children’s cookbook author (www.cookwith toddlers.com)

SEND US YOUR QUESTIONS! Got a query? Send it to us and we’ll find an expert with an answer! EMAIL editor@aff.org.uk

Q How can I find the courage for new beginnings? A

IN A military life there are many new beginnings; new quarters, friends, jobs and schools. What are the secrets of surviving and thriving? These tips, which come from the hundreds of military personnel and spouses I have spoken to, include:

go out and use that confidence! l Other people around you will feel the same but may not have the confidence to say so. l Focus on building the confidence of others and you won’t be able to avoid helping yourself at the same time. CW

l It is normal for change to feel unsettling. Excitement feels very similar though so help your mindset and self-confidence by focusing on what is exciting about your latest change. l Take control by accepting what you cannot change but adjusting what you can, by maintaining activities which help you to feel okay and “at your best”. l To maintain courage try to get fresh air, exercise, enough sleep, plenty of water, eat healthily, let things go that don’t really matter, help others – especially those worse off than ourselves – and talk to favourite friends and family members. l If you still don’t feel completely courageous then imagine! Our mouths water if we imagine our favourite meal, so use this brain power to your advantage and imagine a time when you felt self-confident. Immerse yourself in these memories and your body will make you feel as confident as you did then – then

Q What are the key points I should consider before buying a house? A

HOW much can you afford? Give this point some serious thought. Do you have enough money to pay for all the additional costs? These include: l Survey fees l Valuation fees l Stamp Duty Land Tax l Land registry fee l Local authority searches l Fees, if any, charged by the mortgage lender or broker l VAT l Removal expenses l Final bills – for example, gas and electricity from your present home which will have to be paid when you move l Solicitor’s costs – if the sale falls through you may still need 62 Army&You winter 2015

to pay for fees incurred l Any renovations required. Consider the running costs of the home you wish to purchase. Sellers must provide Energy Performance Certificates free of charge to potential buyers. Your deposit is paid on exchange of contracts. The monies from the mortgage lender will be received on

completion so you need funds in place to pay for the deposit. Check if the property is leasehold, freehold or commonhold. There are different ways to own property and it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities. If the property is a new-build, make sure it has a Buildmark warranty. The scheme will protect your money if the

builder goes bankrupt after exchange of contracts but before completion. It also covers defects which arise if the builder has not kept to NHBC standards. Visit www. nhbc.co.uk Buyers also have protection under the Consumer Code for Home Builders. Visit www. consumercodeforhome builders.com Familiarise yourself with the legal process once your offer is accepted. It can take up to 11 weeks to complete, or longer if there are any problems. Do your research to avoid any hidden surprises. For more information, visit Citizens Advice Bureau at www.adviceguide.org.uk MG @ArmyandYou


ASK THE EXPERTS

Q How do I praise my child and still get the balance right? A

WE ALL enjoy being praised. And that’s why appropriate praise is one of the simplest ways to encourage good behaviour and help children learn new skills. BE SPECIFIC Rather than being vague, praise should accurately describe the behaviour you observed and liked. Instead of saying “that’s good” if your child has packed away their train set, you’d say, “thank you for putting your toys away”. It’s clear, specific and enthusiastic, and it tells the child that what they’ve accomplished is both positive and appreciated. They’re more likely to repeat the behaviour in the future. BE DISCERNING Don’t make your child so reliant on your praise that their willingness to do anything depends on it. Rather than praising your child every time they pack up their toys, phase out the praise as your child becomes more skilled at the task you’re trying to encourage. Gradually, the praise becomes less predictable, the child becomes more accomplished, and the behaviour more routine.

BE GENUINE Children will know when you’re not being genuine. And giving kids inflated praise, such as telling them their preschool painting is “incredibly amazing” can make some children afraid to try difficult or challenging tasks, just because they might not always succeed. BE OBSERVANT Concentrate on effort, not results. Praising your child for trying something new or for making an improvement, will motivate them to continue even when something is difficult to master. If you only notice what they failed to achieve (or achieved very easily), you’re not really teaching them the importance of effort and persistence. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL Don’t say bad things about yourself and if someone praises you, don’t brush it off or disagree. Graciously accepting a compliment is a social skill kids need to learn. If they can’t handle receiving praise without being silly, embarrassed or acting up, they’ll be disadvantaged at school and later in life. MS

Q How do I involve my children in the festive cooking? A

CHRISTMAS can get fraught. Kids are off school and you’ve got a ton of food to prepare. You want it to be about family-time, but somehow you end up stuck in the kitchen. The solution is to get the kids involved. Here is some advice to enthuse them to help: l Don’t mention the word “help”; it makes cooking sound like a chore. l Make a list of dishes you want done and let them choose the ones they want to do to make them feel ownership and control, which children tend to respond to. l Let them feel in charge. They are the head chef. You are the sous chef. If they feel they’re in the kitchen just to help you, they’ll be more likely to lose interest. l Give them a “head chef” www.armyandyou.co.uk

feeling by picking recipes they are able to do with minimal help. l Mince pies are a good for young children because they involve lots of rolling and cutting pastry; no different to play dough.

l Christmas cake, pudding and mincemeat are everything into a bowl and mix – great for all ages. l Cheese biscuits are fun to make and great nibbles when you’ve got a house full.

l Cook one-on-one. If you’ve got more than one potential little chef, take turns doing a recipe with each. It will make it less stressful for you and ultimately more special for you both. AW winter 2015 Army&You 63


POSTBAG

CONTACT US

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.

TAXING PENSIONS ISSUE

STAR LETTER

First day rules are unfair

I

AM enquiring on behalf of myself and other Commonwealth wives who are moving to the UK from Germany. If we want to apply for naturalisation when we get to the UK, we cannot do so because the rules state that we have to have been in the UK at the start of the five-year residential requirement. We now have to stay a further three years in the UK before we can apply and five years if our husband is not yet a British citizen. Many of us wanted to apply from here in Germany but it’s too late as we move soon. Why did the Home Office relax the “first day” rule for soldiers but not for spouses? We have no choice in accompanying our soldiers when they are assigned overseas. Name and address supplied Response from Maj Cursons, SO2 Fam Wel, DPS(A): In July 2012 the Home Office changed

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

the rules governing family migration into the UK. At that time transitional arrangements were made to ensure serving members of the UK Armed Forces and their families were not immediately affected and special measures were put in place to continue to accept applications under the old immigration rules up to 31 November 2013. This was advertised at the time and HQ British Forces Germany assisted many families in processing their applications under the old rules. From 1 December 2013, the Armed Forces community have had to comply with the new rules; this includes the first day rule that you must have been physically present in the UK for three or five years prior to your application for citizenship being received by the Home Office (depending if your soldier is British or not). You must also meet other migration rules on the UKVI web pages. The first day rule was waived

for Service personnel as they are granted exempt UK immigration controls whilst they are serving. The exemption does not apply to families however, a further concession was made to families in that time served overseas would count towards the three- or fiveyear rule providing they were physically in the UK on the start date they put on the application form. As a result, the Army revised its call-forward policy for families. Now all spouses/ partners/dependants that are called forward to join their soldier must meet the migration rules to enter the UK and must enter the UK prior to joining their soldier even if the soldier is serving overseas. This starts the correct route to settlement and complies with the first day rule. Without knowing your individual circumstances, I can confirm that the general advice you were given is correct and advise you to ask your soldier to address any specific issue to his chain of command.

A TASTY PRIZE The writer of this letter wins a three-month subscription to Vinoa, a wine-tasting service dedicated to helping you love wine! Enthusiasts can discover iconic wines from the comfort of their own home, with a tasting box delivered to their door. Each month you’ll receive four 50ml samples of carefully-chosen wines from one of the world’s classic wine regions. You could learn a thing or two with their interactive tasting guide too. Go to www.vinoa.co.uk for more information.

MY husband recently left the Army after serving 28 years. It would appear the major thing that kept him in – his pension – is not helping in civvy street. Fortunately, he secured employment within a month of leaving. However, with his new salary and military pension, this now puts him in the higher tax bracket, which also means that we are unable to claim child benefit. The majority of civilian workers will not claim their pensions until their retirement age of 67. My husband, along with many other Service personnel is receiving his now at the age of 44, meaning he will continue to pay tax on his pension until he’s 67 – that’s 23 years of tax! Can someone explain why Service personnel are not allowed the option of deferring their pensions until they reach their retirement age? Name and address supplied Response: The Armed Forces pension schemes allow payment at an earlier stage than other schemes. The lump sum can also be paid at a relatively early age and is not taxed, however it can mean that if the pensioner goes back into employment and if the combination of pension and salary exceeds the threshold (about £42,000 a year) then income above that threshold will be taxed at the higher rate. Deferment is possible, but it would make no sense since only in exceptional circumstances (which do not apply in this case) could the deferred pension be repaid later in life - deferment would mean that the pension would be lost. If you don’t need the income now you could consider placing the whole of your annual entitlement into another pension scheme. There could be tax advantages – and risk –in doing this, so discuss it with a financial advisor.

GET INVOLVED: What’s your view on the term “dependant”? Let us know at us@aff.org.uk

64 Army&You winter 2015

@ArmyandYou


POSTBAG

Costly communications MY soldier has just returned from his second stretch in Canada in the last 12 months, having also come through a tour of Afghanistan two years ago. In many ways, time in Canada has been harder to deal with, mostly due to the lack of communication. On this occasion my soldier was away for seven weeks and in that time we have received mobile phone bills for £49 and £125. This was after minimal communication – a couple of texts a day, short Skype sessions so he could say goodnight to our three-year-old, five-minute phone calls every few days. I wonder why the MOD cannot offer families going through the separation of an exercise in Canada, or any longerterm exercise overseas, the opportunity to use a Paradigm card, or similar, as was issued when our soldiers were posted to Afghanistan? Even a basic 30-minute-per-week allowance could ensure that the cost of maintaining contact does not entirely fall to the family to cover. Separation is still ongoing and for many of us, maintaining proper communication is what gets us and our little ones through. Name and address supplied Response from Directorate Personal Services (Army): The allowance and welfare packages are different for operations and exercises. Operational deployments include separation allowance as well as the operational welfare package, which includes Paradigm cards. Soldiers on overseas exercises get separation allowance and may be paid exercise rates of Local Overseas Allowance (LOA). LOA is non-taxable, paid to contribute towards the necessary additional local cost of day-today living when personnel are required to serve overseas. The exercise rate of LOA in BATUS is currently a minimum of £6 per day. Over a seven-week exercise this amounts to a non-taxable payment of at least £294. Part of LOA is specifically to contribute towards the cost of communications. Soldiers may also receive Longer Separation Allowance (LSA) for the duration of the exercise. LSA

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is to support and improve retention by compensating for separation above that within the X-factor element of basic pay. LSA is a taxable allowance and, at current rates, would amount to at least £338 before tax for a seven-week exercise. Soldiers are briefed on arrival in BATUS that mobile calls are expensive. They are advised to avoid using personal phones but, if they insist on doing so, to turn off data roaming. Although soldiers can be in BATUS for up to seven weeks, they are generally only on the training area for 28 days. Whilst out on the exercise area, soldiers are discouraged from taking their mobile phones owing to the cost of calls and the high tempo of the exercise. Whilst in barracks, facilities include free wifi; 10 free stand-alone computers connected to the internet in the cookhouse; pay phones throughout the base which accept cash, phone cards (available from the General Fund Shop) and credit cards. Soldiers also have the option to get a pay-as-you-go sim card for use in their own phones if it is quad band. Canadian services differ to the UK so should be researched carefully. The BATUS Pre-Arrivals Guide recommends websites for further research. Only some of the communications options will be suitable for personnel on temporary duty. Visit www.telus.com, www.shoprogers. com/store/wireless/overview.asp or www.bellmobility.ca

DEPENDANTS ARE NOT DEPENDENT! I AM writing to call attention to the use of “dependants” as an official term for the spouses or partners of Service personnel as well as their children. I am relatively new to Army life, having moved into SFA just over a year ago. I am surprised to find this term used as a matter of course, whether in correspondence and applications, in briefs and conversations or atop entry passes. This seems a rather outdated and patronising way to describe the status of a modern adult partner. Calling us dependants leads to assumptions about the nature of our choices and partnerships. Maybe it seems like a small thing to raise; my husband and I do laugh about it and it’s a standing joke among our non-Army friends. But this sort of outdated language can be disrespectful. Army families surely deserve more consideration, not least for the sacrifices which Service life can demand of us. Legally, married couples are considered equal “co-dependents” regardless of their incomes as individuals, formalising the concept that they share their status and responsibilities regardless of how they choose to share the demands of living, earning and raising a family. The Army is behind the times in this respect. I appreciate there’s an argument to be made from a practical perspective but I suspect this is just a hangover from a previous time, with outdated social assumptions. How we are described can affect the way others see us and how we see ourselves. Why not write “family” or “partner and children” for instance? Without our willingness to share the burden of Army service and to provide a family life for personnel, the Army would be in a sorry state. Perhaps it is not spouses who are dependants, but the Army which is dependent on us! Name and address supplied Response from AFF Chief Executive Catherine Spencer: I am entirely in agreement that the term “dependant” is inappropriate. As the Army attempts to appeal to a younger generation, continuing to refer to family members who may be earning more than the soldier (particularly as their pay slides) is unacceptable. I have previously suggested “Entitled Family Member”, shortened to EFM. It may not be as catchy but it doesn’t carry the same negative connotations of dependence.

winter 2015 Army&You 65


POSTBAG MORE PRIDE NEEDED

Relocation frustration FOLLOWING our recent move to Canada, my husband took his entitled relocation leave and was informed that he could not claim LOA during this time. This seems unfair as we had the same cost of living during that time and moving here is very expensive. If he had gone straight into work then he would have been entitled to it, but having just undertaken such a monumental move it was essential for our family that he was at home to help with settling in, purchasing new things needed for the house and to assist us with finding our way around. I understand this is the policy as relocation leave is paid by the losing unit and therefore the allowance cannot be applied, but it seems incredibly unfair that we miss out on this allowance during relocation leave. Could you tell me why this is the

case and if it can be changed? Name and address supplied Response from PS10 Allowances: Thank you for your letter. The aim of LOA is “to contribute towards the necessary additional local cost of living when Service personnel are required to serve overseas”. It is designed to offset rather than reimburse the entire amount of any additional expenditure. The rate of LOA is calculated to include one-off expenses, such as buying a car at the beginning of an assignment, as well as daily expenditure such as food. It is therefore an average of the total of these costs which is paid daily throughout an assignment overseas. Unfortunately, current policy does not permit the payment of LOA during relocation leave either before or after the period of the assignment.

While relocation leave should be set against the losing unit’s establishment, it can be split between losing/gaining units upon local agreement. LOA would still not be payable in this circumstance however. It is understood that you feel it is genuinely unfair that this allowance cannot be claimed for a reasonable settling-in period prior to reporting for duty in Canada. Current policy is being reviewed following similar feedback across all three Services. More positively, the rate of Disturbance Expenditure (Overseas) has been increased from £1,041 to £1,420 for accompanied service. An additional option which may help is an advance of pay. Up to four month’s pay can be taken as an interestfree loan and repaid over 12 months to assist with associated expenses.

AM I right in thinking that having a dog in SFA is not a given right but a privilege that has to be approved and applied for, possibly being refused? Living in a block of flats in central London, in my opinion, is not an ideal environment for a dog, especially when the owners let them behave irresponsibly by fouling the children’s play area. There doesn’t seem to be any pride or care in our shared environment, which is especially important in blocks of flats. Rubbish (including mattresses) is fly tipped in communal areas and black bin bags are left near the only entrance causing health and safety issues as well as a fire risk. I just despair. I wish there was still a warden doing inspections. Name and address supplied Response from DIO: Permission must be sought to keep a domestic pet in SFA and this may be refused, depending on the circumstances. Permission can also be revoked if pets cause unnecessary nuisance or damage. We strongly encourage all pet owners to ensure their pets do not cause problems for other residents, such as noise and mess. We are sorry to hear of the issues you describe. Accommodation officers should note and report issues they find as they tour their patches, but you can also report issues to the CarillionAmey helpdesk on 0800 700 6000. We encourage families to look after the communal areas in your flats or housing areas. It is in everyone’s interest to be a good neighbour by not acting in an antisocial way – for the benefit of the Service community.

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

66 Army&You winter 2015

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Family Legal Services

You can’t change what’s happened, but let us help you with your future When a relationship breaks down it is important to get expert advice so that you understand all the options available to you, enabling you to make the right choices for you, your future and your family. Irwin Mitchell’s specialist family law team have a wealth of experience and expertise dealing with family law matters for armed forces personnel and have a deep understanding of military work and family life. We also have experience of working with families after life changing injury, to help protect and plan for their financial future. Irwin Mitchell, always by your side.

0345 604 4911 PLS-FL-0092

www.irwinmitchell.com

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For a list of our offices visit our website. Irwin Mitchell LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.


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Army&You Winter 2015  

The Winter 2015 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

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