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&You

Summer 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

FORCES

FAIRYTALE Meet the best-selling author who found happiness in fiction & following the flag

armyandyou.co.uk

THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE Service spouse shares her tips on finding the positives in redundancy

BEAUTIFUL

BLENDS Single, separated, same sex or happy and not hitched... how the military is meeting the challenge of embracing modern family life

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION


Links with the Armed Forces stretch back to our founder, Jack Cohen who Served in the Royal Flying Corps in the Great War. In 1919, demob money in hand, he began selling groceries from a stall using the dedication and commitment he had learnt from his Service life. Fast forward 100 years and the company he founded, Tesco, still retains proud links with the Military. In 2015, we launched our Armed Forces Network which brings together former and current members of the Armed Forces, and their families, supporting them and helping them to develop as colleagues. From small and humble beginnings this has grown steadily to be one of the largest networks within Tesco. Indeed, Tesco Group, were the fi rst retailer to sign the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Corporate Covenant. At the time of signing, we made a commitment that we will always look to do more for our heroes who regularly put their lives on the line to defend our country. Around 300 Tesco colleagues are members of the supermarket’s Armed Forces Network, who regularly get together to assist and support the lives of those linked to the Services, through network brunches and coffee mornings and our larger summer event, as well as supporting local and national charities like Walking with the Wounded. Here, two of our ex-Service colleagues talk about resettlement and the role Tesco has played…

Martin Weathers

Tesco Express, Retail, Customer Assistant In a nine year Military career, Martin Served with the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in roles including training clerk, movements controller and Headquarters Squadron Clerk that took him to Europe and Canada and saw him deployed with 7th Armoured Brigade in Saudi Arabia prior to the Gulf War in 1990. He joined Tesco in 2016. On leaving HM Forces… When you leave the Armed Forces (which everyone must at some stage), you don’t just lose a job, but a vocation, which you were not only trained to do, but have been continually ‘conditioned’ to

do throughout your Service. You also lose your income, your home, your work clothes; friends and colleagues (who are nearer to being family than friends), a medical, social and welfare system tailored for your distinct needs. You lose your identity in many respects. In short, your entire way of life has to change. It isn’t called ‘Service life’ for nothing. Leaving service life can be a difficult time, especially for those that may have been in this chosen career path for a long time, and may have associated psychological problems, such as Combat PTSD. The majority of Veterans are not so drastically affected, working and supporting families, but they were once part of a cohesive, professional team for which the Military had conditioned them, and may be struggling with feelings of isolation in their communities. This can be magnified if the individuals have experienced combat. Advice for Service-leavers… Prepare! When you relocate, check out the area for doctors’ surgeries, dentists, schools (if applicable), etc. Find your closest Veterans’ breakfast club and join it. Alternatively join your closest Reserves Unit. Don’t expect your neighbours to understand Military life. Some may think Veterans are Second World War ‘old and grey guys’. Start to prepare at least a year before you are due to leave and think about resettlement courses carefully. Keep in touch via social media with your Regiment and friends. I started to run my local combined Armed Forces and Veterans’ breakfast club, which is very successful locally and I also volunteer part time for The Veterans Charity, alongside my Tesco job and both my manager and peer staff are very supportive of my efforts.

Ahmed Gamil

Stores Gamil was in the RAF for 12 years as an aerospace systems operator. Most of his time was spent in the north east at RAF Boulmer but he also completed a tour with No.1 Air Control Centre (1ACC) in Lincolnshire working with the deployable radar unit. He completed overseas detachments in Afghanistan working with the US Marines and two tours in the Falkland Islands. On leaving the RAF… Leaving the RAF was a difficult decision. I enjoyed being in the RAF but not necessarily the available roles. It was also difficult as I had a young family and we were finding it hard to balance my wife’s career, family life and the requirements of the RAF. The decision to leave was hard but was the right choice. After I left the RAF I continued studying part time for my degree and working as an apprenticeship assessor. Once I completed my degree I started looking for graduate opportunities. I applied for a number of graduate roles, choosing Tesco in 2019 as it offered a challenge and the opportunity to work locally and achieve a better work-life balance.

Joining Tesco… With Tesco I got exactly the challenge I was looking for! Working in the store on the graduate programme has been great. I’ve received a lot of support and encouragement and given a great deal of responsibility. There’s a different challenge every day and no two days are the same. I’m currently on my placement as a team manager and worked through my first Christmas with Tesco. It has been a real eye-opener to see what has to go in to running a store on a daily basis and has given me a greater appreciation into the complexities of retail. Advice for Service-leavers… If someone was leaving the Military my advice would be to give yourself plenty of time to plan what you want to do. Take full advantage of your resettlement time and build up your civvy qualifications. Network as much as possible; it really surprised me how complicated and different the job applications had become since I’d joined the RAF. It is easier securing a job through a network connection than going through the normal application process. My final bit of advice would be not to get disheartened if you don’t get a large number of replies or interviews. There’s a lot of competition and employers may have very specific requirements for the role.

New Commitments… The re-signing of the Covenant in 2018 commits Tesco to uphold its key principles, including: • Supporting Veterans who have left the Armed Forces with employment at Tesco. • Aiding spouses and partners of Serving personnel to get jobs at Tesco stores. • Promoting the Reserve Forces to Tesco colleagues. • Ensuring flexibility around life changes due to partners’ Military service so colleagues are not disadvantaged. Tesco is already one of the biggest employers of Serving and former Service personnel, with thousands of Veterans working in roles across the business. The retailer is also one of the biggest employers of Reservists and has a record as a Forces-friendly organisation.

Find out more at: www.tescoplc.com/careers


FROM THE EDITOR

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

www.armyandyou.co.uk

ACTING EDITOR Lisa Youd editor@aff.org.uk // 01264 554004

CONTACT AFF VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS 8am to 7pm, Monday to Thursday 8am to 5pm, Friday contact@aff.org.uk // 01264 554004

Familiar families Being part of a blended family, a single parent or having an elderly relative living with you is nothing unusual these days. Families come in all shapes and sizes and through the pages of Army&You, we love telling your stories about army life, regardless of age, gender, sexual

You can treat yourself to a fabulous hotel break by entering our giveaway on page 63, and don’t forget to check out our regular BlogSpot, Book Club, Postcard and Our Army Family sections. As this edition lands on your doorstep, you’ll see that A&Y has now ditched plastic wrapping in favour of a more environmentally-friendly

orientation, family make-up or rank. So how is the army geared up to reflect modernday families? In our main feature, reporter Jill Misson highlights your experiences and explores the policies that support our changing military community (pages 14-16). We also take a look at the considerations that Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers who are unmarried or single parents have to think about (pages 18-19), and there’s a run-down of the rules on entitlement to army housing for ‘non-traditional’ families (page 43). We also examine some of the issues that are cropping up for diverse families posted overseas (pages 22-23 ). Another hot topic for AFF has been pre- and postnatal mental health, with many of you coming forward to talk about it on social media recently. On pages 24-27, we feature some great organisations who are there to support new mums and dads.

packaging. And finally, we’re sad to say goodbye to our former editor Charlotte Eadie, who moved on to pastures new in April. Since joining AFF in 2003, she presided over a whopping 72 editions of the magazine and has overseen the transition from the Families Journal to Army&You and the introduction of our website and social media. We wish Charlotte all the best in her next chapter. Enjoy the issue.

ENGLAND 07824 534345 // englandmgr@aff.org.uk OVERSEAS 07795 596568 // overseasmgr@aff.org.uk

REGIONAL LEADS UK NORTHERN IRELAND 01264 554004 // ni@aff.org.uk SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // scotland@aff.org.uk WALES 07527 492868 // wales@aff.org.uk CENTRAL 07527 492807 // central@aff.org.uk NORTH 07733 147001 // north@aff.org.uk SOUTH 07974 970696 // south@aff.org.uk SOUTH WEST 07527 492783 // southwest@aff.org.uk

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LISA YOUD, ACTING EDITOR

SPECIALISTS HOUSING 07901 778948 // housingsupport@aff.org.uk EDUCATION & CHILDCARE 07557 977290 educationsupport@aff.org.uk HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS✪ 07557 977290 // healthsupport@aff.org.uk EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING✪ 07799 045955 // employment@aff.org.uk MONEY & ALLOWANCES✪ 07593 130364 // money@aff.org.uk FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH fcsupport@aff.org.uk

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in Scotland with registered charity number SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 9 July 2021. ADVERTISEMENTS Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 / Web: ayads.co.uk

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follow us on Don't forget to agram and Facebook, Inst d more news an Twitter for lots ree th tails on page features – de

SUMMER 2021

CONTENTS INSIGHT

18 Commonwealth Challenge Why being an army of one can have its complications 28 On The Case The process behind the allowance pay-outs 30 Splitting The Pension Pot How best to navigate a monetary minefield 34 Regional Reshuffle We explore AFF's new geographic footprint 42 Contract Change New maintenance management primed 59 Kuwaiti Caper Getting to grips with living in the Gulf

&You

W

living with household children, not every traditional setconforms to that parents, up. There are single unmarried, couples who are families, dual serving, blended – lots of and – undoubtedly

FEATURES

14 All Shapes And Sizes How the army is adapting to our changing community 22 Far-Flung Families The issues faced by 'nontraditional' families overseas 24 Baby Talk Support for those welcoming the pitter patter of tiny feet 32 A Forces Fairytale Meet the army spouse who found happiness in fiction 38 Opportunity Knocks Picking out the positives following redundancy 56 Grill Time Ideas to spice up your summer char-grilled cuisine

REGULARS

06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team has been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... A welcome note from our chief executive 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 62 Book Club Young readers warm to Weather Weaver 63 Giveaways Win a waterside break in the heart of the Lake District 64 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life

life}

FORCES

FAIRYTALE Meet the best-selling author who found happiness in fiction & following the flag

armyandyou.co.uk

THE BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE

Service spouse shares her tips on finding the positives in redundancy

BEAUTIFUL

BLENDS and Single, separated, same sex or happy meeting the not hitched... how the military is family life challenge of embracing modern

Alastair Smith-Weston

and son

Sgt other permutations. Smith-Weston Sergeant Alastair of four, that is a divorced father report says, recognising him. He has whose son lives with “long-term cohabitation challenge has not just says: “The biggest increased substantially, the care of but as always been juggling as a prelude to marriage sure I could my son and making a lifestyle choice.” soldier.” that more still be an efficient The authors noted needs of the of marriages understand To than 40 per cent community, England and the armed forces end in divorce in an the MOD commissioned led by independent review, In June Andrew Selous MP. Shoes was Our In Living 2020, reflected on published, which and the military the way society way of life has changed. 21st century “Family life in the the is fluid and diverse,”

Lorraine of children in whose partner than 25 per cent case of a soldier just one of their with their the UK live with was living far away was often birth parents. baby. She says: “He she was “AFF is here to support stressed about how whatever whether he all army families coping or worried policy something their make up,” says could get back if Michelle They & research director were to go wrong. confirmed Alston. “The report registered their relationship raised over on patch. many issues we’ve and are now living to continue the years and we’ll army and MOD engage with the on the next steps.”

Policies helping

in Since 2019, couples established long-term been relationships have to live allowed to apply Family in surplus Service (SFA). Accommodation

nt to count “It’s incredibly importa as valid ships long-term relation and women so that serving men marriage.” don’t feel rushed into

in long-term relationships this on overseas to register their JPA as this will strengthen longevity case and evidence assigned for when they are may apply positive back to the UK and been a tremendously of this new for surplus housing.” impact coming out policy.” serving her Blended families Sarah Hulyer and remarried, in Northern When Alison Russell partner live in SFA two children to no guarantee she brought her year.” a Ireland but there’s husband and more than 80 nights on their next live with her new Model (FAM) has a of surplus housing Accommodation The blended Unit welfare often “We were his three children. an entitlement can posting. She says: a fourthis will become contact house which several family was allocated a huge or required to provide which will also make in Tidworth. be booked for weekends proof that we bedroom house personnel written forms of also exist in difference to serving kids holidays. These for two She says: “All the primary carer but all had been together who are not the new life so some overseas locations were able to adjusted to their years. Luckily, we for non-resident teenage for their child.” travel expenses even though well. Our two younger an eightcost. scrape it together but we One soldier with children are at personal as a couple boys shared a bedroom told A&Y: “I we hadn’t rented year-old daughter dining room him all had to adapt our when I visit due to his job sending live in the mess and Differences abroad our eldest son.” for mates place.” with the stay over her, I have to to the On overseas postings, it’s Alison is grateful ex’s house She adds: “I think don’t have or family near my says: “I unmarried couples to count welfare team. She drive four to live incredibly important because I have to a newbie. the same opportunity as valid felt supported as the list long-term relationships and need each way. I’m on forward in surplus quarters and women hours The army is moving so she so that serving men privately. such to get surplus housing permission to rent ‘the new normal’ into marriage.” with rushed can feel don’t partner parents can stay with me.” The non-serving as divorced or single whose Dependency Married soldiers as there apply for Limited which is amazing with them – Hope for housingCat or stigm children do not live Status in some locations should be no shame entitlement expenses AFF housing specialist full-time have no media, none of their travel with the “Through social but can Calder is pleased your to a larger property are covered. says: “It’s AFF has been hearing SFA. Cat says: progress so far. She gain a apply for surplus AFF’s overseas manager, in policy experiences to help to address this “We a welcome change of the “FAM is looking Esther Thomas says: modern better understanding on need to which reflects the those issue by allocating would encourage is that who visit for family and the hope summer 2021 Army&Y include children the Future going forward into

Sarah Hulyer

www.armyandyou.co.uk

@ArmyandYou

2021 14 Army&You summer

I

of DIDN’T like the idea or want being a military wife with the to be left at home deployed, but kids while he was that the job I quickly learned one and the and the man are honestly say same. I can now and loyalty to it’s his dedication that’s one the army he so loves qualities. of his most admirable my eldest son say to proud I’m is also a soldier.

had been their east wing and I thought to Majorca – all things I decided to were very fancy! thing I write about the only and I think know: ordinary life, relate to that’s what my readers I write tales most – the fact that of women like us.

decide to What made you become an author? a million I never thought in like me years that someone – what could write a book about? I’d did I have to write or done never been anywhere people who anything. I thought have grown wrote books must a spare up in a house with a library in bedroom, who had

in What were the challenges the beginning? avid reader I’d always been an of grammar but thought my lack of how to and understanding make it craft a story would but that’s the impossible for me, are hundreds great thing – there where all of people who know squiggles those little dots and in the UK go. I have great editors a wonderful and US and it was that I moment when I realised a great scholar didn’t have to be to write great books!

“It was a wonderful moment when I realised that I didn’t have to be a great scholar to write great books!”

we both or a meeting because s and have have responsibilitie each other’s to fit things around

you get What support did friends? from your military wife I’m part A lot. As an army no one really of a unique group, to live on knows what it’s like with this the patch and cope are going lifestyle unless they success is through it too. My reminder that for all of us and a than our we’re so much more half. other spouse’s

workloads.

on your Have you drawn army wife? experiences as an And never Every single day. my book Will more so than in which is You Remember Me? to live in set where we used – and deals Larkhill, Salisbury close to with something very That’s why my own experience. book as a I have chosen this readers giveaway for Army&You you’ll think I – (see right) and recognise my experience that of my family.

the army Do you think living or hindered? lifestyle helped first book Both. I wrote my Simeon Poppy Day because scared. was away and I was down It helped to write was afraid of in everything that I therapy. a story – a bit like me But it’s also hindered always because it hasn’t me to drop been possible for to a PR event everything and go

Holly shares her experience of dealing with her partner's deployment before marriage in this issue's BlogSpot (page 65). Picture: Cindy Kitchker Photography

probably do! Start

Don’t let your is always useful. put inner voice of self-sabotage you off. fist book When I wrote my rejections so in 2011, I had 70

life with service JUGGLING family and a difficult balance, commitments is extra may need some some new dads soldier Adam Rockley support. Former help how you can seek tells us more about through DadPad… were the two words “I’m pregnant.” These out on the Canadian I heard before going planned, I was starstruck prairie. Although wondering exercise, the of for the entirety and what now. Although about the what if you for the unexpected, the forces prepares terms to the time to come you may not get of becoming a parent. with the realisation of my first few months Fast forward to the of jumping in and out son’s life and I was due to the requirements an important time Not only did my wife of a military career. for it was a crucial time need support, but of my baby. My chain me bonding with but if I’d known command was supportive, I there are many things now, know I what differently. would have done

such an Having a baby is with exciting time, bringing and it shifting emotions For tremendous change. these some new parents, life can adjustments to family on their impact negatively health & mental health. AFF’s specialist, additional needs s… Karen Ross, investigate

your HEN we asked for experiences on the during support available and postnatally pregnancy, birth month during our health-themed the responses earlier this year, threw up some from army parents We heard interesting issues. from from mothers suffering health, poor perinatal mental and difficult pregnancies deployed births, fathers being or missing soon after the birth altogether. their child’s arrival several There were also they’d received couples who felt of from their chain a lack of support command. reflects many of Jodie’s experience raised with us, the issues that you’ve when didn’t feel myself she explains: “I old, was eight weeks my second baby I to my health visitor and after speaking depression and realised I had postnatal guard hubby away or on anxiety. Having like I was it made me feel was very hard – own. What would help? completely on my as it still a specific it on Instagram We asked you whether “I posted about and and I for partners, wives a taboo subject, such like support network seems be helpful and the the military community servicewomen would honestly felt like There and supported me. resounding ‘yes’. response was a really understood was some he of support from amazing when were also offers My husband was my in this field such he wasn’t, I had of you who are working home, and when who would knew what I who online, as doulas and therapists, lovely friends two up. This is I still suffer nearly like to help set something was going through. it I’m looking into advice is don’t bottle in progress and work years on, but my and that are already are completely valid, some of the networks up. Your feelings you aren’t failing!”

Learning on the

job

right is crucial – Getting the foundations leads that preparation we’re always taught so why aren’t we to better performance, forces, After leaving the doing this here? Bose – CEO of the I came across Julian The become my boss. DadPad, who has guide and app that DadPad is a how-to

dow The perinatal win

Jodie Reynolds

out so do keep an eye up and running, for further details. hear the experiences Often, we don’t take these pages, we of fathers. So over the excellent support a look at some of and for both new mums that’s available forces community dads in the armed and beyond.

mum is a military wife and NICOLA Flanagan She’s also an antenatal to three young boys. birth mental health and teacher, perinatal in During her last posting trauma therapist. and classes for antenatal Tidworth, she ran huge and realised the postnatal women, this of you face during challenges some vulnerable window. And My Baby (MAMBA) Nicola set up Me “There are to offer tailored support. can happen in the so many things that can that perinatal window have affect parents and long-reaching impacts state,” on their emotional such she says. “Things as a difficult IVF journey, miscarriages, hormonea induced mood changes, journey, difficult breastfeeding colic, managing reflux and the list goes perinatal anxiety…

for truly prepare women on, and nothing can they will experience.” the unknown journey

Mayday messages many messages

receives The MAMBA group need recognise that they from women who are the feelings they some help to process husband so anxious that my experiencing. “I’m hardly our baby’s birth, I’m won’t be back for asks every time someone sleeping and panic reports one expectant me about the baby,” “I feel so mum. Another says: my partner time every worried baby that it’s is looking after the to becoming really damaging our relationship.”

www.armyandyou.co.uk

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summer 2

offers free pre- an PANDAS Foundation advice services, postnatal depression support by train including peer-to-peer is volunteers. Its aim and experienced parent is alone from to ensure that no to birth and beyo conception through given The foundation has army welfare teams presentations to of key perinatal to raise awareness to help provid mental health issues, so they are ab understanding better parents. engage with both roll out support PANDAS plans to military personn group sessions for to reduce iso and family members, their parental jou and loneliness on interested in PAN If you would be and support g hosting a discussion the best contac give their babies in your military community, supports dads to the importance annie.belasco@ Annie Belasco at start in life. We understand that bond and conscious pandasfoundation.org.uk of an intentional the click with their baby, and For more information, dads need to create each needs to give to tion.org.uk parent each pandasfounda support other too. with the NHS to get We’ve been working as hands as many dads’ the DadPad into the unique struggles possible. To recognise we’ve now made face, families that military to help military dads it part of our mission from and to prevent you and their partners, bonding moments. missing out on crucial thedadpad.co.uk Find out more at

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WIN! Amanda away 50 signed her incredible b You Remembe lucky Army&You To enter, see pag competition

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2021 32 Army&You summer

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

There’s runs for all distances and abilities. So put your running shoes on and help raise vital funds for the Army family. Last year, we supported 60,000 individuals and over 40 organisations. We need your help to continue providing a lifetime of support to soldiers, former soldiers and their families.

small

Like practise your craft. “Don’t worry and you anything, the more get at it. about writing write, the better youwriting a worry about a blockbuster Don’t thousand-page blockbuster or a a – write a paragraph, or a thousand- saga an idea, sentence, a thought, it grow. If it’s page saga a memory and let to start pants and you have – write a a writer! again, then you are the That’s all it is, putting paragraph, a words and down until they look a afraid be sentence, feel right. And don’t out there of putting your work thought, an feedback, get online, it – put if they will soon tell you idea, a memory people Feedback, like it or want more. and let it grow.” no matter how hard it is to hear,

you give to What advice would any budding authors? you have Do it! If you think you a story worth reading,

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ON THE COVER

forward “The army is moving ’ such as with ‘the new normal , which parents divorced or single should be no is amazing as there shame or stigma.”

of The uplift in wellbeing is a clear that young family there has demonstration that

, so how is the army … for modern families reports There is no set mould changing community? Jill Misson t our Captain Unit welfare officer, adapting to suppor age 18, more the Wales and that by Dotchin recalled HILE many army of families consist one serving person their spouse and

Summer 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their

ALL SHAPES & SIZES

summer 2021 Army&You 05

Targeted support

up to When MAMBA signed Covenant the Armed Forces up a last year, Nicola set specifically Facebook group

Fatherhood & f

young child Are you a dad with you like footb father to be? Do wa Mental Health Foundation trans about your life-changing dads, get can hear from other and of c in virtual discussions game too about the beautiful ootba Head to @mhf_dads_f facebook.co on Instagram or dadsandfootballproject

new mums in for pregnant and community. than 40 “We now have more peer s she explains. “Through do with wom individual work I positive im I can really see the to be ab having. I’m delighted from a our military community experien specialist expertise, .” and understanding or se Go to mambaUK.com Mums Co New and Pregnant Facebook to join.

summer 20


AFF IN ACTION

Our experts

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

After a tough year, what ’s the one thing you are looking forward to this summer?

Anna Hutchinson – Education & Childcare AFF is part of SCISS (Service Children in State Schools), a network that actively promotes the experiences of army families. Those of you with school-aged children may be interested in its Voice of Schools report, which launched earlier this year. This is the first project of its kind to give all schools in England with service students the opportunity to highlight their experiences of supporting forces youngsters. The findings will be used to enable SCISS and its partners to speak out for change where it’s needed. You can find the report at sciss.org.uk/voice-of-schools-project

Jenna Richardson – Employment & Training Spouses and partners working in big organisations often come to me for advice when they find themselves disadvantaged by HR policies. When the employer is an Armed Forces Covenant signatory, these situations can often be resolved quickly. However, if the employer is not, then they’re not obliged to make variations to remove disadvantage. This has been a particular problem for those working in academy schools, which are no longer under the control of local authorities. I’ve raised this issue with the Armed Forces Covenant team and would welcome any more examples of where you have been disadvantaged due to military life. Email employment@aff.org.uk

Enjoying days out in the sunshine with friends and family.

Celebrating my husband’s 40th and my mum’s 70th birthday, which should have been celebrated in 2020.

Katherine Houlston – Foreign & Commonwealth Calling all Gurkha spouses – we believe that a large number of you remain on incorrect immigration rules as a result of applying for visas to enter from Nepal or Brunei. If your visa was not issued for five years and you paid an immigration health surcharge (IHS), then you may be eligible for a free correction and a refund of the IHS. Similarly, if you had a four-year visa issued prior to December 2013 and were then issued a visa for five years whilst you were overseas, you may be entitled to a correction to indefinite leave (ILE). Please contact us on fcsupport@aff.org.uk

Karen Ross – Health & Additional Needs AFF, with funding from Aspire, held an Additional Needs Study Day for practitioners, professionals and policymakers. The day was very successful and well attended, and included an array of speakers talking about many different topics including MOD policy updates, special educational needs and disability, housing support and specific help provided by organisations for the forces community. If you have any issues, contact me at healthsupport@aff.org.uk

Attending music festivals with my daughters.

Sunshine, long, light evenings and sitting in the garden with a glass of cold wine.

Cat Calder – Housing We are coming into the period where Amey is preparing to hand over the housing contract to the new contractors – see page 42 for more. The intention is that there’ll be no change in service during this transition. However, if you do have issues, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you log jobs correctly and make official complaints so that Amey and DIO can track any issues and tackle them as soon as possible. If you do see any change in service over the next few months, please let us know by emailing the details and the complaint reference number to housingsupport@aff.org.uk

Catching up with and hugging friends and family.

Claire Hallam – Money & Allowances Our money survey earlier this year showed that many of you posted overseas face difficulties accessing financial advice and help with issues such as mortgages. One of the key areas highlighted was the complexity of information on your tax position when moving overseas, particularly if you intend to work remotely for a UK-based company. This is a complex area and we’ve discussed it with HMRC, who advised that it will depend on individual circumstances, so it’s always best to contact them directly. However, we’re still hearing of difficulties from those of you trying to navigate host nation requirements and how this works with their Status of Forces Agreements. We are continuing to investigate, so do feedback your experiences – money@aff.org.uk

Carolyn Morton – Policy & Research Officer As we approach the end of the first half of 2021, I’ll be looking at the enquiries we’ve received to identify the key themes and trends. This enables us to engage with the army, MOD and other government departments to highlight your issues and to effect positive change on your behalf. I’ll also continue to monitor the progress of the Armed Forces Bill, identifying whether any of the proposed changes have the potential to affect army family life.

06 Army&You summer 2021

The opportunity to visit family.

The look on my parents’ faces when they finally get to see their grandchildren in person after 18 months apart.


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A WORD FROM COLLETTE MUSGRAVE AFF CHIEF EXECUTIVE

ALL FAMILIES, EVERYWHERE

A

T AFF we support all types of army family and their individual needs, whether they are in a long-term relationship, living apart, a dual-serving couple, single parent or a blended family. The recently published independent report Living in our Shoes: Understanding the needs of UK Armed Forces families, which was commissioned by the MOD and led by Andrew Selous MP, noted that the concept of family in the 21st century has changed to become more fluid and diverse. I’m sure that this is reflected in many of our personal experiences. I’ve been in an army family for the last 20 years but married only since 2014 – and we also spent our first years together as a dual-serving couple and have had long periods of living apart. Those aren’t unusual family choices – but you might have thought so from the difficulties we faced in navigating rules and accessing services!

Progress made

So, it’s good to see the progress that the army

www.armyandyou.co.uk

your way through those complexities. AFF is here to help you.

Confusing at times

“It’s good to see the progress that the army and defence have made in recent years in recognising and supporting different types of families. But there is still more to do.” and defence have made in recent years in recognising and supporting different types of families – and this edition of A&Y reflects some of your stories and

experiences of this. But there is still more to do. The rules and regs can be very complex, and it can take a lot of effort and determination to navigate

We are also here to raise issues that aren’t being addressed – or where there’s confusion over what support is available. Recently you told us about issues surrounding entitlement to larger Service Family Accommodation for families with step-children. There’s more detail in this magazine, and under the Future Accommodation Model pilot, ways to help families in this situation are being looked at. While support is improving for more diverse army family life, there is still more work to be done for families who are overseas. Some things will depend on the host nation’s rules or agreements, but the differences compared to the UK are much more apparent and, for some of you, difficult to face.

Get in touch

If you’d like to tell us about your issues and concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – see page 3 for all our details. &

summer 2021 Army&You 09


AFF IN ACTION #AFFteamwork

REVISED CHARGES

#AFFteamwork

ON THE JOB FRONT So far in 2021 a further 244 employers have come on board the Forces Families Jobs site, including Sky, Parkdean Resorts and Valor Hospitality, and we are currently in meetings with several other big-brand names who want to join. The total number of employers, all signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant, is almost 900. #AFFteamwork

MIND THE APP Throughout spring, AFF gave 500 army families free annual subscriptions to the Headspace app, thanks to funding from the Annington Trust. Priced £49.99 a year, the meditation and mindfulness programme aims to improve users' health and happiness. Through the app you can learn mindfulness techniques and experience the benefits of guided meditation through articles and videos. We hope it’s making a huge difference to those of you who signed up. #OneToWatch

CUSTODY BATTLE AFF was alerted by the Army Parents’ Network to issues being faced by service personnel trying to maintain or gain custody of their children following a separation. AFF is concerned that there may be a misunderstanding from some family courts as to the nature of service life. We have been working with the MOD and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service to ensure both family courts and service personnel are provided with helpful information. If you’ve experienced difficulties, get in touch contact@aff.org.uk

10 Army&You summer 2021

#AFFinvestigates

WORKING FROM HOME OVERSEAS Following on from the Money & Allowances experts’ piece on page six, we are keen to hear from those of you who are successfully working remotely overseas. We’d also like to know if you have not been so fortunate and have been unable to continue with your UK-based employment. Please contact us at employment@aff.org.uk to tell us your experience. #OnTheCase

YOUR EVIDENCE MATTERS In 2020, AFF dealt with more than 11,000 of your enquiries, which covered a huge range of issues, from accessing financial services and understanding the Service Pupil Premium to difficulties with visas and accessing student finance. Throw in housing, school admissions, additional needs support and employment concerns, and we’ve heard from you about every aspect of family life. We also helped you tackle many issues relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics included the impact of the assignment freeze on children about to move schools,

as well as the particular challenges of moving to and from overseas. We’ve done our very best in a constantly changing environment to provide you with clear and up-to-date information. Last year, questions relating to being a non-UK family within the army made up nearly a quarter of the total enquiries. Housing queries accounted for a further 20 per cent, with family life, education and childcare also large areas of concern. You’ll find a summary of all your evidence and statistics in our latest Families’ Concerns report at aff.org.uk

When big changes to how Sennelager families’ housing charges are calculated took place early last year, Lindsay McCran, our AFF Germany lead, was immediately contacted by many families, who would see significant increases to their monthly rent over a period of time. Lindsay looked at the JSPs in detail along with AFF housing specialist Cat Calder and contacted DIO housing manager Tanya Hickman and Commander BA(G) Col Tim Hill to highlight families’ concerns; both acted swiftly to put a temporary halt to the transition to CAAS (Combined Accommodation Assessment System) whilst further investigations could take place. A further review of the condition of military housing in Sennelager concluded that the original assessment had contained incorrect data on access to local services. At January’s townhall meeting, Col Tim was able to confirm that a revised location assessment had been authorised, so all CAAS bandings would be reduced and overpayments would be reimbursed. Col Tim told A&Y: “I really value my relationship with Lindsay. Our information flow works both ways and Lindsay’s updates on issues and the ‘mood music’ from the families provide me with that vital intelligence from the patch. “I am delighted that we have a great partnership with AFF who are very much a part of our thriving community.” @ArmyandYou


#AFFteamwork

RAISING THE PROFILE Our employment & training specialist Jenna Richardson recently presented to the Forces in Mind Trust conference, which was attended by academics, service charities and government ministers. Jenna helped to raise the profile of serving families, highlighting the importance of a spouse/partner having an established, happy career – and the essential role this plays in a successful transition for those who are leaving the military. She also talked about the difficulties that spouses face in finding and maintaining meaningful employment. #OnTheCase

BUFFERING BUT BUILDING SPEED In our autumn 2020 edition, we highlighted broadband issues affecting families in quarters in Aldershot. HQ Aldershot recently stated: “The broadband connectivity in Service Family Accommodation (SFA) is woeful. This issue has come to the fore during the pandemic, when service families have found it extremely difficult to educate their children and work from home. While the responsibility rests with the service providers, we, the military, must do everything that we can to ensure that SFA is just as well connected as our civilian counterparts.” Local MP and Minister for Defence People and Veterans Mr Leo Docherty is championing this matter on behalf of the military community and AFF is continuing to engage with all parties involved to help push for a solution. Unfortunately, whilst this project is gathering momentum, it won’t be resolved immediately. Openreach has completed its initial evaluation of properties affected and has submitted a quote for the work required. Mr Docherty and his team have been giving updates through social media, individual letters and their website, with a live survey link for families to continue to express their concerns. If you’re affected, go to leodocherty.org.uk/garrisonbroadband #OneToWatch

BREXIT BOTHER Army families based in Northern Ireland are just starting to see the impact of Britain leaving the European Union. Some of you have reported that companies you have used for years have now either stopped deliveries or added a large surcharge. New rules for travelling with pets to and from the mainland may cause issues and added costs over the holidays. If your family has been affected by either of the above or something else, get in touch at contact@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

#AFFwin

FULLY QUALIFIED AFF’s foreign & commonwealth team of three is now fully qualified to provide immigration advice. Our F&C assistant, Amy Pearson, passed her exam with flying colours to gain a Level 1 Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) qualification. If you need support with any F&C issue, our team is here to help. Head to aff.org.uk summer 2021 Army&You 11


EASY LISTENING

and schools, kicking off with the USA.

Are you looking for a good listen with a military twist? Then these could be the perfect thing for your ears – check them out on your preferred app. Fancy a brew? Hosted by the MOD. Find out what life’s really like on operations over a tea break with those deployed all over the world. From UN peacekeeping in Mali to protecting shipping lanes in the Gulf, grab a brew with the soldiers, sailors and airmen who are working to keep Britain safe. Connect Forces The flagship show of new station Great British Radio, every Sunday from 10am to noon, Connect Forces is a mix

Being Forces Friendly Sit down with guests from the armed forces, government and business to get the inside info from the experts on partnering with defence. There’s even a special episode with Col Dame Kelly Holmes. Hosted by Defence Relationship Management.

of music, love and laughter. It will connect veterans with long-lost comrades, giving them a chance to share their stories. To dedicate a song, send a message or surprise someone by connecting with them on air, email connect.forces@ greatbritishradio.org

BE A BUDDY Could you help other military families by becoming a volunteer Buddy? The Ripple Pond’s volunteer team provides an extra level of support to armed forces families who are facing challenging times. The regular contact and support they provide is vital to families who often don’t know which way to turn for help. You would need to be able to give an hour a week to chat on the phone or via video call. All Buddies will receive training before they start and during their time as volunteers. Depending on your availability you could be linked with one or more members at any one time. Email help@theripplepond.org for details.

Global Education Matters This podcast series explores all things education and is aimed at UK military families based in key worldwide locations. It features Andrew Malcolm and Ed Harris, senior education officers at the MOD, who talk about local education systems

Voices of the Military Wives Choirs by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity Choir members from across the UK and British military bases abroad join forces on this 10th anniversary podcast to discuss how singing together has been a lifeline – from helping them cope with the strain of their loved ones being deployed to finding moments of togetherness and positivity during lockdown.

EXTRA CASH FOR SCHOOLS The MOD Education Support Fund for UK schools which teach service children has now been extended for another year and is open for applications. Do encourage your child’s school to apply for a share of the £3m fund by 30 September 2021. Since its launch in 2011, the fund has helped publicly-funded schools, academies and free schools mitigate the effects on service children whose parents are frequently on the move or deployed. For more, see gov.uk

ALL ABOUT SCOTLAND The 2021 edition of Welcome to Scotland: A guide for service personnel and their families in Scotland has now been published by the Scottish government, which is committed to ensuring that members of the armed forces and their families are fully supported. The Scottish government works in close partnership with

12 Army&You summer 2021

local authorities, the wider public sector and charities to ensure you are able to access the best care and support. AFF and the other families federations helped with the latest update of the guide, which covers topics such as housing, education, healthcare, employment and training. Take a peek at the publication at gov.scot @ArmyandYou


NEWS IN BRIEF

CAREER PORTAL TAKES OFF

GET BIDDING

A new webpage has been launched that provides service personnel with easy access to army and capbadge career policies, for both regulars and reserves. The Army Career Policy Portal allows your soldier to: l Explore what opportunities are available to make the right choices about their future career l Discover information to help them make more informed career choices l Understand what they need to progress their career and how to make a change l Share the information with peers and subordinates.

The NAAFI Fund 2021 is now open for bids! As well as the continuing last year’s theme of improving life for serving personnel and their families living on or near a military base; this year the focus is on making awards that seek to improve health and wellbeing. Melloney Poole, chief executive of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, which supports the fund, explains: “If you have a good idea that will improve wellbeing, then have a look at our guidance; and then get in touch with NAAFI directly to share a short summary of what you would like to do. You’ll get feedback on whether you can fill out an application.” Units can apply for £5,000 to £20,000 and there is the added opportunity to apply for funding in excess of £20,000 for more ambitious projects of a larger scale. It’s a two-stage application process and units need to submit a fifty-word summary to NAAFI outlining their proposed project no later than 14 July. Full details can be found at covenantfund.org.uk

Search Army Career Policy Portal on Defence Connect.

PERMANENT TAX PROTECTION A payment which some soldiers receive to compensate for paying a higher rate of income tax in Scotland has been made permanent. Previously, it was being reviewed annually. The annual payment will continue to be provided if your soldier earns more than £28,443 a year to make sure that all British troops, regardless of where they are deployed or based, will pay the same income tax. Any payment due will be paid retrospectively, usually in June.

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 13


ALL SHAPES & SIZES There is no set mould for modern families, so how is the army adapting to support our changing community? Jill Misson reports…

W

HILE many army families consist of one serving person living with their spouse and children, not every household conforms to that traditional setup. There are single parents, couples who are unmarried, dual serving, blended families, and – undoubtedly – lots of other permutations. Sergeant Alastair Smith-Weston is a divorced father of four, whose son lives with him. He says: “The biggest challenge has always been juggling the care of my son and making sure I could still be an efficient soldier.” To understand the needs of the armed forces community, the MOD commissioned an independent review, led by Andrew Selous MP. In June 2020, Living In Our Shoes was published, which reflected on the way society and the military way of life has changed. “Family life in the 21st century is fluid and diverse,” the

14 Army&You summer 2021

Sgt Alastair Smith-Weston and son

report says, recognising that “long-term cohabitation has increased substantially, not just as a prelude to marriage but as a lifestyle choice.” The authors noted that more than 40 per cent of marriages end in divorce in England and

Wales and that by age 18, more than 25 per cent of children in the UK live with just one of their birth parents. “AFF is here to support all army families whatever their make up,” says policy & research director Michelle Alston. “The report confirmed many issues we’ve raised over the years and we’ll continue to engage with the army and MOD on the next steps.”

Unit welfare officer, Captain Lorraine Dotchin recalled the case of a soldier whose partner was living far away with their baby. She says: “He was often stressed about how she was coping or worried whether he could get back if something were to go wrong. They registered their relationship and are now living on patch.

Policies helping

Since 2019, couples in established long-term relationships have been allowed to apply to live in surplus Service Family Accommodation (SFA).

“It’s incredibly important to count long-term relationships as valid so that serving men and women don’t feel rushed into marriage.”

Sarah Hulyer

@ArmyandYou


The uplift in wellbeing of that young family is a clear demonstration that there has been a tremendously positive impact coming out of this new policy.” Sarah Hulyer and her serving partner live in SFA in Northern Ireland but there’s no guarantee of surplus housing on their next posting. She says: “We were required to provide several written forms of proof that we had been together for two years. Luckily, we were able to scrape it together even though we hadn’t rented as a couple due to his job sending him all over the place.” She adds: “I think it’s incredibly important to count long-term relationships as valid so that serving men and women don’t feel rushed into marriage.”

Hope for housing

AFF housing specialist Cat Calder is pleased with the progress so far. She says: “It’s a welcome change in policy which reflects the modern family and the hope is that going forward into the Future www.armyandyou.co.uk

“The army is moving forward with ‘the new normal’ such as divorced or single parents, which is amazing as there should be no shame or stigma.” Accommodation Model (FAM) this will become an entitlement which will also make a huge difference to serving personnel who are not the primary carer for their child.” One soldier with an eightyear-old daughter told A&Y: “I live in the mess and when I visit her, I have to stay with mates or family near my ex’s house because I have to drive four hours each way. I’m on the list to get surplus housing so she can stay with me.” Married soldiers whose children do not live with them full-time have no entitlement to a larger property but can apply for surplus SFA. Cat says: “FAM is looking to address this issue by allocating on need to include children who visit for

more than 80 nights a year.” Unit welfare often has a contact house which can be booked for weekends or holidays. These also exist in some overseas locations but all travel expenses for non-resident children are at personal cost.

Differences abroad

On overseas postings, unmarried couples don’t have the same opportunity to live in surplus quarters and need permission to rent privately. The non-serving partner can apply for Limited Dependency Status in some locations – none of their travel expenses are covered. AFF’s overseas manager, Esther Thomas says: “We would encourage those

in long-term relationships overseas to register this on JPA as this will strengthen their case and evidence longevity for when they are assigned back to the UK and may apply for surplus housing.”

Blended families

When Alison Russell remarried, she brought her two children to live with her new husband and his three children. The blended family was allocated a fourbedroom house in Tidworth. She says: “All the kids adjusted to their new life so well. Our two younger teenage boys shared a bedroom but we had to adapt our dining room for our eldest son.” Alison is grateful to the welfare team. She says: “I felt supported as a newbie. The army is moving forward with ‘the new normal’ such as divorced or single parents, which is amazing as there should be no shame or stigma.” Through social media, AFF has been hearing your experiences to help gain a better understanding of the summer 2021 Army&You 15


issues you face as blended or step-families.

or for SFA above entitlement where a family needs to employ a resident carer. We can also work with an individual and chain of command to establish a helpful working hours regime where applicable and available.” Single and dual-serving parents are encouraged to consider completing a childcare plan – a useful example can be found at Annex I to AGAI 081. The army does endeavour to co-locate dual serving parents and not to deploy both at the same time.

Understanding allowances

It’s important to inform unit HR about any changes to family circumstances. To be eligible for Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), a service parent must demonstrate that they are the ‘prime mover for the child’ and provide a home where the child usually lives. “Sadly, we are frequently made aware that where parents separate, the children may not be able to continue at their boarding school. We’d encourage parents – serving or non-serving – to contact us for advice on moving schools or educational concerns,” says Sue Smyth at the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). The mobile lifestyle can be challenging and some families will choose to settle in their own home to enable children to go to local schools. Mark shares his experience: “We decided to purchase our forever home in Germany to put our daughter through the German schooling system. Life hadn’t been easy for my wife moving around as she suffers from spina bifida.” Continuing with unaccompanied postings in the UK has been hard, Mark admits: “Both my wife and I have had depression over the years. We endeavour to be in constant contact and I’ve been fortunate to have some very good line managers, however,

16 Army&You summer 2021

Looking ahead

Maj Brian McGregor and his children

“I was initially my own worst enemy but when I did ask for help it was there in abundance. The army is a fantastic employer of single parents and personnel should never be afraid to ask for understanding and assistance.” a minority haven’t been so understanding. It can be difficult managing annual leave and budgeting for travel expenses.”

Single parenthood

Adjusting to life as a single parent wasn’t easy for Major Brian McGregor, who was awarded custody when his children were seven, five and three. He says: “To begin with it was an absolute challenge trying to remain focused at work and then switching fire to do the school pick up, get tea ready, get the washing done and help with homework.” When Brian deployed

to Afghanistan just two months later, his mother and brother took on the childcare. He says: “It seemed a good idea at the time but it was far too early to leave my children, who had just had a major change in their lives, and it had a detrimental effect on the way I operated in an environment where you have to be on top of your game.” Brian no longer feels too proud to ask for support. He says: “I was initially my own worst enemy but when I did ask for help it was there in abundance. The army as a whole is a fantastic employer of single parents and service personnel should never be afraid to ask for understanding and assistance.” UWO Lorraine Dotchin agrees: “Unit welfare can support applications for surplus SFA

It’s hoped the roll-out of Programme CASTLE will give all soldiers greater flexibility to manage their careers with the needs of their families in mind. Brigadier James Cook says: “Many of the current career policies were based on research done in 1959 and, unsurprisingly, society has changed since then. People have different expectations, and we need to accommodate that to be truly successful.” Alistair feels his unit has always supported him as a single parent. He says: “The army has learnt that to make their soldiers efficient, they have to be happy and to know their family is looked after and considered. It sees each family as individual and supports them as and how they can.” & If you need support with any aspect of army family life, contact the AFF team – see page three for contact details.

@ArmyandYou


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WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PARENTS PART?

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T CAN be difficult agreeing child contact arrangements in the midst of a separation and often two separating parents will have differing views on when/how contact with a child should take place. The family court’s answer to this is Child Arrangements Orders. Child Arrangements Orders set out with whom a child is to live, spend time or otherwise have contact with. The benefits of obtaining a Child Arrangements Order can be that clarity and structure are given to contact. Each Child Arrangements Order will be different as the court will endeavour to tailor it to the best interests of your child. It is common for a Child Arrangements Order to set out that the child lives with one

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parent and spends time with the other. Being the parent that ‘spends time with’ a child is not a lesser status and they should usually still be involved in important decisions such as schooling and medical treatment. The main benefit of being named as a parent with whom a child is to ‘live with’ is you have the right to take the child abroad for up to

one month without the consent of the other parent, as long as it does not impact any time the child is scheduled to spend with them. The ‘spends time with’ parent does not obtain this right and must ask for consent to take the child abroad or make a court application if consent is unfairly withheld. Due to this difference, it has become increasingly popular

for parents to ask the court for a joint ‘lives with’ order stating that the child lives with both parents. This can apply even if the child is with one parent more so than the other. Other types of contact that can appear in Child Arrangements Orders are indirect contact (phone calls, letters, Facetime) or supervised contact (by a named third party such as a family member or at a contact centre). This is more common in cases where there are concerns about the child’s well-being or if a gradual reintroduction of one parent is being facilitated. If you would like further guidance on Child Arrangements Orders please contact Creighton and Partners (see contact details above left). summer 2021 Army&You 17


F&C

B

ARE YOU AN ARMY OF ONE?

EING a single parent and holding down a fulltime job is challenging enough, but if you’re from a Commonwealth country and choose to join the British Army, it takes it to a whole new level. AFF has noticed a significant increase in enquiries from single parent new recruits and we’re concerned that many are not considering, or are not aware of, the potential difficulties. Our F&C specialist, Katherine Houlston, tells us more… A potential recruit will be required to leave their child behind with a family member for up to a year whilst they complete assessment and training. Unfortunately, AFF has been involved in cases where the arrangements for childcare have broken down – in some cases because of safeguarding concerns. It’s important to understand that there is no quick way of

getting your child to the UK in these circumstances. You’re still required to follow the process outlined in this article, which can take up to 12 weeks. If you’re concerned about the welfare of your child, you should return home to look after them ASAP.

GETTING THE CORRECT VISA

Once you have completed training you can apply for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) and then apply for a visa for your child/children to enter the UK. You’ll need to apply for a settlement visa so that UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) can conduct the necessary checks to ensure the child is legally able to leave their home country. You’ll be required to prove that you have sole responsibility for that child before they can be issued with a visa. The application process isn’t straightforward as it requires you to submit a lot of supporting documentation electronically.

Your child will also need to attend an appointment at the nearest visa application centre, which could be many miles away.

ENSURE YOU HAVE APPROPRIATE CHILDCARE

As a serving soldier you may need to deploy at short-notice and can often be away. If you don’t have family members in the UK who you can safely leave your children with then you will need to hire a nanny through a registered organisation. You can’t rely on bringing your parents or family members to the UK to look after them. Whilst UKVI allows visits for up to six

months from family members, it will not allow visits for the purposes of childcare. Since the rules were tightened up visit visas from some countries are regularly refused.

HOW CAN AFF HELP?

The F&C section on the AFF website – aff.org.uk – has details on the application process and a downloadable guide with all the information about proving sole-responsibility. AFF cannot complete the application for you, so if you require a lot of support it’s best to speak to a qualified OISC solicitor or advisor to make the application on your behalf.

“It’s important to understand that there is no quick way of getting your child to the UK.”

VEXED BY VISAS Eva was supposed to be deploying earlier this year but the visa for her cousin to come and help look after her son Andy Peter (right) was refused. Eva (pictured left) says: “I love my work and am proud to be in the British Army but I feel like I’m losing track of my career. I will always have limitations for deployment if I cannot find somebody to help me. I just feel that the people who refuse the visas don’t know how it feels to not have family around. My sister was even refused a visa to come to my pass-out parade. I feel very down because I have no support and haven’t been able to see my family for a long time.” Although there was nothing AFF could do to help Eva in this situation, we have raised the issue to the Army Non-UK Working Group. Our concern is that there is not enough information given to new recruits who are single parents prior to enlistment.

18 Army&You summer 2021

@ArmyandYou


OREIGN & Commonwealth soldiers who are in long-term relationships are allowed to bring their partner to the UK, but the criteria are strict and it’s not easy to provide the evidence required. Here, our specialist Katherine Houlston runs through what you need to do… One of the definitions of “partner” in the immigration rules is that you have been living together “in a relationship similar to marriage or a civil partnership for at least two years”. So if this is you, you’re able to apply, but it’s important to remember that the minimum income requirement, as well as all others, will still need to be met.

WHAT EVIDENCE DO I NEED TO SUBMIT?

UKVI require evidence to show that you have been living together at the same address for at least two years. It states: “The two-year period of living together must have been completed prior to the date of application, however, it does not need to have been completed immediately preceding the date

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Picture: © Jasmine Carter from Pexels

COUPLES’ CONUNDRUM F of application if, for example, the couple are currently living apart.”

WHAT IF I HAVEN’T BEEN LIVING WITH MY PARTNER FOR TWO YEARS?

Unfortunately, the requirements of the rules will not be met and your application would have to be considered on the basis of exceptional circumstances. For example, if refusal could or would result in unjustifiably harsh consequences for the individual or their family. It’s usually difficult to prove exceptional circumstances, so you would have to appeal and attend a hearing in the UK.

CAN I COME TO THE UK AS A VISITOR AND THEN APPLY AS A PARTNER ONCE WE’VE BEEN LIVING TOGETHER FOR TWO YEARS?

No. You must apply for the correct visa if you’re intending to remain here, otherwise, you’ll be in breach of immigration rules and considered to be illegally in the UK once the visit visa expires. This will affect your ability to apply to remain within the immigration rules. You won’t be entitled to free NHS care or be able to work, drive, open a bank account or continue your studies whilst you’re an overstayer.

CAN WE GET MARRIED IN THE UK?

Yes, but this is usually not possible unless you are on a fiancée visa or a marriage visit visa. It’s worth noting that the Home Office definition of a long-term relationship differs from the definition used by the MOD for entitlement to Service Family Accommodation. Information about all the options available can be found at aff.org.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 19


The Military Personal Injury Claims Specialists

By the very nature of their chosen careers, members of the Armed Forces, fighting gallantly in many theatres or on exercises, often sustain serious injuries of all types. This can often lead to medical downgrading and even discharge, and can be devastating for serving personnel and their families.

At Gorvins, we passionately believe that Armed Forces personnel and veterans should be afforded the respect and treatment they deserve for their service and sacrifices. We have the specialist knowledge, experience and contacts to fully support you through the compensation and rehabilitation processes. Our specialist Military Personal Injury Department has many years’ experience in pursuing military injury claims and is led by Partner, Gary Boyd whose accolades include: • Shortlisted for Claimant Lawyer and Claimant Team of the year, 2019. • Gary is a Fellow of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (‘APIL’). • He was only the third person in the UK to be awarded the ‘Military Injury Specialist and Assessor’ status by APIL.

Speak to our team on 0161 930 5151 www.gorvins.com

enquiries@gorvins.com

Gorvins Solicitors is a trading name of Gorvins LLP.


#OurArmyFamily

Whatever your relationship to your soldier, we’d love to hear about your army family. Email us at editor@aff.org.uk and follow @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories… We are what you might refer to as a ‘blended’ family – we’ve come together after the breakdown of our previous relationships. Tony has Charlie, Bethany and Thomas, and I have Liam and Jack. We’ve been together almost seven years and married for three. We went to school together and were really good friends, bonding over 90s’ music, however, life took us on our own paths. Our marriages broke down, leaving us as single parents. We started catching up via social media and decided to meet up back in our hometown. After an amazing evening we spoke as much as we could – even when he was away on exercise. He asked me to attend the Christmas mess do with him, something I was so nervous about. INTRODUCTIONS We introduced our children and, considering there’s a 12year age difference between the eldest and youngest, they got on amazingly well. We spent the following www.armyandyou.co.uk

Meet the Russell family: Tony (serving soldier), Alison and their five children Charlie (22), Bethany (20), Liam (18), Thomas (17) and Jack (10). Here, Alison shares their story… summer together and the children bonded – they have always got along, which is something we never take for granted. Christmas 2015 as a family was amazing, but a little hectic. Tony proposed in 2016 on Brighton seafront... the main thing I remember, as he bent down on one knee, is a naked man running towards the sea! Two weeks before the wedding we were allocated a four-bedroom property in Tidworth. It was a large townhouse, so the top main bedroom was given to the two younger teenage boys, my stepdaughter and youngest son had their own bedrooms. ADAPTING THE SPACE At first, we had to adapt our dining room into a bedroom

for our eldest. Due to his age, he wasn’t included in the bedroom allocation. However, in time we adapted part of our garage into a bedroom for him. When he started his basic training with the army, he wasn’t at home as much. Like all families we’ve had occasional ups and downs, but all the kids adjusted to their new lives so well. The day after our wedding, Jack started calling Tony ‘dad’, which was a real moment for me. The love he has for all the family is amazing, we both treat all the children as our own. The eldest flew the nest in 2019, following his dad’s footsteps to become a Royal Engineer. Jack struggled with him leaving at first but adjusted in time. As lockdown hit, we were

together again as a family of seven and it turned out to be our last summer in Tidworth. MAKING THINGS WORK Tony’s 24 years was up in January and he had gained a place with Wiltshire Police, however, in true army curveball style, was offered a six-year extension. So, we moved to the Midlands last August where Tony is undertaking a role with the army engagement team. We had difficulties gaining a school place for Jack and have had to get used to not living with Bethany as, at 19, she wanted to stay in Wiltshire. We miss her loads but see her as much as we can. I’ve struggled to meet other families here as we live on a mainly civilian patch, however, I’ve found work with the NHS as part of the vaccine rollout programme. I feel so grateful to have had incredible support from our parents and friends. I’ve always felt supported as a newbie coming into army life and I’ve made some great friends along the way. & summer 2021 Army&You 21


OVERSEAS

FAR-FLUNG FAMILIES Service families really do mirror the variety of diverse families seen in modern society. Yet it’s clear that some of the current MOD policies don’t fully support ‘nontraditional’ families, particularly overseas. Esther Thomas, AFF overseas manager, explores what the issues are and how you’ve tried to overcome them…

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T’S NOT surprising that we regularly get enquiries from those in longterm relationships (LTR). As the army doesn’t recognise LTR partners in overseas locations in terms of entitlement to housing, it can create obstacles. One LTR family in Cyprus reported that: “We had to get special dispensation locally for us to share a quarter although I was entitled to a three-bedroom house [depending on availability] whether accompanied or not. “Furthermore, we had to apply for Limited Dependency Status so that my partner would be recognised as a resident.” Whilst Limited Dependency Status is an option in some overseas locations, it does come with some boundaries such as not being entitled to work. The situation was eventually resolved, but the couple felt frustrated, adding: “The army really penalises people that prefer not to do the married thing… people have to

22 Army&You summer 2021

Simon and Esther

get married to be entitled to the full range of benefits.”

Confinement complications

As a global employer, it’s inevitable that some serving personnel marry different nationalities. Simon Warnes met Esther, a Kenyan national, whilst on a temporary duty assignment to British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK) in 2014. Recently married after a five-year relationship, their plans to start a family are on hold as even though Esther is living in

“I guess we will be doing a lot of penny pinching before my expected end of tour date.” @ArmyandYou


“Without the support of friends and family, on a practical and emotional level, the situation is impossible. I’m not convinced that the MOD has fully registered the struggles faced by service personnel with a split family, overseas or otherwise.”

her country of origin, she has to abide by the British Army non-confinement policy. It means she is unable to stay in Kenya past 24 weeks of pregnancy. “The chain of command has been very supportive,” says Simon, “but there are others who are also married to Kenyan nationals and in my opinion this policy needs to change”. The biggest challenge for the couple is to secure a UK visa for Esther. As she hasn’t travelled to the UK before, this will have to be personally administered and financed, costing around £4,000. Simon adds: “I guess we will be doing a lot of penny pinching before my expected end of tour date.”

Family cohesion

When two families come together after previous relationships it can take some managing, but when you have a large family dispersed across three countries it’s almost a full-time job to handle the logistics. Sarah Fraser and her serving husband have been assigned overseas for five years and are currently in Poland. Between them they have eight children – three from her husband’s previous marriage who live with their mother; four from Sarah’s first marriage, one of whom has left home and lives in Germany. The other three live with them in www.armyandyou.co.uk

Poland but spend most of their time away at boarding school and university. Then together they have a seven-year-old son, Otto [pictured], who lives with them and attends an international school. I asked Sarah how she makes it work: “WhatsApp and the like are godsends to maintain family cohesion. A particular problem is keeping former partners on board. It can be difficult agreeing contact even if you’re just down the road, let alone overseas. You really have to be committed to making visits from non-resident children happen; if not, then an overseas posting can become significantly obstructive to a meaningful parental relationship.” Under current policy, non-resident children are not entitled to publicly funded children’s visits and you’re not allowed to reverse Get You Home Overseas entitlements. Sarah adds: “In a large family like ours the cost of flights has been particularly onerous and has impacted the amount of time we see our non-resident children. However, when they’re here we’re able to have overseas adventures as a family and often visit places that we’d never normally go to.”

Making room

As there’s no increase in SFA entitlement to accommodate non-resident children, many families rely on contact or welfare houses, which aren’t always available. “In our experience the houses are normally larger on overseas postings, so when the extended family does visit there’s more space for everyone,” says Sarah. “In the UK, weekend contact with nonresident children often deteriorated into scrapping about who got a bed and who got the floor. We often pitched a tent in the garden to accommodate the extra bodies!” Sarah admits that she’s relied on a lot of help from others: “You have to accept that

Otto

the normal ‘every other weekend and half the holidays’ contact with your children won’t happen. Remaining a hands-on parent becomes exceedingly difficult. Without the support of friends and family, on a practical and emotional level, the situation is impossible. I’m not convinced that the MOD has fully registered the struggles faced by service personnel with a split family, overseas or otherwise.”

Living apart

Even when married, an accompanied assignment overseas isn’t always the best option for some families. Mark Lightowlers and his wife chose to build their family base in their native Yorkshire, so he’s now serving married unaccompanied in Cyprus. He explains: “The stability of my wife’s employment and children’s education were two major factors in our decision. As our daughters, aged ten and six, grow older the benefits are ever more apparent, particularly for our elder daughter who has a good group of friends.” Originally, the family had planned to trade off this separation with regular visits to Cyprus throughout Mark’s tour but due to COVID-19 restrictions, it’s not worked out as planned. Even when the family managed to reunite at Christmas, it was testing: “I had to isolate when I arrived, and then isolate back here on my return, turning a two-week holiday into a significant planning challenge,” says Mark.

We’re here for you

Army families may have different structures, but in the end, it’s all about family life and AFF is here to support you, whatever your circumstances. If you have any concerns about being assigned overseas as a ‘non-traditional family’, contact me at overseasmgr@aff.org.uk summer 2021 Army&You 23


BABY TALK

Having a baby is such an exciting time, bringing with it shifting emotions and tremendous change. For some new parents, these adjustments to family life can impact negatively on their mental health. AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, investigates…

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HEN we asked for your experiences on the support available during pregnancy, birth and postnatally during our health-themed month earlier this year, the responses from army parents threw up some interesting issues. We heard from mothers suffering from poor perinatal mental health, difficult pregnancies and births, fathers being deployed soon after the birth or missing their child’s arrival altogether. There were also several couples who felt they’d received a lack of support from their chain of command. Jodie’s experience reflects many of the issues that you’ve raised with us, she explains: “I didn’t feel myself when my second baby was eight weeks old, and after speaking to my health visitor I realised I had postnatal depression and anxiety. Having hubby away or on guard was very hard – it made me feel like I was completely on my own. “I posted about it on Instagram as it still seems like such a taboo subject, and I honestly felt like the military community really understood and supported me. My husband was amazing when he was home, and when he wasn’t, I had my lovely friends online, who knew what I was going through. I still suffer nearly two years on, but my advice is don’t bottle it up. Your feelings are completely valid, and you aren’t failing!”

What would help?

We asked you whether a specific support network for partners, wives and servicewomen would be helpful and the response was a resounding ‘yes’. There were also offers of support from some of you who are working in this field such as doulas and therapists, who would like to help set something up. This is work in progress and I’m looking into some of the networks that are already

Jodie Reynolds

up and running, so do keep an eye out for further details. Often, we don’t hear the experiences of fathers. So over these pages, we take a look at some of the excellent support that’s available for both new mums and dads in the armed forces community and beyond.


STRIKING A BALANCE NO ONE ALONE

JUGGLING family life with service commitments is a difficult balance, and some new dads may need some extra support. Former soldier Adam Rockley tells us more about how you can seek help through DadPad… “I’m pregnant.” These were the two words I heard before going out on the Canadian prairie. Although planned, I was starstruck for the entirety of the exercise, wondering about the what if and what now. Although the forces prepares you for the unexpected, you may not get the time to come to terms with the realisation of becoming a parent. Fast forward to the first few months of my son’s life and I was jumping in and out of an important time due to the requirements of a military career. Not only did my wife need support, but it was a crucial time for me bonding with my baby. My chain of command was supportive, but if I’d known what I know now, there are many things I would have done differently.

Learning on the job

Getting the foundations right is crucial – we’re always taught that preparation leads to better performance, so why aren’t we doing this here? After leaving the forces, I came across Julian Bose – CEO of the DadPad, who has become my boss. The DadPad is a how-to guide and app that

supports dads to give their babies the best start in life. We understand the importance of an intentional and conscious bond that dads need to create with their baby, and the support each parent needs to give to each other too. We’ve been working with the NHS to get the DadPad into as many dads’ hands as possible. To recognise the unique struggles that military families face, we’ve now made it part of our mission to help military dads and their partners, and to prevent you from missing out on crucial bonding moments. Find out more at thedadpad.co.uk

The perinatal window NICOLA Flanagan is a military wife and mum to three young boys. She’s also an antenatal teacher, perinatal mental health and birth trauma therapist. During her last posting in Tidworth, she ran classes for antenatal and postnatal women, and realised the huge challenges some of you face during this vulnerable window. Nicola set up Me And My Baby (MAMBA) to offer tailored support. “There are so many things that can happen in the perinatal window that can affect parents and have long-reaching impacts on their emotional state,” she says. “Things such as a difficult IVF journey, miscarriages, hormoneinduced mood changes, a difficult breastfeeding journey, managing reflux and colic, perinatal anxiety… the list goes www.armyandyou.co.uk

on, and nothing can truly prepare women for the unknown journey they will experience.”

Mayday messages

The MAMBA group receives many messages from women who recognise that they need some help to process the feelings they are experiencing. “I’m so anxious that my husband won’t be back for our baby’s birth, I’m hardly sleeping and panic every time someone asks me about the baby,” reports one expectant mum. Another says: “I feel so worried every time my partner is looking after the baby that it’s becoming really damaging to our relationship.”

Targeted support

When MAMBA signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant last year, Nicola set up a Facebook group specifically

PANDAS Foundation offers free pre- and postnatal depression advice services, including peer-to-peer support by trained and experienced volunteers. Its aim is to ensure that no parent is alone from conception through to birth and beyond. The foundation has given presentations to army welfare teams to raise awareness of key perinatal mental health issues, to help provide a better understanding so they are able to engage with both parents. PANDAS plans to roll out support group sessions for military personnel and family members, to reduce isolation and loneliness on their parental journey. If you would be interested in PANDAS hosting a discussion and support group in your military community, contact Annie Belasco at annie.belasco@ pandasfoundation.org.uk For more information, click pandasfoundation.org.uk

Fatherhood & footy Are you a dad with young children or a father to be? Do you like football? The Mental Health Foundation wants to hear about your life-changing transition. You can hear from other dads, get involved in virtual discussions and of course, chat about the beautiful game too. Head to @mhf_dads_football_project on Instagram or facebook.com/ dadsandfootballproject for pregnant and new mums in the military community. “We now have more than 400 members,” she explains. “Through peer support and the individual work I do with women and couples, I can really see the positive impact we’re having. I’m delighted to be able to support our military community from a place of specialist expertise, experience, compassion and understanding.” Go to mambaUK.com or search Military Pregnant and New Mums Community on Facebook to join. summer 2021 Army&You 25


FROM BUMP TO BEYOND Through her career as an NHS midwife and working with vulnerable women who have mental health conditions, army spouse Bridie Black feels passionate about offering support to military families during pregnancy and the early stages of parenthood. Here, she shares her top tips…

I’m posted during pregnancy

My partner is going away soon after the birth

Inform the hospital that you’re currently booked at and register with a GP once you have a new address. Most maternity units have lots of information online and you can self-refer, which is the quickest way to transfer your care. Include any important information, make it clear how many weeks pregnant you are and that you’re transferring from a different hospital.

The postnatal period can be challenging particularly if you’re on your own. Use the time to be together on your own, as a family. Explain to family and friends that this is a special time and arrange for additional support once your partner has left. Try to space out this support and spend some time on your own to gain confidence because it’s likely to be a recurring part of bringing up your children. It’s hard at first but it does get easier!

I’m struggling with the early stages of pregnancy

Try to get support from family and friends by staying in regular contact with them, even if it’s online, or having them stay with you if you can. Remember the early symptoms of pregnancy, which include sickness and tiredness, don’t usually last too long.

I don’t want to go to the scan alone Ask a friend to come along, or a family member if they live close enough. Tell the sonographer that your partner is away and ensure you get lots of photos to share.

I’m not sure who I can ask for support

Tell your midwife about your situation; they’re probably used to looking after military spouses and can offer extra

How can I keep my partner involved? @bumptobeyond_your_birth support. Always talk to your GP or midwife if you feel overwhelmed or you’re not coping. It’s better to seek support early than leave anything to develop into something long-term.

My partner may be away for the birth

Always make a back-up plan of who will be with you, it’s easier than trying to make last-minute plans. Family and friends won’t mind changing their plans if your partner makes it home in time.

Use technology to your advantage to give them updates on what’s happening. This can help them bond with your unborn/ newborn and still feel they have a part in the whole experience. Being away during this time is tough on them too. l Bridie set up ‘Bump to Beyond your Birth’ when her husband deployed and she was left looking after her two-yearold and a nine-day old baby. She now offers one-to-one antenatal classes, birth planning and postnatal support. Go to bumptobeyondyourbirth.co.uk

Digital dossier SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, launched the eRedbook for families in Cyprus in 2019 and continues to encourage all expectant parents and those with children under five to download, register and use it as their child’s primary health and development record. Since its launch, the eRedbook has developed so that you can now record immunisations, upload photos of developmental milestones and share your record with partners and

26 Army&You summer 2021

families to ensure they don’t miss a moment! It also includes information from both SSAFA and NHS England relevant to your stage of pregnancy, age of your child or a specific date to ensure you’re kept up-to-date, and there’s targeted information when you’re moving to or from an area using the eRedbook. SSAFA has been working with the developer to create a questionnaire within the eRedbook, so you can provide key information to your

community health team prior to your move overseas. This enables SSAFA to plan their support better for incoming families. It’s being trialled this

summer with a regimental move from the UK to Cyprus, so watch this space for further roll-out. eRedbook is also available in Gibraltar and Kenya. @ArmyandYou


Your voice matters MILITARY families’ maternity journey can be very different from that of their civilian counterparts, with all the extra considerations that come with service life. The Maternity Voices Partnership exists to listen to experiences of families accessing maternity and neonatal services in many areas across the country. The MMVP (Military Maternity Voices Partnership), which includes families of all three services, was created as part of the Lincolnshire Better Births maternity transformation programme. It asks for your experiences relating to pregnancy, delivery and once at home – these can be good, bad or indifferent. What you have been through matters – the MMVP wants to help improve your experience and support all families to have the best outcomes. It understands that many of you have feelings of isolation, feel lost and alone, or are posted during pregnancy when you feel most vulnerable. No one holds any rank and both serving and family members are encouraged to join

www.armyandyou.co.uk

HELP, IF YOU NEED IT If you’re reading any of these articles and feel like you’re struggling and need support, please reach out. It may feel like a big step, so talk to a close friend or relative if you can, or mention it to your midwife, GP or health visitor. Check out these organisations who are there to help. AFF aff.org.uk/health healthsupport@aff.org.uk mind.org.uk

and share experiences, thoughts and ideas. It’s hoped that in the future, COVID-19 restrictions permitting, the MMVP can hold face-to-face groups; create items that can help to support and educate families; signpost in the form of a welcome pack; and develop a buddy scheme across bases. To join and make a difference, send a private message on facebook.com/ lincsmvp, email lincsmvp@gmail.com or download the Mum & Baby app in your area.

nct.org.uk tommys.org mumborneveryminute.co.uk Search... “Defence Breastfeeding Network” and “Forces Parents’ Network” on Facebook Maternity Voices Partnerships nationalmaternityvoices.org.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 27


MONEY

ON THE CASE Has your soldier ever tried to claim an allowance and been told they need to put in casework to the PACCC? You might be wondering what it is and what it does. AFF’s money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, spoke to Lt Col Richard Sanders to find out more…

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HE Pay & Allowance Casework and Complaints Cell (PACCC) is located in Glasgow, and processes tri-service pay and allowance casework, appeals and JPA service delivery complaints. It also delivers the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) process, which is what many of you may be familiar with.

The team

The PACCC is made up of four teams covering casework, appeals, assurance and complaints. “All team members are vastly experienced and completely focused on supporting our service personnel and their families,” says Lt Col Sanders. “Communication with our customer base (you) is my number one priority and such an important area that I’m very keen to explore and develop.”

Did you know?

Currently in 2020/2021, the PACCC has authorised 71 per cent of the 3,415 casework/ applications it has received. It doesn’t own and can’t change policy, but, like AFF, it’s in a

position to provide evidenced trends to help influence future changes. “The PACCC is not here to say ‘yes’ to everything and we not here to say ‘no’ to everything, or catch people out,” adds Lt Col Sanders. “We are here to authorise everything you are entitled to, especially if exceptional circumstances are evidenced. “For all things CEA, we understand there are children at the end of these requests. We remain entirely objective, but if there is something which raises a ‘red flag’, we are duty bound to investigate. Please be reassured that the PACCC is here to assist and support you and ensure you remain on the correct side of the rules.”

Applying for CEA

The process of applying or amending eligibility for CEA can be somewhat daunting. If you’re asked to submit an Eligibility Certificate (EC) application or casework to seek authorisation, the PACCC has some top tips below to help. “Transparency is key,” explains Lt Col Sanders, “when

we’re presented with suitable evidence to support your casework/applications, it will, I guarantee, make the process a much smoother journey.”

Top tips

l Plan ahead – read the policy and make use of the JPA SelfService User Guide. l Contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) – register your child and read the information pack. l Check the school – ensure the school is included on the Accredited Schools Database (ASD). CEA is only applicable to schools listed on the ASD. l Official information – ensure you have secured a written offer from the ASD school. This letter and your CEAS child registration number are required for your application. l Ensure your JPA records are up-to-date – particularly in terms of your family (both spouse and children’s addresses). This is a basic assurance check conducted by PACCC to ensure you are serving accompanied. l Submit your application in good time – we encourage you submit your request in a timely manner.

l Claiming – JPA claim windows are usually open for around two months, therefore there’s plenty of time to get your EC approved before school starts. l Claiming CEA for more than one child – ensure the details of all children are included on the same application, irrespective of whether you already have CEA approved for a different child. l Exceptional circumstances – if there’s any relevant information which you believe will assist the CO and PACCC in making their determination, include it in the address explanation tab on the JPA CEA EC. The more information you can give, the better. l No access to JPA – you may exceptionally be allowed to submit a paper EC, which you can get from JSP 752. Applications of this type are usually only accepted where personnel are serving overseas. l Be patient – please have confidence that we will process your application as soon as we possibly can. Do liaise with your unit HR, they are your local experts and are able to speak directly with the PACCC if required.

@ArmyandYou


LONG-HAUL LOVE ON THE MOVE

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Moving house

ERE at AFF, we’ve received a number of enquiries from those of you in long-term relationships (LTR) who’ve been trying to work out which allowances you can claim when moving on assignment. Generally, if you’re in a registered LTR, you’re not eligible to receive additional allowances in support of cohabitation as it’s deemed as unaccompanied service.

However, one question that’s often raised is what removals and Disturbance Expense (DE) can you claim when moving on assignment from one surplus quarter to another if you’re in a long-term relationship? The great news is that recent changes to policy mean that you can now claim the Service Family Accommodation (SFA) rate of DE when moving into

RATE REVAMP

ARE you living or posted overseas this summer? If so, make sure you’re aware of the changes to the way Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) is being calculated, which are coming into effect from 1 July. LOA is an allowance to help with the additional cost of dayto-day living when assigned overseas.

What are the changes? The new package will replace the current ‘Main Station LOA’ and ‘Small Station LOA’. You’ll now receive a daily LOA rate and then you may be able to claim separately for overseas private vehicle and respite (travel and accommodation) costs. Previously, some of these costs may have been paid within the daily rate. Eligibility will remain the same, but it will no longer be based on rank. The Overseas

Private Vehicle Provision (OPVP) became available from 1 April and contributes towards buying/selling, shipping or cancelling the lease of a vehicle.

When will I know if my rate will change?

surplus SFA on a qualifying move. The army allowance team confirms: “Serving personnel in the UK who are in a registered long-term relationship, who move on qualified assignment to a new duty station, when occupying surplus SFA in a non-FAM area, can now get the SFA rate of DE and can claim UKPASH. If a soldier in a LTR were to move from London to Catterick and successfully applied for a surplus SFA, they would be entitled to £1,041 DE and could claim UKPASH up to £240.48.”

What is UKPASH?

Private Arrangements SelfHelp Scheme (UKPASH) is a private removal arrangement that helps pay towards the costs of hiring a van. You should contact your unit HR to discuss this as applications must be preapproved by administration staff. If you’re in a Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot area, the benefits you may be eligible for will differ, so do take a look at discovermybenefits. mod.gov.uk for more information.

“Changes to policy mean that you can now claim the Service Family Accommodation (SFA) rate of DE when moving into surplus SFA on a qualifying move.”

Further details on the new rates of LOA will be announced this month. Any increase will be paid from 1 July, and for those of you who face a significant decrease, there will be a three-year phased transition.

Where can I find more information?

Speak to your unit admin, see the AFF website aff.org.uk or go to gov.uk If you’re struggling with the changes or want to share how they will affect you, contact AFF’s money specialist, Claire Hallam at money@aff.org.uk

THE NEW LOA PACKAGE

Daily Rate

Location factor Environmental factor Cost of living

LOA Daily Rate is paid alongside monthly salary to all eligible service personnel

www.armyandyou.co.uk

+

Additional Contributions

Vehicle Provision Respite Provision

Each Additional Contribution is paid as a lump sum upon proof of expenditure

summer 2021 Army&You 29


SPLITTING THE PENSION POT IF you find yourself in the sad situation of ending your marriage or civil partnership to your soldier, dividing up your financial assets can be a bit of a minefield, particularly when it comes to pensions. We asked Mary Petley of the Forces Pension Society for an expert overview… When a marriage or a civil partnership is dissolved it’s necessary for the couple to divide their ‘matrimonial property’, and pension rights form part of that. If a couple can agree on how this split should occur the court will not normally intervene. When they can’t agree, the court decides. The order on the pension could be an Attachment Order (AO) in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, an Earmarking Order (EO) in Scotland or a Pension Sharing Order (PSO) throughout the UK. The pros and cons of each are outlined in the table.

Other things to note

This is just a whistle stop tour

If you’d like to learn more, search for MMP 131 and you should find the government booklet on the topic. If you’re a member of ORDER AO

When a Pension Sharing Order is awarded, the ‘ex’ becomes an Armed Forces Pension Scheme member, but in a limited way. They can’t add to the value of their pension share, join it with another pension or transfer it out. PSOs are normally payable at age 65 or your state pension age. You can claim as early as 55 but at a reduced rate.

the FPS and have any pension issues, contact pensionenquiries@forpen.co.uk. For more about the Society, or to join for a small fee, visit forcespensionsociety.org

PROS l The member pays the tax on your payments. l The order can be revisited (that could be a con as well as a pro!)

EO PSO

CONS l Nothing is paid until the member’s pension is paid. l Payments stop when the member dies or if you remarry or enter into a civil partnership.

l Order can be revisited.

l Nothing is paid until the member’s pension is paid.

l Gives a clean break settlement giving you an income for life.

l Tax liability is yours.

l Unaffected by member’s actions or death. l Unaffected by your remarriage or entering into a civil partnership.

l The ‘ex’ may get their pension at an earlier age than you. l Cannot normally be revisited.

WILL LOVED ONES BE LOOKED AFTER?

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ICOLE Dean has been helping personnel with their finances for nearly a decade and has first hand experience of military life, having been married to a service person for more than ten years. Here, she offers her views on the importance of having a Will suitable for your family circumstances… I don’t need to tell you how difficult things can be when it comes to managing money and general personal admin. Being an unmarried couple or a single parent can make this even more tricky, or if you’re a blended family, it can add another layer of complexity. When it comes to making sure your Will is right for you, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, do you need advice?

30 Army&You summer 2021

correctly. Here are my top things to consider...

l Is there anyone I don’t want to inherit?

l Who would I want to look after my children?

l Do I have specific items or monetary amounts I’d like to leave as gifts?

l Who would be a good choice of executor? This is the person who does all paperwork and pays all debts from the estate. Through her business, The Will Guys, Nicole offers her will writing expertise for free to serving personnel and veterans from all three services

Unless you have limited or no assets and no children, the answer to this is usually yes. Although the military offers serving personnel a free basic Will, this is a do-it-yourself Will and doesn’t come with any advice; the onus is on the person completing it to do it

l Would I like reserve beneficiaries if my main ones weren’t here? l If children are under 18, who would I like to look after their inheritance until they are old enough? l Would my partner/spouse and I like to ensure our children’s inheritance is protected if either one of us remarried?

A professional Will writer would go through these things with you to ensure the people you love would get what you intended them to. Additionally, a Lasting Power of Attorney can be very useful. This is a document that gives a nominated person the legal power to make decisions about your property and financial assets, or health and welfare, or both. This can be particularly important if the serving person goes away for long periods or is frequently uncontactable. @ArmyandYou


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DIDN’T like the idea of being a military wife or want to be left at home with the kids while he was deployed, but I quickly learned that the job and the man are one and the same. I can now honestly say it’s his dedication and loyalty to the army he so loves that’s one of his most admirable qualities. I’m proud to say my eldest son is also a soldier. What made you decide to become an author? I never thought in a million years that someone like me could write a book – what did I have to write about? I’d never been anywhere or done anything. I thought people who wrote books must have grown up in a house with a spare bedroom, who had a library in

32 Army&You summer 2021

their east wing and had been to Majorca – all things I thought were very fancy! I decided to write about the only thing I know: ordinary life, and I think that’s what my readers relate to most – the fact that I write tales of women like us. What were the challenges in the beginning? I’d always been an avid reader but thought my lack of grammar and understanding of how to craft a story would make it impossible for me, but that’s the great thing – there are hundreds of people who know where all those little dots and squiggles go. I have great editors in the UK and US and it was a wonderful moment when I realised that I didn’t have to be a great scholar to write great books!

“It was a wonderful moment when I realised that I didn’t have to be a great scholar to write great books!”

What support did you get from your military friends? A lot. As an army wife I’m part of a unique group, no one really knows what it’s like to live on the patch and cope with this lifestyle unless they are going through it too. My success is for all of us and a reminder that we’re so much more than our spouse’s other half. Do you think living the army lifestyle helped or hindered? Both. I wrote my first book Poppy Day because Simeon was away and I was scared. It helped to write down everything that I was afraid of in a story – a bit like therapy. But it’s also hindered me because it hasn’t always been possible for me to drop everything and go to a PR event @ArmyandYou


or a meeting because we both have responsibilities and have to fit things around each other’s workloads. Have you drawn on your experiences as an army wife? Every single day. And never more so than in my book Will You Remember Me? which is set where we used to live in Larkhill, Salisbury – and deals with something very close to my own experience. That’s why I have chosen this book as a giveaway for Army&You readers (see right) – I think you’ll recognise my experience and that of my family. What advice would you give to any budding authors? Do it! If you think you have a story worth reading, you www.armyandyou.co.uk

“Don’t worry about writing a blockbuster or a thousandpage saga – write a paragraph, a sentence, a thought, an idea, a memory and let it grow.”

probably do! Start small and practise your craft. Like anything, the more you write, the better you get at it. Don’t worry about writing a blockbuster or a thousand-page saga – write a paragraph, a sentence, a thought, an idea, a memory and let it grow. If it’s pants and you have to start again, then you are a writer! That’s all it is, putting the words down until they look and feel right. And don’t be afraid of putting your work out there – put it online, get feedback, people will soon tell you if they like it or want more. Feedback, no matter how hard it is to hear, is always useful. Don’t let your inner voice of self-sabotage put you off. When I wrote my fist book in 2011, I had 70 rejections so

WIN! Amanda is giving away 50 signed copies of her incredible book Will You Remember Me? to lucky Army&You readers. To enter, see page three for competition details. I self-published. Each ‘no’ was a blow to my already fragile confidence, but I’ve now written nearly 30 novels, have topped the bestseller charts and sold almost 12 million books all over the world, which have been translated into tens of languages. And if I can do it – YOU CAN! I’m on social media @mrsamandaprowse and if you want any direct advice – feel free to follow and message me. & summer 2021 Army&You 33


UK

“Our work pattern is dictated by the pace of meetings, enquiries and concerns from stakeholders and families alike, which presents a dynamic working week!”

Regional reshuffle F OR those of you who live in England, you may have noticed that AFF has made a slight change to the geographical areas we cover. The addition of three virtual assistants working remotely, plus our new central contact number, means we’re better placed to support you, wherever you’re living and whatever time you need us. Led by manager England, Carole Rudd, our

regional leads are now split over four areas – the North, Central, South West and South areas of the country. Carole says: “I meet weekly with each member individually and as a team, so we can discuss what we’ve achieved for families in their areas, track trends, highlight concerns and decide whether these need to be addressed at regular brigade level meetings and/or internally with our specialists. “The virtual assistants are our ‘eyes’ in the

Meet your team REGIONAL LEAD NORTH Kirsty Street MILITARY CONNECTION I’ve been engaged to an army major for more than ten years. AREAS COVERED The North East, including Catterick, Newcastle, York, Ripon across to Hull to the North West – Preston, Blackpool and Chester. CONTACT: north@aff.org.uk Kirsty says: “Building relationships with key organisations is vital to support families. I have recently spoken with the relevant agencies to try

34 Army&You summer 2021

virtual world. They scan and capture issues, linking in with our regional leads, who then raise these issues with key contacts in their area, to hopefully resolve things swiftly. They’re also our first point of contact on our centralised phone number and email, for families globally. “Our work pattern is dictated by the pace of meetings, enquiries and concerns from stakeholders and families alike, which presents a dynamic working week!”

to improve security and antisocial behaviour issues on service family estates, as well as many others in my area. “Pre-COVID, I attended welfareled family events, as well as visiting the housing office and other charities. “One of the most interesting ways I’ve engaged with families is during a cooking session at Chester. Families followed a recipe and then enjoyed it for lunch. The most challenging part was trying to stop the kids eating whilst making it! “I have lots of ideas going forward to meet with stakeholders and families alike, both virtually and face-to-face. “Please do contact me if you would like some support.” @ArmyandYou


REGIONAL LEAD CENTRAL Melinda Stanford MILITARY CONNECTION My husband has been in the RLC for

14 years. We currently live in Colchester on the patch with my three-year-old daughter and our Labrador. AREAS COVERED East Anglia including Colchester, Wimbish, Wattisham and Woodbridge. East Midlands including Cottesmore, Chilwell, Grantham, Luffenham, Chicksands and Bassingbourn.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting my head around the role and helping to support those in similar scenarios to myself.”

CONTACT: central@aff.org.uk Melinda says: “I’m quite new to AFF. It has been a little difficult at times due to the lockdown, however, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting my head around the role and helping to support those in similar scenarios to myself. “I’ve been collaborating with regimental welfare teams, other welfare support providers, army charities, Amey reps and county councils as well as meeting some of you via video meetings, phone calls and emails. “I’m very much looking forward

REGIONAL LEAD SOUTH WEST Carol Morris MILITARY CONNECTION Married to a veteran of six years after 27 years in the army. AREAS COVERED Wiltshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire and the West Country. CONTACT: southwest@aff.org.uk

to attending community and regimental events post lockdown. Do get in touch to raise any concerns or issues that you’d like to discuss or may need support with. I’m here to listen and to be your voice.”

Carol says: “During our third lockdown, like most of us many of you have understandably struggled with not being able to have a social bubble. “Add into the mix that your loved ones have been away on operational tour, exercise or training, and it’s made family life a little more challenging. With the welfare teams working both in the office and from home, it has helped me engage with them to ensure that you have the right level of support.”

REGIONAL LEAD SOUTH Maeve Novak MILITARY CONNECTION My wife has now served for 11 years. We’re currently living in Andover. AREAS COVERED Hampshire, Kent, Surrey and London. CONTACT: south@aff.org.uk Maeve says: “I took on the role in February after working as a primary school teacher for 11 years. I feel so passionate about helping

you as I have lived experience of some of the difficulties faced due to the transient nature of the army. “I’ve been getting to know the unit welfare teams and Army Welfare Service in my areas, as well as organisations that work closely with families such as Amey, DIO, local councils and the Royal British Legion. “Working together with our AFF specialists is key – tapping into their truly impressive knowledge and experience. “I look forward to the day I can get out and about to meet you all in person. In the meantime, if there’s anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!”

Look out for more on our regional leads covering the devolved areas in the autumn edition of Army&You. You can find all AFF’s contact details on page 3 or visit aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 35


YOUR FAMILY

NOTE PERFECT ON INCLUSIVITY

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S WELL as being musically inclusive and tri-service, Military Wives Choirs are a welcoming and safe place where everyone is equal. Julia from the Portsmouth Military Wives Choir found the choir community to be more open than anywhere else in her experience of the military sphere and has enjoyed being a member for six years. When she first joined, she found it refreshing that no-one asked the question “what does your husband do?”. Instead, she could tell her own story and talk about her military connection in her own way. At first, she thought that meant she was unable to make traditional you had to be married to be a part of the coffee mornings and meet-ups and Military Wives Choirs, which is not the case found herself feeling lonely during Sue’s – partners are welcomed and membership deployments. extends across the military community. Julia, Sue and their two daughters live offA lifeline of support base, having moved down south. Choir gave her something else to think “Choir was a real saviour for me as I’d about that wasn’t the separation. been really isolated not being on a patch “It has been a lifeline through multiple and away from family and friends,” she says. deployments. I can escape for a couple of Working full-time as an HR manager 15:18 Page hours Army&You ad.qxp_Layout 1 27/04/2021 1 a week and be with people who get

it and understand how that separation feels,” she explains. Julia is now a huge advocate of the support the Military Wives Choirs community provides, having been apprehensive before she joined. “Choir has given me so many opportunities to build my confidence and my relationships and it was a safe environment to come out of my shell,” she adds. Julia enjoys doing something that’s for her and that makes her family proud, while Sue loves to support from the audience when she can. She urges anyone thinking of joining to “Go for it; it might be the best thing you ever do!”

Bringing people together

The Military Wives Choirs is a charity that brings all women in the armed forces community together and empowers them through singing with 72 choirs across bases in the UK and overseas and nearly 2,000 members. Find your nearest at militarywiveschoirs.org

Separation can be upsetting and confusing.

Don't let it be.

We have decades of experience in handling the legal problems that arise when relationships break down. Divorce

Arbitration

Mediation

Children

01743 280 123

Founder members of Forces Law. 36 Army&You summer 2021

21 St Mary’s Street, Shrewsbury SY1 1ED military@wmlaw.co.uk www.wacemorgan.co.uk @WaceMilitary

Military Law Service @ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE

END OF THE BLAME GAME? I

Family law specialists reflect on the impact of imminent changes to the UK’s divorce law

T IS inevitable that relationships change over time and approximately one third of all marriages end in divorce proceedings. Sadly, it is all too common amongst armed forces personnel, writes Wace Morgan Solicitors’ Sue Leach. Traditionally, the divorce process has sometimes become a “blame game” which may have hindered families moving forwards and adversely affected co-parenting for their children. After almost 50 years, divorce law is undergoing a radical “shake-up” with the introduction of “no-fault” divorce, which is expected to come in to force in autumn 2021. Family lawyers have campaigned for decades to modernise the out-dated system. Under the current law, if couples are unwilling to wait 2 years for the consent of the other spouse or 5 years if the other spouse does not consent, they must “blame” the other for the breakdown of their relationship. They must either give examples of the other’s

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behaviour to show that it would be unreasonable to be expected to continue to live with them or to cite adultery within the divorce proceedings. Under the new law, one spouse or a couple jointly may apply for a divorce by making a statement of irretrievable breakdown. Allegations of the other’s behaviour and the need to “blame” the other will not now be required. The key objective is to reduce hostility and to encourage separating couples and their children to move on in a more conciliatory way. Where a couple has simply drifted apart, they will no longer need to wait 2 or 5 years. A husband or wife can no longer contest the divorce on the basis that the marriage has not broken down because the statement of irretrievable breakdown will evidence that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. This will make the process more straightforward and in some cases more cost-effective.

FTER a long period of standing still, UK divorce law is finally seeing some seismic shifts, writes Hewitts’ Partner, Melanie Winship-Lee. Solicitors, for example, may now file divorce and financial remedy applications through a family court online portal. MyHMCTS may not yet be particularly user-friendly and is in need of improvement, but it has dramatically reduced waiting times to approve a financial consent order from three-to-four months to just a matter of days. Similarly, uncontested divorce proceedings are completing within the space of six months and Hewitts’ family team are, in turn, using the portal to provide a faster service for clients. Further change is afoot with the muchawaited “no fault” divorce anticipated to be introduced in October of this year. This new act will end all “fault” arguments of adultery and behaviour and there will be only one ground for divorce, with a provision of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. No fault divorce will have a minimum

www.armyandyou.co.uk

sue.leach@wmlaw.co.uk From the start of proceedings to granting a divorce, there will be a timetable of at least 20 weeks to give time to reflect and agree practical arrangements, for example who the children will live with and when they will spend time with the other parent. The terminology will be modernised. Decree Nisi will become a “Conditional Divorce Order” and Decree Absolute a “Final Divorce Order”. However, the whole process will not necessarily become quicker. Whilst the divorce process will become less complicated, resolving financial matters will

“reflection period” of 26 weeks and allow parties to divorce if the marriage has broken down. Unlike previous proceedings, parties will be able to make a joint statement and it will not be possible to contest the decision to the divorce. The 12-month wait to start proceedings will remain if parties have been married less than one year and there will still be six weeks between the interim conditional order and the final decree. As family lawyers we are delighted to bring existing divorce laws up to date. Our specialist family team recognise the changes will help those who decide that their marriage or civil partnership has broken down to deal with the legal consequences without getting caught up in having to assert blame. Resolution and many other organisations have seen the effect of relationship breakdowns and

remain key for many families. Before applying for the Final Divorce Order, a spouse will still be advised to sort out the financial aspects of their marriage. Many spouses do not realise that resolving financial matters is a separate process. All financial aspects should be dealt with including joint bank accounts, savings, debts, the family home if there is one and pensions. The pensions of service personnel may have a significant value and the other spouse may have a claim in relation to these. Early advice from a solicitor is key. Once an agreement has been reached, it needs to be set out in an agreed order and sealed by the court to provide certainty for the future. From my experience, it is important to seek advice early to discuss and agree a strategy to resolve both divorce and financial aspects in a timely and costproportionate way. wacemorgan.co.uk

a way which focuses on improving nonconfrontational means of separating and reaching financial settlements can only be a step in the right direction. If you are considering separation or divorce proceedings please seek guidance from a specialist as it is important to take clear advice on the financial matters arising. Divorce does not deal with financial matters and neither does it sever the financial duties created when you marry. This is a separate process and it is important to have an understanding of your position and consider whether a clean break financial consent order is appropriate. All of our family lawyers are members of Resolution. We offer a free initial telephone appointment to discuss your case and – under the Blue Light Card scheme – offer a 25% discount to members of the armed forces. We have offices in Stockton, Darlington, Bishop Auckland and Newton Aycliffe and can offer meetings on the telephone, in the office or by video conference. Alternatively contact us by email on enquiries@hewitts.co.uk summer 2021 Army&You 37


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS According to government figures, more than 500,000 people were made redundant in 2020. That’s half a million people experiencing that sick-to-the-stomach feeling when you hear the news your job has gone. But what if, beyond the shock, there’s a chance to embrace new opportunities? Army spouse Eleanor Tweddell – the founder of Another Door, which helps people through redundancy – has some inspiration…

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EING made redundant could be the moment to question everything, career choices especially, and follow a new path. I was made redundant in 2017. It wasn’t the best moment of my life, but it created space to ask myself ‘what am I doing?’ and ‘what do I really want?’. For the first time I considered how I wanted to work and my goal of creating a business became a work in progress. With the constant moving of army life, holding down my corporate role was always going to be a challenge, but it was never on my radar to give it up. So being made redundant was the opportunity to reassess. How can I create a business that fulfils everything I get from my career, but works for me, in a flexible way? I saw the loss of a job as an opportunity to upgrade.

It’s not easy starting something new, but it’s certainly possible

It starts with exploring, creating an open mind and getting uncomfortable, coming so far out of your comfort zone that you forget what comfort is. Start with reflecting on your past career, good and bad, everything you loved, everything you hated. Then imagine what an ‘ideal tomorrow’ could look like. The things that give joy, that matter, can become the foundations to start something new. They serve as a reminder of what has been achieved and are a confidence boost that is needed at a time of much self-doubt. Away from the shackles of a job title you can discover many hidden talents. Things you find easy, someone else might find so hard they are willing to pay you to take the pain away.

Changing careers is a game played in the mind

Your inner voice may say ‘you can’t do that’, ‘you aren’t good enough’, ‘it’s not the right time’. But there are many out there, just like

38 Army&You summer 2021

Picture: © Chris Watt Photography

“We’ve spent months dealing with uncertainty and loss, now is the time to create a future that doesn’t just give you what you need, but what you want.” you, who have found a way, and you can find a way too. With the right support, you can flip your chatter into ‘I don’t know, but I’ll learn’ or ‘I might fail, but I’ll try’. That’s where opportunity lies. We’ve spent months dealing with uncertainty and loss, now is the time to create a future that doesn’t just give

you what you need, but what you want. l Eleanor Tweddell is the author of Why losing your job could be the best thing that ever happened to you, published by Penguin. Visit anotherdoor.co.uk for more top tips.

UNEXPECTED TURBULENCE

ARMY spouse Emma Horner was made redundant in December last year after 23 years with travel operator Tui. Here, she shares her story of an unexpected journey... When I found out my office was closing, I was devastated. Tui was the only company I’d ever worked for and I felt scared as I’d never been in that situation. We were in the process of buying our forever home and I knew this would massively impact on our mortgage. There was lots of help on the Tui website. I was offered the chance to work in another shop but the commute was over an hour each way and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that due to my family commitments. Then, I received a fantastic opportunity to work for a franchise – local-recruit.co.uk – and run my own business. I was really worried about stepping into the unknown as I’ve always been used to a regular income, but I decided to take the plunge. I’ve done all the groundwork now and as the economy picks up the opportunities will be endless. I would highly recommend going for it and taking any opportunities that come your way. Update your CV when you can and be proud to stipulate you have been an army wife – as that’s one of the hardest jobs ever! @ArmyandYou


Plan and progress along your dream path ALMOST 500 military families have been giving their career prospects a boost through the Partner Career Support Programme (PCSP) pilot. The programme was entirely online, so families could take the course at a time and pace that suited them, wherever they were based. It was delivered by the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) and funded by the MOD. Charlene Brookes, project manager at CTP, says: “The aim was to help service partners understand their own career path options. A crucial part of that was to increase confidence in the ability of service partners to progress along their desired career path.”

Highly recommended

On returning from an overseas posting, Hannah [pictured] decided to sign-up for the PCSP. She explains: “We had been abroad for eight years and I hadn’t worked since having my eldest daughter 12 years ago – I

didn’t know where to start.” With her children settled in their new schools and her husband away on exercise, she decided that the timing was perfect to sign up. Hannah had access to a multitude of resources via the CTP platform, including a self-assessment tool which helped her to identify her personal strengths and areas for development. She also took part in webinars covering topics such as CV development

and interview skills, as well as being assigned a personal career coach to help identify her goals and how to reach them. Hannah adds: “The course has given me an abundance of information for free! I have re-written my CV, improved my LinkedIn profile and gained self-confidence. I now have a CV which I can adapt to each job I apply for, as well as learning more about my own strengths and transferable skills. I would absolutely recommend the PCSP to anyone who would like the support and advice of willing and helpful career experts.” The PCSP ended on 31 May and it's not yet clear whether the programme will be rolled out permanently, but AFF is hopeful that the evaluation will be positive: “We have encouraged the MOD to make CTP accessible to spouses and partners, and this has been a great example of how beneficial it can be.” Head to ctp.org.uk/partner-programme to find out more.

YOU'RE HIRED! FORCES Families Jobs (FFJ) now has a new area on its website dedicated to apprenticeships – a great way to gain qualifications whilst you earn a wage – and you don’t have to be a school leaver. AFF employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson, caught up with Sophie Willmott, senior talent acquisition advisor at Mott MacDonald, one of the FFJ employers who offer apprenticeship opportunities… Sophie explains: “Our apprenticeship recruitment is really growing. It’s paid, on-

Sophie Willmott

www.armyandyou.co.uk

the-job training which results in qualifications, so it’s a great opportunity for people looking for a career change.”

How does it work?

You can find apprenticeship opportunities in many different professions, including management, engineering, hairdressing, beauty therapy, and healthcare roles to name a few. Mott MacDonald offer apprenticeships up to degree level in a variety of subject areas including management and construction-related roles. This means you can be paid to work and study for a degree at the same time – no hefty student debt at the end of it! Sophie adds: “There are other benefits, such as training in skills which employers are looking for, paid holidays and company benefits, progression opportunities and increased future earnings.” Recruiting an apprentice also benefits the employer.

Mott MacDonald graduates

“It's a great opportunity for people looking for a career change.” “Homegrown talent is so important for businesses because it increases staff loyalty – ninety per cent of apprentices will stay with the company that they did their apprenticeship with,” says Sophie. “Apprentices also increase the diversity of the company, which boosts the brand and increases productivity.”

Understanding army life

All FFJ’s registered employers are signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant, meaning they understand that military life can

come with additional challenges. Sophie’s organisation has mechanisms in place to support military family members: “We have a dedicated network of support, including a mentor and buddy scheme,” she explains. “We also offer agile working, so that we are able support your personal circumstances, as well as our ‘Swap Your Helmet’ group which connects all of our armed forces community colleagues and supporters of our military personnel within the business.” For more information on apprenticeships, visit forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk summer 2021 Army&You 39


SPONSORED FEATURE

MOTORING MISDEMEANOURS

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NATIONAL survey* has found that while 98 per cent of people believe themselves to be law-abiding citizens, the average person is guilty of committing 32 offences every year. The research also found that the top 40 list of offences in the country include speeding; and driving while using a mobile phone or eating or drinking. Many minor driving offences can result in points on your licence and a fine. However, a major motoring offence can result in an unlimited fine; a driving ban, which may cause exceptional hardship for your family; a prison sentence and a criminal record, regardless of whether you’re army personnel or not.

of intended prosecution or a summons, it is important to seek legal help straightaway. Our driving offence lawyers provide a fixed fee service for an initial meeting to advise you on the most appropriate course of action. Wherever you are in England and Wales, we will attend all interviews under caution, prepare your case and defence and arrange representation in court, should that be necessary.

l Our team also has the ability to consider and progress, where appropriate, a special reason for why the offence took place. This may include matters such as spiked drinks, medical emergency and shortness of distance driven. If successful, this gives a court the discretion not to endorse a licence. l If you already have nine points on your licence, the conviction of a new speeding offence would make

l We will communicate clearly at all times with you, so you know exactly what is happening and work to protect your interests in every situation. Due to the technical nature of this area if you are charged or investigated for any driving offence, it is crucial you seek legal advice. If you’d like to discuss your matter in confidence, you can contact James Constable on james.constable@bpcollins.co.uk / 01753 889995. www.bpcollins.co.uk

How can B P Collins help if you are faced with a driving offence? l Whether you have been charged; have received a notice ✪

40 Army&You summer 2021

you a “totter”, which is 12 points or more on your licence. This could lead you to be disqualified for a minimum period of six months, which may result in exceptional financial hardship for your family. Our team can work with you to prepare arguments for an exceptional hardship application in Court, which could mean an early return of your driving licence.

Survey was conducted by OnePoll

@ArmyandYou


Sparkle and shine with JEMS make it difficult to secure a job, so it may be a good opportunity to take a training course to improve your future prospects. Project JEMS is a partnership between Wiltshire College & University Centre, Army Headquarters South West and Wiltshire

Picture: © RF._.studio for Pexels

MANY of you have been part of the army rebasing programme, resulting in a large proportion of military families now living in the south west of England. With a higher number of people in the local job market, increased competition could

Council, providing education and training opportunities and identifying pathways to employment for military spouses, partners and young adults.

Going virtual

Despite the restrictions throughout the last 12 months or so, several of you have taken part in courses. Louisa-Jayne achieved her functional skills qualifications in English and maths. She says: “I’m a key worker at a hospital and currently studying my level 3 diploma in adult nursing so that I can apply to university to become a nurse practitioner. However, I also needed GCSEs (or equivalent) in maths and English to complete the course.” Louisa-Jayne saw a post on social media, enrolled and was placed in a military families’ cohort. After attending the drop-in sessions, she used the distance-learning resources to study around work and family commitments. When teaching moved online due to the pandemic, she found that she was still offered superb support by Suzanne, her tutor: “Suzanne was always there to help me via email or video call and has been really supportive.” To find out more about future courses, contact resettlement@wiltshire.ac.uk

HEWITTS SOLICITORS

Our strength gives you peace of mind Hewitts are proud to offer a 25% discount on family law services as part of the Blue Light Card scheme, which includes members of the Armed Forces. For all your family law needs please contact a member of our dedicated family team in order to arrange an appointment. We offer a free initial telephone consultation to discuss your case, costs and timescales. Bishop Auckland: 01388 604691 Newton Aycliffe: 01325 316170 Stockton-on-Tees: 01642 673701 Darlington: 01325 468573 Hewitts.indd 1 www.armyandyou.co.uk

hewitts.co.uk enquires@hewitts.co.uk

09:44 summer 2021 18/05/2021 Army&You 41


YOUR HOME

NEW REPAIRS CONTRACT INCOMING

T

HE current National Housing Prime (NHP) contract with Amey, which has encompassed the management and maintenance of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) since 2014, will be introduced early 2022. Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has consulted with service families and collaborated closely with the families federations to develop the new arrangements.

What's going to change?

There will be five new contracts: A National Accommodation Management Services (NAMS) contract, and four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts in the North, Central, South East and South West regions. The NAMS supplier will operate the National Service Centre, which will be your single point of contact for all requests, such as scheduling appointments for repairs and move-ins/-outs. In addition, NAMS staff will attend SFA to conduct move-ins and moveouts, and they’ll be responsible for checking that the RAMS contractors have prepared SFA properly for move-in. The four RAMS contracts will provide repair and maintenance services and ensure SFA are prepared for occupation when allocated. They will also ensure SFA are safe and compliant, such as conducting gas and electricity safety checks. DIO will continue to work closely with Amey and the new suppliers to ensure there’s no disruption in service in the run-up to the new contracts coming into effect.

34 Army&You spring 2021

Key benefits

You should see improvements in the way services are delivered: l You’ll be able to report faults through different platforms such as phone, online or via an app. l Suppliers will be incentivised to fix faults on the first visit and to undertake simple preventative maintenance tasks whilst attending properties. This will help reduce the number of repeat visits. Performance will not only be measured on whether they fix the problem on the day, but also that it doesn’t reappear soon afterwards, to ensure it really is a genuine first-time fix. l The appointments system will give you greater flexibility with shorter windows, as well as evening and weekend appointments. If required, follow-ups can be booked by contractors while they are still at your property. l Fault diagnosis will be improved to ensure the right contractor attends your SFA to complete repairs. Look out for further details in the next edition of Army&You and via aff.org.uk


Fitting in the family*

W

E'RE all aware of the entitlement to Service Family Accommodation for married couples, but what happens if your family set-up is more complex? Are you a single parent; in long-term relationship; dual serving and in need of a nanny; are your children still living at home but no longer in fulltime education or are you looking to foster or adopt a child? AFF housing specialist, Cat Calder, explores some of the nuances...

Single parents: If you’re a serving

single parent who is the main carer for children (PStat Cat2) in the UK and overseas, you’re entitled to a quarter. Under the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot, you’re entitled to SFA, or allowances for the Private Rental Scheme (PRS), or your own home. Single serving parents in an established long-term relationship (LTR(E)) remain entitled to SFA, however, if there are other children belonging to your partner and you would like a larger quarter, you would have to request one as surplus, which is dependent on availability and not always guaranteed. Not available overseas. Serving single parents who have visits from children who are considered to live with the other parent (eg go to school, registered at GP) have no entitlement to SFA under current policy but can request surplus SFA. Under the FAM pilot, if you have your child for more than 80 nights a year, you’re entitled to SFA or PRS. Surplus is also not available overseas.

Elderly parents: If you need

to care for parents in your quarter you have to request permission for ‘other occupancy’ from DIO Accommodation’s industry partner. This won’t entitle you to a larger SFA, but you could apply for surplus where available. No adaptations would be undertaken by DIO and you need to consider how your parent/s could be impacted for medical purposes should you be posted to a different area or overseas.

Visitors: Visiting families from overseas

are allowed for no more than 28 days (aggregated or continuous) in any 93-day period unless previously authorised by DIO Accommodation or their industry partner. For www.armyandyou.co.uk

r te at m *no ber m u n the

visitors coming from overseas for long visits, permission must be granted and they must ensure that they have the correct visa.

Adult children no longer considered dependents: Children over 18 and in further education (first Degree) are still included as dependents; once out of full-time education and over 18 they aren’t. You won’t be expected to move to a smaller quarter during a posting, the change will only be taken into consideration on your next move. However, where availability allows, the allocation team will try to allocate to your previous entitlement at the new duty station.

Dual serving: If you’re both serving,

one of you will be PStat Cat1, and the other PStat Cat5. The PStat Cat1 is entitled to SFA at the duty station, the other is entitled to Single Living Accommodation if they are serving unaccompanied at another duty station. If your duty stations are within 100 miles of each other, PStat Cat1s can apply (on an eligibility basis) for surplus at the midway point so long as there is available SFA, and the location of the quarter at the PStat Cat1’s duty station prevents the other partner from commuting to their place of duty. If allocated, this surplus SFA will be ringfenced for the duration of your posting, however, there will no longer be any entitlement for either of you to have SLA at the duty station and you must have at least six months left to serve at the duty station.

Fostering: All service personnel,

including those who are single, who are active foster carers are entitled to SFA or SFA above entitlement, where required.

Within the UK, approval as a foster carer and active or forthcoming fostering should be confirmed by means of a letter from your relevant local authority. It should stipulate the geographical area, as this will impact on whether foster carer status carries over after being posted to a new location, and duration of approved foster carer status.

Adoption: If you’ve been approved for

adoption, you will be entitled to occupy SFA from the date of approval given your need to establish a home prior to any child being placed with you.

Live-in childcare: If you’re a single

PStat Cat2 or a dual serving couple who need to employ a nanny or au pair, you’re entitled to be allocated a quarter so that the nanny has their own bedroom – you'll pay for the larger SFA. If you don’t fall into these categories, there is no entitlement to a larger quarter, however, you can request a larger surplus SFA where available; again, you will pay the increased costs.

Established long-term relationships: You are eligible for

surplus SFA, dependent on availability, however, under the FAM pilot policy you are entitled to SFA or the PRS allowance, as with single parents.

Get in touch: The guidance given

in this article mainly covers UK policy. If you’re in a FAM site or overseas there may be differences; you should discuss your requirements with your FAM cell or the overseas housing team. There’s info on aff.org.uk or you can contact me at housingsupport@aff.org.uk summer 2021 Army&You 43


Welcoming you to our open day * Saturday 26 June 2021 Independent Day & Boarding School for children aged 4 -18. Discounts available to Armed Forces and Diplomatic families.

Register at: www.lvs.ascot.sch.uk/admissions/open-days *Adhering to government guidelines and the lockdown road map.


EDUCATION

Working wonders in Wales SUPPORTING Service Children in Education (SSCE) Cymru is a Welsh Local Government Association programme with a mission to provide the best possible educational support to your children in Wales. So, if you’re posted there, it’s reassuring to know there’s an organisation working to make sure your children receive what they need. Last year it conducted a survey to give you an opportunity to share your experiences about living in/ moving to Wales, the impact

your lifestyle has on your children’s education and the support you’ve received from schools. The survey responses

came from families from all three services, regular, reservists and veterans/the ex-serving community and polled families with questions on making friends, settling into a new school and identifying service children in schools. On living in Wales, 90 per cent of families said they appreciated the physical environment with its wonderful countryside, mountains and cities and 35 per cent said they enjoyed meeting new people. To help with settling into a new school and community,

48 per cent of respondents visited the school before their move to meet teachers and classmates, and to understand what to expect on the first day, with another 40 per cent also visiting the area before moving. Two thirds of respondents said having information about education in Wales and the curriculum would be useful and 66 per cent said having an identified person in a school to support with transition would be beneficial. Find out more about ongoing work at SSCECymru.co.uk

RESHAPING TO BETTER Minds matter SERVE FORCES FAMILIES The Directorate Children & Young People (DCYP) has recently undergone a restructure, dividing its responsibilities across two separate organisations to better serve the needs of you and your service children. The functions of DCYP have been split into a policy organisation, known as Armed Forces Families and Safeguarding (AFFS) and Defence Children Services (DCS). Rest assured, educational support to families will continue as normal, and the delivery of all services will be unaffected.

Who does what?

The AFFS team, led by newly appointed head Peter Davis, will lead on the development of all defence-level education and children and young people policy. They’ll be responsible for engaging with devolved administrations, the Department for Education and local authorities, as well as taking the lead on safeguarding issues and childcare support policy, including the free wraparound childcare for service youngsters. DCS will look after MOD Schools and nurseries overseas as well as Queen Victoria School in Scotland. The team includes specialist support staff, including educational psychologists, as well as the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS), which will continue to provide the www.armyandyou.co.uk

more general support to you and your family. Director DCYP Mike Cooper says: “This separation into two new organisations allows our skilled staff to continue to do what they do best to support service children but will also allow risks to be better managed. “This will help the centre of the MOD to focus on creating the appropriate policy framework which can then be delivered both by Defence Children Services and non-MOD schools to ensure we’re meeting the educational needs of all our service children.” The new teams will be up and running by 31 August, ready for the start of the new school year.

Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s charity, Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), is calling on service young people to get in touch. RCET has received funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to work directly with youngsters from serving and veteran families across Scotland to develop a bespoke mental health and wellbeing digital platform as part of a new project, titled Your Mind Matters. The project ran a consultation with 600 young people from forces families across Scotland, in which 80 per cent told the charity they faced challenges to their mental health and wellbeing, including deployment of loved ones, regular relocations and the subsequent disruption of education and friendships. Your Mind Matters wants to capture these experiences of life in a forces household to develop a series of mental health and wellbeing resources to support peers and the wider family. And if they have a passion for technology and creative talents, the project will also give youngsters an opportunity to get involved in the look and feel of the digital platform as well as develop vibrant, engaging social media campaigns. If you have someone in your family aged between 12-25, who was born or is currently based in Scotland, tell them to contact wellbeing@rcet.org.uk or visit rcet.org.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 45


The school is so welcoming and understanding of someone from a military background, I quickly felt part of the community. Student

CHALLENGE

NURTURE We are a co-educational, non-selective independent school set in a 56 acre campus in Somerset. Nursery to Sixth Form. Forces families pay from £454 per term (Years 3-4) up to £783 per term for full boarding in the senior school, plus CEA. POTL and R&R Flexibility.

INSPIRE

Follow us @TauntonSchool

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A L L H A L L OWS P R E PA R A T O R Y S C H O O L

Our boarding community is thriving with dedicated house parents looking after small groups of children giving a warm family feeling in our home from home. Excellent weekend provision and numbers. Just ask to speak to one of our boarding ambassadors to find out more. Outstanding opportunities across the curriculum and beyond. With happiness and well-being central to our ethos, our children are regularly achieving above and beyond expectations. Generous Bursary & special Armed Forces package making for an affordable education for all your children. Discover why we are different... Call Jackie on 01749 881609 for more information and to arrange a visit. We look forward to meeting you! All Hallows is a day & boarding prep school in Somerset for boys & girls aged 3 - 13, boarding from Year 3. www.allhallowsschool.co.uk/boarding

46 Army&You summer 2021

LEARN • CREATE • EXPLORE WHERE WILL YOUR FUTURE TAKE YOU? Top quality boarding provision with superb pastoral care Rated ‘excellent’ in all areas of our latest Inspection Report Over 100 co-curricular activities available with a reputation for sport Inspirational music, drama and creative arts Up to 20% discount for boarding Forces families (limited availability)

A warm welcome awaits you at our Open Events PREP SCHOOL

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BUILDING TRUST, BETTERING LIVES “Our family will remain eternally grateful for all the support we have received from the Armed Forces Education Trust.” SINCE its origins in the 1850s as a home for the orphans of soldiers in London, the Armed Forces Education Trust has grown into a grant making trust supporting the children of service personnel whatever their current geographic location. Over the last five years, grants in excess of £1 million have been awarded to support children of all three services, from both serving and retired parents. Charmian Hickman, CEO of the Trust, says: “Most service children are happy, resilient and successful, and thrive on the opportunities that service life brings. Others, however, can be disadvantaged by a lack of stability in their education and by some of the challenges of service life. “For these young people, we may be able to assist with education related costs that

you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. This can help your young people over particular hurdles that are preventing them from achieving their educational potential. We also give grants to schools to help them provide your service children with additional emotional or academic support.”

Stepping in to help

The Trust is currently providing support to a young lady who, after a turbulent time in the Scottish education system, moved to England when her father was posted. “This occurred at a key stage of her

education and meant she would have missed a school year,” explains Charmian. “Her local authority wasn’t flexible enough to allow her to drop a year to give her time to catch-up, so we stepped in to help.” Working in conjunction with her new school, the Trust provided her with a grant towards her school fees. “This has allowed her to stand the best chance of overcoming the problems caused by service-related mobility, and to maximise her educational potential,” adds Charmian. The Trust is increasingly being asked to help families who suddenly lose their eligibility for Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) for various reasons, particularly during key exam years. Charmian says: “Often, we’re able to give this support, if only for a short time to allow parents time to appeal decisions.”

Find out more

To apply for a grant, visit armedforceseducation.org

Tap into AFF’s advice via our education & childcare specialist – Anna Hutchinson – educationsupport@aff.org.uk or visit aff.org.uk

Home from Home

A safe and supportive close-knit community for daughters of Forces families. Chat to our Admissions Team on 01904 727630 / admissions@queenmargarets.com or visit queenmargarets.com/admissions/forces-families Day, Flexible and Full Boarding School for Girls aged 11-18. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 47


ai162091356146_186w x132hJune21b.pdf 1 13/05/2021 14:46:07

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48 Army&You summer 2021

Co-educational boarding and day school age 2-13 www.abberleyhall.co.uk Part of the Malvern College Family of Schools

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SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION

MINDFUL APPROACH

T

We explore the pre- and post-pandemic measures taken by schools and colleges to protect and promote the mental wellbeing of their students

HE care and development of every pupil is a priority at Malvern College. We believe when there are high levels of good mental health and wellbeing, that learning, creativity, and productivity are higher too. To ensure our young people feel valued as individuals and fully supported, and in turn enjoy good levels of mental and physical wellbeing, we have several programmes and initiatives, many of which are pupil-led. Academically, these are societies, covering a range of topics and disciplines. For wellbeing, we have a group called Pupil Thrive, which is discussed further on.

Members of the College’s Outdoor Pursuits team on their challenge from Malvern to Paris by Human Power in 2019

We are exceptionally proud of our home away from home ethos. Nowhere is this support more evident than in each of our 11 boarding house

LGBTQ group, the creation of the Black Students’

climbing mountains to lip-syncing videos, and

dining rooms. Pupils return to their House for all

Union and a booklet Pupil Online and Pastoral

concerts, to raising money for charity.

their meals and breaks and eat in the company

Guide. The booklet covered matters such as the

of teachers, tutors, and other members of their

best posture for online learning for both sitting

to extend our Youth Mental Health Training

House. These moments of togetherness are key

and standing. There was a section on top tips

to our Lower Sixth leavers. They attended a

in the pastoral provision of our school, as it

to help eliminate potential stressors and how

3-hour course given by Mrs Vanessa Young,

provides numerous opportunities for the House

to avoid distractions in order to help create

Housemistress of Ellerslie House and the

Teams to observe and spot any anxieties or

the right mindset for learning. A new online

College’s dedicated Youth Mental Health lead.

issues a child might be exhibiting and address

timetable was introduced, which included a

The course gives our pupils, particularly those

them quickly, discretely and with sensitivity.

longer lunch break to allow for exercise outdoors

who are Peer Mentors and future Heads of

and to give regular breaks from the screen.

House, an opportunity to be more attuned to

Our parent body is and always has been intrinsic to the role it plays in partnership

Pupil Thrive communications are achieved

The second lockdown gave us the opportunity

their peers and alert to any potential issues they

with us in the monitoring their child’s mental

by the circulation of weekly bulletins and

may be personally experiencing in relation to

health and wellbeing. This key relationship was

posters. Topics have covered matters such as the

their own mental wellbeing.

certainly emphasised during the provision of

importance of good quality sleep, maintaining

online learning during the pandemic. Deputy

a sleep schedule, mindfulness tips and how to

of our Year 13 pupils are going to train as

Head: Pastoral, Mr Lewis Faulkner and his

manage jet lag. Posters are visible throughout

Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainers. They

team were engaged and active throughout both

the school and a recent one was about how to

are scheduled to participate in a 2-day course,

lockdowns, gathering feedback and working

“make Sunday special”, with extra tips for staying

which has been running for several years and

with the pupil-led group, Pupil Thrive. They

positive and how to manage feelings of being

previously attended by College staff. The course

focussed on the online learning experience and

overwhelmed and anxious and where to find help.

will equip our young people with the skills and

how it could be improved, not only to ensure a

To help maintain social networks, pupils

In the latter part of this academic year several

knowledge they need to be able to recognise

continuation of effective and enjoyable learning,

were encouraged to get involved with online

the signs of mental distress, both in themselves

but most importantly to maintain the emotional

House events and to pursue as much of the

and others and take appropriate action. The

and physical wellbeing of pupils and staff,

co-curricular and super curriculum activity

cornerstones of the course are to listen non-

achieved by regular online contact and routine.

as could be achieved virtually. The whole

judgmentally and be aware of one’s own frame of

community responded enthusiastically with

reference when trying to support others.

Pupil Thrive is a well-established pupilled group at Malvern College. It is open to all

online involvement in an array of activities

years, with a specific focus on identifying and

including masterclasses on topics such as The

our young people’s personal and social

implementing positive and proactive ways

Post-Colonial View of Latin America. There

development and their physical and mental

to improve mental health and emotional

were meetings of the debating, philosophy and

health. We are certain that this is achieved

wellbeing. This engagement demonstrably

cricket societies and Malvern United Nations.

by living and learning as members of one

contributes to the maintenance of a strongly

Co-curricular activities support all-round

community, with a common purpose to learn

connected community, with an inclusive culture.

personal development and featured online

well and to play well. The school strives to ensure

The meetings are open platform and bring

special events such as – mountain bike skills

our young people are fully engaged, happy,

together senior staff and pupils, with actions

workshops and virtual group rides, DoE clinics,

contented and supported during their time at

and recommendations being presented to the

live skills sessions for rugby and netball and

Malvern College and beyond.

College’s Senior Leadership Team. The most

the continuation of House cross-country using

recent outcomes have been the creation of a

Strava. There were also fun challenges from

www.armyandyou.co.uk

Each one of these initiatives aims to enhance

malverncollege.org.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 49


Discover LEX at Clayesmore Explore

Experience

Excite

PREP • SENIOR • SIXTH FORM

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clayesmore.com/lex

Extend

LEX is a vibrant weekend programme of exploration, excursions and experiences designed to be memorable and transformative whilst equipping Clayesmore pupils with the competencies and confidence they will need for life. A progressive and powerful re-envisioning of a thoroughly modern education.


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION CLAYESMORE

clayesmore.com

THE impact that the pandemic has had on our children and their school life has been profound, not only in their academics but more so, on a social and mental wellness level. As schools moved to home learning, the pastoral care of the children learning alone at the kitchen table became a priority for the senior leadership team at Clayesmore & Clayesmore Prep. “The positive mental health of our pupils is rightly at the forefront of modern education,” says Clayesmore Prep Head, Jonathon Anderson, “but

happy and resilient young adults,

animals. Sport will remain a key

curriculum, becoming well-rounded,

never more so than in the current

is central to the school’s ethos and

element of the programme but

interested and enterprising young

Covid pandemic when children have

in September a new, dedicated

we are also going to be offering

people with positive attitudes and a

been under the combined pressures

programme called LEX, named

a far wider choice of personal

‘can do’ approach to life. We believe

of remote learning, anxiety about

after the school’s founder Lex

development options including arts,

that positive mental health in our

the pandemic and not seeing their

Devine, is being introduced.

creativity and culture; all terrific

pupils comes from their personal

ways to combat anxiety and boost

development, their achievements in

pupils get far more time outdoors,

positive mental health. At the heart

their own areas of strength and the

doing fun, healthy, creative activities

of LEX is the desire to ensure all

support and encouragement of their

welfare of the children and

like forest school, bushcraft,

our pupils experience opportunities

teachers and peer group,” concludes

preparing them to be confident,

horticulture and looking after

far beyond the bounds of the

Mr Anderson.

friends or participating in their usual activities.” Throughout the school, the

“This programme will ensure our

CHAFYN GROVE

chafyngrove.co.uk

WE recently, finally, played our first cricket matches in over a year. The fact that it rained heavily throughout in no way put a dampener on the children’s enthusiasm. It served as an ebullient reminder of the power playing outdoors has, writes Simon Head, Headmaster of Chafyn Grove. Physical space is a key detail in education. Of late, children have been moving round the school buildings less to reduce contact with other groups, divesting them of variety. This term we’ve returned to the usual patterns of Spanish in the Spanish room and so on which has palpably raised energy levels and engagement across the board. The outdoors, however, holds an especial appeal. Firstly, it’s an ever-changing canvas – from

day and closely affect everything else. Here,

gardens and grounds have been such a haven

the children benefit from the right amount of

through lockdown.

moment to moment as well as season to season.

freedom – they must not be under the nose of the

Those stimuli encourage thought processes.

staff at all times.

Furthermore, children like to move! If there’s

In a regimented timetable, there need to be

Whatever other patterns are imposed upon us, nature is always a steadfast companion. Children instinctively appreciate this – there’s a vital

a time and place for sitting still, it should

platforms of unstructured time. The way the

connection between them and the outdoors we

not be allowed to tyrannise the curriculum.

children create games with hedges and trees, as

must not overlook or stifle. All teachers know

Games and Drama are embedded opportunities

well as footballs or play equipment, exercises

that when it’s windy, pupils are lifted by that.

for movement, but all lessons benefit from

their imagination at the same time as recharging

Whatever the weather, children are naturally

animation. Building a Roman fort in the woods

their batteries.

inspirited by being able to learn outdoors. A

not only gives a sense of the labour it involved, it actually engraves patterns of learning. Nor is it only lessons which benefit from being outdoors. Break-times are a crucial part of the

www.armyandyou.co.uk

At the time of writing, we’re holding our annual

history lesson involving archery, a number hunt

Wellbeing week. While it’s a year-round concern,

in maths, studying The Windhover beneath

we emphasise this with a concerted treatment.

an actual kestrel, bring learning to life in the

This week’s theme is ‘The Great Outdoors’ as

healthiest way imaginable.

summer 2021 Army&You 51


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION ALL HALLOWS

allhallowsschool.co.uk

AT All Hallows, the children’s happiness and well-being has always been at the very top of the agenda. It is no secret that we all work and learn best when we feel happy and secure and Dr Trevor Richards, an educational psychologist as well as an educationalist and Head, is ideally placed to ensure that the school is truly delivering on its aim at every level. Recent initiatives to reduce potential stress triggers (for parents as well as the children) have included an overhaul of the assessment and examination system within the school. The resulting mix of

being encouraged to express their learning in

was quick to challenge the movement to

interleaved learning, continual assessment and

a variety of different and creative ways from

accelerate the children’s learning to ‘catch up’

a graduated examination system starting in Year

physical models to poetry and drama.

on missed learning. Attempting to do so on top

6, in preparation for 13+ Common Entrance, is

Mindful that the children were missing social

of learning new information is likely to lead to

not only reducing stress but also maximising

contact with their friends, hugely successful

cognitive overload and as a result, the children

teaching and learning time.

off curriculum days were organised for Years 7

would struggle to transfer both missed and new

and 8 with an online ‘Ready, Steady, Come Dine

information into their long-term memory and

and excited about their learning – and never

with Me’ challenge. The children were supported

won’t ‘properly’ learn either.

more so than during the pandemic. Each time

remotely by their teachers throughout the day as

“So let’s not feel that we need to rush to a pre-

remote learning was required, well thought

they prepared delicious dishes and then staff and

determined timeline, take a slightly longer term

out changes were rapidly integrated into the

families came together online to enjoy the fruits

view, avoid cognitive overload, and keep student

curriculum, taking advantage of the technologies

of their labours. Of course, no ‘come dine with

well-being strong,” says Dr Richards. “If we do

available but also mindful of the time children

me’ party is complete without entertainment

this, not only will our children continue to enjoy

were spending in front of screens. Where

for the guests and this took the form of a quiz

school and have a passion for learning, but they

possible, offline tasks were set with children

that the children devised and ran. Dr Richards

may well also exceed previous expectations.”

It is always important to keep children engaged

DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL

doyrms.com

OFFICIAL progress figures for

become ‘Dukies’ for life; these

boarding school, each boarding

homesickness and social skills.

GCSE place the Duke of York’s

lifelong bonds combined with

house is staffed 24/7 by a pastoral

Students’ wellbeing is paramount at

Royal Military School (DOYRMS)

continuity of education, while

team of live-in houseparents,

the school, with dedicated staff on

in the top 2 per cent of schools

serving parents move frequently,

matrons, housekeepers and tutors.

hand and clubs such as Yoga, Social

nationally, providing an all-

ensure students thrive in their

The school boasts outstanding

Skills, and Mindfulness making

round education with a strong

home-from-home.

managers and leaders (Ofsted 2018)

up part of the 80 clubs available to

and a wellbeing team consisting of

students each week.

academic focus. The award-winning school is a

When starting their Dukie journey, students are welcomed to

the designated safeguarding lead,

prominent choice for Armed Forces

the school with a comprehensive

registered nurses and professional

leadership programme for

families providing continuity of

induction programme. This

counsellors. New students quickly

students through Combined Cadet

education for students within a

programme, delivered to new Year

learn that all staff are approachable

Force, Ceremonial Ranks and

caring and supportive boarding

7 through to Year 10 and Year 12

and able to help with any issues

Year 13 Prefects alongside other

environment.

students, begins before the rest

they may have.

opportunities in Houses, sports

When asked ‘what do you like

of the school return from their

Preventative workshops and

DOYRMS boasts an outstanding

teams and the arts. The peer-to-

most about boarding?’, the vast

summer holidays. This allows staff

drop-in sessions are available

peer support offered throughout

majority of students at DOYRMS

to dedicate their time and focus to

throughout the academic year for

the school is exceptional with

respond ‘friendships’. When

the new cohort.

students to help develop resilience

Prefects available to their peers if

and examining issues such as

required.

students enter the school, they

52 Army&You summer 2021

As England’s only full state

@ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION GORDON’S SCHOOL

gordons.school

T

HE pandemic has had a devastating impact on young people. According to a survey conducted in March by the

charity Young Minds, 67 per cent of the young people interviewed believe it will have a longterm effect on their mental health. Stripped of a social life, feeling isolated, concerns about school and the breakdown of their usual routine has led to some school-age children experiencing panic attacks, selfharming and losing motivation during the period of lockdowns. House Parents have welcomed back students to Gordon’s School and are trained to support mental health issues

Stringent measures to protect the emotional well-being of students were already in place at Gordon’s School before COVID meant closing its doors to all but the children of keyworkers.

anti-bullying ambassadors. Teachers too not only

“We are aware that some students may be

But the co-ed school in Surrey, which is home to

monitor a student’s academic progress but their

experiencing; have experienced or will experience

some 260 boarders, over half of whom are from

mood and behaviour.

a variety of emotions in response to the

service families, has adapted and progressed

Level 2 of the system offers co-ordinated school

coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, such as anxiety,

these further. The approach since the return

support and may involve drop in sessions with

stress or low mood. This may particularly be the

to near-normal has been softly, softly with the

the specialist school nurse; a school counsellor

case for vulnerable children, including those with

emphasis on listening to students and re-

or pastoral mentor. Where further help is

a social worker and young carers.

engaging them.

needed, the school refers to outside agencies.

Students at the Surrey boarding school had

A full-time designated school mentor is

“It is important to contextualise these feelings as normal responses to an abnormal situation.

benefited from a full curriculum during lockdown,

employed at Gordon’s to provide both a listening

Some may need support to re-adjust to school;

involving every aspect of school life – from

ear and support. Students can also self-refer

others may have enjoyed being at home and be

academic to food technology, fitness and CCF

to one of the three counsellors in the school’s

reluctant to return; a few may be showing signs

lockdown challenges. The pastoral side of school

medical centre. They are also informed about

of more severe anxiety or depression. Others will

life was continued through House meetings with

online counsellors and support such as Kooth for

not be experiencing any challenges and were

House Parents and staff as well as peers.

those who may wish to remain anonymous when

keen and ready to return to school.

First day back in March after so many months

accessing help or find it easier to type how they

She added: “It is important to listen to

away due to Government restrictions and the

are feeling rather than speak about it. Experts in

students, not everyone will need support or a

priority for the transition from home to school

mental health fields are regularly invited in to

referral. Transition back to school routine will

was simply for students to get to know each other

speak to students in assembly.

be at different paces for different students and

again and to just enjoy each other’s company.

Sue Forster, Assistant Head Pastoral, explained:

their families”.

Heads of Houses, trained to support the mental health issues associated with children studying

For sports scholars on Gordon’s Good to Great programme, mental health is very much

remotely from home, began using House

a part of their journey. Head of Rugby Chris Davies leads the Harlequins/Gordon’s DiSE

meetings to work through a support programme

(Diploma in Sporting Excellence) programme and is the link between the Premiership

involving mindfulness and journaling.

rugby club and the school for students wishing to pursue a career in professional rugby.

Underpinning the school’s response to the

During lockdown the players and staff stayed in touch via WhatsApp and regular

mental health wellbeing of its students is the

Zoom meetings. However, while the talks dealt with the mental side of rugby, Mr Davies

Boarding Aims charter, based on the NHS

emphasised that their discussions were also useful for other areas.

pathways to good mental health. These are

“Our sessions at school centre on managing setbacks, goal setting and performing under

Connect; Get Active; Learn and Achieve; Give

pressure when on the sports pitch. But this can equally be applied and incorporated

and Appreciate. In addition, robust policies and

into everyday life” said Mr Davies. “Initially our Zoom calls were directed towards

practice underpin the school’s values in areas

game strategies but because of the long period of lockdown, we delved in to whether the

such as behaviour, anti-bullying and diversity.

boys were going out, getting fresh air etc. The talks became more holistic rather than

As part of the curriculum, PSHE combines a

performance-based.”

positive focus on well-being, strengths and

Mr Davies continued: “There is a misconception by many males where talking is deemed

healthy choices with specific information on

to be a weakness. However, males need to have somebody they can talk to such as a

problems and issues that may present at some

significant friend and while there are a lot of things boys don’t want to talk about, as a

point in life.

coach I want to create an environment where players feel they can talk to me.”

Gordon’s operates a three level support system

The former Fiji 7s Rugby Skills Coach creates a ‘mental skills toolbox’ with students

with all students knowing they have a ‘safe place’

either as a group or individually, giving them methods and skills so they know which is the

in their day and residential boarding houses

appropriate ‘tool’ to use when faced with a problem or situation.

where day to day support is available through

“When they perform on the rugby pitch, they are under pressure. We encourage them

their House Parents and Heads of Houses. In

to walk towards it and embrace it, which allows us to grow as people. It is okay to fail, we

addition to this, help is also on hand via the school

should use it as a learning experience.”

Chaplain, safeguarding leads, senior students and

www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 53


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION FARLEIGH

farleighschool.com

L

A Farleigh pupil enjoys the Family Friday bake-along with past-pupil and chef, Ollie Hunter

OCKDOWN presented us with many challenges, none more so than supporting the pastoral wellbeing of

our pupils and families whilst apart, writes

with pupils across the school engaging in Art, DT and Drama projects on the collective theme of Joseph and his Technicolor Dreamcoat. ‘Farleigh Family Fridays’ became a permanent

Michael Matthews, Deputy Head (Pastoral)

fixture with households across the school

at Farleigh.

coming together at 5.30pm each Friday for

As a school community, meaningful

a whole host of fun events, ranging from a

relationships between pupils, teachers and

cook-a-long with MasterChef semi-finalist (and

parents underpin who we are.

past pupil) Ollie Hunter, a talk on managing

As such, maintaining and strengthening

player care for Premiership footballers from

these during both lockdowns was of utmost

another former pupil, Hugo Scheckter, and a fun

importance. A significant emphasis was put

evening of cocktails, mocktails and magic from

on enabling live interaction both in and out of

party aficionados, Sharky & George, as well as

the virtual classroom, so from the word ‘go’, live

astonishingly fun and inventive quiz nights led

lessons were felt to be the very best approach

by Farleigh staff.

in continuing pupils’ academic and social

Mindful that our boarders were also unable

development. In January, using all the lessons

to be together, boarding House Parents

we had learned from our first foray into online

hosted virtual tea parties and offered ‘drop in’

learning, ‘Lockdown 2’ presented an opportunity

opportunities to discuss any wellbeing concerns

to take this interaction with school families to

pupils may have.

the next level.

Whilst it is impossible to replicate face-to-face

Some of the simpler enhancements involved

interaction, our community is all the stronger as

coming together each morning to touch base

a result of having supported each other through

with form takers, who would host their class

and talk to each other and with their form taker

the past year. It has reinforced our appreciation

for our whole-school virtual assembly in their

at the start of each day.

of the value of being back together and

‘Zoom Classroom’. This simple tweak provided an invaluable time for children to see each other

Alongside the academic curriculum, there was a greater focus on the wider curriculum

reaffirmed how fortunate we all feel to be part of a school with such a big heart.

FARLEIGH

Autumn Open Morning

Saturday 9th October 9.30am-12.00pm Contact our Registrar, Sarah O’Rorke: admissions@farleighschool.com

54 Army&You summer 2021

@ArmyandYou


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION SALISBURY CATHEDRAL SCHOOL

salisburycathedralschool.com

H

IGH-quality pastoral care, plenty of playtime, exceptional music, sport and exercise, and as much time outside as possible is the Salisbury Cathedral School (SCS) recipe for ensuring the wellness of our pupils. Pastoral care at SCS is woven into our daily life. Regular form times allow children to raise any issues they face and year group and whole school assemblies address pastoral themes. Our vertical tutor system brings children of different ages together regularly. These meetings encourage younger children to develop their thinking by observing the older children, who, in turn, develop leadership and kindness as they guide their younger counterparts. The school also has an Emotional Literacy Support Assistant (ELSA), for pupils needing one-to-one support. Music is another vital ingredient in the wellbeing of our pupils. When you visit our

a period of mindfulness for child and teacher.

school, you’ll hear singing voices, violin scales,

We also prescribe plenty of fresh air and

school and the busy city it resides within. Thanks to a new Head of Outdoor Learning,

drumming, a booming trombone or even a

exercise. Children can be found on the climbing

you’ll also find traditional academic subjects

full jazz ensemble, drifting out of windows all

equipment, playing sport by themselves in break

being taught outside. Whether it’s creating

around. This is because around 90 percent of

times or with expert tuition during lessons.

history timelines on the school driveway or

our pupils learn an instrument, about 45 percent

They build dens and enjoy imaginary adventures

demonstrating population pyramids by the

learn two instruments and some even learn

behind the lake or near the ancient city wall,

cricket pitch, we’ve seen our pupils thrive as we

three. Every one of these instrumental lessons is

which stands between the magical haven of the

use our grounds more than ever before.

15% forces discount off day and boarding fees SCS is on the approved list of schools for families who receive the Forces’ Boarding Schools Allowance - Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA)

Your child at our heart Opportunity to

Time to

Nurture • Explain • Encourage

Take part • Succeed • Shine

Come and visit us...

Space to

Learn • Explore • be Happy

Connect with us

CO-EDUCATIONAL DAY AND BOARDING PREPARATORY SCHOOL FOR CHILDREN AGED 3 TO 13 WWW.SALISBURYCATHEDRALSCHOOL.COM www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 55


You can follow AJ @ajsharpflavourfanatic on Instagram

With social gatherings safer outside, the barbecue will be the focal point of get-togethers this summer. Culinary queen AJ Sharp has been exploring some char-grilled alternatives…

S

OMETIMES we Brits are a little scared to experiment when it comes to barbecue food and should perhaps adopt the Aussie approach of chucking a few new things on to see what works. Given postings to Bondi Beach and the opportunity to gorge on glorious, freshly-caught seafood are few and far between, here are a few other options to elevate your grill game. Tempeh your tastebuds This firm but nutty protein is made with whole soya beans. The beauty of tempeh is that it can be quickly marinaded and takes on flavour very well. Authentic producer Tempeh

56 Army&You summer 2021

Waitrose and Ocado and priced £3.25 for a pack of six.

Meades suggests steaming it first, then marinading in a sauce of your choice before cooking on the barbecue for a tasty, low cholesterol, high protein alternative to a traditional beefburger. Available to order online at tempehmeades.com and delivered to your door.

Skinny snags If the sausage is a compulsory component of your feast, then why not choose a healthier option like those offered by Powters Skinny Pig? These gluten-free sausages are made using British pork, are low in fat and only 97 calories per sausage. Available at Tesco, Morrisons,

Chargrilled piccolo bruschetta This easy recipe from British Piccolos serves six and is perfect for showcasing the sweet and juicy tomatoes of summer.

sourdough bread, halved; 2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed; olive oil, for drizzling; a small finely chopped red onion; juice of 1 small lemon.

Ingredients 200g Piccolo cherry tomatoes, finely chopped; 6 slices

Method l Drizzle the sourdough with olive oil, then barbecue your

Relish alternatives If you love a sweet rich barbecue sauce but want to cut back on sugar, Real Good Smoked Barbecue Sauce contains 65 per cent less sugar and salt than the usual suspects and is also allergen-free, plant-based and vegan. £3 for a 500g bottle from Ocado and Wholefoods Market. Barbecued veggies Try adding whole mushrooms, sliced courgette and halved peppers to your barbecue, then stack them up and enjoy with a dollop of hummus or sauce in a bun. bread until browned; l Spread with the avocado and top with chopped Piccolo cherry tomatoes and red onion; l Season and sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil; l Try using hummus or cream cheese instead of avocado for a tasty change. @ArmyandYou


SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

E

ASY Chilli Co started as a hobby for a Royal Signals soldier who goes by the nickname El Saucio. He told us that he’s loved chilli sauce for as far back as he could remember and used the internet to learn the basics of making his own. His bottles of sauce proved hugely popular amongst his colleagues at MOD Stafford. During lockdown, with more time on his hands, he made a small batch of 150 bottles to sell – word got out so fast that it sold out within a week! Since then, business has grown and there’s a great following of ‘sauceketeers’ on social media. His aim was always to take the fear away from chilli. People always assume chilli

sauce equals agonising pain but he deliberately designs sauces with the right quantity of fresh chilli, so it’s flavoursome – and even kids enjoy it! Find out more @easychillico or buy your sauces direct from easychilli.co.uk

Win

Spice up your barbecue by winning four bottles of medium heat fruity artisan sauce! See page 3 for entry details.

We have a long tradition of working closely with Forces Families and remained open throughout the pandemic for Key Workers’ children.

Pay only 10% of the fees, around £1,000 per term* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2021/22. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA. Charity No. 525616

www.armyandyou.co.uk

www.habsmonmouth.org/forces summer 2021 Army&You 57


COMMUNITY CHAMPION

Inspirational pacesetter D

ESPITE only catching the running bug shortly before moving to Wimbish, on arrival Katy Robinson was moved to set up a group when she found herself a jogging buddy in fellow military spouse Sam Sanders. Two years – and almost 100 members – later, we caught up with the fleet-footed mum-ofthree to find out more about Wimbish Wives Running Club (WWRC)... “Most of my life I’ve moved around, meeting new people and making memories in different places,” says the avid runner, who grew up in a military family and has now been an army wife for ten years. “I think bringing the community together is so important as a military wife,” Katy adds, explaining how her group is open to all women and ideal for those ladies keen to lace up but reluctant to do so alone. “We need to look out for each other when partners are away, like a step-in family.” Prior to lockdown 3.0, the group were clocking up weekly runs in socially-distanced groups of six. “This was a great way to meet ladies that had moved here during the first lockdown and didn’t get chance to go to any other groups,” continues Katy. “We all share the same love/hate relationship with running. The group is super-encouraging and it’s a safe place for women to share with no judgement at all. I ran right up to thirty weeks’ pregnant with my third child and the group were so supportive. We just have a knack for uplifting one another and I feel really humbled to be a part of it.”

“I genuinely believe it’s helped everyone with their mental health and to get through lockdown... Katy deserves this award.”

Mutual motivation

In addition to regular runs, Katy has organised several competitions, supported charitable events and sourced medals to mark members’ milestones. Referring to the prizes, which include ‘most improved 5k’ and ‘best route art’, she says: “I like to keep the ladies motivated to try to challenge themselves.”

Making it work

Katy is quick to acknowledge the help she has from Sonya Johnson, Fernanda Rhead

58 Army&You summer 2021

a military If you know a person with to improve hard ks wor who tion nec con tell us about them your local community, k and read more rg.u aff.o tor@ edi ail em – .uk u.co dyo yan arm at ies stor

and Kate Davill in arranging sessions, creating routes and serving as co-admins of the club’s Facebook group. For Sonya, doing so is a welcome task: “I love being a part of the WWRC. It’s friendly, encouraging, flexible and helps bring us all together.” Army spouse Ashley credits the group as being the catalyst for her passion for running, so much so that when she left on a posting to Germany, she created a group there. “I arrived just after the first lockdown,” she says. “With schools out and no coffee mornings it was difficult to meet anyone. So, I ran.” And on noticing a few kindred spirits, she decided to follow Katy’s lead. “It’s a small community here but the [Facebook] page has flourished,” Ashley adds. “I genuinely believe it’s helped everyone with their mental health and to get through lockdown. “Katy deserves this award, not only for running the group in Wimbish but for being the inspiration for this one too.” If you’re thinking of starting a running group on your patch, Katy says go for it: “I would 100 per cent recommend it if you think others will benefit. We have all connected over the same interest and made friends for life.” &

Katy wins a signed print from The War Poppy Collection by artist Jacqueline Hurley of POSH Original Art. Jacqueline’s collection is her personal thank you and tribute to our armed forces, veterans and their families; and a commemoration of those who have fallen or been injured in past campaigns. She paints to evoke emotion, reflection and remembrance in her unique and expressive style. To view the collection, visit poshoriginalart.co.uk @ArmyandYou


T I A W KU

A POSTCARD FROM...

Karen, Charles, Amelia (10) and Oliver (8) on getting to grips with life in the Gulf How long have you been an army family? We’ve been together since before Charles joined the army in the late ‘90s.

Time in Kuwait?

We arrived in August 2019 – in temperatures of 45 degrees! When Kuwait came up as an option, we had no idea what to expect, but were definitely up for an adventure – and we love it here. It was the perfect time to have a posting overseas as the children are old enough to appreciate the experience but are not yet boarding.

How many other military families live in Kuwait?

There are about 35 serving personnel, and most are here with their family.

What’s your quarter like?

I had imagined compound living within a gated community, but it couldn’t be more different. We live on a residential street with

Kuwaiti neighbours, who have been friendly and welcoming. We have an amazing house with lots of space and a small garden, which is quite rare here, but in the summer months it’s too hot to go outside.

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

It’s quite difficult for family members to work, though some spouses have jobs in the British schools. I was supposed to start as a teaching assistant last year, but due to COVID-19 all learning has been online since then. I’ve quite enjoyed not working, as it’s given me a chance to meet lots of people and explore the area.

What about schools/ childcare?

Some schools follow the British curriculum. Our children had come from a small village school, so we decided to choose the smallest school here, but even that has 600 children, so it was a big change for them.

The facilities are fantastic. The school gates open at 7.10am and the day starts with the Kuwaiti national anthem. Arabic is compulsory. Lunch is at 10am and then they’re finished by 2.30pm. Outside school there are Brownies, Cubs, kickboxing, football, riding, swimming, rugby. Last year Oliver even took part in international rugby tournaments in Dubai and Qatar – not bad for a seven-year-old!

Where do people get together and who supports you?

We come under the British Military Mission (BMM) and are well looked after by the team here. It’s a lovely community and in ‘normal’ times we would have events throughout the year. BMM families often arrange socials between themselves and we also meet up with friends we’ve made outside of the military community – Kuwaitis, Lebanese, South African etc – it really is an international experience!

How do you find the cost of living?

It’s very expensive. The exchange rate is £2.50 to every Kuwaiti Dinar. The main exception to this is fuel, which is about a fifth of the price in the UK. Luckily, we get allowances to cover the additional cost of living, so we’re still able to afford a similar lifestyle to what we have at home.

What are the best and worst things about living in Kuwait?

Once you’re established, life here is very comfortable. The people are friendly, it’s a safe environment and a great springboard for travel. The only downside – apart from the crazy driving – is the bureaucracy, which can be a minefield to work through.

Would you recommend it as a family posting? If you’re adventurous, then this is a great posting! &

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing editor@aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 59


YoungGeneration MILY B E R S O F Y O U R A R M Y FA FOR THE YOUNGER MEM

L

Calling all book worms...

AST year’s online Summer Reading Quest – which was devised to bring 8- to 17-year-olds together through fun challenges linked to books, poetry and comics – proved a huge success. The initiative was set up by Sarah Magee, the senior community development worker for the Army Welfare Service, based in Aldershot, in partnership with service charity, Reading Force. Army&You caught up with Sarah to find out more about the Quest’s return… Where did the idea come from? We wanted to create virtual sessions that could engage with young people, support them during last summer’s lockdown and help them learn from books, develop their literacy skills, and bring families together through fun games and quizzes. And the good news is, it will be running again this summer. There are two sessions, the Book Wizards for those aged 8-11 and The Page Turners for 11+.

l To find out more about Reading Force, see our book club feature on page 62

How will it work? You can sign up to receive a free book and scrapbook from Reading Force. Your youngster will then receive an activity spinner and Zoom details to the weekly sessions. Each week they have a different spinner with new challenges to take part in. Challenges range from reading something that makes you happy, registering with your local library and sharing a

REVEALING RESOURCE

Charity Little Troopers has launched a new downloadable resource to help your children make sense of their emotions during challenging life events such as deployments, moving home or starting a new school. The X-Ray of Feelings is a series of five beautifully-illustrated pictures showing an X-ray of a child’s body which reveals some of the thoughts and feelings they might be experiencing such as ‘my stomach feels like a stormy sea’, ‘my brain is full of questions’, ‘my heart feels loud’, ‘I have jelly knees’ and ‘my head hurts because I miss mummy/daddy so much’. Each illustration is accompanied by an activity sheet created

60 Army&You summer 2021

Who can take part? Military young people aged 8-21 from across the world can get involved – whether in the UK, Germany, Canada, Belize or Cyprus, all will receive free resources.

Grace Bailey, who enjoyed taking part in the Summer Reading Quest, reading The Keeper’s Daughter – one of the books posted to her by Reading Force

book with a friend to building a reading den in your house. During the session young people will be able to share their favourite activity and pictures that can be used on the Reading Force Facebook page. The aspiration is to get more young people reading and loving books and literature, while also raising awareness of the fantastic resources that Reading Force provides.

What’s the reaction been like? The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. One young person from last summer’s activities explained: “The Reading Quest gave me something to do and I enjoyed reading the books that I received in the post.” And parent Christy Bailey said: “My daughter, Grace, never fails to amaze me. She signed up not knowing anyone at all or what to expect. She dived straight into her Zoom call session with no fear. Reading is what she loves, so what better way to ‘socialise’ than with a group of her peers who all enjoy the same.” How can families get involved? By registering with Sarah at sarah.magee651@mod.gov.uk

by an educational psychologist. You can download the relevant scenario, talk it through with your child and tackle the activities; encouraging them to talk about and better understand how they’re feeling. The five scenarios covered by illustrations are: Moving house, mummy/daddy going away, mummy/daddy coming home, starting a new school and making friends. To download the X-Ray of Feelings and find out more about how Little Troopers, visit littletroopers.net


YOUNG EAGLES FLY THROUGH LOCKDOWN

B

EFORE the pandemic took hold, children from Middle Wallop station and surrounding villages were regularly attending Friday nights at the Army Flying Museum and learning about the history of aviation through fun activities. Once lockdown came into effect, Janine Shipley, the local community development worker (CDW) and museum outreach officer, Dan Ball, came up with a plan to deliver the sessions online. The project was a huge success with its young participants loving the different activities such as acting workshops with Red Sauce theatre, where they acted out the stories of several glider pilot soldiers who took part in D-Day. They also met Ralph, the Victorian, from theatre company Historical Huzzahs and explored life in Victorian Britain. There were Taskmaster sessions to complete and children’s author Conrad Burdekin created a poem with them. They

Virtual learning: Members of the Young Eagles met online with Bill the air raid precaution warden from theatre company Historical Huzzahs during lockdown. The digital deployment took children back in time to World War Two for a session that covered air raids, rationing and make-do-and-mend.

Museum and learnt about real people and Victoria Cross winners’ stories as well as those of female aviators. Feedback from children and parents has been extremely positive, with one young participant saying “I love learning about the wars and the people that were there” and another adding “it’s great fun as I get to see my friends”. There’s more to come this summer, so if you’d like to join future sessions, you are welcome wherever you are stationed. Just email Janine.Shipley406@mod.gov.uk for details.

cracked codes and ciphers with virtual visits to Bletchley Park and Southampton

l To find out what’s going on in your area, check out your local HIVE blogs or speak to your local CDW.

GORDON’S SCHOOL BOARDING IN SURREY

Ranked in the top 1% of all schools in England and Wales for progress over the past 4 years at A Level. Years 7, 9 and 12 boarding places available.

BESPOKE RESIDENTIAL BOARDING HOUSE FOR YEAR 7 STUDENTS

CONTINUITY OF EDUCATION ALLOWANCE (CEA) ACCEPTED

CLOSE TO LONDON AND ITS AIRPORTS BY ROAD AND RAIL

For open events, please visit www.gordons.school www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 61


Win BOOK CLUB

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS

Weaver Enter our giveaway to win a copy of The Weather entry and a Reading Force scrapbook. See page three for You yand rules. Already read it? Tell us your thoughts @Arm

WARM RECEPTION In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views on The Weather Weaver by Tamsin Mori...

Published by UCLan Publishing

JAMES WRIGHT (9) I didn’t want to put it down. Stella finds an old lady called Tamar, who accidentally on purpose trips her with a green bag. This is the beginning of Stella’s adventure, discovering her very own cloud called Nimbus. Nimbus reflects Stella’s emotions and she struggles to control the cloud. The book is full of excitement, you think one thing is going to happen and then it doesn’t – it’s full of surprises.

LUCY (9) AND JOSHUA (10) SCOTT Lucy says: “The book is full of fun, adventure and good characters. I especially love Nimbus.” And Joshua adds: “It’s magical, interesting and full of mystery, this book has it all.” Their mum says: “‘The kids loved this book – thank you for giving them the opportunity to read it.”

HOLLY HERBERT (10) I thought the book was good and I really enjoyed it. It had lots of adventure in it and when I was reading, I felt like I was there too. The story is all about a young girl called Stella who visits her grandpa on the island of Shetland. Her parents leave her with him, and whilst there she discovers she’s a weather weaver. I really liked the character of Stella – she’s kind and thinks about others.

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

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

THIS BOARDING SCHOOL IS

OUTSTANDING Boarding and Flexi Boarding in a top Surrey school for boys and girls aged 7-18. Full boarding only £5,560 per term. Visit our Virtual Open Morning. Gatton Park, Reigate, Surrey RH2 0TD admissions@gatton-park.org.uk Tel: 01737 649000 www.raa-school.co.uk

62 Army&You summer 2021

@RAASchoolGatton

@ArmyandYou


Giveaways

Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk. Entries close on 9 July 2021 One entry per household per giveaway. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

Moment to pause

Perfect for introducing mindfulness to children, these cards from The Rainbow Tree add colour and calm to your day. Each of the ‘Creatively Mindful Moments’, aimed at five to eleven-year-olds, provides an awareness of mental wellbeing through gentle prompts. Created by military spouse Grace Bull, they are perfect to use when a quiet moment to rebalance is needed, big emotions are happening, anxiety is rising, or concentration is waning - particularly during deployments.

Five fortunate readers will win a pack of cards worth £10.99 each. For more, see the-rainbow-tree.com

SOAK UP STUNNING VIEWS

If you’re dreaming of a getaway, look no further! You could relax in the luxury surroundings of a Classic Lodges hotel – and with 12 venues throughout the UK, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Whether you’re looking for a country retreat in the Cotswolds or a base near the North Yorkshire Moors, you’ll find a friendly, relaxing atmosphere coupled with comfort and luxury.

One lucky reader will win a fabulous one-night stay for two in a Classic Lodges hotel with dinner, bed and breakfast, worth up to £300. If you’re not lucky enough to win, you can book your own getaway at classiclodges.co.uk This prize is open to serving regular and reserve families only. The prize is valid until December 2021.

Counting down

Kindness is key

Military spouse Charlotte created the Home and Away Clock to help her then two-year-old son with his separation anxiety. She now makes them to help other military families who face spending months apart and being separated by hundreds or thousands of miles. Each clock features the time at home and where your soldier is posted and is perfect for a deployment wall. They are available at arabella-jones.com

The Lonely Hedgehog is a beautifully illustrated children’s book starring Hector Hedgehog, who is new in town and has no friends. On his morning stroll through the park, he soon realises that not everyone is as nice as he thought they would be! Will he find a friend in the end? With clever rhyming, this enchanting tale by army spouse, S J Longstaff helps children understand the importance of kindness and friendship.

Make time to enter now and be in with a chance of winning a Home and Away Clock, worth £80. www.armyandyou.co.uk

We have three copies to be won, worth £9.99 each. summer 2021 Army&You 63


BlogSpot

Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about army life and send them to editor@aff.org.uk

I’ll take the high road Two years on and just as we started to finally settle, we entered the pandemic and my husband was promoted – bad news and good news all at the same time. In my head I thought with lockdown people would feel what it’s like to be an army spouse. We don’t get to see friends or family often and army life can get very lonely at times. We are hoping for our next posting to be in Kinloss in Scotland – still three hours from our hometown but better than seven!

By Alisha, @armylifewiththerobertsons In May 2019, our lives changed. We packed up and made a massive move from Scotland to England. 371 miles and seven hours away from family and friends. Being a family girl and having a great network of friends I knew it wouldn’t be easy, no one can prepare you for this lifestyle. I took to Instagram and created our page @armylifewiththerobertsons – and it has really helped me. My husband is a re-joiner, coming back to the army aged 28. Leaving Scotland with our children who are 12, six and four, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. We have a very supportive family, which helps massively and if it wasn’t for my mum, step-dad and

gran, I think we’d still be living out of boxes! We try not to compare Scotland to England but it’s difficult. The transition to different schools and nurseries was a big deal for us. Everything changed and it took a while to get my head around it all. My oldest daughter really struggled to settle and would ask why all her friends back home are in primary when she’s in secondary.

Uniformed approach By Suneeta, @justsayithowitis I’ve been with my husband for five and a half years now. I met him at a Home Office event. He was there representing the army and I was there representing the police. We’re the total opposite to each other but somehow it really works. We’re like chalk and cheese, but we have music in common – and also our careers. I always hate the words “do

64 Army&You summer 2021

you know what you are getting into?”. The answer to that is yes, I did know what I was getting into when I got involved with an army man. But I always say does he realise what he’s getting into being married to a policewoman? That usually shuts them up! Taking random calls from each other at different times of the day seems normal. Whether it’s because I’m on shift or he’s away. Our working hours are all over the place. I don’t think I ever call my husband at the right time of the day. There are periods when we

Next time we are due to move I know I don’t need to stress as much. My advice to anyone is to keep your circle small and be yourself. Don’t just sit in the house. I think having the kids has helped as I went to lots of groups. People always remember us as we are Scottish, which I think is nice. I’ve met some friends for life and this is just the beginning of our journey. I came across a quote that has stuck with me... “it never gets easier, you just get stronger”.

don’t speak for ages, like when he had to go to Nepal and there was no reception. So, for more than three weeks we didn’t get chance to talk to each other and I didn’t know if he was okay. He sent a postcard, which arrived after he came back! We are ships that pass. This has made us appreciate our marriage more because when we actually have our quality time, we know the value of it. We decided to get our own house instead of living on camp, to make our own memories and have a space to call ours. When we’re together we always go running. We love to try to stay fit. It clears our minds ready for the day.

We always make time for each other and my husband knows if I’m on a night shift he may get a call from me at 2am if it’s been hard, just to hear his voice. It also shows that no matter what jobs you both have, you can still work and invest in your relationship. @ArmyandYou


From army wife to army mum By Clare, @StokieBird Up until getting married in 1998 my only association with the army was through my grandad, who served as a PTI in the Royal Artillery. I remember my mum saying that he used to go away for years at a time and my nanna had to bring up her six children alone. I never thought that I would end up married to a soldier. I’d never lived away from home before and presumed everything south of Birmingham was London. I remember wondering how different my life would be away from my family and friends. I needn’t have worried because when you’re based on camp, you

soon make friends. The wives’ club was my saviour when he was away, as was the antenatal group when I became pregnant with our son. A couple of years later our daughter came along on a posting to Northern Ireland. Little did I know that my husband would be leaving me for seven months at a time, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan. I remember my little boy running after his dad’s car as he left. We both cried as we returned to our empty home. Those were the most difficult months; my husband away, two children and trying to complete my degree in social work. Those times were heartbreaking, especially as we knew not everyone would return home. I was one of the lucky ones.

wanted to follow in his footsteps. My heart sank. He’d decided this was the career he wanted. I felt emotionally drained throughout his training at Catterick. I was upset as we left him; worried about whether he’d be eating properly and would make friends.

In 2018 the little boy who ran after his dad’s car told us that he

There are similarities to being an army spouse and army

parent – we worry, we cry, we wait, we wonder, we’re proud, and we’re relieved when they return home. However, the difference when my son joined up is that we could see what he was doing each week with video updates on social media. This helped me to understand his job and I found it very reassuring – something that wasn’t available to me when my husband was serving. The thing I find most difficult is that one minute there’s a house full, wanting to eat everything in sight and the next they’re away for weeks on end. It takes a while to adapt to the change in routine and achieve some sort of normality. Thank goodness for the army community and for the support that I’ve received from other military spouses and families on social media.

Dealing with deployment before marriage By Holly, @lifeofamilitarywife My fiancé and I met in 2017 and immediately became best friends. Only six months later, we went on holiday and decided, there and then, to move in together! As we weren’t married and hadn’t been together long, we weren’t entitled to a quarter so, after commuting for a year from Wales to London every weekend, we finally moved into our extortionately priced flat in April 2019 and began living together; we were so excited and relieved! But one week after signing for a flat, we discovered he was being deployed.

Perhaps if we’d had a house on the patch that was actually ours and I was surrounded by other military spouses, I wouldn’t have minded as much. But we weren’t married, nor were we together long enough to be entitled, which is understandable. Instead, I had just started a new job, moved away from my family and friends, and was living in London with no familiar surroundings. On the day of his deployment my journey began just as much as his. I couldn’t afford to keep the flat and I didn’t want him sending money home; it was his chance to save! I trekked around London after work

– alone – viewing place after place, finally finding a flat available for six weeks over Christmas and another for eight weeks after Christmas, living with complete strangers. Once they were secure, I then had to find a new flat for us to move into when he got back; although, that part was quite exciting! Our first deployment was badly timed and quite stressful. However, I look back now and I’m grateful for it. I felt stronger and more independent than ever, only relying on myself and now greatly appreciating our quarter and time we have together.

It was devastating. We’d only just started living together and within eight months, he’d be gone. We weren’t expecting a deployment for another year but if there’s one thing I’ve learnt, you can’t predict military life. The deployment hung over our heads. It felt like so much pressure to enjoy every second and sometimes, in life, that’s not possible. www.armyandyou.co.uk

summer 2021 Army&You 65


BEST BLOG

Happy but not hitched! This is where groups such as the Milspo Business Network and Military Coworking Network come in. They’re vital for spouses to connect through business, wherever they might be, even if it’s only virtually. I joined both and they’re incredible communities to be a part of.

By Tara, @thenotwifelife As I head towards my sixth year as an unmarried military spouse, I wanted to share my take on it. Being a military family, everyone just assumes you’re married, and that automatically makes you a ‘dependant’ (do you all hate that too?).

Living in a village, I know people here and I’m also lucky enough to have the most wonderful neighbour. The kind that everyone needs, and we support each other through all sorts.

My not-husband and I met online in 2015 as I was working 13-hour shifts on a surgical ward, and he was doing the usual toing and froing that comes with being in a front-line squadron. He has two girls from a previous marriage, and we now have a little boy together. I had vowed never to date someone with children, and he declared he didn’t want any more. But here we are, smashing this blended family thing! In the beginning, my not-husband was living on camp after the break-up of his marriage, and I was temporarily living with my parents after the end of a longterm relationship. So being in similar situations, neither of us had our own space, nor were we interested in anything too serious.

In 2016, we’d made the decision to start house hunting but as always with military life, that wasn’t simple, and my nothusband deployed for the second time that year. We now live off the patch which, of course, has its advantages. It’s ours to do with as we please – I feel lucky to have not lived a magnolia life – and when my not-husband is home, he feels as though he’s away from work. But it also means not having that connection to other military families that you get when all your neighbours are serving.

I attended a couple of coffee mornings and met some other spouses but being the only one without children and living away from the patch, I felt almost like an outsider. Some had children at the same school, and others attended baby groups together, it was hard to fit in without that link. I met some great people that way, and the get-togethers are fantastic. But at the time, I’d started my own business, so I couldn’t always make it. I’d miss several weeks and feel out of the loop and this only added to the isolation.

But when it comes to friendships and a wider support network, military friends often come in the form of spouses of my not-husband’s colleagues. We experience things like deployments together, so we’re able to support each other. Being slightly older, there’s actually a lot of us in our military friendship groups who own houses, so for us, it now feels like the norm to be off the patch. Social media is also a fantastic way to connect, and I met one of my best friends this way. We had both commented on a post in a group for army spouses and after chatting, discovered we lived two villages apart. We met at the local pub that weekend and the rest is history. So, if you’re afraid of joining them, or feel nervous about posting, go for it, it might be the best thing you ever do!

Tara wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — gillianjonesdesigns.com — for our best blog. Artist Gillian, a former Royal Navy officer and military spouse, specialises in vibrant and contemporary military art and design. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, she’s also happy to create bespoke commissions. Follow @gillianjonesdesigns on Instagram and Facebook, and @GillAJones on Twitter.

66 Army&You summer 2021

@ArmyandYou


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THANK YOU

to our Armed Forces

Over the last year we have seen how vital the Armed Forces are for our nation. With more than 5,000 deployed on the largest resilience operation in peacetime. From building the Nightingale hospitals across the UK to managing pilot Covid-testing systems nationwide and going into hospitals to help deal with the influx of COVID patients. Whenever they are called upon, the Forces are there to ensure we, as a country, are looked after and kept safe, despite the risk it poses to these individuals. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is here to help support those in the Armed Forces community when they turn to us for help. After everything they do for us, it is only right we are there for them in their hour of need. L E A R N M O R E N OW about our support for serving personnel

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Army&You – Summer 2021  

Army&You – Summer 2021  

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