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&You Winter 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

From pad brat to Cheshire housewife

Tanya’s tales of military patch past


A focus on forces fostering and adoption

WINTER WARMERS: Explore our seasonal serving suggestions to keep your family happy and healthy



Welfare support’s extensive web

PLUS – Education – Giveaways – Damp dialogue


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Get social! Want to keep abreast of the latest

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{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie editor@aff.org.uk

DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd deped@aff.org.uk // 01264 382314 // 07376 604259

ArmyandYou on Facebook or visit armyandyou.co.uk

Sharing those service shoulders of support There are bound to be times in your army family life when you need a little bit of support. Whether it’s from your unit welfare team, the Army Welfare Service, the staff here at AFF, SSAFA or Home-Start, there are lots of support mechanisms out there to tap into both in the UK and overseas. With welfare provision currently under review, we take a closer look at what’s available in our indepth welfare feature (pages 14-16). At the time of going to print, COVID-19 is continuing to impact on people around the world. In this edition, we hear from families adapting their situation to make the best of things. Meet the spouses whose businesses are buffering the pandemic (pages 30-31), find out how the Military Coworking Network can still keep you connected despite lockdown – and keep your spirits up with our winter warmers foodie feasts on page 61. With their soldiers deployed throughout lockdown, we hear from the community in


Northern Ireland who’ve been busy creating a beautiful ‘flower patch’ – page 60. Army families come in all shapes and sizes. We highlight the adoption and fostering support available for those of you looking to expand your family (pages 36-39) and we hear from families who’ve been through the process. There are three brilliant blogs (pages 65-66), a postcard from India, a spotlight on Germany and the Greenwood family star in #OurArmyFamily. And, if you fancy a splash of interiors inspiration, don’t forget to enter our giveaways on page 63. Wishing all our readers a happy and healthy festive season and we look forward to sharing more stories and useful information next year. Stay safe and enjoy the issue.


CONTRIBUTIONS If you’ve got a story to tell about army life, then let us know – email editor@aff.org.uk SUBSCRIPTIONS In your own home or private rental? Subscribe for FREE via armyandyou.co.uk – you can unsubscribe at any time via the same link or by emailing unsubscribe@aff. org.uk. If you need to change your details, email update@aff.org.uk DELIVERY If you live in SFA/SSFA and would like to be removed from our mailing list, you can do so at any time by emailing unsubscribe@ aff.org.uk or visiting armyandyou.co.uk, where you’ll find our privacy policy and T&Cs PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission AFF Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered in Scotland with registered charity number SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit armyandyou.co.uk One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 10 January 2021. ADVERTISEMENTS Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: info@tylerbale.co.uk Tel: 01252 714870 / Web: ayads.co.uk

CONTACT AFF Whether it’s a housing issue, support while you’re living abroad or you’re after some local advice, AFF is here to help. You can find all the contact details for our specialists, the UK and overseas teams, AFF’s headquarters or the communications branch at aff.org.uk, or call us on 01264 554004. If you’d prefer, email us@aff.org.uk


winter 2020 Army&You 03

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19 Shop Around How to find financial help if budgets begin to pinch 21 Scottish Support The world of welfare north of the border 34 A Rise In Damp? How AFF is building a picture of the mould menace 49 School Report We run the rule over Attenborough School 59 India Insight A sample of service life in South Asia 61 Winter Warmers Foodie treats ideal for raising family spirits

From pad brat to Cheshire housewife


&You armyandyou.co.uk


Welfare support’s extensive web

Tanya’s tales of military patch past


A focus on forces fostering and adoption

PLUS – Education – Giveaways – Damp dialogue

own family but there rt of looking after your e suppo You do a great job need extra help or advice. Welfar reports… are times when you of every army family. Jill Misson is there to take care some living away

judgemental”. However, at one spouse station welfare office from camp felt unsupported, to buy their Dotchin from the is hit by a encouraged in Hermitage explains: HEN your family said: “Soldiers are Denison Barracks done, to know there’s with many issues once this has been crisis, you need own homes, yet “The UWO can help as they you up, forgotten about level enquiries about a safety net to scoop their families are ranging from low on (SFA) to the unit’s orbit.” in the world. are no longer within Service Family Accommodati wherever you are to check in with such as bereavement, in Canada, Caroline All soldiers are required wellbeing matters During a posting by making a when assigned to emergency brain health and isolation, their welfare officer mental Jones had to undergo was (AWS).” them aware of their Graham says: “I Welfare Service a new unit to make referral to the Army surgery. Her husband survey how I . feedback in the overwhelmed with personal circumstances There was positive traumatised and their and children, manage to my of “friendly as families take care It’s important for with UWOs described would manage to and nonDotchin says: “We’re “compassionate and cope with day-toexpectations, Captain approachable” or be at the hospital service. There team and colleagues effectively a signposting day tasks. My welfare of personal and took up some are many aspects stepped in immediately

by working together.”


support Army Welfare Service made by a UWO

can be Referrals to AWS such as a health or other professional or social worker. visitor, medical officer or spouse/ Alternatively, a serviceperson to the Intake and partner can self-refer up This will be followed Assessment Team. who’ll army welfare worker by a call with an and its of confidentiality explain the code will be future work plan exceptions and a multi-agency approach identified using a

where possible. from AWS says: Lt Col Kevin Fitchett at reflecting on our “AWS is very good to and training needs practice, processes for support and outcomes ensure the best and their families. Caroline our service personnel Care in Canada: received we seek additional Jones and her family “Where required, support and so have exceptional welfare training and development in the field of domestic trained specialists children and abuse and safeguarding vulnerable adults. teams, we work “As well as unit welfare services, organisations closely with local are well communities and schools to ensure

of the burden.” has made The global pandemic even more a challenging time says: “COVID-19 stressful. Caroline for my mum was making it difficult however, my to enter the country, of command got husband’s chain was able to fly over involved so she unit welfare to be with me. Our regular officer (UWO) maintained to provide hand on contact and was and support. any further assistance the wealth of We never expected and we will forever care we received be in their debt.” never go Your family will hopefully event, but through such a traumatic crisis point reach to have you don’t of support from a to access a range . network of organisations


ent Encouraging engagem able to seek help

feel While some families feel approach, others and know who to support don’t know what more hesitant or is available to them. there’s a large In Folkestone, where families, AFF has population of Gurkha Amanda Bridges enlisted a local volunteer. and soldiers at social speaks to spouses engage to them functions to encourage with welfare support. them to overcome She says: “I’ve helped parents to make barriers and empowered about their children’s informed decisions support with SEND, education – seeking these would really help for example. What and access to interpreters families is having first language.” information in their

Who to turn to?

team is there to While the welfare all families know support you, not for help with. what they can ask 40 per cent In our survey in 2019, what said they didn’t understand Captain Lorraine the UWO’s role is.


14 Service Safety Net We explore the web of welfare support available 22 Setting Sail For Sennelager The ‘new’ Germany goes from strength to strength 30 Buffering The Pandemic How spouses are keeping companies going 36 Building Your Family We focus on adoption and fostering in the forces 40 WAGS And Riches Our exclusive interview with a Cheshire housewife 46 All-Round Education We swot up on the help out there for service children

but we can “We can’t counsel biscuits, be share a brew and let people a listening ear and know they’re not alone.”


06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... A welcome note from our new chief executive 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 63 Giveaways Win a range of fantastic goodies 64 Book Club Young readers' verdicts on Luna Loves Art 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life

Winter 2020

{for everyone with a soldier in their

the team have no and patch life which can’t and in which we jurisdiction over counsel but we can intervene. We can’t ear biscuits, be a listening share a brew and they’re not alone.” and let people know nations Emma AFF’s manager devolved the demanding role Perrin understands amount and complexity of the UWO: “The day dealing with each of cases they are do have an unenviable means they really things. many so role; they are juggling AFF relationship with “This is where the as we can provide comes into its own information and relevant, up-to-date stage issues at an early hopefully resolve


“Ensuring that the support we provide is fit for purpose and meets their increasingly diverse needs is key.”

winter 2




service was given Ofsted last year.

Building your fam S

families so they SAFA works with place to adopt, can be in the best work with the as Jill explains: “We for as them to be stable family to enable following their approval long as possible mobile families during and we will support stage.” the assessment an assessment, a The process includes course four-day training panel. and an adoption Once you’ve adopted, SSAFA also offers

Jill adds: “Usually post-adoption support. due be face-to-face but the training would had to pandemic we’ve to the COVID-19 has The adoption panel offer this online. pleased panels and we’re moved to virtual has worked.” with how well this

an outstanding rating



in the army for 23 Andy Wilson was two the decision to adopt years. He made agency’s future plans, SSAFA… children through Speaking about the be event, assume that you’ll already run a training “You always just Jill says: “We’ve where the case weekends away but that wasn’t able to conceive, a family fun day and to Stacey. In 2009, Next year we hope for me and my partner, adopters can meet. that north decision – it’s not with a condition events, one in the sure it was the right run two weekend thing I was diagnosed be able to One very positive can be taken lightly. we would never something that and one in the south. such meant that us emotionally and community has come “SSAFA supported have a family naturally. is that the military when diversity.” and the whole process. Germany in financially through “We were based a long way with inclusion and advocate for us devastating news. an increase in same-sex They acted as an we found out the SSAFA has seen – we an 2018, 40 military life is like to adopt, and in myself so this was wanting adopted understood what was I couples – but same-sex back and were talking to mind instantly adopters were in knew they had our option that came per cent of their the telling them to see regular moves times higher than to the local authorities, some agencies may relationships, four don’t and good option. consider us as a as an unstable environment national average. that after lifestyle. In fact, “They were so supportive understand the military went and child, Aaron, we are built on love first our families military around adopting if anything, moving on to adopt Ruby. resilience – and unit. difficult our journey USEFUL LINKS: stable as a family “No matter how makes you more told have who we in Germany worth it now Adoption advice has been, it’s all “It was our doctor were Being able to with SSAFA. We gov.uk two beautiful children. us to get in touch wit journey and explore amazing social worker advice create our own introduced to an – it’s Intercountry adoption all the options. At life exciting again them has made who talked us through icacentre.org.uk to have described.” were so desperate that just can’t be we time feeling the pay through leave and like we had to go Information on adoption children, we felt JSP 760 – gov.uk adoption whils as possible but can be found in l If you’re considering the process as quickly at to slow touch with SSAFA from SSAFA was available from serving – get in the best advice Tri-service information, a year to decide. and Fostering ssafa.org.uk down and give ourselves MODNET – Adoption research and make 2018DIN01-130 It gave us time to

Looking ahead

you charity, can support the Armed Forces and the many adoption, SSAFA, family considering the complex demands, If you’re a military needs family. They understand to create a loving d. Our health & additional through the process what your backgroun out more… family life, no matter Jill Farrelly, to find positives, of service charity’s head of adoption, Ross, spoke to the permanent specialist, Karen is made up of five

The team some sessional social social workers and of you can access those workers, so they remote areas. who are in more with local authorities They work closely agencies, and the and regional adoption

Applications welcome prospective

10-12 The agency approves of these a year and most adoptive families have children go on to successfully They welcome placed with them. families across the applications from information UK and provide advice, support to those and post-adoption too. serving overseas

and are built on love “Military families ing aroun if anything, mov resilience – and unit.” stable as a family makes you more

winter 2020 A



2020 36 Army&You winter

From pad brat to Cheshire housewife

Bardsley talks lity TV star Tanya past and Model-turned-rea u about her patch exclusively to Army&Yo being a ‘wife of’... take exception to why she doesn’t from Munster we moved to Abingdon

lack the expansive ATTERICK may homes estates and exquisite has grown that Tanya Bardsley of the a resident of one accustomed to as areas, but The Real UK’s most affluent star insists the Housewives of Cheshire general and patch life in garrison town – place in her heart. – holds a special the model spent A former “pad brat”, behind the wire and her childhood living the flag, following of credits the experience and sister, with arming alongside her mum to succeed in business. skills the with her and, was all I ever knew “Living on camp schools, it was the as I went to military friends,” the boutique same for all of my told Army&You, owner and life coach up father Steve signed explaining how her and climbed the for service as a 16-year-old Logistic Corps before ranks of the Royal retiring as a major.


“I do believe my army background helped me a lot because it gave me great social go skills – an ability to into almost any social situation and get on with people.”

Life lessons

to old when we moved “I was three weeks really became aware Germany and I only was different to others that my upbringing

when on an school that wasn’t and went to my first army base. sister and I wearing “I remember my the car and looking under matching dresses for us. that was normal for IRA bombs and who could to the car to see We used to race and turned the whole be the first to check thing into a game. lived though – we never “I loved patch life all good kids,” Tanya without and were an and dads all had added. “Our mums with were quite strict army mentality and until heard a swear word us – I had never is probably to the UK, which we moved back now! why I swear so much hard leaving friends “Even though it was family military a of part and uprooting, being I do believe my army is character building. it gave me a lot because background helped into – an ability to go me great social skills on with situation and get almost any social you to adapt to any people – and it teaches changes in life. has also come from “My hard work ethic go age of 13 dad would the army. Since the me and he even had out and get me work RMP station.” ‘pan bashing’ in a

Set on civvy street and the

its lessons Despite valuing who has for her father, immense pride she as a personnel recovery continues to work an MBE for his officer and was awarded women, servicemen and support of injured never an army career was Tanya is adamant

From Catterick to Cheshire – reality TV star Tanya Bardsley shares memories of her military past (pages 40-43).

on her agenda. do the running and “God, no, I can’t mother of four when stuff,” laughed the about the prospect quizzed by Army&You labels for a uniform. of swapping luxury family for I could leave my “There’s no way a fifth and I’m not even six months at a time

Munster memories

as brave as our soldiers.” in has not followed And although Tanya either, in respect her mother’s footsteps




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that bring t Local welfare events can be a gr community together Jones had a g to morale. Emma she say experience in Wimbish, link between th was a seamless and welfare, SSAFA committee the patch. The volunteers from Christmas ma coffee mornings, as well as fa parties Halloween look the cookhouse. Everyone in.” each other and mucked survey hig However, the AFF inclusiv the demand for more o full-time work spouses who teenagers. children and for the South Over the summer, team wo Community Support to su group of young people scho transition to secondary via Zo This started virtually, around anxieties addressing making new friends. then mov The programme activities distanced outdoor positiv opportunity to build

2020 14 Army&You winter

2020 40 Army&You winter serving WINTER WARMERS: Explore our seasonal and healthy suggestions to keep your family happy

Bringing families

winter 2020 Army&You 05


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.

What ’s been your biggest achievement in 2020?

Anna Hutchinson – Education & Childcare Earlier in the year the government announced a new wraparound childcare pilot scheme for military families, enabling you to access free before- and after-school childcare for your four to 11-year-olds. This has now begun at RAF High Wycombe and RAF Halton, with Catterick and Plymouth being part of the next stage. Watch out for more information on our social media as January approaches to find out if your family is eligible and how to apply. In the meantime, if you currently benefit from the scheme or take part in the pilot in 2021, do let me know your experiences – ec@aff.org.uk

The art of juggling work and children through lockdown!

Jenna Richardson – Employment & Training I’ve received many enquiries relating to accessing student finance, particularly when moving between the devolved nations. Many applicants don’t realise that each nation has its own student finance agency and the financial offers between each one can differ widely. The mobile nature of our military lifestyle causes further complications when trying to establish ‘ordinary residence’ and this makes it difficult for you to know which agency you should be applying to. There are policies in place designed to support you, but they aren’t always clear. If you’ve experienced issues with accessing student finance or will be applying soon and have concerns, do contact me – employmenttraining@aff.org.uk

Katherine Houlston – Foreign & Commonwealth Have you been issued with a five-year visa or indefinite leave visa which expires on 31 December 2024? Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean you have to apply again to remain here. The expiry date is because biometric permits currently don’t incorporate the right kind of encryption technology. The UK will be introducing the new technology shortly. We’ve been assured that any card restricted to 31 December 2024, which is still rightfully held on 1 July 2024, will be replaced free with the remainder of the ten-year (or five-year) period being issued on a new BRP. The exact process has yet to be determined but when we know more, we’ll provide an update at aff.org.uk

Helping more than 40 spouses access distance learning opportunities in Dorset.

Responding to more than 1,500 enquiries and being there for our non-UK families during lockdown.

Karen Ross – Health & Additional Needs In September NHS England & NHS Improvement launched its Armed Forces Families’ Engagement project to gather your views on accessing and transferring NHS treatment and provision. We’ve been a key stakeholder in supporting this valuable opportunity for you to have your say. They are aware that your needs are wide-ranging and can be complicated, so they want to look at how the NHS can improve its support in a flexible way by speaking to you directly. To take part, search NHS consultation at aff.org.uk – there’s still time to share your experiences.

Keeping calm whilst working at a desk next to my husband!

Cat Calder – Housing This edition of Army&You is all about welfare support. If you live in a private rental, in SSFA or your own home - either at duty station or married unaccompanied – we’d love to know how easy you have found it to access army welfare support and if you feel that the current welfare set-up works for you. If you’ve experienced difficulties, what would make it easier? Get in touch at housing@aff.org.uk. We’re busy collating your answers to AFF’s FAM Big Survey and reading all your comments. Watch this space and our website for the results to hear how we’ll use them to improve delivery of the pilot and how FAM is rolled out.

Claire Hallam – Money & Allowances This year has seen rapid changes to the allowance policies and interim policy being quickly developed due to COVID-19. By sharing your experiences with us, we’ve been able to feed back all your concerns to ensure your views have been heard and considered by policymakers. Please keep telling us your concerns with allowances and COVID. Do you feel you have been disadvantaged being an army family when applying for a mortgage? Or maybe you’ve had a positive experience. If you’d like to share your views, contact me at moneyallowances@aff.org.uk

06 Army&You winter 2020

Losing weight while working from home during lockdown.

Managing to homeschool three children during lockdown while still working, and not going grey!

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IRSTLY, a big hello to all army families reading Army&You. I’m very honoured to have recently been appointed as the new chief executive of the AFF – the independent charity that is your voice. Being part of an army family for nearly 20 years, I know how important it is to be able to find support and advice from people and organisations who really understand the challenges we can face. Army families are incredibly resilient, but we can all need a helping hand sometimes. When that helping hand already ‘gets’ how our lives can sometimes be, it can really help to take away some of the stress and worry. That’s why this edition of A&Y features some of the services available to army families, as well as highlighting our work at AFF. We have a dedicated and experienced team, who I’ve been proud to have been working with over the last three years. They show their commitment every day, to improving the quality of life


“Army families are incredibly resilient, but we can all need a helping hand sometimes. When that helping hand already ‘gets’ how our lives can sometimes be, it can really help to take away some of the stress and worry.” for all army families. It has been a challenging year for them, as it has been for you, as they have faced the same uncertainty over assignments,

evacuations from overseas postings and the different lockdown rules across the UK and overseas. As mostly home workers,

we’re already familiar with online meetings and not often seeing colleagues in real life – but we’ve had to find new ways of engaging with families, by increasing our social media presence and providing reliable, accessible information online. We will be building on this experience, as we’re committed to providing you with the information and advice you need, wherever you live and whatever challenges you are facing. We are changing our team to increase our specialist support, particularly in the areas of housing, education, health and additional needs. We will still be out in the community to speak to face to face – as and when permitted! – but we’re also improving access to us via phone and email. And we’ve updated our enquiries database to ensure that we have strong evidence to influence change, while remaining a confidential service. We are looking forward to working on your behalf, now and into the future. &

winter 2020 Army&You 09






There’s been a number of incidents of antisocial behaviour, drug dealing, car thefts and burglaries in the Fulwood area. Families on the patch told AFF’s north west co-ordinator, Kirsty Street, that they didn’t feel safe, and it wasn’t secure enough to let their children play out. They had reported some of the incidents, but felt frustrated that no one was listening. As well as encouraging families to report everything to the police and the guardroom, Kirsty arranged a meeting between families and the Neighbourhood Watch team for Lancashire, as well as various agencies, including the duty officer, regimental sergeant major, welfare team, police and police community support officer. “Families discussed the ongoing issues and are now in the process of setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, empowering them and helping them build a safer community. The police are also conducting more patrols around the SFA estate,” says Kirsty.

Thanks to a grant from the Lloyd's Patriotic Fund, our foreign & commonwealth team will continue to offer a bespoke immigration service, across all three services, for F&C spouses and partners who are leaving abusive relationships. Securing these spouses’ and partners’ immigration status is key to ensuring that they can leave abusive relationships and have access to the benefits and support they require, and we couldn’t provide this additional support without Lloyd's Patriotic Fund’s generous funding. Find out more at aff.org.uk





WELCOME WEDNESDAYS Between lockdowns families in Sennelager had the chance to meet new people and have a socially-distanced chat during Welcome Wednesdays at the community hub. It was a fantastic platform for sharing community knowledge and info, with our Germany coordinator, Lindsay McCran, popping in each week. Look out for them restarting when it's possible to get together. Pictured is Sgt Steve Howell RMP, who dropped by to reassure families following some trespassing incidents at empty SFA properties. Patrols have now been stepped up and more families are reporting incidents to the RMP. #ONTHECASE



Throughout September and October, AFF shone a spotlight on housing and the issues that affect you. We’ve been asking for your views on army housing in our Big Survey on the Future Accommodation Model – how it's impacted families living in the Aldershot pilot site, and how it might shape your choices. Your evidence will help us to present your views to the chain of command. Keep an eye on AFF’s website aff.org.uk and social channels @The_AFF for the results.

Some families have raised concerns with AFF’s employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson, about difficulties that they’re having in identifying themselves as military families on the 2021 application form for university places. We’re in conversation with UCAS and the Armed Forces Covenant Team to try to resolve this ahead of the January deadline. If you’re having problems with this too, email employmenttraining@ aff.org.uk.

10 Army&You winter 2020

Families living on Kensington and Gibraltar estate at Episkopi Station in Cyprus are now able to walk, run, scoot and cycle to school more safely. They faced a three-mile trip each way to Episkopi Primary and Saint John’s Secondary School when the access point was closed during the national lockdown in March. Working alongside families, the schools and the Episkopi Station Commander, AFF’s Cyprus co-ordinator, Aileen Naylor, was able to secure agreement to reopen the access point at suitable times for families, so they now have a safe and short commute!


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MORTGAGE MATTERS If you’re in need of advice on your civilian housing options, including mortgage information, then the online housing forums run by the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) might have the answers you’re looking for. They’re specifically designed for you and your soldier and a mortgage advisor will be online to answer your questions. Look out for details through your HIVE, call 07814 612120 or email RC-Pers-JSHAO-0Mailbox@mod.gov.uk




As the uncertainty caused by COVID-19 continues, more families are needing support during these unprecedented times, particularly with issues such as loneliness and relationship breakdown. SSAFA’s Forcesline is a free and confidential helpline for any member of the armed forces community in need and acts as a ‘front door’ to the wider support services offered by the charity. To speak to the Forcesline team, call 0800 731 4880 (9am–5pm, Monday–Friday) or use the new live webchat service at ssafa.org.uk/forcesline

An information gateway for those of you living in Europe and Turkey has been launched, providing lots of useful details on arriving and living overseas. Through ejsu.net, you’ll have access to helpful guides for each location, including information on education, finance, healthcare and what to do when you leave. AFF has been pushing for this for some time, so we’re delighted that ejsu.net is live and we’ll be working with EJSU to develop the content further.

A new MOD-funded Partner Career Support Programme will provide online support to spouses and partners of forces personnel. The six-month trial programme, which began on 1 November, is run by the Career Transition Partnership and it’s hoped that further programmes will follow. AFF’s employment & training specialist Jenna Richardson says: “We’re so pleased to see more employment support for families becoming available, as this is something we’ve had on our agenda for some time.” For more info, see ctp.org.uk

CENSUS HISTORY For the first time in the history of the UK Census there’ll be a question on service in the armed forces next year, following a campaign led by The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland. The decision to include the question will provide public bodies, local authorities and military charities with valuable information so that they can best meet you and your soldier’s needs.

CALLING ALL CREATIVE KIDS Never Such Innocence has launched its 2020/21 creative arts competition and would love military young people to take part! The theme is The Unheard Voices of Conflict: Stories from Around the World. NSI is inviting all young people to share their reflections on conflict or give a voice to those who may not have one. Some examples of an ‘unheard voice’ could include: a personal family story relating to conflict, refugees fleeing from their homes or the feelings of a service child who has a parent deployed. The international competition features four categories: poetry, art, speech and song and is open to young people aged 9-18. Winners will be invited to participate in unique experiences and all participants will receive a special personalised certificate of commendation for their work. NSI has created a selection of digital materials, which are free to parents or educators. These range from games and worksheets, to entire creative workshops with trained practitioners. Entering the competition is simple. All that’s required is a digital entry form and picture / file upload of their work. The deadline is Friday 19 March 2021. Full details can be found at neversuchinnocence.com

12 Army&You winter 2020



SERVICE SUPPORT It’s extremely difficult to cope with the loss of a family member, whether whilst deployed or at home. The Joint Forces Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC) manages British armed forces casualties and compassionate cases and is the single point of contact for all casualty incidents regardless of where they happen in the world. If someone falls seriously ill at home while your soldier is overseas, JCCC can also arrange for them to come home. Details are on the JPA P001 card, which is issued to personnel before they deploy or serve overseas to give to their immediate family. For more info, see gov.uk



There’s good news if you’re living in or are posted to Wales. Supporting Service Children in Education Wales (SSCE Cymru) has appointed four regional school liaison officers to represent service children. They’ll be working with schools and local authorities to raise awareness of your children’s experiences in the Welsh education system and highlight the support available. Visit sscecymru.co.uk

winter 2020 Army&You 13



You do a great job of looking after your own family but there are times when you need extra help or advice. Welfare support is there to take care of every army family. Jill Misson reports…


HEN your family is hit by a crisis, you need to know there’s a safety net to scoop you up, wherever you are in the world. During a posting in Canada, Caroline Jones had to undergo emergency brain surgery. Her husband Graham says: “I was traumatised and overwhelmed with how I would manage to take care of my children, be at the hospital and cope with day-today tasks. My welfare team and colleagues stepped in immediately and took up some of the burden.” The global pandemic has made a challenging time even more stressful. Caroline says: “COVID-19 was making it difficult for my mum to enter the country, however, my husband’s chain of command got involved so she was able to fly over to be with me. Our unit welfare officer (UWO) maintained regular contact and was on hand to provide any further assistance and support. We never expected the wealth of care we received and we will forever be in their debt.” Your family will hopefully never go through such a traumatic event, but you don’t have to reach crisis point to access a range of support from a network of organisations.

Dotchin from the station welfare office at Denison Barracks in Hermitage explains: “The UWO can help with many issues ranging from low level enquiries about Service Family Accommodation (SFA) to wellbeing matters such as bereavement, mental health and isolation, by making a referral to the Army Welfare Service (AWS).” There was positive feedback in the survey with UWOs described as “friendly and approachable” or “compassionate and non-

judgemental”. However, some living away from camp felt unsupported, one spouse said: “Soldiers are encouraged to buy their own homes, yet once this has been done, their families are forgotten about as they are no longer within the unit’s orbit.” All soldiers are required to check in with their welfare officer when assigned to a new unit to make them aware of their personal circumstances. It’s important for families to manage their expectations, Captain Dotchin says: “We’re effectively a signposting service. There are many aspects of personal

Who to turn to? While the welfare team is there to support you, not all families know what they can ask for help with. In our survey in 2019, 40 per cent said they didn’t understand what the UWO’s role is. Captain Lorraine

“We can’t counsel but we can share a brew and biscuits, be a listening ear and let people know they’re not alone.” 14 Army&You winter 2020


and patch life which the team have no jurisdiction over and in which we can’t intervene. We can’t counsel but we can share a brew and biscuits, be a listening ear and let people know they’re not alone.” AFF’s manager devolved nations Emma Perrin understands the demanding role of the UWO: “The amount and complexity of cases they are dealing with each day means they really do have an unenviable role; they are juggling so many things. “This is where the relationship with AFF comes into its own as we can provide relevant, up-to-date information and hopefully resolve issues at an early stage by working together.”

Army Welfare Service support Referrals to AWS can be made by a UWO or other professional such as a health visitor, medical officer or social worker. Alternatively, a serviceperson or spouse/ partner can self-refer to the Intake and Assessment Team. This will be followed up by a call with an army welfare worker who’ll explain the code of confidentiality and its exceptions and a future work plan will be identified using a multi-agency approach where possible. Lt Col Kevin Fitchett from AWS says: “AWS is very good at reflecting on our practice, processes and training needs to ensure the best support and outcomes for our service personnel and their families. “Where required, we seek additional training and development and so have specialists trained in the field of domestic abuse and safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. “As well as unit welfare teams, we work closely with local services, organisations and schools to ensure communities are well supported.”

Encouraging engagement

While some families feel able to seek help and know who to approach, others feel more hesitant or don’t know what support is available to them. In Folkestone, where there’s a large population of Gurkha families, AFF has enlisted a local volunteer. Amanda Bridges speaks to spouses and soldiers at social functions to encourage them to engage with welfare support. She says: “I’ve helped them to overcome barriers and empowered parents to make informed decisions about their children’s education – seeking support with SEND, for example. What would really help these families is having access to interpreters and information in their first language.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Care in Canada: Caroline Jones and her family received exceptional welfare support

“Ensuring that the support we provide is fit for purpose and meets their increasingly diverse needs is key.”

Bringing families together

Local welfare events that bring the community together can be a great boost to morale. Emma Jones had a great experience in Wimbish, she says: “There was a seamless link between the HIVE, welfare, SSAFA committee and amazing volunteers from the patch. There were coffee mornings, Christmas markets, Halloween parties as well as family tea at the cookhouse. Everyone looked out for each other and mucked in.” However, the AFF survey highlighted the demand for more inclusive events for spouses who work full-time or don’t have children and for teenagers. Over the summer, the South West Community Support team worked with a group of young people to support their transition to secondary school. This started virtually, via Zoom sessions, addressing anxieties around COVID-19 and making new friends. The programme then moved on to socially distanced outdoor activities providing an opportunity to build positive relationships. winter 2020 Army&You 15

Reviewing welfare

Although there’s a comprehensive welfare package in place, the army recognises that there’s always room for improvement. AFF sits on the army’s welfare working groups to feed in your evidence. Welfare provision has been reviewed 27 times since 1975 but has not changed significantly. Lt Col Will Robinson from the Personnel Policy Branch explains the need to update the offer: “Our service families play a very

important role in supporting our personnel and so ensuring that the support we provide them is fit for purpose and meets their increasingly diverse needs is key. “Published in March 2020, the latest review highlights areas requiring attention including the consistency of support provided across the army’s units and formations and a much more dispersed family base.” Work on implementing the recommendations is now being undertaken. Lt Col Robinson says: “Reviews, surveys and feedback are a very useful mechanism for understanding how we are doing and if we fail to act as best we can on those issues raised, the impact can be significant.”

Living in our shoes

Impressed: Emma Jones enjoyed her time at Wimbish

16 Army&You winter 2020

In January 2019, Andrew Selous MP conducted an independent review to consider the diverse needs of families in the modern-day armed forces and to assess whether the current offer is meeting these needs. The published report, Living in our Shoes, outlines more than 100 recommendations, ranging from the

urgent need for investment in poor quality SFA to the establishment of affordable childcare facilities and a commitment to ensuring military children are not disadvantaged in their education. Access to welfare support was a key concern and from conversations with service personnel and family members, it became clear to the review team that stigma remains a large barrier to seeking help. The report noted: “There is clear reluctance to be seen as a ‘welfare case’: the very term ‘welfare’ conjures up connotations of being a failure, being unable to fend for oneself, or being needy.” The report authors praised the honesty of those they spoke to in the course of their research and concluded that change is needed: “Military families are primarily uncomplaining and do not seek publicity for their concerns. “Some of these recommendations require investment and a willingness to review traditional ways of working. However, many can be implemented fairly easily and speedily if there’s a will to do so. “By unlocking the door to improved communication directly to families, much of the stress associated with military life can be reduced.” @ArmyandYou

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COVID-19 has brought huge upheaval this year, which has affected many areas of army families’ lives, including their finances. AFF’s money & allowances specialist, Claire Hallam, explains where to get support if you’re struggling…

ALF of families who responded to AFF’s quick poll in July revealed that they have been negatively affected financially by the pandemic. Issues included increased food costs with children off school, and spouses who had handed in their notice, only to find that postings were subsequently suspended. So, where can you go to get help and support if you are struggling financially and are not sure where to turn? The Money Advice Service website is a great starting point and offers a wealth of information, including tools to help you plan a budget. Citizens Advice can also offer advice on debt and entitlement to benefits and StepChange offers comprehensive debt guidance.

What if I’m overseas?

The Royal British Legion benefits, debt and money advice service can help you to sort out any debts you may have with UK banks and help you get any UK benefits you may be entitled to. You can also www.armyandyou.co.uk

speak to your unit welfare team who may be able to signpost or refer to specialist agencies local to you.

Sound advice

Valerie Walwyn-Tait, CEO of Plane Saver Credit Union, has lots of tips on remaining financially resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic. “If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, don’t ignore them,” says Valerie (pictured). “Many people leave it too late before they seek help or advice. This often means that they are too far down the cycle of debt for a positive outcome or to halt the decline into

serious debt. These debts will follow you for many years and could have a detrimental impact on your ability to buy a house or car, for example.” Valerie was a single mother working hard to make ends meet, when she learnt an invaluable lesson. “Someone like myself sat me down and helped me to better understand the immediate and long-term impact of my financial situation. It was a struggle to feed the children and pay the bills. Eventually, I made it out of debt and got my finances back in control. It wasn’t easy, but it’s been well worth the struggle. With all the lessons I learnt then, These organisations have lots of useful information: l planesavercu.co.uk l aff.org.uk/advice/finances/ debt-and-savings l stepchange.org l citizensadvice.org.uk l britishlegion.org.uk l moneyadviceservice.org.uk

I now live relatively debt-free,” she adds. Money worries can harm relationships, the ability to perform your daily duties and affect your mental health. Valerie advises: “They’re a big source of stress and it’s important to talk to someone if you feel the situation is spiralling out of control. As a veteran and military wife, I know that your time in the military is the best time to build your financial resilience because life as a civilian is much more financially precarious.”

Credit score

Another bit of valuable advice is to look at your credit file. “There are many credit agencies out there and it’s free! I’m amazed at how many people apply for credit and get annoyed when they’re refused. If only they had looked at their credit file, they’d see why,” says Valerie. “Remember that the more you apply for credit, the lower your score gets, even when you have been refused or decide not to go ahead.” & winter 2020 Army&You 19

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Flying the flag for Scotland’s welfare

N SCOTLAND, the Army Welfare Service (AWS) has staff based across the country in Kinloss, Inverness, Leuchars, Edinburgh and Glencorse and if you’re lucky enough to be posted to this part of the world you’ll have access to first class personal and community support from a dedicated team. Army&You caught up with Gina Clark, community development worker for AWS based at Glencorse, to find out how she reaches families… Glencorse is the headquarters of The Royal Highland Fusiliers, the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), and there are also military families from other services and units living in the vicinity. “In all, there are around 170 families as well as approximately 330 single soldiers in Glencorse,” says Gina. “My role is to support all of them and meet their varying needs. By working with partners, I provide adult education groups, Youth Voice, youth clubs, playwork and parents’ and tots’ groups.” AWS also offers holiday programmes, which include trips to local attractions as well as events for Halloween, Easter and Christmas that are organised in partnership with local unit welfare teams. “I feel extremely lucky to be able work


with and support some amazing volunteers who somehow make the impossible, possible,” says Gina.


COVID-19 has meant significant changes for families and Gina and the teams have had to work differently. “We’ve not been able to deliver services face-to-face in our centres but we teamed up with the RIFLES and built the Virtual Military Families Garrison on Facebook so that online youth clubs, Youth Voice Scotland events and virtual coffee mornings can be provided,” explains Gina. “We’re very grateful for the support of the RIFLES and other units in making this happen.” The online provision proved popular with families as family member, Chloe,

explains: “Having online youth clubs during lockdown was great as it broke up the day and meant the kids weren’t missing out on too much social interaction whilst being in the house.” There was also an extensive online programme over the summer with a wide range of online sessions including a ghost tour of Edinburgh, fitness and dance classes, family quizzes and bingo. “Although it isn’t the usual way we would work, it is great to engage with children and families from a range of locations who in normal times wouldn’t have had access to our provision,” explains Gina. “The most challenging part of my role is trying to keep in touch with our families without physically being in the centre. Thankfully, local funding meant I could deliver 80 activity packs as part of a wider initiative in different AWS locations. “The families we work with have done an amazing job coping and supporting each other during this unprecedented time. AWS is continuing to support the families online in Glencorse and across Scotland, while we also hope that we can safely return to some face-to-face work soon,” concludes Gina. l To find out what’s on in your community, take a look at your local HIVE for details.

winter 2020 Army&You 21

OVERSEAS Vibrant community (clockwise): Pirates were spotted during AWS activities over the summer; Andy and Gill Bostock with their son born at the height of the pandemic; and Ailsa and daughter Violet



N SEPTEMBER last year, Sennelager held its first community fair under the new British Army (Germany) flag. The event was designed by our AFF Germany co-ordinator, Lindsay McCran to highlight services and facilities for those of you remaining in Germany, as well as providing important info for newcomers. Since then ‘the new Germany’ has gone from strength to strength. Lindsay spoke to Commanding Officer (GSU) Lt Col Danny Wild, who explains what’s been happening: “It’s been a busy 12-months but we’ve established a firm base. “Having all our housing right next to the barracks creates a strong, village atmosphere; staff can walk to work, children to school and nursery and we have our own community centre right on the patch.”

Under one roof

One of the jewels in the crown is the newly established community hub, headed up

by Unit Welfare Officer Tim Hopkins. “Tim’s idea was to centralise all welfare elements under one roof and Brydon House is now proud home to Army Welfare Service (AWS), AFF, HIVE and the padre alongside the community welfare team,” says Lt Col Wild. “It also has a learning centre, multi-activity room, a self-service library and internet access. This year has seen the provision of excellent contact/welfare accommodation, plus a three-bedroom furnished house on the patch – perfect for single soldiers and families with visiting relatives. “There has been very good community support throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; HIVE and AFF have kept families informed on the ever-evolving issues, whilst AWS, alongside welfare team members, have led many activities as well as establishing a cinema and community garden,” he says. “Things couldn’t get much better but that doesn’t mean that we stop trying to improve. My message to anyone here or those considering an assignment to Germany is that Sennelager is a lovely place to work, raise a family and embrace not just the delights of Germany but the broader culture of Europe on our doorstep. “We’re part of the local community and are warmly embraced by our German neighbours,” he concludes.

Unique challenges

Major Andy Bostock and his wife Gill

22 Army&You winter 2020

moved to Sennelager last year. Andy says: “COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges to us all. It has been difficult for family and friends to visit but not impossible, and key family members have been able to balance various constraints. The situation has been very well managed in Germany and has found us in a better position than we may have been if living in another part of the world. We’re blessed by the strong support network here. Following the drawdown, the pandemic has set conditions for an easier transition to the new Germany and has cushioned the impact associated with a much smaller military footprint.”

Nursery provision

Attenborough nursery manager, Lynne Green re-opened the setting in September and the nursery has now found its feet in the grounds of Attenborough School. “Nursery children use the school facilities including the vast forest school area,” she says. “With the nursery now opening for 45 weeks of the year, we can offer care for children aged three-to-five and are increasing our staff to support this. We look forward to welcoming new families as they arrive in Germany.”

Settling in

Forces Families Jobs has become the ‘one stop shop’ for all Germany jobs as well as overseas training opportunities. Ailsa lives in Sennelager with her soldier husband and daughter Violet. “Finding a job when I first arrived was hard; opportunities @ArmyandYou

were sparse straight after drawdown so getting a role with AWS in March was a real high for me,” says Ailsa. “When my daughter started Attenborough nursery we were worried about how she would react, being her first time away from us but the team have given her so much support and she has settled in so well; they helped her to develop and become more independent which is great to see.” Ailsa is looking forward to the coming year. “I hope there will be opportunities for more groups and clubs aimed at babies and young children. Our aim as a family is to make the most of this posting by getting out and exploring Germany and the neighbouring countries in our motorhome. BA(G) has a great friendly community atmosphere, which makes you feel welcome.” “Although COVID-19 has required a conservative approach to many activities, I believe this is an exciting time for all families arriving in Germany,” confirms Lt Col Bob Carman, who commands CAST/CATT (G). “Our training facilities remain first class and will be heavily utilised for the foreseeable future. This means that we need to fill dependant positions. I believe this step change in the importance of training activity

“Although COVID-19 has required a conservative approach to many activities, I believe this is an exciting time for all families arriving in Germany.” will be positive for the whole community,” he adds. After three years with the US Army, Commander BA(G) Col Tim Hill is happy to be back on the patch: “Like other overseas locations, our next-door neighbours are a real mix of military, civil servants, contractors, teachers etc, which adds a fantastic perspective to all our lives,” he says. “Despite the virus, it’s been a great first year and the lockdown has only served

to bring the community closer together, but perhaps not literally! “Our close-knit community is thriving; the estate is filling up and infrastructure improvements are slowly but surely beginning to reappear. Each day I am reminded that not only are we engaged in an exciting project for British Army training, but our very location in the heart of mainland Europe provides so many exciting opportunities for our visiting exercising troops and our own families.”

If you’re posted to Germany and would like to find out more about the area, contact Lindsay at germany@aff.org.uk, visit aff.org.uk, or the HIVE Germany Blog – sennelagerhivegermany.blogspot.com

PREPARING FOR BREXIT Are you prepared for the changes within Europe after 1 January 2021? Esther Thomas, AFF’s regional manager overseas, has seen a recent increase in enquiries from army families about the impending end of the UK transition phase. “It has been frustrating not being able to give specific advice, as there are still so many areas under negotiation and each family’s individual circumstances will require some review,” says Esther. She advises that you use the official gov.uk/transition online tool to help personalise a list of actions, check travel advice and sign up to get official updates. To help prepare those assigned to a European Joint Support Unit (EJSU), a new Op Cell has been established to provide guidance via esju. www.armyandyou.co.uk

net and for those in Cyprus, EU transition info will be available on the SBAA website – sbaadministration.org Things you ought to check in the lead-up to 1 January 2021 include: Passport – on the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to have at least six months left and be less than ten years old. Travel insurance that covers your healthcare – European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will only be valid up to 31 December 2020. Driving documents – you may need extra documents such as an International Driving Permit in some countries. Pet travel – you won’t be able to use the existing pet passport scheme. Allow four months to follow a different process. Border administration – be prepared to show your return ticket or onward ticket; and that

you have sufficient money for your stay. Mobile roaming – the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming will end. UK bank accounts – some customers may be affected if they use a European Economic Area address. Contact your UK bank and provide a BFPO address. Purchasing goods from the UK – there may be additional charges such as import duty for goods, so check with your supplier before you place an order to ensure you are not charged UK VAT. Sending and receiving mail – check gov.uk/bfpo for guidance. Running a business from an overseas assignment – you may need to make a customs declaration if you take goods to sell abroad or use for business. Visas – short visits to other countries – UK nationals

generally won’t need a visa on a short trip to most EU countries. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period. Non-UK nationals may require additional visas even if assigned overseas with the armed forces. Visas – assignments and living in other countries – you may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel. All non-UK nationals should seek advice from their chain of command on receipt of an overseas assignment. EU settlement scheme – the rule that allows EU, EEA and Swiss nationals to live in the UK will change. You are strongly advised to seek advice on dependants’ immigration status in the UK. Any army family requiring advice on the EU settlement scheme should contact AFF’s F&C specialists – aff.org.uk. winter 2020 Army&You 23


TEAMWORK TESTIMONIES If you’re a non-UK family, your immigration status affects almost every part of your life in the UK, from your ability to work to opening a bank account. AFF’s F&C team works with a wide range of organisations to help non-UK families resolve complex immigration issues, and here we outline some of those who make a difference… COMMUNITIES FIJI BRITAIN

Set up in 2015 to provide welfare support and guidance to Fijians based in the UK, Communities Fiji Britain (CFB) now supports more than 200 cases a year, covering all aspects of welfare support. A recent case demonstrates the level of collaboration that’s often required. A spouse was referred to AFF by her husband’s unit welfare officer after her relationship with her soldier had broken down, leaving her facing homelessness and with no means of supporting her two British children as she had no recourse to public funds.

She’d also received a debt letter for non-payment of gas and electricity. “We arranged for the debt to be written off and for the Royal British Legion to provide food vouchers. We also gathered the documents required for the visa application and liaised with DIO to prevent an eviction,” explains Hilary (right) from CFB. “The spouse was issued her Indefinite Leave to Remain and is now receiving benefits to help support her children. CFB continues to support her with her housing applications, ensuring she’s receiving the correct state benefits and helping her to get a

school place for her child.”


A project funded by the Armed Forces Covenant and delivered by Citizens Advice, it helps service families facing difficulties. AFF’s F&C team has referred several estranged spouses who needed help with debt or with their housing and benefit applications, as well as support with child custody cases. “In one case, the Joining Forces for Families caseworker attended a possession order hearing with the spouse and argued the case for a six-week extension as well as deferment of costs. Our collaboration meant that the caseworker was fully aware of the ongoing work by AFF to resolve the spouse’s immigration status. He was able to communicate this to the judge to show that the spouse was doing all she could to resolve the situation,” says Katherine, AFF’s F&C specialist.


An article about welfare support

to non-UK spouses wouldn’t be complete without talking about the excellent service provided by Terrie and Jill at Gildea House. It’s a SSAFA sheltered housing facility for women and children which regularly accepts non-UK spouses whose relationships have broken down, usually as a result of domestic abuse. Housing manager Terrie, says: “We’re able to help with food vouchers, clothing, nappies, toiletries and all the things you may need on your arrival. We continue to support you financially until you’re in receipt of benefits. Staff are here to listen, signpost and to help you move forward with your life.” l If you’re an F&C family who needs help, find us at aff.org.uk

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24 Army&You winter 2020

Following Brexit, all EU, EEA and Swiss citizens and their non-British family members who want to stay in the UK, need to apply for a new immigration status under the EU Settlement scheme by 30 June 2021. ‘Settled’ is one of the Home Office-funded community organisations that can help over the phone, email or via Facebook. Applying for the scheme is free. If you’ve lived in the UK for five continuous years at the time of application, you’re likely to be granted settled status, or Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. If you haven’t been in the UK for five continuous years, you’ll receive pre-settled status. Once you’ve reached five years of continuous residence, you’ll need to reapply to be granted settled status. If you haven’t had a continuous work history and have been away on overseas postings, you might be required to provide further evidence. For more, see settled.org.uk @ArmyandYou

SUPPORT FOR THE GURKHA COMMUNITY S SAFA’s Gurkha Support Service is available to all serving and veteran members of the Brigade of Gurkhas and their families. Local support is provided via a network of SSAFA volunteers to ensure the Gurkha community has the same opportunities as any other military families. When ex-Queen’s Gurkha engineer Tilak Rai arrived in Derby last year, he, along with his wife and two young children, had to share a three-bedroom home with another family. Unable to understand the benefits system in England, he was struggling to access the right support. Tilak struggled to get any support until Gurkha services manager Sheila Limbu and outreach worker Laxmi Bantawa

Tilak Rai

MBE met with the local Gurkha community. The pair referred Tilak to his local SSAFA branch. Within two weeks, SSAFA volunteers secured funding for Tilak and his family. He was supplied with items for the home and toys for his children. The charity also helped him

with applications for Universal Credit, council tax exemptions and medical care for his pregnant wife, which she wasn’t previously accessing. Tilak is now receiving English language training and SSAFA has offered to support him find a job.

Tilak says: “Life before SSAFA was very hard. Now it’s so different. I’m more comfortable, and my family is happy.” Former Gurkha Major, Laxmi Bantawa says: “Some of the Gurkha ex-servicemen and the community are living in some very difficult conditions. They find it hard to understand and navigate the system. But it’s great to see that with the help of SSAFA, they go from nothing to having everything they need.” SSAFA works collaboratively with other Gurkha specific organisations such as the Gurkha Welfare Advice Centre, the Gurkha Brigade Association, the Army Welfare Service, Gurkha communities and others. To find out more, visit ssafa. org.uk/get-help/gurkha-services

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.habsmonmouth.org/forces winter 2020 Army&You 25

SELFCARE SUNDAYS Amy, Polly and Kelly, founders of Revive & Renew (reviveandrenew.co.uk) – business, wellness and personal growth retreats – had to cancel their residential breaks for 2020 due to COVID-19, so they decided to take them online. “Lockdown gave us the opportunity to celebrate the available support and resources that the military community can utilise,” explains Kelly. They hosted a series of Selfcare Sundays within their Facebook group and, with the generosity of wellness experts, provided a weekly opportunity for the community to find R&R time for themselves to learn resilience tools, personal growth methods, healing movement, breathwork, and finding joy with nutritional foods. “Everyone’s wellness needs are individual and continually evolve, so it was important for the group participants to ‘take what they needed’,” says Kelly. “The success of the group has been bigger than we ever anticipated.” Selfcare Sundays were open to anyone with a military connection who’s looking to improve their wellness and selfcare habits. There are currently more than 160 members. Helen Atkinson, a teacher from Wiltshire and founder of Globally Wise, says: “As a teacher working from home who has been juggling home-schooling and my own three children, Selfcare Sundays showed me that I’m important, and it’s essential to take care of my mental and physical health. I’m trying to set new routines and build valuable personal time to focus on me.” “There’s such a wealth of knowledge amongst our community and the Selfcare Sundays highlight that when you need help with your wellness you needn’t look far – many of the experts were from businesses owned by military spouses,” adds Kelly. “We’d like to thank all our experts who’ve donated their time to help us with this initiative.” Selfcare Sundays have now evolved into a general wellness support group. Search Facebook for Wellness Support for the Military Community.

VOCAL SUPPORT With over 70 choirs and more than 2,000 members in military bases across the UK and overseas, the Military Wives Choirs (MWC) is a charity that brings all women in the military community, not just wives, closer together and empowers them through singing. Army&You spoke to Tracy from Dishforth Military Wives Choir about how choir has helped her and her daughter through a tough time…


RACY is an army mum, her 23-year-old daughter Ashleigh is an army medic. After attending Army Foundation College Harrogate, Ashleigh trained in Lichfield, spent three years serving in Germany and is now working for 21 Engineer Regiment in Dishforth. Tracy was sadly diagnosed with breast cancer in January, which was absolutely shattering for the whole family. She turned to her Dishforth choir ladies for support and says she cannot fault them and their efforts to support her welfare. “From including me in all of the virtual activity and checking in on me and my daughter, to delivering an Easter wreath when I was too poorly to make my own at the online choir social, they’ve been brilliant,” says Tracy. Dishforth MWC created a video of what everyone has been up to over lockdown and Tracy was thrilled to be included. She says: “The Military Wives Choirs strive to be supportive and inclusive and it’s what it says on the tin.” Singing in a choir has the ability to alleviate stress and improve mental health and wellbeing; the welfare support the choirs deliver is felt far beyond rehearsals. Before lockdown, Tracy joined her choir

friends to perform at Manchester Piccadilly to celebrate the launch of the film ‘Military Wives’. Seeing her choir ladies and their smiles buoyed her spirits as she started her cancer treatment; their reassurances meant the world to her. She adds: “I’d have been lost without them.” Tracy and Ashleigh (above) have both received many messages from choir members checking in and wishing them well, and she’s pleased that this welfare support extends to her daughter. She calls the Dishforth choir ladies “a phenomenal set of women, even with young children and husbands sent off on deployment, they’ve opened their arms to support Ashleigh”. l The tri-service Military Wives Choirs are open to all women with a direct military connection and are nonauditioned. To find out more, visit militarywiveschoirs.org

“The Military Wives Choirs strive to be supportive and inclusive and it’s what it says on the tin.” @ArmyandYou

LEAN ON US BEING a parent has never been easy. It can be lonely, frustrating, heart-breaking and overwhelming. The charity Home-Start is ready to support you through your toughest times. Home-Start volunteers are trained to work alongside you to overcome the challenges you’re facing. They can help you to build on your strengths and give you the support you need. Thanks to Armed Forces Covenant funding, Home-Start York works directly with military families from Fulford and Strensall Barracks, and RAF Linton-on-Ouse. A HomeStart York volunteer can be linked with you, visit weekly and help with the challenges of parenting young children under the age of six. One military wife, who has two young children, attended a Home-Start forces family bus trip around York. She realised Home-Start offered her the kind of support she really needed. She spoke with the team and mentioned she felt isolated and lonely.

Bringing families together

The team were planning an art project to help bring together military wives and HomeStart volunteers. The project was to complete a painted garden mural on the wall of the

dementia unit at South Park Care Home, Acomb, York. The mum had always wanted to go to art college, so she jumped at the chance to design the mural. Each week she had a home visit from a volunteer who spent time with the children playing, whilst she drew up her designs, appreciating the adult company in her home. After a few weeks of organising, the mural project began. Each Friday with paint brushes in hand, care home staff, military families and the Home-Start volunteers gathered and painted her design, encouraging the children to join in too. At half-term, older siblings joined in whilst residents watched, an unexpected bonus for everyone, as well as enjoying the Friday treats provided by the local fish and chip shop.

Break up

When she became a single parent due to marital issues and needed to transition from military to civilian life, Home-Start’s volunteers helped her deal with the practical issues, finding new accommodation and helping to settle her children into a new home. Their advice, support and encouragement helped her continue with the mural project until its completion. She feels the transition would have been a lot tougher without the support of the project and its volunteers and staff.

Seeking help

If you could do with some support through a challenging time, there are over 200 independent Home-Starts working in local authority areas across the UK. Find your nearest network at home-start.org.uk

FOCUS ON FUNDING During COVID-19, the government has awarded £6 million in grant funding to 100 organisations via the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. These grants offer a lifeline to those of you facing changing needs due to social restrictions. Reading Force received £21,400 to carry on their crucial work with families, young people and children during the crisis.

Family impact

One young family described the impact it has had: “Our pack arrived the day after daddy left for a while and we didn’t know when he would be coming back because of coronavirus. “We were all a bit grumpy until our books and scrapbooks arrived. We don’t know when we will speak to daddy next, but we will read him our new books when we do.” www.armyandyou.co.uk

Alison Baverstock, founder of the charity, explains the effect the lockdown had on demand for services: “We’ve seen a 900 per cent increase, particularly by parents who want to maintain contact with their children when they cannot be with them.” While COVID-19 has affected different organisations in different ways, the Trust continues to deliver funding programmes to help ease the financial burden on the forces community. They’ve awarded 100 projects a share of more than £859,000 under their Forces Communities Together programme – which focuses on engaging activities helping to inject a little joy at a time of unease. These fantastic projects cover all corners of the community, from a service children’s choir

to a drive-in cinema for forces families, and even online dance sessions for veterans.

NAAFI fund

The Trust’s latest funding programme is aimed at improving the quality of life for serving personnel and families living on or near a base. The NAAFI Fund seeks to make your downtime better – whether through providing recreational equipment, making communal areas nicer and more

functional, or through projects designed to bring people together. Further rounds for this fund will follow in 2021, so if your forces base lacks a great social space or you have an idea that will give soldiers and families something to do during downtime, encourage your chain of command to apply. l Details are at covenantfund. org.uk/the-naafi-fund – it could just make life a little bit better for all. winter 2020 Army&You 27


It’s reassuring to know that all prospective UWOs take part in an extensive course which covers all aspects of welfare to support army families…


ASINGWOLD in North Yorkshire is much more than just a beautiful part of the country, according to course organiser Lt Col (Retd) Michael [Mick] Tobin. “It is also home to the Unit Welfare Officers’ Course held each month. Any officer, warrant officer, senior NCO, regular or reserves, or civil servant who provides welfare care for soldiers or families can attend this course,” he says.

Never more important

Whether it’s helping soldiers to sort out their finances or supporting families during the COVID-19 crisis, they’re the first port of call for a plethora of issues. “Welfare is a massive subject and while these individuals are not there to solve everyone’s problems, they must have the information to direct people to the right place. Those who take on the role are usually late entry officers in their first commissioned posting. Equipped with a mobile phone that’s rarely switched off, they must be available to take calls from those in need of support at any time,” says Mick. “The course is split into two parts – a five-day course as they start in their welfare role, and four to six months later, a two-

day session with the option of doing a Once UWOs have completed the course, further two days of armed forces AFF staff are often the link between mental health first aid training. welfare teams and families and Throughout the week, via vice versa. To find your unit presentations and interactive “We can play a similar welfare office, sessions, prospective welfare role, when UWOs are not contact your AFF workers learn about policy, sure where to turn and regional lead at safeguarding, loss and need further advice, they aff.org.uk bereavement, housing, the often contact AFF to find a Army Welfare Service and other resolution,” adds Emma. military charities,” he adds. The course also includes role play with real families, so they Representing families can experience different scenarios in AFF is one of the many presenters on the preparation for when they get to their unit. course as Emma Perrin, AFF’s manager A new UWO who recently attended the devolved nations, explains: “We speak to comprehensive course, says: “Starting as a new UWOs as well as those refreshing welfare officer can be quite daunting, the their knowledge. We provide the family course has given me the knowledge and perspective and updates on the latest confidence I needed.” policies and how they may affect military families.” Keeping up the knowledge Due to the varied and complex issues the The refresher element to the course has welfare officers may have to deal with, the also proved vital for those that have held a course content covers a vast amount in a welfare role for more than three years. short space of time. “I’ve worked as a unit welfare officer for “It will give them an insight into issues quite a while, so I didn’t think they could they are likely to encounter, and how the tell me anything I didn’t already know. How pressures of everyday life can affect mental wrong I was,” says another attendee. wellbeing,” says Emma. l If any budding actors or actresses in North Yorkshire would like to help with the role play sessions on the course, with expenses paid, then Mick would love to hear from you. If you’d like to take part, email Emma at devolvedmgr@aff.org.uk

“While these individuals are not there to solve everyone’s problems, they must have the information to direct people to the right place.” 28 Army&You winter 2020


SHAPING THE COMMUNITY FOR families living in the European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) areas, local support is offered by Community Liaison Officer (CLO) roles. Army&You caught up with Felicity Barton, CLO for SHAPE – Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe – in Belgium, to find out how she supports families… “My role involves passing on information from the military side to families. I keep everyone up-to-date with emails and via our private Facebook group,” explains Felicity. “My area has more than 800 personnel and families but there are also CLOs in 13 other EJSU locations across Europe and Turkey.” Felicity helps to bring families together through community events. “We normally have three

Wholesome experience: Families enjoy wreath making at a community event

“My role is very much helping to manage expectations.”

big community events a year and I help organise them, as well as monthly outings, trips and activities – including quizzes and bingo. By welcoming new arrivals and giving them information on what to expect, Felicity ensures families know what’s going on. “I help show people around and add them into various Facebook groups if they want to be. “I also go to coffee mornings and events to be a friendly face, trying to remove some of the scary aspects of going somewhere completely new for the first time. “I can help with questions on childcare options, how to claim VAT refunds and just the general know-how of life at SHAPE. “At the local community house, I’m a point of contact for

spouses, the military and UKbased civilians. “I also identify if there are any issues and find the people to help resolve them,” she says. “Life here is very different to the UK. There’s no fast speed internet and things can take much longer. “Childcare options aren’t the same as the UK and can be limited, so my role is very much helping to manage expectations,” she adds. Felicity has also set up a volunteer committee and a ‘good ideas’ club, where people can share their suggestions for activities and events.

l If you’re posted to SHAPE and would like to find out more, contact AFF’s EJSU co-ordinator, Anna Hall – ejsu@aff.org.uk

o A top 25 co-ed Boarding School* o Great location o Pay no more than 10% of our fees** o Probably the best boarding accommodation in the UK * Best-Schools.co.uk - Top co-ed Boarding Schools by A Level

Combining outstanding teaching with excellent examination results, some of the best boarding accommodation in the UK and a great location midway between London and Cambridge, Bishop’s Stortford College enables pupils to reach their full potential. **Forces families, qualifying for CEA are required to pay no more than 10% of fees for full boarding places. Come to an Open Morning or arrange a private visit. We look forward to welcoming you.

Building Confidence for Life.


+44 (0)1279 838604 admissions@BishopsStortfordCollege.org

winter 2020 Army&You 29


MEET THE BUSINESSES BUFFERING THE PANDEMIC You’d be hard pressed to find a small business not impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in one way or another. Some have thrived with increased demand, while others have struggled to survive, and many have had to make significant changes to the way they work. We caught up with some entrepreneurial military spouses, to find out how they’re coping… Sarah Keen Lightbulb Chiropractic

Kayleigh McDine Mini First Aid Highlands

Reason for starting your business: There are some well-established practices here in Colchester, so it was a bit of a gamble, but it’s paid off. I’m trained in quite a specific niche, so I now joke that I see the three Ps – pregnancy, paediatrics and paratroopers! Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: Chiropractors were viewed as an essential service, but due to the nature of the building, I had to weigh up the risk-benefit as I see lots of pregnant women, newborns and people with autoimmune diseases, so I decided to close. Financially that meant mounting bills without the benefit of the grants that were given out by the government. When the first lockdown began to lift, my landlord was slow to provide risk assessments. It was sink or swim, so I applied for the bounce-back loan to give me the deposit for a new space. Every week since reopening, business has picked up. It’s made me so grateful to be able to do what I love.

Reason for starting your business: When I had my own children, there wasn’t a first aid class that was accessible to parents where you could bring your baby with you. My classes are friendly but informative and give you the skills and confidence to deal with a first aid situation. Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: Mini First Aid wanted to offer parents an option to complete the class from the safety of their own home. I’ve been running classes through Zoom and we also have an online version, so parents can feel reassured. Plus points: I really enjoyed having more time together as a family – and I also took my paediatric chiropractic exam. I had time to work on the business instead of working in it, something we're told to do by business coaches, but which is highly unlikely when you're juggling everything as a military spouse!

Top tip for others thinking of starting their own business: Just do it! For me, it has meant that I can fit work around my military life. I love the flexibility of being able to choose my own hours. I’m very lucky that I have family who can lend a hand when my husband is deployed.

Top tip for others: It’s soul destroying when you first start and you’re not even paying yourself, so talking to someone who’s a bit further along the journey is essential. It keeps you connected to your vision and reminds you why you've chosen this route.

Katie Mitchell Moments by Katie Mitchell Photography Reason for starting your business: During maternity leave from the army, I realised I couldn’t bear the thought of deploying and leaving my child. I was getting really good at my then-hobby, photography, so I started work on my exit plan.

30 Army&You winter 2020

Plus points: I’ve enjoyed slowing down to do more walks, stories and bubble baths with my girls.

Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: I went from a very good wage in the army down to zero in the space of four months. We had to take every payment break going until my business started to pick up again, but thankfully things soon improved once the first lockdown eased. Plus points: The bonus family

time has been amazing – we'd never had so much time off together before! Top tip for others thinking of starting their own business: If you’re offering a location-based service, you may struggle if you’re moving every few years. Perhaps consider how you can add value to your customers online instead. @ArmyandYou

Phoebe Hayes (left) & Charlotte Holgate (right) Off The Patch – housing service

Sophie McLaren Digital Mavericks – online courses

Reason for starting your business: The idea for OTP came about following many conversations with military families about the struggles associated with service accommodation, and lack of understanding from letting agents.

Reason for starting your business: Winning a competition with AFF to take a digital course gave me such a huge opportunity, I felt I had a responsibility to give back, which is why I do a lot of work for spouses for free and run a social surgery where people can ask me for advice.

Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: Childcare has been a big challenge, especially as we, and our partners, have all continued to work throughout. Pushing back targets and reevaluating expectations has been the key. Plus points: OTP will come out of lockdown better and stronger. We've adapted our practices,

many of which will continue after the pandemic. Top tip for others: If you feel you have a good business idea, just give it a go. As a military partner, don’t feel you have to live in your spouse’s shadow. Our mutual support of each other has been integral in overcoming the challenges that military life brings.

Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: I paused my plans and after a brief break to move house, I now have around twenty students going through the training as beta testers. Homeschooling the children was my biggest obstacle. It takes so much time to do simple things, no one will ever question school holidays for

teachers ever again after this! Plus points: The time has given me thinking space and I feel a little bit like Tony Stark in my lab coming up with my next plans as my husband, aka Pepper Potts, brings me tea and reminds me to take breaks. Top tip for others thinking of starting their own business: You can start off as a hobby, you don’t have to give up your day job. And if lockdown has taught us anything, we shouldn't put all our eggs in one basket.

Georgia Wilkinson Georgia Wilkinson Designs – interiors Reason for starting your business: Two things; I loved working in London, but I’m a country girl at heart. Secondly, it was fantastic experience working with leading textile companies, but I was bursting with my own creativity. Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: Shipping. I used to go to the post office when my children were at nursery, but trying to manoeuvre three children and an armful of packages, whilst social distancing, isn’t easy. I’ve started sending orders with a courier, who picks up from my door - much better! Plus points: Lockdown has been the perfect time to update my website. I was able to do a stock take and list a lot of sale items, which had been on my to do list for some time. Top tip for others thinking of starting their own business: If you have a passion for what you do then don't be afraid to try it. I started with very little money, but each time I made a profit I kept investing it back in the business and growing it little by little.

Rachael Ladd (right) & Steph Wilson (left) Swirl Global – Special Educational Needs and swim safety Reason for starting your business: We set up after looking at how best to support Rachael's son in the pool when he was having sensory issues with some of the equipment. Not being able to find what we needed, we decided to go ahead and create our own products. Biggest challenge throughout lockdown: COVID-19 has definitely thrown a spanner in the works! Frustratingly, we’ve not been able to sit beside each other and chat things through. As with all military life, we’ve had to improvise. This does mean that we now have a flexible way of working that will work wherever we’re posted in the future. Plus points: COVID-19 has led to delays in obtaining fabrics for production but we’ve used the time to seek out materials with the lowest carbon footprint and really think about what our core values as a business will be going forward. We’ve received so much support online, particularly through The Milspo Business Network and Heropreneurs. Top tip for others thinking of starting their own business: Have the courage to follow it though and park any imposter syndrome. Our motto is do something every week that scares us, because actually, what’s the worst that could happen?


winter 2020 Army&You 31


RULES & REGS Inspired by the innovation of our entrepreneurial military spouses (pages 30-31) and fancy dipping your toes into the business world? If so, don't forget, you need to seek permission from DIO and your local commander if you want to run your business from your quarter. You must have written permission and in some cases, you may also need to get the go ahead from your local council. More info can be found at gov.uk/dio/sfa You’re not allowed to use the BFPO system for business purposes if you’re posted overseas. Where possible, you should use a local civilian post office or courier. If your only option is to use BFPO, then you can apply in writing to SO2 Policy, Def PCS, BFPO 777.

BRILLIANT BUSINESS LINKS: AFF employment & training – aff.org.uk milspo.co.uk Supporting the Unsung Hero – wlv.ac.uk



HEN you’re trying to forge a career while supporting your serving partner, there can be conflicts about which comes first. An increasing number of organisations recognise that a military spouse or partner’s career shouldn’t be the automatic casualty of this conflict and are working to support family members when they find themselves disadvantaged. Part of this work is to appoint specific staff members who have a good understanding of service life and its challenges. They’re there to support you and work on your behalf to challenge company policies which often don’t consider the nuances of military life. Jenna Richardson, AFF’s employment & training specialist, says: “Whilst it’s frustrating when our civilian workplace commitments clash with our military ones at home, it’s important to remember that it’s generally due to a lack of understanding on the part of the employer – it's not deliberately malicious and can often be resolved by talking to the right people.”

Case study

Nurse Becky Petrucci recently returned from an overseas

x-forces.com militarymumsinbusiness. weebly.com heropreneurs.co.uk militarycoworking.uk Becky Petrucci with her family

32 Army&You winter 2020

posting with her family only to find herself at the bottom of the pay scale because she’d been out of the NHS for more than twelve months. “I contacted Jenna, who recommended that I got in touch with the NHS Trust’s armed forces champion for help,” she explains. By engaging with him and the HR team, not only was Becky returned to her preposting position on the pay scale, but she was also paid the money she would have earned if she had been placed at the correct grade initially. “Your career can take a back seat to your serving partner’s, but it was uplifting that someone agreed that my situation was unjust,” Becky says. “Having armed forces champions is so important as they understand that unique situations arise for military families.”

Promoting the military community

Guy Benson is the military and civil integration lead and liaison officer at Wiltshire Council and had a lengthy career in the army. “This role gives me the opportunity to promote the value of the broader military community,” he says. As well as developing relationships between military and civilian communities, Guy answers enquiries relating to issues such as housing, education, healthcare and employment. Guy is a part of the Jobs and

Guy Benson with HRH The Princess Royal

Employment for the Military in the South West (Project JEMS) working group. He adds: “Project JEMS works with different stakeholders in the region to provide employment and training opportunities for military spouses. Several employers have signed up to the scheme – roles are advertised on the Forces Families Jobs website.”

Get in touch

Find out if your employer has an armed forces champion or similar role, by asking your HR team or looking on your company website. Alternatively, email Jenna at employmenttraining@aff.org.uk

Useful links

l Local authorities – visit your LA’s website to find your armed forces champion l NHS – nhsemployers.org l FFJ – forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk l Wiltshire Council careers – jobs.wiltshire.gov.uk/military l Recruit for Spouses – recruitforspouses.co.uk l RFEA Families Programme – rfea.org.uk

“Your career can take a back seat to your serving partner’s, but it was uplifting that someone agreed that my situation was unjust.” @ArmyandYou


RE you still working, living and playing inside the same four walls? Have you started talking to the dog yet? When lockdown eases, seek out your local Military Coworking Network (MCN) hub. They're not just a professional space for you to work or study from; they’re about getting out of the house to improve your mental wellbeing.

Isolation and loneliness Social isolation is something the MCN has been talking about since the first hub was opened in 2017, but COVID-19 has made everyone realise just how important those day-to-day human interactions are. Lockdown has made many companies realise the benefits of having a remote workforce, and many employees have enjoyed the flexibility that working from home can give. However, some of you have also been missing your colleagues. Working from home, even with all the technology, can be isolating and lonely. “To be able to ‘go out’ to work has made a huge difference,” says one hub member. “Previously I would work in a cupboard and the breaks I took would be housework

related. My only exposure to the outside world was the school run. I now have a new circle of friends, am a lot happier generally and probably more productive.”

Swap your house for a hub The coworking hubs provide office space on, or close to, military bases around the UK and overseas for non-serving members of the military community to use. Whether you’re building a business, studying, writing your CV or working remotely, the hubs are used by different people for different reasons, but the benefits are the same. Members feel they belong to a community that understands their

professional life, and they have people to chat to and share ideas (and coffee!) with.

Stay connected The network of hubs is growing rapidly, but if there isn’t one in your area, the online Military Coworking Community group provides connections with people that really understand the impact that military life can have on your career, and who will support and encourage you to reach your full potential. Go to militarycoworking.uk to find out which hubs are open or join the Military Coworking Community on Facebook.

ON THE JOB FRONT... Forces Families Jobs is now in its second year and despite the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns, it’s seen success stories through military family members finding jobs and employers recruiting from the military community. Balancing your career alongside service life can be a challenge, so it’s good to know what’s out there specifically for forces families in terms of jobs and training. FFJ’s news section features regular updates on anything work-related that may affect you as a military spouse or partner, so do check in for the latest info. www.armyandyou.co.uk

Online chat More than a hundred people joined the first FFJ webinar in September, giving you an insight into the research behind the project, plus an online demo on how to get the most out of the platform and build your CV. Many of you also took the opportunity to talk to the team about the employment issues you face in your areas. “We ran a separate webinar for employers too,” says AFF employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson. “It meant we could encourage

them to help service families by offering flexibility, working from home opportunities and being sympathetic to leave requests for things like R&R and postoperational tour leave. Lots of companies used the webinar as a training session for their staff to gain a better understanding of military life.” You can view the webinars on the FFJ website, and do look out for more next year, along with workshops and online training.

Giving back If you’re thinking about a


change of career, getting back into work or upskilling, tap into the many free courses listed on the FFJ training pages. Just because they’re free, it doesn’t mean they’re devalued in some way, it’s quite the opposite – some cost well over £1,500 per person but are funded for military partners and spouses as a way of ‘giving back’.

Keep talking to us Career development for spouses and partners continues to be a key focus for all three families federations. If you have any issues or concerns, contact Jenna at employmenttraining@aff.org.uk winter 2020 Army&You 33


A rise in damp? Blighted by mould and damp in your quarter? AFF housing specialist, Cat Calder, explains how we are building up a picture of where the worst-hit areas are…


VERY time you come to us with an issue with damp or mould in your Service Family Accommodation (SFA), the address is added to a database, enabling us to track hotspots to pass on to DIO and Amey. These can be added to their data so they can identify areas for project works. With families moving so often, the information on the database allows me to see if there have been historical reports by previous families.

Working collaboratively

In the last few years significant investment has been made by DIO. In collaboration with Amey, we’ve now combined our databases so that we can see details of where work has been completed. So, if your new address is on our database, I’ll now be able to see if work has actually been done and give you the confidence that you’re moving into a damp- and mould-free SFA. Major works such as external wall

34 Army&You winter 2020

Transformation: Before (below) and after photos of SFA at Worthy Down, which have benefitted from improvements

insulation, new roofs, doors and windows and new heating systems have already been carried out in many areas such as Worthy Down in Hampshire [see photos], where families have benefited from a warm house with lower fuel bills.

Cash injection

Whilst more than £80 million has already been invested in damp and mould remediation projects over the last four years, the recent government announcement of £200 million in funding for service accommodation (£121m of that for SFA over two years) will result in projects to bring even more quarters up to a good standard. If the dreaded damp does strike, follow these steps: 1. Report it to Amey so they can address the issue 2. Log your SFA on AFF's database – aff.org.uk 3. Contact Cat if you still need help – housing@aff.org.uk

KEEP MOULD AT BAY Mould tends to grow where there’s moisture – just breathing will cause condensation so it’s vital to ventilate your house as much as possible. That doesn’t mean leaving the windows open all day with the heating on, but simple things, like making sure the extractor is running in the bathroom when you take a shower, opening bedroom windows in the morning for a quick blow to remove stale overnight air, and not drying wet washing on a radiator will help. If mould isn’t controllable, then you’ll need to contact Amey on 0800 707 6000. They’ll send out an accommodation officer within five days to assess it and follow up with one of these options: l Give advice on how to manage condensation l Request a specialist survey l If necessary, action remedial works such as loft insulation or a bathroom fan l Apply to DIO for funding for specialist work such as wall insulation.


WINTER READY? As the days get shorter and you notice a chill in the morning air, it’s time to think about making your home fit for the months that lie ahead. Here are some top tips to get winter-ready: l Turn the heating on and test the radiators – bleed them if necessary l Cover outside taps l Check gutters and downpipes aren’t blocked – report to Amey if they are l Check your flowerbeds near your property – is the soil below the damp course? l Report any dripping taps l Make sure you know where your stopcock is – ask your accommodation officer – it’s normally under your kitchen sink l Check your insurance – do you have licence to occupy insurance in place if you’re in a quarter? l Don’t forget that a gas safety inspection is a legal requirement so make sure that you allow contractors in to complete this when an appointment is made with you.

Step away from the boxes! TEMPTED to get a head-start on packing ahead of your move? Cat explains why you should leave it to the experts… Normal removals policy is that the MOD pays for a full pack and unpack service – so you don’t need to pack anything prior to your removals team arriving and there’s no obligation for packing boxes to be delivered to you before moving day.

Exceptions Should you have an exceptional need to pack earlier, for example, to help children with additional needs, you should discuss this with the removals company and, in these situations, boxes will be provided. www.armyandyou.co.uk

Boxes AFF understands that many families want to get ahead of the game by packing items themselves and in the past, some companies have dropped off boxes if they’ve been in the area and may still be able to do this if requested, however, it’s not a requirement for them to do so and is not in the contract. With many moves taking place, there’ll always be new families on the patch who have boxes they can pass on, so if you need boxes, do try this first. l If you need further info, email Cat at housing@aff.org.uk winter 2020 Army&You 35

Building your family If you’re a military family considering adoption, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, can support you through the process to create a loving family. They understand the complex demands, and the many positives, of service family life, no matter what your background. Our health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, spoke to the charity’s head of adoption, Jill Farrelly, to find out more…


SAFA works with families so they can be in the best place to adopt, as Jill explains: “We work with the family to enable them to be stable for as long as possible following their approval and we will support mobile families during the assessment stage.” The process includes an assessment, a four-day training course and an adoption panel. Once you’ve adopted, SSAFA also offers

36 Army&You winter 2020

post-adoption support. Jill adds: “Usually the training would be face-to-face but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve had to offer this online. The adoption panel has moved to virtual panels and we’re pleased with how well this has worked.”

The team is made up of five permanent social workers and some sessional social workers, so they can access those of you who are in more remote areas. They work closely with local authorities and regional adoption agencies, and the

Applications welcome The agency approves 10-12 prospective adoptive families a year and most of these go on to successfully have children placed with them. They welcome applications from families across the UK and provide advice, information and post-adoption support to those serving overseas too.


service was given an outstanding rating by Ofsted last year.


Looking ahead

Andy Wilson was in the army for 23 years. He made the decision to adopt two children through SSAFA… “You always just assume that you’ll be able to conceive, but that wasn’t the case for me and my partner, Stacey. In 2009, I was diagnosed with a condition that meant that we would never be able to have a family naturally. “We were based in Germany when we found out the devastating news. I was adopted myself so this was an option that came to mind instantly – but some agencies may see regular moves as an unstable environment and don’t understand the military lifestyle. In fact, military families are built on love and resilience – and if anything, moving around makes you more stable as a family unit. “It was our doctor in Germany who told us to get in touch with SSAFA. We were introduced to an amazing social worker who talked us through all the options. At the time we were so desperate to have children, we felt like we had to go through the process as quickly as possible but the best advice from SSAFA was to slow down and give ourselves a year to decide. It gave us time to research and make

Speaking about the agency’s future plans, Jill says: “We’ve already run a training event, a family fun day and weekends away where adopters can meet. Next year we hope to run two weekend events, one in the north and one in the south. One very positive thing is that the military community has come such a long way with inclusion and diversity.” SSAFA has seen an increase in same-sex couples wanting to adopt, and in 2018, 40 per cent of their adopters were in same-sex relationships, four times higher than the national average.

USEFUL LINKS: Adoption advice gov.uk Intercountry adoption advice icacentre.org.uk Information on adoption leave and pay can be found in JSP 760 – gov.uk Tri-service information, available from MODNET – Adoption and Fostering 2018DIN01-130

sure it was the right decision – it’s not something that can be taken lightly. “SSAFA supported us emotionally and financially through the whole process. They acted as an advocate for us and understood what military life is like – we knew they had our back and were talking to the local authorities, telling them to consider us as a good option. “They were so supportive that after adopting our first child, Aaron, we went on to adopt Ruby. “No matter how difficult our journey has been, it’s all worth it now we have two beautiful children. Being able to create our own journey and explore with them has made life exciting again – it’s a feeling that just can’t be described.” l If you’re considering adoption whilst serving – get in touch with SSAFA at ssafa.org.uk

“Military families are built on love and resilience – and if anything, moving around makes you more stable as a family unit.”


winter 2020 Army&You 37

No barriers to foster care D ON’T be put off becoming foster carers because you have to move often or are frequently deployed. Military life needn’t be a barrier and many local authorities and agencies welcome applications from those in the armed forces. Tracy Middleton is a fostering support worker for Wiltshire Council. She says: “We have many, wonderful military families who foster in Wiltshire. We invite applications from couples, individuals and families with children, who can offer a safe haven for our foster children. “You would be responsible for their day-to-day care and all their educational, emotional, health and social needs. You would help the child keep in touch with their birth family and attend meetings to discuss their welfare and

future plans. This could be an ideal career alternative for many people needing to juggle that work-life balance!” Tracy recommends watching one of their regular information sessions to find out more – fosteringwiltshire.uk – or calling 0800 169 6321.

Our story Nicola and Mark have been interested in becoming foster

carers for some time and when they moved to Wiltshire, they were happy to discover that the council accepted applications from military families. They were impressed at how quick the process has been. They began in May and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, underwent online training, with the support of regular visits from their social worker. After recently being promoted,

Mark has informed his chain of command about his intention to be a foster carer. “I’ve now been assigned to the same location for three years, so we’re able to continue with the fostering process,” he explains. Mark also felt that he would have liked to hear from other military foster carers to get some idea of who to contact, what fostering involved and the support available. “Developing an army fostering network could help others and provide a safe place to share experiences and information,” he adds. If you would be interested in setting up a fostering network or are happy to share your experiences, contact AFF’s health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross at additionalneeds@aff.org.uk

Up to 15% Forces Discount

Your child at our heart Contact the Registrar on 01722 555300 admissions@salisburycathedralschool.co.uk www.salisburycathedralschool.com


38 Army&You winter 2020


Fostering from afar Phil and Ange Dakin have lived and worked in Episkopi Station for 12 years. They’ve been registered as a foster family for the last three, providing emergency and respite fostering to the British Forces Cyprus community. AFF’s Cyprus co-ordinator, Aileen Naylor, caught up with the couple to hear about their experiences… Why did you choose to foster? We’re always keen to put something back into the community and as professional youth workers we wanted to use our skills to support young people; fostering felt like an appropriate way we could help. We wanted to ensure that we found a balance so that the needs of our own children were met and those of the young people that needed short-term support. Fostering in Cyprus is a community support function whereas in the UK it is seen as more of a profession. Placements here are generally short-term because where possible the social work team tries to find a suitable placement for the young people with their extended family. That means we usually have a young person for a few weeks at most. What’s it been like? The initial assessment period was quite intense, but we had a good relationship with our social worker and that helped us to work through the application process, which included background checks,

“Having boys in our house has been a learning curve for us all, but we have loved every minute of it.” USEFUL LINKS:

Becoming a foster carer – gov.uk/becoming-foster-parent Polaris – polariscommunity.co.uk Foster Carer Associates – thefca.co.uk AFF – aff.org.uk www.armyandyou.co.uk

“It was a new chapter in our life – eye-opening, daunting, exciting, fun and a little bit scary.” interviews and meeting with a panel. The training was informative and the process took almost a year, but we’ve had a very positive experience due to the support from the social work team. Tell us about your first placement… It was a new chapter in our family life – eyeopening, daunting, exciting, fun and a little bit scary. We’re used to having our house full of young people when our daughters’ friends stay over but this was significantly different. For instance, we had planned to go to Troodos as a family with friends from the UK, however, to do this we needed permission from the social work team to ensure we were still following the guidelines. This worked well and we were able to have fun as a foster family. During the weekend we had a number of questions for the social workers but they were great – there was always somebody at the end of the phone. How are you supported? The support here is excellent. Any issues

get sorted quickly and we’ve found the whole British Forces Cyprus community really supportive and our friends have been incredible too. We’ve been able to maintain stability for the young people in our care and they’ve been able to remain in school and take part in their regular clubs and activities as normal. In what can be a very scary time, this makes the transition for them so much easier. Would you recommend the fostering experience in Cyprus? Absolutely. It’s been a positive experience for us and our own children. They have been really caring to the young people we’ve looked after – read stories, played games and been helpful. Having boys in our house has been a learning curve for us all, but we have loved every minute of it. If you’re currently or are due to be posted to Cyprus and are interested in fostering, email contactuscyprus@forcessocialwork.com

ALL CHANGE FOR CARERS IN CYPRUS Polaris Children’s Services took over the contract for social work and welfare services for the forces community in Cyprus earlier this year. For families who use the service, the key message is ‘it’s business as usual’, with the current social work and support

services still available through the same qualified and experienced staff. Polaris has already provided social work services for military communities in Germany and across the world. They have a great website where you can find out more – forcessocialwork.com winter 2020 Army&You 39

From pad brat to Cheshire housewife Model-turned-reality TV star Tanya Bardsley talks exclusively to Army&You about her patch past and why she doesn’t take exception to being a ‘wife of’...


ATTERICK may lack the expansive estates and exquisite homes that Tanya Bardsley has grown accustomed to as a resident of one of the UK’s most affluent areas, but The Real Housewives of Cheshire star insists the garrison town – and patch life in general – holds a special place in her heart. A former “pad brat”, the model spent her childhood living behind the wire and credits the experience of following the flag, alongside her mum and sister, with arming her with the skills to succeed in business. “Living on camp was all I ever knew and, as I went to military schools, it was the same for all of my friends,” the boutique owner and life coach told Army&You, explaining how her father Steve signed up for service as a 16-year-old and climbed the ranks of the Royal Logistic Corps before retiring as a major.

“I do believe my army background helped me a lot because it gave me great social skills – an ability to go into almost any social situation and get on with people.”

Life lessons

“I was three weeks old when we moved to Germany and I only really became aware that my upbringing was different to others

when we moved to Abingdon from Munster and went to my first school that wasn’t on an army base. “I remember my sister and I wearing matching dresses and looking under the car for IRA bombs and that was normal for us. We used to race to the car to see who could be the first to check and turned the whole thing into a game. “I loved patch life though – we never lived without and were all good kids,” Tanya added. “Our mums and dads all had an army mentality and were quite strict with us – I had never heard a swear word until we moved back to the UK, which is probably why I swear so much now! “Even though it was hard leaving friends and uprooting, being part of a military family is character building. I do believe my army background helped me a lot because it gave me great social skills – an ability to go into almost any social situation and get on with people – and it teaches you to adapt to any changes in life. “My hard work ethic has also come from the army. Since the age of 13 dad would go out and get me work and he even had me ‘pan bashing’ in a RMP station.”

Set on civvy street

Munster memories 40 Army&You winter 2020

Despite valuing its lessons and the immense pride she has for her father, who continues to work as a personnel recovery officer and was awarded an MBE for his support of injured servicemen and women, Tanya is adamant an army career was never on her agenda. “God, no, I can’t do the running and stuff,” laughed the mother of four when quizzed by Army&You about the prospect of swapping luxury labels for a uniform. “There’s no way I could leave my family for six months at a time and I’m not even a fifth as brave as our soldiers.” And although Tanya has not followed in her mother’s footsteps either, in respect @ArmyandYou


42 Army&You winter 2020


“The show is not scripted at all; they are all Looney Tunes. The programme has been cast really well – they go and get the strongest, loudest gobs in the area, put us all together and watch it explode.” of marrying a soldier, her choice of partner has seen her pick up the “wife of” tag bemoaned by many service spouses. As husband Phil is a professional footballer, currently plying his trade at Burnley following spells with Stoke, Sunderland and Manchester United, she is often referred to in the media as a WAG. “It doesn’t bother me,” the 39-year-old said. “Some WAGs hate being called WAGs but I’m just glad someone married me! I know my mum is proud to have been an army wife and, as secure and confident women, we both know there is a lot more to us than just being a wife. “I didn’t really know much about football before meeting Phil and I still don’t know the offside rule. He saw me on the front cover of a magazine, tracked my number down and I told him to F-off for three years, but God loves a trier and here we are now. “Phil is in awe of my dad and everything he has done and says if he wasn’t a footballer he would have been in the army – but he would definitely have been kicked out; he gets a yellow card nearly every game.”

“I have loved every minute of being part of the programme but there is a lot of hard work involved,” Tanya added. “It’s not as hard as being at that RMP station bashing pans, although in some ways it is because sometimes I’d rather be cleaning one of those pans than arguing with one of the girls. “The show is not scripted at all; they are all Looney Tunes. “The programme has been cast really well – they go and get the strongest, loudest gobs in the area, put us all together and watch it explode.”

A Cheshire shoulder to lean on

While on-screen hostilities are undoubtedly key to the show’s significant draw, Tanya confided to there being a military-style camaraderie between the protagonists when the cameras stop rolling. “A few of us are close friends off screen and, even if we can’t stand each other some days, if one of us is ill, a family member gets sick or someone is in trouble, then we do all pull together.” Tanya is keen to offer such support to her childhood community and, COVID-19 permitting, told Army&You about her willingness to meet with the wives and girlfriends of soldiers in order to share her own experiences or simply chat. “I joined The Real Housewives of Cheshire to share some of my positive thinking and self-help techniques,” she concluded. “My passion is helping other women and having been through depression and anxiety I have some tips that army mums and wives might benefit from.”

Screen siren

Given the huge popularity of The Real Housewives of Cheshire, which debuted in 2015 and has just returned to screens for its twelfth season, Tanya was also quick to highlight that the tables are often turned on her Scotland international. The ever-present star of the hit ITV show said: “Phil always moans that people go up to him and say ‘oh, you’re Tanya Bardsley’s husband’. “He is completely supportive of my TV career – he was a bit unsure at first because he didn’t know what it was all about but he loves it.” The defender is not alone in his appraisal of the long-running reality programme, which has attracted huge viewing audiences with its compulsive blend of glamorous cocktail parties and heated arguments. www.armyandyou.co.uk

winter 2020 Army&You 43



Army&You is made possible by the loyal backing of a number of forces-friendly businesses. We salute each organisation below for their support of the services and ask readers to show them their support in return.


Teachers with over 20 years experience. Call Michelle on 0756 431 7500.


FOR YOUR GARDEN FOR LEGAL SUPPORT Accident Helpline UK // accidentclaims.co.uk We’ve helped many personal injury victims get the compensation they deserve. Over 30 years of experience, all of our claims are No Win, No Fee.

Legal Expert // legalexpert.co.uk We provide our clients with comprehensive legal advice on a variety of legal matters. We’ll answer all of your questions without any legal jargon.

Legal Helpline // legalhelpline.co.uk Legal Helpline helps to cut through the legal jargon and provide free legal advice from high quality legal professionals with many years of experience.

Medical Negligence Assist // medicalnegligenceassist.co.uk Our clinical medical negligence solicitors are trained and qualified to the highest degree and can assist you on any aspect regarding a medical neglect case.

Advice.co.uk // advice.co.uk With over 30 years’ experience as personal injury specialists, we’ve an excellent reputation in our field and a success rate we are proud of.

Danspeed Garden Maintenance // danspeedgardening.com Lawn mowing, tree & shrub pruning, planting, fence repairs, landscaping. Bee swarms removed and rehomed. Eco friendly. £10 forces and 999 responders discount. Based in Aldershot.

FOR YOUR HOME Excel Plumbing Supplies Ltd // excelplumbingsupplies.co.uk Excel supply a vast range of bathroom and shower products at competitively discounted prices for all Army&You readers – from a single tap to a whole bathroom.

FOR YOUR MIND Counselling can help identify solutions to specific work or personal issues by providing clarity and insight in a nonjudgemental, confidential space. 10% Forces Discount.


We provide comfortable accommodation in the Aldershot area, with an 8% discount for the Forces! Military precision cleaning all done for you!

Middletons Solicitors // middletonssolicitors.co.uk Local solicitors for all your legal needs. Proud to support the Armed Forces with military discounts available. Please call us on 01985 214444.



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Lok’nStore Self Storage // loknstore.co.uk/self-storage/aldershot Lok’nStore – Ash Road , Aldershot – offers secure storage units. First 8 weeks at half price + 20% discount forever for members of the British Armed Forces.

FOR YOUR FAMILY’S EDUCATION MagiKats Tuition Centres // magikats.co.uk MagiKats Tuition: Maths, English, Reasoning: all ages and abilities can study locally or remotely to achieve their full potential school/exam success. Individual learning without limits!

M & D Educational Consultants for Students // manddtuition.co.uk 1-1 and small group tuition in: Mathematics, Physics, Further Mathematics, Statistics and Engineering.

44 Army&You winter 2020

FOR YOUR MONEY L J Rose Accounting // ljroseaccounting.co.uk We offer accountancy services for all aspects of self assessment and company accounts. We offer a 10% discount for all military personnel and their families.

DORSET FOR YOUR FURRY FRIENDS Friars Moor Veterinary Clinic is a professional, dedicated and friendly team providing excellent care in the best interests of you and your pets. 24 hour out of hours service with our own vets at the Sturminster Newton branch.

SALISBURY FOR MORTGAGE ADVICE Spire Mortgages Limited // spiremortgagesltd.co.uk

FOR BRIGHTENING ANY OCCASION Email: Jenny@yourstrulyflowers.co.uk / Phone: 01252 757 121. Weddings, Events, Sympathy or Corporate. Local deliveries from award winning florist. 10% discount when mentioning Army&You magazine.

Luxury doggy daycare in a custom built facility, oodles of games, interaction and socialisation. 10% off standard rates for military personnel. #wheredoggydreamscometrue

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FOR A PLACE TO STAY Helga’s Homes // helgashomes.co.uk

Colchester Canine Creche // colchestercaninecreche.co.uk // facebook.com/colchestercanine

Sentience Counselling // sentiencecounselling.co.uk




Personalised will writing service at highly competitive prices. Lasting Powers of Attorney and probate. Appointments available locally/on-line Zoom. Initial appointment totally free of charge.


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Specialists in mortgages & protection. First time buyers, home movers or looking for a better deal, we’ll find the right mortgage to suit your needs.

FOR YOUR DEAR DEPARTED Just Cremation Funeral Directors // justcremation.co.uk With a caring personal approach, our low cost, fixed funeral packages represent excellent value for money. Packages start from £925.


Established over 10 years, we can carry out all your home, commercial and holiday home cleaning requirements.


Perspective Blinds // perspective-blinds.co.uk

Top York florists specialising in weddings,funerals and fantastic fresh bouquets. Collection or delivery. Same day delivery available. Plants and planters also available. Tel 01904849495.

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S. Anselm's School and College Bakewell


PLACES AVAILABLE FOR FULL OR WEEKLY BOARDERS Nestled in the heart of the stunning National Peak Park, S. Anselm's provides a first class education to pupils aged 3-16. Our children benefit from a wide curriculum; from maths to music, sport to English and science to art. Pupils also enjoy a range of clubs, school trips and house competitions; and pastoral care remains our priority. Always.

We have recently launched our 20:20 Vision, which includes generous concessions for Armed Forces families. To discover more, call us today on: 01629 812734 or email admissions@anselms.co.uk S. Anselm's is included on the MOD Accredited Schools Database



Alongside AFF, there are many organisations which have the best interests of service children at their core. We often collaborate with them to share your concerns and issues, working to improve the lives of service children, no matter what age. Here, AFF’S education & childcare specialist, Anna Hutchinson, highlights some of the fantastic organisations that are there for you…



If you’ve ever contacted the Children’s Education and Advisory Service (CEAS) you’ll know that they have a wealth of information on service children’s education. Their staff offer professional advice, support and guidance and can help you with: l Rights and responsibilities for parents and children l Special educational needs and disability/additional needs l School admissions and appeals l Overseas education and educational clearance in nonMOD school locations l Retention of SFA for educational purposes l Continuity of Education Allowance. Search CEAS at gov.uk for more details.

The SCiP Alliance is a UK-wide organisation for all those working to help your children thrive through their education journeys, including AFF. Through its network, research, practical projects and events, hundreds of people from schools, colleges, universities, charities, local authorities and other partners collaborate to grow the scale and quality of support for service children. The Alliance, hosted by the University of Winchester and supported by the MOD, provides online resources for educators at scipalliance.org



In some areas, you may find that individual or groups of schools are able to fund specific support for military families. The Parent Support Service, for example, has been in place for The Wavell cluster of schools in Hampshire for more than ten years. The team of two, Linda Parry and Kate Wakeford, offer early intervention if you’re looking for support and advice around parenting strategies, behaviour management, debt, family relationships such as separation and/or deployment. Plus issues around education such as attendance, lateness, and supporting good mental health. They run the Triple P (Positive Parenting Programme) and Henry (Healthy Eating and Nutrition for the Young) and also deliver workshops on problem solving, anxiety and friendships. After taking part in one of the workshops, one military spouse says: “Our home has become calmer and a more positive environment to be in. The children have clear boundaries, we have strategies and both the children responded to them amazingly.” Linda adds: “Every day is a new day, a new challenge, and we have to be flexible to meet family needs. “During lockdown we’ve offered telephone and video support and we have one-to-one support in our new office, which offers safe distancing.”

46 Army&You winter 2020

SCOTLAND’S SILVER SERVICE If you’re north of the border, RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity has a range of support services that can help forces children and young people to reach their full potential in education, with their wellbeing and wider life. Its Family Support Programme offers families a listening ear, advice and financial support, and its Youth Participation Programme supports young people to grow in confidence, develop their skills and have their say about decisions, policies and services that affect them – rcet.org.uk

THE BEST IN WALES SSCE Cymru’s mission is to provide the best educational support to your children if you’re living in Wales. How? By gathering knowledge and evidence, producing resources, co-ordinating activities, and supporting policy and systems. Its website provides information and resources for schools, education settings, local authorities and service families. Plus, it’s just appointed four regional school liaison officers – more on page 13. SSCECymru.co.uk @ArmyandYou



Charity Little Troopers recognises that growing up as a military child comes with its challenges – being regularly separated from a serving parent, and frequently moving home and school. It provides resources to help your children during these times. Take a look at its free secondary school wellbeing course and resource pack, as well as ‘Little Troopers Letters’, a free writing pack to encourage your youngster to keep in touch with old friends – littletroopers.net

Regular Army&You readers will already be familiar with Reading Force, the fun, free way to strengthen bonds and improve communication through shared experiences of books. It can help in a variety of circumstances whether a family is at home together, has recently moved home and school, or is separated by deployment or training. The charity has recently seen a massive increase in demand due to COVID-19 too, with many locked down families finding that Reading Force is a great way to stay connected. See page 64 for our book club reviews and find out more at readingforce.org.uk

TALK TO US AFF’s education & childcare specialist, Anna Hutchinson, can help you with a wide range of issues and works with many different organisations, including policy makers, schools and local authorities, to highlight issues for your children and change things for the better. If you have a concern or question, check our education webpages at aff.org.uk or get in touch with Anna – ec@aff.org.uk

Girls and Boys from 3 to 18 years Day • Boarding • Forces Bursaries available

“By the time they leave school, pupils are very well prepared and positive about meeting the challenges of the next stage of their lives” Recent Independent School Inspectorate

Wycliffe College, Gloucestershire, +44 (0)1453 822432 wycliffe.co.uk WYC/040 Half page Advert 2.indd www.armyandyou.co.uk


winter 2020 06/11/2020 Army&You08:24 47

every day is an open day at chafyn grove school call 01722 333423 to book a tour

“My three children skip into school daily, a testament to the genuinely caring staff who work tirelessly to create an excellent learning environment that rewards curiosity and kindness, and celebrates individual effort and achievement. “ Major - The Wallops excellent co-educational day & boarding school from ages 3 - 13 IN SALISBURY. www.chafyngrove.co.uk

B O O K T O D AY ‘Boarding lies at the heart of this Somerset school’ - TATLER SCHOOLS GUIDE

48 Army&You winter 2020


SCHOOL REPORT: ATTENBOROUGH Name of school: Attenborough School Location: Sennelager, Germany Number of pupils: 61 – with more coming in 2021 School motto: ‘We care’ How do you help service children settle in? We care about all new arrivals to our Attenborough family and are acutely aware of the importance of families settling quickly in our unique location. New families meet with our senior leaders and teachers, enjoy a tour of the school and face-toface discussions about our ethos and curriculum. Children meet with their teachers and classmates on day one, so that they’re immediately made to feel part of our happy team. What practical support do you give service pupils? We use a buddy system once pupils begin their education with us along with daily communication with parents through our ‘open door’ policy and communication platforms. Our Emotional Literacy Support Assistants are very adept at identifying children who may be struggling with their transition and implement interventions, in collaboration with class teachers and parents, to ensure that any early worries are addressed. Even if arriving children don’t remember all that’s said to them in their first few days or weeks, our aim is that they’ll always remember how we made them feel. How does the school link with the military? We have very close links with the units that we serve here in Sennelager. Our garrison commander

and chair of our school governors’ committee, Lt Col Danny Wild, is very supportive and his connection with all units really does benefit our school community massively. Several service personnel are very active in supporting the school through initiatives such as ground force days or sport competitions. We’re also in talks with our unit contacts to support future outdoor education programmes in the Harz mountains that will hopefully utilise the many skills that our engineers can offer to our children, such as bridge building or outward-bound type activities. Future plans? A year on from our re-birth, we have an enormous sense of achievement. Although some things have been delayed due to coronavirus, we’re hugely optimistic for our future. We’re in a very good place developmentally and levels of motivation are extremely high in teaching, support staff and pupils and, as a result there’s a real sense of purpose. For the days ahead, we’re all committed to going further together and rising as one, based on our care for each other, our learning, and our school. What do the parents think? “Attenborough School has been great at keeping us in close contact as to targets and strategies put in place for our children. Our boys have settled quickly and love coming to school, which is a true credit to all members of staff,” says parent Kirsty Roy.

Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support service children? Would you like your school to feature in the future? Contact Army&You for details by emailing deped@aff.org.uk


winter 2020 Army&You 49



This issue we explore the importance of libraries and literary resources to learning... DUKE OF YORK’S ROYAL MILITARY SCHOOL epitomised how


of discovering a new author who

important a resource a

speaks the student’s language, who

good school library is to academic

understands the angsts and joys of

and pastoral achievement when

growing up, who can take you to

he said “the only thing that you

another world or another time, or

absolutely have to know, is the

who can aspire you to see things

location of the library”, writes


LBERT Einstein

the Duke of York’s Royal Military

l Reading for pleasure – the joy

l Research – many of our

School librarian Stephen King.

students will go onto university or

In my opinion, school libraries

other further or higher education

should fulfil at least four functions: l Reading for purpose –


establishments. Becoming comfortable with how a library

go that is calm and relatively

As the author Neil Gaiman said:

reading to support the curriculum

works, how to access information

quiet, with staff who can offer a

“Google can bring you back

in every subject – not just English

effectively, whether printed or

sympathetic, listening ear can be a

100,000 answers, a librarian can

and the Humanities, but Sciences,

digital, is increasingly becoming a

benefit to students of all ages.

bring you back the right one.”

Social Sciences and more practical

vital life skill for future academic

At the Duke of York’s Royal

areas. Reading “around the topic”


While Kindles and other e-readers

Military School, students are issued

have transformed reading habits

their own laptops which meant

– I wouldn’t be without mine –

enables students to have a deeper

l A safe haven – particularly in

understanding of background and

a Boarding School, the knowledge

lessons continued online throughout

browsing, exploration, discovering


that there is always a place to

the recent COVID-19 lockdown.

the unexpected, and the sheer joy

Students were sent regular updates

of picking a book off the shelf, not

on a variety of reading promotions,

knowing where it will lead you, are

links to a number of websites

traits that libraries will continue

offering free e-book resources, new

to promote. It is interesting that

reading lists and suggestions of

the sales of traditional paper books

author’s websites with which to

continue to rise, while the use of

engage and enjoy.

e-books seems to have plateaued. Nowhere is this trend more

How well used are the school’s

significant than in children’s and


Young Adult literature.

All Year 7, 8 & 9 students have fortnightly timetabled library

What constitutes a good

lessons in conjunction with the


English department, and all

Our fiction is arranged by age

students are encouraged to have

suitability and genre (Adventure,

a ‘personal reading book’. As the

Horror, Romance and Humour

librarian, I promote particular

are particularly strong). We carry

authors and books that I feel may

a good range of Manga and other

be of individual interest, and we

graphic novels, quick reads, and

try to have at least one author

our Young Adult (Year 9 upwards)

visit each year. All students are

section is now well-established,

encouraged to visit during breaks,

along with Senior Fiction and the

lunch, after lessons, and on


Sundays – the library is open 52

The non-fiction section

hours per week. The annual Book

concentrates on curriculum

Fair gives students the opportunity

support, leisure interests – the

to browse and purchase the latest

Minecraft instruction manuals are

titles from over 200 items, many of

popular with our younger students

them special editions.

– and has a particular emphasis on military, regimental and School

50 Army&You winter 2020

What threat does the internet

history. Currently, the library holds

pose to traditional school

a little over 12,000 items, with more


than 10 per cent rotated each year.





EGULAR reading is

it visits. I’ve found this generates a

hugely beneficial to

huge enthusiasm for learning as the

children, both in terms

pupils can relate to all the topics we

of their overall wellbeing and

cover. This term, courtesy of The

their academic progression,

Explorer, we are learning about the

writes Francesca Wernham,

Amazon jungle and survival.

an English & Drama Teacher

With all the benefits that regular

at Salisbury Cathedral School,

reading delivers, I’m often asked

offering a view from the Prep

by parents how to encourage their


children to read more. To this I say:

Most obviously reading a

model it.

traditional book is an enriching

If we have quiet reading time in

experience that can draw a child

class, I always read too – I’d never

away from the temptation of

use the time to check my emails or

screen-based entertainment.

thoughts and ideas of a pupil who

that each book we choose to focus

catch up on other jobs. They need

Reading is also naturally mindful.

reads a lot as they will have dipped

the children’s learning around

to see me reading and know it’s a

Once engaged in a story-teller’s

into all sorts of places and periods

features a few of our school’s core

pastime I love. I set homework that

written adventures a child is

of history via their books.

values. For example, this term

encourages children to read books of

we have chosen The Explorer by

their own choice outside of school.

uplifted into a quiet world. A place

Here at Salisbury Cathedral

without the worries or distractions

School we position regular

Katherine Rundell, which is helping

This not only expands their reading

of everyday life.

reading of outstanding children’s

our year 5 children understand the

reach but also helps them develop a

literature right at the heart of

importance of: discovery, resilience

literary taste.

we find the avid readers within

our curriculum. I research a new

and thinking.

our classes tend to have better

central text for each term by

vocabulary and are more able to

looking at new releases, relevant

the hook for much of the pupil’s

interesting authors, but a child who

articulate complex ideas clearly

reviews and reading the main

learning that term. We learn about

reads what they love will always

in both their writing and speech.

contenders myself. One of the main

the people in the book, we consider

read more than one not involved in

It’s always interesting to hear the

considerations for me is to ensure

the time of the story and the places

the selection of their books.

In terms of academic progression,

The central text then becomes

Parents can always guide their children toward varied and



COVID’S effect on public libraries and the closure of municipal buildings means that now, more than ever, schools are filling the gap.

top scholarly journals and a host of other sources and collections. The school’s subscriptions to magazines such as the Economist and newspapers such as The Times and Financial Times have also gone

At Gordon’s, in West End, Surrey the century old Simmons Library

online. Google Scholar and DOAJ

continues to fulfil a vital function in

(Directory of Open Access Journals),

the school with books for every year

covering all scientific and scholarly

group, both reference and reading

subjects, are also available and

for pleasure. However, since

students learn how to use these

lockdown its role has evolved to accommodate users both in school

resources through library staff. The library has long been an

the freedom to study a topic of their

and those working and studying

important part of the life of the

choice in depth and produce a final

become a Sixth Form ‘study hub’.


school and reading books is a


Students studying for their A Levels

Reading as a pastime or for

shared enjoyment by staff and

While many use the library’s

The school’s library has also

can use it every evening until 9pm

research is actively encouraged

students with teaching staff

reference and fictional books, for

and at weekends. The peaceful,

throughout the school. A

displaying a board outside their

those who were away from the

quiet surroundings have proved a

Department for Education report

classrooms and offices with

school during lockdown in the last

popular choice for many of them

in 2012 on ‘Research Evidence for

information on the book they are

academic year and who may be

who find it a welcome alternative to

Reading for Pleasure’ found that in

currently reading.

isolating, there is a vast range of

their study rooms.

particular reading for pleasure in

Students coming into the school

online resources available which

Gordon’s librarian Tim Coyle says:

teenage years has a real effect on

in Years 7, 8 and 9 spend regular

students can download straight to

“I am delighted to see the library

the life chances of young people. It

amounts of their English lesson

their iPads or Kindles.

space being so well used for such a

has also been linked to higher exam

time in the library and older years

attainment and is more important

such as Sixth Formers use the space

a digital library of academic

all the age groups, reinforcing

for exam success than parents’

for their EPQ (Extended Project

content. As well as stocking 90,000

my belief that the library is the

socio-economic background.

Qualification). The EPQ gives them

e-books, it offers more than 2,600

academic heart of the school.”


All students can access JSTOR,

wide range of purposes, throughout

winter 2020 Army&You 51

FARLEIGH SCHOOL WE ARE fortunate at Farleigh that reading a book of their choice is a core part of every child’s schooling for at least half an hour, every day, writes Dianne Rawlings, Librarian and Head of Scholars.


world of reading is not one that younger people recognise as a negative. Text can be

easily extended or decreased, as necessary. Our Accelerated Reader online programme

changed, grown and shrunk to suit the reader.

has been instrumental in driving forward the

Illustrations are just as beautiful. Backgrounds

children’s reading, as it helps us set visible and

can be made easier on the eye. Your place is kept.

trackable pace for each reader. The children love

Notes can be made and found again by searching

to see their own progress and realise how far

even our own, is changing. Searching through

later. Interactive links can be included and

they have come and how much they have read!

a library or turning the pages of our favourite

information updated.

However, the role and nature of the library,

books remain an important part of life.

Digital libraries also play a vital role in helping

Up to Year 4, where experiencing the layout

to close the attainment gap. Children living in

Nevertheless, we must embrace the fact that

and touch of well-illustrated books is essential,

poverty unsurprisingly make up the majority

digital libraries have become really instrumental

physical books still reign supreme. However,

of those in the UK who are not meeting the

to a modern education.

from as young as Year 1 onwards we are using

expected standard.

During the coronavirus lockdown, for the first time ever, Farleigh spent more of the budget on digital libraries than on paper books. It turned

digital books as a reading medium, and we are teaching the technology that supports it. Further up the school, the children are

Improving their literacy and ensuring they have free access to tools and materials that help them achieve their full potential is critical in

out to be a good investment. We were grateful,

reading on digital platforms more and more.

helping them escape that trap. Now, wherever

when the children could not access the building,

The Year 8s have, for instance, loved the fact

they are, if they can access a tablet or a computer,

that we had already set up and introduced the

that their favourite requests can be ordered

that is possible.

children to systems which enabled easy access to

instantaneously, and that while borrowing still

a well-stocked digital library.

works like a conventional library, the whole

the hands and harness its incredible potential,

process is easier to administrate. Copies can

enabling all our children to achieve a good level

always be located and borrowing times can be

of literacy and a full education.

New generations will read less and less on paper and more and more online. The digital

BISHOP’S STORTFORD COLLEGE BASED on the outskirts of a picturesque market town, Bishop’s Stortford College is one of the UK’s top performing independent co-educational day and boarding schools for 4-18 year olds.

that nurtures a love of reading and learning with a wide selection of books and media that encourage discussion and interaction. The Prep School Library, opened in November

We have a duty to take the digital library by


quiz, as well as book groups for staff and pupils. Bishop’s Stortford College also hosts an annual Festival of Literature. Established in 2009, it includes an impressive line-up of

2013, is one of the busiest and most vibrant

literary luminaries for the College community,

places in the Prep School: colourful displays, an

local schools and members of the public to

enough to provide an exceptional range of

extensive range of books, multimedia resources

enjoy. The Festival aims to fuel a passion for,

opportunities, whilst each part is small enough

to support teaching and learning and an outside

and celebrate, all things literary for every age

for pupils to be known, valued and nurtured

story garden enhance the space. Pupils have

group. Each year the Festival boasts a variety of

as individuals. The infectious enthusiasm,

unlimited access during break and lunchtimes

authors, poets, wordsmiths and illustrators with

imagination and dedication of College staff,

as well as one scheduled lesson a week for

recent speakers including Shaun Wallace, Saira

in partnership with parents, enables pupils

each class. Book clubs for three different age

Hamilton, Philip Reeve and Jackie Morris.

to grow into happy, well-rounded, skilful and

groups are held regularly throughout the term;

caring young people equipped and ready for the

attendance is high and discussions are lively and

some of the most important places on campus

adventures and opportunities life has to offer.

informed. Author visits are also very much part

and enable pupils to not only let their creativity

Breadth of experience is woven into daily

of the Library programme, with recent visitors

and imaginations flow, but also to build their

life. Pupils can, and do, pursue high academic

including Marcus Alexander, Julian Clary, Lucy

confidence in independent learning and study

standards whilst enjoying and succeeding, in

Saxon and Michael Morpurgo. Several Library

as they transition from the Pre-Prep, to the Prep

many other interests. Every pupil is encouraged,

events also take place throughout the year in

School and finally into Senior School.

taught and challenged to fulfil his or her true

which pupils are invited to participate including

potential, by being immersed in an environment

the Cross-Curricular Challenge, Curiosity Club,

of discovery and wholehearted participation.

Reading Challenges and multiple celebrations for

Teachers strive to allow time and space for

annual events such as National Poetry Day and

academic work to be balanced by sport, music,

World Book Day.

As three schools in one, the College is large

drama, and a diverse choice of other activities

In the Senior School Library, pupils have

including adventure sports like scuba diving

access to over 13,000 academic and fiction

and canoeing, service to the community and

books, audiobooks, DVDs and archives, as well

opportunities for leadership. The College also

as newspapers and periodicals. Here, pupils

nurtures an appreciation and love of creativity

can choose to read for leisure, complete prep or

that often remains with pupils for the rest of

carry out individual or group research which

their lives.

all contribute to building their confidence in

The three College libraries; in the Pre-Prep, Prep School and Senior School, are wonderful

independent learning. The Library is also home to annual Senior

resources for pupils’ creativity and learning to

School inter-House competitions such as

flourish. Each encompasses an environment

Debating and Brain’s Trust, a general knowledge

52 Army&You winter 2020

At Bishop’s Stortford College the libraries are


WELLS CATHEDRAL SCHOOL TEACHING in the shadow of one of the great Medieval buildings in Europe, I hope I might be forgiven for allowing my thoughts to roam in the past from time to time, writes English teacher and house parent Andrew Sullivan. Wells Cathedral School is an inescapably


repositories of books. The need for a place which provides both time and space for independent work won’t change. In the classroom and more widely in students’ lives, some aspects of education are evolving, and that’s all for the good. When Wells Cathedral School was founded, students wrote on wax tablets; now we have returned to tablets, albeit electronic ones. In 2020 our modern experience of Pestilence has necessitated a rapid evolution of the nature of a ‘classroom’ - in many cases to gain a capital letter and a preceding proper noun in the

historical place, with more listed buildings

form of Google Classroom. The Forum of ancient Athens has become the

than you can shake a stick at and an

Virtual Learning Environment Forum upon which I might ask students

eccentric attachment to the number 909 (the year of the founding of the

to add comments for a homework task. Where students might once have

school and the name of our Thursday afternoon activities). But teaching is

relied upon their English teacher’s unfailing memory for, say, a quotation

about the present and future of the students, not the past of an institution,

from King Lear, said teacher might now (in one of my off-days) ask them to

so for all the excitement of having a Chained Library on our doorstep and

check the internet for the precise phrasing of an apposite line.

medieval gargoyles gurning down at us as we file in for Cathedral assembly

As long as sound pedagogical principles abide, there’s no reason not

on a Monday morning, when it comes to what happens in the classroom,

to allow technology to be as central in the classroom as it is in so many

the priorities at this 1,111 year old school are no different from that of a

other areas of a teenager’s life. So it is with the choice of literary texts to

school that has just opened: stimulate a love of learning and equip children

teach: texts will remain worthy of serious consideration, and of study, if

with the intellectual and emotional skills they need for later life.

they prove to be of continuing relevance whenever they are taught. Texts

As teachers of English Literature, we have to strike a balance between

encountered in class and in wider reading habits will remain of the utmost

promoting and celebrating our literary heritage and at the same time

value if, whatever the age or culture they first sprang from, they encourage

presenting the subject as a dynamic, responsive discipline which is

our students of today to respond in a personal and considered way to the

entirely rooted in the modern world. Where universities have led,

world around them.

exam boards have followed: specifications allow for, and in most cases

It is the English teacher’s job to ensure that, however much he or she may

positively encourage, exam text choices which embrace and celebrate the

get enjoyably lost in the past from time to time, the way in which literary

richness of contemporary literature alongside a fair representation of

texts are approached makes the experience continually new and relevant.

works from the past half-millenium.

It’s an exciting challenge.

Reading for exams is one thing; self-directed reading is another. All praise, then, for the many schools which have managed to keep libraries open, well-stocked, staffed by well-qualified librarians and central to the academic provision of a school. We are fortunate at Wells to have just such

Outstanding hammock made by Albie (aged 16)

a library; in the Fiction section alone, the shelves heave with an enticing range of titles, beautifully presented in our old stable block, the range judiciously balanced between classics which have stood the test of time and bang-up-to-date titles from, say, the most recent shortlists for the Carnegie Award (for Young Adult fiction) and the Booker Prize (for Adult). Such a library makes it so much easier for us to promote strong wider reading habits for our students. But is a library still a justifiable use of school funding in an age where students have the potential and the distraction of the internet so readily at their disposal? I would argue, passionately, that it is. Firstly, I’m a big believer (surprise, surprise) in the incomparable value of reading a book not a website, not a forum posting, but a book; to have a library as a source of an incredible range of books, to showcase what is available to students is a rich and wonderful privilege. Secondly, I believe that the independent research skills which will equip students best with the tools they need to manage and navigate the bewildering range of information available to them are best taught, and practised, in a dedicated space free of subject affiliation. I might also mention that I have yet to find a better place than a library for that soft and gentle cocooning which allows and encourages students to seal themselves off from the rest of the world, hopefully even turning their phone off and closing their laptop, and engage in truly independent reading. This is not to say that electronic devices have no place in a library. Far from it. The use of the library as a space for independent research makes

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a powerful argument for it to be as connected as possible. School libraries,

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in common with other libraries, have benefited from the technological advances of recent decades precisely because they have proved themselves to be evolving spaces, where the advantages of electronic sources of

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information have been allied with the traditional benefits of libraries as


winter 2020 Army&You 53


Schools and colleges share details of their continued efforts to curb the virus BROOKE HOUSE COLLEGE THE COVID-19 pandemic has caused many and varied challenges to schools across the world, but for those schools operating an international school with boarders from many countries – Brooke House College has pupils from 58 – the challenges have been enormous, writes Principal Mike Oliver. We prepared an extremely comprehensive risk



teaching and learning for lessons delivered directly to pupils via Zoom and other platforms. We have used Show my Homework to send out work and receive it, minimising possible transfer of the virus from the usual exercise books and file paper. We now run a blended teaching programme with the use of cameras or recordings of lessons since those who have

AS we approach the end of a year that has been overshadowed by a global pandemic, leading to lives being punctuated with uncertainty, it is more important than ever to provide a safe, supportive and calm environment for our boarding students. The safety, health and wellbeing of our

assessment in readiness for our pupils to return

returned need to be taught at their regular

pupils and staff is our top priority. We are

this September and took on board the COVID-

timetabled slot. In essence, we have pretty much

being guided by the UK Government and

safe Charter produced by the Boarding Schools’

done whatever it has taken to get operational.

advice given by Public Health England.

It has worked so far and our parents have

In addition, we are working closely with

Association (BSA). In addition to these steps, we have placed cleaning stations, sanitisers and

understood and accepted what we have provided.

the Boarding School Association (BSA),

social distance wall and floor markers all over

The questionnaire we sent out produced very

adhering to their COVID-safe Charter for

the school. The classrooms have been adjusted to

good satisfaction figures. Thankfully, seeing the

the management of our boarding pupils.

take into account social distancing and protocols

school back up and running has given previously

Measures include appropriate social

for face masks, desk cleaning and other safety

doubtful parents the confidence that all is safe

distancing and the provision of hand

features are all now part of our everyday life.

and well. All being well, come January 2021, those

sanitiser throughout the school, face

Furthermore, all returning pupils are only picked

still online will have returned, all new pupils

coverings worn by all persons when moving

up at the airport by our own staff in our vehicles

struggling for visas will have obtained them and

around the school and when social distancing

and brought to the college for quarantine. There

we will be back to something like we were prior

is not possible, regular hand washing by

is a test required for pupils to board their plane

to the lockdown.

pupils and staff, safe occupancy levels of all

in country, another five days into quarantine

We are remaining positive and have maintained

areas, creation of year group ‘bubbles’, clear

and another at the end of the 14-day quarantine

a constant feed of communication with our

and safe laundry procedures, and provision

period before pupils can re-join the whole school

parents, guardians and agents to reassure them

of an isolation area, should any pupil show

or at least their bubble. We have not yet had a

that all is well. Personal letters from the Principal,

symptoms or test positive for COVID-19.

single positive test.

e-mails and telephone calls allied to social media

We used IT extensively during lockdown for


have all been a part of our strategy.



WE were delighted to welcome back all our pupils, who found both practical and routine changes when they arrived. Some arrived earlier than others as we made provision for pupils arriving from overseas to quarantine if necessary and be ready for the start of term. The school has made significant investment in its IT infrastructure. This ensures that we can run lessons online concurrently with in-person lessons for those who may need to be absent for any reason. This ‘blended’ system will ensure learning can be accessed by all, including those not able to be with us on campus and allow us to respond to individual issues as well as any locally imposed restrictions for travel. We have implemented a strict routine of daily temperature checks for all staff, pupils and visitors; a regimented hygiene routine including handwashing; strict protocols for drop-off and pick-up for day pupils; whole year-group bubbles for boarding, sport, music and extra-curricular activities within which pupils will be able to socialise more freely; a oneway pedestrian system on campus; social distancing in lessons; regulated meal times and various other key measures to maintain distance and thus inhibit any possible transmission of COVID-19. A new timetable has been introduced to reduce movement around campus,

Recent announcements from both the Scottish and UK Governments detailing changes to Higher, GCSE and A Level Examinations next summer have led us to make changes to our term dates and holidays for the remainder

building in transition times between lessons. The beneficial effects of this are

of this academic year. Our prime focus is to ensure pupils remain safe, secure

being seen with a general air of calmness which has significantly increased

and in education as far as we can and these changes ensure our overseas

the effective contact time in lessons. There is also a revised games and

pupils can comply with quarantine restrictions and the whole school has

activities programme which follows each governing body’s regulations.

their time in class protected.

54 Army&You winter 2020




FOR 130 years Wycliffe has closely supported the British Armed Forces families in every part of school and home life from Nursery to Year 13 – ensuring stability, security and high-quality care in a childcentric and caring community. Today 33 per cent of its boarders are from forces families, with the youngest in Year 3 at the Prep School. Forces children can attend upwards of five different schools up to the age of 18. These moves can impact a child’s development – it may be tricky to form and maintain friendship groups; and gaps can develop in curriculum knowledge as topics are taught in different sequence in different schools. With a successful legacy of educating and caring for children from HM



ONE of the benefits of boarding is the balance between structured and unstructured time. Boarders learn how to get the best out of a routine, as well as how to fill the gaps most profitably. A good example at the moment, under the ‘new normal’, can be

Forces’ families, Wycliffe shares their pupils’ experience of being service

witnessed at break-times. Ordinarily all pupils have access to all the

children in a boarding school.

facilities – such as the bouldering wall or table-tennis tables – and they

Molly’s family were living overseas when she joined Wycliffe in Year 6. She liked the school immediately because of its manageable size and “everyone knew everyone else”.

get used sporadically. Under the new system, each peer group is using their area far more inventively and intensively than ever – with boarders taking the lead.

Some boarding schools are large, and children can feel anonymous. With 420 Senior pupils and 200 Prep pupils, every child feels like they and the children and staff know each other well. It is the perfect environment for pupils to build strong friendships over time with a strong sense of family. Ella, who joined in Year 4, achieved nine 9s and one 8 in her GCSEs in 2020 - one of Wycliffe’s highest performers. For Ella and her family, they wanted an education that offered a more “rounded” approach to education and that felt “kind”. Daniel, currently in the Sixth Form, having joined in Year 3 says: “I found

They have compensated for having less choice and freedom, by utilising what they do have better than before. Fixtures used to fill Saturday afternoons, but boarders are instinctively filling that newly blank canvas with structure and creativity. They have not lost the privilege of space, resources and friends, and are already practised in making the most of the opportunities those factors provide. “We’re in our family’s first year at Chafyn Grove Prep,” explained a military parent. “On arrival, our children received lots of support and

it hard to make friends in other schools previously. Here at Wycliffe,

encouragement from the staff to help them integrate smoothly. Within

everyone (the boarders) was in the same boat and I was happy. As I settled

weeks they were pleading us to let them board!

I started to enjoy my studies.”

“Being from a military family, they soon had their wish, and they were

That sense of Wycliffe community and care extends to the parents. The

thrilled with their new home and boarding family. It’s a superb setting

Wycliffe network of HM Forces parents is a close group in regular contact

for a first boarding experience – the accommodation is homely, spacious

with each other. Prep Parents who serve can join Wycliffe’s HM Forces’

and relaxed, and nothing’s too much for the lovely team of house staff

Parents’ Forum, which meet termly at the Prep School with the Head.

where the children’s well being is concerned.

Wycliffe’s outstanding facilities are set in the heart of the Cotswold

“We’ve been equally impressed with the teaching and pastoral

countryside. It is a safe and secure environment where children can enjoy

provision, and with the wide range of co-curricular experiences the

a sense of freedom and where there is space for them to grow. Wycliffe has

children have the chance to try. Above all, there is always a very happy

the added benefit of being well connected, being minutes away from the

atmosphere at this school; it is a close-knit and friendly community.”

railway with direct lines to London and close to the motorway.



FELICITY joined Forres

activities as possible. From Guides

for my sister, and we continue to

Sandle Manor (FSM) School

and art club, to weekend activities

socialise together so we still have

in Hampshire three years ago

such as zorbing and archery.

that sisterly-bond even though we

due to her army dad’s frequent

She admits that she is not a sporty

postings and is now Head Girl.

girl, but it does not matter as there

Moving from Yorkshire and the

aren’t in the same dorm.” The FSM Boarding staff are led

is always someone with similar

by Mrs Rowntree who lives on

family home to full boarding in

interests to her. “As a boarder I get

site with her husband and Year 4

Hampshire was quite a change – but

to do things that I wouldn’t be able

daughter. “Mrs Rowntree is like the

one that was made easier by the

to do if I was just a day pupil. For

bread-and-butter of Boarding. She

small size of the School meaning

example, our evening boarders’

is so fun and listens to our requests.

that you get to know everyone

quizzes and pool parties – it’s like

We like having a say on what we do,

quickly. Felicity explains that it

one massive sleepover!”

and our suggestions often happen!”

was daunting at first: “Being away

Regular contact with her parents

Felicity excitedly explains.

from my mum and dad was a little

via phone and email makes sure

scary, but I decided that I needed to

that she does not feel like she, or

your cuddly toys – yes, even the

Top tip from Felicity: Remember

think of it as rising to a challenge.

helped her get into the ‘boarding

they, miss out on anything. When

boys – and bring items for your

However, everyone was so friendly

groove’. Felicity has thrown

her little sister joined the School

pin-board. “It always makes you

that I soon felt settled.” Her mantra

herself into boarding life – taking

this year she was ready to help her

smile to see your things at the end

of ‘relax and just have fun’ probably

advantage of as many clubs and

settle in: “It was great to be here

of the day.”


winter 2020 Army&You 55



THE Pilgrims’ School in Winchester is the perfect place for boys from Reception to Year 8 to learn and grow up – to find their passions and nurture them, writes Head Dr Sarah Essex. In the awe-inspiring setting of ancient listed buildings nestled between Winchester Cathedral and Winchester College, you won’t find a ‘typical’ Pilgrims’ boy. It all happens here: from day to boarding, physics to music, drama to rugby, knitting to ecology, boxing to chess and so much more. There are so many opportunities; there really is no script.


In small classes with dedicated subject specialists, Pilgrims’ is a place of outstanding personalised learning and teaching. Boys leave Pilgrims’ for the country’s leading senior boarding schools, including Winchester College, Eton, Charterhouse, Radley, Marlborough, and Sherborne, as well as to top senior day schools. On average, over a third of our boys gain a scholarship or other award to their senior school including many academic and music scholarships and exhibitions. More importantly, all boys moved onto their senior schools with confidence having made excellent progress academically and pastorally. Uniquely, we are a double choir school with two professional choirs: the Winchester Cathedral Choristers and Winchester College Quiristers. However, music goes far beyond the 40 choristers. Singing, instrumental and orchestral music emanates from every open window, it seems, and is of an extraordinary standard. Our pastoral care is exemplary. Not only do we have a Deputy Head Pastoral, a Director of Well-being and a Lay Chaplain, we also have Heads of Year, form teachers and vertical tutor groups looking after not just the academic but also the pastoral life of the boys. In addition, we have a team of boarding house parents, nurses, and matrons working together to provide excellent care. At Pilgrims’, boys treat others in the way

SEE WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT Discover a vibrant world of learning in the heart of Winchester – and see how we’re adapting to a changing world. The Pilgrims’ School, Winchester Day and boarding for boys aged 4 to 13. www.thepilgrims-school.co.uk

they would like to be treated themselves – with kindness, thoughtfulness and politeness. This is a place of we, not I.

FREWEN COLLEGE FOLLOWING what has been a significantly challenging time for GCSE students and for teaching staff nationally, Frewen College students have once again achieved impressive results in their GCSE and equivalent courses, with a 100 per cent pass rate and with 79 per cent of all grades at 9-4. Principal of Frewen, Mr Nick Goodman, said: “This is a are fantastic achievement for the



FOUNDED in 627 AD, St Peter’s School, York, is the world’s fourth oldest school with a long history of top-class education. Today, it is a leading day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 2-18 and was named The Sunday Times North Independent Secondary School of the Year 2019. A fun, dynamic and forward-thinking

young people in our school. Even allowing for

approach to teaching inspires a lifelong love of

pupils to take advantage of the vast array of

the variation in top grades nationally, these

learning and older pupils consistently achieve

opportunities on offer at the School. A dedicated

are the best results ever.

some of the best exam results in the country.

junior Boarding House is available for children in

From Nursery to Sixth Form, children benefit

Years 7 and 8, and there are two girls’ Boarding

that the students have exceeded their CAT

from inspirational teachers, small class sizes,

Houses and two boys’ Boarding Houses for the

projections by an average of 1.3 grades, in

and fantastic resources. St Peter’s offers an

senior pupils.

spite of the fact that, when they joined us,

all-round education defined by an exceptional

most of them were well behind their peers

range of sporting, music, artistic and cultural

an enviable location just 10 minutes away from

in mainstream schools because of their

opportunities. There are over 80 different

the heart of historic York, whilst the School’s

dyslexia and related needs. This illustrates

co-curricular activities available, including

extensive 47-acre green campus on the banks of

how much progress students can achieve

debating, drama, journalism, community action,

the River Ouse provides plenty of space. With

between joining Frewen and completing

Duke of Edinburgh, and a thriving Combined

high-quality teaching, outstanding facilities

their GCSEs, and the difference the school

Cadet Force. Participation is key, with 15

and a nurturing community, St Peter’s is well-

has made for them through a combination

different sports played by 250 sports teams as

placed to offer an exceptional educational

of specialist provision by dyslexia-qualified

well as numerous music ensembles.

experience for children of Armed Forces

“It is a testament to the students and staff

teachers, small classes and excellent exam preparation.” frewencollege.co.uk

56 Army&You winter 2020

St Peter’s enjoys excellent transport links and

The School’s House system creates a happy,

personnel, equipping them with the keys for

vibrant and welcoming community, with the

a happy, successful and fulfilled life. A 10 per

option to board from Year 7. Boaders are at the

cent reduction in boarding fees is made for the

heart of life at St Peter’s, and boarding allows

children of those serving.





FFICIALLY and widely recognised as one of the best practices in the country, B P Collins’ solicitors are a proven source of support for your family’s legal needs. Although the same divorce laws apply regardless of whether you are a civilian or in the military, we do understand that having one or both spouses in the army may complicate things. For example, coming to an agreement on housing and child arrangements can be difficult if one partner is posted abroad. Military pensions can also be more complex and it is vital these are carefully considered before a financial settlement is reached. B P Collins’ expert family team has represented army service personnel and their families for many years, so are sensitive and experienced in the specific issues that can arise, including around surrogacy and fertility law. www.armyandyou.co.uk

B P Collins can help get your affairs in order One of the most important considerations is ensuring your loved ones are looked after and your affairs are in order if the worst should happen to you. A legallybinding Will can help, as it clearly sets out your wishes and intentions for your estate. If a Will isn’t made, the rules of intestacy will apply and your assets will be distributed in accordance with a strict order, which may not reflect your wishes. The importance of having a power of attorney in place cannot be stressed enough. It is a comforting “insurance” policy, as it enables you to appoint someone who you trust to deal with your affairs if you lose physical ability or mental capacity to manage your own affairs, due to injury or illness. B P Collins specialise in supporting service personnel BP Collins’ solicitors specialise in defending army service personnel

in all military legal proceedings that are carried out under the law of England and Wales. The firm’s expertise encompasses: court martial proceedings worldwide; summary hearings and trials; Service administration and disciplinary issues; and military police interviews. What makes B P Collins different? We understand facing an allegation of misconduct can be extremely stressful, particularly when your career or military record could be at risk. If you are facing an interview under caution, we will always be available to attend the interview either at your base or a civilian police station. To help alleviate your anxiety, we will obtain pre-interview disclosure before the interview; explain the information in a clear and concise way, help you to prepare, and be with you in the interview to safeguard your interests. We will also guide you through the whole

process and answer any questions you have after the interview. B P Collins is completely independent of the army and you will see the same solicitor from the start to the end of your case, with them involved every step of the way. B P Collins can represent you and your family on civilian criminal matters B P Collins can also assist army service personnel or their families who are facing civilian criminal allegations, including motoring offences and assault. B P Collins’ criminal team is happy to have an initial call to discuss any allegations raised. If you’d like to discuss your matter with B P Collins, you can contact James Constable around the clock on 07341 566327 or email james.constable@ bpcollins.co.uk. For further information on our expertise please visit bpcollins.co.uk winter 2020 Army&You 57

#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your army family. Follow @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories

Meet the Greenwood family: Sam, Hannah, Harry (7), Aubrey (4), and Monty, the Jack Russell. Sam was a soldier long before he met his wife of almost 11 years, so military life is all Hannah has known of married life...

I am extremely proud to call us a military family. Like everything in life, you get out of it what you put in, and I think it’s important to recognise the fantastic experiences being married to a soldier can bring you. I’ve had some wonderful opportunities, including seeing The Queen at Buckingham Palace garden parties. The hardest points have been when Sam has deployed to Afghanistan and it’s also been very

58 Army&You winter 2020

difficult during the last six months as he’s deployed abroad without any R&R due to COVID-19. It’s the longest continuous amount of time we’ve been apart, and we’ve missed him during these uncertain times. Where to put down roots We lived in army accommodation in Windsor for five years, and whilst life was good, I never felt quite at home as a Yorkshire lass down south. When Harry was two,

we made the decision to buy our own home back in Yorkshire in the village where I grew up. Although living married unaccompanied was hard, getting our foot on the property ladder and settling somewhere has been the best decision we ever made. Family support Harry was diagnosed with autism and epilepsy when I was pregnant with Aubrey, and without the support of my family and

friends at that time, I don’t know how I would have coped. Having our family close has also helped with childcare, allowing me the opportunity to go to university, where I’m now in my second year studying to be an occupational therapist. Advice to others Our advice to any new army family would be to try everything on offer with a positive attitude, regret nothing and always write your plans in pencil! & @ArmyandYou


A POSTCARD FROM... The Hurst family, Naomi, David (serving) and two-year-old Dorothy share a slice of their army life in South Asia…

How long have you been an army family? Nearly six years.

Time in India?

One year at the Defence Services Staff College, located three hours from the nearest city, at 2,000m, surrounded by tea plantations and eucalyptus forests in the Nilgiris Mountains in Tamil Nadu.

Are there any other military families there? There’s us and a Royal Navy and RAF family. There are lots of Indian military families and forty international officers, about half accompanied by their families including from Iran, Vietnam, Malaysia, South Korea and Bhutan.

What’s your quarter like?

It’s a large ground floor flat with

plenty of space and a lovely garden, however, it’s definitely not water-tight! The human waste drainage leaves a lot to be desired. When the weather is good it’s fine, but terrible in the monsoon. We have a lovely peach tree, but the monkey troop hasn’t let us near a single one! It sounds worse than it is, we love it.

school 45 minutes away in Ooty. There are no pre-school type activities, but the house has a live-in nanny/maid who is incredible. The Indian parenting style is very different, but the nanny has had many years of experience with British children.

Are there any employment opportunities?

Indians love to party, but they generally start around 10pm and go through to 4 or 5am! There’s generally always a festival at the weekend, which is a blessing and a curse. Many of the international families host parties on a national day. We hosted a Guy Fawkes’ night, which was great fun.

Unfortunately not. There are great sporting activities that are really cheap such as tennis, golf and equestrian lessons. Naomi went further afield to Mysore and qualified as a 500hour yoga instructor.

What about schools and childcare?

Dorothy is pre-school age, but there’s a great international

Where do army families get together?

Who supports families?

You’re very much out on a limb as the Defence Section and

British High Commission is a flight away in New Delhi. The support network between the international families is hugely important to share stories of daily challenges and victories!

What are the best things about living in India?

David: The mountains, food and every single day feeling like it’s a huge adventure. Naomi: Yoga, travel, food and the constant sensory overload. Dorothy: Monkeys, tigers, leopards and elephants.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?

Definitely. We’d make the same decision in a heartbeat. It isn’t for every family but if you have a genuine sense of adventure and can handle a little discomfort, then it’s fantastic. &

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

winter 2020 Army&You 59


Heaven scent


ARKETING consultant Sarah Hulyer (24) admits that moving to Northern Ireland from London proved a bit of a culture shock. Her biggest plus has been getting to know people and, with this in mind, she wanted to spread some joy across the community. Sarah spoke to AFF’s NI co-ordinator, Lucy Clarke, about how she created the ‘Flower Patch’… “Franklin and I are one of those new-fangled long-term relationship couples who are now able to live in quarters,” explains Sarah. “I like to think this time living inside the wire is my test run to see what army life is really like! I’m so grateful to have made such lovely friends here, regardless of my age and current lack of children – unless you count our fluffy puppy, Stevie.” Fond memories of growing flowers during summers spent with grandparents prompted Sarah to get started: “I wanted to bring joy to families left behind while their soldiers deployed,” she explains. “There was already a community garden on camp and after a bit of negotiation, I got

a military If you know a person with to improve hard connection who works tell us about them your local community, k and read more – email editor@aff.org.u .uk stories at armyandyou.co

60 Army&You winter 2020

permission to use the empty grass space and the Flower Patch was born.”

Special surprises The idea started in January and 34 seed packets, 500 seedlings, 30 dahlia tubers and 38 square metres of flower bed later, Sarah and her team have left more than a hundred surprise home-grown bunches on doorsteps, plus countless more to the welfare team for welcoming new families and special occasions. After many hours on the phone to granny learning what flowers were needed and when best to grow them, Sarah planned the layout. “I wanted the paths between beds to be big enough to lay picnic blankets, and for people to be able to walk through,” she says. Then came the worst part, digging out the beds. “Franklin and I started the de-turfing during his pre-tour leave. After he left and lockdown started, I met Zoe, the girlfriend of one of his colleagues, who became a huge part of the garden. “She took my jumbled thoughts and project managed. “We spent many evenings socially distanced gardening and keeping each other sane.”

Sarah is our winter community champion and 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

Getting involved Soldiers from all ranks and regiments pitched in and in the period where lockdown eased, more families felt comfortable to use the garden. They’ve already taken cuttings and made plans for next year. “We’ve faced many challenges,” says Sarah. “Everything had to be done in carefully planned shifts and all tools brought by individuals are carefully cleaned between uses. But the pandemic was also part of what motivated me to make sure the project was a success – because I knew that people would probably love a flowery morale boost more than ever. “I hope that it has spread some bright, beautifully-scented joy during an incredibly weird and stressful time,” concludes Sarah. “We still have a lovely group of serving personnel who come to garden in both the veg side and the Flower Patch at the weekends! I’ve loved seeing the children come to learn about the science of growing, where food comes from, and of course playing with every worm they can find. And I think the adults enjoy the time out of their house, although weeding is normally the main job I give them – they still keep coming back for more!” &


You can follow AJ @ajsharpflavourfanatic on Instagram

Winter warmers How can you keep your family happy and healthy this winter? At the end of a tough year for most people, this edition’s food column is focused on keeping your spirits up. Our culinary queen AJ Sharp has been exploring ideas…


Y HAPPY coincidence, serotoninboosting foods are pretty similar to those which help you to maintain a healthy immune system, which makes sense. Even better, they’re mostly delicious healthy protein choices, like avocado on toast or poached eggs with smoked salmon. One surprisingly nutrient-dense option is watercress, it scored 127 per cent on the antidepressant food score, as discovered by the World Journal of Psychiatry. So, if you want to keep chipper, find a way to put a handful in your salads, soups or smoothies.

Avoid the sugar

After eating carefully and regular exercise, it’s imperative to sleep well. One of the best ways to keep on an even keel is to avoid high sugar foods. The sugar high might taste good, but the crash afterwards can leave you feeling thirsty, headachy, groggy and craving even more sugar. YaconViva has www.armyandyou.co.uk

launched a range of syrups and cocoa nibs which offer a natural alternative to sugar, are also fibre rich and perfect for drizzling on cereals, pancakes, desserts or yogurts. It can also be used as a baking substitute for sugar, buy on Amazon for £9.99.

Spreading cheer

How many wedding anniversaries and birthdays have you celebrated at a distance? Well, Pommery has launched the ideal single serve celebration drink with its new Pommery POP NV Champagne 12%ABV. It comes in the perfect adult single serving at 220ml, which is designed to be drunk straight from the bottle via a straw no less – a great way to avoid the washing up! At £14.50 it’s the perfect gift to cheer a friend or loved one.

Healthy nibbles

Snacks wise try some banana crisps from the amazingly innovative Katie’s Food Co.

Choose from Himalayan Salt, Mixed Herb, Salt & Vinegar or Thai Sweet Chilli flavours. They’re surprisingly savoury but deliciously moreish – we couldn’t stop eating them. They’re vegan, completely natural and gluten free and... get this… one of your five a day. Honestly, they taste far too naughty to be good for you.

Finding your oomph

Leaving and returning from work and school runs in the dark can feel arduous, but perhaps your mornings just need a little more oomph. If so, try Insomnia Black Coffee, we taste tested this extensively and were so surprised at how good it was. The brand markets itself as “The World’s Strongest Coffee”, with the claim referring to the caffeine content, which is very high, but the flavour is beautiful – smooth, nutty and almost chocolatey. It’s available in bean, drip bags and bio pods from the website – no more than two cups per day though! winter 2020 Army&You 61

Dallam School

Based at the entrance to the stunning Lake District, Dallam School offers an exceptional State Boarding education for 11 – 19 year olds.

Based at the entrance to the stunning Lake District, Dallam School offers an exceptional State Boarding education for 11-19 year olds.

Dallam Boarding…

aDallam place ofBoarding… adventure, tradition a place of adventure, tradition and natural beauty and natural beauty

Boarders come to Dallam not only to gain excellent GCSE, A Boarders Level or IB come qualifications, but to and to Dallam notdevelop only topersonally gain excellent socially. offer aor range of exciting and innovative cultural GCSE,We A Level IB qualifications, but to develop opportunities, all in a building that has over 400 years of personally and socially. We offer a range of exciting history. There has cultural also beenopportunities, significant investment a new and innovative all in ainschool boarding wing in recent years, meaning that our boarders that has over 400 years of history. Full time and flexible benefit for English heritage alongside some outstanding boarding opportunities are available. modern facilities.

A service personnel A service scholarship is personnel scholarship is for available available for those serving our those serving our country country

www.dallamboarding.co.uk | boardingadmissions@dallamschool.co.uk | 015395 65165 | @dallamschool

www.dallamboarding.co.uk | boardingadmissions@dallamschool.co.uk


Click the giveaways tab at armyandyou.co.uk and follow the links. Entries close on 10 January 2021

LOVE AND COMFORT BabyBjörn’s ergonomic Baby Carrier Move is designed for simplicity in the home or out and about from day one, all the way to 15 months. The superior back support and waist belt makes it super comfortable for parents, and your little trooper will love being carried, being close to your heart as they grow and explore the world. The thin and flexible 3D mesh fabric ensures that a newborn is sitting in a perfect position and the size can be adjusted as the baby grows, while the soft fabric hugs the baby’s back, legs and hips. More at babybjorn.co.uk

One lucky new parent can win a Baby Carrier Move, retailing at £119.99, with Army&You.

Big dreams The latest title in the internationally bestselling Little People, BIG DREAMS series is a tribute to national treasure, Captain Sir Tom Moore. If you were captivated by Capt Tom’s inspirational walk through lockdown, you’ll love learning more about the life of the veteran who raised more than £30 million for the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic. Written by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara and published by Francis Lincoln Children’s Books, it’s been developed in partnership with NHS Charities Together, with three per cent of sales going to the charity.

We have five copies of Captain Tom Moore, priced £9.99, to give away.


Wagons roll Kids and adults alike will love this Toby All Terrain Pull Along Red Wagon from Toby Wagons – ideal as a practical trailer or for simply having wheely great fun at the beach, park or in your garden. With its industrial-quality wheels, the wagon does exactly what the name suggests, and is suitable for all types of ground. Perfect for festival-goers and campers who need something to carry supplies in, or for little adventurers who love to play outdoors. Visit tobywagons.co.uk

Inspiration for interiors Inspired from the nature of the British countryside, Georgia Wilkinson Ltd produces beautiful furnishing fabrics and handmade interior products. Run by Georgia, a military wife based in Wiltshire, the linen and cotton fabrics, all printed in the UK, can be bought online by the metre or ready handmade into lampshades and cushions. To view the full range, go to georgiawilkinson.co.uk Georgia is offering one lucky reader the chance to brighten up their home with a £75 voucher to spend at her online store.

You can win a Toby All Terrain Pull Along Red Wagon, worth £109, by entering our giveaway.

One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 10 January 2021 unless otherwise stated. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.

winter 2020 Army&You 63


and a Enter our giveaway to win a copy of Luna Loves Art rules. Reading Force scrapbook. See page three for entry Already read it? Tell us your thoughts @ArmyandYou



ART ADMIRATION In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views – via their parents – on Joseph Coelho’s Luna Loves Art...

Illustrated by Fiona Lumbers and Published by Andersen Press, priced £12.99

EVA (4) AND ISLA (3) We really enjoyed reading this book, it’s a lovely story. We loved looking at all the different artwork, our favourite was Van Gogh’s ‘Sunflowers’. Eva liked how the girl made friends with the little boy by talking about art.

ROBYN (2) Luna Loves Art tells the story of two children, Luna and Finn, on a school trip to the art gallery where they learn to overlook differences in all things and find common interests – in this case art! It exposes readers to all manner of masterpieces and artists, from impressionist to abstract to sculpture. It also covers the themes of friendship, difference and children struggling with emotions. We really enjoyed looking at and discussing all the artwork – Robyn particularly liked the beautiful, detailed illustrations – especially the shiny surprise! She’s already excitedly talking about different artists and visiting an art gallery herself. This wonderful book is a fantastic tool for introducing young children to art or for use with older children as a tool for starting discussions about loneliness, differences and supporting each other.

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

ANYA (5) AND LUCETTE (3) “Two hundred” was the answer that Anya gave when I asked her, out of ten, how much she liked Luna Loves Art. Lucette says she likes it very much too. It has been a firm favourite since it landed on our doorstep. It’s a story full of big colourful spaces filled with wonderful colours and shapes. Anya told me she liked it because there was lots of different art. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was ‘just a book about art’. But Joseph Coelho, with illustrations by Fiona Lumbers, has made it much more than that. We were also able to talk about Luna being a good friend to Finn, who was sad and lonely. Finn also expresses some big emotions and a sculpture of a family group can lead into talking about what different families look like. I wouldn’t consider us to be an ‘arty’ family, but Anya and Lucette have been inspired to try and create the sunflowers. Doesn’t everyone love a sunflower?

64 Army&You winter 2020



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

Making self-care a priority By Naomi, @dodayoga I have a disease. If you meet me on a good day you won’t know. If you meet me on a bad day, I’ll definitely hide it from you. Medication has helped, but I’ve still had to grapple with reidentifying myself. I’ll never be rid of rheumatism. It’s me every day. A few weeks after a routine (if any birth is routine!) delivery of my daughter I started to develop pains in my wrists and shoulders. Initially I put it down to tiredness and breastfeeding. After all, it’s a tough job. The pain very quickly became more intense and I knew something else was wrong. Then the pains started appearing everywhere and anywhere. Some days it was wrists and shoulders, other days it was my whole body, or just one knuckle that felt like someone had put a nail into it. Then we were posted, and my pain took a backseat to our move from Northern Ireland to London. I still had no www.armyandyou.co.uk

diagnosis. Roughly 12 months on I finally cried rivers of tears when I was diagnosed, it was such a relief. Someone finally knew what was wrong with me. Palindromic rheumatism. The pain can go as quickly as it comes but it can feel like your bones are breaking themselves. This is the part that the army rarely sees. The real issues that people experience in the shadows. I was a mess. We were a mess. My husband was torn, wracked with guilt, feeling he was abandoning me to go to work. Then wracked with guilt he was letting those down he was supporting on operations when he had to care for me and our daughter. The worst part has been the mental journey of acceptance. Acceptance that whilst I can’t let the disease define me, it will always be a part of me and shape who I am. I used to run

Big fan of blogs? Read more at armyandyou.co.uk/blogspot marathons but now, even a seemingly great day may end abruptly with total exhaustion rather than the gentle warmth of feeling tired. Medication, diet, yoga and self-discovery have combined to provide a reasonably stable platform for my new identity. I’ve qualified as a yoga teacher and started my own business. This has allowed me to get

more active again, cycling and running as well as teaching yoga. I’ve had to learn how to ask for help. Sometimes we all need help, but most of us wouldn’t ask. I have to check myself every morning as the worst thing I can do is try and exercise with a flaring joint which could cause permanent damage. I’ve become vegan

which has made me a lot healthier – a lot of meat and dairy products increase inflammatory proteins in the blood. Most of all I’m honest with myself and I make self-care a priority. I fear if I don’t, then the disease will take hold of my life once more. If you would like more information on rheumatism or arthritis, visit versusarthritis.org winter 2020 Army&You 65

The course of an army spouse By Cynthia, @desplendourofficial Being an army spouse is an exciting life that comes with lots of experiences. There are positives but also challenges. Like my husband, I’ve come to understand the core values of the British Army, and I strive to live by them. Courage to stay positive, knowing that my husband could deploy at any time. My second baby was four-weeks-old when his dad was deployed and was


away for three months. I joined the mum and baby group within the community. I made new friends, shared my experiences with other spouses. Whenever my husband is away on deployments, I find the army community very helpful. I receive newsletters about events in the community. The unit welfare office organises family days out and get-togethers, and there’s a HIVE where I get information. The constant moving can be very challenging, having to leave my old friends, move to a new place and start from scratch, looking for jobs and nursery for the kids. Luckily, as a dental nurse, jobs

and nurseries have been readily available within and around military units; so, before we move, I plan and apply for a role in the dental practice at the new unit. As an army spouse, I live not for myself but the husband, the army community, and the country.

Hence, the need to put the army’s needs first, very close to that of the family, supporting my spouse in his chosen career. The army community is a place where love, respect for others, care and togetherness reign.

From civvy life to military wife By Kym,

Service (AWS) often goes above and beyond to ensure personal and communal support is given to both army families and personnel.


After several years of civilian life, close to family and friends, only seeing my husband at weekends, we made the decision to move into military housing.

Having lived a childhood far from the constructs of the military, it had never crossed my mind that a soldier’s spouse, partner or children would live a life with any differences to that of my own.

It just so happened that the date we chose had been the date my husband was deployed to Kenya for three months. However, AWS supported me through my first weeks, ensuring I knew what help was available in the local area and where to go if I had any problems.

In some ways I’d been naïve, army life can be very dissimilar, from dealing with the heartbreak and separation of deployment, the endless training hours, to picking up everything you own, leaving everything you are familiar with and moving across the country during postings, familiarising yourself with the unfamiliar once more. On the other hand, military families still live their day-to-day lives; work still needs to be done and children still need to get to school on time. The basics of family life still exist. Choosing to follow the love of your life across the country and beyond is one of the most beautiful things about being a military spouse, it creates a wonderful bond. When you make that decision to immerse yourself into a relationship with a soldier, you also become enveloped by a community, an

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extended family of fellow military spouses and children that understand exactly how you and your family are feeling. Welfare services are also a major factor in that immersion process. The Army Welfare

In my opinion, the positives outweigh the negatives. Choosing military life as a spouse is not about camouflage, long exercises, and heavy machinery – it’s about feeling a part of a family. I never realised how strong military partners were until I became one.

Kym 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. @ArmyandYou


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DURING THESE UNCERTAIN TIMES, WE ARE STILL HERE AND READY TO HELP The world around you may be changing but we haven’t. Forcesline is still open and here to support you. Health, family, loneliness, debt or addiction problems don’t keep quiet, talk to us. Forcesline, a free, independent helpline, outside the chain of command for the Armed Forces and their families.

0800 731 4880 Open weekdays, 09:00 to 17:30 Or get in touch online at


Registered as a charity in England and Wales Number 210760 in Scotland Number SC038056 and in Republic of Ireland Number 20202001. Established 1885.

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Army&You – Winter 2020  

Army&You – Winter 2020