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Winter 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}


A HOME OF YOUR OWN! Your ‘key’ moments

Interior inspiration from style-conscious spouses




MINDSET We explore the goodness of gardening and health benefits of the great outdoors



Your blogs Patch parties Homebuying help THE MAGAZINE OF THE ARMY FAMILIES FEDERATION

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

EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 554004

CONTACT AFF VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS 8am to 7pm, Monday to Thursday 8am to 5pm, Friday // 01264 554004

MANAGERS DEVOLVED NATIONS 07585 333115 // ENGLAND 07824 534345 // OVERSEAS 07795 596568 //

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you to AFF’s team covering the devolved regions (page 42). After many years abroad, the sun has finally set on 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment’s time overseas – we follow the unit’s progress settling in to their new surroundings in London on pages 38-39. Plus, don’t miss our Postcard (page 59), BlogSpot (pages 6566), Book Club (page 64) and Giveaways (page 63), where you can win a stay at a beautiful inn right in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside. Enjoy the issue. LISA YOUD, EDITOR

CONTRIBUTIONS If you’ve got a story to tell about army life, then let us know – email

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in Scotland with registered charity number SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ COMPETITIONS To enter, visit One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 9 January 2022. ADVERTISEMENTS Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: Tel: 01252 714870 / Web:

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winter 2021 Army&You 03

Posts generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

According to the MOD’s latest Families Continuous Attitude Survey, almost a third of military families now live in their own homes. It’s an upward trend of about ten per cent from a decade ago, with many of you deciding to take root well before your soldier leaves the army. So why choose stability over frequent house moves? There are many advantages of course, but there are challenges too. In our feature A home of your own, reporter Jill Misson explores the pros and cons (pages 15-17). If buying a property is on your radar in the near future, check out our money section (pages 18-19) to discover the tools that may help you to unlock the door. For those of you living in quarters, we’ve got some style-inspiration on pages 28-29, details on how the new housing maintenance and repairs contract will shape up (pages 26-27), and some top tips for moving on page 25. Elsewhere, we go green-fingered with a spotlight on gardening (pages 30-32), take a look at how universities and colleges are supporting their service communities (pages 34-35), and introduce

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


21 Unpacking Housing Policy A rundown of the SFA rules for F&C families 22 Adapting To Your Needs Top tips on applying for additional needs adaptations 34 Missing Out On Maternity Occupational Maternity Pay problems revealed 38 Sun Sets On Cyprus Stay Families' farewell as 1 PWRR calls time on overseas tour 41 Salute To Service Couples The challenges faced by dual service households 45 Steps To Schooling A glance at the school application process



and the Home AFF’s F&C team together Office have worked which has to resolve an issue


15 A Home Of Your Own Things to consider when you decide to fly the military nest 18 Homebuying Help Keys to assist in unlocking access to the property ladder 25 Removals Recommendations Tips on the dos and don'ts of changing address 26 The Big SFA Switch A first look at the new housing contracts 28 A Touch Of Patch Pizzazz Interior inspiration from stylesavvy spouses 30 Growth Mindset Exploring the goodness of gardening and green fingers



A HOME OF YOUR OWN! Your ‘key’ moments

Interior inspiration from style-conscious spouses




MINDSET We explore the goodness of gardening outdoors and health benefits of the great



affecting been particularly soldiers who spouses of Gurkha contract. enlist on a 12-year applying to Spouses who are their soldier enter the UK to join granted are currently only of the initial visas up to the end though the contract date, even contracts majority of soldiers’ extended. If are subsequently than five less the soldier has at the point of years left to serve the spouse is application then five years on not granted the full then need to their visa and will


06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team has been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... A welcome note from our Chief Executive 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 63 Giveaways Win a room at the inn with a Peak District break 64 Book Club Young readers discover what makes a cucumber cross 65 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life

– Two-hour l More flexible appointments plus evening and appointment windows, Your views new to , will be introduced heard, new suppliers will be S YOU may have weekend appointments While not all the By you to ion tracking to allow will be very different. Service Family Accommodat along with online you, the contracts will , and repair with the individual when operatives (SFA) management know, in real time, collaborating closely will the other families service contracts arrive at your home. services, AFF and and maintenance contracts have been the UK next year federations, the new be introduced across and National Housing handling missed reflect your views l Preventing and designed to better to replace the current and specific needs. Amey. – New scheduling and to meet your appointments concerns Prime contract with will be introduced there will be one concerns were captured tracking processes These views and From 1 March 2022, will surveys in 2019 to on Management DIO as it is now, and suppliers, not by families federation National Accommodati operate will contract compensation the which of funding contract, be responsible for help inform the setting Services (NAMS) to your changes are designed Centre managing those surveys, around payments. These specifications. In the National Service and d appointments. you wanted: housing allocations minimise supplier-misse 5,000 of you said requests, such as for repairs and scheduling appointments to on To avoid disruption, to accommodati This has been awarded l First-time fix – l Easier access move-in and outs. least 85% and tasks – A required to fix at suppliers will be services to log requests Pinnacle. fault by four Regional through improved allow you to track of repairs first time ‘HomeHub’ app will This will be supported vehicles requests, in Services repair spares make more Maintenance diagnosis, carrying housing applications, Accommodation . You will also be right trade is allocated which will provide and ensuring the and arrange appointments (RAMS) contracts, Service Centre National and maintenance the repair to the repair. able to contact improvement, and mandatory channels. through established services and statutory the SFA estate is checks to ensure – property details standard. l Comprehensive maintained to a high be the North property details will ‘Rightmove’-style Amey has been awarded while Vivo will be you to express informed provided to allow and Central regions South East and South housing preferences. responsible for the


West regions.

2021 26 Army&You winter

A touch of patch


Jokapeci Kama


Army spouse. We’ve Military connection: in the last 14 years. lived in two quarters

years love through the come to enjoy and feel and look homely – making our quarters and cosy.

interior had a passion for Have you always I have It’s something that design? Not really.

to be stuck OT many of us want magnolia, but inside a world of tarting up our when it comes to you are limits to what army quarters, there the inevitably short can achieve during within all while staying time you live there, hope. However, there is the rules of course. plenty of online brings up A quick browse home, some style to your ideas for adding up with three army and here, we catch share their interiors spouses who regularly inspiration on Instagram…


from? inspiration come Where does your a touch modern rustic with My homestyle is inspiration from home of boho! I get my Pinterest and accounts on Instagram, YouTube. to you're only going How does knowing your temporarily affect live somewhere colours and wood choices? I love neutral have into my design. I tones so I work that and bedrooms with peel wallpapered our when it’s easy to take off stick wallpaper as decorate on a very you move out. I also too don’t want to spend small budget as I have we will inevitably much on a house and doing DIY to vacate. I find decorating so I choose to do projects quite therapeutic them all on my own. to others? If you’re What’s your advice budget like me, look decorating on a small pieces second for décor and furniture

i.a_d.r.e.a.m.s Debbie Gillies @m.a.g.n.o.l.


interior had a passion for Have you always I grew most of my childhood design? Yes. For My mum was always up in rented properties. them homely. I would amazing at making her. learnt loads from definitely say I have my style I was still finding In our first quarter I could do. about how much and was worried my style and more, around But as we moved I realised how little became more apparent,

Wheelchair user Stephanie Quintrell – pictured with husband Jon and son Dylan – explains what living in a well-adapted SFA means to her (page 22). Picture: Siobhan Boyle

Your blogs Patch parties Homebuying help

on their federations to build to and to reduce that average contributions to date, be incentivised to even ents so that you get an activities b customer-facing eight working days without any compromise will introduce other insights,” he adds. quicker repair but The new contracts including shorter targets and incentives AFF’s Housing Specialist, on quality. Similar service improvements on the improving customer pre-approved low-value keeping a close eye will also extend into repair times and your wishes for through has been involved satisfaction levels. works aimed at meeting ss. to ensure the new contract greater responsivene contracts, the Yo throughout together families are considered. Working In addition, and s are designed s for the suppliers a surve that we carried out “While these enhancement there will be consequence improve the service, felt w the minimum contractual which elements you to ensure the contracts if they do not meet and to do the basics we are p of performance, important to you; it will also be important acceptable levels DIO have Savage, Head of to exceed those many of your wishes well,” says James financial incentives you. also clos more benefits to “We will therefore will continue to work Accommodation. standards to provide in differently from to ensu homes are allocated the new suppliers focus on ensuring These will work very to the move-in routine repairs ne prepared the although in are is fully captured good time, they today. For instance, of 12 demo repairs are completed within an average while we hope the standard, and that must be completed are on standard. These is an improvement contract will go smoothly quickly and to a good working days (which –g days), suppliers will want to drive significant how things are going all areas where we the existing 15 working customer satisfaction. improvements in Look out for full detail to work 1 Mar We will continue the lead-up to the with the families our so via or ‘Service Family Accom

Other improvem


Army spouse. We’ve Military connection: one quarters, including lived in five different in Germany.


can pictures and shelves, things, like hanging to the love you have make a big difference for your house. from? I inspiration come Where does your accounts on Instagram, love looking at home a huge amount of and upcycling. I think from what you have inspiration comes you can tie it all together. created and how to you're only going How does knowing your temporarily affect live somewhere not a massive role. It’s choices? It plays so ripping out kitchens technically our house achievable. However, and floors just isn’t

Married for 16 years Military connection: Tim with two children, to serving husband 11. Currently in our Olivia, 13 and Ben,

a a difference. Painting small things make in the living room, feature wall, especially feels instantly more creates a space that Putting it back to homely and lovable. easy. magnolia is just as

seventh quarter.

interior had a passion for Have you always felt like quarter in Germany design? Our first curtains) box (with hideous a grey, concrete as it at first. As soon and I absolutely hated in, changed the we got our own belongings added a few and curtains and lampshades like and rugs, it felt more candles, cushions as I’ve seen each quarter home. Since then

to others? What’s your advice don’t own the house Just because you can’t make it a home doesn’t mean you are an of. Soft furnishings that you’re proud colour and personality amazing help, adding ditch those army to your rooms - and the your home, love curtains! Lastly, love there and love doing memories you create

a new challenge, turn into a home.

it in style!


Know your boundarie changes you Don’t forget, any Family do make to Service (SFA) must be ‘made Accommodation move out of your good’ before you or for the next family, property, ready So, you’ll need to you may be charged. off to magnolia, take redecorate back and put your lovely the wall stickers up! army curtains back ion officer will Your accommodat to be done at outline what needs t assessment. Bear your pre-move-ou are no special in mind that there

For example, claiming circumstances. you’ve put down that the vinyl floor the looks better than in your kitchen an first place isn’t one you had in the re-lay the original excuse, you must flooring. room-to-room guide Amey has a full standards as to what the move-out to ensure this is are. You’ll need your over you had complete before

quarter. for Go to ameydefence more information.


a blank canvas for

your hand. If you check s Marketplace, car-boot find so you’re bound to T a fraction of the price. d ‘rental-friendly’ home can fi ideas online you eas move-out so much

us to

from? inspiration come Where does your if I Cath Kidston. I think I’m a huge fan of too it would be a bit went for full-on vintage keep the of the family so I kitsch for the rest colours for the bedrooms florals and brighter look subtle, traditional and go for a more and interiors magazines downstairs. I read is a and Instagram. There look at Pinterest from of interiors accounts growing number others I love seeing what military families – quarters. have done with their to you’re only going How does knowing your temporarily affect live somewhere time wouldn’t have the choices? We just so I embrace the to change it all back, just a see it as boring, magnolia – I don’t keep We’ve learned to neutral backdrop. fairly neutral – we larger items of furniture sofa and it clashed used to have a red colour with add We with too many carpets! etc. cushions, pictures curtains, lampshades, feel the to others? Don’t What’s your advice new and buy everything need to rush out make it fit. We often – use what you have, we put items in from change which rooms the fun. That’s all part of house to house. hiding unsightly Plants are great for pipework. Covering features like exposed and the use of cushions carpets with rugs

2021 28 Army&You winter


winter 2021 Army&Y


Bethan Williams

Winter 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their

length of time. Thandsing in the UK. his family) pay to extend it once Rai (pictured with agreed that to enter the The Home Office applied for visas intention of the his wife was this was not the UK from Brunei; has submitted visa for five regulations and granted the correct armed forces was a change to the years, but his daughter and a half. immigration rules. only granted two you more this We hope to bring Mr Rai didn’t notice but for now, spring the expiry dates in news difference in the a process had to be we’ve established until his daughter are being this by which these visas to hospital earlier admitted full five years, an invoice corrected to the year. He was sent the meantime, £832 because free of charge. In from the NHS for having had a you’re if us longer contact his daughter no issues via valid visa. AFF’s Luckily, he contacted for Expiry enigma F&C team who organised case issued a Another recent correction his daughter to be importance the NHS the has highlighted corrected visa and you and your to dismiss the of ensuring that trust has agreed have all been family members charge. the right granted visas for

Visa verification cookie_studio/freep



Photo created by


an Even if they make vulnerable position. is visa to remain, there they should be checking application for a aren’t aware that and it what processes have non-UK will be successful RE soldiers who no guarantee it visas. It’s also unclear whether a visa in their home months to process. national families usually takes many are in place to determine soldiers to apply for overstayers, spouses done. So, some countries eligible Whilst they are check has been without n (SFA) if bank accounts, moving into SFA cannot work, open and families are Service Family Accommodatiojoin them in any education, and ones to drive or undertake the right visas. they want their loved from the UK at yes. removed be they could the UK? In theory, are prevented from of the Minimum ENSURE WE HAVE THE any time. Children DO WE ONLY NEED TO In practice, because one of (MIR) – the level education and in accessing higher RIGHT VISA? Income Requirement a MIR. your needs to meet the child has been refused before you can bring ongoing case, a No, the soldier also income required are school. with family members – many new recruits place at a primary Whilst new recruits family to the UK during breaks down, the to bring their loved to apply for SFA If a relationship are encouraged not earning enough to remain under training, they usually not entitled to SFA. spouse can’t apply their initial trade ones over, so are to bring their families that the policy and immigration rules. don’t earn enough AFF is concerned irregular occupants entitled to SFA. always made clear. They then become over so aren’t actually processes are not leads to some be evicted. AFF’s Foreign & of SFA and could This lack of understanding Katherine Houlston, willing more… entitlement. of usually explains out not SFA are Specialist, Social services soldiers occupying Commonwealth even if they have to help these spouses, no FOR SFA? OF MOVING INTO SFA because they have British children, WHAT ARE THE RISKS HOW SHOULD YOU APPLY funds. apply via the e1132 recourse to public WITHOUT THE RIGHT VISA? in, it’s easier The soldier should box to moved which has a tick Once a soldier has application form, visa. to the UK without members need a WHAT IS AFF DOING? to invite family declare if family and is a paper on this Amey Occupancy visa for them. It’s AFF has written getting the right Once this is ticked, wish Infrastructure that soldiers may previous and new working with Defence understandable Services let the to an the MOD to try alternative is being have received such Organisation and to try this if the unit know they a long requesting that their families for resolve it. We are separated from application. who defines which immigration against process is established periods, but it’s to the for ensuring that IN? a visitor if you intend has responsibility rules to enter as WHEN CAN YOU MOVE SFA is cannot place before the allocated but you right visas are in remain in the UK. The SFA can be of reduce the unit has seen proof believe this will move in until the the THE occupied. We being brought to OF HAVING FAMILY IN the family member. number of families WHAT ARE THE RISKS the right visa for right visa. UK without the UK WITH NO VALID VISA? could be in a IN PRACTICE? Spouses and children WHAT’S HAPPENING units reports that some AFF has received

winter 2021 Army&You 05

“Plants are unsight expose

and throws allow style and you ca the next house. some quarters, a few baskets o furniture and st Don’t forget t accessories ca unappealing g

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.

Anna Hutchinson – Education & Childcare The MOD and local authorities have a close working relationship, and the MOD Local Authority Partnership (MODLAP) was created in 2017. The most recent addition to this is the MODLAP Early Years group, which brings together early years teams from across England to make sure the experiences and emotional needs of service children under five are understood. By building a network of experts there will be greater understanding of the impact military life has on families, as well as ensuring the youngest members of the service community are heard and recognised. AFF is excited to be working with them as they develop as a group, sharing your lived experiences.

Jenna Richardson – Employment & Training Changing career can be a scary thing to consider, especially when it requires you to retrain. Sometimes there are opportunities where retraining is part of a new role, as in the case of apprenticeships, but for many people, the cost is a huge barrier. I receive lots of enquiries from families asking if there is any funding from the MOD to support training for spouses and partners but, unfortunately, there isn’t. However, there may be other options for funding support in the form of grants from service charities, and some colleges offer free study opportunities. There’s more information on or get in touch at

Katherine Houlston – Foreign & Commonwealth There appears to be a rumour circulating that it’s possible for spouses and partners to apply for Citizenship after three years of residency in the UK. This is true, but it’s also necessary to have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before you can apply. There’s no other way around this. Only serving soldiers can apply for Citizenship without first having ILR because their exempt stamp means they are free from immigration control. If you apply for Citizenship instead of ILR your application will be refused and you will lose the money. If your visa expires whilst you’re waiting for the Citizenship application to be processed, you will become an overstayer and will no longer be eligible for ILR.

Karen Ross – Health & Additional Needs I was privileged to have been invited to be part of the judging panel for this year's Health Service Journal Awards. This involved assessing the entries for the Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award. There were some truly inspiring submissions, showcasing initiatives and projects that support the military community, but also demonstrating how the armed forces have supported their wider community, particularly in these recent challenging times. For more information on the winners, visit

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? An indoor courtyard for relaxing with a glass of wine

Fields and stables, so I could indulge my love of horses and have space for more dogs!

My dream home would be a motorhome as I want to travel, so it would need to have wheels!

A view of the sea and my own secluded beach, so that I can completely switch off and relax

Cat Calder – Housing We are in the run-up to the introduction of the new housing contract (known as FDIS), with Amey getting ready to wind down its current commitments and the official changeover taking place on 1 March 2022. With any contract change there are likely to be a few ‘hiccups’ and we hope that they are minor, but please let me know if you are seeing a decrease in service over the next few months – It's also vitally important that you continue to log any issues as official complaints so that a complete picture can be seen – email

Claire Hallam – Money & Allowances We’ve had some good news lately on a couple of policy changes that may benefit you. Firstly, for those of you claiming Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) who have teenagers going into sixth form, you’ll be pleased to know that you no longer have to re-apply for a new eligibility certificate before they start. And secondly, the army Over-37 Provision has seen a widening of eligibility. It’s intended to support soldiers in the later stages of their career to settle their family and serve unaccompanied, and includes a waiver of Single Living Accommodation charges. This was previously only available in the UK, but it will now include those with family who live in their own home overseas.

Carolyn Morton – Policy & Research Officer After the usual flurry of summer moves, we have seen an increase in enquiries on housing, education and allowances. Some of the more frequent topics that have come up are disturbance and location-based allowances for overseas families and requests for information and support with CEA and school places. Thank you to everyone who completed our recent Understanding Overseas survey, providing us with valuable information on your experiences with postings abroad. Your continued engagement allows us to build a picture of the realities of armed forces life and this evidence supports our conversations with the army, MOD and other government departments when trying to effect positive change on your behalf.

06 Army&You winter 2021

A dedicated yoga studio

An AstroTurf pitch. With three boys constantly playing football in the garden, it would save us constantly reseeding the grass!

A garden room full of my favourite hobby items and a comfy sofa so I can escape my crazy house full of boys!




Generous armed forces bursaries available Tidworth Camp A303


Less than 40 minutes drive from Tidworth Camp




St Swithun’s School

It’s who we are. Weekly and full boarding options available with a comprehensive programme of evening and weekend activities from flying lessons, mountain biking and archery to competitive sport, music ensembles, allotment, chess and Dungeons and Dragons clubs. Please contact us to arrange a visit: | 01962 835700

Picture: -



UR winter issue focuses on your home, as housing continues to be the subject that you raise most frequently with us. We know from our 2020 Big Survey that Service Family Accommodation (SFA) remains a really important source of housing for army families, and we’ve been focussing on gaining a better understanding of the challenges that you’ve faced getting SFA that meets your needs as a family. I lived with my soldier for 15 years before we got married, so I know first-hand some of the challenges of being in a ‘different’ type of relationship. Offering families that are not in a marriage or civil partnership the opportunity to apply for surplus housing has been a really welcome step forward – but it is not always straightforward. You’ve told us about the sense of insecurity that many of you in surplus accommodation have when thinking about your next posting, and the potential disappointment when, having managed to get your relationship status approved, you could find that there are no available houses to move into.

Meeting nuanced needs

“I lived with my soldier for 15 years before we got married, so I know first-hand some of the challenges of being in a ‘different’ type of relationship.”

We’ve also been looking at families who have specific needs in their SFA, and how these can be met – there’s more on page 22. We’re pleased to see the plans within the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) to extend entitlement rather than just eligibility for housing, but there’s more to be done now to provide support. And it’s clear that – when it comes to FAM – all families want to see SFA as part of that choice! Finally, AFF has worked hard over the last couple of years to make sure that your voices have been heard as the new contract for allocating and maintaining SFA has taken shape. Your evidence was key in making changes to some of the ways in which the new companies will be working; so please continue to let us know your experiences as the contracts roll out in the spring, so we can keep making a difference. &


winter 2021 Army&You 09




FFJ EXPLAINED Many of you took the opportunity to learn about Forces Families Jobs and how it can help job-seeking partners and spouses when AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, Jenna Richardson, hosted an Army Parents’ Network webinar. Jenna also focused on how FFJ can support young people who are moving out of education, and highlighted apprenticeships and volunteering to gain work experience. For more info, see


CYPRUS SPOTLIGHT Leah Ann Humphreys (pictured), AFF’s Regional Lead Cyprus, recently took part in a focus group on the British Forces social work contract on the island. The current arrangement has been in operation for just over a year and the event, which also included SSAFA, the 2 YORKS and 1 LANCS unit welfare officers, Home-Start, British Forces Social Work Service and Polaris staff, was a chance to review how it’s going and to think about what could be improved. Leah Ann said: “It was a great focus group with lots of ideas, the main one being improving communication across welfare agencies to ensure the correct support is given, from early help to child protection.”

10 Army&You winter 2021

Picture: Pixabay


CANADA CHAT Liz Ellwood, AFF’s Regional Lead Canada, joined a virtual BATUS Town Hall meeting recently to air families’ questions. It was a chance for families to meet the new Canadian Base Commander, Lt Col Stephen Burke, and voice some of the challenges they faced due to the pandemic. Updates were given on recent changes to the overseas allowance package and the new international postal regulations that have affected BFPO customers globally. Other more local issues discussed included essential preparations for houses, personnel and cars in advance of a Canadian winter, and current COVID-19 regulations. BATUS Deputy Commander, Lt Col Tim Holmes, said: “The Town Hall presented a fantastic opportunity to communicate with our community; a superb network of support agencies working collaboratively with volunteers to enhance the lived experience for service personnel and their families. There are always areas where we can improve, and I am grateful for the feedback which allows the team to target those areas.” Contact #GoodToKnow

SHARING BEST PRACTICE For the first time since the pandemic began, the European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) team of Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) met for a three-day training conference at SHAPE in Belgium. Following a turnover of at least 80 per cent in post since the last gathering, they relished the opportunity to get to know each other better and share best practice. AFF’s EJSU Lead, Lesley Slater, ran an introductory session on AFF along with our Overseas Manager, Esther Thomas, who dialled in virtually. The organisers also requested a presentation from AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, Katherine Houlston, on the complexities of visas and immigration. Zoe Herron, the CLO at Stavanger in Norway, says: “It was fantastic to meet Lesley and great to learn about the support that AFF can offer to families… the conference has given me the information I need to provide my community with the best support throughout their time here.”

When army spouse Kristin Weaver (pictured) was moving from Kenya to Canada, she contacted AFF for help getting her passport back from the DVLA, which was suffering a huge backlog at the time. Kristin said: “The return of my passport was essential for travel to the new overseas posting and renewal of my visa. “AFF resolved this issue in the space of just a week. Communication was beyond excellent and I’m incredibly grateful for the very speedy help!”


HOUSING Q&A With the new housing maintenance and repair contracts for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) going live in the spring, AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, is hosting a Facebook Live session on 11 January at 11am to answer your questions on how it will work. Keep an eye on our social media channels and for details of how to submit your questions in advance. For more on the new contract, go to pages 26-27.


FOCUS FOR FAMILIES AFF's Regional Lead South West, Carol Morris (pictured right), with support from the AFF housing team, has been a focal point for families who needed to move into alternative accommodation due to structural issues on the Matthews estate in Tidworth, which came to light earlier this year. Carol has been pivotal in helping to highlight families’ specific needs to the relevant teams to get the best outcomes for them. Amey, the chain of command, MHLOs and DIO have worked hard behind the scenes to find alternative housing for the affected families which, given the complexity and time constraints, coupled with the restrictions of current housing stock in the area, has not been an easy task – very much a joint effort. #AFFinvestigates

CAPITAL CONCERNS During a virtual meeting with General Officer Commanding London District, Major-General Chris Ghika, and Deputy Chief of Staff Lt Col Belinda Forsythe, AFF’s Manager England Carole Rudd talked about issues encountered by army families in the capital. Topics included the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) expansion and the impact this may have on families who live in areas that are included in the new zone or are just outside. If their car is not ULEZ compliant they could incur daily costs of £12.50. The main areas of concern are Woolwich, Wandsworth and Putney, which are 300m away from the expanded zone. The need to share this information with units and subsequently families was discussed. The availability and affordability of childcare was also flagged up by Carole, with a knock-on effect on spousal employment being the primary concern. l There is some good news for families in Woolwich. The barracks, along with six defence sites in Lincolnshire, will become additional pilot sites for the MOD's wraparound childcare scheme. Look out for updates at


IMPROVING HEALTHCARE AFF supported NHS England and NHS Improvement’s (NHSEI) questionnaire and focus groups late last year to find out how to enhance care and treatment for armed forces households in England. Families had the opportunity to say what is important, what is and isn’t working well, and what needs to be done to support your health and wellbeing needs. You told the researchers that the NHS should have a clearer understanding of military life and culture, communication with families could be better and records management needs to be improved, and that establishing armed forces families’ support networks would help improve care. A report has now been published which sets out how NHSEI proposes to respond. For more, see #AFFinvestigates


Picture: ©Shann from Pexels

During a recent visit to Northern Ireland AFF spoke to army families about their experiences of moving to, and living in, the province to ensure they felt informed and supported during a posting there. Families chatted about education, employment, health, money, housing and local support. The information gathered will be fed back to the chain of command and other relevant agencies. If you have an NIrelated question or concern, email

winter 2021 Army&You 11

Picture: © Karolina Grabowska / Pexels


HELP THE HUBS The Military Coworking Network (MCN), set up to help spouses and partners create a future alongside military life and improve their wellbeing by connecting them with a community of like-minded people via its hubs and online network, has put out a friendly call for support. The MCN is still a pilot initiative, which means its future is by no means guaranteed. If it’s something you’d like to see stick around for a lot longer, then please show your support. How? By joining or encouraging your friends to join the free online network and by making use of its coworking hubs at Blandford, Bulford, HMNB Clyde, Leuchars, RAF Akrotiri, RAF Valley, RMA Sandhurst and RMB Chivenor. You could also sign their hub register, which is designed to evidence the demand for more hubs in more locations. Pop along to to find out more.

TEENS TAKE OVER Have you tuned in to charity Little Troopers’ fab podcast for military teenagers yet? SQUAD is presented by TV and radio broadcaster – and mental health ambassador – Katie Thistleton and Leicester Tigers rugby star Thom Smith, whose dad still serves in the Royal Air Force. It explores the experiences of older service children and the unique challenges they face. During the eightepisode weekly podcast you can hear from military teenagers chatting about deployment and separation, schooling, moving home, having a serving parent and forming friendships. Search ‘SQUAD’ on your preferred podcast app to take a listen.

TIME TO REFLECT Remembrance Sunday might be over for this year, but it need not be confined to a single day, as the Royal British Legion has opened a Remembrance Glade to provide a space in which to reflect at any time of the year. Sitting within the National Memorial Arboretum’s 150-acre woodland site in Staffordshire and next to the Royal British Legion Poppy Field, the glade features symbolic structures and plants to encourage visitors to explore what remembrance means to them. Each plant has been chosen for its symbolism and to reflect the changing seasons. From the willow trees that represent grief to the daffodils that symbolise new beginnings, the glade enables visitors to embark on a journey of remembrance ending at a central mirrored sculpture. It’s open every day except Christmas Day. Entry is free, however, pre-booking is recommended –

PICTURE PERFECT A series of snapshots of military family life have been published by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research at King’s College London. Following a shout-out on social media, many families submitted photos depicting personal stories of their service life in the UK, which have been collated in the Real Stories 2021 album. The project gives an opportunity for the public to view the military community through their own lens. To view the album, go to

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FOCUS ON CARERS A new report from the Royal British Legion has revealed that urgent support is needed for carers in the armed forces community. The study shows that 70 per cent of carers in the armed forces community say caring has negatively affected their mental health, with 50 per cent saying it has affected their physical health. AFF was pleased to be given the opportunity to feed into this report to ensure that these families’ voices are heard. The RBL is calling on the Government and the NHS to urgently provide more support –

GO FOR GOLD SSCE Cymru has launched Armed Forces Friendly Schools Cymru to recognise schools in Wales for their commitment to supporting service children and engaging with the armed forces community by achieving a bronze, silver or gold status. Schools will be expected to identify service children and a key member of staff to become the Service Children School Champion, develop an understanding of service children’s needs by completing Continuing Professional Development and engage with SSCE Cymru and the armed forces community. Regional School Liaison Officers will work closely with all schools to support them in achieving their status. Details of how to achieve each status can be found on

INFO... WHEREVER YOU ARE Did you know you can tap into information from the chain of command covering deployment, resettlement and your local area at the Army HIVE? You can chat face-to-face through the network of HIVE Information Centres in the UK and overseas, or discover the HIVE blogs online. Nikki Peterson, Head of Army HIVE, recently met with AFF’s Overseas Manager Esther Thomas to discuss the International HIVE (iHIVE), which provides information if you’re considering a posting abroad. Location guides are available to download at “Recruitment is underway to appoint an individual to better assist those moving to or from overseas, and during their posting,” says Nikki.

BREAKFAST BANTER If you, or anyone you know, are leaving the army soon, but would like to keep in touch with military life, why not join one of the Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Clubs which are springing up all around the country and overseas? There are now more than 400 clubs in 15 countries, the majority of which welcome family members as well as veterans and serving soldiers. They provide an opportunity to meet and swap stories in a relaxed environment, and are a great way to combat loneliness. To find your local club, search on

Picture: Shutterbug75 from Pixabay

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Moving into your own property is a major milestone if you’re an army family. Getting the keys to your own place is exciting – and not just because you can paint the walls a colour of your choice! Jill Misson reports…


ESPERATE to decorate, Kelly Ball was quick to declare “there will be no magnolia in this house” on her completion day. Moving out of Service Family Accommodation (SFA) to settle in your own property can give your family more stability and ease the transition to civilian life. AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder says: “Access to subsidised accommodation is like a piece of army kit; it will end on your last day of service. You can’t rely on social housing which is scarce in many areas and, unless you start saving for a deposit early, you may find it hard to afford anything you would aspire to own.”

Kelly’s mind was made up on her son’s first day at a new school in Germany. She says: “We watched him running around the playground on his own and although he was happy, it upset us that he was no longer with his friends. “We decided there and then to buy a home to allow him to make a group of friends to start secondary school with.” Her husband receiving Local Overseas Allowance meant that Kelly could save what she earned for a deposit. She says: “Do a spreadsheet to make sure you can afford it. Our mortgage is double what we paid for SFA and we pay more for fuel and light plus water and council tax.”

Money sense

Costs are explained during briefs by the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) and guidance on home ownership can be found in its magazine Home Matters. Information sheets are available from the HIVE and they offer support via phone or email. If you want to buy or rent in a Scottish town or city, there’s a charity you can contact. Olivia Lindsay from Housing Options Scotland says: “It can be confusing and daunting but we work with each client at their own pace to explore what will work best for them.” Forces Help to Buy is making home ownership more affordable. A serving winter 2021 Army&You 15

person is allowed to borrow up to 50 per cent of their salary interest-free, capped at £25,000. The loan is repaid over ten years. AFF is pleased that it has been extended until 31 December 2022. “It’s one of the best MOD house purchase schemes for some time and since its pilot launch in 2014, I have helped thousands of families,” says Nadine Monks, Director of Forces Family Finance. She explains: “For many this would be their only option to secure a home and for others it enables them to dream a little bigger or secure a lower interest rate. Getting independent mortgage advice early on can help you to manage your expectations and give you time to prepare.” AFF’s Money Specialist Claire Hallam says: “There are other government schemes including shared ownership, First Homes and savings schemes for under-40s such as a LISA. Military allowances, such as Get You Home Travel pay, can assist a serving person with the costs of travelling to and from their own home at weekends.” Tara Coyles-Gould is in a long-term relationship and admits that without Forces Help to Buy, they wouldn’t have been able to get the house they really wanted. “It enabled us to put down a bigger deposit and we love living in our own home,” she explains. “There are many upsides, one big one being that when my ‘not-husband’ is home, he’s away from work life. We spend a lot of time together, which is lovely, even when we were weekending for a few months. The children have a solid base which doesn’t change and probably won’t do for many years now. You don’t necessarily have the same support network

Alex and family

Tara and family

“There are many upsides, one being that when my ‘not-husband’ is home, he’s away from work life. We spend a lot of time together.” when you live away from SFA, however, and that becomes far more noticeable during times like deployments.”

The future

The MOD is looking at how to make the system of subsidised accommodation fairer and more flexible. The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) is being trialled in three locations with a decision due in 2022 on whether to extend it across

the rest of the UK. Lt Col Bill Bowen, SO1 FAM, says: “The experiences and views of serving personnel are being heavily taken into account and feedback shows that giving more accommodation options is extremely beneficial.” Those who want to buy or live in a home they already own can receive financial support. Lt Col Bowen adds: “The reimbursement of legal expenses is a great opportunity to reduce the costs of purchase by £1,500. We give clear guidance that the core payment should not be used in order to help secure a mortgage, and in this light, it has proven to be a useful payment towards monthly household needs.” When WO1 Sorcha Harney was posted to the FAM pilot site at Aldershot, she was able to rent on the private market with a monthly contribution of £400. She says: “The togetherness of Single Living Accommodation may be great for the first few years of service, but at some point, people want their own space so they can entertain and have friends and family over.”

Making it work

While moving off patch can enable families to live closer to their support network, it can be lonely for some. Kelly says: “I made some of my best friends in SFA but here, everyone seems to have established their friendship groups, so I miss running over to my friend’s pad in my pyjamas with a bottle of wine.”

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Picture: Roselyn Tirado/Unsplash

“I don’t miss march-out, quick moves or magnolia!” Alex Russell agrees: “I feel like a single parent during the week and you don’t get the same support in the civilian community, for instance, giving my boys lifts to football when I’m on my own. On the upside, I’ve gained employment that I hope to stay in long term, the children have made strong friendships and settled into school and social clubs really well. “We’ve made our house a home, no wasting money on rent – it’s a good feeling knowing we own our house.” Rachel Dawson is grateful to finally progress in her career but misses her husband. She says: “It’s hard being separated and weekends seem rushed so we don’t see much of each other. I miss the community and social aspects, but I don’t miss march-out, quick moves or magnolia!”

our friends and family on a regular basis.” Settling down after so long moving around is a big step and it might just take a little time for everyone to adjust. Izy says: “You get to choose your house and the area you live in, so take your time and make sure it’s what you want. It’s hard at first, but it’s worked out great for our family.” &

USEFUL LINKS l AFF – l JSHAO – via l l l

Izy and family

Time to adjust

Being apart can put pressure on a relationship but you may find you get used to it after a while, according to Izy Hinchley, who says: “We struggled to adjust and became very distant from each other but eventually we started to communicate better. We’ve well and truly settled into this new way of living now. We bought in the town we grew up in, so we’re able to see

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Picture: Florian Berger/Unsplash




OU may be thinking of starting a new chapter in your family’s life and buying your own home, but it’s not easy to save for a deposit, especially if you don’t have a second income. So how can you get a leg up on the housing ladder? Here, AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist, Claire Hallam, looks at some of the schemes that are available... Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) – allows regular serving personnel to borrow an interest-free deposit of up to half their annual salary. The loan, which has to be repaid over ten years or when your soldier leaves the army, is capped at £25,000. You’re eligible to apply after completing 12 months’ service –

First Homes – a new scheme available in England. It aims to help first-time buyers and key workers, by offering homes up to a certain value at a discount of 30 per cent compared to the market price. You’re eligible if you have a household income of less than £80,000 (£90,000 in Greater London) – Lifetime ISA – if you’re under 40, you could consider opening a Lifetime ISA, which is a savings scheme for first-time buyers. See lifetime-isa. Mortgage guarantee scheme – launched earlier this year to encourage lenders to offer 95 per cent mortgages again after they were

withdrawn during the pandemic – you’ll need a five per cent deposit and the 95 per cent loan is backed by the government. Shared ownership – you buy a percentage of your home and then pay rent on the rest, normally to a local housing association. For more information on all the schemes available and eligibility criteria, including those in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, see Don’t forget, the Joint Services Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) also gives regular briefings – search JSHAO at The Services Insurance and Investment Advisory Panel (SIIAP) can help with your search for mortgage brokers that have experience of forces life –

Aid in Aldershot

RENTING OUT YOUR HOME As we know, army life often means your plans for the future can quickly change. If you buy a home but find in the future you need to let it out because of a posting, a number of banks and building societies will offer you ‘consent to lease/let’ so you don’t have switch to a buy-to-let mortgage. For more information and a list of which banks and building societies have signed up through the Armed Forces Covenant, go to

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If you’re assigned to the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot area in Aldershot there are other MOD allowance incentives that you may be eligible for if you own your own home or are thinking of buying. The FAM pilot core payment is fixed at £125 per month towards the cost of owning your own home and, if you’re a first-time buyer, you could be eligible for ‘refund of legal expenses’ up to £1,500. Speak to your soldier’s unit HR, contact the FAM team – or head to for details.

l Contact @ArmyandYou


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O, you’ve made the decision to move to your own home but how does this affect your allowances? Here are some of your most commonly asked questions… Do I get removals and Disturbance Expense (DE)? Generally, if you’re not moving on posting it would be considered a mid-tour move, so no, you don’t. If your move is timed with an assignment order, however, you may be eligible, but bear in mind that if your new home is a further distance away than the new duty station, you might have to make a contribution. How does the army Over 37 Provision work? If your soldier is 37 or over and you’re considering settling the rest of the family into your own home, the army Over 37 Provision

can help. The allowance supports those who serve unaccompanied later in their careers, by helping with the cost of settling the family. It also means the extra costs for your soldier’s Single Living Accommodation (SLA) are waived. We’re pleased that recent changes mean the waiver may now be used for those of you who decide to settle the family overseas. What about final moves? Your soldier can request that their final posting is located within 50 miles of the area your family wishes to settle in at the end of their service – this is known as the Final Tour of Duty (FTOD). If you’ve applied for FTOD and you can’t be assigned within 50 miles or 90 minutes’ travel time of the area you requested, you may be eligible for final removals and DE.

Criteria are strict for FTOD applications. Your soldier must be due to complete their service and receive an immediate pension, and the form must be submitted to the career manager during your soldier’s second-tolast assignment. Full details can be found in JSP 752. What other allowances might I be eligible for? If you sell one home that you

live in that’s within 50 miles of your soldier’s current duty station and buy another house to live in within 50 miles of the new duty station, you may be eligible for a Refund of Legal Expenses. l If you need more information or want to check if you’re eligible for an allowance, speak to your unit HR or look at winter 2021 Army&You 19


Visa verification AFF’s F&C team and the Home Office have worked together to resolve an issue which has been particularly affecting spouses of Gurkha soldiers who enlist on a 12-year contract. Spouses who are applying to enter the UK to join their soldier are currently only granted visas up to the end of the initial contract date, even though the majority of soldiers’ contracts are subsequently extended. If the soldier has less than five years left to serve at the point of application then the spouse is not granted the full five years on their visa and will then need to @ArmyandYou




RE soldiers who have non-UK national families in their home countries eligible to apply for Service Family Accommodation (SFA) if they want their loved ones to join them in the UK? In theory, yes. In practice, because of the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) – the level of income required before you can bring your family to the UK – many new recruits are not earning enough to bring their loved ones over, so are not entitled to SFA. AFF is concerned that the policy and processes are not always made clear. Katherine Houlston, AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, explains more…


The soldier should apply via the e1132 application form, which has a tick box to declare if family members need a visa. Once this is ticked, Amey Occupancy Services let the previous and new unit know they have received such an application.


The SFA can be allocated but you cannot move in until the unit has seen proof of the right visa for the family member.


AFF has received reports that some units

pay to extend it once in the UK. The Home Office agreed that this was not the intention of the regulations and has submitted a change to the armed forces immigration rules. We hope to bring you more news in the spring but for now, we’ve established a process by which these visas are being corrected to the full five years, free of charge. In the meantime, contact us if you’re having issues via

Expiry enigma

Another recent correction case has highlighted the importance of ensuring that you and your family members have all been granted visas for the right

aren’t aware that they should be checking visas. It’s also unclear what processes are in place to determine whether a visa check has been done. So, some soldiers and families are moving into SFA without the right visas.


No, the soldier also needs to meet the MIR. Whilst new recruits with family members are encouraged to apply for SFA during their initial trade training, they usually don’t earn enough to bring their families over so aren’t actually entitled to SFA. This lack of understanding leads to some soldiers occupying SFA out of entitlement.


Once a soldier has moved in, it’s easier to invite family to the UK without getting the right visa for them. It’s understandable that soldiers may wish to try this if the alternative is being separated from their families for long periods, but it’s against immigration rules to enter as a visitor if you intend to remain in the UK.


vulnerable position. Even if they make an application for a visa to remain, there is no guarantee it will be successful and it usually takes many months to process. Whilst they are overstayers, spouses cannot work, open bank accounts, drive or undertake any education, and they could be removed from the UK at any time. Children are prevented from accessing higher education and in one ongoing case, a child has been refused a place at a primary school. If a relationship breaks down, the spouse can’t apply to remain under immigration rules. They then become irregular occupants of SFA and could be evicted. Social services are not usually willing to help these spouses, even if they have British children, because they have no recourse to public funds.


AFF has written a paper on this and is working with Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the MOD to try to resolve it. We are requesting that a process is established which defines who has responsibility for ensuring that the right visas are in place before the SFA is occupied. We believe this will reduce the number of families being brought to the UK without the right visa.

length of time. Thandsing Rai (pictured with his family) applied for visas to enter the UK from Brunei; his wife was granted the correct visa for five years, but his daughter was only granted two and a half. Mr Rai didn’t notice this difference in the expiry dates until his daughter had to be admitted to hospital earlier this year. He was sent an invoice from the NHS for £832 because his daughter no longer had a valid visa. Luckily, he contacted AFF’s F&C team who organised for his daughter to be issued a corrected visa and the NHS trust has agreed to dismiss the charge. winter 2021 Army&You 21




S AN essential wheelchair user living in a quarter, AFF’s Health Specialist Karen Ross is well placed to help ensure that you’re supported when applying for additional needs and disability adaptations (ANDA) to Service Family Accommodation (SFA). Several families have contacted Karen about issues with the process and we’ve worked hard to address these with Defence Infrastructure Organisation. Stephanie Quintrell (pictured), who recently married a soldier and moved into her first quarter, explains what living in a well-adapted SFA means to her: “Living in a property that’s suited to my needs has given me more control over my life and independence. This house enables me to be a capable mum despite my physical disability, and that is all I could wish for.” Accessibility outside is important too and Stephanie enlisted Karen’s support to get some dropped kerbs installed on camp. “I now have more freedom to enjoy the local area and spend time outdoors with my family and friends,” adds Stephanie.

Improving the process

The two main issues that you often raise are communication and timelines for the ANDA work required. “At times, I’ve felt frustration with the process, and the timescales could definitely be improved upon,” explains Stephanie. Both Karen and Cat Calder – AFF’s Housing Specialist – have given feedback on the updated ANDA process guidance. The DIO ANDA project manager has also created a specific assessment form and both this, and the new guidance, can be found on AFF’s additional needs webpages. This updated guidance should help you to better understand the process. Amey Occupancy Services (OS) is your point of contact and they’re responsible for providing you with regular updates. The point of contact will change when the new housing contract gets underway in spring so keep an eye on AFF’s website for updates. Timelines are more problematic, particularly for major adaptation works, as suitable SFA has to be found and then work is allocated to external contractors, which can vary due to location and availability.

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l Start the process ASAP and inform Amey OS about your requirement – call 0800 707 6000 option 3. l A current Occupational Therapist (OT) or medical report will always be required for your e1132.

l When completing the e1132 application ensure you tick the additional needs box. l Acquiring a local authority OT assessment can take time due to long waiting lists in some areas. If there is a delay, ask for a letter confirming the situation and share it with the DIO ANDA team. l Let the OT or medical professional complete the new ANDA assessment form if they are happy to do so. l Once complete, reports should be sent to for review by a DIO ANDA project manager. l Don’t book removals or a move-out date unless you have a confirmed move-in date. The process can take time and unforeseen problems may occur. l If you’re unable to move in time for a posting start date, you’ll need to apply for official retention of your current SFA to ensure access to removals etc. l If you require a move before the date of the confirmed move-in, this should be addressed with your unit welfare officer or chain of command. l ANDA requests for surplus SFA will not be accepted. For more information, search ANDA at or contact Karen at

Adapted living: Stephanie with her serving husband Jon and son Dylan Picture: Siobhan Boyle

ANDA ANNEX Often families contact AFF because they need a more suitable SFA to meet their family member’s needs. If you have a family member with an additional need, including a medical condition, and/or disability and require a larger SFA, SFA in a different location or a differently configured SFA, this should be raised as an ANDA, and you should tick the additional needs box on the e1132. You’ll need to provide supporting medical evidence to justify a move on medical/ welfare grounds. This should be submitted to Amey (OS) at os.confidential@ @ArmyandYou

to go through at the earliest opportunity.” You’ll be able to remain in your Service Family Accommodation (SFA) for 93 days after the date of discharge, at entitled rates. If you need to stay longer than this, extensions of up to 93 days at a time at non-entitled rates may be granted on compassionate grounds, at the discretion of the DIO Loss of Entitlement Team (LOET) and the local service commander. It’s advisable to contact the LOET to get advice on your eligibility and entitlement as soon as possible.

Get the ball rolling

Your soldier may be eligible for relocation – for example, removals – depending on circumstances. If they are eligible, then you would have to move out no later than the 93 days after their final day of service. There must also be a retention period in place authorised by Occupancy Services. If you need to delay your removals longer than the 93 days you would have to put in casework to the Pay and Allowances Casework and Complaints Cell, prior to your last day in service. It’s important to speak to your

Avenues of assistance For further information and guidance, check out the following sources of help and support.

AFF – JSHAO – LOET – via JSP 464 DTS –


AFF is regularly contacted by families whose soldier is being medically discharged and, in most cases, this may be unexpected and happen relatively quickly. Unlike transitioning to civvy street at the end of service, medical discharge can’t be planned for. One of the areas that’s most challenging, is finding somewhere to live. Karen Ross, AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist, says the most important thing is to speak to your unit admin team as soon as possible: “It can be complicated depending on your personal circumstances, so make sure you find out what processes and procedures you need


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unit admin team for advice on eligibility or extension, before leaving service. There are several avenues of support to help you find suitable housing, including the LOET, Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO) and Defence Transition Services (DTS). If your soldier is under a Personnel Recovery Unit, they can ask their personnel recovery officer for guidance. Several local authorities now have information for the armed forces community on their websites and in their council housing policies.



What do you need to do?

l If you have an application in the system

Picture: Keira Burton for Pexels


RE you in a long-term relationship (LTR) and looking to move into a quarter? Currently, unless you’re living on a Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot site, unmarried couples are only eligible for surplus housing; they’re not entitled to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in the same way that married couples are. Surplus housing has been in short supply, but that’s about to change after Ministers instructed Defence Infrastructure Organisation to reduce the amount of empty properties in the UK over the next few years. So if you’ve been turned down for surplus, or if you’ve previously been put off because of the risk of having to move at short notice, now might be a good time to reconsider. Amey is being encouraged to allocate SFA, where availability allows, to all those who are eligible and who currently have an application in for surplus, with the exception of a few areas where housing is in short supply – Northwood, Brize Norton, Thorney Island, Birmingham and Hereford. If you’re offered surplus, it’s unlikely that you will have to move out for an entitled family. Should an entitled family be posted in and there isn’t SFA available, they will be offered SSFA, with the exception of the FAM pilot sites where families will be expected to source their own private rental.

and you no longer need it, please go back in to the e1132 and cancel. l If you have an outstanding application in the system you should have heard from Amey Occupancy Services about an allocation – the intention is to convert all surplus applications into allocations (where possible) by the end of the year. l If you’re still keen to take up the option of surplus, but have previously been refused, make a new application – all new applications should now be responded to within 15 working days. l Allocations for LTR(E) surplus can be

GOT CHRIMBO COVERED? With the festive season – and inevitable increase in use of candles – approaching, it’s a good time for families in SFA and SSFA to consider taking out liability insurance. This will protect you against unforeseen costs arising from accidents, for example a blaze sparked by a candle left unattended or Christmas tree lights left on, or a flood caused by frozen pipes. As licensees your normal home insurance won’t cover you for these things (nor will buildings insurance) and DIO can look to recoup the costs of any damage up to £20,000.

made within a 50-mile radius, so if nothing is available at your duty station you may need to compromise on distance to get a quarter. l Remember that moves on a surplus licence do not attract removal costs – please ensure that you discuss allowances with your unit admin beforehand so that you don’t have any surprise costs further down the line. In the three (FAM) pilot sites at Aldershot, HMNB Clyde and RAF Wittering, those in LTR are entitled to SFA and this may be taken forward when FAM is rolled out. AFF welcomes this as it will reduce the insecurity many of you have reported to us.

AFF has had a few families come to us with large debts as a result of not having the correct insurance policy in place. On top of having to cope with the impact of losing personal belongings, they then have the stress of having to repay the debt. While it’s not compulsory to have this insurance, we strongly recommend that you consider taking it out to give you peace of mind. If you already have kit and content insurance through a specialist military insurance company you may already be covered, so it’s best to contact them to check. If you aren’t covered, a good place to start looking for forces friendly insurers is

Picture: Lisa for Pexels

24 Army&You winter 2021




OVING and the military go hand-in-hand and many of you have been through the process umpteen times. But there’s always something you can learn from the experience, right? Army spouse Lisa Rogerson has 17 moves under her belt and also comes from a family of removal experts. She created the award-winning Help for Movers website and booklet covering all aspects of moving home, and here she has some top tips… 1. Tell them everything – on the moving survey you need to show the removal surveyor everything that’s going with you to the new property… everything! This will help to ensure the correct size vehicle/s arrive on moving day. You should also ask about any items that can’t be transported in the removal lorry. 2. No two houses are the same – you may need to arrange storage for furniture and items that won’t fit into your new home – don’t leave this until the removals are unloading! Check floorplans in advance if you can.

3. It’s a great opportunity to de-clutter – there’s absolutely no point taking anything you no longer want or need to your new property. Use online selling and free sites. Charity shops are always grateful of donations – some will also collect. 4. Make sure your car is move-ready – it’s worth checking tyres/service/MOT and get it booked in before you move if needed. 5. Get clued up – no one knows the local area like a local. If you want to know a good takeaway, a great vet etc… they can be brutally honest! Join local Facebook groups and for official information, your local HIVE is a great place to look. 6. Redirect your post – even though you think you’ve informed everyone, there’s bound to be people or businesses you’ve missed. Redirection may also help to prevent you from becoming a victim of identify fraud. It takes around a week to set up with Royal Mail and can be done online at l

Preparation is key... “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” – Abraham Lincoln


l Take out a suitable, standalone removal insurance policy covering ‘new for old’. l You may pack personal items. Check your policy to see what’s covered. l Undo difficult fastenings. l Defrost freezers, drain water, secure washing machine drums. l Dismantle self-assembly furniture. l Dig out original packaging for electrical items, if you still have it. l Check your quarter is empty before the movers leave; ensure that items which must remain in the property are not removed. l Discuss which plants can be moved (UK only). l Countersign the inventory and sign the collection/delivery notes. l After you've moved, make empty, clean and dry boxes available for collection – must be requested within 21 days of delivery. l Small items of garden furniture and equipment may be moved. Other outdoor equipment may be moved if private arrangements are made with the removal firm. l Changes concerning removal dates (cancellation or delays) must be submitted in writing and receipt confirmed by Agility GRMS at least two working days before your move date. l Any dampness in the shipment will cause mould to appear during longterm storage. Don't clean leather items with anything but dry cloths to avoid this.

Picture: Strong Removals

The removals team should:

l Complete the pre-move survey; prepare the inventory. l Advise of the collection/delivery date. l Provide labour for packing/unpacking. l Disassemble/reassemble standard bedsteads (not cabin or bunk beds). l Take-up and re-lay loose rugs. l Pack/unpack small items – place items onto a flat surface for you to put away. l There’s no obligation to provide boxes before the move, but if you ask at the survey, they may deliver to the area at no additional cost. l Remove all dry and re-usable packing materials on the day of delivery. winter 2021 Army&You 25



S YOU may have heard, new Service Family Accommodation (SFA) management, and repair and maintenance service contracts will be introduced across the UK next year to replace the current National Housing Prime contract with Amey. From 1 March 2022, there will be one National Accommodation Management Services (NAMS) contract, which will operate the National Service Centre managing your requests, such as housing allocations and scheduling appointments for repairs and move-in and outs. This has been awarded to Pinnacle. This will be supported by four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts, which will provide improvement, repair and maintenance services and statutory and mandatory checks to ensure the SFA estate is maintained to a high standard. Amey has been awarded the North and Central regions while Vivo will be responsible for the South East and South West regions.

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Your views

While not all the suppliers will be new to you, the contracts will be very different. By collaborating closely with the individual services, AFF and the other families federations, the new contracts have been designed to better reflect your views and concerns and to meet your specific needs. These views and concerns were captured by families federation surveys in 2019 to help inform the setting of the contract specifications. In those surveys, around 5,000 of you said you wanted: l Easier access to accommodation services to log requests and tasks – A ‘HomeHub’ app will allow you to track housing applications, make repair requests, and arrange appointments. You will also be able to contact the National Service Centre through established channels. l Comprehensive property details – ‘Rightmove’-style property details will be provided to allow you to express informed housing preferences.

l More flexible appointments – Two-hour appointment windows, plus evening and weekend appointments, will be introduced along with online tracking to allow you to know, in real time, when operatives will arrive at your home. l Preventing and handling missed appointments – New scheduling and tracking processes will be introduced and suppliers, not DIO as it is now, will be responsible for funding compensation payments. These changes are designed to minimise supplier-missed appointments. l First-time fix – To avoid disruption, suppliers will be required to fix at least 85% of repairs first time through improved fault diagnosis, carrying more spares in vehicles and ensuring the right trade is allocated to the repair.

Other improvements

The new contracts will introduce other service improvements including shorter repair times and pre-approved low-value works aimed at meeting your wishes for greater responsiveness. In addition, and throughout the contracts, there will be consequences for the suppliers if they do not meet the minimum contractual acceptable levels of performance, and financial incentives to exceed those standards to provide more benefits to you. These will work very differently from today. For instance, although routine repairs must be completed within an average of 12 working days (which is an improvement on the existing 15 working days), suppliers will

be incentivised to reduce that average to eight working days so that you get an even quicker repair but without any compromise on quality. Similar targets and incentives will also extend into improving customer satisfaction levels.

Working together

“While these enhancements are designed to ensure the contracts improve the service, it will also be important to do the basics well,” says James Savage, Head of DIO Accommodation. “We will therefore also focus on ensuring homes are allocated in good time, they are prepared to the move-in standard, and that repairs are completed quickly and to a good standard. These are all areas where we want to drive significant improvements in customer satisfaction. We will continue to work with the families

federations to build on their invaluable contributions to date, and to ensure the key customer-facing activities benefit from their insights,” he adds. AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, will be keeping a close eye on the transition: “Throughout the design of the new contract, AFF helped to ensure that the needs of families were considered. You may remember that we carried out a survey in 2019 asking which elements you felt would be the most important to you; we are pleased that so many of your wishes have been included. We will continue to work closely with DIO and the new suppliers to ensure your perspective is fully captured in the new contracts. While we hope the demobilisation of the NHP contract will go smoothly, please let us know how things are going – good and bad.” Look out for full details of the changes in the lead-up to the 1 March in-service date via or our social media. Or, search ‘Service Family Accommodation’ at

A touch of patch pizzazz N

OT many of us want to be stuck inside a world of magnolia, but when it comes to tarting up our army quarters, there are limits to what you can achieve during the inevitably short time you live there, all while staying within the rules of course. However, there is hope. A quick browse online brings up plenty of ideas for adding some style to your home, and here, we catch up with three army spouses who regularly share their interiors inspiration on Instagram…

Bethan Williams @thewilliams_armylife Military connection: Army spouse. We’ve lived in five different quarters, including one in Germany. Have you always had a passion for interior design? Yes. For most of my childhood I grew up in rented properties. My mum was always amazing at making them homely. I would definitely say I have learnt loads from her. In our first quarter I was still finding my style and was worried about how much I could do. But as we moved around more, and my style became more apparent, I realised how little

things, like hanging pictures and shelves, can make a big difference to the love you have for your house. Where does your inspiration come from? I love looking at home accounts on Instagram, and upcycling. I think a huge amount of inspiration comes from what you have created and how you can tie it all together. How does knowing you're only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? It plays a massive role. It’s not technically our house so ripping out kitchens and floors just isn’t achievable. However,

small things make a difference. Painting a feature wall, especially in the living room, creates a space that feels instantly more homely and lovable. Putting it back to magnolia is just as easy. What’s your advice to others? Just because you don’t own the house doesn’t mean you can’t make it a home that you’re proud of. Soft furnishings are an amazing help, adding colour and personality to your rooms - and ditch those army curtains! Lastly, love your home, love the memories you create there and love doing it in style!

Don’t forget, any changes you do make to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) must be ‘made good’ before you move out of your property, ready for the next family, or you may be charged. So, you’ll need to redecorate back to magnolia, take off the wall stickers and put your lovely army curtains back up! Your accommodation officer will outline what needs to be done at your pre-move-out assessment. Bear in mind that there are no special

28 Army&You winter 2021

circumstances. For example, claiming that the vinyl floor you’ve put down in your kitchen looks better than the one you had in the first place isn’t an excuse, you must re-lay the original flooring. Amey has a full room-to-room guide as to what the move-out standards are. You’ll need to ensure this is complete before you had over your quarter. Go to for more information. @ArmyandYou

Photo created by cookie_studio/

Know your boundaries

Jokapeci Kama @ladykama_ Military connection: Army spouse. We’ve lived in two quarters in the last 14 years. Have you always had a passion for interior design? Not really. It’s something that I have

come to enjoy and love through the years – making our quarters feel and look homely and cosy. Where does your inspiration come from? My homestyle is modern rustic with a touch of boho! I get my inspiration from home accounts on Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. How does knowing you're only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? I love neutral colours and wood tones so I work that into my design. I have wallpapered our bedrooms with peel and stick wallpaper as it’s easy to take off when you move out. I also decorate on a very small budget as I don’t want to spend too much on a house we will inevitably have to vacate. I find decorating and doing DIY projects quite therapeutic so I choose to do them all on my own. What’s your advice to others? If you’re decorating on a small budget like me, look for décor and furniture pieces second

Debbie Gillies @m.a.g.n.o.l.i.a_d.r.e.a.m.s Military connection: Married for 16 years to serving husband Tim with two children, Olivia, 13 and Ben, 11. Currently in our seventh quarter. Have you always had a passion for interior design? Our first quarter in Germany felt like a grey, concrete box (with hideous curtains) and I absolutely hated it at first. As soon as we got our own belongings in, changed the curtains and lampshades and added a few candles, cushions and rugs, it felt more like home. Since then I’ve seen each quarter as

a new challenge, a blank canvas for us to turn into a home. Where does your inspiration come from? I’m a huge fan of Cath Kidston. I think if I went for full-on vintage it would be a bit too kitsch for the rest of the family so I keep the florals and brighter colours for the bedrooms and go for a more subtle, traditional look downstairs. I read interiors magazines and look at Pinterest and Instagram. There is a growing number of interiors accounts from military families – I love seeing what others have done with their quarters. How does knowing you’re only going to live somewhere temporarily affect your choices? We just wouldn’t have the time to change it all back, so I embrace the magnolia – I don’t see it as boring, just a neutral backdrop. We’ve learned to keep larger items of furniture fairly neutral – we used to have a red sofa and it clashed with too many carpets! We add colour with curtains, lampshades, cushions, pictures etc. What’s your advice to others? Don’t feel the need to rush out and buy everything new – use what you have, make it fit. We often change which rooms we put items in from house to house. That’s all part of the fun. Plants are great for hiding unsightly features like exposed pipework. Covering carpets with rugs and the use of cushions

hand. If you check your local Facebook Marketplace, car-boot sales and thrift stores, you’re bound to find some real gems for a fraction of the price. There are so many ‘rental-friendly’ home décor designs and ideas online you can find that make your move-out so much easier.

“Plants are great for hiding unsightly features like exposed pipework.” and throws allows you to add your personal style and you can take them with you to the next house. Space can be very tight in some quarters, so it’s always useful to have a few baskets or trunks to do double duty as furniture and storage. Don’t forget the outside – a few plants and accessories can transform even the most unappealing garden. winter 2021 Army&You 29

Find your growth mindset Whether you’ve got a garden, back yard, shared space or a balcony, getting outside in the fresh air and connecting with nature gives you a boost and can improve health and wellbeing

Plants can be grown in a variety of containers. It doesn’t have to be expensive pots or dirt beds in the garden. Vegetable and salad plants are great in hanging baskets, especially tomatoes, or put runner beans in buckets with a few sticks – place two or three together and they intertwine and support each other. Research what works well in your climate if you’re posted overseas. If you have a flower bed, to encourage wildlife, especially bees, scatter wild garden seeds against fences and you’ll have beautiful flowers that come back year after year. These can be bought for as little as 99p. To get children involved, plant sunflower seeds and have a competition to see who can grow the tallest or sink old buckets/washing up bowls (no holes) into the garden, fill with water, pebbles and some water plants and enjoy the different wildlife visitors – you may even get a frog or two!

30 Army&You winter 2021

Horticulture for health

Charity HighGround aims to improve the wellbeing and employment prospects of injured serving personnel and veterans by delivering horticultural therapy at DMRC Stanford Hall. They also provide support to help those leaving the military, veterans and reservists into landbased employment. Chief Executive and founder Anna Baker Cresswell (pictured) outlines how gardening helps your health: “We all know that being in the fresh air feels inherently good for us but the ‘biophilia effect’ also means that reconnecting our minds as well as our bodies with the sounds and smells of the countryside, or even a small patch of garden, for just a few minutes can help us all to get through fast-paced days. There can be nothing more satisfying than picking, washing and eating a carrot, radish or spring onion we have grown ourselves in a window box, and don’t get me started on the fascination of seeing a bulb grow from an ugly, leathery thing into a magnificent lily or scented hyacinth!” If your soldier is leaving the army soon and looking for a career outdoors, for example agriculture, horticulture or estate management, HighGround runs courses, and offers work experience and career guides – @ArmyandYou

Picture: Created by denamorado /


FF’s green-fingered Regional Lead South West, Carol Morris, has lived in many different army quarters, and has these tips to get you started in gardening...



HEN the UK went into lockdown again last winter, keen gardener Marina Colville, based in Shrivenham, hit on an idea to form a voluntary group, DE Gardeners, which could improve soulless Service Family Accommodation (SFA) gardens and develop allotments on DIO land.

forward’. As plants have grown, people have swapped veg plants on the Facebook page, shared gardening tips and discussed future plans. It’s all about community; so vital for military families.”

Future plans?

How did it all start?

Marina (pictured right) explains: “Some of the SFA here are run by Serco, so I approached the housing officer and pitched my idea. She was very supportive and we went to her boss together, who not only agreed with the pilot but put some funds into it. We launched a ‘big

spring plant’ and dropped a colourful flyer into every SFA offering three types of starter plant boxes at different prices. More than 60 households took part. From a Facebook post, people picked up the idea all over the country and I went from piloting the idea to setting up groups around the UK and building the website in a very busy fortnight. It was a steep learning curve!”

“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and the change in housing contractors presents a big opportunity. Making local connections with your welfare team is a good first step to setting up a local group. I’m now living in Andover where we’re operating a community allotment.” For more, see or follow @defence_estate_gardeners on Instagram.

What are the positives?

“It’s the power of bringing people together that’s so important. I’ve had wonderful conversations with people who are delighted at the prospect of planting up their SFA garden –- this is a very transient population so the vast majority of people have done it to ‘pay it

Grown with Beebombs – see page 63

Planting in an SFA garden... l The plants need to be low maintenance, grow to a suitable size for the garden, suppress weeds from early on and mature relatively quickly. The aim is that for the average two years that someone puts in a new border, there’s some watering and weeding required but thereafter it’s low maintenance and naturally under control. l Structure and form is important – colourful bedding in the summer goes down to nothing in months, so choose a mix of herbaceous shrubs that have year-round interest, leaf, scent and bark. Bedding is easy to add annually.

l Appropriate speed – plants like clematis Montana won’t cover the fence quickly. In reality it takes two years to get going but then it covers the entire fence for years to come, dominating the area because it’s such a monster to prune. Things need to be mature in three to five years. l Where to plant is also important. Can the lawn be mown around the bed? Is it under trees so nothing will grow nine months of the year? Is there a hedge behind that contractors will need to access?

winter 2021 Army&You 31

Picture: Created by

l It’s important to know the final size of the plants and that they will be appropriate to the size of your garden at full height. Volunteers need to be able to prune shrubs whilst standing on the ground, so no Leylandii!



2 5


Rules of engagement

Seeds were distributed, a dedicated Facebook page created, and the competition was set to go. Seeds were planted from 1 May, measurements were taken every month, the leader board was updated, with the final measurements submitted in August. It was a slow start with much pondering and head scratching. It was about a week before there were signs of life and there followed a flurry of sprouting in all areas. “I love that you can just randomly ask people ‘how are your sunflowers doing?’ and most people will have a little story,” said Matt Cascarina from SHAPE. Sunflower squadron (pictured): 1. SHAPE’s tallest sunflower; 2. Lt Col Jonathan Craven; 3. Ava; 4. The Lucas family; 5. Padre Paul

The highs and lows

There was much debate about the benefits of eggshells to repel slugs, coffee grounds to promote growth, and covering seeds with cling film to replicate ‘the greenhouse effect’ with complaints of failure due to overwatering and bad weather. There was talk of sabotage and having been tricked with dwarf seeds. There were reports of plants being eaten by rabbits

and one near divorce scenario when seedlings were mown down by a spouse. “The best thing was when they first came up from the ground and I could see the shoots through the soil! I was so pleased that the seeds had sprouted and were growing,” said Ava, seven, from Ferrera in Italy.

Competitive edge

Padre Paul from SHAPE was disqualified for using a microphone stand to elevate an artificial sunflower he bought from Ikea (he left the label on and gave the game away) and

Madrid had so much success at the start that they considered giving plants to neighbours as gifts with a sign to say, ‘please look after this plant’. Final measurement day saw impressive growth across the whole area but triumph was celebrated in Milan with a massive 408cm, followed by Brunssum in second place with 380cm and SHAPE in third with a solid 340cm. The winners in Milan were the Lucas family. Genevieve (11), Freddie (eight) and Joe (seven) joined in “because it’s fun to do things with other people” and claimed “the best thing was mummy climbing down the house to measure the sunflowers.” The competition saw some great collaboration with tips, tricks, photos and friendly banter – it’s hoped that the sunflower battle will commence once again next year. Picture: Created by denamorado/


O BRING communities together and connect people when COVID restrictions were in force, the SHAPE team of Community Liaison Officers (CLOs) came up with a fun initiative to see who could grow the tallest sunflower during the summer. They threw down the gauntlet to the whole of the European Joint Support Unit (EJSU) area. Word spread fast, and with the help of CLOs in other countries, they quickly recruited 140 or so participants, Commanding Officer EJSU Lt Col Jonathan Craven included, across 14 locations – Brunssum, Brussels, Goch, Izmir, Lisbon, Madrid, Milan, Naples, Poggio, Ramstein, SHAPE, Stavanger, Ulm and Wesel.



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Search: Ford Military Sales


Missing out on maternity

Picture: Valeria Aksakova /


HILE most mums-to-be are entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) when they have a baby, some employers offer an additional Occupational Maternity Pay (OMP) to those who meet certain criteria. OMP packages are at employer discretion and often require you to return to work for a certain time period – which is not always possible if your soldier is posted and you have to move before the end of your maternity leave. Harriet (pictured) is a teacher who found herself in this position. She explains: “I was working at an academy school when I found out that I was pregnant. I followed the required procedures and was eligible for the OMP.” However, shortly after her baby was born, Harriet’s husband was posted at short notice and she was unable to return to work for the required 12 weeks to keep her OMP. “I explained the situation to my HR manager and my OMP payments were stopped. It was frustrating because I had earned that OMP, but because of my husband’s military commitments, I was being financially disadvantaged.” Harriet contacted AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, Jenna Richardson, for advice. “Unfortunately, the academy

was not a signatory of the Armed Forces Covenant. If the school had still been under local authority control, her situation may have been assessed more sympathetically due to the local authority’s own Armed Forces Covenant pledge,” says Jenna. In some cases, it may be possible to retain your SFA so you can fulfil your OMP commitment, but for various reasons this was not a viable option for Harriet’s family. Even though the local authority and MP

Johnny Mercer, threw their weight behind Harriet’s case, the academy still failed to acknowledge her disadvantage and refused to reconsider. Jenna adds: “This is an issue that the Armed Forces Covenant team is working to address. “We were hopeful that the Armed Forces Bill would protect more spouses in this situation as it enshrines the Armed Forces Covenant in UK law, but the disappointingly limited reach of this legislation doesn’t extend to independent businesses. This means that academies are not bound to support military spouses who find themselves in this situation.” Harriet is continuing her mission to encourage academies to be more supportive of military family members and is still engaging with various government departments to try to bring about change. She says: “I have accepted that it may be too late for me to get the maternity package that I was entitled to, but if I can help other military spouses in the future then that’s what I intend to do.” Faced a similar issue? Get in touch with Jenna at You can view the eligibility criteria for Statutory Maternity Pay via

Brecon bound? Cymru courses calling... If you secure a posting to Wales, you might find it’s the perfect time to learn a new skill or take a course. The NPTC Group offers opportunities across the country, with colleges in Brecon, Afan, Newtown and Neath, as well as four other campuses throughout Wales. Joanne Howells is the Lifelong Learning Development

34 Army&You winter 2021

Advisor at Brecon Beacons College. “We have a very good working relationship with the Infantry Battle School (IBS), partnering with them on projects and highlighting our study opportunities to families,” she says. “We also do non-academic projects in the community and recently started working with families at the IBS to put together a cookbook to

raise funds for the local food bank. This is really bringing the community together and introducing people to different cuisines from around the world.” Karen Harris-Vernon is one of the group’s Business Engagement Advisors, she explains: “There is a wide range of courses available for people to choose from. We offer full- and part-time

courses, as well as distance learning options, in a huge number of subject areas, including digital marketing, photography, counselling and customer service. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for fully-funded study, which makes learning much more accessible.” For more information, visit @ArmyandYou

SETTING THE STANDARD H OW does a university ensure it involves and supports its local military population? Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) is a shining example. During the summer, it opened its Centre for Military Research, Education and Public Engagement, which includes an armed forces-specific community hub on the campus, as well as a host of other initiatives. Claire Biggar, ENU lead for military public engagement, says: “It’s crucial for us as an establishment to acknowledge the contribution the armed forces make to our community. The new centre offers an extension to our already existing services and has been driven by the research being done throughout the university.”

Left to right: Alice, Bella and Samantha Kedrayate; Personnel Recovery Officer Neil Davies and Officer Commanding Del Hamilton at Scotland & N Ireland Personnel Recovery Centre

Military ties

ENU is known for its ties with the local military community. Ross Burns, Head of Communications at the university, explains: “We have worked with Colinton Primary School on an outreach programme because a high percentage of the pupils from the school have a family member in the services.” This programme is intended to highlight higher education as an aspiration for these young people, but also to promote basic skills development, teamwork and health and fitness. ENU partnered with Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby Union where the players served as positive role models to

demonstrate the importance of these skills, as well as discipline and career aspirations. ENU has also teamed up with the Lothian and Borders Battalion Army Cadet Force, welcoming the cadets for a weekend at the Sighthill Campus to focus on sport, academic inspiration and leadership skills. In addition, ENU works with Forces Children Scotland promoting and supporting

higher education study to children from service families. Ross adds: “There are many myths around higher education and we wish to highlight the flexible study options and welcoming environments that many institutions can offer to service families.” Want to find out more? Search ‘Centre for military research’ at

Tech to tackle loneliness A digital platform, where 16-19 year olds from armed forces families can meet online with others from the service community in a safe and secure environment, has recently launched. Connected Forces is being led by the Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance and The Brightside Trust. Caitlin, who grew up in a military family, is one of the young people taking part in the focus group stage. “Having military friends has always been really helpful for me because I would be constantly moving around and not knowing what I was doing or where I was supposed to be,” she

says. “This platform will be great because if you’re struggling then you can contact someone who has been or is going through a similar situation. It will make such a difference to have someone to talk to who really understands. I’m also looking forward to making new friends with similar experiences to mine.” The project is being funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust and will include a space for discussion and support in small groups, plus one-to-one conversations in a moderated environment. Rachel Lad, from the SCiP Alliance, explains the initiative: “Research

shows that discontinuity in relationships and opportunities can negatively affect service children’s sense of identity, whilst also indicating that army children report feeling lonely more often than their peers.”

Finding friends

Many service children in England are in schools where there are only a few others with a parent in the military, so they often don’t have peers who can relate to the circumstances that they face as a result of service life. Rachel says: “At university events across the network, young people expressed that

the ages 16-19 are particularly challenging as they become more aware of their parent’s roles, are more likely to take on care responsibilities and are less likely to have support from colleges. These young people also highlighted the benefit of connecting with others from a service background. “We hope to support up to one hundred students from all branches of the armed forces. We’ve been working closely with young people to build the platform to ensure that it meets their needs.” For more information email winter 2021 Army&You 35


Programmes to unleash potential


N THE autumn, Forces Families Jobs launched a new Employment Programmes section on its website to help ensure that you don’t miss out on landing your dream job with those larger employers who recruit differently. Jenna Richardson, AFF’s Employment & Training Specialist, explains: “We noticed that while some of our bigger employers were registered with FFJ, they weren’t all posting vacancies, so we set up a working group with some of them to try and find out why. This helped us to understand more about how they recruit.” The team discovered that it was largely due to different

recruitment processes in larger companies, many of which offer specific programmes to the military community. Now, you can find information about alternative ways into these organisations on the 'other routes to employment' tab on FFJ.

Harnessing skillsets

One of the organisations who took part in the working group was Metro Bank, which is an active member of the FFJ employer community. Lead mortgage product manager Rupert Stevens says: “Metro

Bank wants to recruit military spouses and partners because the proactive attitude that this community has – from having to juggle the demands of the military and family, as well as their own careers alongside their own education – is something to harness.” He went on to explain that the offer from Metro Bank includes direct email access to one-to-one support, CV advice, interview support for applying for their roles, and an assurance that there is no disadvantage as a result of a military connection. l Find out more about the opportunities available from Metro Bank and some of our other employers at

More than meets the eye Among the hundreds of registered employers on the Forces Families Jobs site, there’s representation from many different sectors – and some are offering opportunities which you might not expect… A job in the construction industry, for example, means working on a building site, right? Not necessarily. Max Deans (pictured below), Early Careers Recruiter at Kier Group plc, tells us: “Whilst we do have roles for skilled tradespeople, a career with Kier Group isn’t necessarily all hard hats and hi-vis vests.” The company operates all over the UK on big projects including HS2, the Luton DART, and many hospitals and schools. Max continues: “We have an entire business function behind the construction sites which we recruit for. There are roles

within HR, finance, marketing, admin support and project management to name a few, and we also offer apprenticeships up to degree level.”

Behind the scenes

It’s a similar story for Parkdean Resorts (below centre). You could be forgiven for thinking that a holiday company would only offer housekeeping, bar work or the catering roles traditionally associated with its industry, but these types of jobs don’t appeal to everyone. HR Director, Lisa Charles-Jones, explains: “Whilst we do have lots of customer-facing roles, we have many other opportunities. Our Central Support Office is home to various departments, including IT, HR and marketing amongst others.”

Join us... FFJ is now on social media – search for 'Forces Families Jobs' on Facebook and LinkedIn

36 Army&You winter 2021

More reasons

Morrisons (above) is another valued member of the FFJ community. Resourcing Business Partner, Kieran Jackson, says there are a number of different opportunities across the business: “We are regularly recruiting for a variety of roles within our Logistics, Manufacturing and Engineering divisions, which are separate from our in-store vacancies. Many of these roles are hourlypaid and flexible, so ideal for people who are looking for this kind of employment.” Roles in Finance, Head Office, HR and many others are often available, alongside its customer-facing roles in its supermarkets. Like Kier Group and Parkdean Resorts, the company also offers apprenticeships, including the opportunity to achieve a degree in business and management. For more information, visit their profiles at @ArmyandYou



OLLOWING 17 years serving overseas in Germany and recently Cyprus, 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR) has returned to the UK and is now resident in Royal Artillery Barracks Woolwich, London. AFF’s Overseas Manager, Esther Thomas was keen to hear how the big move went and how the unit’s families and soldiers were feeling… Preparation started in September 2020 with an initial recce and briefings. As there were quite a few German spouses, AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth team gave some guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme. Susie, one such spouse, admits: “I didn’t think it would be an issue if we had to go to the UK. I’ve been married since 2006, lived in the UK from 2007 until 2012, had British children and a National Insurance number, so stupidly I didn’t look into it much early on.”

Despite her initial application being declined, our team was able to help. “I have to thank AFF for their support in my claim, I don’t think I would have had it sorted so quickly without them,” adds Susie.

Arriving in the UK

In total 145 families moved into quarters in Woolwich, a further 16 took the opportunity to live in their own homes, and others moved on to other postings in the UK. The Yates family, who moved to York, say: “While we do appreciate being able to live in York, which seems an amazing place, this move has taken its toll on us on so many levels. We all feel mentally drained after weeks of being here.” Their son Joel (13) has had particular issues settling in. He admits: “It was upsetting leaving all my good friends knowing I won’t see them often. “I was worried that it would take me a long time to make new friends, especially as it’s not a military school.

“It’s so much bigger than what I was used to.” On a positive note, spouse Susi already has a job and their youngest son Theo (7) is happy to be closer to their wider family. “We’re finally able to see my cousins, auntie, grandad, and great nana more often,” he says.

Financial impact

Back in Woolwich, another young spouse told AFF that the return to the UK was exciting, but overshadowed by concerns

about finances. She believes that there are quite a few families who are struggling to budget and understand the differences of running a home in the UK compared to overseas. “I feel a little unsettled as my husband was sent away days after our furniture was delivered,” she says. “There are still boxes all over and I’m struggling with a young baby.” Despite being in a big city, she feels isolated, but not as much as she did overseas.

Picture: Philip Carr

38 Army&You winter 2021


“If I didn’t get out to playgroup once a week, I wouldn’t see anyone but it’s not as isolated as Cyprus,” she adds.

Family ties

Other families, such as Cpl Beedell’s, are positive about the future: “The main reason we’re happy to be back is that we are expecting our first child and being close to family is a massive bonus while serving. We’re both looking forward to our four years in London.” Lt Col Wilde, commanding officer of 1 PWRR summarises the move, which occurred over four months and involved 900 soldiers and families: “There were a number of significant challenges. The UK exit from the EU, COVID and then Op PITTING [the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan] all brought with them extra work and friction. The teams in Cyprus and the UK worked very hard to enable the move and smooth out the

“The journey was stressful for the kids and involved travelling over 20 hours – transiting through hotels, planes and buses. The positive of being back is that they are closer to extended family.” - Pte Royle

inevitable problems along the way that could not have been foreseen. For some, it’s the first time they have served and lived in the UK since basic training. It has been a long time away and it’s good to be home.”

Lessons learnt

Throughout our various conversations with families, AFF found that this move has tested families in different ways. Learning from the issues raised, we will examine your common areas of concern and seek to help improve the guidance that’s given for future moves. In the meantime, we welcome home 1 PWRR and wish all the families well. If you have any issues about moving to and from any location overseas, have a look at our new Ask a Question feature on the AFF website – See page three for our contact details or get in touch with our virtual assistants via

“Our house was in a good state when we marched in and we can’t complain about anything. The pay difference is a shock, but the cost of living is much less. Overall, we’ve had a positive experience.” LCpl Maisfield


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




winter 2021 Army&You 39






SPOUSES Career coaching & mentoring

Linkedin & CV support Flexible employment opportunities

w w w . r e c r u i t f o r s p o u s e s . c o . u k

fr ee f or a l l m i l i ta ry & veteran spouses

Specialising in marketing, recruitment & STEM training





UGGLING military commitments and family life when both partners are serving can be a huge challenge – even managing to arrange to live under the same roof isn’t easy. The good news is that changes, led by the Army Personnel Centre, have been made to policy and processes that should ensure that the personal circumstances of dual service couples are given consideration by career managers before a decision is made on their next posting. Previously, there was nowhere on the Posting Preference Proforma (PPP) to state that your partner is also in the army. It’s now been amended to prompt career managers to discuss an assignment plan which considers the desires of the couple. The new measures do not mean that serving partners will get preferential treatment at appointment boards, however, the changes should make a significant difference to those like Victoria Bulleid and James Gant (pictured), who have been together since 2015 and are both serving with Army Medical Services but in different units.

“If you’re in a happy home environment then you’re more likely to work more effectively for Defence.” Making it work

“What’s important is not talking about work all of the time, having hobbies and interests to take a break from it.” “The ability to live in the same place as your partner and come home every night is really important – for your mental health and your general wellbeing,” says Victoria. “If you’re in a happy home environment then you’re more likely to work more effectively for Defence.”

Getting in sync

There was a period when James

would move jobs one year and Victoria the next which did make things difficult. But so far, the proximity of the postings means they’ve managed to live in the same house. Victoria explains: “We understand that the needs of the service come first and in the future one of our careers may have to take precedence, but that can be our choice and we can articulate that to our career managers. “It gives me confidence that on the next jobs board our wishes to be posted in the same location will be taken into account. It is a step in the right direction.”

Being a service couple means that both parties understand the challenges the other goes through – from last-minute exercises and duties to having to work late. Victoria says: “We’ve both had a variety of jobs and have had experiences that may help the other. “What’s important is not talking about work all of the time, having hobbies and interests to take a break from it. “It makes it easier that we’re both in the Army Medical Services, so posting options can be fairly close together. We don’t have children or any caring responsibilities at the moment which makes planning easier. I know dual service couples who do an amazing job balancing both.” As well as the PPP, the Boarding Manual and Career Management Handbook, both of which are regularly referred to by career managers, have also been amended to include consideration for serving spouses. For more info, see the PPP template via MODnet, Sharepoint or Defence Connect. We’d love to hear your experiences of army life as a dual service couple. Get in touch – winter 2021 Army&You 41


Devolved dealings F OR those of you who live in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, AFF’s devolved team is ready to help.

In each of the three nations, we tackle a variety of issues, led by Devolved Nations Manager Emma Perrin. She says: “Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are beautiful locations for a military posting – many families would not necessarily have chosen to live there, but more and more are deciding to settle once they’ve arrived! “When moving between the four home nations,

the small differences in support, funding, education or even law, can have a huge impact on family life. My role, along with our AFF Specialists, is to make sure that all army families can be posted to any location and not worry about whether they have the right support in place. “If you feel your family is at a disadvantage due to your move to or from a devolved region, or you’re a married unaccompanied family who aren’t sure who to turn to, do get in touch.”

Meet your team... NORTHERN IRELAND

REGIONAL LEAD SCOTLAND Amanda Yorke MILITARY CONNECTION My husband is in the army. AREAS COVERED Scotland. CONTACT: Amanda says: “I started with AFF at the beginning of October so I’m still very new in the role – I’m looking forward to supporting army families in Scotland. I would especially like to hear from those families that are classed as dispersed – I want to make sure they feel supported as well as those living on the patch.”

AREAS COVERED Northern Ireland (including Aldergrove, Lisburn and Holywood). CONTACT: Northern Ireland is currently covered by Emma, our Devolved Nations Manager plus our Virtual Assistants. Families who have not yet experienced life in Northern Ireland may feel anxious about their first move over the water, but we then find that many do not want to leave! Please contact the AFF team if you have any concerns or issues moving to, or living there.

REGIONAL LEAD WALES & BORDERS Sadie Baldwin MILITARY CONNECTION I’m an army widow. AREAS COVERED Wales and the borders, including Abbey Wood, Hereford and Beachley. CONTACT: Sadie says: “I’m fortunate to cover not only Wales but also some of England! “I find that loneliness and isolation is an issue for some families due to the location of the postings in Wales. The scenery is breath-taking in many parts, but it can also feel like you’re a long way from anywhere if you can’t drive. “Wales has had different COVID restrictions to England, which has added to families’ struggles. I’m looking forward to getting back out on the road, meeting families and finding out how we can help.”

You can find all AFF’s contact details on page 3 or visit

42 Army&You winter 2021


Colour among COVID’s cloud


HE Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has awarded a further 64 grants to projects that help postpandemic recovery in military communities.

One such scheme that’s been a massive success is Artistic Tots, led by the Northern Ireland Garrison Support Unit, which received more than £8,000 under the Force for Change programme. Artistic Tots took place each week for service families and children inside the barracks, giving much-needed respite to those who have spent substantial amounts of time in isolation away from friends and family. It also helped to support families who were home-schooling their children during the pandemic. Children developed their

artistic skills through a range of hands-on craft activities. The project leader says: “The undoubted success of this programme is that every child has grown, improved personally and socially, and most importantly had fun. Under this black cloud of COVID fun times have been rare; these children have benefitted massively from the funding and will continue to do so in the future.” Every child received a certificate as recognition of their accomplishments and was given the art pack programme so they could continue their art skills at home or in small groups. l To find out more about the Trust’s funding programmes, go to

Independent School of the Year for Student Wellbeing

Picture: Phil Hearing / Unsplash

Book your visit online now

We’re proud to offer girls from families across the Armed Forces a supportive and nurturing home from home. A place where everyone receives a first-class education, enjoys fun and exciting weekends, and realises their potential. Winner in the Independent Schools of the Year Awards 2021.

winter 2021 Army&You 43

Scholarship Days Monday 24th and Tuesday 25th January 2022

Generous discounts for Military Families

“An exceptional school” - Good Schools Guide 2020

Application deadline Friday 7th January Or contact

Sc h fro ola m rsh Ye ip ar s 7

STEPS TO SCHOOLING A PPLYING for a school place for your child may seem like a minefield. Here at AFF, we receive enquiries daily from families who are confused by the process or who are trying to appeal to get a place at an alternative school to the one they’ve been allocated. Our Education & Childcare Specialist, Anna Hutchinson, tells us more about how it works in England… In the first instance you should familiarise yourself with your local authority’s webpage so you’re aware of the process and timelines for applications.

In-year moves

“We’re moving during the summer and my child starts school in September – why have I been told that I need to complete an ‘in-year transfer’ form when they will be starting at the beginning of a school year?”

Any school admission that’s outside of the main admissions rounds, typically for Reception and Year 7, is considered to be an ‘in-year’ admission.

No guarantees

“I thought that the Armed Forces Covenant meant my child would be allocated a place at the local school, but we have been given a place at a school in the next village, why?” Sadly the Armed Forces Covenant doesn’t mean your child will be prioritised for the school of your choice; it’s designed to ensure that service children are not disadvantaged in comparison to their non-service peers. The school admissions team should consider your child fairly against others applying in the same location. Unfortunately, many schools are heavily oversubscribed.

Get the timing right

“We know we’re moving before the start of the next school year. The deadline for Reception applications is January – what should I do about applying when we don’t know where we will be moving to yet?”

Many of you face this problem. Regardless of whether your child is due to begin in Reception or Year 7 (or 3, 5, 9 in some areas), you need to apply through the local authority where you’re currently living to ensure that your child is allocated a place. If your move is delayed or you end up staying in the same area, then you’re secure in the knowledge that your child has a school place. Once you’ve received confirmation of a move, contact the local authority and ask to apply for a place in the new area – they will be able to advise you of your next steps.

Your options

“I have been offered a place at a school for my child and it is not the one we wanted. What do we do now?” You can appeal. But in the first instance, you should accept the place you’ve been offered while informing your preferred school that you will be appealing the decision. You can retain the place at the same time as putting forward an appeal. If you decide to turn it down, bear in mind that if your appeal is unsuccessful, you may find your child is without a school place altogether. While your appeal is being considered, do take time to research the school where your child does have a place as you may find that local knowledge and lived experience alleviate your concerns.

There are slight differences between the Devolved Administrations – if you need advice, contact AFF or email CEAS at

winter 2021 Army&You 45

Picture: Jon Tyson/Unsplash



Queen Victoria School Dunblane, Scotland Aiming to provide a unique, thriving boarding and educational community in which all pupils and staff work to support and respect one another in realising their full potential

Set in 45 acres of countryside, our co-educational boarding school supports the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are either Scottish, have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The main entry point is Primary 7, which is broadly equivalent to Year 6 in England. Places are fully funded by the MOD, with a parental charge for some aspects of boarding life. Open Morning is the 3rd Saturday in September and applications for admission to QVS close on the 15th January each year. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 or email


MAKING AN APPEAL SO your child hasn’t been offered a place at your preferred school, what next? If you decide to appeal, there are a few key things to consider… It’s important that you think about the reasons why your preferred school is the best fit for your child, rather than listing the reasons why you feel the one you have been allocated isn’t. You may want to include information about the importance of creating local friendship groups, the need for a school which is local or within the transport catchment if you’re unable to drive. If you have siblings placed at separate schools, explain the difficulties of being in two places at once. Detail why a particular school appeals to your child over another school. What do they offer in terms of extracurricular activities or subjects that can be studied? This is especially relevant for secondary school settings. It’s best to write appeal letters yourself, as you know your child better than anyone else.

Seek advice


When considering making an appeal, contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) team, who are on hand to help. Sue Smyth, CEAS Team Leader, says: “If you’re unsure of the admission process or would like some advice about how to appeal, please don’t hesitate to email us. School admissions are very much a parental responsibility but for mobile service families it can be very confusing as there may be local differences to the process. Appeal hearings may appear daunting but our experienced education officers can guide you through. The majority of school admission appeals are unsuccessful – but the CEAS team can help you make the best case you can.” Go to


winter 2021 Army&You 47


@bri stowfi l ms

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teachers from each department explicitly referring to this cross curricular link. Core concepts in all subjects are used as the catalyst for personal discovery rather than where knowledge and ambition are stifled by exam specifications.“

We explore the efforts taken by schools and colleges to broaden the horizons and minds of their students


TEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) is an integral part of Millfield’s curriculum, and the school offers a wide range of activities in addition to the core syllabus to help students develop their skills and understanding.

Space is a key focus of the Brilliance Curriculum in Year 9, covering astronomy, Mars, the Apollo 11 landing, stars and exoplanets to name a few. The school organises lecturers to visit and discuss different topics to expand the students’ knowledge; (Academic), Alexandra Haydon

Curriculum is inspirational in

open to all year groups, a recent

introduced the school’s Brilliance

nature, aspirational in scope and

talk from a professor focused

Curriculum in September 2020

carefully planned so that each

on exoplanets and the nature of

and has worked with the teaching

topic within a subject builds on

scientific research in this area. The

body to regain ownership of the

the knowledge and skills learnt

physics department brings STEM to

school curriculum by encouraging

previously and links explicitly

life through innovative interactive

teachers to evaluate what they

to other areas of the Millfield

e-books with imaginative diagrams

teach, why they teach it, the

curriculum. For example, the

and activities, such as time-lapse

teaching sequence and ways that

teaching of the importance of

night sky photography to encourage

both disciplinary and inter-

water purification in Geography

learning and curiosity amongst the

not need to be isolated is key in

disciplinary understanding can be

is followed by the teaching of

students and inspire them to find

inspiring the students to spark


different mechanisms for water

out more.

The idea that STEM subjects do

deeper interests. Deputy Head

Alexandra said: “The Brilliance


ONE of the first words anyone hears about Farleigh is ‘contemporary’ and their approach to STEM is just that, ensuring the children see their STEM learning as having realworld applications.

purification in Chemistry, with


LEARNING goes far beyond the classroom at St Peter’s School, York, where each and every child is inspired

Farleigh are currently exploring environmental issues and the

to gain the qualifications,

children are really vocal and opinionated about these. They feel a

skills, interests and values

strong sense of ownership over how to innovate new systems that

needed for life after school.

do no or least harm. They see how their STEM subjects give them the

STEM learning encourages

tools to analyse, help and improve their world. The school encourages

pupils at St Peter’s to

abstract thinking and then teaches the children how to use their STEM

investigate and engineer

knowledge to interpret their ideas in the physical world and align the

solutions to real-world

two realistically. They also use enquiry-based learning as it sharpens

problems, leading to

thinking, and believe in hands-on prepping, getting the children to take

independent thinking and a love of learning as part of a vibrant learning

responsibility for setting up and tidying away their own equipment.


They have more respect for the process if they have ownership over it! In DT, the children are constantly challenged to think about what they are designing, out of what materials and to what purpose? As for external and extended opportunities, they are rich. Farleigh participates in numerous events such as the Prep Schools’ Challenge at Bradfield and the ‘Egg Drop Challenge’ at Godolphin School. They are also lucky enough to have a ‘Saving Your Acorns’ day, taught

This year, Lower Sixth pupil Martha (pictured) received the prestigious award of Arkwright Scholar in recognition of her outstanding work in design and technology. Martha was awarded the scholarship following a rigorous selection process designed to identify the highest-calibre school students in the UK who have a strong academic and practical ability in technical subjects. In preparation for her application, Martha created independent

annually by specialists in the school community, which gives the children

investigation into the Active Air Management System on the McLaren

a savvy view on maths applied to money. Their most recent STEM day

Elva. Martha, who hopes to pursue a career in motorsport engineering,

out saw Year 6 girls zooming off to Monkton Combe School to take part

said: “I was really excited when I heard the news. The scholarship

in a ‘Girls On Track’ initiative managed by Motorsport UK, which aims

is a huge opportunity which opens up lots of doors into real world

to inspire, connect and showcase females in motorsport as well as in

engineering experiences.”

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) subjects. Farleigh teach their children to see they can use their STEM

Mrs Danielle Staniforth, Head of Design and Technology at St Peter’s School, said: “Martha has solidified her position within the school

knowledge to understand their world better and that it can lead

community as a fantastic ambassador for bright young women in STEM.

to many exciting and useful career choices, too. We all grow best

Congratulations to Martha on her outstanding achievement.”

supported by a strong STEM!

winter 2021 Army&You 49



Inspired. Encouraged. Inquisitive.


Inspiring children to reach new heights

The Downs Malvern offers exceptional teaching that delivers results - placing us amongst the best in the prep school world. Want to learn more? or call the Registrar +44 (0)1684 544108



50 Army&You winter 2021

0071_Army and You Winter AH_outlines.indd 1

03/11/2021 15:18 @ArmyandYou



HILST the accepted

place where scientific endeavour

wisdom for any

will thrive. But why not? Creativity

school wishing to

is a core tenant of STEM disciplines

the natural world. To be able to ask

encourage more pupils into STEM

and asking questions which no

a question which leads to another

is that you must provide excellent

one dares to ask leads to great

question which leads to a concept

teaching, relatable role models

discoveries. So how do we develop

which few minds have thought of,

and real world experience, there

this creative, engaging culture?

is a great privilege. Science gives

is a greater intangible which is

breeds enthusiasm for STEM. Thirdly, we embrace the wonder of

Firstly, we encourage all pupils to

us an insight into the fundamental

crucial for encouraging young

become the best that they can be.

people to engage with the STEM

This holds an implicit acceptance

passion for science. Time is taken

encourage our pupils to take time

curriculum, writes Charlotte

that scientific achievements

in lessons to allow pupils to engage

to appreciate the beauty of what

Wilde, Head of Physics at Wells

require hard work whether through

enthusiastically in the implications

they are learning. Whether through

Cathedral School.

constant practice, to ensure that

of what they are learning. Whilst

organising trips to ‘wonder at the

Research into participation

mathematical techniques are

few will remember Newton’s

moon’ or taking the time in each

emphasises the importance of a

second nature, or through the

second law of motion by the

lesson to say a simple ‘wow’; a

school’s ‘culture’. In fact, at one

time needed to think through a

time they get to university, most

culture of marvel encourages pupils

recent physics conference a well

challenging concept and understand

will recall the lesson where they

to see the potential in STEM and

meaning researcher berated the

it. However, hard work does not

smashed a trolley into a wall. In

develop their desire to engage in this

delegates by telling us that all our

need to be a lonely activity. At

their enthusiasm, they will develop

fascinating field.

efforts would be useless if our

Wells we encourage pupils to work

the essential STEM discipline of

school did not have a scientific

collaboratively, seek help and

trial and error – my egg broke!

a creative scientific curriculum?

culture. For a teacher at a specialist

support each other so that the hard

What can I do to keep it intact next

Quite simply we aim to live the

music school, this could be seen

work of scientific understanding can

time? By allowing pupils to express

words of Rebecca Elson: “We are

as discouraging – surely such a

be a sociable, rewarding endeavour.

their curiosity and explore their

industrious. We breed enthusiasms.

ideas we develop a culture which

Honour our responsibility to awe.”

creative environment cannot be a

Secondly, we are proud of our


workings of the universe and we


THE Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS),

AT St Joseph’s College, our Key Stage

open to 11-18-year-olds, prides itself on delivering high

2 students have been excelling in

quality lessons across all subjects, including those

their engineering lessons. Seeing this

covered by STEM. In recognition of this and the school’s

positive impact, the College has made

exceptional results, DOYRMS was presented two SSAT

exciting changes to the curriculum

Educational Outcomes awards.

in both the Senior School and Sixth

Within the school’s 150-acre parkland estate, you will

So, how do we at Wells support

Form to embed engineering into the

find outstanding facilities including modern classrooms,

timetable, writes Mychaela Frost, Head

well-equipped engineering workshops and computer science

of Technology.

suites. Importantly, STEM opportunities are delivered across

St Joseph’s is committed to ensuring that

all year groups, Year 7 – Year 13, and all students are provided

everyone has the chance to progress in the

with their own laptop when joining the school.

subject – if a student has a passion and

As well as opportunities within the classroom, students at

enthusiasm for engineering, they can experience a successful future in the industry.

DOYRMS have access to UK based and international industry

Engineers will always be in demand, the number of disciplines available are endless

links to further their STEM knowledge and experiences. This

and therefore it is an industry that offers huge scope. We work in collaboration with

includes visits to Pfizer to complete science experiments, trips

the Royal Academy of Engineering and the STEM Ambassador Programme, allowing

to CERN in Geneva and working on developing engineering

access to new resources and up-to-date research on teaching and learning.

products for the industry, such as WIFI antennas for Infineon

The Technology Faculty at St Jo’s will be introducing engineering into Key Stage

Technologies. Students also benefit from over 80 clubs and

3. The students will have the opportunity to work in the workshop, a new exciting

activities which are offered weekly. A number of these are

“makerspace” and the computer lab. This will allow children to express their

dedicated to STEM including Computer Science, Engineering

creativity, demonstrate their problem solving skills and encourage them to use their

and Science Olympiad.

imagination. Students will look at how engineering features in the real world and

Latest student leavers’ destinations have included STEM apprenticeships with Amazon, jobs with The

will get to develop their own ideas by coming up with solutions to some interesting real world problems. From September 2021, we are offering a new course at GCSE level, students will

Royal Engineers and

be studying the BTEC First in Engineering which will allow them to increase their

places at top universities

practical skills through the coursework modules and expand their knowledge in the

to study a variety of STEM

theory side of the subject. To allow for students to continue this pathway, the BTEC

courses, such as medicine,

Level 3 Engineering course will start for our Sixth Form students in September.

economics, pharmacology,

Students will be exposed to specialist areas of engineering and this will allow them

biochemistry, and

to move into further education or the workplace through an apprenticeship.

mechanical engineering.

winter 2021 Army&You 51

St Joseph’s College gives young people space to thrive intellectually, emotionally and physically. 2 - 18 years. Independent day and boarding school.

Belstead Road Ipswich Suffolk IP2 9DR United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)1473 690281 Email:


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

52 Army&You winter 2021





AT Malvern College we consider the STEM element of our curriculum as a golden opportunity for our young people to explore STEM subjects, to engage with subject matter experts, to conduct their own experiments and maybe help ignite the spark that might result in a future breakthrough. We have a range of STEM societies and groups, some of which are very much pupil-led, others

St Swithun’s is a girls’ boarding school in Winchester, just 40 minutes by car from Tidworth camp in Wiltshire and an hour from London by train or from London airports by road. The school offers both full and weekly boarding giving service families the option to choose what works for their particular circumstances at a given point in time with some flexibility if things change. There is a full evening and weekend

requiring the involvement of teaching staff and

Biologists analysed soil samples to find out

third parties.

whether there was life on an imaginary planet;

Within the science department we host an

the chemists produced a timing device by using

engineering society. Currently, we have four

the well-known iodine clock reaction, and the

groups of three to four young engineers who

physicists made a self-propelled vehicle from

have taken on the challenge of designing an

items such as POLO® mints, lollipop sticks,

earthquake proof building.

drinking straws and balloons.

The Medical and Veterinary Society is for those

Malvern College is adjacent to QinetiQ, a UK

who are interested in both human and animal

based, global defence contractor and – as part of

medicine. This group meets, discusses and

the company’s community outreach work – our

debates regularly on a range of such matters. As

pupils are given an engineering-based challenge.

a school we have access to the Medical Mavericks

Participants are interviewed, teams allocated,

Academy, which is an online platform where

and QinetiQ engineers act as mentors.

programme with a variety of activities to keep

teachers, pupils and parents can access amazing

all boarders busy whatever their interests.

resources that promote STEM subjects and

Biology, Chemistry and Physics Olympiad

They could be inspired by competitive sport,

showcase the staggering number of careers in

competitions as well as other competitions.

archery, fencing or navigating the countryside

the National Health Service to help young people

on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. But equally

make informed decisions.

it could be Greenpower electric car racing,

Our Inter-House Science Competition is held

We also encourage pupils to take part in the

And finally, the STEM mathematicians – they quietly get involved in a range of national based Maths and National Cypher Challenges. In 2022,

allotment club, Dungeons and Dragons club,

annually, and the coveted prize is the Silver

the College will host the regional heat of the

chess, art, baking or restoring an old car or

Test Tube. The recent competition was intense

Team Maths Challenge.

typewriter in repair club which becomes their

and comprised of one round in each discipline.


favourite activity. An excellent education ensures that girls at St Swithun’s not only achieve their potential in examinations, but also learn the lifelong skills and habits of happy and successful people. Most importantly in our all-girls’ environment they gain a solid sense of who they are before they go out into the world where outmoded stereotypes do still remain and where, as young women, their decisions


GORDON’S, a co-educational state boarding school in Surrey, has invested heavily in the infrastructure of STEMrelated subjects and now boasts a STEM hub with a dedicated team of teachers, all experts in their fields. A purpose built Maths block was completed

and opinions are sometimes questioned. Ours

two years ago and in the summer a slick

is a supportive community where differences

new Business and Computer Science suite of

are celebrated, where everyone is encouraged

classrooms emerged on the skyline, offering

Sixth Form in the Summer to study medicine.

to have a go without fear of failure and to try

the latest technology for students in light,

The school now has a dedicated medical co-

again if they do fail, and where they can have

contemporary surroundings. The science block

ordinator to ease the journey of others following

good, unselfconscious fun.

and Design Technology are next to undergo

in their footsteps.

Our pastoral team includes a psychologist, the chaplain, form tutors, nurses and other

make-overs. As well as students studying STEM subjects

Design and Technology is on the curriculum for all students in Key Stage 3 and then students

students; there are plenty of people to lend

as part of the curriculum, they also have

can opt for it in Key Stages 4 and 5. Here they

an ear and to notice if things are not going

the opportunity to develop their interests

are exposed to product design, inclusive design

as well as they might. But the first port of

further through co-curricular options such as

principles, prototyping and graphical drawing

call for boarders and their parents is their

Olympiads, CREST Awards, SATRO and Siemens

techniques. During the GCSE and A Level course

housemistress and her team who talk to the

competitions. An Inter-House Maths competition

students utilise what they have learnt before to

girls individually every night, recognising

has been added to the range of sports and arts

undertake a main product design task where

and sorting out worries before they become

that have been the traditional mainstay of intra-

they have to go through the whole design process

a problem and creating a warm, comfortable

school battles!

to solve a problem which culminates in the

communal living environment where there is a lot of fun, some peaceful downtime and the celebration of the girls’ successes.

This emphasis on STEM subjects has already made its mark, with nine students leaving the

production of a final prototype.

winter 2021 Army&You 53




T IS always preferable to agree child arrangements with your former partner or spouse directly, according to Ella Moxey, a family law solicitor at B P Collins. “You both making a compromise is usually better than passing the decision to a judge, since agreeing the arrangements should enable them to be workable for you both and your children,” she adds. Ella also advises that court proceedings can be lengthy and create bad feeling between parents – which is the last thing children want, especially around holidays such as Christmas. Although in certain situations it may be impossible to have direct communication, here are seven tips on how to reach an agreement… 1. Always keep the children’s best interests at the forefront of your conversations. It may be challenging to engage in communication with your ex but your separation affects your children’s lives too and it is always better for them to have

54 Army&You winter 2021

close, loving relationships with both parents and to see you both regularly. 2. Agree a date, time and place to discuss the arrangements. If communication is challenging, you may find it helpful to meet in a neutral space – or if that isn’t possible use indirect communication, such as email, and keep your language neutral and open. Make suggestions, not demands. If you think the discussions might be difficult, consider suggesting that a mutual friend is also present – sometimes it can be helpful to have a neutral perspective on matters. 3. Think carefully about the

issues – these include the dayto-day arrangements, handovers including timing and cost of travel, plans for telephone or video calls and schedules for trips abroad. Remember that in most circumstances, you will need the permission of the other parent to take your child/children out of England and Wales. 4. Allow for some flexibility in arrangements. You may need to accommodate both of your work schedules, annual leave or that of any other relevant person – such as a new partner. Being too prescriptive is not always beneficial and there may need to be some give and take.


5. Once you have agreed arrangements, consider creating a calendar or parenting plan and explain it simply and in an age appropriate way to your children. Listen to their views and allow them to express their feelings. 6. At handovers consider inviting the other parent in for a tea or coffee. This shows your children that you can communicate and work together. Take a positive interest in the activities the children did with the other parent – this puts the children first. 7. If you need to change arrangements, let the other parent know with as much notice as possible. Unless there is an emergency or unforeseen circumstances, you should not change arrangements frequently as this will be annoying, can cause distrust and is likely to be confusing to your children. If you can’t agree arrangements, email or call 01753 889995 to explore your options. @ArmyandYou


Whatever your relationship to your soldier, we’d love to hear about your army family. Email us at and follow @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories…

Rosie & Josh have been together for ten years and married since 2017. Josh started at Sandhurst when the couple had been going out for just seven months, so the army has pretty much always been a part of their relationship…

Since getting married, we’ve lived in Wyton, York, Aldershot and Manchester and have recently been posted to Tamil Nadu, India as Josh is attending Defence Services Staff College, says Rosie. I really love army life! We both enjoy moving around and living in different places. There are opportunities that you just don’t get in civilian jobs and it feels like a privilege to be able to make the most of them as a couple. For me, it’s really important to be

involved in each ‘patch’ community we live in; the friends I’ve made through the army are some of my closest. MAKING THE MOST OF OPPORTUNITIES The best points are the excitement and adventure of living somewhere new; the opportunities to meet new people and the pride I feel for everything my husband has achieved. There have been times when I’ve found it difficult to fit a career around the army, but I’ve always sought out

opportunities to work or volunteer; I write on job applications that being an army spouse means I’m resilient, adaptable and able to fit into new situations quickly – all traits that employers like! FABULOUS FAMILIES Both of our families are incredibly supportive of us, and especially me when Josh has deployed on operations. My army spouse friends are also tremendously important to me and are the best people to talk to during the tougher times,

because they completely understand what army life is like. York has been our favourite posting as it’s such a fun city with beautiful countryside nearby, and the patch in Strensall is so sociable and friendly. GET SOCIAL If you’re new to army life or moving to a new area, my advice would be to join the local Facebook group so you can ask questions about your new location – housing, schools and events – in advance. &

winter 2021 Army&You 55

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

Martin Weathers

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

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

Ahmed Gamil

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

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

New Commitments… The re-signing of the Covenant in 2018 commits Tesco to uphold its key principles, including: • Supporting Veterans who have left the Armed Forces with employment at Tesco. • Aiding spouses and partners of Serving personnel to get jobs at Tesco stores.

• Promoting the Reserve Forces to Tesco colleagues. • Ensuring flexibility around life changes due to partners’ Military service so colleagues are not disadvantaged.

Tesco is already one of the biggest employers of Serving and former Service personnel, with thousands of Veterans working in roles across the business. The retailer is also one of the biggest employers of Reservists and has a record as a Forces-friendly organisation.

Find out more at:

Patch parties

Sometimes the best nights are the impromptu ones, where everyone brings their own food and nips across the road in their slippers to share supper in one quarter. With Christmas around the corner, culinary queen AJ Sharp shares her favourite feasting ideas…


Sing for your supper

F YOU want everyone to get to know each other better, there are many meals which work as conversation starters. Some easy options include build your own fajitas, where only a little cooking and preparation is required and everything else is put out on the table for everyone to help themselves. A new concept which we really enjoyed recently was, a home delivery service of delicious dim sum which is frozen and just needs finishing off in the oven. They offer all sorts of flavours, our favourite was Surf & Turf, but you can also choose from Chicken & Veg, Vegetarian and Duck Gyoza.

Doing the rounds

Another way to get to know lots of people quickly is a safari supper. The idea is that you travel around the patch having a course at lots of different people’s

At one patch we lived on there was a carol singing safari. It started with some of the ‘livers-in’ coming out to the patch and singing Christmas carols at the first house. The host of the first stop would then invite them in for a drink and they would join the group and go on to the next house, where they sing and are given a drink, and so on, until the carol singing group is enormous and the last house hosts the after-party!

Bring your own banquet

homes. Start with drinks at one person’s house, then starter at another, main at another… you get the gist. Finally, pudding and usually that lucky person gets to host the after-party! These can be very merry nights!

We had a truly epic feast one New Year’s Eve when we planned a ‘bring a course’ evening. Every course had to be small but delicious, a few bites per person, so that no one got lumped with all the cooking. It was fantastic and the best part was everyone took home their own washing up!

“The magic ingredient for a patch party is laughter. Someone has to make a joke or dress up to break the ice. I like Asian food, so if I’m only taking one or two dishes it’s normally sushi and cake!” – Jodie Reynolds, @themilwife

winter 2021 Army&You 57

Picture: Valeria Aksakova /

You can follow AJ @ajsharpflavourfanatic on Instagram


Sowing seeds of friendship T HE importance of social connection has been brought home by the pandemic – lockdowns have simultaneously separated people from family and friends and brought neighbours together. The demands of army life, with frequent moves and deployments, can make it particularly challenging to develop a sense of belonging. As restrictions eased, one army community at Chetwynd Barracks in Nottinghamshire wanted to find a way to unite people and the idea for a shared garden was born. It’s being led by Capt Ed Rydings (pictured below) and supported by a committee, including his wife Lucy Rhodes (right), local nursery management committee member Nicky West, Force Protection Officer Ian Barnes, Station Welfare Officer Paddy O’Reilly and a wealth of volunteers. A ‘patch poll’ showed there was plenty of interest, so a plan was put together.

Positive health benefits

Lucy explains: “We received DIO approval to construct 30 allotments and a community garden on a disused area of camp. The aim was to capitalise on growing enthusiasm for gardening and its positive health and wellbeing benefits and bring the community back together after lockdown. “By mid-April, the garden boundaries had been marked out and individual plots allocated in time for spring planting. “It would not have been possible to

If you know a person with a military connection who works hard to improve your local community, tell us about them – email and read more stories at

complete the initial phase within this timeframe without amazing support from the community who turned out at weekends to cut turf, dig, make raised beds, build fencing and plant up the social areas with communal herbs, strawberries, rhubarb and flowers.”

Growing funds

An initial injection of funds came from the group selling seedlings and other garden items across camp as part of a children’s activity trail. This was given a big boost by donations, together with in-kind support – including free machinery hire and 60 tonnes of topsoil – from generous local businesses. Lucy says: “An engineering team helped with building planters and garden furniture for the garden and also to raise money. Others carried out a land quality survey or dusted off their diggers to lift the turf on the plots. The nursery has taken up a plot to grow food for the children as a space for play and learning. “We harvested lots of crops – shallots, broccoli, courgettes and kale – and the nursery children have loved coming down for their garden time. “It’s been an amazing experience, and we have had some super feedback about the impact that it has had on the mental health and mindset of those using the garden.”

What’s next?

holders have had a successful first growing season, the volunteers would like to see the community garden being used more by the wider Chetwynd Barracks community as a beautiful outdoor space for relaxing, meeting, learning and socialising. Lucy adds: “There are a few ideas in the pipeline including gardening talks and cookery classes using produce from the garden. We know that community gardens have been set up on several other camps and hope that others will pick up their spades and do the same!” &

Capt Rydings wins a signed print from The Remembrance 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

Now that construction is complete and plot-

58 Army&You winter 2021



Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing

A POSTCARD FROM... The Ringjalis – Gita, Dal (serving) and children Cruz (7) and Crisha (5)

How long have you been an army family? Almost 22 years.

Time in Falkland Islands?

Civilian or you can apply for the civil service. There are also volunteering opportunities on the base such as the Thrift Shop and Oasis Cafe.

Nine months.

How many other military families live there?

There is a mixture of Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Army, civil servants and contractors. Around 80 families.

What are the quarters like?

There are three- and fourbedroom bungalows with plenty of space, lovely conservatories, large gardens and a shed. The quarters are within Mount Pleasant Complex (MPC).

Are there any employment/ training opportunities? Yes, as a Locally Employed

What about schools/ childcare?

We have Mount Pleasant Primary School, which has an Early Years unit. There is no wraparound childcare so some people have a live-in nanny. There is currently no endorsed secondary school so families with over-11s are encouraged to consider boarding school in the UK. We also have a Facebook page where we can get babysitting help.

Where do people get together and who supports you? We do everything as a community. We have a great community officer who

organises family activities – including a get-together every other Friday called Happy Hour. The families officer puts on lots of things to do during the school holidays too. There’s also welfare support, the padre and the SSAFA social worker.

How do you find the cost of living?

It’s expensive compared to the UK. The internet is expensive; we purchased a large 57GB bundle that costs us £120 a month. If you buy fresh fruit and vegetables from Stanley – the capital – it’s more than double the price that you would pay in the UK.

In your experience, what are the best and worst things about living on the Islands? The best thing is the clean

air, the peace, the wildlife and the simplicity of life. As a family we have spent quality time together in a natural environment. The downside is that you can only buy very basic fresh fruit and vegetables in small quantities at MPC. Due to limited fresh produce and a lack of dairy farming, families must rely heavily on frozen and tinned foods. The weather is unpredictable and sometimes gets very cold and windy.

Would you recommend it as a family posting? If you enjoy wildlife and are looking for a chance to have a change of lifestyle and spend quality time together as a family in a simple and natural environment, then I would recommend this posting. We have loved it here. &

winter 2021 Army&You 59



Service with a smile

DAY at school need not be all about sitting behind a desk – there’s the chance for pupils to get active, bust some military myths and maximise their potential with a visit from one of the army engagement teams based around the UK. The team from 7 Brigade (The Desert Rats) is one of ten teams who go into schools, colleges, universities, local businesses and community groups to deliver presentations, and set up fun, practical activities.

POSITIVE MEMORIES These are all aimed at developing communication skills, fostering collaboration, and growing self-confidence, making sure that the children and staff enjoy a positive, memorable day. The activities can support the school curriculum, including Science Technology Pictures: MOD Crown copyright

Engineering and Maths (STEM), and can be tailored to work with the organisation’s aims, for example developing communication skills, problem solving, leadership, teamwork or guidance on career opportunities. IMAGINATIVE ACTIVITIES Children learn to work with their friends mastering STEM kits, for example, which

look like giant Meccano sets, and test their teamwork skills with the cam-net relay challenge (a race scrambling under a camouflage net retrieving various item of military equipment), Stepping Stones, a bridge making challenge and Air Drop, where they have to rescue equipment from an imaginary lava lake. They’ve been a huge hit with both primary and secondary schools, and always put a smile on small faces. “It was fun and I learnt a lot about the army. I hope to see them again soon,” said one Year 7 pupil at Orchard Mead Academy in Leicester. A classmate commented: “It was a fun event to see our army, experience it and learn. It showed us what an average army person looks like and what to expect of them.” The Desert Rats team also sets up obstacle courses, and does demonstrations on patrolling, rations and equipment. Another primary school was full of praise: “It was really great to see the children working together collaboratively, and thank you so much for making it inclusive for all children including the two we had in wheelchairs.” FUTURE PLANS For those employees of the future looking for a little career support, they can also take part in mock interviews and presentations on life skills. The team has been visiting schools for several years and developed many of the new activities now seen across the UK. One of their goals is to show that soldiers can have rewarding, diverse and varied careers, and build excellent transferable skills in the process. They are always keen to inspire young people to value what they have to offer, maximise their potential and challenge stereotypes, while fostering a greater understanding of the army. For more information, contact

60 Army&You winter 2021



HIS year’s Annington Challenge proved to be a high point of the summer for a group of lucky service children, including 11 army youngsters. The challenge – Annington’s project for military youngsters run with the Outward Bound Trust – provides a wealth of exciting activities including sailing, abseiling, rock climbing, canoeing and gorge walking. Annington’s annual donation of £50,000 usually provides funding for around 80 service youngsters. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, numbers were restricted this year, but the fun levels were just as high at the Outward Bound Centres in Aberdovey and Ullswater. Gus Shretha (pictured inset right), 14, who is part of an army family, took part in the Aberdovey course and found the experience really boosted his skills. He said: “When I first arrived at the centre, I didn’t think I was going to talk to anyone

but I met a lad called Will who was in my group and now we’re friends.”

PULLING TOGETHER Initially confident that he could handle anything the sevenday course threw at him, the expedition to Cader Idris in Snowdonia took him outside of his comfort zone. “We camped in the rain and went to bed wet, but our instructor Chris gave us plenty of good advice and encouraged

us,” he added. “It was definitely an achievement!” Gus found that his group encouraged each other when the going got tough. “Because I’ve done rock climbing before I found myself leading the group and supporting the others who were less experienced,” he added. So what would Gus say to other army youngsters who are interested in tackling the Annington Challenge? “I’d encourage them. Just keep your head up – you can always find something in common with people!” l To date, more than 350 service youngsters have completed the Annington Challenge and now’s your chance to join the experience’s alumni. Summer 2022 marks the Challenge’s tenth anniversary and they’re looking for participants. For more information on next year’s programme and to register your interest, go to

winter 2021 Army&You 61










Fun, friendly and life-changing, the Annington Challenge is open to all 11-19 year-olds from families of all Army ranks.



Apply online for a place on the 2022 Annington Challenge and you can forge your own path. You’ll build self-confidence and self-esteem, while learning some valuable lessons that you can take through life.




WWW.OUTWARDBOUND.ORG.UK/THE-ANNINGTON-CHALLENGE Closing date 28th February 2022. Up to 90% of all course fees are covered and all equipment is supplied. Courses range from 5-19 days in duration and take place during the school summer holidays. You choose the course that’s best for you!


Click the giveaways tab at Entries close on 9 January 2022 One entry per household per giveaway. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.


Charm and character are on tap at the 18th-century Devonshire Arms at Beeley in Derbyshire. A stone’s throw from Chatsworth’s magnificent house and garden in the Peak District, the cosy inn is steeped in history. Offering modern-day sophistication and colourful contemporary style, you could sample gastro pub dining, made with fresh seasonal produce, in the bar or the colourful Brasserie-style restaurant. One lucky reader will win a one-night stay for two with breakfast and three-course dinner included, worth £300. If you’re not lucky enough to win, you can book your own getaway at This prize is open to serving regular and reserve families only. Prize offered subject to availability and is available until the end of July 2022 (excluding Bank Holiday weekends). Accommodation is twin or double room occupancy.

Buzzing about blooms Would you like to create a beautiful wildflower meadow and help to restore Britain’s lost wildflower habitat? Beebombs, native wildflower seedballs, are a way of doing just that. All you need to do is scatter them onto cleared ground to create a colourful meadow to bring the bees back. To start your own flower patch, order online at Three lucky readers will win a pack of five Beebombs worth £29.99 each.

Get your kids active and off their screens with Stomp Rocket®, a range of fun, STEM-inspired toys. Ideal for the garden, days in the park or holidays, they make great Christmas gifts and encourage children to learn scientific concepts such as trajectory, force, projection and motion. Children can run, jump and stomp to send rockets soaring up to 400 feet in the air. Stomp Rocket® is portable, fast, easy to assemble, with no batteries required. Five lucky readers will each receive the award-winning Stomp Rocket® Original, including a launcher and three high performance rockets, worth £12.99 each. Available from

Physics made fun Harness the invisible forces of magnetism and gravity through this innovative educational product designed to stimulate children’s curiosity and inspire them to learn more about science. The new construction system, suitable for ages eightplus, doesn’t need electricity or batteries – the motion is provided by the invisible forces of gravity and magnetism – We have three Geomag Mechanics Gravity Loops and Turns construction sets to give away, worth £34.99 each.

winter 2021 Army&You 63

©2018 Stomp Rocket D & L Company, LLC. Prizes subject to availability.

Launchpad for learning



r Enter our giveaway to win a copy of When Cucumbe page three for Lost His Cool and a Reading Force scrapbook. See @ArmyandYou entry rules. Already read it? Tell us your thoughts

FOOD FOR THOUGHT In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views on When Cucumber Lost His Cool by Michelle Robinson and Tom Knight

Published by Scholastic

ARCHIE LINFORD (5) Archie says: “The book made me feel happy, peas are my favourite.” His parents say: “We loved all the bright fruit and veg with their colourful expressions. This book is fab, we can’t wait to find the others in the range and explore and learn more about our feelings. It was nice talking about the book afterwards and how it made us feel. A lovely book with vibrant, great illustrations.”

THEO MEDLICOTT (5) His mum says: “Theo enjoyed reading the story to his bear and looking at the pictures. He also sounded the letters to form some of the words. We read the story together too.”

RHEA HART (4) “A rather sweet book about Kevin the cucumber, who is there for his friends when they have a bad day, with his super cool song,” says Rhea’s mum. “This book is bright and vibrant, full of energy and perfect rhymes. It’s a comforting story showing that everyone is cool in their own way. Rhea really loved the illustrations showing all types of fruit and veg in silly scenes and she found Mr Posh Mustard funny.”

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

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


Preparatory School - Children ages 3 to 13 Our boarding community is thriving with dedicated house parents looking after small groups of children giving a warm family feeling in our home from home. Excellent weekend provision and numbers. Just ask to speak to one of our boarding ambassadors to find out more. Outstanding opportunities across the curriculum and beyond. With happiness and well-being central to our ethos, our children are regularly achieving above and beyond expectations. Generous Bursary & special Armed Forces package making for an affordable education for all your children. Discover why we are different... Call Jackie on 01749 881609 for more information and to arrange a visit. Cranmore, Somerset, BA4 4SF

64 Army&You winter 2021



Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about army life and send them to


Tales of the unexpected

By Emma Disney,

@secretbattlesofamilitarywife As military spouses it’s safe to say that most of us have heard of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I was prepared for the fact that it could be something my husband and I may have to work through together at some point in time. What I wasn’t prepared for was me being the one to struggle, have dark days, to hit rock bottom and feel like I couldn’t go on. I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. It came as such a shock – I was a civvy, not a soldier. I was even less prepared for my husband to leave me. I kept my struggles to myself for months, I was so full of guilt, shame and embarrassment. I

Emma, her daughter Ashleigh (20), Ashleigh’s boyfriend – a serving soldier – Charlie (22) and son Alfie (9) recently climbed Mount Snowdon to raise funds for Phoenix Heroes –

“I’m determined to turn my experience into a positive and hopefully help to prevent others from feeling as low or alone as I did.” was worried that people would think I was weak or a failure. After months of trying to get help I was lucky enough to find an organisation called Phoenix Heroes. They could tell from the first phone call that I was at

Emma wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — — 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.

crisis point. They came to visit me in person that same day and had therapy in place for me within 24 hours. Phoenix Heroes supported both of my children too and I will always be eternally grateful to them. It’s been a long and winding road since then. Recovery, just like life, isn’t a linear process but I’m thankfully in a very different place today. I’m so proud of myself and my children and how we’ve handled this situation, particularly in the midst of a pandemic and being four hours away from our wider family.

Despite the tough times we’ve had to face, I’m grateful for all that has happened because every situation brings with it a lesson, a greater appreciation for life and the good people that we have around us. I’m determined to turn my experience into a positive and hopefully help to prevent others from feeling as low or alone as I did. I now write a blog to journal my journey and I was incredibly excited to start university in September. A diagnosis doesn’t have to be a life sentence, with the right support network, you can overcome anything.

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Adjusting to our ‘new normal’ By Sophie Thomas @sophiethomas2212 I guess not everyone can say their experience of army life began with no knowledge of the military whatsoever and in the middle of a pandemic. Having been with my partner for more than five years working in ‘normal’ office jobs, it came as a slight shock when he decided he wanted a career change and joined the army. I had no idea what to expect as I haven’t had any family or friends in the military. From him applying, everything then seemed to happen so quickly. When he was due to leave for

his basic training, it was going to be the longest we had ever been apart from each other. I found it really difficult to come to terms with as just after he left, we went into full lockdown in England. I found myself at home with not a great deal to do after being put on furlough at work. Fast forward to October last year and we got engaged! We decided we didn’t want to wait to get married so we booked a small wedding with just a witness each in December 2020 and then moved into our army quarter by the end of that month. A year into my army journey I’ve found that it’s a great community to be a part of. Even moving during the pandemic and not being able to meet people faceto-face for a while didn’t matter

as everyone made us feel so welcome through the power of social media. I’ve also learnt to deal with my husband being away and we just

make the most of every second of him being home. Our next chapter of army life is about to become so much more exciting as we are expecting our first baby in January 2022.

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