Useful Information

On this page:

Is the grass greener on the emerald isle?
Security advice for families in NI
SSAFA Community Volunteers
There's no time like the present to improve the future!


Is the grass greener on the emerald isle?

Posted to Northern Ireland (NI)? You may be wondering what to expect:

Is it safe?
Will it rain for the three years we’re there?
Will I get a job?

Tell me straight

There’s no escaping it - security is still an issue in NI. Be aware of what you’re saying, where you are and what your other half does for a living.

It’s hard for children to understand that, unlike on the mainland, we don’t promote the fact that mummy or daddy is a soldier in NI.

To work or not to work

Finding employment in NI can be tough; prepare yourself for lower wages and longer hours. Don’t let this put you off though - the confidence, change of scenery and social aspect of working could make all the difference to your posting.

Many spouses don’t want to work outside of camp and jobs on camp are limited; however, you do have the support of the Families Employment Advisory Team (FEAT), based in Lisburn, who offer support and guidance to help you find a job if you want one. Contact them at or on 02892 266705.

Don’t drive? Help is available!

It may be essential for you to drive in isolated locations like Aldergrove and Ballykinlar, especially if you want to gain employment off camp.

SSAFA provides part-funded driving lessons which you are strongly encouraged to make the most of if you can.

So what are the ‘pros’?

There’s plenty to celebrate about living in NI.

Prescriptions are free – yes FREE!

SFA is cheaper than average compared with mainland UK, and is of a good standard as many of them have been upgraded - say a jubilant goodbye to naff curtains, threadbare carpets and a 50’s kitchen as you march out of your current SFA – you may never see them again!

What about schools?

Many families say that they are pleased with the high standard of education in NI and there are many schools for you to choose from.

Warning: the summer holidays in NI are an epic nine weeks long! Prepare your plan of action to prevent your little cherubs driving you up the wall!

The best of the rest

You’ll get three free travel warrants to mainland UK each year - use them at peak times to save the most money. The Northern Ireland Residential Supplement gives you an extra 7.39 per day while living here, so there is plenty to smile about.

It may be cold and wet – in July – and you may be nervous about venturing out of those reassuring camp wires, but make the most of your weekends – visit for inspiration. 

Prefer to keep it local? There are lots of groups within camp which you can get involved with; get to know your neighbours and find out where they go every Wednesday morning with the kids in tow.

Northern Ireland is a good posting – not just because of the extra money you receive or the fact that SFA is cheaper – but as there is a community feel and so much to do and see.

Want to know more? Contact the AFF NI Co-ordinator at  

Back to top


Security advice for families in NI

AFF NI has asked the chain of command to provide regular security briefings for families on their arrival in the Province about the current security situation. Every family should now receive a security brief from their UWO upon arrival in NI. They will be given a form to sign to say they have received their brief and this form is used as confirmation by the pass office to enable a permanent dependants pass to be issued. Other security briefs are available from G2 who are responsible for intelligence and security matters at regular intervals in all stations. The Security advice for families in NI factsheet provides some background and will help families in NI understand what steps to take to make their lives as secure as possible.

Back to top


SSAFA Community Volunteers

Being away from your family, and possibly away from home for the first time, can often be difficult. In such circumstances, SSAFA Community Volunteers may be able to help. Community Volunteers offer practical and emotional support to individuals and families during periods of difficulty such as isolation, and illness. Support may be provided in the following ways:

  • Visiting isolated and lonely families when the spouse is away on duty
  • Befriending those who need someone to listen, and putting them in touch with an appropriate agency, where necessary
  • Supporting the bereaved
  • Practical tasks such as transport to local hospitals, and other agencies as necessary
  • Helping estranged families
  • Advice and welcome to newly weds, who may be unfamiliar with service life

Volunteers are members of the local service community, including family members and service personnel, and may be either male or female. They are carefully selected, undertake mandatory training, and work to a clear code of confidentiality. If you would like to find out more about using the Community Volunteer Service, or becoming a volunteer, then please contact SSAFA on 07971 255079. Email:

Back to top


There's no time like the present to improve the future!

Visit your local Army Learning Centre and check out the wide range of courses for dependants.

Courses range from FREE nationally recognised qualifications in Maths and English, to IT qualifications (charge applies).

Contact your local Army Learning Centre for details.
Aldergrove – 028 944 55241 
Holywood – 028 904 20643 
Lisburn – 028 922 66887

Back to top

Share this page