Latest News & Information
On this page:
18 Jun - AFF statement on redundancies
14 Jun - CGS speaks out
13 Jun - Transition Fair in the Tidworth Leisure Centre on Wed 26 Jun 13
12 Jun - New scheme will give Amed Forces a Heroes Welcome in London
12 Jun - Good Housekeeping feature 'Help for Heroines'
05 Jun - BFPO Apps
31 May - CGS Briefing Team
30 May - Do you know a child who can sing?
29 May - Camo Day – Schools Supporting Forces Families
24 May - Great News for Spouses Requiring CRB Checks - New online Update Service
17 May - Forces Festival and Community Games
15 May - Government announcement: OP HERRICK - Extended tours
07 Mar - Rebasing Announcement
28 Feb - Are you an unaccompanied spouse...
Personnel will be informed today whether or not they have been made redundant. Redundancy and its impact on the soldier’s family depends entirely on personal circumstances. Some families will see this as an opportunity to make a fresh start, but for those who are made compulsorily redundant the news they receive today will be difficult to digest as they make some challenging decisions over where they will live, what job the soldier will do and where their children will go to school. For an Army family redundancy is a family issue which may mean relocating and could also mean the soldier’s spouse having to look for work in a new area.
Figures suggest that around 4500 personnel will be made redundant and that the vast majority of these will be volunteers; however we should not forget that a significant number of personnel are non-volunteers and the news is likely to be unwelcome and deeply distressing.
News that there will be no further redundancies above those already planned (Tranche 4 is likely to run next year) is welcome at a time when families and personnel are weary of uncertainty, but further defence cuts, which may mean spending cuts are of continued concern as speculation rises as where cuts will be made.
AFF is concerned that defence cuts are affecting not only those made redundant but are having a negative impact on the working hours and ability to take leave of personnel who remain in the Army. The effects of implementing cuts and amalgamations to units, rebasing, redundancy and the reserves on top of an already busy work load is seeing the Army and its personnel working hard to accommodate all the changes made necessary by the Strategic Defence and Security Review. Anecdotal evidence (see page 60 in the summer Journal) will be thoroughly investigated to see if working hours have increased as a result of gaps in posts created by defence cuts and redundancy. AFF is here to represent you – please firstname.lastname@example.org to ensure we know your views.Back to top
Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall and General Nick Carter have spoken out about the danger of further defence cuts. This will be welcomed by Army personnel and their families ahead of the tranche three redundancy announcement on Tuesday 18 June. In the autumn AFF will be investigating the impact of redundancy on the working hours of soldiers remaining in the Army. Anecdotal evidence suggests gapped posts resulting in personnel ‘double-hatting’ and significantly long working days and time away from home limiting family time. Further reductions in personnel without a reduction in required output will continue to impact heavily on families as the Army struggles to meet its commitments. At our recent AFF roadshows in Tidworth and Colchester working hours were high on the concerns raised.
Families of personnel have endured significant uncertainty as the lengthy redundancy process rolls on, any extension to this will dent family morale further. AFF is keen to hear you views email@example.com.Back to top
HQ 43 (Wx) Bde is putting on a Transition Fair in the Tidworth Leisure Centre on Wed 26 Jun 13 between 10am-3pm. Called ‘Living and Working in Wiltshire and Swindon’, it is aimed at serving personnel and their spouses/partners who see Wiltshire and the surrounding area as their home, now or in the future.
With 80 companies and organisations attending, the fair is an essential event for anyone leaving the Army over the next two years, especially Tranche 3 redundees. Gathered together in one room is almost everything necessary to make a successful transition to civilian life. There will be jobs on offer from local companies including Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, Babcock, Excalibur Communications, Landmarc, Gilo Industries, Nationwide, Wincanton, Amey, Glenside Care, Aviation Requirements Ltd, PDM Training and Consultancy, First Great Western, AFL Global, Aspire, and Deg Signal. English Heritage will be recruiting for the new Stonehenge Visitor Centre and Troops to Teachers will be explaining the recently announced scheme to fast-track Service leavers into the classroom. Training/education providers include Sparsholt College, Wiltshire College and Wellington Academy.
Also present will be a wide range of support organisations and agencies such as SkillForce, Remploy, Combat Stress, Recruit for Spouses, Skilled for Health, Jobcentre Plus and SPVA. Providing housing advice will be Haig Homes, South West Homes who run the Government’s HelpToBuy scheme, the Joint Service Housing Advice Office and Wiltshire Council housing department. Service providers from Wiltshire Council will be on hand to provide information and advice on schools, SEN, healthcare, family services and leisure activities. During the day, there will be inspiring talks from two ex-Army entrepreneurs who are now running successful award-winning companies, a lively presentation on starting up your own business and a working Army wife giving the family perspective on transition.
Living and Working in Wiltshire and Swindon is the official transition event for this area. It has genuine local job opportunities, information, help and advice. Army leavers, serving personnel, spouses/partners and reserve forces are invited to attend. There is no need to book, simply turn up and take advantage of what is on offer.Back to top
Businesses in London are being encouraged to sign up to an initiative that supports members of the Armed Forces.
The Heroes Welcome scheme - which is supported by the Evening Standard - encourages businesses to display a special logo that indicates a "warm welcome" for Army, RAF and Royal Navy personnel.
Read in full on the London Evening Standard website.Back to top
Last year, Good Housekeeping magazine received wonderful letters from readers moved and inspired by the military heroines they interviewed for their Christmas feature, ‘Help for Heroines’. They would now like to thank more inspiring women who are supporting those serving in the British Armed Forces, by inviting Service wives and mums to star in their Christmas 2013 issue.
Please send details of all heroines who deserve a very special Christmas present this year (albeit a bit early!), to Moya Sarner as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7439 5684, and by Monday 15 July at the latest. As last year, they will need to find as many potential interviewees as possible, of a range of ages and with different stories, so as to fulfil their editorial needs. Please provide the following:
- Name, age, place of residence and contact details
- Summary of where and how the heroine will be spending Christmas this year (with / without family); where and how she spent it last year (with / without family); and why she deserves a special treat (this could be anything from founding a charity, taking on a challenge, or caring for family in difficult circumstances)
- A recent photograph (not for publication)
- Availability for the photo shoot for two days commencing Friday 16 August or Friday 6 September (maximum availability preferred!)
- Height, dress size, shoe size, bust size, local train station (for calling in clothes for the photo shoot and arranging transport)
BFPO Track & Trace Smartphone App is available for download from 5 Jun 13.
Individuals will be able to track and trace their own BFPO letters and parcels. By entering or scanning a tracking product’s barcode into the BFPO Track & Trace app, it will list and display the route that the item will take, its actual location and it will also show the expected delivery times at each point along the mail pipeline. The app also supports push notifications so you will receive up to date information of where your item is and its expected delivery date.
For more information see the BFPO website.
BFPO E-Bluey Smartphone App
BFPO is also refreshing its existing e-bluey Smartphone app. The current app provides a convenient way of composing and sending e-blueys & picture messages, without having to access a PC; it also means you can take advantage of your smartphone’s speech to text facility.
The BFPO Smartphone applications are compatible with both IOS and Android devices and are available for download in the appropriate app Store. Further information on the full range of services provided by the BPFO as well as the list of products that can actually be tracked and traced using the BFPO Track & Trace app can be found on the BFPO website or from the staff at your local FPO.Back to top
The Chief of the General Staff has a Briefing Team who visit a wide variety of locations to hear what personnel and families think of Army life. It’s vital that families give them an honest view on pay, housing, allowances, working hours, deployment etc. The team then report back directly to General Sir Peter Wall, Chief of the General Staff so that he has a clear picture of what issues are affecting Army families. All Army families are encouraged to attend and you can do so without fear that the views you express will be held against you. Don’t miss out on your chance to voice your opinions to demonstrate the issues affecting you.
AFF Chief Executive, Catherine Spencer meets with Lt Col Peter MacMullen frequently to discuss their findings and to see how they compare with what families tell AFF.
5 – 3 YORKS (Battlesbury Barracks, Warminster) unit & families brief
11 – 21 Engr Regt (Claro Barracks, Ripon) families brief
12 – 39 Regt RA (Albemarle Barracks, Newcastle) families brief
19 – PDIC (Wellington Barracks, London) unit & families brief
24 – 1 SCOTS (Dreghorn Barracks, Edinburgh) families brief
25 – 39 Engr Regt (Kinloss Barracks, Kinloss) families brief
8 – DEMS & Kineton Station (Marlborough Barracks, Kineton) families brief
9 – 1 R IRISH (Clive Barracks, Tern Hill) families brief
10 – 2 MI Bn (Trenchard Lines, Upavon) families brief
The Royal British Legion and Decca Records are looking to give a group of talented young people the opportunity to perform a new song at this year's Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall in front of The Queen.
The group will also have the opportunity to record a single and shoot a music video – all in aid of The Royal British Legion's Poppy Appeal. Read more on The Royal British Legion website.Closing date for nominations is 15 July 2013.
Schools are being invited to mark this year’s Armed Forces Day with a special non-uniform event to help support the children and families of British Service personnel. Camo Day will also raise funds for the military charity SSAFA.
Camo Day is held on Friday 28th June - the day before Armed Forces Day in England (21st June in Scotland) and is a non uniformed day where children can dress in camouflage clothes, simply wear green and brown or even use face paints.
SSAFA takes care of the families of Service personnel when people are deployed including children and partners. Care could be helping people who feel lonely or worried when loved ones are away or sometimes supporting families after a tragedy such as serious injury.
Last year 22,000 children around the UK and at British military schools overseas took part in Camo Day raising £19,000 for SSAFA.
Camo Day is there to support Armed Forces Day and enable schools to focus on the effects that service life has on the modern “home front”. A selection of educational support materials is available from the SSAFA website at www.ssafa.org.uk where schools can register.
Julia Clark from SSAFA commented, “Armed Forces Day is a great way to think about the changing role that our military play in today’s world. For schools where there are a large number of children from Service families, Camo Day can be used to help other children understand the worries of having a parent or sibling deployed and also to raise money for a good cause.”Back to top
Waiting for CRB checks can cause many spouses, who move frequently, to lose months of precious work time when they are posted. AFF has been waiting for the CRB check to be updated for a long time and finally the Disclosure and Barring Service have announced that the new Update Service will be introduced on 17 June.
This service will dramatically change the way individuals use their criminal record check and how employers check their suitability. For the first time, individuals will be able to apply to have their criminal record check kept up to date and employers will be able to go online to see if the information released is still current and valid. The Update Service will ultimately reduce the number of criminal record checks people need to have, saving everyone time and money.
From 17 June 2013, anyone who applies for their next criminal record check can choose to subscribe to the Disclosure and Barring Service’s new Update Service for £13 per year. This will allow them to keep their criminal record certificate up to date, so that they can take it with them from role to role, within the same workforce or volunteer organisation.
Employers will benefit too because they can carry out free, instant online checks of an individual's certificate (with their consent), to check that it is up to date. When someone is subscribing to this service, you would only have to seek a new criminal record check if the system tells you something has changed.
More information about the new Update Service is now available from the Disclosure and Barring Service website www.gov.uk/dbs. If you have any questions you can get in touch with the Customer Services team on 0870 90 90 811 or at email@example.comBack to top
Bedford International Athletic Stadium is to host a very special event in support of Armed Forces Charity SSAFA on Saturday 22nd June.
The stadium, famous for world record-breaking achievements, will provide the backdrop for a spectacular celebration, honouring our Armed Forces with a range of sporting activities, music and games.
Starting at 11am, with an official flag raising ceremony, everyone is invited to hit the ground running, jumping, wheeling and buggy pushing in a community fun run. Of course help is also needed to cheer on the plucky participants. The run will be held over a distance of 1964 metres (The date the Royal Anglian regiment was formed) and all those who complete the distance will be given a special souvenir certificate. If you still have any energy left after the run armed forces staff will be holding Military Fitness Tests, so you can challenge friends, family and the Forces themselves.
Click here for details.Back to top
The Defence Secretary has announced (14 May 2013) that the pattern of Brigade rotations for Op HERRICK will change from October 2013. As a result, some Service personnel will be required to serve extended tours in Afghanistan, of up to 8 and potentially 9 months.
Troop rotations are being changed in order to align the final tours with key milestones in the transition process, such as the Afghan Presidential Elections in spring 2014. The rotations will help to maintain continuity in posts where UK personnel work closely with Afghan partners, at a time when retaining and bolstering Afghan confidence is critical, both to mission success and to UK Forces.
A new HERRICK Drawdown Allowance (HDA) is being introduced for affected Service personnel. The HDA will compensate Service personnel for the combination of austere conditions experienced during longer tours of duty and an unusual level of uncertainty which may characterise the end of the HERRICK campaign.
The HDA will be established from the start of the RIP for HERRICK 19 (exact date in September to be confirmed). All Service personnel serving over 7.5 months in Afghanistan will be eligible at the 7.5 month point for a taxable, non-pensionable allowance of £50 per day.
The HDA will not be paid if in receipt of Campaign Continuity Allowance (CCA) but will be paid concurrently with any other allowances to which personnel are entitled.
Service personnel on HERRICK 19 and HERRICK 20 will be eligible for one period of Rest and Recuperation (R&R) during their tour if serving over 4 months.
Those who may be required to serve longer tours and who may be eligible for the new allowance will be notified by their Career Managers.
Personnel can find further information on the Defence Internet, in 2013DIB/32.
News that Op Herrick 19 and 20 will be extended up to a total period of nine months will be met with concern from some Army families. They will understandably not welcome the additionally enforced separation. Whilst there are already some nine and twelve month tours there is no doubt that families face more stress as a result. Parents who are deploying are likely to miss an entire academic year of their child’s development and the remaining spouse will be responsible for children which can make juggling childcare and employment difficult.
The good news is that many soldiers will not deploy for the full nine months, posts may be rotated ensuring that some tours may only be six months and those serving over seven and a half months will receive a bonus £50 per day. Families much prefer ‘worst case scenario’ than being told that tours will be extended when the soldier has already deployed so that they can prepare emotionally for extended separation and put plans in place to deal practically with the separation.
AFF welcomes feedback from families on your views on this news, please email firstname.lastname@example.orgBack to top
The Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond, MP announced in the House of Commons on the 5th March the rebasing plan for the British Army.
AFF welcomes the announcement after months of uncertainty for Army families, and will be ensuring that families have access to information on how it will affect them.
While the drawdown from Germany was expected, the unit moves within the UK may come as a surprise to some.
AFF will be liaising with command and local authorities to ensure that areas which will receive a new Army population are supported by providing the infrastructure needed for housing, education and childcare. It is vital that a range of employment opportunities are available to Army spouses to enable families to save for a deposit for a house. It is essential too that there is funding available for local authorities with an increased Army footprint, so that they can provide sufficient service for the whole community.
Large numbers of soldiers and their families on the move around the UK will really put the aims and tenets of the Armed Forces Covenant to the test. Increased stability will enable families to be become more involved in their local communities.
Are you an unaccompanied spouse who has previously lived in Army housing? Have you been living unaccompanied for 18 months to five years?
AFF is working together with the University of Surrey to help learn about the needs of unaccompanied spouses. We would love to hear from you about your experiences.
If you would like to talk about how it has been for you during a confidential interview at your house or via Skype, then please contact the email address below. Your interview will be approximately one hour in a location that is convenient for you and will be completely anonymous.
Your participation will be greatly appreciated as part of the continuous efforts of AFF to serve the needs of the whole military family.
The results will form part of our evidence to campaign for a fairer deal for Army families.
If you are interested or for more information please contact: Anna Verey on email@example.com.