Latest News & Information
On this page:
16 Feb - New launch date for CarillionAmey customer housing portal
03 Feb - AFF receives MOD response to loss of e-bluey
02 Feb - AFF receives Defence response to our FAM Manifesto
01 Feb - MOD's FAM survey results released
23 Jan - Latest AFF roadshow comes to Kinloss
18 Jan - Did you know? Good news for homeowners redeployed within the UK
09 Jan - New Year, new career: FREE employability sessions for Army spouses/partners in Wiltshire
AFF responds to Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution’s announcement concerning tax rates in Scotland.
AFF responds to ‘Army 2020 Refine’ announcement
AFF and the other Families Federations add families’ view to Covenant Annual Report
AFF launches FAM Manifesto on behalf of Army families
AFF director among 2017 fellows of Clore Social Leadership framework
Armed Forces children in Wales share their experiences through short films and digital stories
AFF is coming to Kinloss, so save the date!
AFF Germany Roadshow 2016 Q&As
AFF awarded Libor money for vital research into Army family life
AFF discovers the secret to success for working Army spouses and partners
Service families to benefit from CMI membership
Spouses in business was order of the day at AFF’s latest roadshow
Covenant commitments: ensuring your future
AFF Specialist receives commendation for community work
AFF receives Covenant funding to support F&C victims of Domestic Abuse
Future of defence estate announcement
Are you interested in becoming a trustee?
Update on CarillionAmey complaints process
FREE accounting courses for Army families
AFF Big Survey 2016 - the future of military housing
AFF Annual Report 2015/2016 published
Forces in Mind Trust welcomes AFF Chief Executive to its Grants and Commissioning Committee
CarillionAmey set to improve customer service
Making the Armed Forces Covenant more worthwhile
Army to trial flexible working
CarillionAmey (CA) have announced the new launch date for their customer portal as 6 March 2017. Read more
The new system, once up and running, will incorporate the current e1132 SFA Application process. However, in the meantime, CA have assured us that families should continue to use the current e1132 system on Dii.
If you have an open application for SFA, you do not need to take any further action as you will receive an email with instructions, once the new system launches, asking you to register on the new site.
Following the news that the e-bluey service will end on 31 March, families have voiced their concerns about the loss of this simple-to-use service. Read more
AFF has sought clarification from MOD as to why this decision was made, and while this has come as a blow to many, we are encouraged to learn that the service will be replaced by improved Wi-Fi signal to help those deployed keep in touch more easily. Redistribution of funds will also see an overall improvement in the deployed welfare package.
Here is the MOD response we have received…
“The Ministry of Defence has announced that the e-bluey service will be ending on 31 March 2017.
The British Forces Post Office (BFPO) would like to reassure all concerned that the BFPO remains fully committed to ensuring that those deployed on operations are able to keep in touch with their families and friends.
It is regrettable that SuperLetter, the company that provide the e-bluey service, announced the cessation of the e-bluey before the BFPO could launch its own communications to inform our valued customers.
Please be assured that we understand and take their concerns seriously, and that the importance of the services provided by the BFPO is recognised and embedded within the Armed Forces Covenant, as well as the Terms and Conditions of Service of military personnel.
Why has this decision been made?
Since the draw down from Afghanistan in 2014, and the continued growth of Wi-Fi and mobile data-based technologies, the e-bluey has become much less popular as a way for Service personnel to stay in touch.
Usage has fallen by 97%, with numbers declining significantly from 100,000 in 2007 to under 3,000 per month in December 2016. As a result of this rapid decline in usage, and changes in the way people are staying in touch with each other, the decision has been made to terminate the e-bluey service.
What will happen now?
The MoD has decided to reinvest all of the funds used for the e-bluey service into further improvement of deployed welfare packages. The rationale behind this is that, while the e-bluey service is only used by a small number of people, a reinvestment of funds can provide improvements in Wi-Fi- based services that can benefit, and are more relevant to, a larger number of Service personnel, their families and friends.
Our parcel and letter services will remain unaffected by the end of the e-bluey.
Please be assured that there will remain a way for all Service personnel and their loved ones to stay in touch with each other,while they are deployed on operations, wherever they are in the world, through these services.
Hand-written correspondence can still be sent free of charge via a FFAL (Forces Free Air Letter), which can be obtained from Post Offices. Eligible Service staff will also still be able to receive parcel size packages of up to 2kg, at no cost to the sender, under the Enduring Families Free Mail Service (EFFMS) Scheme.
An update on the improvements that will be put in place once the e-bluey service ends will be published on the BFPO page on the GOV.UK website once announced by Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) in March 2017.”
While AFF is pleased to learn that the loss of the e-bluey system will lead to improvements to the deployment welfare package, AFF believes that the distress and worry caused to many families could have been avoided with better communication around the issue from the outset.
If your soldier is due to deploy, please be assured that the ‘bluey’ system is unaffected by this change.
Following on from the incredible reaction we had to our Big Survey 2016: The Future of Military Housing, we developed the AFF FAM Manifesto as a direct response to the feedback we received from families.
Here at AFF, we try to be balanced in our approach to all things, including the proposals around FAM, and appreciate there are many different views in this discussion. Read more
Our FAM Manifesto, therefore, represents the majority view from our families, based on the evidence we gathered from the survey, and we are now using it to demonstrate the strong feelings and concerns around FAM.
We have been working hard to make sure families’ voices are heard in this debate and our staff have been using the Manifesto in meetings with key MOD officials, MPs and civil servants.
Response from MOD
Most recently, we asked Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CVO, CBE, who, as Chief of Defence People (CDP), has the responsibility of planning and implementing FAM, to submit a response to our Manifesto, giving Defence’s views and feedback on FAM directly to families.
We are pleased that he accepted our invitation, as this shows Defence’s commitment to keeping families abreast of any developments and ensuring that their views are considered when developing FAM, a proposal that will drastically change the way you, as Army families, live in the future.
A copy of General Nugee’s letter can be found here and, whilst encouraging, AFF will be investigating some elements further and discussing them with the FAM team. To view AFF’s thoughts, click the linked sections within the letter.
The findings from the MOD’s FAM survey, which attracted over 12,000 responses from Army personnel, have now been released. AFF wants to make clear that this survey was created and driven by MOD and was separate to our own Big Survey 2016: The Future of Military Housing. Read more
While we are encouraged that families and personnel are being consulted, the results of the MOD’s survey confirm our fears that there is still too much of a gap between the expectations of FAM and the reality of it.
There are also huge gaps in knowledge and information, which can prevent Service personnel and their families from making an informed decision on this important issue. According to the survey, 43% of the Service personnel who responded had never heard of FAM prior to taking the survey. With that in mind, AFF questions how relevant and reliable the results of the survey are.
AFF continues to work on ensuring FAM will not represent a reduction in the ‘offer’ to families, if and when it is implemented. Our FAM Manifesto outlines the key points we feel need further investigation based on feedback from families.
You can also see our Chief Executive, Sara Baade, voicing her concerns around FAM.
If you have any concerns around housing in general or of FAM, please contact our Housing Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org
AFF is coming to Kinloss in Scotland on 23 March to meet families at our latest roadshow. We have chosen Kinloss as we want to hear about life for families living in Scotland, whether in a city or an isolated location. Read more
The event will take place from 9.30am to 1pm at The Hunters Bar in Kinloss Barracks, Moray, IV36 3UH. Pop us in your diary and don’t miss this useful chance to air your views.
Meet your AFF team
Our focus will be on local, Scottish issues, whether education or employment, housing or health. You’ll also get the chance to meet the AFF team, including our Chief Executive Sara Baade, and our Housing, Foreign & Commonwealth and Education Specialists.
You’ll have a chance to take part in, or simply listen to, our formal Q&A session, and meet a number of subject matter experts and the military chain of command.
Families are also encouraged to share their experiences and questions prior to the event, by e-mailing email@example.com and we will do our best to make sure they are answered on the day or as soon as possible after the roadshow.
To find out more about our work in Scotland, or submit a question to our expert panel to pose on your behalf, contact our Scotland Co-ordinator Zoe Teale at firstname.lastname@example.org .
AFF is pleased to learn that the Government has extended support available to Service personnel and their families who own a home but are then posted overseas, to include those redeployed within the UK. Read more
Under the agreement, military families are able to rent out their home without facing higher costs or having to change their mortgage.
The recent announcement from Defence Minister Mark Lancaster will help to ensure that personnel and their families are treated more fairly in line with the Armed Forces Covenant.
The Minister said: “This extension means our brave men and women will save time and money when they are fulfilling vital roles across the country, and is another example of how the Covenant is making a real difference.”
The initiative is supported by 47 of the UK’s largest banks and building societies and is an extension to the original offer made back in January 2016, for which AFF campaigned for some time.
Find out more about AFF’s work on this issue here.
For further advice and guidance, email email@example.com
AFF is proud to announce our latest campaign in support of spousal employment. We’ve teamed up with workforce experts Manpower to bring Army families accessible, family-friendly employability advice and support, at a local level. Read more
It’s FREE to drop in
We’ll be holding sessions every other Thursday at the Beeches Centre in Bulford, Salisbury, for spouses and partners to drop in, free of charge and access a range of support and guidance. If successful, we hope to be able to roll these sessions out to other areas in the future.
Sessions will take place during the regular weekly coffee morning at the centre, which will continue as normal. We are keen to make these sessions as inclusive and family friendly as we can – so feel free to bring the children along with you.
A range of support
Sessions will feature:
- CV support
- Coaching and mentoring sessions, both one-to-one and group
- Transition advice
- Guidance on approaching the job market
- Career profiling
- Access to live jobs
- Interview techniques
- Writing Covering letters and application forms
- Access to training & upskilling through use of PowerYou (Manpower’s training portal)
For some time, you’ve told AFF about the difficulties you face when seeking rewarding employment appropriate to your skillset and experience, due to aspects of Army life such as mobility and separation.
At these sessions, we’ll have consultants, Manpower trainers and AFF staff on hand to help give your career and skills the kick-start they need.
Don’t miss our launch
Our launch event takes place on Thursday 9 February between 9.30am and 12.30pm; all are welcome, including children, whatever stage you’re at in your career.
Follow up sessions will be held on:
- 23 February
- 9 March
- 6 April
- 27 April
- 11 May
- 25 May
At the Beeches Centre, Bulford, between 9.30am and 12.30
Find out more
To find out more about the employment and training support AFF can offer you, email firstname.lastname@example.org
AFF responds to Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution’s announcement concerning tax rates in Scotland.
The Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay, confirmed that he would not change income tax rates or bands and would also not replicate the UK Treasury’s tax cut for higher earners. This means that the 40% income tax rate will start at £43,430 in Scotland but will start at £45,000 elsewhere in the UK from April 2017. For further information on this, please click here.
AFF is concerned that if this is applied to military personnel serving in Scotland, some could face a significant financial disadvantage as a result of their jobs. We are urgently seeking clarification from the MOD as to whether there will be an exemption for military personnel and will update families as soon as we know more.
Commenting on the Army 2020 Refine Announcement, our Chief Executive, Sara Baade said: “Following previous announcements on the Future of the Defence Estate, we know that families already have some concerns around potential moves and yesterday’s announcement around Army 2020 Refine will doubtless create more concern. We would like to reassure families that a key focus of AFF’s work in 2017 will be to look closely at the impact these moves may have on families. We will be working closely with chain of command and other organisations, including local authorities, sharing our evidence and recommendations and ensuring that families are communicated to and engaged with in the run up to, during and after moves to ensure that the impact of re-basing can be kept to a minimum.
“If families do have concerns, we would recommend they contact their Unit Welfare Officer who should be able to offer clarity around these issues. AFF’s local co-ordinators are also on hand to offer support, so families should visit our contact us page to find out who their local contact is.”
The Armed Forces Covenant Annual Report for 2016 is now published and, once again, the Families Federations were invited to comment and give serving families’ view on this important document. Read more
The report highlights Covenant successes in education, health and employment, amongst other areas. The comments from the Families Federations offer a balanced approach, highlighting where improvements are needed and celebrating those that have already been made.
AFF was particularly pleased this year to learn about new National Insurance credits to protect the State Pension of spouses who previously accompanied their soldier overseas. Improved access to student funding for distance learning courses while overseas is another step in the right direction in tackling the disadvantages that military families still face.
Considerable progress has been made during 2016 to remove the disadvantages some of you face when accessing commercial products and services such as mobile phones, mortgages and motor insurance – all of which AFF has highlighted to you through our various channels. We are also hopeful of more improvements in this area for 2017.
More to be done
However, overall, there is more to be done. Housing is still a major concern for AFF, despite statistics showing recent improvement. We know that the ‘lived experience’ of many families remains poor, causing you stress and frustration. There is also increasing nervousness about the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), which has the potential to change radically the way that accommodation is provided in the future. AFF continues to prioritise this issue and has developed the AFF FAM Manifesto to help bring your views to the fore when decisions are made.
Another area of concern for AFF is Foreign & Commonwealth, where we unfortunately still see a lack of commitment to remove disadvantage. Families continue to tell us that overseas assignments in particular can cause specific issues relating to residency, passports and obtaining National Insurance numbers. We would like to see these matters addressed by the Covenant during 2017 and will continue to offer our own support in the best way we can.
Find out more
AFF continues to work with the Covenant, which is acting as a driving force for many positive changes for military families. To read the annual report and the Families Federations’ comments in full, click here.
AFF’s work to make the Covenant more meaningful to families is ongoing. Look out for Covenant news, updates and facts across our website and social media as part of our ‘Did you know…?’ campaign, or click here to read more about our Covenant work.
Following on from AFF’s work ensuring Army families’ voices are heard during planning for the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), we have now developed the AFF FAM Manifesto. Read more
Our manifesto outlines the key actions we believe must be taken in order for FAM to be viable and, most importantly, fair to you, the families.
Using your evidence
Our manifesto is based on the results of this summer’s AFF Big Survey: The Future of Military Housing. More than 8,300 of you responded to our survey, an indication of just how important this issue is to families. Our manifesto represents the majority view from families based on the evidence you gave us.
The AFF FAM Manifesto
We want to ensure that the evidence you gave us is not ignored and our manifesto sets out ways to make sure this does not happen. To view the full AFF FAM Manifesto, please click here.
We launched the manifesto at our annual Networking Event in November, which was attended by the Chief of The General Staff, Sir Nicholas Carter KCB, CBE, DSO, ADC Gen, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, CVO, CBE and a number of key MOD and Whitehall officials, all of whom have now received a copy of the AFF FAM Manifesto. We have also held one-to-one meetings with all those mentioned above, to really drive home the concerns of Army families. As part of these meetings, we have continued to question how your views will be considered.
We have also been communicating with a number of MPs around the issues that FAM could create and will keep you updated as and when we know more.
Find out more
Further updates surrounding our work on FAM will be published via our website and social media.
Congratulations to AFF Policy and Research Director Louise Simpson who has been awarded a Specialist Fellowship from social change charity, Clore Social Leadership. Read more
Support from the Forces in Mind Trust
Louise will undertake a Military Health Specialist Fellowship, supported by the Forces in Mind Trust, and will be one of the first to be trained in Clore Social Leadership’s Social Leaders’ Capabilities Framework, which outlines the attributes, behaviours and skills emerging leaders need to become successful.
Fellows will participate in tasks and challenges that will help them to become proficient in the framework and with applied learning at its heart, Louise can then bring what she has learned back to AFF and the Army family community.
Keeping families at the heart of AFF
Louise said: “This fellowship is not only extremely exciting for me personally, but also professionally, it will be hugely beneficial to AFF as it will allow me to engage with and implement gold standard working practices, helping AFF to support Army families in the most appropriate, innovative way, ensuring families’ needs are always at the heart of our work.”
Find out more
The 12-month programme starts in January 2017, look out for more news on Louise’s progress. For more information, including a full list of the 2017 Fellows, click here.
Two powerful films and a bank of digital stories have been launched to raise awareness of what life is like for Armed Forces schoolchildren in Wales. Read more
Pupils, parents and staff at Llantwit Major High School and Prendergast Community Primary School have made the films, with support from the MOD, Army Families Federation, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council and Storyworks UK.
The initiative has been co-ordinated by the Welsh Local Government Association’s (WLGA) Supporting Service Children in Education Cymru project (SSCE Cymru).
A snapshot of Service life
Speaking at the launch event, Cabinet Secretary for Education Kirsty Williams AM said: “We hope these online films and digital stories will help schools and local authorities understand the circumstances that Service children sometimes find themselves as well as providing a snap shot into the lives of Service children in Wales today.”
Cllr Brendan Toomey, WLGA spokesperson said: “These powerful films give a snap shot of what life can be like for the children of serving personnel. These videos and resources can be used as a training and teaching aid for educational professionals and for other Service children in Wales and beyond to hear the experiences of other young people with serving parents.”
Pupils share their stories
Storyworks UK also ran workshops with pupils that would allow them to share their own stories about what it’s like to have a parent in the Armed Forces. These workshops were turned into a bank of two-minute digital stories, capturing the children’s experiences.
AFF helps improve awareness
AFF Regional Manager North Annabel Ingram said: “Being involved in the project right from the beginning meant that I was able to contribute on behalf of AFF, and as a parent. I used our evidence from families to help the wider audience understand the unique situation Service children can find themselves in. The project has been a huge success and it was fantastic to be part of it. I hope many people view and use the films and digital stories.”
Find out more
All the films are available on the project website www.sscecymru.co.uk
We’ll be back on the road in 2017, arriving in Kinloss on 23 March to meet as many families as we can.
Come to the Hunter’s Bar to meet your AFF team as well as local command and MPs and take part or simply listen to our Q&A session.
Look out for more details on the AFF website and across social media…
This autumn’s AFF Germany Roadshow saw a great turnout of families, command and local organisations. We now have the answers for all questions asked on the day itself and those submitted in advance. These answers have been provided by the chain of command and subject matter experts. Click here to see the full list. Hot topics on the day included the timescale for the drawdown of BFG and the move back to the UK. The provision of children’s education in BFG and continuity on moving back to the UK was another key theme. The importance of providing information to families about the commitments of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade was also highlighted. Many actions were taken away by the chain of command, such as looking into the policy of carpet replacement in the SFA in Germany.
If you have any comments or additional questions about family life in Germany contact our Germany Regional Manager, Katy Brookfield on 0049 (0)1525 7435450 or email@example.com
AFF is delighted to have received a substantial LIBOR grant to conduct two new pieces of research into Army family life. Read more
The money, which comes from banking fines and is used to support Armed Forces and emergency services charities, and other related good causes, will allow us to explore:
- The real and perceived barriers to employment and training for Army spouses, and which ones are unique to Army life.
- How the Covenant supports Army families posted overseas.
AFF has investigated the barriers to employment for Army spouses and partners for some time. Although we have amassed a great deal of evidence, this funding will allow us to support our evidence with robust research to provide us with a full picture of the issues many of you are facing.
Amongst other areas, our research will look at which barriers are linked to Service life, what the impact of transition or the likely impact of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) on your family is if the non-serving spouse is not working and how other countries support Army spouses in employment and training.
A meaningful Covenant
There has remained a Covenant thread through AFF’s work during the last 12 months and our second piece of research will build on this, exploring the impact of the Covenant on those of you posted overseas.
We are extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to conduct this research, which we hope will further empower Army families to improve the quality of their life. We will also be able to more confidently approach decision makers including MOD and local and central government with a more detailed picture and emerging causes of disadvantage.
Look out for more updates on our website and social media as our project gets underway.
AFF recently ran a survey to discover how Army spouses are making work ‘work’ for them and their family. We wanted to learn about the secret to their success. Read more
657 working spouses and partners took part telling us how determination, positivity and flexibility are key, as well as being open to different types of employment.
We learned that the majority of our respondents were in admin or secretarial work, while teaching and education, health and charity were also highly ranked.
The majority of working spouses/partners who took our survey feel working is worthwhile – not just for financial reasons but also for a sense of identity and independence. However, they do face some significant challenges.
We were concerned to learn that 39% of respondents said their soldier’s workload or hours mean they are unable to help, even on an occasional basis – this was more apparent in spouses of other rank soldiers. Unsurprisingly, those who said their soldier was able to offer support felt more strongly that working was ‘worth it’.
Challenges in maintaining employment
The top four challenges identified by working Army spouses and partners were:
- 55% cost of childcare
- 49% lack of appropriate childcare
- 48% frequent postings
- 47% lack of family support
Whilst flexible working is available to some soldiers, AFF believes the MOD and Army should promote it more widely. Modern families now require a fairer division of childcare and this is something that AFF will continue to push for.
Find out more
AFF is pleased with news the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support Service spouses and partners in gaining leadership qualifications to help them further their career. Read more
AFF has worked for a long time to highlight the challenges Army spouses and partners can face when finding and maintaining employment – a key issue that features firmly in the Covenant.
Supporting career development
Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the Chartered Management Institute said: “We’re proud to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and help families of the heroic men and women who serve our country get the support they need to develop their careers.”
CMI has pledged support for Service spouses and partners through their MOD Family Membership Scheme, which provides access to discounted leadership, mentoring and coaching qualifications – the scheme is offered FREE to Service children aged 16-18 years. They are also committed to supporting the military spouses and Reservists they employ with flexible working where possible.
Valuing Service families
Participating in the Covenant signing, Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said: “The families of our Service personnel are an important part of the Covenant. We value and are grateful to them – the unsung heroes who support our Armed Forces. Knowing that the nation and organisations like the Chartered Management Institute recognises this is extremely important and fundamental in making the Armed Forces Covenant work.”
Find out more
For some useful FAQs about the scheme click here.
Find out more about the Armed Forces Covenant by visiting www.armedforcescovenant.gov.uk
Catterick Leisure Centre was a hub of activity when AFF’s employment fair took place on 15 November. From cakes to cards, scarves to sports massage – spouse businesses were out in force to show off their wares and showcase their services. Read more
We were delighted to see so many attending this community event and to have so many wonderful stands run by local enterprising spouses. Together, they helped make this event a success and created a great atmosphere.
Thank you to our support stands: RBLI, Civvy Street, FEN HUN, ABF The Soldier’s Charity and the HIVE. Their presence at the event offered families and stallholders alike, practical support and guidance on getting back into work or running a small business. The feedback we’ve received from stallholders so far has been very encouraging with one inspired to attend an RBLI course to increase her confidence in promoting her business.
Employers also attended to highlight current vacancies and one person, who had recently trained as a teaching assistant, told us she had signed up with one of the organisations there, who will now help her to access a position in the local area.
More on employment
Our next roadshow will take place on 23 March 2017 in Scotland. We’re working hard to make sure we once again bring you a great mix of information, guidance and interest. More details to follow.
In the meantime, if you are currently seeking employment, or looking to boost your employment skills, check out our dedicated website pages.
Did you know that as part of the commitments of the Armed Forces Covenant, you and your soldier should not be disadvantaged in your career goals and pension? Read more
Some of the ways the Covenant works to ensure this include:
- Jobcentre Plus Armed Forces Champions focus specifically on the support, advice and guidance provided by Jobcentre Plus to ensure they reflect the needs of the Service community.
- Working with Employers so that they understand the benefits of employing Service leavers and Reservists, as well as the need for flexible employment policies.
- Exemption, when returning from overseas, from UK residency rules when seeking Jobseeker’s Allowance.
- National Insurance credits for Service spouses and partners for time spent accompanying their partner abroad to ensure that they receive their full State Pension when they retire.
For more on AFF’s Covenant work, click here.
Huge congratulations to Laura Lewin, AFF’s Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist, on receiving a commendation from the Bovington Garrison Commander for her dedication to the Bovington military community. Read more
Laura’s work in support of the families of Bovington Garrison community includes:
- Setting up voluntary organisation ‘Bovitots’ with two other wives, which provides social support and a focus for wives that may not be able to afford or travel to other support networks.
- Setting up a running club, a circuits club and a netball club for wives. The latter has been incredibly successful, with notable success in local leagues.
- Following the Fiji disaster this year, Laura set up and co-ordinated a consolidated garrison response including a fundraising netball match that raised £355 for the disaster relief.
All of this, alongside her paid work as an AFF co-ordinator has helped to tackle isolation amongst Army spouses in the area.
Passion, vision and incredible support
On receiving her award, Laura was told, “Her unwavering dedication and drive (sometimes in a contested environment) has absolutely contributed to the quality of life for wives and mothers across Bovington Garrison. For her passion, vision and incredible support she deserves public recognition.”
AFF is extremely proud of Laura’s efforts and is delighted her hard work and dedication has been properly recognised. Congratulations!
Laura’s role at AFF
To learn more about Laura and her role as an AFF Specialist, click here.
AFF is delighted to have received a grant through the Covenant Grants Fund to provide much-needed practical support to Foreign & Commonwealth (F&C) Army families dealing with Domestic Abuse (DA). Read more
This new support is available to any F&C spouse of a serving person in any location in the UK or overseas. Support is limited by available funding and is not a self-referral scheme – families must be referred to us by a relevant welfare contact or organisation..
Supporting the F&C community.
Our F&C Specialist has been providing qualified immigration advice and information to F&C victims of DA for a number of years. At a policy level, they were instrumental in lobbying for a change to the immigration rules to allow spouses of soldiers to apply to remain in the UK if their relationship breaks down because of DA.
However, due to a lack of resources, at an individual level their assistance has so far been limited to providing immigration advice or information via phone or email - far from ideal for these vulnerable spouses who often need practical help gathering evidence, writing statements and completing applications. .
This new funding will allow us to help spouses directly with their application form to remain in the UK during a very stressful time.
Supporting victims of DA.
The grant will also help us to work closer with support organisations to develop best practice working methods when dealing with an F&C case and to inform others about the unique problems that many F&C families can face.
If you are currently supporting an F&C spouse who is a victim of DA and who needs immigration advice, then please contact AFF at firstname.lastname@example.org. Download a leaflet detailing the service on offer.
For more on our F&C service, click here.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made an announcement on the future of defence estate in the Commons yesterday.
Commenting on the announcement, our Chief Executive Sara Baade said,
“Whilst the announcement may raise some concerns amongst our families, it is important to remember that many of these moves are not imminent and will be taking place as far off as 2032, giving us time to ensure that the process of rebasing for families is as smooth as possible.
“We will be working with chain of command and other organisations, including local authorities, to make sure families are communicated to and engaged with in the run up to, during and after moves to ensure that the impact of re-basing can be kept to a minimum.”
AFF is seeking two volunteers who would like to take part, FREE, in a programme to help you become a trustee. This is normally at a cost of £200 each, but is being kindly sponsored by Serco.
Volunteering as a trustee allows you to learn, develop new skills and meet new people, while making a difference to your local community. What’s more, the average time commitment is only 30 hours a year!
Our Employment, Training, Allowances and Money Specialist Laura Lewin is currently working with Getting on Board, a charity that supports people to become trustees. They offer a bespoke trusteeship service designed to help you find a trustee role to suit your aims and interests.
To find out more or register your interest, contact Laura at email@example.com
Since the start of the CarillionAmey (CA) contract, AFF has continued to hear from families that the complaints process is not fit for purpose and we have consistently fed this back to CA and DIO.
Recently, AFF has been copied into correspondence that compliments the complaints team; something we have not seen before. As a result, we asked Stuart Jones, the new Head of Complaints (now called the Customer Solutions and Insight team), to tell you what has changed and why. Click here to read more.
Please let AFF know about your recent experiences with complaints by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re interested in bolstering your employment skills, why not apply to take part in the ACCA-X programme from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). Read more
ACCA offers FREE online courses leading to a qualification that is recognised throughout the world, ideal for that overseas posting.
The course itself is FREE but there is a fee to register with ACCA and to take the exams.
Gain access to career support
By registering, you will also gain access to the ACCA Careers site, with thousands of vacancies, careers support and advice, as well as invites to networking and career-building events. As a student member, you will also have access to additional courses and learning opportunities.
Register your place
To apply, email email@example.com
It is important that you state you are part of an Army family who saw this promotion on the AFF Facebook page.
If you were one of the 8,322 people who took part in this year’s AFF Big Survey, you may be wondering what we’re doing with the information you provided us with.
Over the summer, we’ve identified key themes and emerging trends, which we are now in the process of raising with chain of command, senior politicians and decision makers to ensure families are properly considered if the changes proposed by the Future Accommodation Model (FAM) are implemented.
Click here to read our report, which details our findings and will act as an important tool for AFF when discussing the proposed changes to your housing provision with chain of command and MOD.
Thank you once again to all those who took the time to get involved.
AFF is the independent voice of Army families and passionately represents our unique community; Regular or Reserve, wherever they are based, whatever the make-up of their family. Throughout the UK and overseas, AFF provides essential links between families, the Army and government. We discuss, we challenge and we persevere to achieve policy change and progress in favour of Army families, as well as offering advice and guidance on all aspects of Army life, confidentially and in an easy to digest way. If you're interested in the figures and stories behind our work this year, take a look at our Annual Report.
AFF is delighted to announce that our Chief Executive, Sara Baade, has been welcomed onto the Forces in Mind Trust’s Grants and Commissioning Committee. Read more
As you are all aware CarillionAmey (CA) and Army housing has been under the spotlight. To improve the situation CA are making the following changes. Read more
- 50 new heating engineers across Central, South East & South West (25% increase) to support response and planned maintenance activities
- 7 additional Accommodation Officers across Central, South East & South West and further 7 nationally (10% increase)
- Review and improve the diagnostic decision system which helpdesk operators use to allocate resources to specific maintenance tasks. This will improve the matching process of tradesman to task.
- Weekend appointments are being scheduled to clear the backlog
The weekend appointments are a temporary measure and although not ideal for families with busy schedules it is important that they are taken up to get the repairs done.
This is a good start but kitchens, boilers, bathrooms all have a life expectancy and are costly to replace. Upgrades such as these come from a separate pot of money and if the money is not there then a ‘sticking plaster’ culture of multiple unsatisfactory ‘fixes’ continues and it is families who pay the price.
What will AFF do:
AFF has requested that CA improves its communications with families. We continue to work with CA on a case by case basis but are also meeting with senior management to tackle wider problems. AFF is also keen to work with DIO and MOD to ensure sufficient funds exist for maintenance programmes such as kitchen and boiler refits.
What can you do:
If you as a family feel that CA have not followed due process in repairs, or you have had a bad experience with the helpdesk log an official complaint and get a reference number. If your situation is still not resolved then contact AFF’s housing specialist. In some situations your Welfare Officer may be the most appropriate person to help … we can signpost you there if that’s the case.
Your evidence is vital in monitoring whether these measures have been successful and identifying remaining problem areas.
Please help us to help you.
AFF is excited to announce our latest campaign, ‘Did you know…’ that seeks to share the latest Covenant facts and ensure your family is getting the most from the Armed Forces Covenant.
Did you know that the Covenant is a promise by the nation to our service families to be treated fairly by the society they serve? Read more
As part of a renewed commitment to ensure the Covenant means something to families in real terms, the PM and his Ministers are hosting a series of roundtable talks, including one with the British Banking Association, and will tackle key issues raised by the Families Federations.
Keeping you informed
AFF is determined to keep our Army families fully informed of any Covenant progress and will bring you up-to-date alerts on how your family can benefit from Covenant policies.
Sharing knowledge and achievements is so important and in 2016, we want to recognise the good work of those who support the Covenant - we’ll be thanking those who do and championing their work to encourage others to do more.
Listening to families
As ever, we are also keen to capture your views and experiences, which we will feed back to government, local authorities and corporations to ensure decision makers are fully informed of what is working and what changes are needed.
Only you, our families, can provide an accurate and honest evaluation of the Covenant and what difference the increased commitments make.
That is why, alongside our ‘Did you know…’ campaign we will also be asking ‘Have you ever…’ to give you the chance to share your views and make your voice count.
Pushing for change
Families can rest assured that AFF will continue to lobby for change where needed for the benefit of Army families everywhere. With your evidence, we will continue to ensure that the issues facing Army families are discussed and tackled at the highest level.
Look out for our ‘Did you know…’ campaign on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
For a long time, Army families have told AFF that the often unforgiving work schedule of the Service person/s creates added strain to family life and causes many soldiers to consider leaving the Army in favour of a better work/life balance.
AFF is delighted to announce that the MOD has listened to these concerns and has decided to run a trial of flexible working.
The following is a Q&A covering the basics you need to know... Read more
Why is the Army offering more flexible working?
The demand for flexible working is significant and predicted to increase. Already common in the civilian sector, flexible working helps to improve the health and well-being of employees, reduces absenteeism and increases productivity.
HQ Army is offering this in response to the views of military personnel, and their families, raised through the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) and the Families Continuous Attitude Survey (FAMCAS).
What does flexible working look like now?
The flexible working initiatives that are available now include:
- Non-standard working hours – including variable start and finish times, compressed hours and home working.
- Additional paid leave options – including a call forward of leave, transfer of leave between spouses/civil partners where both are serving and enhanced leave of 50 days in lieu of annual leave.
- Revised unpaid leave – including a career intermission
The trial is being conducted by HQ Army from 1 December 2015 to 30 November 2016 to test the benefits of Less Than Full Time (LTFT) working on a limited number (50) of Regular personnel.
Full details of the trial can be found in 2015DIN01-200 and ABN 136/15.
The flexible duty trial offers two levels of reduced Regular service:
- FD1 - Soldier remains liable for standard regular work but with limited deployed duties away from the home unit.
- FD2 – Soldier is employed at a limited level of deployability (as in FD1) but also works LTFT. This is not being paid and not liable for any tasking, work or duties for 31- 93 days over the 12 month trial period. In real terms the soldier may work between a three and five day week.
Is the chain of command on board?
Commanding officers/line managers must consider all requests fairly and support flexible working applications whenever possible. However, applications may not be supported or delayed during periods of high operational readiness, or if the soldier is in a role where the specified outputs make it impractical.
If your application is refused, the decision will be fully explained.
How can I/my soldier take part in the trial?
Applications to take part in the Flexible Duty trial should be made via the soldier’s chain of command to the Army Personnel Centre (APC) using form Annex A to 2015DIN01-200. Only applications that are approved by the soldier’s Commanding Officer will be considered by APC.
Applications to take part in the trial must be received by APC no later than 30 October 2015.
To find out more, your soldier can contact D PersCap-SO2-PlansB on:
- Military – 94391 7528
- Civilian – 01264 381 528