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Author: NFF

In preparation for presenting evidence to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body (AFPRB) 2017 the Naval Families Federation (NFF) asked you what you thought about pay in the Naval Service.

 

Your Voice Heard 

438 of you responded with 215 choosing to provide us with invaluable free text feedback.

 

Around 50% of you told us that you were: concerned about your financial situation some of the time; able to save for a rainy day some of the time; worried about managing your debts some of the time; and felt there was enough money coming in to pay for the things that you need some of the time.

 

Around 25% of you felt satisfied with your financial situation and shared with us that there was enough money coming into your household to pay for the things that you need a lot of the time.

 

Of those of you who said you have had to make changes as a result of the ongoing public sector pay restraint during the past 12 months, three quarters of you told us that you had to cut back on holidays/leisure activities.

 

To read the results in full, please click here.

 

Update: 

The AFPRB will meet in the Autumn term in 2018. The survey for AFPRB is now closed. Read the survey results in full here.

 

Posted on: 24th October, 2017
Updated on: 12th November, 2018

Queen Mary Legal Advice Centre provides free legal advice to members of the public across a range of different legal areas. They help those who are unable to access legal advice as part of their effort to bridge the gap in access to justice.

 

Advice is delivered by QMLAC Student Advisers under the supervision of qualified lawyers.

 

A member of QMLAC will contact you within three working days to get a few more case details, to establish whether your legal issue is something student advisers are able to assist with. You will also be asked for your household income to determine whether you meet the income threshold to receive free legal advice.

 

If they are able to help, a virtual appointment will be offered to the you. Following that appointment, you will receive your advice letter 14 days later. Please note the clinics run on an academic term time basis only.

 

Appointments will start from October to April only. Follow this link to find out more.

Posted on: 19th October, 2017
Updated on: 6th October, 2020

Pompey’s Military Kids is a joint initiative set up by representatives from various schools across the city, in partnership with Portsmouth City Council and the Naval Families Federation. The Naval Families Federation will share good practice from this initiative via its partners with other schools in the UK and overseas in order to improve support for all Royal Navy and Royal Marines children. The Cluster Group was established to support Service children in a number of different ways. Local schools are already sharing good ideas and best practice and working much more collaboratively. The Group also organises events and activities which bring Service children together from across Portsmouth, to encourage them to interact and make new friends. This means that there is now a network of young people who are helping and supporting each other within the wider community.

 

Most recently, two of the leading reading initiative charities for the Armed Forces, Reading Force and Storybook Waves, organised for author, Philip Ardagh to visit St Jude’s School in Portsmouth. The Naval Families Federation were offered the opportunity to invite Service children from the other Schools in the Pompey’s Military Kids Cluster. In total 40 additional children were able to attend. Each child received a Reading Force Scrapbook and a book which was signed with a personal message from the author.

 

As well as attending events within the schools, the children have visited Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth to take part in the Service of Remembrance, and spent a day in HMS St Albans, learning more about life on board ship, which was a great adventure for both the pupils and teaching staff.

 

The number of schools taking part in Pompey’s Military Kids has already increased, which means that more than 220 Service children are now getting extra pastoral support.

 

As a result of its success, the group has divided into two regional subgroups and the Naval Families Federation ran a competition for the children to design a logo for the group. We’re grateful to Commander Chris Ansell, Commanding Officer of HMS St. Albans, who had the difficult task of judging our competition and picked a winning design (pictured below).

 

If you want to find out more about Pompey’s Military Kids, please email Nicola.Thompson@nff.org.uk.

 

 

Posted on: 16th October, 2017

Universal Credit is gradually being expanded across the country, so what is it and how might it affect you?

It is a single monthly payment that will eventually replace some of the benefits and tax credits you may have claimed previously. The aim is to provide personalised support to help people into work, and also to encourage those that are in work to earn more.

It’s available in every job centre across the UK.

You and your Service person may be entitled to it, even when you’re temporarily posted overseas.

How does is work?

When you apply you’ll be asked for your postcode and directed to the right service to complete your claim online.

As part of your claim, you’ll be expected to take active steps to prepare for and be available for work. This will involve agreeing to a programme of activities tailored to your individual circumstances and skillset by a work coach. You’ll be asked to complete and accept a claimant commitment.

Your claim can remain open, even when you move into work. This means you can work as many hours as you want or take on short contracts to build up experience. As your earnings increase, your Universal Credit payment will reduce at a steady rate so you won’t lose your benefits all at once.

Already employed or actively seeking work?

Universal Credit can also help to cover 85 per cent of your eligible childcare costs.

If you and/or your partner are responsible for paying rent for the home you live in (not Service Family Accommodation or Substitute Service Family Accommodation), or if you have a mortgage, you may qualify for help in the form of Universal Credit housing costs. This is all part of the single monthly payment you receive, and means you don’t need to apply separately to the local authority.

Grow your business

If you decide to become self-employed after you’ve made a claim, Universal Credit will provide support to help you grow your business.

If you are currently self-employed, and your business has been running for more than 12 months, a ‘Minimum Income Floor’ (MIF) – an assumed level of earnings – will be applied to your claim.

If your self-employed earnings are below the MIF, it will be used to work out your Universal Credit award instead of your actual earnings.

If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and are moving, you’ll continue as you were and advice will be given on how and when the move might affect your claim.

Find out more here.

Posted on: 31st August, 2017

The NFF meets annually with the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body (AFPRB) to present feedback from Service People and their families. The AFPRB makes recommendations to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence on military pay, allowances and charges. This year’s AFPRB will meet in the Autumn term.
Please help us to speak up on your behalf by answering this short survey.  There is a free text box at the end for any further comments you may wish to make.

You can read the full 2018 Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body Forty-Seventh Report and a shorter executive summary here.

 

** The survey is now closed. Read the report here. **

 

Posted on: 24th August, 2017
Updated on: 29th November, 2018

The University of Wolverhampton’s business start-up programme, ‘Supporting the Unsung Hero has been awarded further sponsorship by HSBC Bank – extending the venture until 2021.

 

‘Supporting the Unsung Hero’ is specifically tailored to meet the needs of Armed Forces families, offering them the opportunities and advice in relation to business management and self-employment.

 

The programme started in October 2013 following a successful bid to the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund for a Dependants’ Business Start-Up programme. Since then, the course and mentoring programme has been in high demand from Service families of Serving personnel, veterans and reservists, having already been attended by 520 delegates with an expected 740 expected to complete the programme by 2021.

 

Sarah Walker, ‘Supporting the Unsung Hero’ Project Manager and Lead Trainer, said:

“We are proud to be leading this programme and are very grateful to HSBC for continuing to fund the venture which forms an integral part of our range of opportunities for those who are currently serving in the Armed Forces their families and wider military community.

This programme has the potential to create in excess of 700 hundred new business start-ups by the end of 2021, significantly boosting our economies on a local and national scale with the course being delivered overseas in military locations such as Cyprus, Gibraltar and Germany.”

 

Sally Wagstaff, a former Nurse in the Royal Navy and military spouse to her husband who serves as a Royal Navy Nursing Officer, enrolled on the first programme in October 2013. Since completing the course she has opened a state-of-the-art laser hair removal clinic in Lichfield and has since built on her success, opening a further salon at Aston Wood Golf and Country Club.

 

She said:

“I simply wouldn’t have started my business without the Supporting the Unsung Hero Business programme. The course has been so important, from giving me the confidence to launch to teaching me the skills to run and importantly grow my business. I recommend the programme highly.”

 

‘Supporting the Unsung Hero’ is delivered through the University of Wolverhampton’s Business Solutions Centre in conjunction with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and The Ministry of Defence Hive Information Service.

 

Delegates are offered a dedicated four-day business start-up training programme followed by individual mentoring. They also benefit from a closed online forum to encourage peer support and interaction. Further training, seminars and networking opportunities are available via the University’s Business Solutions Centre, Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Forces Enterprise Network.

 

For more information please contact Sarah Walker at the University of Wolverhampton’s Business Solutions Centre on 01902 321272 or email: suh@wlv.ac.uk

 

Posted on: 17th August, 2017

If you are not happy with the level of service you have received from Amey Defence Services you can make a formal complaint. The complaint process is split into 3 stages, as outlined below.

 

Stage 1 – Amey Defence Services

Complaints (our Frontline Complaints team)

  • Online Stage One Complaints Form (click here to raise/discuss a new or existing stage one complaint)
  • WebChat (click the message icon from the bottom right-hand corner of the page)
  • Facebook Messenger (send a private message to the team to start a chat)
  • Twitter message (send a private message to the team to start a chat)
  • Text message: 07860063407 (send a text to start a chat)
  • Telephone: 0800 707 6000 (option 5)

Email: customercare@ameydefenceservices.co.uk

The Customer Solutions Manager will investigate your complaint and aim to resolve within 10 working days

 

Stage 2 – Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO)

If your complaint has been formally closed at stage 1 and you are not satisfied with the response, you can then escalate your complaint to the DIO Customer Services Team.

You can do this in 3 ways:

  1. Online: by completing the online stage 2 complaint form, which for security reasons is only available on the MOD Intranet. To access the form, copy and paste the following URL into your browser address bar when logged on to the Defence Intranet: http://defenceintranet.diif.r.mil.uk/libraries/3/Docs1/20150612.1/DIO-SD-Accn-Stage2-Complaint-Form.xsn
  2. Email: by emailing the DIO Customer Service Team setting out your stage 2 complaint so that you include:
  • the stage 1 complaint reference number;
  • your name and telephone number;
  • the SFA address relating to your complaint;
  • why you are not happy with the result of your stage 1 complaint;
  • what desired outcome or remedy you are seeking.

Any emails not containing all of this information will not be accepted by the Customer Service Team. Please send your email to: DIOSDAccn-Stage2NOREPLY@mod.uk.

  1. by writing to the DIO Customer Service Team setting out your stage 2 complaint ensuring you include the information highlighted above.

Customer Service Team
DIO Service Delivery Accommodation
Ground Floor, Mail Point No. 4
Swales Pavilion
RAF Wyton
Cambridgeshire
PE28 2EA

If you make a stage 2 complaint, DIO will have access to your stage 1 complaints details and records, so you do not need to re-submit the full details of your complaint.

DIO will acknowledge it within 3 working days and provide you with a reference number. An investigation will then be carried out, however there is no standard response time due to the need to further investigate complaints that vary in nature and complexity.

 

Stage 3 – Independent Housing Review Panel

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive at stage 1 and stage 2, you can escalate your complaint to the Independent Housing Review Panel by writing to:

Independent Housing Review Panel
People Accommodation
Ministry of Defence
Floor 6, Zone N
Main Building
Whitehall
London
SW1A 2HB

* Due to COVID-19, the panel team are unable to retrieve any of the stage 3 housing complaint letters. Please kindly redirect your communications to People-Accom-ACRP-Stage3@mod.gov.uk.

 

Posted on: 3rd July, 2017
Updated on: 6th April. 2020

The Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS) have produced a practical guide to help families understand the psychological and emotional dimensions of moving. The information is designed to help parents minimise the impact for their children and make the move as positive an experience as possible.

 

1. Tell your children that you will be moving and give them an idea of the timescale. It is much better that they hear about a move from their parents rather than from someone else.

 

2. Your children may need something visual, like a calendar (showing how many sleeps till the move) to help them understand the timescale.

 

3. Talk to your child(ren) about the new destination and help them to find out more about the new area. The internet will often be the easiest way to find things that will be of interest to them.

 

4. Find out about schools in the new area. If you have any difficulty doing this, contact CEAS, who will be able to give you advice and guidance. Email DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk or phone 01980 618244 or (mil) 94344 8244. Remember it is a parental responsibility to apply for a school place.

 

5. Once you know which school your children will be going to, make contact with the team there. Try to establish an e-mail pen friend for your child(ren) so that they can start to get to know someone in their class prior to the move. Ask if they perhaps have a member of staff who specifically looks after Service children – some schools now have dedicated support staff.

 

6. If you have any choice about the timing of the move, opt to move during the summer holidays so that children will join a new school at the start of the academic year. If this is not possible, explore the possibilities of moving during the Easter or Christmas holidays.

families on the move 2

 

 

7. Help your children to plan their goodbyes. This includes talking about the people they wish to visit before moving; leaving parties; final visits to favourite places and restaurants; time to say goodbye to friends and family.

 

8. Help children to ‘make up’ with friends they may have fallen out with, in anticipation of the move. This will enable them to say a proper goodbye to significant friends. It is important to remember that the more successfully you leave, the easier it is to join in your new place.

 

9. Think about how to keep in touch with family members and special friends (addresses, e-mail addresses, and phone numbers). Help children to be realistic about this so that they do not promise to keep in touch with too many people and then feel disappointed in themselves when they can’t achieve this.

 

10. Help children to gather photographs and souvenirs to remind them of special people and places.

 

11. Try to keep to your usual family routines as much as possible up to the time of the move as this will help children to feel secure.

 

12. Keeping a family scrapbook to record things you have done and seen in a particular location.

 

13. Teach children about any different customs that they need to know for their new location.

 

14. Plan visits home and visits from extended family to help maintain a sense of closeness and continuity with significant people.

families on the move 3

15. If your belongings are going into storage, keep some things with you which will help you feel at home in your new environment.

 

16. Talk about the move with your children and share your feelings about it.

 

17. When you arrive at your new destination, get your children into school as soon as possible.

 

18. Explore your new environment together.

 

19. Establish new family routines as quickly as possible.

 

20. Remember that it takes time to adjust to a new place. Don’t take on too much too quickly or you may end up feeling overwhelmed.

 

If you are concerned about how your children are responding to a move, talk to your school. If you are overseas, you can also contact the DCYP Targeted Services team responsible for the MOD School. You can contact CEAS at DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@mod.uk

 

Further information

If your child is moving schools, this downloadable resource may be of interest to you.

 

Posted on: 21st June, 2017

We know that our families live across the country and you are often the ‘hidden military community’ so we want to make sure that the organisations you engage with on a daily basis understand what life is like for Naval families, whether you live close to a base or in the middle of a land-locked county!

 

One of the hurdles that has come up time and again when we talk to local authorities is that they want to know about Service life and how is it different to life on civvy street. What is the truth behind some of the myths about the military culture and lifestyle? Which other organisations support Service families and how can local authority staff contact them? We created a Covenant Toolkit to provide some of this information, but it was apparent that more could, and should, be done to inform those who engage with the Armed Forces in the local community.

Family

Warwickshire identified not only the challenge but also a potential solution and were swift to pick up the baton. We were delighted that we could offer some support and have been helping in the development of e-learning packages to bridge that gap, with Jenny Ward calling on her bank of knowledge taking the NFF lead. The modules that have been created so far form a suite of training packages are not only innovative and hugely informative, but give front line staff a superb resource and window into what life looks like for each of the Armed Services.

 

The training modules are interactive and include video and audio clips, as well as Q&A, to get information across in an interesting and user-friendly way. The first e-learning training package includes:
• A Fact or Fiction section which looks at issues faced by current and former Armed Forces personnel and their families
• An insight into the world of the military and how it compares to civilian life
• Some experiences of being in the military and life afterwards
• Sources of support for current and former Armed Forces personnel and their families

 

The MoD also recognises the benefits of informing and raising awareness amongst those working in the statutory and voluntary sectors and was with great delight that the e-learning programme was awarded additional funding by the MoD Covenant Fund. This has allowed the working group to expand the range of modules to be provided and, over the coming months, online training courses for Serving personnel and their families will also be made available, as well as specialised training for those dealing with the housing and homelessness issues faced by veterans and their families. A fifth module for those who support serving personnel and their families as they transition back to civilian life in the local community will also be developed, and our Transition Officer, Lucy Heaver, will be working with the group on this too.

covenant e-learning Screen shot 2 fact or Fiction

 

Another benefit of these training modules is that they will all be made available, free of charge, to local authorities, community and voluntary sector organisations across the UK. The first module for front-line staff was launched in February 2017 and more than 60 councils and other statutory organisations across the country have already requested a copy, so the hope is that their staff are now completing this training too and will have a much better of what life is like for you and your family.

 

Next time you speak to someone from your local council, why not ask them if they have heard about this great resource too?

 

Posted on: 20th June, 2017

Veterans’ Gateway is the first point of contact for veterans seeking support.

There is a huge network of organisations supporting the Armed Forces community, so finding the right one for your needs can be tricky.

Veterans’ Gateway now makes it quick and easy by being your first point of contact for whatever support you need, whether you are based in the UK or abroad.

They work with people on a one-to-one basis, connecting them with the right support as soon as possible.

 

Who is part of Veterans’ Gateway?

Veterans’ Gateway is made up of a consortium of organisations and Armed Forces charities, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, Poppyscotland, Combat Stress and Connect Assist.

Their connection with additional key referral organisations – both within and outside the Armed Forces sector – means they can get you to the right organisation who can help.

Funded by The Armed Forces Covenant, this is the first time a group of this kind has come together formally to deliver a service to help the Armed Forces community.

 

Get in touch

You can speak to one of the team by phone or email.

They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to put you in touch with the help you need, or direct you to the information you are looking for.

You can use their Self Help service to find information yourself.

This includes advice from a range of organisations covering issues from employment, finances and housing, to independent living, mental wellbeing, physical health, and families and communities.

 

Further information

Along with the Army and RAF Families Federation, the Naval Families Federation ran a 2-year project to gain a better understanding of the transition process and the challenges that surround it. If you’re leaving the Royal Navy or Royal Marines soon, please read the full report here, or visit this page for more information.

 

Posted on: 20th June, 2017
Last updated on: 3rd January, 2019