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Looking for some inspiration for your next trip? The Spring 2020 edition of our Homeport magazine includes a 12-page feature on special offers available to the Royal Navy and Royal Marines community. Whether you are after a budget break or a 5* spa weekend retreat, there is something for you:

 

Please click on this image to access the holiday pages.

Posted on: 12th June, 2017
Updated on: 9th March, 2020

Introduction

The INtouch service enables personnel on operations to send and receive letters originally sent via email, but received in hard copy form. Despite the ever-growing use of Wi-Fi and mobile data-based technology, and the increased use of social media networks and apps, (including Whatsapp, Facebook, Skype and iMessage) Service personnel deployed overseas still highly value receiving physical mail.

Once an account has been registered, Service personnel, their friends and families are able to create a mail message using either a computer or internet enabled personal electronic device here. This can be done anywhere across the globe.

Once a document has been composed it is electronically encrypted and sent to the imail server. The server routes the item to the nearest UK Mail print centre, where it is securely printed by state-of-the-art equipment. Letters are machine-enveloped and all mail is sent for onward delivery to BFPO Northolt, (the MODs mail sortation depot) to be dispatched across the globe within the military mail system.

Imail INtouch is a service delivered on behalf of the MOD. The service has been established and is monitored by the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood. BFPOs role in the provision of this service is limited to the ‘final mile’ delivery of mail from the BFPO Northolt sortation depot to BFPO addresses across the globe.

 

Sending Mail using INtouch 

Getting started

Personnel and their loved ones will need to register for an account at here. Your account information will be provided to you with 48hrs following verification. You can then simply log here or here and click ‘get started’ to begin sending mail.

Imail INtouch can be used on any internet-enabled device, from anywhere in the world, and is compatible with leading internet browsers for PC and Macintosh. There is not currently an INtouch app and the system can currently only be accessed via the internet.

There is no cost to military personnel, MOD civilians serving overseas and their friends and families to use this service.

 

Addressing mail

To ensure that the imail INtouch letter is delivered as efficiently as possible, please use the addressing convention recommended by BFPO, this is:

Service Number, Rank, Name Unit/Regiment Operation Name BFPO Postcode

Please do not include town or country in the address. The BFPO postcode should appear on the last line of the address.

When entering the address for INtouch messages, you must enter the BFPO postcode rather than the BFPO number.

Each BFPO number across the globe has an associated Postcode. For example BFPO 759 in Kabul in Afghanistan has the postcode BF1 7DZ. These BFPO postcodes have been devised to allow online services across the internet to recognise overseas military addresses.

The BFPO indicator list, showing details for BFPO Postcodes and corresponding BFPO numbers across the globe can be found on the BFPO website here. 

It is possible to send IN touch mail to civilian addresses in Northern Ireland. However, to ensure that the your mail does not compromise individuals’ security being connected or associated with the Armed Forces, please do not include rank or role title within the civilian postal address.

 

Security

Imail INtouch uses 256-bit SSL security as standard. The password-protected system assigns a user name and password to each user. All documents are securely encrypted before being sent from your PC, laptop or personal electronic device to the imail print centre for fulfillment, complying with security and data protection regulations.

Please see security advice on sending INtouch mail to civilian addresses in Northern Ireland in the ‘Addressing mail’ section above.

 

INtouch features

Imail INtouch uses the same high-specification commercial printers in all of its nationwide print centres. These are regularly calibrated, ensuring a quality and consistent print finish that you can rely on, wherever your mail is printed.

When creating a letter, you can attach an A4 PDF documents of up to eight pages, which will be printed along with the letter and inserted as one combined mail piece.

Imail INtouch keeps your contacts database securely within your user space. Simply create your mailing, then enter a single address or upload a csv file and the site will save your addresses on the fly for future use.

Imail INtouch provides you with an instant PDF proof of your mailing, showing the body of the document, as well as the positioning of the address block and return barcode. The PDF can be printed locally for a physical copy for your records or it can be stored electronically on your computer.

Imail INtouch stores mail items for 60 days and they are viewable within the ‘My Archive’ section of the Account Admin area.

 

Tracking mail

Once you have completed your mail and sent it, you will receive on-screen confirmation. The sent order will also be visible in the My Archive area of your imail INtouch interface. You will also receive notification of posting from the UK Mail print centre. Confirmation of delivery to recipient is not currently available for this service.

 

Restrictions of use

The imail INtouch service is only applicable to BFPO addresses overseas and UK postcode addresses only. INtouch mail cannot be sent to INtouch mail to international addresses that do not have a BFPO number. No other international service is available.

 

TROUBLE SHOOTING AND FURTHER INFORMATION

Please complete the contact form or email the company directly at  imail_enquiries@imailprint.co.uk, making reference to the ‘imail INtouch’ service.

An Imail INtouch service quick start guide can be found here.

 

Posted on: 10th June, 2017

Statistics from the Armed Forces continuous attitude survey (AFCAS) are used by both internal Ministry of Defence (MOD) teams and external bodies to inform the development of policy and measure the impact of decisions affecting personnel, including major programmes such as the Armed Forces Covenant and New Employment Model.

 

Please click here to access the results.

 

If you have any feedback regarding these results, please contact us on 023 9265 4374 or email contactus@nff.org.uk.

 

Posted on: 25th May, 2017
Updated on: 21st May, 2021

 

If you and your family are considering leaving the Royal Navy or Royal Marines or are already on your way out, find out all of the information that you need to know about your transition in these guides:

 

  • Front cover of NFF Transition Guide - for RN/RM Service leavers and their families. Full guide can be found on our website.Most Service leavers and their families leave the Armed Forces with no problems at all. However, for some, transition can be an unsettling and anxious time. Do have a look at our Transition Guide for Royal Navy and Royal Marines Families here (v2 updated in January 2021), which includes all of the information that you need to know when you are thinking about or are leaving the Royal Navy or Royal Marines.

 

  • You can also find the latest edition of the Service Leavers Guide produced by MOD here for additional information.

 

Additional information
  • Lucy Heaver, our Employment Specialist, joined forces with colleagues in the Army and RAF Families Federations for a two-year project supported by the Forces in Mind Trust. The project, which came into fruition in November 2018, has given us an insight into the challenges faced by families during the transition period and highlighted the need for further research to better understand specific cohorts of families. Read more about this project and access the full report here.

 

  • We are pleased that the tri-Families Federation research has helped to inform a new Holistic Transition Policy, announced by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace on 1st November, 2019. Read more about this here.

 

  • Veterans’ Gateway has launched a ‘Plan Early’ campaign to encourage Service Leavers and their families to plan early for their transition into civvy street. Watch a short video about this campaign below, or visit their site for more information.

 

 

If you have an experience of transition that you’d like to share or have any questions or concerns, contact: contactus@nff.org.uk.

 

Posted on: 3rd May, 2017
Last updated on: 7th January, 2021

Message from the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO):

 

Sub-letting of Service Family Accommodation

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has initiated a long-term project to sub-let empty Service homes that are not currently required.

As well as the normal management margin required to ensure properties are available for families where we have sufficient homes, DIO has retained some additional properties until the future needs of Defence are fully known.

This approach gives us flexibility to manage the requirements of the Front Line Commands. However, empty properties do no generate any income, and instead draw revenue away that could otherwise be invested elsewhere in the estate.

The needs of Service personnel and their families has been considered throughout this project, therefore entitled and eligible Service personnel continue to take priority for SFA and should apply for accommodation as they normally would.

Where there is no requirement from Service families, empty properties will considered on a site by site basis in consultation with local commanders, for sub-let to private tenants – who will be subject to credit and reference checks. This will be on a short term arrangement, so we could return homes back to MOD control if a requirement emerges.

Overall, our planning has been to implement this project without disadvantaging Service personnel, whilst maximising revenue from rental receipts from empty properties that are currently not required.

 

Questions and Answers 

Why are these properties being sub-let?

The current size and cost of the Defence estate is not sustainable, including the cost of maintaining empty Service homes. The MOD and DIO are undertaking a number of initiatives to address these issues. In addition to other initiatives such as disposals, a sub-let project has begun with the aim of generating income through short term lets, whilst providing flexibility to meet the future needs of defence.

 

How many houses could be sub-let under this arrangement?

An initial 2,300 homes could be made available under these arrangements.

 

Will Service personnel and their families be affected?

All of our planning has been to ensure that families are not affected. We:

  • Have chosen sites where there is adequate surplus accommodation that is not required.
  • Plan where possible to release houses in groups rather than individual properties so they can be managed more effectively.
  • Have considered security.
  • Will consult with local commanders and other stakeholders so we understand any local issues.
  • Aim to ensure that Service families are not disadvantaged.

Where additional revenue is going?

Revenue raised by this project will be returned to DIO as part of its overall running and investment in the estate – therefore it will be targeted to where it is needed most to meet the needs of defence.

 

How has security been considered?

Specific security issues will be considered at each site. Furthermore every potential private tenant will be subject to credit and reference checks.

 

Has the Chain of Command been consulted?

The Chain of Command and other stakeholders will be consulted and their feedback will be taken into consideration. Service families in each area will also be informed.

 

Who is going to get these houses?

The properties will be available on the open private rental market, with potential tenants subject to normal credit and reference checks.

 

Will it affect Service families’ access to housing or the maintenance service?

Service families will continue to get Service homes and the normal contracted response repair times will continue to apply. We will monitor this performance as we do now.

 

Will the properties be improved for the private tenants?

These properties will not be improved, but they will be prepared and checked for maintenance and safety prior to occupation, just as they are for Service families prior to move in. Investment for improving Service homes will continue to be targeted at homes occupied by Service families.

The NFF welcomes your thoughts/feedback, please email us on contactus@nff.org.uk or call 023 9265 4374.

 

Posted on: 26th April, 2017

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster has announced a new mailing system to replace the e-bluey for friends and family to send letters to personnel serving around the world. The new contract with Neopost will mean Britain’s Armed Forces will continue to receive hard copy, secure mail, including photos, from their loved ones, for free and with no break in service as the new imail INtouch system takes over from the e-bluey on 1 April 2017.

The new imail INtouch system will allow users to send up to eight pages, including high definition photographs and official documents. The old e-bluey system that is being replaced only allowed single pages to be sent and did not support high definition photographs. Use of the e-bluey has dropped by 98% since 2007, with the same fixed cost, meaning it no longer provided value for money for the taxpayer.

 

Anna Wright, Director of the Naval Families Federation said:

“With 55% of all deployed Armed Forces personnel being from the Naval Service, the provision of the new imail system is really important for our families. We’d really like to hear from serving people and their families about how they find this new service and we encourage them to get in touch with us”.

 

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:

“We are investing in a better mail service to make sure our Armed Forces can stay in touch with their loved ones for free when they are away from home. Along with improved internet connections and global post deliveries, imail means families can now send longer messages and share higher quality photos than before with personnel serving around the world.”

 

The MOD’s new contract with Neopost will reflect actual usage and offer around half a million pounds worth of savings, which will be reinvested into welfare services like improved internet and Wi-Fi provision around the world. By offering both secure internet calls, emails, a letter and parcel service, as well as the imail INtouch service, we have ensured that our personnel have a range of ways of keeping in touch with their loved ones while they are deployed.

 

Posted on: 28th March, 2017

Are your dependent children declared on JPA? Declaring dependent Service Children on JPA can enable appropriate allowances to be obtained, enable paternity and adoption leave requests and can have an influence on allocation of service housing and potential assignments.

In order to complete the registration process, Service Personnel should provide a copy of the child’s birth certificate to unit HR who will complete the JPA process in accordance with BPG IN914005.

Contact: DCYP-DCYP-Mailbox@mod.uk

 

Posted on: 27th March, 2017

A new Childcare Choices website has now been launched, so that millions of parents can pre-register for the government’s new childcare offers.

 

We know that childcare is important to many Naval families (click here to see our Childcare survey results) so we’re pleased to see that Childcare Choices has brought together all the government childcare offers for the first time, to help parents find the right childcare support to suit them.

 

As part of Childcare Choices, the government is introducing two new offers in 2017 – HMRC’s Tax-Free Childcare and the Department for Education’s 30 hours free childcare.

 

The introduction of Tax-Free Childcare will begin on 28 April, for parents of the youngest children. It will be gradually rolled out over 2017 – cutting childcare costs by up to £2,000 per child per year, or £4,000 for disabled children, for working families across the UK.

 

The new 30 hours free childcare offer will be available in England for working parents of three and four year olds from September 2017. Parents will be able to apply in advance of September, and at the same time as Tax-Free Childcare.

 

The Childcare Choices website, launched today, includes a Childcare Calculator for parents to compare the government’s childcare offers and check what works best for their families.

 

Through the site parents can also pre-register for email alerts that will notify them when they can apply.

 

David Gauke, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“The new Childcare Choices website provides busy families with options that suit their needs, so they can clearly see which childcare offer works best for them. For the first time, we have brought all the childcare options together to make the process easier and simpler for families and childcare providers.”

 

Education Secretary, Justine Greening, said:

“Affordable childcare and early years education are a vital part of how we can get our children on the right path, whilst also helping parents to be back at work, if that is what they want. Many parents are struggling to balance the cost of childcare against the benefits of being in work and this government wants to help.

 

“From today, parents can use the Childcare Choices website to find out what support is available for their family. It’s a quick and easy way for parents to choose the offer that’s best for them and their children.”

 

Posted on: 25th March, 2017

Armed Forces personnel will no longer have to face cancellation fees for their broadband and media packages when posted overseas or to another part of the UK.

The commitment from the UK’s biggest broadband providers representing 95 per cent of Britain’s broadband market comes into force immediately, and will benefit tens of thousands of Forces households in the UK and abroad.

The change agreed to under the tenets of the Armed Forces Covenant includes BT, EE, Plusnet, Talk Talk, Sky and Virgin Media, who have all committed to treating military personnel fairly when cancelling their contracts.

Up until now, members of the Armed Forces who are deployed overseas or to different parts of the UK not covered by their provider could be forced to pay a cancellation fee. They will no longer have to face this cost and be disadvantaged due to the mobile nature of service life.

 

BT Chief Executive Gavin Patterson, said:

“Armed Forces personnel play a vital role protecting our country, whether serving overseas or stationed away from home in other parts of the UK. That’s why we’re committed to ensuring they don’t have to pay for broadband or TV services they can’t access, when they find themselves in this situation. Whether it’s through today’s announcement, our hiring of ex-armed forces personnel, or through our work with Reservists, BT, along with our fellow signatories are proud to support our country’s military personnel.”

 

Posted on: 20th March, 2017

What impact does Service life have on children’s education?

Have you ever wondered whether your Service, or that of a serving parent, has affected your children’s educational achievement? At the Naval Families Federation, we’ve been asking these questions of the Department for Education. They have responded by providing information on education statistics for England specifically on UK Armed Forces Personnel’s children, which you can find on the ‘Official Statistics’ part of the Gov.uk website. The bulletin compares Service children to non-Service children (in comparable socioeconomic circumstances). A summary of the key findings is below:

  • In each year between 2012/13 and 2014/15 there’s been little difference between the attainment of service children and non-service children at Key Stage 2 (2014/15: 82.3% and 82.9% respectively) and Key Stage 4 (2014/15: 64.9% and 63.0% respectively).
  • In 2014/15 Service children were more likely to attend more than one school, compared to non-Service children, at both primary (65.8% and 37.4% respectively) and secondary (29.8% and 18.5% respectively). This is most likely due to the requirement for Service personnel to be mobile, as an assignment to a new role could require a locational move, resulting in their children having to move schools.
  • For Service children attending one school, the attainment at Key Stage 2 and 4 was the same or higher than for non-Service children.
  • For Service children who attended more than one school, at both primary and secondary (Key Stage 2 and 4), the percentage achieving the acceptable level fell. However, they performed better than non-Service children who attended more than one school.
  • The same percentage of Service children and non-Service children attended outstanding and good OFSTED rated schools (80.1% and 80.2% respectively) in 2014/15. However fewer Service children attended outstanding schools (17.6% and 21.5% respectively).

The good news is that Service children appear to be achieving at least as well as their peers, if not better in some cases. Clearly we don’t know how well they might have achieved if they were not from a Service background, but these statistics do seem encouraging. Where children appear to be at the most disadvantage is around frequent and repeated mobility, which seems to have a negative impact on attainment. Transitions between schools need to be carefully managed to mitigate this situation.

The DfE have told us that they now hope to be able to produce regular annual statistics about the education of Service children.

As always, we welcome your thoughts on this subject, including feedback from families outside of England whose experiences are not captured by the DfE’s statistics.

Posted on: 9th March, 2017