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Aggie Weston’s Storybook Waves project has secured funding from Annington Trust to help families connect, particularly during times of separation, through a new nationwide network of Book Clubs.

The Storybook Waves Book Club has just launched in 21 venues close to home port areas. Thanks to a grant of over £40,000 from Annington Trust, the monthly book clubs will provide families with the opportunity to meet in a secure and friendly environment. While the children are entertained with books and craft activities based around the theme of a popular children’s book, their parents can chat and build relationships with other families. An Aggie Weston’s Pastoral worker will be available at each of the venues to be a listening ear to anyone experiencing challenges that separation can bring, and provide encouragement and support to families when needed.

 

Anna Wright, Chief Executive of the Naval Families Federation and also Trustee of Annington Trust,  along with Jane Harsham from Annington, presented Aggies with the grant.

 

Chair of Trustees for Annington, Helen Liddell said:

“Aggies Storybook Waves is a simple, thoughtful and sensitive way of bringing pleasure to the families of our sailors and Royal Marines. These Book Clubs will help to reduce isolation, bring communities together and strengthen those vital support networks Service families deserve. We hope the Book Clubs will help build community cohesion within the ‘patch’ or amongst the separated families. Annington’s is proud to be supporting the Clubs.”

 

To contact Storybook Waves, please call 0300 302 0183

 

Posted on: 12th December, 2017

Telling your story to UCAS

Children from military service families are under-represented in the higher education population. Up to 4 out of 10 children who, if in the general population would go to university, do not go if they are from a military family (McCullouch and Hall, 2016). This has recently been recognised by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), which now identifies children from military families as a target group to be addressed by universities and colleges in their access arrangements. You can find out more about this on OFFA’s website and view each university’s access arrangements here.

The Naval Families Federation is working with its partners in the Service Children’s Progression Alliance to improve further and higher education outcomes for Service children, and to encourage universities to include them in their access arrangements.

What do I need to do as a potential university applicant, or the parent of a young person applying to go to university?

You can, if you wish, make the university aware of your status as a child of a military family. Very often we find that young people from Armed Forces families do not consider themselves to be particularly ‘different’. You may not see any reason why your characteristics should be of any special interest to your chosen university. On the other hand, there may be aspects of being part of an Armed Forces family that have influenced your choices and outcomes. Your UCAS application gives you an opportunity to say something about these if you wish to do so. Obviously you are your own person, and not defined by your parent’s military service, but it may have had an influence – positive, negative or neutral – on your educational journey and your personal growth.

My UCAS application

There are 3 areas of your UCAS application where you may identify as a young person from a military family:

Parental Occupation

On your UCAS application, there is a parental occupation box with a drop down menu from which you can select ‘Armed Forces’. This enables UCAS to collect data which will help build a clearer picture of what is happening for Armed Forces families nationally.

Personal Statement

There is plenty of information on the UCAS website about writing your personal statement. We particularly like the writing tool which leads you through the sections and explains what to include. You can find it on the UCAS website here.

Section 1 – the course

The first section of your personal statement will explain:

  • why you are applying for your chosen course;
  • why the subject interests you;
  • why you are suitable for the course;
  • how your current or previous studies relate to the chosen course;
  • and what other activities you have undertaken that demonstrate your interest in the course.

Section 2 – your skills and achievements

In the second section you will write about the skills and achievements that will help you on your chosen course of study and with life at university in general, giving evidence to support why you are right for your course. There is an opportunity to say something here about particular skills that you may have gained from being part of an Armed Forces family. Keep it positive. Include skills that are relevant to the course you are hoping to study and make the link. For example:

I moved schools frequently as a result of my parent’s service, and have learnt to settle in quickly in new places and cope with change.

My parent has been away from home a lot with the Armed Forces. I have needed to be responsible for my younger siblings at times, and this has helped me to organise my time and be reliable.

I have learned to cope with stress and be more resilient as a result of my parent being injured whilst deployed on combat operations. Although it was hard at the time, I worry less now about big challenges because I know I can cope with difficult situations.

I am a young carer for my brother who has special educational needs. When my dad is serving away from home with the Armed Forces, I take on additional responsibility for my brother while my mum is at work. This shows that I am independent and resourceful.

As someone from an Armed Forces family, I have had to be adaptable and flexible as roles and routines in our home change a lot depending whether my dad is away.

UCAS Undergraduate Reference

You can give your permission for your school, college or registered centre to include information in your reference about your circumstances that may have affected/have affected your academic work.

For example:

  • School moves that disrupted your learning for a particular course of study;
  • A parent deployed on combat operations during examinations;
  • Being a young carer;
  • Having a serving parent who is affected by a life-changing injury or medical condition.

This information can help the admissions staff at the university to consider your achievements and potential in context. It is best if you let you referee see a copy of your personal statement so that they can avoid duplicating what you said, but they can comment on what you wrote if they wish.

Good luck!

We wish you every success with your application. If you want to tell us about your journey into higher education, please do get in touch with us at contactus@nff.org.uk . We would love to hear your story!

Further information

If you are a teacher, or are supporting a student with their UCAS application, please encourage them to complete all the relevant application fields in full.  You can find out more about contextualised admissions here.

If you are writing a reference for a student’s UCAS application, you can find additional guidance here.

 

Download this article here.

 

Posted on: 1st December, 2017

The Royal Navy has announced that in order to meet the demands of future Defence tasks, they are planning to conduct a number of Type 23 (T23) frigate baseport changes to co-locate all Towed Array Anti-Submarine T23 frigates in Her Majesty’s Naval Base Devonport, and all General Purpose T23 frigates in Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth.

 

Why?

The introduction of the Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Carriers into service and the Royal Navy’s future focus on Carrier Strike Task Group (CSTG) operations has presented the opportunity to optimise the baseport locations of the T23 Frigates.

A CSTG will comprise of at least one Queen Elizabeth Class (QEC) Carrier, two Type 45 (T45) Destroyers and two T23 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) frigates. With the baseports of the eight T23 ASW frigates currently split between Portsmouth and Devonport, there is the potential for Portsmouth to have to simultaneously generate five major platforms; the Royal Navy has stated that this would be extremely challenging for a single dockyard to manage. Re-baseporting all T23 ASW frigates in Devonport aims to provide greater operational flexibility and de-risk T23 availability for CSTG.

 

What is the timescale?

The Naval Families Federation has been told that the baseport changes will occur during, what the Royal Navy calls, unmanned ‘Upkeep’ periods, so that they can aim to provide a smooth personnel transition programme to minimise disruption for ships’ crews and their families.

The change programme will start with HMS Richmond in August 2018, with all subsequent ships baseport changing on the first day of their next ‘Upkeep’ period. We have been assured that all baseport changes, which will complete by 2023, are in excess of the minimum manning notice.

Portsmouth Naval Base aims to benefit from additional investment to support QEC and T45 Destroyers; Devonport will become the focus for the generation of surface ship Anti-Submarine Warfare capability.

The Royal Navy routinely reviews its requirements for future waterfront infrastructure, including berths, docks and related facilities, to inform decisions regarding infrastructure investment, base porting and maintenance. A decision has yet to be made for the base porting of the Type 26 and Type 31e Frigates, however we will update you as soon as we receive further information.

 

The T23s to be baseport changed are as follows: 

Ship Current Baseport Future Baseport
RICHMOND Portsmouth Devonport
ST ALBANS Portsmouth Devonport
MONMOUTH Devonport Portsmouth
ARGYLL Devonport Portsmouth
WESTMINSTER Portsmouth Devonport
MONTROSE Devonport Portsmouth
KENT Portsmouth Devonport

 

If you would like to contact us with your feedback or you have any questions regarding this announcement, please phone us on 023 9265 4374 or email contactus@nff.org.uk .

 

Posted on:  30th November, 2017

When we speak to families they tell us that navigating allowances can be difficult. To make life a little easier we have pulled out some useful information that could have an impact on family life. There are various allowances that Service Personnel may become eligible for in certain circumstances or at different qualifying points in their career, such as a new Assignment. Advice can be taken from your family member’s Unit Personnel Office (UPO) and up to date information can also be found here.

This article aims to highlight a few of the allowances that your family member may be entitled to, and which have to be claimed for and assessed for eligibility by your family member’s UPO rather than paid automatically, of which you may not have been aware and some will require evidence, such as proof of address. Reservist’s eligibility for some allowances will be based on the type of their commitment so regulations should always be checked.

Travel Allowances

1. Home to Duties – (HTD) – An allowance paid to personnel who travel to work daily based on the mileage travelled. If the serving person lives in privately owned or rented accommodation they must contribute for the first nine miles before they are eligible to claim; if personnel live in Service Family Accommodation the allowance starts after the first three miles. It is paid automatically at a daily rate for shore side personnel but it is paid on a manual basis for personnel serving onboard a Ship. Personnel can also claim for travel on Public Transport, which will also be claimed manually.

2. Get You Home (Travel) – GYH (Travel) – Payable to personnel who live at work in Single Living Accommodation (SLA) or a Residence at Work Address and travel home at weekends. To be eligible you need to live over 50 miles away. This allowance cannot be paid alongside allowances such as HTD or Longer Separation Allowance. If you are temporarily serving at a different location for 10 days or more, then you can claim this allowance for the distance between the permanent and temporary duty station.

3. Get You Home (Sea goers) – If you are serving on-board a Ship then you are entitled to 10 warrants per leave year in order to travel to an eligible nominated address, such as Next Of Kin, Spouse or Parent. You could also transfer up to six warrants per year to your immediate family, a Spouse or Dependent Child, to travel from their home to the family member’s place of duty. When your Ship is deployed, up to six warrants per year can also be transferred to close family such as a Grandparent, Parent or Sibling, as long as the travel is to visit the Spouse, or to the Spouse/Child in order to visit either set of Parents.

4. Railcards – All personnel are entitled to apply for an HM Forces Railcard at a cost of £19. The card saves 1/3 of the cost of most rail fares in the UK and is valid for a year. Spouses and Dependent children are also eligible for a card. Please note that expenses for a duty or GYH journey can’t be claimed for if that journey is undertaken using an HM Forces Railcard.

Education Allowances

If you and your family change location due to assignment, then you may be able to claim the Continuity of Education allowance.

1. Continuity of Education (CEA) – There are several parts to this allowance to take in individual circumstances, including Boarding School and children with Special Educational Needs. To be eligible in most cases, the family must be living with the Service Person unless they are serving on board a Ship at sea, or are deployed in an Operational Area where families are not allowed to accompany them.

Relocation Expenses and Allowances

Moving home due to a new assignment? Help is available with those extra costs involved.

1. Disturbance Expenses – If you are assigned a new Unit then you can claim Disturbance Expenses, though you cannot claim if you are moving on board a Ship. The allowance is paid at different rates depending on the type of accommodation such as SLA or SFA (Service Family Accommodation) and the location, for example UK or Overseas.

2. Movement and Storage of Personal Effects – This is to enable personnel to move home at Public Expense when assigned to a new Unit at a new location or after an authorised Mid-Assignment move. In the majority of cases, Removals and storage provision is to be delivered by the MOD contractor. The maximum volume of Personal Effects that can be moved or stored is 67.92 CuM. This allowance cannot be claimed when a couple are first setting up a home after marriage or Civil Partnership.

Accommodation Allowances

There are several accommodation allowances to support personnel with charges they may incur due to the nature of their assignment.

1. Lodging Allowance – To enable personnel in the UK to rent accommodation when single public accommodation is not available.

2. Overseas Rent Allowance – If you are assigned overseas and there is no suitable Service accommodation available, then you can access an allowance to reimburse you with the cost of rent and utilities for rented accommodation.

3. Overseas Furniture Provision Scheme – If you are moving to unfurnished publicly rented accommodation or foreign government quarters, then this allowance will help with the provision of furniture and furnishings.

4. Council Tax Relief – (CTR) – This allowance is for personnel who pay council tax in the UK and are serving abroad on specified operations or assignments. It is paid for each day that the person is on the qualifying assignment and includes time spent out of theatre on Rest and Recuperation. It is not paid to personnel who have already negotiated a discount with their Local Council. The allowance will be paid automatically to personnel living in SFA unless the qualifying person is living in a Married Quarter and is not the PSTAT 1/2 partner (they are not the one paying SFA and Council Tax charges) in which case they will have to claim separately as if they were living in private accommodation. The daily rate for CTR is based on the average Council Tax per dwelling in England.

Remember –

There are many different allowances that cover countless differing situations, so it is always wise to consult your Unit Personnel Office with any queries, particularly when proceeding on a new Assignment.

More information

The MOD has produced a guide to expenses and allowances for Serving personnel and the support families could receive. Find it here.

If you are due to be assigned overseas, please visit this page for further information on Local Overseas Allowance (LOA).

Posted on: 9th November, 2017
Updated on: 29th November, 2018

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

Edit: PMK is now being led by Aggie Weston. You can contact them here.

 

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 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

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