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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

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

 

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

The Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey (AFCAS) 2019 has now been published.

 

Statistics from 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 see the results (2019) in full. Previous results are also accessible here: 2018; 2017; 2016; 2015.

 

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: 28th May, 2019

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