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HALO survey

The Helping Armed Forces Loved Ones Survey (the ‘HALO’ survey) aims to better understand the needs and experiences of people who are worried about the mental health of a loved one who services or has served in the Armed Forces.

 

The second wave of the study is now underway. This part of the study focuses on mood swings.

 

If this sounds like something that may be relevant to you, please take 10 minutes or so to complete the confidential online survey. Upon completion, you can opt in to enter into a prize draw to win one of 5 Amazon gift vouchers (worth up to £50). The survey is here.

 

 

Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds

The HALO survey is part of a bigger HALO study that gives you the option to seek support directly from Help for Heroes ‘Hidden Wounds’ programmes. ‘Hidden Wounds’ can help if you are worried about the mental health of a family member, partner or loved one serving in the Armed Forces. It can help you, too, if you are worried about the effect of their mental health on your own wellbeing. To find out more visit the website and use the contact form or email.

 

HALO social media

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Posted on: 5th November, 2018
Updated on: 30th January, 2019

A two-year tri-Federation project comes to fruition today (Thursday 1st November) with the publication of a report into transition. This report, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), has revealed that more awareness about the demands of transition is needed for families of Service leavers.

 

The report contains a list of recommendations including the need for:

  • A shift in culture (for policy makers, service providers, Service leavers and families themselves), which better appreciates the breadth of transition and the need to engage with it from an earlier point in a Service leaver’s career.
  • Raising awareness of the importance of advance planning.
  • An education piece to cover transition entitlement and processes.
  • Tailoring support to families’ specific needs.

 

The report, the first to specifically look at the lived experience of Service families, reveals the complex nature of transition and affirms the six ‘elements’ of transition: housing, health, education and children, employment, finances and wellbeing.

 

It also highlights the need for further research to better understand specific cohorts of families such as Foreign & Commonwealth, those whose Service leaver is being medically discharged and the challenges faced by Service children.

 

Anna Wright, CEO Naval Families Federation, said:

“The unique nature of Naval Service life is reflected by the ‘can do’ attitude of our families. However, it doesn’t automatically follow that all Naval Service families find the transition process to be without challenge. This report provides those in decision making roles with an insightful and honest bank of information to help support their thinking and consider the needs of Naval Service families when reviewing or updating appropriate policies.

“We are hugely grateful to all the families who took part in the research, offering their time and

sharing their ‘lived experience’ to inform this report.”

 

Sara Baade, Chief Executive, Army Families Federation said:

“The Army Families Federation is very grateful to FiMT for the opportunity to conduct much-needed research showing more needs to be done to support those going through transition out of the military. This work strengthens existing evidence in this area and the report’s recommendations are invaluable in supporting the case for improved resources and services that families can use to ensure their transition is successful, whatever their make-up. This key evidence also supports the Veterans’ Strategy announced by the Defence Secretary earlier this year; those transitioning out of the Forces are the veterans of tomorrow, and ensuring families overcome the many challenges transition can pose goes some way to ensuring a successful civilian life.”

 

Graeme Spark, Acting Director, RAF FF said:

“We have been delighted to have been part of this project – understanding completely the need for a holistic approach to transition to best support RAF families now and in the future. We now look forward to helping deliver where we can some of its recommendations.”

 

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:

“The process of transition is not solely about the Service personnel, it affects the entire family unit. What has become clear, from the library of research funded by FiMT, is that the earlier planning for leaving the Armed Forces starts, the more successful and sustainable is the transition.

“The recommendations within this report highlight the need to do more to ensure that the families of Service personnel are given the support required to successfully navigate the transition pathway.”

 

You can read the full report here. Please contact us if you would like to obtain a hard copy.

 

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

 

Posted on: 1st November, 2018
Updated on: 14th November, 2018

On 30th September 2018, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced a new package to help Armed Forces personnel and their family members throughout their careers and their transitions into civilian life.

 

He said:

‘’The bravery and dedication of our people is second to none. Whether they are in service, have served, or support the service of a loved one, we owe them a great debt of gratitude for their work in keeping this country safe. It is only right that we give our Armed Forces every opportunity to develop their skills to reach their potential, while ensuring that their spouses and civil partners are just as valued for the part they play.

The vast majority of those who have served in our Armed Forces go on to lead successful and rewarding lives, but it’s important we recognise that the transition is not always smooth. We are dedicated to upholding the support they receive while in uniform as they take this next step, and I’m delighted to be adding an extra helping hand to those most in need.‘’

 

The new package will include the following schemes:

  • Launching a new transition programme and ID cards for Service leavers. A new Defence Transition Service will deliver specialist support for Service personnel to adjust to civilian life, including help with housing and employment. New ID cards will be available to Service leavers shortly, and those who have already made the transition will be able to apply for an ID card in 2019. These cards will allow easy access to the range of support available from the public and charitable sectors, including registering with your local authority for priority healthcare and housing;

 

  • A new fund will be dedicated to support the careers of Service spouses and partners, following the success of the MOD’s Spouse Employment Support trial. This will facilitate access to vocational training and development opportunities to entering new sectors or self-employment;

 

  • By the end of 2020, all serving personnel will have access to their own Professional and Personal Development Plan, a scheme that will enable them to hone the skills they need to succeed throughout their service, and to equip them for the next stage of their careers. It can also help create a support network for those living with significant illness, caring for others.

 

We will share further details as they become available. The Naval Families Federation welcomes your feedback on these and other issues. Please do contact us via our website with any comments you make have.

 

Posted on: 1st October, 2018

The Ministry of Defence has produced a guide to expenses and allowances for Serving personnel and the support families could receive.

 

This booklet, accessible here, holds a wealth of information to help both regular and reserve members of all three Services to better understand some of the most common expenses, allowances and other provisions that are available.

 

Introducing the categories of entitlements, explaining the common terminologies, and the claiming process, it can also signpost you to the correct departments and appropriate chapters in JSP 752 (primary authority). You can also find a FAQ in form of scenarios that are most commonly experienced by our Serving people.

 

Please note that this document is for guidance only, do always refer to JSP 752 and contact your Unit HRs.

 

Posted on: 19th September, 2018

Reading Force is a shared reading initiative for Service families. The charity provides free books and scrapbooks to Service children of all ages, in order to support and encourage Armed Forces families with shared reading both at home or when separated.

 

Through this programme, participating families experience the following benefits:
• Maintaining good contact with a parent when they are away from home;
• Increased contact with extended family, especially grandparents;
• Improved communication within the whole family;
• More fathers get involved with their children’s reading;
• A sense of community and affirmed identity.

 

Please see this brochure to find out more about their causes, and use this link to sign up for your copy.

 

Posted on: 6th September, 2018
Updated on: 21st June, 2019

 

Thank you to everyone who responded to our recent survey about mental health for Royal Navy and Royal Marines families. Your feedback is extremely valuable and helps us to represent accurately your views and experiences. The results of the survey are here.

 

This survey was carried out to assist the House of Commons Defence Committee (HCDC) with its current inquiry into the Mental Health of the Armed Forces. The Committee makes recommendations for change. On 25 July 2018 it published Part 1 of its report into the Mental Health of the Armed Forces, which considers the scale of mental health issues. The Naval Families Federation provided evidence for this report. The Committee accepted our view that mental health should be considered in a holistic way, rather than focusing solely on the serving person. We want to find out more about the impact of military service and lifestyles on the mental health of family members, to make sure you are properly supported. Part 1 of the Committee’s report acknowledges that families’ mental health can be affected by the stresses of Service life and by traumatic events experienced by their military partners. It makes a number of recommendations, including that the Ministry of Defence, in conjunction with the health departments of the four nations, places a greater focus on Service and veterans’ families as part of its mental health care provision. This should include supporting further research into the mental health of current and former Service families to determine what provision is needed. The Ministry of Defence should also monitor how this provision is applied across the UK as part of its annual report on the Armed Forces Covenant.

 

You can read Part 1 of the HCDC report here and our evidence here. We will keep you up to date with any further developments as they happen.

 

Posted on: 5th September, 2018

 

On Wendesday 29th August 2018 it was announced that CarillionAmey is rebranding, and will be known as ‘Amey’ from now on.

 

There are sereval changes that you may wish to take note of:

 

  1. Their new website will be https://www.ameydefenceservices.co.uk/
  2. You can find out more about their services (including a SFA guide, advice and support etc.) here.
  3. There is a change to their email address domain (@ameydefenceservices.co.uk). Please refer to this page here for more information.
  4. Their phone numbers will remain unchanged.

 

You can read their official statement here.

 

Posted on: 30th August, 2018

A new compensation scheme has been announced for military personnel affected by increases in Scottish tax – an issue that was flagged up by the Naval Families Federation.

 

When Scotland’s new income tax regime came into force earlier this year, anyone who lived in Scotland and earned more than about £26,000 started paying more income tax than they would do if they lived elsewhere in the UK.

 

It is thought that around 8,000 serving personnel fall into that category.

 

When the Scottish government first announced its ‘progressive’ system, the Naval Families Federation acted on behalf of Naval Service families and conveyed their concerns to Defence ministers.

 

We firmly believe that serving personnel north of the border should not be worse off than colleagues who are posted elsewhere, and that all should be treated equally.

 

The NFF is delighted that the MOD has listened and responded with the new scheme of ‘mitigation payments’ announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson today, which will see affected personnel receive a compensation payment ensuring all serving people effectively pay the same rate of tax, wherever they work, in the current tax year.

 

Only Regular personnel whose main place of residence is in Scotland and who are worse off by a minimum of £12 a year will be eligible, while a cap of £1,500 has also been set.

 

The payment will be retrospective, ie paid after the end of the 2018-19 tax year, and the scheme will be reviewed on an annual basis by the MOD. More details of this year’s scheme will follow later in the year.

 

This is a great example of how the NFF acts as a bridge between our community and the Government to promote equality for you and your family. We will continue to monitor changes in policies to act on your behalf.

 

For those in the Armed Forces, details are available in a Defence Internal Brief, serial number 2018DIB/08.

 

You can access BBC’s news article on the compensation scheme here.

 

Posted on: 19th July, 2018
Updated on: 6th August, 2018

Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, recently published a report looking at the lives and experiences of children who grow up in an Armed Forces family. The Naval Families Federation attended the launch of the report, and spoke with the Children’s Commissioner afterwards about particular challenges experienced by Naval Service families.

 

The report, ‘Kin and Country: Growing up as an Armed Forces Child’, explores how primary and secondary school children with parents in the Armed Forces feel about moving school or country, how their lives at home and school change with deployment and whether or not they feel they receive the support they need.

 

The Children’s Commissioner’s Office spoke to children up and down the country whose parents are currently serving in the Army, Navy or RAF, as well as speaking to teachers, parents and members of the Armed Forces to build a clear picture of where there are gaps in provision for children, and why these gaps exist.

 

The report shows that most children in Armed Forces families are growing up living happy lives, despite the unique challenges they face. It is clear though that the lifestyle can be tough, and that multiple school moves often leave children feeling unsettled and anxious. For children with additional needs or teenagers in the middle of exam courses, moving around adds another layer of complication.

 

Alongside the impact of mobility, service children describe a range of complex emotional responses to the deployment of their parents, sharing the impact that parental absence has at home, with changing family dynamics and increased responsibility for siblings and household tasks. For children who had both parents deployed at the same time, these issues are exacerbated by the need to move to stay with another family member for a significant period of time.

 

You can read the full report, and its recommendations, here.

 

Posted on: 17th July, 2018

** This article is about our work with the Armed Forces Covenant/ Defence Select Committee in 2018. If you would like to read an update of the work carried out in 2019, please click here. **

 

As part of our work with the Armed Forces Covenant, each year we are asked to comment formally on the Covenant Annual Report, alongside the AFF and RAF FF. In addition to our written observations, our Chief Executive Anna Wright also appeared as a witness before the Defence Select Committee (DSC) earlier this year to talk about the Covenant, how it is being delivered and how it is affecting our people and their families.

 

The DSC Report has now been published and we are delighted to see that the Committee have listened to the evidence presented by the NFF and have included some of our suggestions in their recommendations. For example, during her evidence session, Anna told the Committee that, whilst we would like to see the Service Pupil Premium amount increased, our priority would be for it to be extended to early years and up to 18 years, because there were gaps at either end in terms of pastoral support.

 

As a result, the Committee have recommended that:

“We call on the Government to review the Service Pupil Premium for England, with particular reference to whether it should be increased and whether its range should be extended to under-5s and to all Service children, including those aged 16–18 years across the UK. We also call upon the Government to provide target guidance to help schools use the Service Pupil Premium appropriately.”

(Defence Select Committee Report on the Covenant, paragraph 135)

 

This is a great example of how we are speaking up on your behalf, at all levels within government, to try and make life better for you and your family. If you want to know more about our evidence and the Committees findings, you can access the full report here.

 

Posted on: 16th July, 2018
Updated on: 22nd October, 2019