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Being a parent and raising children is exciting and rewarding, but it can be tough at times for any family. The amount, patterns and types of parental absence faced by Royal Navy and Royal Marines families present additional challenges that are not routinely experienced by most civilian families.

 

In response to feedback from families, the Naval Families Federation has produced a new resource about the experience of parental absence. The purpose of the resource is to draw together some useful information about parental absence and separation, and provide some strategies to help families thrive. If you are a parent, it may also be helpful to give a copy to your child’s school, or to other people in your network, to help them to understand your circumstances.

 

You can download a free copy here. Alternatively, Royal Navy and Royal Marines families, and those supporting them, please email us at contactus@nff.org.uk to request a hard copy. Regrettably, we are only able to send hard copies to our beneficiaries due to resource constraints.

 

Posted on: 6th February, 2019

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

 

The Scottish Government has published a welcome guide, specifically written for Naval Service families.

 

This booklet provides information you may need to help settle in. It covers aspects such as housing, education, healthcare, employment, benefits and social care, other useful information, and a list of supporting organisations.

 

If you are considering, or are due to move to Scotland for an upcoming assignment order, you can read this guide online here. The Scottish Government is planning to distribute this booklet in hard copy in the near future, though no dates have been confirmed. We will keep you updated.

 

Posted on: 5th July, 2018

What do you know about the Armed Forces Covenant?

Warwickshire County Council, on behalf of the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Armed Forces Covenant partnership has launched an innovative e-learning resource for Armed Forces personnel and their families.

 

This training programme has been designed to support those leaving or who have left the Armed Forces and helps in the process of adjusting to life outside of the Armed Forces.  It addresses issues that are commonly experienced within the transition and adjustment process such as acquiring accommodation, employment, health as well as personal and family adjustment.  It also raises awareness of the Armed Forces Covenant and highlight how it can support them in reducing disadvantages that can occur as a result of their service.

 

These modules were created by the Armed Forces Covenant Team within the Council, in collaboration with ex-serving personnel, the Naval Families Federation and the Army and RAF Families Federations.

 

Anna Wright, CEO of the Naval Families Federation said:

“I am delighted to lend my support to this fifth, and final, Armed Forces Covenant e-learning module, which has been developed by the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Covenant Partnership. We have worked with Phil Deakin and his colleagues on all of these modules and have been thrilled to see how successful they have been in not only raising awareness of the issues faced by serving personnel and their families, but also providing advice about how the Covenant can help to overcome them.

This final module really strikes a chord as it coincides with the research that we and the other Families Federations have recently published, in partnership with the Forces in Mind Trust, which puts the spotlight on how families transition out of the Armed Forces. I am sure that the module will help the individual and whole family make a successful move back to civilian life”

 

Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said:

“I am very pleased to welcome this new resource focused on Service Leavers and Veterans.  We know that the period of transition and adjustment to civilian life can be difficult for some individuals and families and this e-learning will aid them in settling back into civilian life.  One excellent feature is the ‘Three Top Tips’ being shared from veterans of all 3 services as well as spouses who have made the transition.”

 

You can access these e-learning resources here.

 

Posted on: 14th May, 2018
Updated on: 8th May, 2019

Moving schools packs for parents and schools

These from CEAS packs can be used by parents and schools to supplement the information that schools must transfer by law. You can personalise the pack by using the sheets you find most useful, or you can add others that you think will help the school to know more about your child. The activity pack is aimed at children aged 6 to 11 years old, but you may want to adapt some of the ideas for your own child.

Download a copy of the moving school pack and pupil passport.

 

Common Transfer File – transferring between and from schools in England

The Naval Families Federation has been asking for better information transfer for Service pupils moving between schools, in response to feedback from families. A form called a Pupil Information Profile had been developed to enable schools to pass on information, but in practice it is not always used. From September 2018, the Common Transfer File (CTF), which is used by schools and local authorities to send pupil data whenever a pupil moves from one school to another in England, is being updated. This will improve the information being transferred and help to identify children who may need support as a result of their Service connection. It is not an extra form for schools to complete, but a normal part of their practice, and therefore likely to be more consistently used.

It contains a ‘flag’ which is used to identify a child’s Service status.

It also asks for four data items for Service children:

  • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to moving school?”
  • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to parental deployment?”
  • “Does the school have any concerns about the child’s response to parental separation?” (This field should be used to record concerns that the school has about Service children being separated from their parents due to extended training periods or other forms of duty.)
  • “Details about concerns”: this is a free text box in which the school can include further details about their concerns. The school may wish to include, in this free text section, contact details to assist in the integration of the new pupils.

The CTF system will be configured so that when a CTF is received by a school with the Service Child flag set to ‘Yes’, an alert will be automatically raised asking that a) the head teacher or appropriate member of staff should be informed of the identity of the Service child joining the school; and b) where the “concerns” section (described above) has not been completed, that the appropriate member of staff be informed and advised to contact the CTF sending school for clarification.

We would be interested to hear from families about their experiences of information transfer between schools. We are very aware that there are differences between the English system, the Devolved Governments and overseas provision. Do contact us and let us know about the challenges you have experienced, and also about examples of really effective practice.

 

Pupil Information Profile

The Pupil information profile (PIP) form is a transfer document which is consistent for all pupils in any school setting (regardless of location) to support specific aspects of a pupil’s background and learning.

It contains information that supports a young person’s future learning and parents are encouraged to bring this to the attention of their child’s school about using it as a helpful tool, when the child is about to move to another school. It is intended to support continuous learning by identifying the pupil’s current and future learning needs.

It can be downloaded here.

 

 

Posted on: 4th April, 2018
Updated on: 10th February, 2020

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

families on the move 2

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

families on the move 3

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

 

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

 

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

 

18. Explore your new environment together.

 

19. Establish new family routines as quickly as possible.

 

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

 

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

 

Further information

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

 

Posted on: 21st June, 2017

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

 

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

Family

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

 

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

 

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

covenant e-learning Screen shot 2 fact or Fiction

 

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

 

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

 

Posted on: 20th June, 2017

Bringing up children can be a great joy, but also has its challenges, particularly during periods of separation. Sometimes undertaking a parenting course can help parents or carers to feel more confident in their approach. There are various courses available through local Children and Family Hubs (sometimes called Sure Start Centres or Children’s Centres). Evidence based courses such as the Incredible Years and Triple P – Positive Parenting Program can be a good starting place.

 

Families often talk to us about their experiences of parental absence, whether through deployment, weekending, or other causes. In response to their feedback, and in consultation with YoungMinds, we have produced a resource to help to support parents, carers and schools. You can download a copy here.

 

Family Lives is a charity that supports parents and others raising children in having the best relationship possible with the children they care for. They offer a telephone support helpline and online forums. Find out more here.

 

Family Fund

Family Fund provides grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people. They provide grants for a wide range of items. Please visit their website here.

 

Online Safety

For helpful advice and tools you can use to help keep your child safe online visit the NSPCC’s Online Safety Guide.

How to decide if your child is ready to be home alone –

Deciding if your child is ready to be left home alone can be a tricky decision. The NSPCC’s very helpful guide explains what you need to consider.

Little Troopers support children with parents in the Armed Forces, Regular or Reserve. You can buy separation packs and other resources from their online shop. You can visit their website here.

HMS Heroes is a national support group for children of serving people. They provide a tri-Service network of after-school clubs. Please read more here.

When your family is mobile, or you are living away from your support network, it can really help to develop relationships with other parents in your area. One way to do this is through National Childbirth Trust’s ante and post-natal groups.  You can search their website to find a ‘Bumps and Babies’ event near you. They also offer UK wide online e-groups for Dads, women planning a home birth, caesarean section support and pre-term birth support.

 

 

Young Minds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. They have a free helpline and email support service, and have a range of useful resources on their website here.

 

Posted on: 17th November, 2016
Updated on: 12th February, 2019

The Welsh Government have now produced a refreshed Package of Support document – ‘Giving and Receiving – Supporting and Investing in our Armed Forces Community in Wales’ details what support is available to the Armed Forces community in Wales with devolved services.

 

It encapsulates the 2-way relationship that exists between the Armed Forces and the community in which they live.

 

They have also produced a ‘Welcome to Wales’ document for Serving Personnel and their families to make them aware of the support available on moving to Wales.

 

These 2 documents should be read in conjunction with the UK Government’s Armed Forces Covenant: Today and Tomorrow. Together they set out the UK Government’s overall intent for supporting the Armed Forces community.

 

The Government are committed to providing support for our Armed Forces community and the aim is to ensure effective and efficient provision of services which support their needs.

 

Since 2013 a number of new and developing commitments, both within Welsh Government policy areas and partner organisations have progressed.

 

Additional funding from the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) has also increased resources available to the third sector and local authorities to provide specific support in essential areas.

 

This relates to the decision by the Chancellor to transfer £35m from fines levied on banks for attempting to manipulate the LIBOR interest rates to the Ministry of Defence for use in supporting the Armed Forces Community managed under the Community Covenant Fund.

 

More information

For further information relating to the Armed Forces community, please contact ArmedForces@wales.gsi.gov.uk. 

 

Document Download

Welcome to Wales (updated in June 2020)

Giving and Receiving

Posted on: 26th October, 2018
Updated on: 29th June, 2020

Supporting Children and Families during Deployment

The Service Children’s Education (SCE) organisation has put together a number of resources to support families during these times. The SCE provide guidance which draws on the experiences of service families and a wide range of support organisations. Visit their website here to access helpful resources.

 

Private Fostering

If you are due to deploy and are organising childcare arrangements with a relative or close friend, please check the regulations regarding private fostering. If an individual is looking after someone else’s child for more than 28 days they must notify their local council – failure to do so is a criminal offence. Click here for further details.

 

Posted on: 21st October, 2016