FROM: Emma, soldier Stuart, Daisy (3), Sam (21 months) and Labrador Harvey
WHERE: Mons, Belgium
How long have you been an Army family?
Six years. We have had postings in Germany, Aldershot, London and now SHAPE.
Time in Mons:
How many other military families live in Mons?
We are serving on a NATO base with roughly 190 UK Service personnel. There are some patches but there are also some families living in the local community. We have all of the other NATO families surrounding us which is one of the fabulous things about SHAPE life – I have never seen so many different military uniforms on one base.
What’s your quarter like?
Lovely – it’s a newly-refurbished bungalow with a huge garden backing onto fields. We live alongside other UK families and locals and the best part is that we are close to SHAPE, which makes getting to work and school easy.
Are there employment/training opportunities?
Yes. SHAPE has quite a large number of spouses that work within EJSU and the school. I work as the military physio in the medical centre.
What about schools/childcare?
There is an international school at SHAPE with a British section. Daisy goes to early-years in the mornings and then crosses to the Belgian school in the afternoon. She learns French and immerses herself in the culture. Sam is in the American nursery where he is very happy. Access to childcare is limited however and many families struggle, but there are local settings that can be tapped into.
Where do Army families get together?
We have a pop-up coffee shop that is run by community volunteers. There’s also a Home-Start facility called SHAPE House and we have a Brit Bar and mess facility too. On base there is a Starbucks cafe, a cinema and a Pizza Bowl.
Who supports families?
Home-Start, the welfare team, the medical centre and each other – our community.
What’s the best thing about living in Mons?
For me, it’s that Daisy is learning to speak French – she’ll be better than I am soon! We are lucky to live in an international community. The road maintenance and the road rules can cause a couple of headaches, but I’d definitely recommend this posting to others.