Over the next 12-18 months, many Army families will be involved in unit moves as part of the Army Rebasing Programme. Army&You spoke to Collette Musgrave, AFF’s UK & Overseas Director, about this large and complex project…
A key piece of this plan is the move of HQ 20 Brigade and all major and minor units based in Germany back to the UK. This is scheduled to happen by September next year, with the bulk of the moves taking place over the summer. While many families will head to Wiltshire, others will go to locations including Leuchars in Scotland, Catterick, Stafford, Bicester and Swanton Morley in East Anglia.
Carole Rudd, AFF’s Regional Manager Germany, explained: “It’s a complex picture, with some units re-roling as part of the move – so it’s not as simple as just saying ‘everyone from x unit is going to Larkhill’ for example!
“It’s important to stay in touch with the information that is being issued by units about where they are going, and in what timeframe. When the units are asking you for information, it’s essential to respond – they want to make sure that the right houses and school places are available when you get to the UK.
“BFGnet has lots of information about locations and the admin you have to think about when you’re leaving BFG.”
Many families will be moving to locations around the Salisbury Plain training area in Wiltshire. There will be more than 4,000 additional Army personnel in the area by 2020 – and in excess of 1,000 new Service Family Accommodation (SFA) are being built, including the already-completed Ashdown Estate in Tidworth.
AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade visited the new site recently. She said: “I was pleased to see that the layout was open plan and reflected modern ways of living, and that the need to store extra kit had also been taken into account.”
There are around 1,000 new school places being created for Service children, with new primary schools in Larkhill and Ludgershall offering 630 new places. Avon College, near Bulford, and Wellington Academy, serving Tidworth and Ludgershall, will have 375 additional places.
Wiltshire Council has always had a strong relationship with the Army. It was the first local authority in the country to create a military civilian integration partnership in 2006 and has worked with the MOD to ensure infrastructure and support services will be in place.
Military civilian integration lead Kevin Ladner said: “We are ensuring adequate resources will be available to deliver services required by the incoming military families. Council officers are visiting Germany in September to advise on what Wiltshire can offer including jobs, leisure and health facilities, as well as how to apply for local school places and what services will be available on arrival.
“Throughout the programme, we have communicated with local communities about the moves and feedback has been very positive. The people of Wiltshire look forward to welcoming you.”
Rest of UK
There are many other units on the move and AFF is on hand to provide help and guidance to you. 2 Med Regt in North Luffenham is disbanding and most families will have moved over the summer to join 3 Med in Preston, Lancashire. AFF’s local co-ordinators in the East Midlands and in the North West have provided support and shared information.
The Household Cavalry Regiment is heading to Bulford from Windsor – and our London and Wiltshire co-ordinators have been working together to guide them.
We also have a team in Cyprus – see page three of autumn’s magazine – who can help if you are part of the 2 Mercian and 1 Lancs regular rotation.
Army wife Mariya Chambers has recently moved from Germany.
“I’ve been married to my soldier for seven years but had never lived in the UK as an Army spouse,” she told us. “It was quite challenging at first as lots of things – from getting your car registered and insured, to accessing healthcare – are very different in the UK and you have to do much more for yourself. We’ve quickly settled in – I found a job that I enjoy and we really like the Salisbury Plain area.”
The HIVE provides details on relocation wherever you are or wherever you are heading to. It has information about amenities, garrison facilities, housing and travel.
Nikki Peterson, head of Army HIVE, told us: “Relocation information is our primary role, as accurate and up-to-date knowledge can make all the difference to the success of your move.
“HIVE has supported thousands of serving personnel and their families during rebasing and now with our online iHIVE we are delighted that we can extend that support across the world.”