Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out about their key pieces of work over the last few months.

Anna Hutchinson – Education & Childcare

The MOD and local authorities have a close working relationship, and the MOD Local Authority Partnership (MODLAP) was created in 2017. The most recent addition to this is the MODLAP Early Years group, which brings together early years teams from across England to make sure the experiences and emotional needs of service children under five are understood. By building a network of experts there will be greater understanding of the impact military life has on families, as well as ensuring the youngest members of the service community are heard and recognised. AFF is excited to be working with them as they develop as a group, sharing your lived experiences. Contact us at educationsupport@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? An indoor courtyard for relaxing with a glass of wine.

Jenna Richardson – Employment & Training

Changing career can be a scary thing to consider, especially when it requires you to retrain. Sometimes there are opportunities where retraining is part of a new role, as in the case of apprenticeships, but for many people, the cost is a huge barrier. I receive lots of enquiries from families asking if there is any funding from the MOD to support training for spouses and partners but, unfortunately, there isn’t. However, there may be other options for funding support in the form of grants from service charities, and some colleges offer free study opportunities. There’s more information on forcesfamiliesjobs.co.uk or get in touch at employment@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? Fields and stables, so I could indulge my love of horses and have space for more dogs!

Katherine Houlston – Foreign & Commonwealth

There appears to be a rumour circulating that it’s possible for spouses and partners to apply for Citizenship after three years of residency in the UK. This is true, but it’s also necessary to have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) before you can apply. There’s no other way around this. Only serving soldiers can apply for Citizenship without first having ILR because their exempt stamp means they are free from immigration control. If you apply for Citizenship instead of ILR your application will be refused and you will lose the money. If your visa expires whilst you’re waiting for the Citizenship application to be processed, you will become an overstayer and will no longer be eligible for ILR. Contact us at fcsupport@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? My dream home would be a motorhome as I want to travel, so it would need to have wheels!

Karen Ross – Health & Additional Needs

I was privileged to have been invited to be part of the judging panel for this year’s Health Service Journal Awards. This involved assessing the entries for the Military and Civilian Health Partnership Award. There were some truly inspiring submissions, showcasing initiatives and projects that support the military community, but also demonstrating how the armed forces have supported their wider community, particularly in these recent challenging times. For more information on the winners, visit awards.hsj.co.uk. Contact us at healthsupport@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? A view of the sea and my own secluded beach, so that I can completely switch off and relax.

Cat Calder – Housing

We are in the run-up to the introduction of the new housing contract (known as FDIS), with Amey getting ready to wind down its current commitments and the official changeover taking place on 1 March 2022. With any contract change there are likely to be a few ‘hiccups’ and we hope that they are minor, but please let me know if you are seeing a decrease in service over the next few months – housingsupport@aff.org.uk. It’s also vitally important that you continue to log any issues as official complaints so that a complete picture can be seen – email customercare@ameydefenceservices.co.uk. Contact us at housingsupport@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? A dedicated yoga studio.

Claire Hallam – Money & Allowances

We’ve had some good news lately on a couple of policy changes that may benefit you. Firstly, for those of you claiming Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) who have teenagers going into sixth form, you’ll be pleased to know that you no longer have to re-apply for a new eligibility certificate before they start. And secondly, the army Over-37 Provision has seen a widening of eligibility. It’s intended to support soldiers in the later stages of their career to settle their family and serve unaccompanied, and includes a waiver of Single Living Accommodation charges. This was previously only available in the UK, but it will now include those with family who live in their own home overseas. Contact us at money@aff.org.uk

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? An AstroTurf pitch. With three boys constantly playing football in the garden, it would save us constantly reseeding the grass!

Carolyn Morton – Policy & Research Officer

After the usual flurry of summer moves, we have seen an increase in enquiries on housing, education and allowances. Some of the more frequent topics that have come up are disturbance and location-based allowances for overseas families and requests for information and support with CEA and school places. Thank you to everyone who completed our recent Understanding Overseas survey, providing us with valuable information on your experiences with postings abroad. Your continued engagement allows us to build a picture of the realities of armed forces life and this evidence supports our conversations with the army, MOD and other government departments when trying to effect positive change on your behalf.

What is the one feature you’d love to have in your dream home and why? A garden room full  of my favourite hobby items and a comfy sofa so I can escape my crazy house full of boys!

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