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Friday, November 27, 2020

Paderborn Advent Calendar

 The 2020 Paderborn advent calendar will be ready to view from the 1st of December.

Created by local children, nearly 2,000 pictures were received. 

A new picture will be displayed in the town hall windows everyday. 

Read the full story here.

Big Panto! - Online streaming guide

In 2020 many of the UK's best loved theatres and panto venues have cancelled the panto season. 

Fear not, many venues will be staging virtual panto's this year. 

The Big Panto website has full listings on how to watch as many pantos as you can handle in 2020!

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Little Troopers hosts free virtual pantomime for all military children

Charity Little Troopers has organised a free virtual pantomime for British Armed Forces children to watch at home on Sunday 20th December.

Performed by children’s entertainment company, Playhouse Parties, Cinderella the pantomime can be streamed live at 2pm on any device and is open to all children with parents serving in the British Armed Forces.

The pantomime is part of the Little Troopers Christmas Smiles campaign which aims to bring smiles to faces of military children, especially those who have a serving parent deployed over the holidays. 

The charity has also teamed up with the Build-A-Bear Foundation to distribute 1,000 free teddy bears to British Armed Forces families who will be separated this Christmas.

Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, comments: “2020 has been particularly challenging for lots of military families so we were adamant that we would find a way to bring some Christmas smiles to as many military children as possible. 

Our usual events have been cancelled, but this virtual pantomime is something that all Little Troopers and their families can enjoy at home. 

We love the idea that Little Troopers from around the world will all be coming together at the same time and sharing in this amazing performance. 

We hope this small gesture will bring smiles to the faces of lots of military children this Christmas and help them realise that they are part of a very special community of young people.”

To watch the Little Troopers panto, families need to be signed up to the charity’s newsletter which they can do at www.littletroopers.net A link will be sent out on the morning of the pantomime and families can sit back, relax and enjoy the show!

For more information please email info@littletroopers.net

Brexit: Potential Closure of Bank Accounts Held of Service Personnel Living In the EU/EEA

On 31 January 2020, the UK left the European Union (EU) and entered a ‘transition period’ which ends on 31 December 2020. 

Whether UK banks can service customers living in an EU/European Economic Area (EEA) country after this date is a matter of local law and regulation and may be impacted by how firms are set up, and what steps they have taken to continue to service customers.

From 31 December 2020 some UK-based building societies and banks may choose to no longer provide financial services to customers living in certain EU/EEA countries. 

Your bank or finance provider will contact you if they need to make any changes to your product, the way they provide it, or withdraw services altogether. 

If you have any concerns about whether you might be affected, you should speak to your provider.

Like other UK Government employees working and living overseas, members of the Armed Forces are classed as Crown Servants.

Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Nationwide have confirmed that they will exempt customers who are UK Crown Servants from announced closures.

What should you do?

  • If you live outside the UK and hear nothing from your bank or building society then you should assume that you are unaffected. If you remained concerned, please speak to your banking provider.
  • If you bank with Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group or Nationwide, and receive a letter or email seeking to close your account, you should contact them and let them know that you are a Crown Servant and that you understand their policy is to continue to provide banking services to Crown Servants working and living outside the UK. The final decision whether to continue to provide you with banking services lies with the provider.
  • Given the assurances provided by Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group and Nationwide, to continue to support UK Crown Servants working overseas with UK banking services, the AF Rem Pay Team would be interested to know of instances where these providers fail to follow through on these commitments (made to HM Treasury colleagues) as they impact on Service personnel.
  • Therefore, in cases where personnel who identify themselves as Crown Servants are still required to close their bank accounts, with one of these three providers only, please email the following details to us at People-AFRem-PayPolMailbox@mod.gov.uk so that we may report this back to colleagues in HM Treasury:
  • Surname
  • Service Number
  • Provider: i.e. Barclays, Lloyds or Nationwide
  • Branch Sort Code
If you bank with another provider and receive a letter or email seeking to close your account, you should contact them and let them know that you are a Crown Servant and ask whether this fact changes their decision. 

However, the final decision whether to continue to provide you with banking services lies with the provider.
  • If you receive a letter or email from any provider seeking to close your account, it may be conditional on you being able to provide an alternative UK address. For some years the UK financial institutions have accepted BFPO addresses as equivalent to UK addresses.
  • If this option is available to you at your overseas location, your provider may accept a change of address to one which includes a BFPO number as sufficient to continue to offer banking services to you.
  • If a Service person is required to change the bank account into which their salary is paid, then please note that:
  • Those utilising the Bank Switching Service will have their bank details updated automatically and a JPA workflow produced (workflows not accessed within 10 working days will automatically redirect to Unit HR) notifying them of this change.
  • Otherwise, personnel should update their bank details on JPA as soon as possible using the JPA Self Service Function. Those using the Bank Switching Service can also update their details via JPA rather than wait for the automated change process to be applied.

UWO additional advice:

The UK Post Office list an alternative Post Code for all British Forces Post Office (BFPO) addresses. For BFPO 16 the alternate Post Code is BF1 0AB.

BF1 0AB is generally accepted by all UK based companies for internet shopping even when the company states that they do not deliver abroad (including BFPO).

In some instances even using BF1 0AB, goods can still not be dispatched from the UK to Germany because there is a difference in the regulations controlling the goods that you wish to purchase from the UK and the regulations in Germany.

Some examples of this are Pharmaceutical items and garden products such as weed killer.

Your SFA address or the civilian address for Barracks should only be used for products and services that are provided wholly from German suppliers such as mobile telephone contracts or local vehicle repairs.

The BFPO system can only be used by those with a direct entitlement to do so by virtue of having SOFA Status.



Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Defence Discount Services Nov 2020

Monthly Update Save BIG this Black Friday! 

As the biggest discount provider for the emergency services, NHS, social care and armed forces, we’re proud to go further for those who go furthest for us.

Check back on Black Friday to see our exclusive range of discounts on everything from fantastic fashion to must-have gadgets just in time for Christmas!

 Services Day We’re so excited! 

For a whole weekend in March 2021, we’re teaming up with Alton Towers Resort to offer our members exclusive access to over 40 rides, restaurants and attractions. 

So, join us on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th March, and enjoy an unforgettable, adrenaline-fuelled experience! Day tickets - £18.50 per person, under 3's go free! Book your tickets today! *Please note: should the event be cancelled due to Covid-19, all tickets will be fully refundable. 

Get ready for Christmas! 

Starting your Christmas shopping early can help save time, money and stress this festive season. Access exclusive discounts on everything from turkey and tech to toys and tinsel (even trees!), and save in the run up to Christmas! 

  • Treat your loved ones for less with our gift guide!
  • Treat your family with festive food favourites!
  •  Deck the halls with discounts on decorations!
  •  Stay connected with our top tech offers!
  •  And, surprise the little ones with toys and crafts!

Armed forces health – COVID-19 - Nov update

The NHS has a duty to deliver on a number of health commitments for the armed forces community (service personnel (regular and reserves), veterans and their families), to meet the obligations of the Armed Forces Covenant and principle four of the NHS Constitution. 

Our priority during COVID-19 is to ensure that those who require NHS services can access them as easily and safely as possible.

We will be sending out this briefing fortnightly to keep you up-to-date with the provision of NHS services for the armed forces community, as well as latest information and guidance relating to the pandemic.

The months ahead will undoubtedly be tough, but some comfort can be taken from the extensive planning that has already been done. Learning from wave 1 will enable us to

respond more effectively to wave 2. The current situation is a once in a generation experience that will define the NHS for years to come.

Thank you for your continued support.

Latest updates and resources

HSJ 2020 shortlist announced

The shortlist for the Military and Civilian partnership awards has been announced this week;
the eight finalists in this category are listed below, five of which are funded / part funded by NHS England and NHS Improvement:

  • Camden and Islington FT and Sussex Partnership FT - NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Complex
  • Treatment Service (CTS) – London and South East NHS Veterans’ Mental
  • Health High Intensity Service (HIS) - London
  • Humankind, Smart Recovery UK and The British Army - Mil-Smart
  • King Edward VII's Hospital - Veteran Specific Pain Management Programme (PMP)
  • Mesothelioma UK - Mesothelioma UK - Supporting our Armed Forces
  • Nottinghamshire Healthcare FT - REGROUP Criminal Justice System whole care pathway in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire
  • Portsmouth Hospitals University Trust - Armed Forces Covenant Lead Nurse for Portsmouth and the surrounding areas
  • Royal College of General Practitioners - Veteran friendly NHS GP practices
  • Togetherall, Ministry of Defence and NHS England - Low cost, high quality, maximum value: Providing a safe and effective online mental health resource to the UK Armed Forces population

Armistice Day

In honour of this month’s Remembrance events, one of our Armed Forces Patient and Public Group members released a short video as part of the ‘On Parade’ series to mark Armistice Day. The video was filmed during preparations of ‘The field of Remembrance,' at Westminster Abbey.

Care and support for the armed forces community during COVID-19 NEW Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS)

Over the last couple of months, the new Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) has started to mobilise across England, with services in the London, Midlands and North now live. 

The HIS, which is for veterans who are struggling with their mental health, are in a mental health crisis and / or need urgent and emergency care and treatment, is in addition to the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS). 

Arrangements are progressing to launch this service in the South West and East of England in the next few months.

The HIS has been informed by veterans and their families, as well as the NHS England and NHS Improvement Armed Forces Patient and Public Voice Group. 

For more information, please email england.armedforceshealth@nhs.net

Kate Davies CBE, Director of Armed Forces NHS England and NHS Improvement

“I am proud to see our regions launching the new Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity

Service (HIS). This marks significant progress in terms of mental health service provision for

veterans, focusing on individual care when it is most needed.

We have listened to veterans and their families to inform this new service, which includes

crisis care and round the clock support to ensure those in need have access to the very best


Together with the TILS and CTS, this new service now means that the NHS has a complete

mental health care pathway in place for veterans across England.”

Regional communications are being rolled out by the HIS providers in their areas: to raise awareness of the new service, Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust are sharing a case study of Mark Foster an Army veteran from Northumberland, who served as a Private in the Army’s Royal Logistic Corp (RLC) between 2008 and 2012. Mark has struggled with homelessness, alcohol addiction and (undiagnosed) post-traumatic distress disorder (PTSD) following the death of a close friend in the Afghanistan conflict. 

He’s now using his experiences to help others and is retraining for a career in mental health support. Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, the first provider to offer the new HIS service, have produced an animation to help promote it. The Trust will be working in partnership with Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust and Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, to deliver the new service across the Midlands. 

The service will also work collaboratively with specialist mental health charities, Mental Health Matters and Tom Harrison House, to offer a bespoke package of care to veterans and their families. The team will be based in three locations across the Midlands, in Lincoln, Coventry and Birmingham, and will provide a range of interventions to assist with complex mental health difficulties.

Mental health services for veterans

The NHS provides the following specialist services:
  • Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
  • Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS), which is in the process of being
rolled out across England as part of a phased approach. To ensure that these services are widely known about, understood and easily accessed, discussion groups around the names of these services have started, with a view to shaping a possible phased in name change going forward. For example, some veterans and their families have told us that the names of these services could be simplified, as they are long and confusing.

Virtual focus groups to seek views and suggestions on this are being arranged. If you would like to join a focus group please contact carrie.fleming@nhs.net. We are keen to hear from veterans and their families as well as organisations working with and supporting them.

Armed forces families engagement – closing soon!

This week we say a huge ‘thank you’ for a completely unprompted blog post by practice manager, Matt Phillips a Royal Navy veteran who went the extra mile and wrote this blog to support the families engagement. There is now one week to go before the armed forces families engagement closes on Monday 30 November. Don’t miss the chance to tell us what support you need as a veteran or serving family by completing our questionnaire via this link:


It’s also important for organisations and those working with armed forces families to complete the questionnaire and to promote it to families that they work with.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Army & You latest edition available online

Here’s a digital link to the magazine https://bit.ly/AYWin20

It’s a bumper edition, exploring the welfare support mechanisms out there to tap into both in the UK and overseas.

  • There’s a look at the spouses whose businesses are making ends meet during the pandemic and we find out how the Military Coworking Network is keeping people connected
  • We hear from the community in Northern Ireland who’ve been busy creating a beautiful ‘flower patch’
  • here’s a great four-page spread on adoption and fostering, three brilliant blogs, a postcard from India, and a super spotlight on Germany
  • Our cover star is Tanya Bardsley, from the Real Housewives of Cheshire, who grew up as part of an army family – it’s a great read and she’s very supportive of army families

Don’t forget to enter the giveaways – all available here.