Keeping in touch

An RAF A400M Atlas transport aircraft carrying out a series of spectacular test landings and take offs on a beach in South WalesForces Aerogrammes

Also known as ‘Blueys’, these are a way of sending letters and messages FREE to serving personnel and are available from HIVE as well as Post Offices. Ask in your local Post Office or unit for a supply of blueys for you and any children to use. Blueys can be obtained free from post offices and can be posted free of charge. There is also a specific support page for your children.

INtouch

The service allows users to upload letters, photos and documents via the internet, which are then securely printed and sent to their recipient. You can find out more on using the service in the quick start guide and a more detailed information on GOV.UK

Letters

Letters and packets up to 2 Kg in weight can be sent at the Forces special rate. Other letters and parcels sent to BFPO addresses may attract a postal charge depending on size – check with your local post office or in the BFPO services guide on GOV.UK

Sending Parcels

Use sturdy containers and be careful about sending perishable goods – mail can take longer than expected. Safeguard your privacy – packages are often opened in front of others and note that all packages are x-rayed as a safeguard. Remember to ensure the package does not exceed 2Kg, which is the maximum weight permitted.

Phone Calls

Your serving partner will normally get a welfare phone allowance of 30 mins per week during the operation. Additional top up cards can be brought in theatre or topped up by you by ringing the Paradigm contact centre Tel: 01438 282121 (You will need a credit/debit card and your serving family member’s Paradigm and Service number). Please remember that it is unlikely that you will be able to phone directly whilst they are away on operations. So write down the key points you want to discuss and organise, wherever possible, a time for calls to be received by you, ensuring that the children are not outside playing, making the most of the time available.

E-mail

E-mail facilities may be available for serving personnel in theatre.

The Services Sound and Vision Corporation

SSVC provides a radio and TV service in some operational theatres. Requests can be made and messages passed on.

Internet Sites

Other RAF internet sites containing useful information are the Serving Families pages on the RAF site, the MOD website and the RAF website.

Mobile Phones

It may be better not to rely on mobiles for keeping in touch because their use can be restricted because of security in certain areas. In addition, it may be difficult to get a signal and connections can not be guaranteed. Any calls and texts are likely to be expensive. If you do use a mobile, remember they are not secure so be careful what you discuss. If you experience any unusual, anonymous or nuisance phone calls always call the Unit or the police. Remember this may be the work of a foreign intelligence agency.

Deployment Welfare Package

This provides serving personnel on some operations with a few ‘home comforts’, such as TV, video, leisure and fitness equipment and retail facilities. On a six-month tour, it normally provides for service personnel to have:

• Access to telephones for private use
• Welfare telephone allowance of 30 minutes per week

• SKY TV
• DVD and videos
• BFBS TV & SSVC Radio
• Rest and Recuperation (R&R)
• Post Operational Tour Leave (20 days for a 6 month tour)
• Concessionary Travel For Families (Two trips per 6 month tour)
• Internet facilities
• Newspapers