Working to support service children and young people as they progress through their army lives is an important part of what AFF does. As well as giving advice and helping families navigate the childcare and education systems, we work alongside other organisations that support young people.

Education & Childcare Specialist Anna Hutchinson met Katie Salari, CEO of Never Such Innocence (NSI), as the charity embarks on its 10th anniversary year of supporting service youth, to find out more about what it does.

Tell us about NSI and what you do

NSI launched in 2014 to allow children to play their part in the centenary of the First World War. We visited schools across the UK, giving young people the opportunity to reflect on the sacrifices made by the services from 1914-1918. Students participated in poetry, art and songwriting workshops and shared their work at special events. In 2019, we launched our Voices of Armed Forces Children Programme, giving army children unique opportunities to share what it means to have a parent in the army.

Why is the work of NSI so important and what impact has it had?

With our work, we’ve always let the kids shine and let their voices be heard, to let each of them share what is important to them and be recognised for the important role they play in the military family.

From my perspective, the thing that stands out most is watching the kids go on a journey. To go into a workshop, with uncertainty if they even want to write a poem or song, to create something really fantastic and then share it in front of a big group. They beam from ear to ear with pride and that makes me really happy. I’ve seen some young people gain extraordinary amounts of confidence by taking part and absolutely flourish.

What are some of the projects that NSI has been involved in recently?

One of the most exciting things has been the launch of our Voices of Armed Forces Children Choir. What started as just a single song has skyrocketed to a tri-service choir which has performed at events across the UK, sang at Parliament as part of the flag-raising ceremony for Armed Forces Day and of course performed on Britain’s Got Talent.

Congratulations to NSI for turning 10 this year, how are you planning to mark this milestone anniversary?

To launch our 10th anniversary, we held a special event at Edinburgh Castle in February. In April, we are holding a special Month of the Military Child event at Tidworth Garrison, and you’ll see the release of a full album from the choir!

NSI founder Lady Lucy French OBE added: “Working with the army and so many brilliant army children and their families over the last decade has been a great privilege. Having been to bases all over the country, meeting the men and women who do so much to keep our nation safe has taught me, and indeed NSI, so much. Hearing what army children have to say about service life is both humbling and inspiring. I look forward to hearing from more army children and their families as we look to our second decade.”


April is Month of the Military Child so we asked Katie for some suggestions as to how to mark the celebration and she listed three activities which could be done at home, at an after-school group, as part of base events or as a school assembly.

1. Wear Purple on April 26 – a very simple way to show support is by wearing the colour purple, which has been chosen to represent military children.

2. Sing Dandelions – a song, written by our Voices of Armed Forces Children Choir. A backing track, lyrics and sheet music for the song are available for groups, schools or even just a family sing-along at home and can be requested from

3. Enter the NSI competition. For young people aged 6-18 who enjoy poetry or art, NSI invites them to enter a piece into its competition, open from April 1 to May 3. This year’s theme is ‘Life as a Dandelion’ and asks young people to share something about their life as an army child. What makes them special and unique? Maybe they would like to share a memory or a fun experience they’ve had with their serving parent? If they could tell the world one thing about what it means to be an army child, what would it be?

All participants will receive a personalised certificate and winners will be invited for a special day in London and have their work displayed in the Main Building of the Ministry of Defence. More information can be found at

Main photo: Artwork created by army children for previous competitions run by NSI to celebrate Month of the Military Child.

Left: age 9-11 – Field of dandelions by Lara.
Right: age 5-8 – Dandelion by Aria.

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