Growing up without your mum or dad by your side is one of the toughest things to go through as a child, so knowing you’re not going through it alone is vital.
For national military charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, their goal is provide support to bereaved forces children when they need it the most. It puts smiles back on their faces through events, respite breaks and gifts, as well as access to wellbeing care and a range of activity and educational grants.
The charity was set up by war widow Nikki Scott, who witnessed first-hand the impact losing a parent had on her two young children. Cpl Lee Scott was killed in Afghanistan in 2009 and Nikki founded the charity in his memory.
Part of a community
Scotty’s now supports more than 400 bereaved forces children including eight-year-old Austin who lost his dad, SSgt Christopher Hargreaves, in 2017.
Having the opportunity to meet other children like him is one of the most important things about Scotty’s.
He says: “You make so many friends who all understand. There are not many children you can just sit down with and talk about what you’ve been through.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by 11-year-old Zoe, who lost her dad Sgt Adrian Templer in 2010. She says: “It means so much to me to feel part of a community with other kids that understand how I feel and what I’m going through.” And it is not just the children that benefit. For mums like Amanda, who lost her husband Sgt Gary Durban in 2017, the togetherness that comes with being part of the Scotty’s community is so important.
“It means so much to me to feel part of a community with other kids that understand how I feel.”
She says: “You think you’re in your own little bubble and nobody else is going through it, but all of the families are in it together. The team really get to know all of the children and what makes them happy.”
Scotty’s head of support, Bev Townsend, is always on hand to offer emotional support and can refer families for additional help when needed. She also identifies when a child is struggling at school and works with the local education authorities to put support in place before it becomes a larger problem.
Bev says: “Ensuring that our members never feel like they are going through this alone is one of the most important parts of my job. As they grow up, there will be periods in their lives when the loss of their parent will become more poignant, and it’s important for them to know that when these moments occur Scotty’s is at the other end of the phone.”
Visit scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk for more.
Main photo: Austin and Cooper Hargreaves with mum Jilly and Scotty’s founder Nikki Scott (far right) and her daughter Brooke.