Children’s military charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, has been awarded £60,000 of the government’s emergency COVID-19 fund, administered by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers has been supporting bereaved forces children for ten years and is currently providing intensive mental health and emotional wellbeing support to over 400 vulnerable young people, in response to the pandemic. This emergency fund will help Scotty’s to continue this high level of support, reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety during lockdown, and assisting its beneficiaries as they re-emerge into society’s new ‘normal’.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers was founded by war widow Nikki Scott in 2010, after seeing the impact the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, had on their children.
Scotty’s support is divided into four distinct family programmes:
- The ‘Smiles’ programme offers the children the opportunity to smile again through a wide range of fun activities and gifts. This includes holiday breaks, group events, special experiences and gifts at difficult times of the year.
- The ‘Support’ programme aims to assist with the more emotional side of bereavement and includes access to professional counselling and a family support network.
- The ‘Strides’ programme is designed to help with the charity’s beneficiaries’ personal development and includes a range of activity and educational grants.
- And the ‘Springboard’ programme has recently been introduced for 19-25-year-olds and focuses on providing mentoring and career placement opportunities.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers has adapted its support as there’s an increased likelihood that the pandemic will negatively impact on the charity’s vulnerable beneficiaries as they already have many of the recognised early negative life experiences that challenge children’s wellbeing.
This includes parental loss, PTSD, financial hardship, educational and familial displacement, and young carer responsibilities for surviving parents as well as potentially siblings experiencing similar trauma. If unmitigated this can have the most serious long-term negative impact on self-confidence, relationships, academic attainment, and ultimately future life chances.
Scotty’s provided its members with a six-month subscription to Disney+ to help ease the boredom, and the Scotty’s team has been arranging exciting virtual events and activities.
This has included a virtual choir, a virtual quiz hosted by This Morning host Alison Hammond and a virtual party organised by London events company Sharky and George. The children have also taken part in a number of competitions and games to keep them entertained, and they had the opportunity to put their questions to Britain’s Got Talent winner, magician Richard Jones, when he was interviewed by Scotty’s founder, Nikki, via video call. The children have been treated to a Friday Night Takeaway too – a great way to enjoy important family time.
Scotty’s Head of Support, Bev Townsend, has also been on hand to assist families at this time of heightened anxiety. Bev runs regular virtual support groups as well as always being on the other end of the phone for individual chats and referrals for additional support.
The charity is offering school support to help returning students adjust. A therapeutic retreat is being planned for children whose important primary/secondary transfer years have been disrupted, and respite breaks are being organised to allow families much needed time away.
To learn more, visit: http://scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk/