We are delighted to share news about how generous core funding from the Veterans Foundation has enabled Forces Children Scotland to lead vital youth participation and mental health and wellbeing services over the past year.
Did you know that there are over 12,500 children and young people from armed forces and veteran families living across Scotland? These children & young people grow and develop within communities that are built upon a strong sense of belonging, lived experience, and solidarity.
What is more, compared to civilian peers, they may have embraced greater opportunities to travel, absorb different cultures, and meet diverse groups of people from across the world.
Some may assume greater responsibilities at home when a parent is deployed and thrive in that role, whilst others grasp opportunities to participate in a variety of memorable activities that simply aren’t available to civilian peers.
Much of this can go a long way to develop a unique sense of identity, purpose, and confidence to realise further potential and thrive in later life.
For children and young people in armed forces families, they have told us that challenges they can face are simply not on the radar of civilian peers, educators, and professionals.
Things like deployment and uncertainty concerning loved ones, bereavement, living with a family member with life-changing physical or psychological wounds, regular relocations as well as disrupted friendships, activities, and routines can impact education and learning, mental health and wellbeing, and much more.
Moreover, when children and young people make the change from military to civilian life with their families, it can lead to further challenges.
Some have felt a growing pressure to adapt and maintain day-to-day routines amidst what can, prove either a rapid or gradual transformational change, leading to an acute sense of loss with regard to belonging, community, relationships, and identity.
Here’s what we achieved through the funding provided.
Forces Children Scotland led a five-day creative residential activity in Glasgow which has enabled young people from armed forces and veteran families to develop documentary-making skills, in partnership with Rebel Loop Studios.
eight young people from armed forces families travelled from across Scotland to Glasgow to complete workshops that introduced storyboarding, scripting, mobile phone, and SLR camera recording techniques, and much more.
Once basics were grasped, the young people learned how to conduct one-to-one interviews, and then put everything they had learned into practice through fun-based group recording projects.
Having generated lots of fantastic content, the young people learned how to edit their footage into a professional final cut to create two fantastic short pieces about life in a forces family.
Having completed the residential, the young people involved will work with Forces Children Scotland to co-produce a series of mini-documentaries later this year.
The mini-documentaries will shine a spotlight on their respective communities across Scotland to help peers who will move to the area through the posting of a parent.
A young person who attended our creative residential said:
“I had an absolutely amazing week with Forces Children Scotland and Rebel Loop Studios.
“As a group, we got so much work done that will hopefully be really beneficial for other young people from forces families – everyone should be very proud of themselves.
“Overall it was an absolutely amazing week filled with lots of fun-based activities and laughter. It was so lovely meeting new people as well as catching up with old friends.”
Forces Children Scotland has lead the delivery of one-to-one and peer group mental health support at Hermitage Academy, Helensburgh. Two-thirds of young people supported have reported improvements in areas such as overall mood and sleep hygiene, with a lowering of anxious thoughts.
Further qualitative feedback collected from parents has shown a positive difference in their child’s mental health and wellbeing. Observational data collected has also shown an improvement in school attendance, with a previous ‘school refuser’ now being able to attend school on a more permanent basis.
Funding has also supported the delivery of the charity’s Lighthouse Project at Queen Victoria School, a boarding school for pupils with parents serving in the armed forces.
Mental health and wellbeing sessions have enhanced outcomes for 91 percent of pupils who engaged in direct one-to-one sessions and 100 percent of pupils reported an increase in mood following a drop-in session, with 85 percent reporting that the session had been helpful.
A pupil from Queen Victoria School said:
“I really enjoyed the sessions and looked forward to them all week. It helped me understand how to deal with problems the correct way.
“I learned how to control my emotions and stay out of trouble and drama, which has made life more chill. I like just being able to talk about anything I want to. This has been very helpful and I look forward to coming back in drop-ins.”
Forces Children Scotland expresses its sincere gratitude to the Veterans Foundation for its generous continued support.