Mid-Scotland & Fife MSP and Shadow Equalities’ Minister, Alexander Stewart, will today (26 July 2021) visit young people who have travelled to Edinburgh to begin the creative process of co-producing a new board game and comic book to transform civilian perceptions of life in an Armed Forces family.
Having published a motion in support of the young people earlier this year, the Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Mid Scotland and Fife has been invited to meet the working group to learn more about their unique experiences of life in a serving personnel and veteran family as well as their creative concepts and futures plans for the board game element of the project.
The Forces Life Project has received funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust to enable the Royal Caledonian Education Trust to work directly with young people to co-design a board game and comic book resource to help civilian classmates, teachers and those making important decisions about their future better understand their unique experiences of life in a serving personnel, reservist or veteran family.
Consultations led by the charity have shown young people from serving personnel, reservist and veteran families feel that they are a seldom-heard, invisible group within society. It’s not that they are ignored, it’s simply because their unique needs are not on the radar of civilian peers, teachers and those making important decisions about their future at local, regional and national level.
Young people hope to become a powerful force for change through the project, who plan to take the board game and comic resources to schools and community settings across Scotland to open a wider conversation about their unique experiences and develop a greater appreciation how these experiences can impact on education and learning as well as mental health and wellbeing.
There are many positive experiences to being in an Armed Forces family who, compared to civilian peers, can grasp greater opportunities to travel, absorb a range of cultures and meet a greater diversity of people. These experiences equip Armed Forces young people with a unique sense of determination, resilience and confidence to realise their potential and thrive.
However, deployment and uncertainty concerning loved ones, living with a family member with life-changing physical or psychological wounds, regular relocations and disrupted friendships can present many unique challenges to Armed Forces young people, which can significantly impact mental health and wellbeing, education and learning as well as so much more.
The lived experience of young people from serving personnel, reservist and veteran families serve as the charity’s most valuable asset, who strive to be an asset-based organisation with a co-production approach underpinning all of its work to nurture confidence, develop new skills and provide support to raise awareness and overcome unique challenges to pursuing positive futures.
Grace, a member of the Forces Life Project working group, said:
“The Forces Life Project will help civilian friends, teachers and politicians better understand what it is like to grow up in a serving personnel or veteran family and how our experiences can impact on many things we wish to accomplish in our lives. I hope the board game and comic book we create will make a significant difference in increasing understanding and appreciation of the things we experience as forces children.”
The young people have travelled to Edinburgh Napier University to begin the creative process with fourth year Graphic Design student, Heather Fletcher. The charity has partnered with the university, whose widening participation projects have developed a strong reputation for supporting young people, from serving personnel and veteran families overcome unique challenges to pursue higher education pathways.
Commenting, Mid-Scotland & Fife MSP and Shadow Equalities’ Minister, Alexander Stewart said:
“I am absolutely delighted to have been able to attend this excellent workshop session at Edinburgh Napier University, to see at first hand this highly innovative and unique project, as well being able to meet the young people at its heart. The board game and comic book resources are first and foremost, truly excellent ways for the young people to explore, discuss and convey many of these positive, challenging and certainly unique experiences with their civilian peers, classmates and teachers. This is especially why I wanted to acknowledge this venture in a Parliamentary Motion back in May, as it immediately brought attention of this fantastic work to my MSP colleagues in order to encourage their support, as well as alerting the wider Parliament and the general public. I warmly commend all the young people involved for their truly fantastic initiative, as well as the Royal Caledonian Education Trust for making it all happen.”
Laura Falconer, Chief Executive Officer for the Royal Caledonian Education Trust, said:
“We are committed to taking an asset-based working approach to ensure the lived experience and voice of children and young people in serving personnel, reservist and veteran families shapes all aspect of our work at the Royal Caledonian Education Trust. The Forces Life Project is a wonderful opportunity for our young people to explore their unique lived experience and creativity to transform attitudinal change in civilian peers as well as those who support them or make important decisions about their future. We offer our sincere gratitude to Alexander Stewart MSP for his very kind support of the Forces Life Project whose encouragement to our young people will make a significant impact in enhancing confidence to co-produce a fantastic resource to transform attitudes across Scotland.”