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Tornado: policy-makers and power-holders

You can help forces children who feel powerless in the face of change, lost in their new surroundings, or anxious about what lies ahead.

Ensuring their voice is heard in future policy-making will help over 12,500 peers to realise their potential and thrive across Scotland.

Learn more about our policy campaign calls and become a powerful force for change for forces children across Scotland.

Leaving active service and moving to civilian life may be one of the most challenging transitions a serving person and their family goes through, and it is one they will all experience.

15,000 service personnel leave the armed forces each year and so it is imperative that we fully consider how this transition takes place, the supports on offer and how it can impact the full family.[1]

For children and young people in armed forces families, we know they can experience the same feelings as their parents throughout this transition: confusion, disruption and ultimately a loss of identity. Identity is a key part of life for all children and young people.

It is about shared values, similar language, and a deep understanding about each other’s lives. For children, their identity is often shaped by that of their parents and for those growing up in the unique context of the armed forces community, this means the child’s identity can be significantly shaped by their serving parent’s employment.[2]

This identity inevitably must shift once they become a veteran family and we believe more consideration must be given to recognising how the child experiences this.

We welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition of the whole family’s role in the transition to civilian life as stated within “The Strategy For Our Veterans: Taking The Strategy Forward”.

To help build on this recognition and to help ensure children and young people feel prepared, supported and welcomed into their new lives once their parent leaves the armed forces, we have identified four calls for those in power.*

[1] Living in our Shoes: Understanding the needs of UK Armed Forces families, 152

[2] Children’s Commissioner (2018) Kin and Country: Growing up as an Armed Forces Child, pg 8-9

Each call was co-produced with children and young people from armed forces and veteran families.

We strive to be a strengths-based organisation with a co-production approach underpinning all of our work.

This means we recognise the unique experiences of children and young people from armed forces and veteran families as our most valuable asset and we ensure their voice is at the heart of all our decision making.

Specific section for young people in publications

The Scottish Government must publish a strategy, informed by young people, families and the workforce, outlining their commitment to supporting children and young people from armed forces and veteran families, inclusive of a section detailing what support should be expected when the family leave active service.

Ensure young people are prepared for transition

The Ministry of Defence should ensure that planning and support for families leaving active service with the Armed Forces starts early and prior to decision to leave, allowing adequate time for the child to understand the change, have their voice heard within the planning process, ultimately feeling better prepared for what lies ahead. Special consideration of support for the families of Early Service Leavers, or those experiencing medical or administrative discharge must also consider the child’s needs specifically.

Scotland-wide service provision is needed

The Scottish Government must invest in Scotland-wide service provision, such as mentoring, youth work and mental health and wellbeing support, which focus on supporting children and young people when the serving parent/s leaves active service and the family moves to civilian life.

Regional welcome packs are essential

As part of their Armed Forces Covenant commitment, local authorities should create ‘welcome packs’ for children and young people entering civilian life, ensuring they know what opportunities still exist for them within the Armed Forces community, as well as introducing them to new opportunities within the civilian community.

More detailed information about our calls will be released alongside our wider influencing strategy in summer 2023.

Contact our policy team