Children and young people who’ve experienced the death of a parent who served in the Armed Forces are often forgotten. But Scotty’s Little Soldiers are a charity trying to change that.
We caught up with Nikki Scott, the founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, to find out more about the charity’s mission.
Find out more below.
What is Scotty’s Little Soldiers?
Scotty’s Little Soldiers (SLS) is a charity dedicated to supporting military children and young people from birth to 25 years, who’ve experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces. When was SLS set up and what is its purpose?
I set up SLS in 2010, following the death of my husband,
Corporal Lee Scott, in Afghanistan in 2009. The charity provides support and guidance to hundreds of bereaved military children and young people throughout their childhood.
Our services include access to child bereavement support, guidance to parents and carers, personal education and learning assistance (including grants), and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. They’re all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they’re not alone and help them smile again.
How does SLS support the military community?
We support bereaved military children and young people through our four Family Programmes:
The SMILES Programme is all about fun and engagement and includes activities, gifts, respite breaks and group events to help bereaved military children and young people smile again and remind them they’re part of a supportive community.
The SUPPORT Programme looks after emotional health and wellbeing and includes one to one bereavement support.
The STRIDES Programme focuses on education and development needs and promotes a positive attitude to learning.
The SPRINGBOARD Programme provides support to young adults ages 18-25 and assists with opportunities to develop their education and learning, build a career, and enhance life skills.
What impact does your work have on bereaved children?
The three main benefits we aim to provide for bereaved military children and young people are:
Reduce sense of isolation
By being part of Scotty's Little Soldiers, children and young people can connect and maintain a connection to the Forces community. They’re also able to meet and build friendships with peers who understand what it’s like to be bereaved of a military parent, but also to be a military child.
Increased confidence and self-esteem
We provide access to self-development opportunities, from grants and events, to connecting young people to their peers via regular online group activities. This provides them with opportunities to build friendships with other bereaved children and young people of a similar age.
Improve emotional wellbeing
We offer access to a range of services, including direct one to one bereavement support sessions, fun and meaningful events where there’s always the opportunity to access support. Our OpsZone website also allows our members to connect and access a variety of online bereavement and wellbeing resources.
Can you share a story of a child or young person you’ve supported and the benefits?
19-year-old Kirsty’s dad, Cpl Robin McLachlan, died in a road accident before she was born. She and her sister became part of SLS in early 2012 and are two of the charities earliest Members. Kirsty says:
“For me, the main thing Scotty’s means is community. It always helps to know you’re not alone and that there are other people your age in similar situations. If you ever want to reach out with any issues, there’s all these people who understand what you’re going through and can point you in the right direction. Scotty’s events are great chances to meet up with everyone, and it’s comforting to know everyone there’s going through the same thing you are, but you’re all still able to smile and have a good time.
“Scotty’s offer loads of opportunities, too. I had Scotty’s driving grant last year to help pay for my driving test, which was really useful. My sister also successfully applied for Scotty’s super grant a few years ago to do her gold Duke of Edinburgh award.
“We’ve also been on Scotty breaks to Center Parcs, which Mum loves as she says it reminds her of when she and my dad used to live at JHQ in Germany – the Army base. She really enjoys getting the opportunity to go there as it reminds her of Dad.”
Tell us how and why SLS are calling for veterans’ help.
Scotty’s currently provide bereavement support for over 650 military children and young people. But we know that many more are not getting the support they need. Our goal is to support 1000 bereaved military children and young people annually by 2030, which is why we are calling on
veterans, service personnel and anyone with military links to help find children who’ve experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.
If you know a bereaved military child or young person not supported by Scotty’s, please let their family know about us.
How are you spending Remembrance Day?
Remembrance is a very poignant, difficult time for many military children and young people. Despite the pain it causes, it’s also a very special occasion and one they take great pride in. With the whole country talking about and honouring their parent, their feelings around their bereavement can be heightened and their need for Scotty’s support even greater.
This Remembrance, we’re taking 57 members of Scotty’s to London where they will put on their black and yellow Scotty scarves, take part in the National Service of Remembrance and march in honour of their fallen heroes. We’ll also be attending BBC One’s Festival of Remembrance.
All members of Scotty’s are sent a personalised medal so they can honour their hero at Remembrance, as well as Remembrance packs, which include a wide range of resources to help them remember their parent in the way that best suits them. We also offer all our members personalised Remembrance support should they want it, as well group drop-in sessions for both members and parents/carers before and after Remembrance.
What does it mean for children to march on Remembrance Day?
Being included in the National Service of Remembrance tells our members that they’re not alone, that their bereavement is remembered and respected, and that their parent hasn’t been forgotten. It’s an event filled with both pain and pride, but our members are always honoured to take part.
Tell us more about your upcoming events, and how people can get involved.
If you want to get involved, why not take on a
fundraising challenge for Scotty's Little Soldiers? You can sign-up for one of our pre-prepared challenges or even come up with something totally your own. Nothing’s more rewarding than getting outside and supporting bereaved military children.
Additionally, every year we hold
Scotty’s Ball – a night of glitz, glamour and fundraising for bereaved military children and young people. Get your ticket now for the best night of the year and know that every penny raised will make a difference in the life of a bereaved British Forces child. What are the charity’s upcoming plans?
As well as Remembrance, we’re busy planning our annual Winter Festival, one of the highlights of our year. It’s a brilliant opportunity for our members to get together and make friends with hundreds of bereaved military children who can understand and relate to what they’ve been through.
We are also hard at work on our
Standby – Military Bereavement in Education project. The Standby project aims to help Scotty’s members and any child who’s experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces to feel sensitively supported in their education setting. No young person should be disadvantaged because of their bereavement. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you want to help make a difference, there’s one thing you can do right now, and it’s completely free. Head to our website and take the
Scotty’s Pledge to support bereaved military children. Further reading
Back to Military in Focus
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