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Proud of pioneering project Abeona

Soldiering On column, by Nikki Scott, Friday, March 6, 2020

It’s been an exciting few weeks for Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

For quite some time we’ve been working quietly behind the scenes to get better support for bereaved Forces children in schools - and last month we were finally able to officially launch a new initiative in conjunction with Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services’ team whereby the children and the schools will receive the support they need.

Nikki Scott outside the Houses of Parliament (30681043)
Nikki Scott outside the Houses of Parliament (30681043)

There are so many challenges faced by young people who have lost a parent who served.

Obviously dealing with the loss of a parent is horrific for anyone, but on top of this many bereaved Service kids have to leave their military garrison and start a new school mid-way through a term.

I know how tough that can be because after Lee died, we moved from Tidworth, where Lee was based, to Norfolk.

It made sense because my family live here and I needed their support, but my son Kai had to leave his friends and start a new school at the hardest time in his life. I felt awful for him, but I knew it was the right thing for us as a family.

Lots of the families we support have told us about problems at school.

The teachers often aren’t made aware of the individual child’s situation and therefore aren’t able to give them the support they need.

One parent told us that their child sat through a fairly graphic assembly around Remembrance and no one checked on her young son who had recently lost a parent in combat.

In schools where teachers have been made aware, teachers speak to the family in advance and work with them on how best to deal with situations such as this.

Having received this type of feedback from bereaved Forces families, we knew we had to do something, and Norfolk County Council’s Children’s Services’ team have been brilliant.

Bereaved military children in this county are now identified, tracked and supported throughout their education.

I’m so proud of the work the team at Scotty’s has put into making this happen. We’ve named this project Abeona, after the Roman goddess who supports children for their parents as they venture out from home.

Our hope is that other local authorities around the UK will follow suit to offer this much-needed supportto bereaved military children and young people.

Abeona was launched at an event at the House of Lords in London and it was attended by a number of MPs and members of the Lords, which is very exciting.

Rather amazingly, I actually went to the House of Lords twice in the space of a week! I was also invited to an event there for the Soldiering on Awards finalists.

It is an incredible place and I felt honoured to be there.

It certainly made a nice break from changing nappies (although I am loving my maternity leave!).

I love going to London but I’m always happy to get home. We have a great community here and everyone locally has been so supportive of Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

We’ve recently made a short video where local supporters have talked about watching the charity grow. I’m really touched by what they had to say.

You can watch it by going to the Scotty’s TV page on YouTube.

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