HEALTH Where can we go for support?
AFF has found that many of you struggle to find targeted support, but there are organisations that can help. Army spouse Karen contacted AFF because she wanted specific support for her son L-J, who has struggled to adjust to civilian life. She said: “Never in a million years did I think I would need support, but my eldest at 13, my big friendly giant, is screaming out for help – unable to vocalise what he really wants or needs. I can do the after-school activities, lots of TLC and talking, but I can’t make friends for him!” Karen has applied for a grant from The Royal British Legion to fund a go-kart building project in her son’s school. She added: “L-J would ideally work in a small group with school support for his emotional behaviour, to build his self-esteem, work as a team and hopefully make friends and fit in.”
The Army Welfare Service (AWS)
AWS community development support workers (CDSWs) run activities in many locations. Denise, in Aldershot, provides youth clubs for youngsters aged between five-and-seven and eight-and-12. “We are also hoping to set up a youth voice project for teenagers in this area,” she explained.
Overseas CDSWs engage with Service children in Kenya, Brunei, Nepal and EJSU, so are aware of issues and can provide support and early intervention. AWS is also helping young people of 16 and older to access the Mental Health First Aid programme. For more information on AWS, see our interview with Rebecca Wakefield, head of community support, on page 37.
It’s important to develop creative ways to keep in touch when a parent is away for long periods. Two charities that support families with this are Little Troopers, which provides resources, initiatives and events to keep parent and child connected, and Reading Force, which encourages sharing through books – see page 46. In Catterick, the NSPCC manages The Almond Tree Project, which supports parents with bringing up their children through drop-in sessions, the SafeCare parenting programme and children’s groups. Mental health charity MIND has developed the ‘In It Together’ programme in Oxfordshire to provide parents with strategies to improve their resilience – running courses in Didcot, Abingdon, Bicester, Brize Norton and Benson. The charity’s Susan Mundy said: “We can run as many courses as are required
until July 2019 and each one runs over a four-week period.” A similar project runs in Suffolk.
The Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET) is Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity. For children from families who are struggling to make ends meet, living with ill health and disability, or experiencing difficulties at school, it provides a lifeline. RCET also works with young people as well as educators across Scotland to ensure that they get the best out of their education and that their voices are heard on all issues affecting them, including their wellbeing.
As the awareness of Supporting Service Children in Education Wales (SSCE Cymru) has increased, so have the number of queries regarding wellbeing and mental health. SSCE Cymru has produced a bilingual document providing advice and links to resources. In Northern Ireland, your first port of call should be the AWS if you require support for your child. AFF will continue to highlight the importance of wellbeing for Service youngsters. Look out for more at aff.org.uk and if you have any questions, contact Karen Ross at additionalneeds @aff.org.uk &
Outside support There are a number of initiatives supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing that aren’t specific for Service children. Here’s a brief selection: The Family Counselling Trust (Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire)
Part-funded counselling for children up to the age of 18 familycounsellingtrust.org
The Wave Project
Surf therapy to help young people feel less anxious and more positive waveproject.co.uk Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust Early Intervention in psychosis for anyone aged 14-35 southernhealth.nhs.uk
Hampshire Youth Access
Counselling, information, advice and support to children aged 5-17 hampshireyouthaccess.org.uk
Resources for children and young people and parents’ helpline youngminds.org.uk
Useful links centreformentalhealth.org.uk nhs.uk armedforcescovenant.gov.uk nspcc.org.uk britishlegion.org.uk army.mod.uk/personnel-and-welfare mhfaengland.org littletroopers.net readingforce.org.uk email@example.com mind.org.uk ssafa.org.uk home-start.org.uk rethink.org sscecymru.co.uk
A place to play: AWS youth clubs run in various locations throughout the UK and overseas. This one, in Middle Wallop, brings together youngsters from the military and civilian communities
servicepupilschampion.co.uk rcet.org.uk spring 2019 Army&You 23