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Reading Force announce new project supporting veterans in Northern Ireland

Reading Force is a charity that enables serving, veteran and former Forces families to share books and chat about them as an enjoyable way to connect. This ‘read and chat’ initiative gives books and special scrapbooks to families and is proven to help improve communication and connectivity.

For ten years Reading Force has encouraged Forces families to share children’s books during deployments and to share titles with wider family members, building bridges with books and stories across distance and providing valuable common ground.

This new project aims to affirm community, reduce social isolation and improve mental-wellbeing within the veteran community in Northern Ireland. Working with veterans and seeking their input, Reading Force will develop, design and give bespoke reading-scrapbooks and books to participants. The veteran community will be invited to shape the project and then develop and lead additional activities such as online and in-person book clubs, drop-in meetings to chat and outdoor pursuits such as reading walks.

At the heart of this project will be the involvement of the veteran community; fostering new activities for enjoyment and welfare, generating agency and purpose for both volunteers and beneficiaries. Reading Force will appoint a NI Ambassador to lead and manage the project.

This project is generously funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund – Positive Pathways; Veterans Foundation, and the Irish Ex-Service Trust.

“As a Veteran’s Family, we really appreciate being included in Reading Force. When serving the family is recognised and there is a lot of support out there for children connecting with their serving parents, family support and health support. The sacrifice my husband made and the effect his mental health now has on our family even years after leaving the Armed Forces has a massive effect on our entire family, the ripples extend to myself and my children. It means so much to know that we are cared about and included in Reading Force. I can’t put into words how much my spirits were lifted last week when our first parcel arrived. We felt like we mattered to someone”. Naomi – veteran family who participated in RF

Reading Force was launched by Professor Alison Baverstock, a soldier’s wife for 30 years. She had the simple but effective brainwave that all military families could connect by sharing books and chat about them to keep family members communicating well during challenging times. In 2011 Reading Force began in Aldershot, home of the British Army, providing a scrapbook, which families could fill with their thoughts about the book shared. Having impacted families positively, in 2012 Reading Force expanded and has become a national charity, supporting tri-service military families, ex-Forces families, cadets and reservists, throughout the UK and posted overseas.

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