Stuart Robinson, Chief Executive of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, has shared the following message with the Cobseo membership:
I wanted to take this opportunity to communicate to the wider Cobseo Membership an update from Scotty’s Little Soldiers and how we are adapting within the current climate to continue to meet the needs of our bereaved Service families.
Our Support to Bereaved Families
Many of our existing activities continue as planned although a number of our key events have been pushed back to later in the year, including our Support Retreat which was due to take place in May at the Victory Services Club. The majority of our family respite breaks are still scheduled to go ahead but we will monitor government guidelines and move dates if necessary. In the past 3 weeks over 100 bereaved Service families have booked respite breaks with us, demonstrating the need for them to have something to look forward to later in the year. Never will these breaks have been more welcome when the time comes.
As a relatively young charity we invested in technology at an early stage in our development and the team are working remotely without any significant disruptions. Our Head of Support, Bev Townsend, is continuing to support families remotely and has conducted 43 individual support calls during the past week alone. From next week Bev will be running a series of virtual support groups and online coffee morning sessions for surviving parents, as well as focusing on those beneficiaries who have Special Education and Disability Needs and may need some additional support during these challenging times.
We’ve created a private online (monitored) peer-to-peer group for our beneficiaries aged 13+ and next week our ‘Members Council’ will meet online to give us some direct feedback and ideas for the coming weeks. We are adding activities, both fun and educational based, to our private website for beneficiary families on an almost daily basis. Now more than ever it’s so important that our bereaved Service children and young people do not feel forgotten and isolated. Much of our work over the past two weeks has been geared towards creating a sense of community and ensuring these families know we are still here to support them. Our direct engagement levels have gone through the roof.
Today we announced that we are providing a 6-month subscription to the new Disney+ streaming service for all beneficiaries and we are expecting a high take up of this offer. We’ve also been working hard to ensure that we can continue to send out birthday gifts to the children and vouchers on the anniversary of their parent’s death. To make this feasible we packed and dispatched all gifts and vouchers required for the next 3 months, during the last 3 weeks. Including over 400 Easter eggs donated by BAE Systems at RAF Marham, we have distributed 619 gifts in the past 3 weeks.
Fundraising and the ability to continue our work
Much like the majority of the Membership our summer fundraising plans have been decimated and we are extremely grateful to funders from within the community who have proactively reached out to offer support and guidance, in particular Annington Homes, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, Veterans Foundation and Lloyds’ Patriotic Fund, among others. This is a time when I know many of the smaller charities within the Membership will be looking for support from our larger members where possible and I openly welcome any opportunities there may be from Members to help us to continue our work over the coming weeks and months.
I’m proud of the reaction of our team and despite all the chaos surrounding us they have never worked harder to ensure our bereaved Forces families continue to feel connected and supported.
The sense of community within our beneficiary base has always been at the heart of our charity and this will stand us in good stead for the road ahead. Community will be at the forefront of everything we do at Scotty’s Little Soldiers during this difficult period and we feel privileged to be a part of the Service charity community and look forward to the Membership coming together for the good our Armed Forces personnel, Veterans and their families.
Scotty’s Little Soldiers are publishing a weekly email update for all supporters every Friday at 5pm – last week’s email can be read here.
Founder – Nikki Scott – is also recording a weekly video message for supporters, which also goes out on Friday at 5pm via our social media channels and you can view last week’s message here.