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The Veterans’ Foundation award grant to military charity to support veterans in Scotland

Reading Force, the shared reading charity for serving and ex-serving personnel and their families, has received a grant of £12,900 to reach and support 6,000 veterans based in Scotland, throughout 2020, inviting them to participate in the ‘read and chat’ initiative proven to help improve communication within families.

This grant will enable Reading Force to work with veterans, and their families, in a variety of circumstances including: those transitioning from military to civilian life, injured during service, dealing with mental health issues, facing challenges with civilian adjustment, isolation, and older veterans wishing to share books with their grandchildren.

The tri-service charity posts books to children and gives colourful scrapbooks in which families may collate their thoughts about the book they have shared, in notes, letters, drawings and photographs. Sharing a book and chatting about it creates good communication, helps families stay in touch with extended family or a parent if separated by distance, divorce, or family breakdown, soothes and keeps continuity during difficult or disruptive periods.

Best of all families report they enjoy taking part and sharing books for pleasure! Families can do Reading Force at home together or over Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp if separated. Every child who participates receives the prize of a book and a special certificate.

Besides being a fun activity, crucially, RF supports children and families during significant life-events. Sharing books and chatting about them helps mitigate stress and anxiety before, during and after transition from military to civilian life by supporting good communication within families.

Families leaving or who have left the Armed Forces can experience a loss of military identity. Taking part in Reading Force can help to maintain their sense of being part of this community and that their service continues to be recognised and valued.

‘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’.

Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland, Fiona Maxwell, will be leading this project. She said:

‘In line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting veterans and their families, and by working in collaboration with the organisations already providing such valuable support, we would like to play a part in serving the veteran community in Scotland. We have been wanting to do this for some time, and we know that a few veterans have already taken part in Reading Force, but this grant is a significant start in being able to better reach and support veterans and their families.’

The Veterans’ Foundation funding will cover the costs of books and scrapbooks for families, collaboration with organisations to raise awareness of the initiative and to reach veterans and their families, including Veterans Scotland and Poppyscotland, working with Local Authority Armed Forces and Veterans Champions, distribution of materials and attending events to welcome veterans’ participation.

David Shaw, CEO and founder of the Veteran’s Foundation:

‘We are delighted Reading Force is helping armed forces veterans and their families to become excited by reading together. It will provide them greater opportunity and benefit others with whom they work or socialise.’

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 chatting about them to keep family members communicating well during challenging times. In 2011 Reading Force was piloted in Aldershot, home of the British Army, with the addition of a scrapbook, which families could fill with their thoughts about the book shared. The pilot was a success and impacted families positively. Reading Force has expanded to become a national charity, supporting tri-service military families, ex-Forces families, cadets and reservists, throughout the UK and posted overseas.

Notes to editors:

  • Reading Force is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation, Registered Charity No. 1159890. Member of Cobseo
  • The initiative is free of charge and is available to ALL serving, reservist and veteran British military families, Army, Navy & Marines, and RAF.
  • As well as free books, families are provided with a scrapbook to fill with thoughts, photographs and drawings about the book they’re reading together, and they can enter it into a competition and receive the prize of a book and a special certificate
  • The National Literacy Trust reports that children who own a book are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age than their peers who don’t have their own books
  • Shared reading is also proven to deliver a positive impact on a family’s social, emotional and mental wellbeing. It encourages more parents to be reading role models for their children, strengthens English as a second language and supports children’s empathy and friendships
  • Organisations such as community groups can help raise awareness of Reading Force by displaying posters, distributing information flyers, and keeping a stock of resources. Find out more at readingforce.org.uk/schools-groups
  • For more information about Reading Force and veterans email fiona@readingforce.org.uk
  • For press queries email hattie@readingforce.org.uk or call 07566 200 299
  • For more information about Reading Force go to readingforce.org.uk
  • Follow Reading Force on Twitter @ReadingForce
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