The National Lottery Community Fund provides Scotty’s Little Soldiers with a special grant to help support bereaved Forces children in Wales

Scotty’s awarded grant to support bereaved Forces children in Wales

Scotty’s Little Soldiers has been supporting bereaved British Forces children for ten years, but never have the young people, who already face so many challenges due the loss of their parent, needed help more. With mass participation and group fundraising events cancelled, the charity’s income is under pressure at a time when it is needed the most. The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales has therefore provided a special grant of £9250 to help Scotty’s deliver much needed support to 34 children in Wales who have lost a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers was founded by war widow Nikki Scott in 2010, after seeing the impact the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, had on their children.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers currently supports 404 children that have lost a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, 34 of these are living and growing up in Wales.

Scotty’s does many things to support all its members, including providing access to the very best health and wellbeing care, offering educational support, and delivering outstanding development opportunities through a range of activity and educational grants. Scotty’s also helps put smiles back on those brave faces by providing respite breaks, posting the children  birthday and Christmas presents and remembering the anniversary of their parent’s death, as well as arranging events where bereaved Forces children from all over the UK come together to have a great time and form friendships with kids in the same situation. 

In recent months, Scotty’s has adapted its support, with the awareness that the situation caused by the Coronavirus is difficult for many, but it stands to have a particularly detrimental impact on the mental health and emotional wellbeing for children who are already grieving for a parent.

There is an increased likelihood that the pandemic will negatively impact on Scotty’s Little Soldiers’ vulnerable beneficiaries as they already have many of the recognised early negative life experiences that challenge a child’s wellbeing.  Along with the pain of losing a parent, they may be experiencing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, financial hardship, educational and familial displacement, and they may have taken on ‘young carer’ responsibilities for their surviving parent as well as living with brothers and sisters experiencing similar trauma. If unmitigated this can have the most serious long-term negative impact on their self-confidence, relationships, academic attainment, and ultimately their future life chances.

Since lockdown began, the Scotty’s team has been using modern technology to arrange exciting virtual events and activities to engage with all its members, ensuring that in these uncertain times they know they are not alone. This has included a virtual choir, a virtual quiz hosted by This Morning host Alison Hammond and a virtual party organised by London events company Sharky and George. The children have also taken part in a number of competitions and games to keep them entertained, and they had the opportunity to put their questions to Britain’s Got Talent winner, magician Richard Jones, when he was interviewed by Scotty’s founder, Nikki, via video call.

As well as all the fun activities, wellbeing support has been paramount and Scotty’s Head of Support, Bev Townsend, has been on hand to assist families at this time of heightened anxiety. Bev runs regular virtual support groups as well as always being on the other end of the phone for individual chats and referrals for additional support, where necessary.

As we move out of lockdown, Scotty’s is offering school support to help returning students adjust, as a lengthy period away from school is disruptive for anyone, but particularly those already suffering from anxiety and self-confidence issues.  A therapeutic retreat is also being planned for children whose important Primary/Secondary transfer years have been disrupted, and respite breaks are being organised to allow families much needed time away.

The National Lottery Community Fund has responded to Covid-19 by funding projects and organisations that are likely to face increased demand and challenges as a result of the pandemic. On seeing the unique, proactive support Scotty’s Little Soldiers is providing its vulnerable, Welsh beneficiaries, The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales has awarded the charity a grant of £9,250 to ensure it can continue to support them.

Gareth Williams, Funding Manager for The National Lottery Community Fund explained: “The National Lottery Community Fund has prioritised funding projects supporting communities through the COVID-19 Pandemic with grants made possible by players of the National Lottery.  Many of the projects we support have been reporting that lockdown has been particularly hard on people who were already struggling to maintain positive mental health.  We hope the award to Scotty’s Little Soldiers will enable them to make a positive contribution to the wellbeing of the families they are supporting.”

Nikki Scott, Founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers said: “We are so grateful to people who play the National Lottery which has meant The National Lottery Community Fund in Wales can give this generous grant. I have seen first-hand how hard it is for children to lose a parent. Grief hits at different times throughout life, which is why Scotty’s Little Soldiers is always there for the children. At difficult times such as these, feelings of despair that might have been in the background can often come to the surface and we want to do everything we can to make life easier for these families.”

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