Charity on overcoming challenges of Covid-19 pandemic
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A bereaved forces children’s charity has shared how it overcame challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic and commended the "phenomenal" support they have received.
Since it began in war widow Nikki Scott's living room in 2010 - a year after her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in Afghanistan, leaving behind their two young children - Scotty's Little Soldiers has grown to employ 17 team members.
Already this year, the charity has supported 491 bereaved forces children and young people.
And, during lockdown, virtual events, competitions and weekly updates ensured the children the charity supports felt part of a community.
Nikki said that lockdown "highlighted a lot of challenges faced by our members as a consequence of their parent’s death.
"Feelings of fear, isolation and loneliness were exasperated, but furloughing our team was never an option.
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"Our members needed us more than ever and there was no way we were going to turn our backs on them.
“We looked at how our members’ needs had changed due to lockdown and what support was needed, then how we could deliver that support.
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"We did lots of things including arranging virtual events and competitions and sent weekly updates to help them to feel part of a supportive community.
"We reassured families we were just on the end of the phone and we learnt that we could offer a lot of emotional support via video calls on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.”
Nikki added that the charity's supporters "really stepped up; they could see the work we were doing and understood our beneficiaries’ needs.
"We were awarded some incredibly generous grants which have made a massive difference to us as a charity.
"We also were blown away by support from individual fundraisers and businesses coming up with different ways to raise funds for us. It’s been phenomenal.”
Thanks to Scotty’s supporters, the charity has been able to develop their team of bereavement support specialists.
Lorna Vyse, who has worked with children and young people for over 25 years and specialises in childhood bereavement, joined the team at the start of this year.
She oversees the development of Scotty’s service delivery, which involves researching, creating, developing and delivering a range of projects.
More recently, Mark Hawkins joined the team to work directly with the children and young people.
He promotes positive emotional health and wellbeing support to help minimise any negative impacts of their bereavement, which is done with one-to-one sessions or working in a group.
Charlie Houlder-Moat, meanwhile, offers support to the parents and carers of Scotty’s members.
These new team members join Hayley Studd who has been with Scotty’s since 2018.
Nikki added: “Expanding our team has not only enabled us to have more resources to support our members, but also the ability to generate more funds, which then goes to our members.
"We felt this was the right time for the charity to develop and grow and we can already see the positive impact.
“It’s such an exciting time for Scotty’s and I am so proud that we’ve not only got through a challenging period, but we have come out stronger.
"We learnt a lot from the Covid pandemic about adapting our services and supporting remotely.
"These have set a framework that we are working to as we move forward.
"We can never rest on our laurels because there’s still so many children and young people out there who need our support.
"We rely on funding to make this happen, but we will continue to work hard to make lives of bereaved forces children and young people better.”
Nikki also thanked the local community who have "come on the journey with us right from the very beginning.
"I felt your support when Lee died; you believed in us when we set up the charity back in 2010, and thanks for continuing to support us on our mission.”