“For the first time I slept better knowing I had made the right decision in calling Scotty’s”

Scotty’s and Winston’s Wish

“For the first time I slept better knowing I had made the right decision in calling Scotty’s”

We hear from a Scotty’s family on how combined bereaved support from Scotty’s and Winston’s Wish helped a struggling teenager following the death of his father. 

When a child loses a parent, especially a parent in the Armed Forces, the toll it takes on a child’s mental health can be very upsetting. Seeing a change in her teenage son, one Scotty’s Little Soldiers mum knew something was wrong, and after great worry and stress, picked up the phone to Scotty’s Little Soldiers, knowing a friendly ear was ready to listen and help on the other end.

An Armed Forces widow herself, Nikki Scott, immediately understood the difficulties the teen’s mother was facing. “Asking for support is never easy and making that first call for help can feel like a major hurdle to overcome. It is scary to admit your child needs help and that you as their parent can’t provide it.  Often, it feels like you don’t know who to turn to. Thankfully, here at Scotty’s we have great relationships with the families, making it easier for them to approach us during those times when they need support the most.”

After making the initial call to Scotty’s, the family immediately felt some relief about the situation. “Just knowing Nikki was aware of our situation and was going to seek help on our behalf was a huge weight off my shoulders. For the first time in a long time, I slept a little better that night, knowing I had made the right decision in calling Scotty’s, and being assured that they were going to support us through this.”

Knowing how difficult it is to raise children who have lost an Armed Forces parent, Nikki understood the importance of having people to speak to during challenging periods. “The families trust Scotty’s and feel as though they can call us with any questions or concerns they have about a particular subject. One of the programmes we run at Scotty’s is the ‘Smiles Programme’, which is all about having fun and letting the kids know that it is okay to smile, but behind this programme is a much bigger picture.

“The programme delivers regular emails and messages to the families, provides much-needed holiday breaks, gives gifts at tough times of the year and allows families the opportunity to attend fun social events such as the Christmas party. All of this activity allows Scotty’s to build a fun and healthy relationship with each of our families. It’s a support network and a real community. The families begin to trust Scotty’s making it much easier to ask for help when those tough times arise.”

After being referred to their local doctor, the family were informed that the waiting list for treatment could be up to a year, even for an urgent case such as this one. Knowing the worry that the family were enduring, Nikki, with consent from the family, made a referral on their behalf to childhood bereavement charity, Winston’s Wish. Within a couple of weeks Winston’s Wish had made contact with the family, ensuring them that the help they needed was on its way and providing advice over the phone whilst setting a date to come and visit the family at their home.  Keeping regular contact with the family during their journey with Winston’s Wish, Nikki was able to ensure that the support they so desperately needed was being made readily available to them.

“We don’t just refer a family and leave it as that.  The families have trust in Scotty’s and we have a duty of care to them.  The family got in touch with us when things were at their worst, so it is important that we walk alongside them through this journey and make it well known that we are always by their side.” 

With no limit on the amount of support sessions provided, the two charities, along with the teen’s school who were kept fully informed throughout, were able to create a support programme to ensure the teen has all the support he needs to get through this difficult time he is facing.  

The teens mum added “We still have a long way to go but I can honestly say I’ve seen an improvement since our first session with Winston’s Wish. Obviously we have down days, but generally he is more positive since he knows we are all on his side and more importantly we are getting him that help he needs.  The mental health of these bereaved children is so important and needs to be talked about so the children know they are not alone”

Through the combined efforts of Scotty’s Little Soldiers and Winston’s Wish, help is given when it is needed the most.

Speaking about the partnership, Laura Scott, Senior Practitioner and Military Lead at Winston’s Wish commented, ‘’When a child or young person from a military family is bereaved, in whatever circumstance, they may need additional support above and beyond their family, friends and military networks. Winston’s Wish offers free specialist support services to bereaved children and young people from military families wherever they live in the UK. This could include telephone support, meetings with the family as a whole and individual sessions with the children, young people and their parents or carers.

We also run residential weekends specifically for military families, during which young people work with others of a similar age alongside professional staff and highly trained volunteers. The children and young people are supported to help them explore their feelings, understand the effects of the bereavement and how they can support each other as a family.

Working with Scotty’s Little Soldiers means that together we can reach more families and offer support to more grieving children.’’

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