Following the launch of Listening to Learn: the Voices of Service Children, we are delighted to support Never Such Innocence in launching their annual international competition. Voices of Armed Forces Children is a wonderful opportunity to put the four principles of effective and impactful listening highlighted in the report into action: be deliberate, be open, be child-centred and be willing to change.
Never Such Innocence told us:
Over the last 6 years, Never Such Innocence (NSI) has found that poetry, art, speech and song are powerful mediums for young people to share their thoughts and feelings on conflict and its impact around the world. As part of their work, NSI is inviting service children to share what it means to them to have their mum, dad, uncle, aunt, granny, grandpa, brother, sister or guardian serve in the Armed Forces. Voices of Armed Forces Children welcomes service children, 9-18 years old, to use creative arts to share what the Army, Royal Air Force, or Royal Navy means to them. The project asks young people to explore the words courage and honour or to share how it feels when a family member leaves for an extended period or are wounded, injured or sick.
The work of NSI takes three forms: workshops, roadshows and an international competition. NSI delivers free workshops to schools across the UK, providing an accessible outlet for young people to share their thoughts, fears and anxieties about conflict in its many forms. Pupils learn how to use the creative arts as an outlet for addressing challenging topics, promoting positive mental health, confidence and self-esteem. Following the workshops, young people are invited to community roadshow events – a coming together of community leaders, to hear what the young people have created. Finally, their brilliant work can be entered into our international competition. One participant said, 'This was the first time I felt that my voice was heard.' The impact of the project is profound in the lives of young people.
Not only do service children have an opportunity to share their thoughts, the project allows families to have open conversations about how their children might be feeling. A couple of weeks before their dad was set to deploy, one such family sat around the table and started talking about what was coming. The children were invited to draw and write what they were feeling. The work they created was powerful and enabled the family to have an important conversation, which brought them closer than they had ever felt. Not only was the immediate family impacted, but it was uplifting to the extended family too.
To date, NSI has heard from over 15,000 young people across 60 countries. The charity recognises how vital it is that service children have their voices heard and invite them to join this conversation.
NSI is looking forward to holding workshops and roadshows around the UK. If you would like them to visit, wish to discuss a partnership or to receive a set of resources, please contact Katie at firstname.lastname@example.org.