On the anniversary of the first lockdown I find myself reflecting with pride and admiration for the community around us which has remained dedicated to supporting the nation’s Service children, not only coping but thriving. I am particularly proud of the collaboration and shared vision which allowed us to deliver the Thriving Lives toolkit in October. We are fortunate to be pressing ahead now with a suite of dissemination and enhancement projects, thanks to the understanding and support of our project funders and partners. With my new colleague Rachel Lad in charge of them, our projects have adapted and some exciting outcomes are taking shape.
Despite the well-documented downsides of bringing a programme of projects together virtually (the Zoom-fatigue, the distraction of everyone else’s décor, children and pets), we are enjoying a sense of shared purpose, a buzz in online meetings - testament to the strength of the community and depth of commitment to improving outcomes for Service children. We all of course miss the connection and energy of a room full of people, but as a community we have coped with the sudden large-scale shift to remote working. As the uncertainty of the world around us continues, we will look back with pride at how our community not only responded, adapted and kept going but seized the opportunities to grow and to strengthen our impact.
The context for our projects is the world of young people from Armed Forces families, who are dealing with even more uncertainty and separation than usual. We are fortunate to have embedded these young people’s voices in our work, both directly and through our many partners, and seeing how partners have pivoted to support young people during this critical time has been heartening. I’d like to end by reflecting on the connection I felt with a group of Service children at Weeton primary school at the end of last year, as they shared, virtually, their creative film about their lives and chatted about their experience of making it (thank you Lancashire and NW Hub!).