Annington Ltd is to support the tri-service charity Reading Force with a sum of £75,000 over the next three years.
Reading Force supports the social, emotional and mental wellbeing of Forces families through the experience of shared reading by providing free books and reading scrapbooks to members of the Forces and their families. The scheme also includes Veterans, Reservists and Former Forces partners and children.
Families are encouraged to form reading groups to talk about the books they are sharing, and children are encouraged to keep a scrapbook to record their thoughts and feelings about the chosen title. The reading group can be the immediate family – maybe a deployed mum or dad – as well as a wider, extended family living in different parts of the world. Grandparents who don’t see their Forces family members very often have been particularly enthusiastic about joining the scheme.
Children dealing with the emotions of missing a parent or other loved one can often find it difficult to express their feelings, making conversations during sporadic phone calls with the absent parent difficult. The simple act of sharing a book presents a means of providing an initial topic of conversation and helps keep the lines of communication open.
“We were impressed by the support Reading Force is giving those Service families dealing with the challenges of separation and by the simple premise that chatting about a book helps parents and children remain connected,” says James Hopkins, CEO of Annington. “When the charity asked us to help them fund the costs of an Ambassador for Scotland, an important element of the charity’s development strategy, we were delighted to help.”
The charity has recruited Fiona Maxwell, a former Army wife and mother of three who understands only too well the demands and difficulties presented by enforced separations. Fiona will be responsible for building a relationship with the Forces Postings Branch in Glasgow as well as with schools attended by Forces children in the areas surrounding Glasgow, Edinburgh and Lossiemouth.
“Sharing a book gives common ground and something to talk about – it allows connection and good chats arise as a result. We know of children who refused to talk to their deployed parent, but overcame this when they shared a book,” says Dr Alison Baverstock, Founder and Director, Reading Force. “Reading Force is a simple way of re-bonding, keeping parents involved with home life and children connected to their parents and we are delighted to be working with Annington to promote the emotional stability of Forces families.”
For further information, please visit http://www.readingforce.org.uk/