Reading Force has received a grant of £12,900 from The Veterans’ Foundation to reach and support 6,000 veterans based in Scotland, inviting them to participate in the ‘read and chat’ initiative proven to help improve communication within families…

This grant will enable Reading Force to work with veterans, and their families, in a variety of circumstances including: those transitioning from military to civilian life, injured during service, dealing with mental health issues, facing challenges with civilian adjustment, isolation, and older veterans wishing to share books with their grandchildren.

The tri-service charity posts books to children and gives colourful scrapbooks in which families may collate their thoughts about the book they have shared, in notes, letters, drawings and photographs. Sharing a book and chatting about it creates good communication, helps families stay in touch with extended family or a parent if separated by distance, divorce, or family breakdown, soothes and keeps continuity during difficult or disruptive periods.

Best of all families report they enjoy taking part and sharing books for pleasure! Families can do Reading Force at home together or over Skype, Facetime and WhatsApp if separated. Every child who participates receives the prize of a book and a special certificate.

Besides being a fun activity, crucially, RF supports children and families during significant life-events. Sharing books and chatting about them helps mitigate stress and anxiety before, during and after transition from military to civilian life by supporting good communication within families.

Families leaving or who have left the Armed Forces can experience a loss of military identity. Taking part in Reading Force can help to maintain their sense of being part of this community and that their service continues to be recognised and valued.

Reading Force Ambassador in Scotland, Fiona Maxwell, said: “In line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting veterans and their families, and by working in collaboration with the organisations already providing such valuable support, we would like to play a part in serving the veteran community in Scotland.

“We have been wanting to do this for some time, and we know that a few veterans have already taken part in Reading Force, but this grant is a significant start in being able to better reach and support veterans and their families.”

The Veterans’ Foundation funding will cover the costs of books and scrapbooks for families, collaboration with organisations to raise awareness of the initiative and to reach veterans and their families, including Veterans Scotland and Poppyscotland, working with Local Authority Armed Forces and Veterans Champions, distribution of materials and attending events to welcome veterans’ participation.

David Shaw, CEO and founder of the Veteran’s Foundation, said: “We are delighted Reading Force is helping armed forces veterans and their families to become excited by reading together. It will provide them greater opportunity and benefit others with whom they work or socialise.”

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