Film Premiere – 11th April, Chapter Arts Cardiff, 12.30 – 2.00 pm

The Families of Veterans Support Service has been delivering a bespoke family support service to children and their families across Wales for the past 15 months. Through engaging with our Armed Forces Covenant partners, the referrers to our service and our service-users, it has become apparent that there is no other service specific provision for Veterans’ children, and to date our experience is that these children have struggled to access main steam services to receive the support they need, and in some cases remain at risk of experiencing very poor outcomes.

Therefore, as part of an intensive residential outdoor pursuits week, and using the engagement techniques advocated by the world renowned  Augustus Boal, this Barnardo’s Participation project has engaged and filmed the young people accessing the Barnardo’s Families of Veterans Support Service (FVSS), to encourage them to think about their future in positive terms. The residential week has allowed the children respite time with their peers and given them the opportunity to develop their feelings of self-worth through language, drama, music, as well as taking part in demanding outdoor adventure activities.

The second phase of the Participation project is to showcase a short film – Children Speak – Building Positive Futures, at Chapter Arts, Cardiff on April 11th. This will give the relevant communities a broader knowledge and understanding of the issues facing children from serving families and, will create an opportunity for Veterans’ children to share experiences and issues specific to them, as a result of the challenges they face as children of ex-serving personnel.

This has been the first occasion where children of Veterans have their voices heard in a structured and supported manner. This project has provided an invaluable opportunity not only to gather the views of this vulnerable cohort, but also an opportunity to evaluate how best to meet their support needs, and how best to support these children to access appropriate services in the future. Furthermore, through having their voices heard in a short film, these children will have the opportunity to increase professionals’ understanding and awareness of their life experiences, which hopefully in-turn will improve the attitudes and perceptions of the people in the communities where these children live.

This film will be used to specifically target the communities where the children reside, and will be used as a tool to raise awareness for other professionals working with these children in their local areas. We envisage that through inviting key members of each child’s local community to see the film that this will raise awareness and act as a spring board to help progress discussions on how best to address the needs of the children and in-turn support their full integration into the community where they live.

In addition to this, Barnardo’s plan to use any findings to improve the service that we deliver, and feed the findings into any strategic response on how to best to develop services to support this sensitive cohort of children. This will be of huge benefit to the children themselves as they will experience better outcomes and more positive futures. It will also benefit the communities where these children live, as the community responds positively to the children, who will in-turn feel an increased sense of social cohesion and belonging.