Our charity, who has supported Reading Force since 2014, has recently awarded them with a grant of £25,000.
Reading Force is the only national shared reading charity for service and ex-service families. It encourages families, whether at home together or separated by deployment or training, to share a book which they can discuss, alongside filling in a scrapbook with their thoughts. The concept is simple and the resulting bonding is precious for our Army families.
Reading Force gives every participating child an age-appropriate book with their very own scrapbook. Our charity’s grant is used to ensure that this initiative remains free and available for all serving and ex-serving Army families with babies and children from 0-18 years of age.
Families who have taken part in the scheme have voiced that it gives them routine during challenging times, raises literacy levels, boosts children’s confidence and, perhaps most importantly, improves communication and keeps Army families close.
A mother, whose children have used Reading Force, commented: “As Daddy was away on exercise, Thomas and Phoebe were able to feel closer to him, have something to talk to him about, and it also reduced the separation anxiety.”
A child taking part also had a positive reaction to the scheme: “Me and my Dad wanted to share a book while he was away, so I chose this book because of the front cover and the blurb. I liked how Daddy was hundreds of miles away but we could share this together. And when Daddy came home we talked about our favourite parts.”
Our charity’s grant helps to support the Reading Force initiative with producing and printing the scrapbooks, delivering the books to children, providing information about the initiative and what’s available to families, alongside allowing them raise awareness of their programme in schools and organisations.
Dr Alison Baverstock, Founder and Director of Reading Force said: “We really appreciate ABF The Soldiers’ Charity funding towards Reading Force. Reading Force is a simple scheme at heart, we connect families through encouraging them to read together and remain in touch – and the project has been shown to support the social, emotional and wellbeing of participants. Through their significant contribution, we are able to carry on offering the materials free to Forces families, ensuring that they are supported and in touch through the many upheavals of Services life. Having begun our project in 2011 we are proud that ABF The Solders’ Charity has been with us throughout. We really value their contribution, of course in financial terms but just as importantly as a confirmation of the value of the support we provide – and encouragement towards our efforts in future.”
Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity adds: “Spending time away from loved ones, especially when there are young children involved, can be a hard and difficult situation. The work that Reading Force do to enable children to feel connected to their serving parent through the means of reading and making a scrapbook is such a wonderful thing. We thank you for making being away from family a little bit easier for our soldiers and veterans!”