My time as an scsn intern

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My time as an scsn intern

  1. 1. My time as an SCSN Intern By Paula Florey I will begin with a little background information about myself. I am the wife of an Officer in the Royal Air Force and the mother of two beautiful daughters. I have been a stay at home Mum for the past eight years, concentrating entirely on my family. Prior to this, I taught Secondary School and transitioned from that into Educational and Employment Counselling. I have a Bachelor of Arts (English) and a Bachelor of Education (Secondary). As we are a military family, moving about is inevitable, so I decided to put my career on hold to offer the children some stability, particularly as my spouse’s job takes him away from home, sometimes for extended periods on Operational Deployments. Now that both girls are in school, I found myself thinking about returning to employment outside the home. But, constantly moving house and a long break from work was going to make it quite difficult for me to find gainful, sustainable employment! Or so I thought… I saw a poster in the RAF Halton Trinity Community Centre for a website called “Recruit for Spouses”. I thought, ok, worth a look, good a place to start as any, I need all the help I can get and if nothing else, I will have a picture of the local job market!Recruit for Spouses offered support and completely understood the barriers to employment that spouses of military personal face. The web site has lots of useful information and is very user friendly. It actually did what it says on the tin, Thank You Recruit for Spouses! I registered, posted my CV and immediately went to check out the Job Vacancies. I spotted the SCSN Internship position, read the job description and instantly thought this is perfect for me! I saw it as a learning opportunity on a personal level for obvious reasons and as a professional opportunity to assist my employment readiness. I applied, Recruit for Spouses confirmed receipt of my application…now all I had to do was wait. I was then contacted by Joy O’Neill (SCSN)and informed I had been selected as a potential candidate for the SCSN Internship. Joy sent me through some literature and information to read and then I was to decide if I was still interested. After reading Joy’s research paper on Service Children and the previous intern’s experiences, I was hooked and wanted this internship even more. I then accompanied Joy to a meeting about The Armed Forces Covenant at RAF Halton, bit of a Baptism of Fire, but in a good way! It clarified for me the relationship between the Armed Forces, Nation and State and how it directly impacts my family and I. Next I went to a local school with Helen Bretell, (Service Children Support Coordinator), to observe. It was then that the positive impact of the important work SCSN and the Support Coordinators provide Service Children became obvious. I saw the “Passport” in action as Helen helped a brother and sister prepare for yet another move and another new school. Change can be scary and difficult but a bit of intervention can ease anxieties and turn it into a positive experience, which is exactly what Helen did. As well, the Passport provides
  2. 2. information about the child to the new school and makes staff aware of concerns or worries that child may be experiencing. Later during my internship, in another local school with Helen, one particular boy was very focused on Afghanistan, war and weapons. Understandable as his Dad is serving in Afghanistan at the moment. Through play and chatting, Helen was able to address his questions with her calm approach and as a result he was very positive before returning to class. Helen is a dedicated professional and I have learnt a great deal from her and was fortunate enough to shadow her at the other local schools where she provides vital support to Service Children. I was now more eager than before to be selected for the SCSN Internship. I was so excited when Joy offered me an interview but terrified at the same time, interviews can be scary! I summoned my courage and channeled my nervous energy into my interview with Joy and Su Scrimshaw (Head Teacher, Halton Combined School). They were lovely, not scary at all but very thorough and I was immediately aware that they knew exactly what they were looking for in an intern. Lucky for me, I must of met their criterion and got the Internship. And let me say since then, it has been a steep learning curve… I started the internship with a BANG, the Armed Forces Covenant Community Engagement Event and Armed Forces Day Ticket Launch at the Waterside Theatre. It was more work and less play than I thought, Joy tirelessly networked and I got a glimpse of the hard work going on behind the scenes at SCSN. Next was a couple of meetings with Joy, an induction into SCSN and an in depth discussion on Postings and Deployments and their direct impact on Service Children and their Families. Then it was back into the schools, this time with Service Children’s Support Coordinator, Emma Cheedy. I observed her interactions with a number of children and in every encounter the child left with a huge smile. Emma’s ability to tune in and relate to each individual child was just so incredible. I think her energy and honesty is contagious and her professionalism in more difficult circumstances is a guideline for all to follow. I observed her openness and ease with a child who needed and wanted to talk about a parent on Operational Deployment in an area of Conflict. A head teacher in one of the schools I visited with Emma discussed what a positive influence her role was making in a particular child’s behavior and academic performance. I thought, that is what this job is all about, how brilliant is that! I was grateful for the time spent with her and learnt a great deal from Emma. My Internship with SCSN has also generously provided and paid for me to have some training for which I am grateful. First up was a full on day training with Child Bereavement UK, Supporting Forces’ Children and Families in Loss and Bereavement, presented by Dr. Ann Rowland (Clinical Psychologist). It proved to be an emotional day but this training is absolutely vitalfor anyone dealing with Service Children and their Families, as this is their reality. Next training day was “A Systematic Approach to Working with Families”. It was incredibly practical and taught useful guides for gathering and recording information. The course also offered approaches for engaging people in conversation and developing
  3. 3. dialogue. As well, there were techniques for asking leading questions that allow a person to reveal their “untold Story” rather than a clinical interview approach which often only receives a yes or no answer. Buckinghamshire County Council was quite generous with their time and I spent a day with Amanda Buchanan from Bucks Family Intervention Services. I visited a Children’s Centre in the morning and then spent an afternoon at The Family Nurse Partnership. It was informative because Armed Forces Families just like Civilian Families face the same challenges and need support and guidance about the services available to them in their local communities. Military Families are just like all other families, except that we move a lot and sometimes our spouses are in areas of conflict doing dangerous jobs! I also had the privilege to meet with Dr. Robert Beadel, Senior Educational Psychologist for Buckinghamshire County Council and discuss the aspects of his work, development of the Passport and his continued research involving Service Children. My conversation with Rob was both insightful and informative. Overall, I found Buckinghamshire County Council to be supportive, progressive and pro-active when it comes to the unique needs of Service Children and their Families. Finally, I caught up with Wilma Kingsbury, Community Development Officer for RAF Halton. She is a familiar face at the Hive, organizing activities, always with a smile! We had a lovely cup of tea and she gave me an overall view of what her work entails, far more than I realized! She certainly has her finger on the pulse of what is happening in the local community and then armed with that knowledge, she identifies what is lacking and provides it to the Military Families at RAF Halton. My time at SCSN has been educational, positive and inspirational. The energy and tenacity that Joy puts into SCSN is admirable, don’t know where she finds the time or energy? Coupled with Su Scrimshaw, I think that pair can do just about anything they put their minds too, bit of a Dynamic Duo! Then there is Helen and Emma, Super Heroes for Service Children, out there in the schools and doing a fab job of it!I have discovered there is a great need for additional support for Service Children within schools. I have acquired top tips and resources to use with my children, particularly useful at the moment as my husband is deployed to Afghanistan. Service Families have a sort of “lets just get on with it” attitude but as a Service wife and mother, I would welcome more support within schools for my children. It would be beneficial for my children to have someone else to talk to. During my internship, I saw first hand the positive effects of having a Service Children’s Support Coordinator in the school. Concentration, attitude, behavior and emotional wellbeing were drastically improved as a result. I have gained so much knowledge from my SCSN Internship and am very grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a fantastic organization.

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