Three pupils from Risedale College joined others from around the country to attend the launch of the Service Children Support Report put together by England’s Children’s Commissioner.
Research began in February to identify the unique difficulties and challenges that service children in UK can often face on a day-to-day basis.
Representatives visited a number of schools across the country, speaking to groups of service children whose parents serve in the Armed Forces.
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The children were asked questions about military life including what they thought about their parents being deployed, how it feels to move house and school, as well as the differences they perceive in their lives compared to that of civilian families.
With the report completed the government invited a select group of service children to Parliament to be present at the official launch of the Service Children Support Report.
Three schools were invited each representing the different branches of the Armed forces with Risedale representing the Army.
Head prefect Liam McCarthy, deputy head prefect Hannah Hodgson and fellow year 10 student, Bradley Smith, were selected to represent Risedale and discuss the report, each growing up in a military environment, experiencing first hand what impact this can have.
The students were accompanied by Service Children Advocate for Risedale, Mrs Porritt, travelling down to London by train, enjoying a packed day of activities including visiting the Imperial War Museum and London Eye, enjoying a walk along the Thames in the sunshine eating ice cream and even had time for a quick game of bowling.
In the afternoon the students made their way to Parliament and were greeted by Anne Longfield the Children’s Commissioner as well as Johnny Mercer MP who is a member of the Defence Sub-Committee.
Liam said: “All the children and school staff sat in the centre of the room and the other MPs that attended were sat around and behind us. It was so exciting to be part of such an important event.”
The launch began with an introduction and then each MP gave their opinion about what they thought of the findings from the report. After that MPs were given the opportunity to ask the children questions and see what they thought.
Liam added: “It was really emotional at times.
“One young boy left the crowd heartbroken when he asked, ‘What would happen if both my Mummy and my Daddy get deployed?’, and said that he was worried that he might be put into care.”
Mrs Porritt said: “Our head prefect Liam McCarthy made quite an impact when he addressed the MPs with a very hard hitting question, in fact the whole room burst into applause.”
Liam asked: “As you can clearly see from the report, no two service children are the same.
“Every single service child has their own story, their own experiences, their own character, so how are you going to fulfill the needs of every single service child when they are all different?”
Following his questioning Liam has now been asked to assist the head of community support by collecting more data in a bid to better help other service children in the future.
Risedale principal Colin Scott said: “It’s clear from Mrs Porritt’s feedback and the students that they had an incredible day.
“I’m so proud of them all, notably Liam, he’s definitely a force to be reckoned with.”
The meeting was also attended by Risedale governor and Catterick Garrison commander Lieutenant Colonel Joe Jordan.
Liam concluded: “Overall the Risedale students had a really enjoyable day.
“We chatted together on the train on the way home reflecting on just how proud we are of our parents in the forces.”