Knitting the family: mummy and daddy dolls help children’s wellbeing while parents are on deployment

At Crofton Hammond Infant School in Fareham, Hampshire, the teachers identified a recurring issue, impacting the children’s wellbeing. 

In July 2019, 32% of the school’s pupils were from Armed Forces families, with the majority of those parents serving in the Royal Navy. The staff observed that high numbers of these children were suffering in their parent’s absence, affecting their engagement and learning. 

As per The Children’s Commissioner’s 2018 Kin and County report, primary school children can suffer from ‘sadness, worry and general unease’, due to the short- or long-term deployment of a parent. 

The teachers decided to implement a ‘deployment package’, that would help children adjust to a period of separation. 

Drawing inspiration from our ‘Knit the Family’ initiative, the school decided to create a special set of dolls for each family. 

A proficient knitter created bespoke dolls in the likeness of a child and their parent. Following a successful implementation, the scheme was extended to include civilian children whose parents worked away during the week. 

Many parents reported that the child and doll were inseparable, and that the children were overjoyed to see their doll doppelgängers out on deployment with mummy or daddy. 

Staff observed a positive impact on the pupil’s wellbeing and readiness to learn, while many parents reported a greater sense of community within the school. It has also raised awareness within the children to be sensitive around a peer when their mum or dad is on deployment. 

A Year 1 teacher at Crofton Hammond Infant School said: 

“One child, who found it particularly tricky that her dad worked away Monday to Friday, just pops her ‘Daddy Doll’ in the front of her jumper when she comes to school and consequently, she can cope a lot better, and her learning has really improved.” 

You can read more about the school’s deployment packages by downloading the report. This case study was provided by the Service Children’s Progression Alliance, a charity that strives to improve educational outcomes for children and young people from Armed forces families.   

We’re always on the lookout for knitters to volunteer their skills. We’ve found that a version of mummy or daddy, or the protagonists of our short stories, The Time Rabbit and Time Penguin, can help children struggling with separation profoundly. Please visit the fundraisers & supporters page of our website to find out more.

Naval Children’s Charity supports over 400 families with Christmas grant

The Naval Children’s Charity (NCC) has provided over 400 families with grants to help them through the Christmas period. 

These grants were made available to some of the most in need children known to the charity. 

Some 350 families received a sum of £300 to cover the cost of groceries over the festive period, with a further £100 donated to cover the cost of a present for each child. 

A further 50 children have received a gift directly from NCC. 

2020 has been a rough year for us all, both mentally and financially. Research conducted by the University of Essex estimates that the average family is £515 worse off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This will cause many families further stress in the buildup to Christmas. We asked some of our beneficiaries in 2020 to describe their feelings and emotional state before and after receiving the grant. 

Of the 98 respondents to our survey, the percentage of parents feeling anxious (85%), stressed (84%) or worried (83%) was nearly identical. 

However, after receiving help from the charity, the overwhelming majority of respondents said they now felt both supported (88%), and relieved (87%). Over two-thirds (68%) said that the grant would improve their lives, while 76% reported an improvement in their wellbeing. 

We asked some of the recipients of the grant to confidentially share their thoughts on the grant process: 

“I am so thankful to the Naval Children’s Charity for the financial support they provided me and my children. The process was easy to go through and the team were all amazing. They really care about people and the children and families they help and I’m so overwhelmed they helped me.”

“Your team was compassionate, approachable and took away the stigma from asking for help.”

“The support my children and I have received has been phenomenal, I can’t speak highly enough of those I have had contact with. I’m truly grateful for the support.”

Clare Scherer, CEO of the NCC commented: 

“The Naval Children’s Charity gives help throughout the year to families around the UK.  This has been a particularly difficult year for our families and we have seen many more than usual who are in crisis and are facing hardship.  

“We are delighted that we were able to offer some extra help to some of our children this Christmas. By giving these grants for groceries and Christmas presents for the children we hope that we have managed to spread a little joy.”