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The truth behind Little Troopers the charity

Sometimes when you are angry or sad it is the best time to put pen to paper for a variety of reasons, it can be very therapeutic and it can also mean your message comes through as strong as ever.

Today I am angry and I am sad because yet again Little Troopers received another ‘We regret to inform you’ letter of an unsuccessful application for funding.

Let’s go back to 2011, I founded this charity because my daughter was suffering due to relentless tours and military life, I joined the military as did her dad but she didn’t ask for this life, she didn’t choose to be a military child. My seven year old was in pieces and no one would help me….I went to welfare, I went to SSAFA, I went to RBL and I got repeatedly told ‘you aren’t in crisis’ ‘It is part of military life’ ‘her father is alive with all of his limbs’

I just didn’t, and don’t, believe the children of our serving British Armed Forces should by default be resilient and strong, I believe they need specific support to help them deal with this life they have been handed. I also believe they should be recognised and celebrated because they have to learn such hard lessons, they do face different challenges to their civilian peers and they do often need reassurance.

Little Troopers was born seven years ago but I have had to learn so much along the way, the creation of the charity was met with such hostility and not everything went to plan but my belief has always kept me going, the feedback directly from families using the resources I have created also makes me know it is needed and loved as a charity.

The reality is that the charity isn’t functioning in a nice office with a team of people bustling about making things happen the charity is run by me, little old me and my house is our stock room. I do have some amazing people by my side including Dan who does all the illustrations and design on an ad-hoc as and when basis, Cheryl who has worked with me since the charity started on a here and there basis writing the newsletter and other bits and Emily who has recently started to help with writing some Press Releases and bits like that.

Outside of that it is me.

I write the birthday cards,  I put together the separation packs, I post out all the shop orders, I think of all the ideas, I do all the social media, I write all the funding applications, I answer all the emails, I approve all the registrations, I organise Summer Camp, I go to all the meetings, I raise money…the list is endless and until this day I have tried to hide behind that fact thinking it devalued the charity but ultimately it shows how much I believe in Little Troopers, the children, my child.

Why am I writing this today? Today we received another no, another organisation who doesn’t believe in the cause, doesn’t believe that this charity is needed , doesn’t see the value and that no is added to a huge pile of other no letters. When I say we have applied to everyone there is a massive list of all the organisations, particularly in the military sector who regularly give grants that we have applied to, some more than once, these organisations are cash rich, they have money and they often award funding….just not to Little Troopers.

We aren’t a duplicate charity, there is no other charity out there solely supporting all children of our military. A women at a conference last week was so rude to me, she was from a reading initiative charity and she felt we couldn’t use the words ‘sole charity’ I politely said well show me another all encompassing military children’s charity then…..I’m still waiting. That lady isn’t isolated I could write a very long list of the people who have been incredibly rude to me, to my face, about the charity.

This post is to highlight that I just want to make a difference. I have seen the financial accounts (publicly available) of other charities and I see what they are spending out in salary costs and overheads and it makes my heart ache, Little Troopers could run on £70,000 a year and that is at a full capacity, it is such a small amount in the scheme of what others in the network are expending. We don’t have that money and so many are not willing to give our little charity a chance.

So I will take a step back and breathe in the anger and sadness, I won’t give up completely because I still have a Little Trooper, I have a husband in Afghanistan, I am still living and breathing this military life and I KNOW this charity is needed and helping so many but I hope one day someone will give Little Troopers the break the charity so desperately needs to become what it has the potential to become.

Louise xxx

*As an edit it is important to balance it out and recognise some of the people who HAVE believed in Little Troopers at various points over the last 6 years including; The Veterans Charity, The ABF, Royal Navy & Royal Marines Charity, The Army Central Fund

9 Comments

  1. June

    I think you should send this piece to Alex on The One Show. They have a Facebook page but you might prefer to go Special Delivery, For the Person all Attention Of Alex. Also send it to your MP if you haven’t already. The researchers seem only recently to have woken up to the military family as a resource but not quite grasped the impact of service life on the family. I PM’d you with a couple of other links earlier. What you do is imaginative and important, Louise. I think some people think what you do is already being done by others because your products are so apt and visible. I hope at least one of my suggestions proves useful to you. In the meantime it might be worth trying RN & RM Childrens’ Fund again.

  2. Ellie

    It must be so disheartening for you Louise as you have built Up Little Troopers from the very beginning to what it is today.
    From a relatively new fan (my little ones are only 3 and 1) I cannot emphasise enough how much we have got from the charity and from you personally.
    It must be sole destroying and I realise you must feel so downhearted, but please remember all the peoples lives you touch. Whilst you provide endless support and encouragement for our young service children, you also provide an amazing support for the adults- the military men and women and their partners.
    So do feel encouraged that everything you have done so far and hopefully will continue to do, is absolutely worth it and we are all so grateful.

  3. Jenny Byron

    What you do with this charity, especially with so little funding, is nothing short of amazing! I am so pleased I came across it and it’s been such a huge support to my kids and I during deployment.
    Maybe some media attention is needed, as someone else suggests – make a story from the fact such an important children’s charity is being underfunded and hopefully get a bit of media support.
    I can’t understand why people are rude to you about the charity – that baffles me! There is a huge need for this charity and you’re doing an amazing job!

  4. Hayley

    Dear Louise
    I am so sorry to read this as it was not long back that you went through a similar round of big knock backs and we all admired how you picked yourself up and kept going, putting on that ‘brave face’ Just like all our little ones do when they have to enter a new class room; forever the strange new kid or leave behind a connection or group they loved, or when there mummy or daddy is missing from an important event, or the one behind is sad- out comes the trusted brave face!!
    The good old ‘brave face’ gets exhausting and lonely though and it’s lovely to have little troopers to tell my children you know what, it’s ok. Here’s a charity that see’s how amazing you are and that you do have a hard time and your special and it’s ok to not be ok, we get that and we are here for you all!
    What’s wrong with all these bigger charities, how can they not get this. The ones that are associated with the armed forces need to really think about if they really care and why are they in it, as if they do they should be supporting little troopers as it’s here working so hard, making a difference to our little ones.
    My children can tell you all about little troopers and why it’s great, and that’s why I love it!! They wouldn’t know any of the bigger charities, yours is and has so much more potential to get into their hearts and make a difference!
    The children are so excited for summer camp, we will be packing our kits and definitely leaving the ‘brave faces’ behind for once! Xx
    Sending Love and every best wish your way

    Hayley Stanley
    Mother of four little troopers Xxx

  5. Alison

    It is such a shame your charity does not get more funding and recognition for all that you do. I 100% agree there is an unbelievable lack of organisations providing support specific for military children and more is needed to be done in the sector to highlight this. I know if something like Little Troopers was around when I was younger it would have made a big difference. Thank you for what you do!

  6. Baz Firth MBE

    Shared, thinking cap on and looking forward to raising more funds for you. If you think there is anything that I or 1710 can help with please let me know. Keep smiling and see you in two weeks.

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