Its my first time blogging so apologies if these first few posts are a bit pants. I'm still learning but I promise I'll get better....
I just wanted to give you a bit of background on why I've started Strength Behind the Strong and why I'm so passionate about supporting military families.
In 2011 and I was very lucky to have the opportunity to take part in The Choir: Military Wives with just over 100 other military wives from Chivenor and Plymouth. Wow! What a joy it was. An experience I will never forget and one which I and the other ladies immersed ourselves in without question. I can still remember Stephen the produce saying to us 'just go with the flow, don't ask too many questions and enjoy it'....so we all did.
We got on with our daily lives with the daily grind of deployment brightened by the weekly rehearsals. Getting together for rehearsals with Gareth or sectional rehearsals at someones house became a highlight of each week. The TV cameras blurred into background ornaments that noone took any notice of or, like me, avoided. We focussed on learning new songs for each performance and the only question we ever felt we needed to ask when a performance was announced was 'What do we need to wear' haha?
From our very first performance in Barnstaple Pannier Market to singing at the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall we all felt the positive impact of not only coming together and supporting each other but for the shared experience and having some time for ourselves. We all gained confidence from singing together and supporting each other in the life-long friendships we had made.
So once the TV programme came to an end all of us at Chivenor put the plans into place that we'd agreed months before and continued to sing. There were a few dodgy rehearsals we hosted ourselves until we found ourselves someone to replace Gareth but we did it and we vowed to help any others like us that wanted to start their own choirs to do it too. We never ever dreamed that we would receive the public support we did and we will remain forever grateful for this and the opportunities it gave us.
Being a part of the programme and making friendships that I might otherwise never have made was the first time that I realised there was a very big need for additional support in the military community. Not the usual serving person, job type support but support from like-minded people. People who know the realities of what military families face first hand, people you feel comfortable with that are non-judgey and people who just know where to send you for support even if they cant give you that support themselves.
There are really great services available and I don't want to diss them too much because they have their place and the work they do is fab; but believe me when you see your closest friends at rock bottom trying to access support or you try and access them yourself and you just end up feeling let down by the system you see very quickly that for a number of reasons they don't quite hit the mark. It was this, accessing the services myself (yes its not all been plain sailing for me) and seeing others go through it too that I knew more could be done and thats why I have started 'Strength Behind the Strong'. Its only taken me 7 years but hey I'm on it now and I have big plans. x