MKC Heroes is a unique 'student voice' group originally formed in the City of Plymouth for the support of Service children and young people.
Members of the Military Kids Club (MKC) Heroes are ambassadors and young advocates for Service families. Most importantly, they are friends for each other – especially in times of need.
MKC Heroes started when Plymouth City Council's Education Department decided to support the children of Service personnel more. A group was set up and a representative from each school (primary up to secondary) meet monthly to discuss their concerns and the way forward.
Plymouth City Council Officer Heather Ogburn provides support to Service children and helped kick-start the group. She sat down with a group of Service children and young people to see what they needed and saw an opportunity to create a network, particularly so that Service children had friends if they moved schools.
"A lot of their friends didn't understand what they were going through during times of deployment"Heather Ogburn, Plymouth City Council Officer
"The key messages that came through were that they knew they had different challenges in their lives to some of their friends, such as having to move home and change schools, as well as often having a parent away. But, at the same time, they didn't want to be seen as being different.
"They didn't want people to put a big label on them, but they wanted help coping with some of the issues, especially as a lot of their friends didn't understand what they were going through during times of deployment," she said.
Heather approached Roger Garratt, Legion Membership Council representative for the South West, to get the Plymouth Crownhill Branch involved. At first the branch donated magnetic noticeboards and a huge laminated map of the world so that the children could plot whose parent was where. This led to the children wanting to be more involved with the Legion's activities.
Roger said the children have enjoyed taking part with the Poppy Appeal and they realised there's more to the Legion. "We, the Legion, felt we had a duty of loyalty to the children of Service personnel as they're all beneficiaries. We provide as much support as we can, including Standard Bearer training. Whenever they appear on parade with their standard, they're fully booted and spurred, fully trained by our guys. The older standard Bearers take them under their wing," he said.
As well as providing an invaluable support network, the group also actively fundraise in support of The Royal British Legion.
Roger says the group's youthful enthusiasm is a huge boost for the local Poppy Appeal, and they have raised over £2,000 from their efforts at biscuit-making, cake sales and wearing odd shoes at school.
Any school can join, so if you have a strong Service community in your school, get in touch with MKC Heroes.
For more information, visit the MKC Heroes website.