Stubbington families offered a lifeline of support thanks to school's new building

BEING deployed thousands of miles from home for months at a time is a prospect countless service personnel in the area have to cope with.

Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 1:52 pm
Back from left, Bethan Dew, 11 and Caitlyn Pickles, eight, with front from left, Josh Fernandes, nine, Sofia Miller, six, and twins Chloe and Ollie Pickles, six in the new Crofton Cabin. Picture: Sarah Standing (161376-3617)

And for their families left at home it can be a traumatic time – especially for young children, who may not see their parent for months.

But now families are being offered a lifeline to battle this emotional distress thanks to a school in Stubbington.

Crofton Hammond Infant School, in Mancroft Avenue, yesterday unveiled its new Crofton Cabin.

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The wooden space was provided thanks to a £20,000 cash injection from the Ministry of Defence.

The private facility can be used by parents and children from all of Stubbington’s schools battling the emotional turmoil of a loved one on deployment.

But it has not just been designed for relatives of people in the military – civilian families can use it too.

The site was officially opened by pupils Thomas Fletcher, nine, and Adam Currie, seven.

Thomas’s father Chris, 34, is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy and spent months away from his family on lengthy deployments as a submariner.

Chris said being separated from his daughter Caitlin, one, and Thomas was tough.

‘It is deeply comforting to know this support is here for your family when you’re away,’ he added.

Chris’s wife Kirsty, 41, said: ‘It was difficult when Chris went away. So it’s comforting to know Thomas is emotionally supported at school.’

The school already offers a parent drop-in service, which will now be based in the cabin, on a Tuesday morning.

It allows parents a place to gain help and advice on a range of issues.

Crofton also runs a support service for pupils who have a parent working away for long periods of time, with a weekly drop-in session for them to write letters to their loved one or to talk to a trained adult about any worries they have.

Jacky Halton, infant school headteacher, said: ‘Some children try and be strong for their mothers and don’t tell about their own anxieties.

‘But really they are worried about their parents maybe not coming back.’

She said the site was about ‘bringing together’ schools in the area to support all Stubbington’s needy families.