Date Published: 27 July 2020
Rutland County Council is partnering with Loughborough University and the Royal Air Forces Association to provide a new support programme for military veterans with mental health issues.
This follows a successful bid for funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund, as part of its Positive Pathways Programme. The project will offer special courses aimed at enhancing social resilience and well-being.
Starting in 2021, four courses with 12 attendees each, will run at the Loughborough University campus, with a mix of residential stays and one-day sessions. Veterans will take part in a range of activities, including social resilience workshops, practical healthy cooking lessons, sessions on improving sleep quality and team-based physical activity such as wheelchair basketball, walking football and yoga.
In addition to Loughborough University and the Royal Air Forces Association, the Council will be working on the scheme alongside several other partners. These include The Royal Naval Association; The Royal British Legion; the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund; NHS Transition Intervention Liaison Service (TILS) East Midlands; and Charnwood, Rushcliffe and Melton Borough Councils.
The project was conceived and is being led by Wing Commander Craig White, a PhD student in Loughborough’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, with support from Dr Jamie Barker and Dr Kristen Clements. It was designed following a consultation with veterans and is open to former members of all three military services – the Royal Navy, British Army and Royal Air Force – who are suffering with mental wellbeing issues.
“I am delighted this incredibly important project has been funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund. There is a fantastic partnership working on this, and together we can make a real positive difference to the lives of those veterans struggling with their mental wellbeing. The importance of this project has been further emphasised by the experience of veterans suffering from increased mental health issues, loneliness, and social isolation during the Covid-19 lockdown.”
Wing Commander Craig White
“There is a wealth of published evidence that suggests sport, exercise and physical activity enhance mental wellbeing, reducing the risk of mental illness. Through this innovative programme and working in partnership with other military charities, NHS and Local Authorities, we aim to enhance the mental wellbeing of RAF veterans by strengthening their social, physical, and psychological resilience.”
Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the Royal Air Forces Association
“Being resilient is imperative to maintaining positive mental wellbeing. This exciting project will complement the work our Community Engagement Workers are doing with veterans in the East Midlands living with stress.”
Dr Hannah Brooking, RAF Benevolent Fund researcher
“Following our successful bid alongside Loughborough University and other collaborators, we’re delighted to have secured funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund for this hugely important project. There is a considerable military population in Rutland, including veterans, who are an integral part of the local community. With a military background myself, I understand the problems that can affect veterans. These include mental health issues, loneliness and social isolation – all of which may have increased during the Covid-19 lockdown. I’m sure this project will provide invaluable support and I look forward to reaching out to veterans across Rutland.”
Councillor Ian Razzell, Armed Forces Champion and former Army Officer
For information about the Armed Forces Community in Rutland please visit our Armed Forces page.