Encouraging veterans to stay active stimulates their mental health and wellbeing

Veterans’ charity Launchpad provides vital accommodation and targeted support to UK Armed Forces’ veterans experiencing homelessness and those who have struggled with transitioning from the military into civilian life.

In addition to providing residents with housing and financial advice, each Launchpad house has an activities co-ordinator who organises and facilitates a range of diversionary projects and activities. Residents are encouraged to participate in the activities such as mindfulness, arts projects, gardening and outdoor activities, to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

The theme for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), run by the Mental Health Foundation, is ‘Movement: Moving more for our mental health’ and Launchpad is backing the campaign to raise awareness with its residents and encourage them to keep moving and be active.

Launchpad’s staff work with residents to find out what activities they would like to participate in and then aim to deliver them. The charity runs three houses in Liverpool, Newcastle and Durham and provides a range of diversionary activities that encourage them to keep moving.

Gardening, cycling, fishing, clay pigeon shooting, ten-pin bowling, golf and boxing are just some of the regular activities that have already been organised for Launchpad’s residents this year. Some of the activities have been funded through the government’s Op FORTITUDE programme, which aims to reduce veterans’ homelessness and Launchpad is one of nine funded organisations to help deliver the programme for the government.

Through the programme, Launchpad provides combined addiction and mental health psychotherapy services, intensive training and employment support, greater access to community activities and focussed support to help the veterans transition to live independently.

In addition to those activities, residents living at Launchpad’s Speke House in Liverpool have also benefitted from an 8-day sailing trip around the Orkneys, which was organised by CatZero and in a separate agreement, Bearded Men Adventures, based in Llangollen, enable residents to participate in activities such as white water rafting, coasteering, river tubing, mountaineering and paddleboarding.

Jan Buckley, Activities Co-ordinator at Launchpad’s Speke House, said:

“Being outdoors and keeping active provides a positive and stimulating experience for our residents and is a good way for them to manage their mental health and wellbeing.

“By accessing funding through the Op FORTITUDE programme and forming unique partnerships with organisations such as CatZero and Bearded Men Adventures, has enabled us to deliver a wider range of activities for them to engage with. Mental Health Awareness Week is a great way to raise awareness although it is something we aim to do all year round, working with and supporting our residents.”

At Avondale House in Byker, Newcastle this week, residents are working in the garden to tidy it up and get it ready for the summer. Sam Hughes, Projects Manager for the house, said:

“Many of the residents have mental health issues, ranging from anxiety to service and non-service-related PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). They enjoy participating in the activities we provide for them and recognise that being active is a great way to stimulate their mental health. We’re always keen to support campaigns such as Mental Health Awareness Week.”

At Hollyacre House in Sacriston, Durham, residents will be participating in their gardening club.

For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, please visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk/get-involved or join the conversation on social media using #MomentsForMovement and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek

Our Executive Members

By @Cobseo 54 years ago

Afghanistan support

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, please find information and support resources here