Help for Heroes has introduced its virtual Recovery College, the first of its kind designed specifically for wounded veterans and their families.
The Recovery College officially launched at Tedworth House Recovery Centre in September 2019 with a pilot course and the charity had planned to expand its delivery this autumn. But with Covid-19 putting a hold on that for now, the courses will be delivered virtually instead and ten modules have been converted into online courses that veterans and their families can access on the Help for Heroes website.
Course Development Lead Mike Lee has been instrumental in setting up the Recovery College. With a military background of over 30 years, he knows first-hand the challenges veterans face.
“Recovery is about finding ways to live a secure, healthy and fulfilled life, despite the challenges of an ongoing injury or illness. When someone’s military career comes to an end due to medical reasons, the future can seem overwhelming. This is why we created our Recovery College.”
Mike has spent the past few months developing courses that achieve the college’s aim; to give veterans the confidence and understanding to achieve their recovery goals.
“All our courses help veterans take steps in their recovery journey that put them in control of their future. These are educational recovery courses, rather than vocational courses that lead to qualifications.”
“We look forward to the day when we can run our courses face-to-face but due to the restrictions caused by coronavirus, this isn’t possible yet. In the meantime, we’ve been working hard to deliver as many of the courses as we can virtually.
“The Recovery College is designed to help veterans to understand themselves better and the uniqueness of their personal recovery journey; to identify their next steps and equip them with the tools necessary to achieve their ambitions.”
The Help for Heroes Recovery College is being introduced at a time when many of those we support need us more than ever. In the same way that all of us will need to adjust to a new normal, our veterans have the added complexity of continuing to deal with their physical and mental conditions under these difficult circumstances.
“The team and I are excited to see the difference it will make to the lives of our veterans and their families,” Mike says.
What makes the Help for Heroes Recovery College unique is the fact that all courses have been co-produced, by recovery staff and veterans. The expertise of staff and the experiences of veterans allows for a blend of different ideas and perspectives within a course. It ensures the College remains student focussed and Help for Heroes can listen, respond, and involve students in their own recovery by asking them to design course.
One veteran involved in the co-production process was Mark Hepworth, 42, who served in the Kings Royal Hussars for 23 years before medically discharged in 2017 with PSTD.
“During my service I was fortunate to serve in most operational theatres. Unfortunately, it was during these tours that I sustained my mental injuries. PTSD has massively impacted my family, friends and life. It is difficult to live with, it affects every aspect of life.”
Soon after discharge, Mark was signposted to Help for Heroes and despite a lot of hesitation, he said this “was soon dispelled by the fantastic team at Tedworth House.”
On co-producing some of the Recovery College courses, Mark said:
“My military experience, my discharge and my own business have allowed me to offer some guidance and support to help make the recovery college a fantastic opportunity for service leavers and injured soldiers.
“The programme takes an injured service person/veteran and is structured to an individual’s recovery plan. Recovery starts the moment a person takes hold of their injuries and therefore the structure of the recovery college can assist with a developing recovery journey.
My message to anyone who has suffered any form of injury is to be kind to yourself, take each and every day at a time and start with small recovery goals. The recovery college can help you with planning your recovery and the staff are amazing.”
Mark said through his previous access to Help for Heroes support, he has felt armed with strategies and coping mechanisms to help manage his mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic. He feels the Recovery College will help those who may be struggling with the uncertainties which exist in today’s world.
“Enrolling in the Recovery College will give people the opportunity to empower themselves, to take back a small element of control and stability and a more normal life. Injuries are life changing but don’t have to totally life limiting.
“I am proud to have supported the production of the Recovery College, it is my desire to continue to support our veterans in whatever capacity that I can.”
To access the online Recovery College courses, go to www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/recovery-college