We know, first-hand, the power that sport can play in people's physical and psychological recovery if they experience a life changing injury or illness.
Last year alone, nearly one in two of our veterans requested access to health and wellbeing activities to aid their recovery. A large proportion of the veterans we support experience issues such as anxiety and isolation, and these have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the subsequent lockdown measures.
It has become clear there is a need for increased understanding around physical and psychological impairments in community settings, as many of our veterans feel excluded or misunderstood. Our ambition is that, through our Help for Heroes Sports Recovery programmes, we can provide opportunities that empower and enable our veterans to feel confident reintegrating into their communities.
Sports Recovery Manager, Hannah Lawton, and her team are exploring ways to collaborate with organisations, communities, and local clubs to develop and facilitate inclusive health and wellbeing opportunities.
Alongside this, they continue to build a virtual sport offering which also considers the needs of our veterans.
“Creating a fully inclusive sports offering on a virtual platform has been challenging. But we’ve worked hard to ensure our programmes are diverse, engaging and offer opportunity across a wide range of levels - from grassroots to performance sport,” says Hannah.
Each virtual programme can support between 50 to 300 people at any one time. And considering we have, on average, six programmes running simultaneously, virtual delivery continues to be a vast project to manage.
As soon as our recovery centres closed, Hannah and her team knew it was vital to ensure those who use our services still can identify their milestones, receive the right support to progress in them and eventually reach their own sustainable outcomes.
“Achieving this in a virtual world is harder than face-to-face – because you’re not there, in-person, to see progress, make immediate changes, or have one-to-one conversations. I’m pleased to say we’ve continued seeing and hearing success stories from our veterans, but we know the next step is to develop inclusivity in sport out in the wider community, which is what we are working on this year,” Hannah explains.
“I’m a true believer in the power of sport in recovery – with our services and those we support being living proof of this fact. Sports Recovery is about so much more than simply being active - we also focus on key milestones in an individual’s ongoing recovery. For one veteran, that may mean building a support network to combat isolation, whilst another veteran may wish to develop the tools to overcome anxiety.”