Cardiff-based actor Matthew Gravelle, who provided his voice for Welsh and English language recordings of breathing exercises for the materials, visited the Battalion’s Maindy Barracks to find out about the work being carried out by Shenkin Company in response to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Major Dominic Pascoe, who commands the 91-strong team of Army Reservists, explained the vital role they are playing to support civilian frontline workers in the NHS, Welsh Ambulance Service and Welsh Government. During the current crisis they are self-isolating from loved ones to perform their duties.
Tasks they are undertaking include unloading PPE at Cardiff Airport, driving for the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust, decontaminating ambulances throughout Wales and the West Country, providing Military Liaison Officers and Logistics Support, supporting The Welsh Government and providing Mobile Testing Support.
Major Pascoe said, “From the very first flight, that PPE was in action within 4 hours of the aeroplane touching the ground, so it’s quite impressive. We’ve been freeing up ambulance drivers, allowing one paramedic to have a little bit of respite or to concentrate on other tasks. We’ve decontaminated around 6,000 ambulances which frees up about 50 call outs, per ambulance, per week.”
“For us, this is the first time that we’ve been mobilised to this many numbers in our history and – this regiment is over 300 years old - it’s the first time we’ve directly served our communities, so it’s a totally different sort of challenge.”
Since the Coronavirus outbreak, Help for Heroes has adapted its resources, making mental health materials available to the public via its website. The Field Guide to Self-Care was initially created to help military personnel affected by traumatic events related to their service, but the charity has recognised that frontline health and care workers are experiencing similar challenges to those our Armed Forces face on the battlefield.
Help for Heroes Community Recovery Manager for Wales and Hereford, Shelley Elgin said, “We understand some of what they are up against. Help for Heroes has supported more than 25,000 ex-service personnel and families, many of whom have tackled similar situations to those our NHS staff are facing around the country right now: challenging environments; working outside of normal areas of work; working with protective equipment; and putting themselves at risk. Many have also been taken away from family, friends and colleagues for extended and uncertain periods of time.”
She continues, “The Field Guide is a resource of tips and tools our recovery teams deliver to veterans who have experienced traumatic events or have been affected by working in high intensity situations. The guide is broken down into three parts; Body, Emotion and Mind and can be worked through in one go or one at a time.
“We hope this is a useful resource for our NHS heroes, and for anyone else who may be feeling stressed or anxious during these difficult times.”
Major Pascoe welcomed the Field Guide and the tools it provides to equip our key workers at this challenging time. He said, “Help for Heroes were innovators to look at the issue of physical injuries of wounded service men and women, and now they’re innovators again, to try and address the issue of mental injuries that affect people.
“We are all human beings, we’re all as susceptible as each other, so this is a resource that helps everybody, from a schoolteacher to an astronaut. Help for Heroes have now taken that on as another innovation in assisting, not only the military, but the United Kingdom as a whole.”
Broadchurch and Hinterland actor Matthew Gravelle was born in Porthcawl and now lives in Cardiff. Visiting Maindy Barracks for the first time, he reflected on his reasons for supporting the creation of the Field Guide in Welsh and English, at this time.
“It’s important to have a resource like this, especially at the moment, because not everybody can calm their minds with the tools they already have. Having something that can talk them through, step by step, calm their breathing, calm their minds, that only takes a few minutes, is a particularly valuable resource. But especially, to have it in the Welsh language, which means you can fully relax, if you're a first language Welsh speaker. They can just relax fully, listening to their mother tongue.”
To access the Field Guide to Self-Care go to: https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/mental-health-and-wellbeing/a-field-guide-to-self-care/
The Welsh Language Field Guide is available at: https://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/mental-health-and-wellbeing/a-field-guide-to-self-care/cymraeg/
To access the Soothing Rhythm Breathing exercise in Welsh go to https://youtu.be/D6Q26spN23I
To access the Soothing Rhythm Breathing exercise in English go to https://youtu.be/BoF5y8SpzRw
To access the Three Step Breathing exercise in Welsh go to https://youtu.be/dOUDG1n2-_8
To access the Three Step Breathing exercise in English go to https://youtu.be/_qcJ9Sv1hAA