Snowdonia weekend of wellbeing and adventure
VETERANS FROM ACROSS South Wales enjoyed a weekend of adventure in the mountains and on the water during a four-day expedition to Snowdonia.
A group of 13 participants tackled a host of activities as they fished, walked and kayaked their way around the national park.
All veterans taking part receive effective peer mentoring and recovery support from Change Step. They were joined by the team from Heroes on the Water, which provides therapeutic watersport sessions for wounded veterans.
Brecon-based peer mentor Phil Johnson said the benefits of the trip – which was funded by donations from a wide range of businesses and supporters – were clear.
What a weekend! Members of this group of veterans really enjoyed a challenging route over Tryfan and summiting Snowdon, as well as the opportunity to get onto the water – and catch our own dinner!
It’s well known that exercise has many benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, and once again it was wonderful to see how veterans in the group were able to get stuck in with the activities and with one another.
I have no doubt that this trip was of enormous therapeutic benefit.
We’ve already received some wonderful feedback from those who took part – all of whom say that their sense of wellbeing has benefitted enormously.
‘In my own space’
Marvin Grange, from Berriew, served with the Gloucestershire and Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments between 1990 and 1997.
He has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, and joined his second Snowdonia expedition.
Sometimes, I can get into a very dark place – and it can feel like you are the only one there – but I’ve got a very supportive fiancée, and if it was wasn’t for her and Change Step I don’t know where I would be.
With the support of Change Step I have been able to see a therapist from Veterans’ NHS Wales for the last nine months – which has really helped me to deal with things.
Being with other veterans can do you the world of good. Everyone just opens up and can be themselves. We served together and we have been through the same things.
I just love looking at the scenery, and I embrace it. It just takes me away – it makes me think I’m just in my own space.
The expedition was made possible by a generous grant from PDAC, and the kind support of a number of other businesses and individuals.
We were pleased to have the generous support of Heroes on the Water, the Jesse James Bunkhouse, and Padarn Hotel for the second year – and the loan of outdoor equipment and clothing from the Infantry Battle School in Brecon.
We also like to thank fishing aficionado Richard Jamesly, and the staff of Aldi and Waitrose In Abergavenny, Co-op Food branches in Brecon and Hay-on-Wye, Lidl in Pontypridd, Tesco in Port Talbot and B&M Aberavon for their kind support.
Veterans supported by us have delivered more than 10,000 years of service to the UK Armed Forces – some 80% of our participants say Change Step has helped them improve their mental health, 79% say Change Step has helped them to reduce isolation by enhancing social engagement and 74% say working with Change Step helped them improve their relationships.
Every pound spent on Change Step results in around £7 in social benefits – including better wellbeing, reduced loneliness and more settled home life for veterans, and savings to health services.
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? All images copyright Martin Downs