Day at Shrewsbury Football Club helps war veterans reach new goals

An Occupational Therapy group called ‘Active 8’ is bringing new hope to veterans with Service-related mental ill-health. Active 8 brings together veterans from Audley Court Treatment Centre in Newport to take part in group activities funded by Shrewsbury Town Football Club. Audley Court is run by the mental health charity Combat Stress to provide clinical treatment to ex-servicemen and women with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and associated difficulties including hyper-vigilance, sleep disorder/nightmares, and anxiety.

A member of the Occupational Therapy team, including a support worker, facilitates the Active 8 group to carry out a mix of different activities from cooking and serving a three course meal together to taking part in a photography and football skills session. Taking a tour of Shrewsbury Town football ground offers a behind the scenes insight into the club as well as evoking memories of watching a football match. The activities are designed to boost team working and communication skills, increase confidence, rekindle interest in hobbies and bring a sense of self-worth back into people’s lives.

Members of Active 8 commented: “(The group) helped me to gain the confidence and self esteem to attend matches at my local team, something I did not do before on my own…(..) the positives from this showed what I can do to help with my injuries …which means now I can play football with my daughter.”

“I found myself in the midst of something that was fascinating, and for the first time in a long time, I was conversing with total strangers.”

Occupational Therapy enables people to take part in purposeful and practical activity which is central to everyday life. It treats the ‘whole person’ physically, psychologically and socially; helping people resume domestic tasks, take part in leisure or social activities and get back into employment. Occupational therapists support veterans to adjust to their ‘new world’, helping them to rediscover skills, break tasks down into simple steps, set achievable goals by building on individual’s strengths and interests and adopt coping strategies to promote mental wellbeing.

Karen Miles, Occupational Therapist at Combat Stress, is one of the people behind Active 8 and has watched the group blossom said: “By participating in activities that have cultural and purposeful meaning we find that our veterans discover that they have retained skills they acquired in the armed forces. Our role in Occupational Therapy is to help them realise their potential, aid their recovery and to gain a sense of wellbeing, which will then enable them to seek employment in the future, whether in the voluntary sector or paid, and ultimately achieve a life that they want to live. “

Paul Welton has used the experience to go on and work as a Catering Manager in a local school canteen.

To help Veterans rebuild their lives, Combat Stress provides a range of services including clinical treatment at three treatment centres in the UK – Audley Court in Shropshire, Hollybush House in Ayrshire and Tyrwhitt House in Surrey. All centres offer activities led by our Occupational Therapy teams that educate and enable veterans to understand the process of recovery and social integration. Combat Stress also works in partnership with The Royal British Legion to offer residential breaks which focus on recovery and social reintegration.

The College of Occupational Therapists is the professional body for occupational therapists and support workers and is the voice of occupational therapy in the UK. We champion the unique and vital work of occupational therapy staff, promoting value, excellence and innovation across the profession. Find out more at www.cot.org.uk

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