Following our week at the Invictus UK Trials in Sheffield, we’ve been thinking more in-depth about the importance of sport in the recovery process, not only for Veterans, but also their families and those who support them.
We always knew that our time at the Trials was going to give us a unique insight into the journey that those competing had undertaken. However, we were bowled over by the passion that was palpable during the trials themselves, and, after speaking with families, in between the events too.
Celebrating the journey
We saw a selection of events during the week, from athletics to archery, Wheelchair basketball to indoor rowing. Each of these adaptive sports represented the culmination of a journey for those taking part. We caught up with Toni-Sue White, wife of competitor Alan White who had also competed in the 2018 Sydney Games. We asked Toni-Sue what the experience meant to the families involved. She explained:
“Being able to go with Alan and support him, we knew his injuries and his diagnosis meant he was really scared to do those things. Knowing he could look into the crowd and we were there, we were always there, just levelled him back out. You kind of know that, actually, we’re a team!”
We make grants that support the Armed Forces community, including Veterans on various recovery paths; and it was great to see how supporting Veterans to engage in activities such as sports, arts and other activities that bring them together with others who face similar challenges, is vital and can be life changing.
We spoke to the wife of one Veteran at the games who told us that prior to coming to Sheffield her husband struggled to leave the house and engage with other people. At the Trials, it was great to see him getting involved with other Veterans, enjoying himself and generally feeling a part of a community again.
So, what comes next? Well, of those who competed at the Trials, some will now go on to the games themselves, taking place in The Hague in 2020. But, we know from speaking to those in Sheffield, that even for those who don’t go on to the Games, there is still a massive sense of achievement, a renewed sense of belonging and the feeling that the hard work they’ve already put in to their chosen sport has truly culminated in their own ‘games’ – a sentiment we heard echoed more than once during the week, from not only competitors, but Invictus ambassadors and families present.
But for projects wanting to make a difference, we have support available.
We know that funding programmes such as the Positive Pathways programme, part of the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, can play an important part in a Veteran’s recovery. Funding is offered to enable Veterans to get out and active, to truly immerse themselves in engaging and rewarding projects designed to teach them new skills, rebuild their confidence, repair the bonds and camaraderie that many feel they’ve lost, and to give those involved a renewed sense of purpose.
We’ve made this programme easy to apply for and organisations can even get additional support at the application stage.