Help for Heroes has granted £12,000 to support Land Based Management courses for 8 Wounded, Injured and Sick Veterans through HighGround.
HighGround’s mission is to support and improve the wellbeing of those who have served in our Armed Forces using safe, rural environments where they can access new career and vocational opportunities in the land-based sector.
During their Rural Weeks, which H4H fund wounded, injured and sick to take part in, individuals are guided by subject matter experts, alongside other Service Leavers and Veterans. Rural Weeks, delivered at Plumpton College in Sussex, introduce people to the huge variety of opportunities in the sector from working as an arborist in disaster zones, to being a beatkeeper on a river, running a cider orchard, being a park ranger or flying UAV’s in precision.
A wounded veteran who benefitted recently from the partnership was former Army Private Wesley Dunn, 36, of Manchester who served in the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Wes, who served in Kosovo and Northern Ireland, began his military career as a Rifleman, progressed to being a Machine Gun Specialist and finished his career as part of the Intelligence Cell. What started as depression turned into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Wes was medically discharged in 2003.
Through dealing with Walking with the Wounded, Wes was introduced to a variety of different careers that were available within the land-based sector. He had tried a number of different jobs, but none had lasted very long. After receiving introductions of all the potential lines of work, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in tree surgery.
Having completed the Rural Week, he will soon take part in an 8 week course in tree surgery at Plumpton College.
Wes explained: “During the Rural Week, I felt my mood lift greatly. I'd not been out of my house much in the last 3 years, having isolated myself.
“It was a great experience. I would recommend the rural week to anyone interested in working within the land-based sector. The main thing for me was a completely non-threatening environment. The staff were great, very friendly and helpful. There is a lot of information to take in but the classes are broken up by plenty of outdoor and practical work.
“If you genuinely want to get back into work, and you don't mind doing some hard work in researching your chosen path, then get yourself on the HighGround course.
“I would also like to thank Help for Heroes for funding my place, it has made a big difference.”
Sami Choudhury, Careers Manager at Highground, said: “Wes came to HighGround under difficult circumstances. He was struggling with employment, low in confidence and didn’t understand how to change his situation. He had found himself struggling to leave the house and could not determine what he could do.
“The Rural Week gave Wes the opportunity to not only identify a career he wanted to pursue, but to socialise and engage with people again. You could see as the week progressed that Wes was looking happier, more confident and feeling more positive regarding the future.
“Help for Heroes funding has given Wes the opportunity to get out of his situation and look to the future with more hope. HighGround will continue to support Wes and will work with him towards his goal of becoming a tree surgeon.”