Sport and exercise are often a huge part of the recovery journey for those we support, helping our wounded strengthen not only their physical health but their mental wellbeing too. As you can imagine our Sports Recovery team have faced huge challenges this year – since March we’ve been unable to run any of our sports activities at our recovery centres, which remain closed.
Hannah Lawton is our Sports Recovery Manager and has dedicated the past few months to keeping veterans on our Sports Recovery programme feeling motivated and supported – no easy task when she and her team aren’t able to run any of our activities face to face! Fortunately, technology has come to the rescue.
“Everything, for now, has gone virtual,” Hannah explains. “We’re keeping in touch by offering pre-recorded workout programmes, sports-related webinars and using something called Zwift – a brilliant app that has allowed us to set up weekly social cycle rides for veterans.”
“The Zwift rides have been great, they’ve allowed veterans to create rides with each other, race with each other or even do training together. It’s also seeing new friendships form.
“Many of those we support through our Sports Recovery programme have found the past few months hard. They’ve missed meeting new people and feeling part of a wider team. They’ve struggled not having a focus and structure to their day, and not having access to gyms and sports facilities.”
Hannah knows just how powerful a role sport can play in the recovery journey of a wounded veteran – before joining us at Help for Heroes she coached Team UK’s indoor rowing team for the Invictus Games.
“Providing opportunities for veterans that they wouldn’t get elsewhere, seeing them go from not being able to walk through a door, to thriving on an international stage. That’s pretty special,” she says. “Sport is about so much more than just the activity – through sport, we offer a team environment that promotes a sense of belonging, empowerment and connection to the local community.”
With face to face activity on pause for the foreseeable, Hannah and the team remain focused, for now, on how they can continue to deliver as much virtually as they can, whilst being aware that some will struggle to engage with our new online sports recovery services.
“A big concern is around those who struggle with virtual get-togethers and we are currently considering other options for virtual delivery, which might include small group and one to one sessions longer term,” says Hannah.
“We are also looking at which sports we might be able to continue once face to face activity is allowed again, but a lot of that will depend on venues reopening and what equipment we might need to meet guidelines.”