Wounded, injured and sick service men and women go to the Battle Back Centre as part of their Individual Recovery Plan. We spent a week at the Centre to find out how and why the courses are so important.
Attendees arrive at the Battle Back Centre. The next five days will help them develop the tools to make a success of their Individual Recovery Plan.
The courses at the Battle Back Centre are for those who are signed off as wounded, injured or sick.
Attendees in one of the rooms at Lilleshall Hall, part of the facilities available at the Battle Back Centre.
The coaches introduce themselves to attendees.
One of the first activities is wheelchair basketball. For those who have been signed off as wounded, injured or sick, this might be the first exercise or group activity they’ve done in months.
It can have a big impact, as Ted Youd, who attended a course at the Centre says, “It was a light at the end of the tunnel. Not instantly, but something was there, something to say you might get better.”
Attendees choose cards from a table that show how they feel. The cards are a mixture of positive and negative images and words like “isolated” or “independent”. Most people choose the negative words at the beginning of the week.
Daily walks happen at 7:30am every day, and provide a chance for coaches to chat with attendees.
On the second day attendees go indoor climbing. The aim of activities such as this is to help with motivation and show those who are wounded, injured or sick that they can do more than they think.
“We build our course around a number of adventure training and adaptive sport opportunities,” says Chris Joynson, Recovery Operations Manager. “So if someone’s arriving with major physical injuries and they’re not able to participate in some of the activities that we do, we have a technical advisor whose job is to make sure that those with really bad physical injuries can complete the courses and activities in the same way as an able-bodied person could.”
The Battle Back Centre also provides opportunities where wounded, injured and sick personnel can experience the camaraderie of the military as they work together in team activities.
A coach talks about the effect that mental attitude can have on physical issues.
The Centre was founded in 2011, so initial attendees were casualties from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today attendees are more likely to have musculoskeletal injuries from training or sporting injuries, or mental health conditions.
Attendees after taking part in some clay pigeon shooting.
Over 5,000 wounded, injured and sick service personnel have attended courses at the Battle Back Centre since it was opened. Of these, roughly 90 percent will transition back into civilian life as part of their recovery plan.
The activities at the Centre are designed to be as inclusive as possible, so that anyone can join in.
The Centre has a mixed fleet of adaptive bikes, that can be set up so those with bad injuries can complete the activities as well.
The Centre has recently started providing courses for veterans as well. “We gave them the opportunity to engage with like-minded people. That proved very powerful for a lot of people attending the course,” says Chris Joynson
One of the final activities is usually wheelchair basketball.
Towards the end of the course, attendees are asked to choose cards again. This time there is a difference to how they chose at the beginning of the week.
They’re asked to choose cards that represent those who they’ve been on the course with, and then share those cards with those people.
The card being handed over reads “The life and soul of the party.”
Ted Youd said that at the end of his course, “I ended up with about 60 cards. All complimentary, and I was just in a completely different space to where I had been.”
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