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    'TOGETHER' - A POEM OF SERVICE, STRENGTH & FRIENDSHIP

    'TOGETHER' - A POEM OF SERVICE, STRENGTH & FRIENDSHIP

    He’s a Dad, Veteran, Ambassador and Poet. Meet Simon Bangert, creator of the ‘Together’ poem.

    Simon Bangert served for 10 years in the Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (R.E.M.E) between 1994-2004, before being medically discharged from service. It was in 2013 that Simon joined the Help for Heroes Band of Brothers fellowship after hearing about the support network, while fundraising for the charity. He received help with his PTSD through Hidden Wounds and became part of Creative Force; a collective where veterans can showcase their creative talents and contribute art to a public exhibition.

    Simon quickly realised the therapeutic benefits of painting and poetry through his initial visits to the art room at Phoenix House Recovery centre in Catterick. He says,’’ I use it to relax and it allows me to switch off, my only thoughts whilst I'm painting or drawing is what's going on the paper, not my physical pain or any stressful thoughts’’.

    Simon’s interest in poetry writing grew over time, he began using it as a form of release for his feelings, ‘’I wrote some as a kid but I started writing it more and more when I was out fishing and I would sit in my bivvy during the dark nights writing the odd poem, and when I was undergoing therapy I started to use it as a tool to convey feelings and thoughts’’. He says the Together poem conveys his account of being in service and is a tale of strength and friendship. ‘’It conveys the strength of the veteran community and brotherhood that serving has, in that we will fall down with you, but we'll also be there to pick you up’’.

    Simon Bangert - Together

    The help Simon’s received has had a massive impact on his life, ’’The support from Help for Heroes has changed my life, that's not an over exaggeration. Prior to their support I had been fighting PTSD and the system for some time and through the hidden wounds project and things like creative force my life has positively changed for the better, and not only mine but that of my daughter’s as well, who I've raised alone since my medical discharge’’.

    Simon shared how he felt to be a Help for Heroes Ambassador, he said, ‘’In one word, honoured. Help for Heroes have been a huge reason that I continue waking up each day, as they were there when I was at my lowest and signposted me to the support I needed, and gave my daughter a Dad that she deserved’’.

     To supporters and customers, Simon has one message:

    ‘’Thank you!! It never sounds enough to say thank you but there are no words that can quantify the gratitude that I and many others feel for the second chance we've been given, all made possible by the supporters of Help for Heroes’’.

    Shop Simon's Together T-Shirt here >>

    Help for Heroes Black Together T-Shirt

    VETERAN BEN SKIPPER - SPREADING CHEER AMONG FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS

    VETERAN BEN SKIPPER - SPREADING CHEER AMONG FRONTLINE HEALTH WORKERS

    Over the last year, we have had the pleasure of working alongside veteran and Band of Brother, Ben Skipper in multiple design products. Creativity, in the form of photography and design, has been a key outlet for Ben.

    After the success of Ben's first design, we approached him once again to help create a beautiful print for our new scarf, the Watercolour Bloom scarf. 

    Watercolour Bloom Scarf

    Shop the Watercolour Bloom Scarf here >> 

    In the current challenging times, we’re delighted that Ben’s inspirational scarf is bringing an air of positivity to Anne, Ben's wife and her colleagues at Boston Pilgrim Hospital's Occupational Therapy team, where Anne is an Occupational Therapist for United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust.

    Anne says, “Many of my colleagues have family members who are in the forces or are veterans. The photo shows myself at the front, showing off Help for Heroes Scarf designed by Ben.  My fellow Occupational Therapist colleagues pictured, with the two metre social distancing, work on the medical wards at the Acute Hospital, and were more than happy to be a part of Help for Heroes photo shoot. Already several of my friends and colleagues have purchased the scarf in recognition of the amazing work the charity provides. We are all very proud to support Help for Heroes.”

    Watercolour Bloom Scarf

    As an Occupational Therapist based in an acute hospital setting, Anne is responsible for promoting safe discharge of patients from hospital. She says,“To get to that point we establish the needs of the individual via the use of person-centred assessments. These look at the individual, the environment they are living in and the daily living activities they need and want to do to facilitate recovery and to empower and promote the individual in achieving their recovery goal.”

    During the current crisis, Anne has had to adapt her normal working practices. “Like all members of the NHS Family, it has changed how we approach tasks as professionals and as individuals.” She continues, “Some of us are working directly with COVID-19 patients and have the correct PPE to enable us to work safely in this challenging environment. As professionals we are trained and supported to deal with these situations, we also provide one another with mutual support. By supporting one another we have grown as a team and have found ourselves emotionally closer together.”

    Tanya Ingleton, from Help for Heroes’ Trading team said “It’s wonderful to see that Anne’s NHS colleagues love Ben’s design as much as we do, and that it’s bringing some cheer at what is a challenging time for so many, and it’s great that she and her colleagues can benefit from accessing our Field Guide to Self-Care as well.”

    During lockdown, Ben is taking the opportunity to indulge his creative passions in his home, saying “Thus far my creativity has extended to messing around with block printing and designing a font for uni. I also have a plan for fresco'ing the spaces above and around the door frames and hope to make these with a mix of painting and block work. Watch this space to see how that comes along!”

    OUR TEAMS TOP PICKS

    OUR TEAMS TOP PICKS

    The Shop team are working hard from home now – making sure we are doing the best for our wounded veterans who need us now more than ever. Take a look at our favourite pick of Help for Heroes products we’re wearing and using - along with a few hobbies and tips on what activities we get up to in our free time.

    We hope you enjoy this – why not let us know what you are wearing and getting up to!

    Tag us on social media with #helpforheroesshop and #helpforheroes or send your photos to shop@helpforheroes.org.uk

    Wisp Balm

    Amy - Marketing Assistant 



    “WiSP balm has been so helpful in keeping my hands moisturised at a time where we are all washing our hands more regularly, I also love the fact that all ingredients are natural.
    During a time were we can’t get out as often as we like, I have been propagating and growing my ever expanding collection of houseplants, bringing the outside in!”

    Shop the Wisp Balm Now >>

     

    Proud to Support Polo

    David - Supply Chain Analytics Manager 

    ''It’s very comfortable to wear. The soft brushed cotton material is high quality and the shape is ideal. The Union Jack panel across the shoulders looks very smart and, combined with the Help for Heroes logo, allows me to show my patriotism as well as my support for the charity. It also makes me feel very proud wearing this, knowing that it was designed by a military veteran who has benefited from the support that Help for Heroes provides.

    My wife, daughters and I have been working on turning our back garden into a wildlife-attracting, food-growing, eco-friendly space. It's growing into a lovely, peaceful space to relax in, where we feel connected with nature, which we find helps to keep life in perspective''.

    Shop the Proud to Support Range >>

     

    Navy Heritage T-Shirt

    Laura - Marketing Executive 

    ''The heritage T-Shirt is a casual must-have - It's easy to wear with jeans or use as part of your gym kit and the regular fit means it's not too fitted; plus its a classic with all the heritage logo's. A tee to wear time and time again, always good as new after every wash.
    I'm enjoying walking more and more since working from home; taking time out to release some energy and get some exercise while walking my dog is great for my wellbeing, always a great form of escapism''. 
    If it Ain't Raining T-Shirt
    Tanya - Head of Marketing Retail 
    “I love the designs on these T-shirts by Andrea Bartlett. They are cool and creative and great to know they are designed by someone we have supported at Help for Heroes.
    To give myself a different focus and some quiet brain time I have tried to do more crafting. Always something I enjoy but I set myself an ambitious target of making a handmade quilt – my Corona-Quilt! This is not something I have done before but it keeps me quiet in the evenings whilst half-watching the TV!” 
    Cycling Jersey
    Will - Buyer 
    “Being able to go out cycling has long been one of my passions but in these uncertain times it has become really important to help me escape and unwind at the weekends. Our sportswear is the perfect kit for when you get out to do your daily exercise and I’m proud to head out wearing the cycle jersey we developed with veterans Andy and Jaco.”
    Flowers of Friendship Notecards
    Charlotte - Design Manager 

    ''I absolutely loved creating the Flowers of Friendship range with our talented Band of Sisters. We had some really fun evenings playing around with watercolour and creating the design. The Flowers of Friendship notecards are painted using a motif of flowers from each of the Band of Sisters, you can read more about the project on our blog. Why not write a note to a person you are missing during lockdown? These cards are guaranteed to brighten someone’s day''.

    If you are struggling with creative block, try these ideas to get started.

    1. Draw from life – It doesn’t have to be perfect, grab anything to hand, a biro, the back of an envelope and try drawing whatever is in front of you, a pet, the mess on the kitchen table, plants in the garden.
    2. Limit your time – set a timer, try drawing for 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 20 minutes – see what marks you can get on the paper in limited time.
    3. Use mixed media – you don’t need a perfect set of paints to create great art, use what you have to hand, newspaper, collage, make up, an old marker pen, those tester pots of paint at the back of the cupboard…
    Have fun! Make it an activity for the whole family, try and draw portraits of each other, or all sketch the same group of objects. Tag us in your creations if you share them online, or hit reply – we’d love to see what you create.

     

    Shop the Flowers of Friendship Notecards >>

     

    Blue Honour Shirt

    Martin - Trading Director 

    ''I love wearing my Help for Heroes Honour shirt. I especially like the detailing such as the two button cuffs and the contrast fabric in the collar. Having the tri-stripes on the front has been a good conversation starter as people often ask which brand it represents. A blue Honour shirt is a real workhorse item of clothing, I wear mine with a suit, jeans and chinos''.

    ''Having more time at home over the past few weeks has allowed me to indulge my love of cooking. I describe myself as a kitchen bungler, often failing to read the recipe properly and even more frequently forgetting to buy some ingredients. Having not baked bread in years I decided to renew my kneading skills and managed to bake a very presentable bloomer. I also made a cheese soufflé, which tasted much better than it looked!''. 

    Shop the Honour Shirt >> 

     

    Reusable Honour Coffee Cup

    Annabel - Trading Operations Assistant 

    ''My Help for Heroes coffee cup is one of the first things I reach for in the morning. 

    My favourite way to start the day is by having a little morning stretch/yoga session with slices of lemon and hot water, in the reusable cup of course!

    Either at lunch time or in the evening, if the weather is nice I will go for a stroll around the city of Salisbury, with coffee cup in hand, to get some fresh air and enjoy the Spring days.

    In the evening, but mostly weekend mornings, I will make a cuppa to have in bed and read a book. My most recent favourite read is ‘This is Going to Hurt’ by Adam Kay''. 

    Shop the Reusable Coffee Cup >> 

    ACE AWARD WINNERS!

    ACE AWARD WINNERS!

    The Trading Team are extremely proud to announce  that we have been selected as winners for this years ACE awards!
     
    A panel of judges reviewed the Proud to Support range and here's what they had to say "The judges considered this to be a great range created with true spirit for a worthy cause with new skills being learnt in the process.  They really liked the stated benefits beyond just the commercial ie the team working and confidence building that took place throughout building the range.  Great sentiment.  Congratulations "
     
    The winning entry for the category 'Best Range' was our Armed Forces Day range, designed in collaboration with veteran Ben Skipper to commemorate Armed Forces Day 2019.
    We would like to say a huge thank you to Ben Skipper for being so great to work with. Always being positive, engaging, willing to share his story and get involved with every part of the products development.
            
    'It's an amazing feeling to see my work used and it has really helped with my confidence'.  - Ben Skipper

    MODELS FOR HEROES – A HOBBY CHANGING LIVES

    MODELS FOR HEROES – A HOBBY CHANGING LIVES

    The Trading Team recently had the pleasure of joining a model-making session at the Wales and Hereford Community Recovery office in Treforest. Amongst the banter, tea and biscuits, the guys were constructing and painting intricate models. In this relaxed and supportive atmosphere, the modellers can make real strides in their recovery through this wonderful wellbeing activity - focusing on one specific, fiddly task.

    The sessions are delivered by Models for Heroes, a not for profit organisation, Founded by Malcolm Childs in 2017. Malcolm learnt that the act of model-making can have many positive effects for veterans experiencing a variety of physical and mental health challenges including PTSD, anxiety and depression.

    Malcolm was invited to run a model-making session as part of the Rolling Recovery Programme at Tedworth House in Tidworth. Malcolm says,’’ I have been making models since childhood. It’s a creative process, constructive, and keeps my fingers moving!  It also deals with military aviation which I have an interest in’’. 

    ‘’I feel proud it’s making a big difference. I’m surprised it’s never been done before. The real magic is in the volunteers that give up their time and understand the importance of giving something back, and it means a lot to them. I’m very proud of all of them’’.

    Malcolm says, ‘’The act of following instructions and relaxing quietly can produce a meditative state. It encourages focus, patience and coping mechanisms and delicate motor skills’’.

    Since being founded, Models for Heroes has helped approximately 400 veterans a month.

    Read more on how Model for Heroes has helped this group of veterans. 

    Veteran John William, served as a Lance Corporal with The Royal Regiment of Wales between 1981 and 1986, before being medically discharged. John became involved with Help for Heroes after a visit from a Community Keyworker who helped John to get more involved with Help for Heroes.                                 

    John Says, ‘’Help for Heroes provides a  fantastic service for serving personnel and veterans. They are there when in times of crisis and always go the extra mile to provide support for the wounded, injured and sick’’.

    ‘’I’m so pleased that I had the opportunity to attend further modelling sessions and it is something I look forward to each month. The session is totally relaxed and gives me the opportunity to meet other Veterans who also attend. So, it’s perfect for a chat, laugh and banter and the obligatory brew’’.

    Veteran Martin Gane felt a lack of support after being medically discharged and his mental health plummeted. Since becoming involved with Help for Heroes, Martin feels like he has a purpose once more, allowing him to interact with other like-minded veterans.

    “Going through Help for Heroes, it’s almost being reunited with brothers and sisters, no you’re not related in any way but I could go into a room with a complete stranger who’s a veteran and we could be talking and having a laugh as if we’d know each other for 30 years, and that’s the beauty of it”.

    Martin first started model making after attending a monthly group in the Wales office. Enjoying the company and the banter, Martin has been attending the groups regularly. “It gives me something to look forward to each month, whereas before I’d be stuck in the house. It concentrates my mind on doing the modelling, rather than on the other stuff that I want to forget”.

    Welsh Models for Heroes volunteer Haydn Nelms has been involved with Help for Heroes since 2018.  He says what he enjoys most about model making is, ‘’meeting the guys, the banter, the sense of wellbeing by helping others’’.

    ‘’Some of these guys have been through unimaginable things and to get them to feel the pride in something that they’ve built – gives you such an enormous sense of wellbeing that you drive away with a smile on your face and thinking I made a difference – I helped – I made a difference and it’s worth making the difference to these people’’.

    ‘’In an ideal world there would be no need for Help for Heroes, but our world desperately needs Help for Heroes, so give it all you can to make the world a better place for those who served to make yours a better world’’.

    Tony Blackwell, 61, was born and bred in his home-town of Cardiff and has been a volunteer for 2 years with Models for Heroes, attending the regular model making groups at the Wales office. He says, ’’As a volunteer, I frequently observe that beneficiaries, while focusing on model kits, will openly banter about their problems and the help/support they get, or do not get after leaving the services. Concentrating on something fiddly is often very therapeutic as it focuses the mind and the body to achieve something they can be proud of.  I've witnessed some severely injured veterans who show a real determination to overcome their challenges to allow them to complete a task’’.

    Tony says the support veterans receive is invaluable, ‘’In an ideal world, there should be no need for charities.  We don't live in that ideal world and veterans often seem to be discharged not being ready for civilian life.  They don't know who can help them and what they are entitled to. Help for Heroes provides that support and I know the veterans I've talked to find the help invaluable’’.

     

    Ex-Signalman Andy MacDonald-Rice from Carmarthen is a Veteran and volunteer who joined the Band of Brothers Fellowship in 2018. During his 5 years of service from 1986-1991 he was based in both the UK and Germany. Andy suffered damage to his left leg, which led to being medically discharged, he says,’’ Back when I came out, I was given one piece of paper, a date for an interview with the disablement office in the job centre. I did not know anything about claiming for a pension, help with housing, paying monthly bills, Motability, help with both mental and physical health. Happily, things have changed since then, and Help for Heroes are a big part of helping with the transition to civilian life for those discharged now’’.

    Andy enjoys the company of his fellow Modellers, he says,’’ The company and banter first off, followed by the therapeutic benefits of model making’’.

    Andy is a proud volunteer and knows the difference that volunteering can make. He says, ‘’Help for Heroes can only do so much, and it is through the volunteers that help with sessions and fundraising that the charity can continue to help veterans. I would say a big thank you to all those that support Help for Heroes in one form or another’’.

     

    Welsh born Martin Jones served with The 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Wales Between 1979-2001, touring in Germany, Ireland, Warminster and Hong Kong. It was after suffering chronic back pain after two operations that Martin was medically discharged.

    Martin has been involved with Help for Heroes since October 2019. He says, "My discharge was a very negative experience for myself and my family. I was given no help or assistance with or after my discharge, I felt abandoned after years of service. It wasn’t until I was receiving counselling with CHIP’s through my GP that I found out about Help for Heroes Community Recovery team. I have now been given some of the support I should have had 20 years ago with finances and my mental health’’.

    Martin enjoys coming to the modelling days, he says, "It gets me away from home and I really enjoy the banter with other veterans and staff at Help for Heroes. The volunteers are very knowledgeable and great at helping and providing different sorts of models’’.