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’’.