As the country in lockdown explores new ways to commemorate Armistice Day, an NHS charity is launching an appeal to support local military veterans struggling with their mental health.
Raising Health, the charity of Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, has launched its veterans fund-raiser to provide therapeutic support for military veterans in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
Donations made via can support the therapeutic recovery of former soldiers, sailors and air personnel experiencing mental illness.
The Trust’s Armed Forces lead, military veteran Brendan Daly said: “We know that hundreds of ex-service personnel in the area face challenges coping with life back in the community after service and lockdown has heightened that even more.
““We have launched this appeal to help us offer more therapeutic support outside the range of our mental health services, to help veterans struggling with issues like PTSD, depression and anxiety which are further heightened by social isolation which many experience.”
One of the projects the appeal will support is open-water swimming with Newfoundland rescue-trained dogs which was trialled in September at Stanton Lakes with ex-service personnel experiencing PTSD. This short film shows some highlights from the day.
Brendan said: “It offers people experiencing PTSD a unique opportunity to be supported by dogs in open water at Stanton Lakes
One of the participants was father-of-one Darren Smith, 38, from Beaumont Leys, who served in Northern Ireland and Iraq and has lived with PTSD since leaving the Armed Forces.
Now a volunteer with LPT, he was one of a group of six veterans who spent half a day experiencing the open water therapy with dogs and said afterwards: “I was anxious about being out in the open water at first but it turned out to be one of the best experiences I have had in a long time.
The open water swimming is just one of four projects the Trust wants to offer ex-service personnel. The others are:
Models for Heroes workshop – arts and crafts workshops have proved to be an excellent activity for people struggling with their mentalwellbeing – meeting in a secure and safe place supports that sense of wellbeing.
Boxing training: We would like to work with a local gym to provide free training for veterans who want to take up or begin to box.
Sense of growth: Our Trust has acquired some land that will provide a perfect opportunity for members of the military family to enjoy time on land and provide healthy food for the local community.
To donate and find out more please visit and share
Pictures show: Darren Smith inset and being towed to the shore by a Newfoundland dog.
• In 2019 LPT was awarded ‘gold standard’ status by the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) in recognition of their support for the Armed Forces community
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• Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust (LPT) provides community health, mental health and learning disabilities services for the one million people living in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. We have a budget in excess of £278 million and employ approximately 6,300 staff. For more information visit: Our registered charity is called Raising Health (charity number 1057361). The charity fundraises to support excellent care initiatives, equipment and innovations which go above and beyond core NHS provision to enhance the experience of our patients, service users and staff. See
• For further information and interview contact: Sheila Ashton, communications manager, directorate of mental health, Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, Tel 0771 745 1271 Email: