Students lend a helping hand to veterans ahead of Remembrance Day
UCLan student befrienders team up with local military and blue light charity Dig-In
Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are extending the hand of friendship to a community project set up to support military and emergency services veterans.
In preparation for local Remembrance Day Services, student befrienders from the University have been working with local veteran charity Dig-in to help make a wooden wreath, poppies and Tommy figures. The wooden wreath will be laid at UCLan’s Preston Campus this Friday in the University’s own Remembrance Day Service.
"As veterans, we’ve all been through our own troubles and getting to know the students has brought a new perspective to life."— Bob Grant, Project Officer at Dig-In
Known as the Bloomin’ Marvellous project, its mission is to reduce loneliness and isolation within the military and blue light communities by creating a space where veterans can learn new practical skills in gardening and woodwork whilst creating friendship and comradery at the same time. The student volunteers, from psychology and counselling related courses, have joined the project as befrienders to the veterans to broaden their understand of mental health support.
Bob Grant, Project Officer at Dig-In, said: “I think we’ve all benefitted from this project. As veterans, we’ve all been through our own troubles and getting to know the students has brought a new perspective to life. We’re speaking to young people about everything but military life and it’s refreshing.”
Final year UCLan psychology student Ebonnie Field is one of nine student befrienders who volunteered for Bloomin’ Marvellous. She said: “I’ve actually extended my befriending duties and now volunteer weekly with Dig-In because I’ve enjoyed the experience so much.
"It’s taught me that mental health support isn’t something that just takes places in a clinical setting, it can also be community focused."— Final year UCLan psychology student and volunteer befriender Ebonnie Field
“I’ve learned a lot from just speaking to the veterans whilst taking part in the activities. It’s taught me that mental health support isn’t something that just takes places in a clinical setting, it can also be community focused.”
Veteran Luke Mulvany has been visiting the Dig-In charity for the last 18 months and has worked closely with the UCLan student befrienders. He added: “I really enjoy being part of a team again and contributing to the community through Dig-In. Getting to know the UCLan students has been beneficial in many ways. I’m learning about their aspirations and experiences and thinking about life differently.”
"Getting to know the UCLan students has been beneficial in many ways. I’m learning about their aspirations and experiences and thinking about life differently."— Veteran Luke Mulvany
Bloomin’ Marvellous has been jointly organised by both charities and the College for Military Veterans and Emergency Services (CMVES), based at UCLan. The partners are already planning other projects that will benefit local veterans, UCLan students and the wider community.
Anyone wanting to learn more about being a befriender can contact Claire Grant, Project Officer at Dig-In, on firstname.lastname@example.org