An organic farm just outside Sheffield is opening its doors, workshops and acres to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who need space to come to terms with life in civvy street.
The project, Rural Life Skills, has been endorsed by the Royal British Legion. Paul Mulingani, RBL County manager: "It's a wonderful concept. If I was coming out of combat I would rather be on a farm doing what's on offer there, than being in a city. Invariably in the towns, in the city, you'll go to the pubs and become liable to whatever's going on."
As well as strenuous general farm work there are workshops in carpentry, blacksmithing, dry stone walling and agricultural engineering and so on. In addition, professional counselling and, eg, cognitive behaviour therapy will be on offer.
"A farm can give them some breathing space, it gives them support," says the project's organiser, Elizabeth Hill. "If they're here they get 24-hour support, it means they're not alone, they're also with other people who have been through similar situations. They're out in the countryside. If they want to go out into the middle of a field and scream they can, and nobody will lock them up or think they're mad."
The Hills already run the Game Lea Countryside Training Trust, a charity working with adults who have mental health problems and with teenage children facing exclusion from school.
I think this is a really great idea and I wish it every success in helping our troops. The full article is here and here's a website with info on Gamelea & the Hill Family. Any interested veterans can contact Elizabeth Hill 01246 568 206.