How The Hull FC Community Foundation Is Tackling Loneliness Amongst Veterans

In partnership with the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, the Hull FC Community Foundation is making a real impact for local veterans.

Thanks to receiving funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, the Community Foundation has been able to set up a ‘hub’ at the MKM Stadium, which has proved to be the catalyst for helping tackle loneliness amongst some of our local veterans.

One of the main projects that the Hull FC Community Foundation runs to support local veterans is a weekly coffee morning, help at the MKM Stadium Community Hub.

This provides a safe haven for veterans to come and relax every Wednesday morning, mingling with like-minded veterans over a coffee and sharing memories.

One particular beneficiary of the coffee mornings is Jason Kitching, who has been coming to the sessions for well over a year now.

“At the end of the day, with us all being veterans, the coffee mornings is basically therapy. The camaraderie has helped us build unique friendships,” he said.

“It’s great to get out. A lot of the veterans are PTSD sufferers, including myself. Your mental state goes into a relaxation mode when you are around the other veterans, so you are in a happy place. It’s great!

“Myself and one of the other volunteers make the teas, coffees and sandwiches. We have a laugh with all of the other veterans.”

Dennis Harrison is another local veteran to have improved his physical wellbeing through the Hull FC Community Foundation, but also through the wider club.

He originally visited the Hull FC Community Hub on Wednesday mornings for the veteran’s coffee mornings, but Dennis has since become a part of the furniture around the place since he begun volunteering at the facility, taking care of the grounds by cutting the grass, trimming hedges and cleaning up litter.

“I started coming to the veterans coffee mornings and it worked out quite nicely with me being a big Hull FC fan since the age of 8,” Dennis explained.

“After a short while, I got the opportunity to start volunteering around the club facility and I jumped at the chance.

“I was initially involved in the gardening club as part of the Armed Forces Community Hub, but it wasn’t 100% what I wanted. So when I got asked if I would like to volunteer to help around the club facility, there wasn’t really a second thought for me.

“All of the staff and management that work in the Community Hub are absolutely fantastic. Hull FC’s like a family – when I’m doing the gardening people will pop their head out of their offices to say how good it looks and that gives me a real sense of satisfaction and personal pride.

“It’s fantastic and I enjoy coming here every day. It just gets me out of the house and I get to speak to some lovely people.”

In September, Dennis’ unbridled devotion was rewarded when the club presented him with the Volunteer of the Year award.

The Hull FC Community Foundation is now looking to develop its programmes for local veterans, with a new all-encompassing ‘Positive Futures’ project set to launch.

The weekly ‘Positive Futures’ sessions will offer practical activities and support to male and female veterans that have served in recent conflicts and who are living in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

The programme will be split into four segments:

Connect Club: Funding received from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund will support a group of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans to become peer mentors who will be empowered to deliver this two-hour session from the MKM Stadium Community Hub on a weeknight. Involving pool, table tennis and darts, this will seek to build the foundations for veterans to connect and build comradeship with their peers.

Double Club: This will look to implement a fitness-based approach to the wider programme, with 40 minutes of gym-based activity followed by 40 minutes of group-based resilience conversation. Whilst the fitness component reinforces healthy lifestyles and allows participants to build friendships with those with a shared intertest, the opportunity to have prevention/early intervention conversations about mental health in a relaxed, non-clinical environment will equip participants with greater resilience, working closely with partners such as Hull & East Yorkshire Mind.

Active Families: A weekly family session will be held at the Community Foundation’s Youth Performance Centre, to fundamentally focus on using the power of sport to support inter-family connections. Children and young people will be encouraged to take part in sport and physical activity, whilst parents will have use of the facility’s social rooms to further their relationships with peers. This activity will be veteran-led, with support provided to facilitate new activities wherever requested.

Unite Together: Hull FC Community Foundation is a proud advocate of female sport and as such, have purposefully sought to include a female sport and physical activity for female veterans. Led by the Foundation’s female wellbeing lead, veterans will have access to a unique ‘Unite’ programme which will empower them to participate in activities which improve physical wellbeing and mental fitness.