NIVSO celebrates Covenant projects this Armed Forces Week

June 24, 2021

Today we are celebrating the Armed Forces Covenant as part of Armed Forces Week.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise made by the nation to ensure that Veterans, those who serve in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

We work alongside organisations in the statutory, community and voluntary sectors to offer support to Veteran and Armed Forces communities, and to deliver the Covenant in Northern Ireland. This year is the 10th anniversary of the Covenant, and to mark this, we are highlighting some of the projects for Veterans that have been funded through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust in Northern Ireland.

Tandragee Veterans' Support Centre

The Tandragee Veterans’ Support Centre has recently undergone an extensive renovation with funding from the Covenant.

Ricky McGaffin, President of the Tandragee Veterans’ Support Centre said: “The funding has been a life saver for Veterans in the area and also their families.”

The centre will host a coffee morning every Wednesday from 11am, which is open to Veterans and their families. The centre will also offer social activities and training opportunities for Veterans.

Lough Erne Veterans' Water Access Project

Our Positive Pathways Sports and Outdoors Navigator, Dennis Currie, tells us more about this project:

“The Veterans Water Access project is the only organisation offering Veterans access to water-based activities in the west of the province, offering Sailability, Power Boat Courses and group trips on the lough.

“Sailing and Powerboating gives a great adrenaline rush and the therapeutic advantages are hard to beat. However, this does not appeal to all, and the 5 hour trip on the lough on board a luxury cruiser with like-minded people stopping off at one of the many islands for a wee dander and lunch is just as therapeutic.

“A trip on Lough Erne with its natural beauty and Tom Bailey’s extensive knowledge of the role of Lough Erne and its surrounding area during WW2 is something not to be missed.”

For more information, or to get involved in this project, contact Dennis at dennis@aavsni.com

Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers

This “on the road” Veteran-led programme is delivered by Out Of The Shadows, who received funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers reaches socially isolated individuals in a refurbished Army ambulance vehicle. Participants in the scheme will learn new skills and develop new friendships with the aim of improving their physical and mental wellbeing.

Shirley Agnew, from Out of the Shadows, said: “Our Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers Project will take the message of positive mental health out on the road."

Defence Gardens Scheme

The Defence Gardens Scheme is funded by the Positive Pathways arm of the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, and guides Veterans through a ten week nature-based horticultural therapy programme.

There are currently three DGS “hub” gardens operating in Northern Ireland: Brooke House in Co Fermanagh, Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, and Ashes To Gold Community in Coleraine. Other, smaller “spoke” garden sites are currently being developed.

This week, six Veterans completed the course at Ashes to Gold, the delivery partner for Defence Gardens Scheme in Coleraine, and a visiting chef cooked up some of the produce grown by the Veterans during the course. Congratulations to those Veterans who completed the course this week!

If you would like to find out more, or get involved, please contact our Defence Gardens Scheme Regional Coordinator, Charlie Marno: defencegardens@nivso.org.uk

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