We are delighted that we have been awarded two major Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust grants: ‘Positive Pathways’ and ‘Removing Barriers to Family Life’ that will enable us to significantly develop our work across Wales over the next 2 years! You can find out more about these grants from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund on our Funding page.
The ‘Positive Pathways’ grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust funds projects that develop and run activities that support the mental health and wellbeing of veterans and emergency service leavers. With this funding, we are developing a new project called ‘The Green, Green Grass of Home’, where we will bring veterans and their families together in the green and natural settings of Penlan Farm to help them reconnect in a neutral space.
Here at Woody’s Lodge, we are now actively seeking green spaces to develop its outdoor activity program for Veterans and families which will act as a catalyst to improve family relationships and mental and physical health. However, we already have two green spaces to start our project!
The first green space is a collaboration with the Wye Forward; we have been piloting woodland activities and short breaks for families with Wye Forward based at Hay-On-Wye, South Powys. With this funding, we will be able to develop the project with the Wye Forward by providing free holiday access to their facilities in South Powys, for military families requiring support. We believe that this initiative will help to improve relations within families, allowing veterans and their families a neutral space to reconnect.
The second green space is an 11-acre farm in West Wales that we were unexpectedly gifted at the end of last year! Penlan Farm was donated to Woody’s Lodge by the Owners of ‘Dunster House Limited’ who have been impressed with our work and we are so grateful. We will utilise the modernised farm buildings, workshop and farmland to deliver a respite, training, drop-in centre and holiday venue for veterans and their families across the UK similar to our project with the Wye Forward at Hay-On-Wye.
Once we’ve undertaken some decorating, as well as upgrading the disabled access to the farm, we believe that Penlan Farm provides the opportunity and appropriate facilities for seasonal holiday cottage and camping based stays. Plus, the cottage buildings can also provide year-round residential training facilities for agencies and individuals working within the Armed Forces Support community.
In addition, we will develop the external land for campsite activities and seasonal camping holidays free of charge for Veterans and their families, with the barns, gardens and orchards will provide a wide variety of activities for individuals and families! We will host weekend activities such as: painting weekends, blacksmithing, nature watching, exploring the local land and seascape and gardening!
At Penlan Farm, Woody’s will also hold a daily drop-in centre for veterans and their families living within the Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire areas, bringing additional support to Veterans and Families living within this area. Our existing drop-in centres have been so successful in supporting our veterans, and we believe the farm will provide veterans with a community that would counter loneliness and isolation. By creating a local drop-in centre, it will provide the space for friendships and community for many veterans living within isolated rural communities throughout West Wales.
Through the recent Armed Forces Covenant survey 95% of respondents stated that they would significantly benefit in terms of mental and or physical health and developing positive family relations within the countryside and green landscape. We believe that the ‘Positive Pathways’ funding that has been granted to us from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust that will allow us to undertake our Green, Green Grass of Home Project will really help so many veterans and their families to reconnect and rebuild their lives together.
We will also work in partnership with RFCA Cymru and MPTC Wales in order to develop closer relationships between young people within the cadet community and veterans, the latter stating that the opportunity to pass on knowledge and experience will be a significant benefit to their personal well-being and self-respect. Penlan Farm will act as a physical base and activities held therein, from which cadet /Veteran relationships can be established and developed. Woody’s also wants to extend these facilities at all our rural hubs to provide activities and support for the Military Service Children Community, working in coordination with SSCE Cymru.
We are very, very excited by all of these big developments in our charity and how much further it will allow us to extend our work, supporting veterans, emergency service leavers and their families across Wales.
Due to the latest UK Govt and Wales Govt restrictions relating to COVID 19, our project plans have been delayedso that we can keep our team safe and adhere to the social distancing regulations, so please be patient with us.