Forestry course set to help Shropshire veterans return to civilian life

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A charity supporting the return of ex-servicemen to civilian life has revealed they have secured £ 35,000 in funding.

Small Woods Association in Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge, manages a wide range of sustainable forest management and social forestry projects, courses and events.

They will now be launching an “Out of the Woods” program specifically designed for military veterans.

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The new grant was awarded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund. The money will be used to help the charity’s work engage with veterans looking to build a new future after serving their country.

The funds were obtained after the success of Small Wood’s “Build a Bench” program – a fully funded 12-week course for people who currently do not have paid employment.

The first ex-military project will be carried out at the charity’s headquarters in Coalbrookdale and it is hoped that a similar program can be implemented for ex-combatants in other areas.

Ian Baker, Managing Director of Small Woods, said: “We are delighted to receive this grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund – it is an incredible contribution that will help us fund a very important program.

“I want to thank Cindy Mason-Morris, Armed Forces Alliance Coordinator at Telford & Wrekin Council, for her efforts to help make all of this happen.

“The funding will help us provide a package of supports through social forestry.



Ian Boulanger

“Cindy came to see the layout we have at the Green Wood Center and, speaking to her, we realized that what we are doing is so much the support veterans need to get them back to work in civilian life.”

Mr Baker revealed that forestry work is good for former military personnel as they already have similar skills.

“The type of work in the forestry sector seems to correspond very well to the skills they have,” he said.

“The Armed Forces Covenant Positive Pathways program plays a major role in supporting veterans and we are delighted to be playing our part in this process.

“We are committed to reinvigorating work opportunities in the forestry sector and helping to develop them for those exiting the armed forces.

“This means we can continue to engage with veterans who seek to identify positive pathways to civilian life.

Participants will undertake a woodworking program, taking them into the woods for the many positive mental and physical health benefits it can bring, while highlighting opportunities for volunteering or employment in the forestry sector.

Mr Baker said the program would also help those involved build relationships with other veterans for peer support.

“Funding has been sought for a veteran specific support package following the success of our Build a Bench project, held in our Green Wood Center – Small Woods headquarters,” he added.

“The program has been followed by a number of former military personnel who have found it useful in helping them adjust to civilian life while making connections with others.”

Adviser Chris Turley, Chairman of the Telford & Wrekin Strategic Armed Forces Covenant Partnership Board, said: “Following the signing of the Armed Forces Covenant, Small Woods has launched its first wellness program specifically for military veterans .

“Out of the Woods” will work with veterans to explore activities that could help alleviate any physical and mental health issues they may be facing.

“We are very grateful to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust for providing this grant to Small Woods, which will help our residents learn new skills while connecting with nature as part of a brand new 12-month program. weeks of weekly activities in the woods. “

To learn more about Small Woods and the Green Wood Center, visit their website here.

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