West College Scotland Complementary Therapies students were delighted to be able to support local veterans thanks to funding from Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. The College was granted £19,232 to establish a fantastic new project in partnership with Erskine Reid MacEwen Activity Centre that will support local veterans, and build positive connections between student and veteran communities.

The project is being led by Sandra Docherty, Complementary Therapies Lecturer at our Greenock Campus, who has been teaching at West College Scotland for over 20 years. West College Scotland staff  & students from HNC Complementary Therapies are using a range of skills from mindfulness and visualisation therapy to massage, and aromatherapy with local veterans suffering from a range of age and service-related conditions with at least 40 veterans expected to benefit over the course of the year.

The College’s Complementary Therapies students are ideally placed to offer treatments that can alleviate stress, anxiety, musculoskeletal pain, and other physical and mental wellbeing issues that many veterans face.

There has been great benefits to the students involved in the programme, George said of his experience, “I have enjoyed everything about working at Erskine. My confidence has grown and I really am starting to believe I can be a professional complementary therapist. After leaving the services I was diagnosed with PTSD and Fibromyalgia so I really have an understanding of what the other Veterans have been through.”

A positive experience has been shared by the veterans and staff of the Erskine Reid MacEwen Activity Centre in Bishopton. Here is Debs story,

“We have been delighted at the centre with the 2 additional therapy days for our veterans and George has fitted in really well. Our part-time therapist Morag was always fully booked and to be able to offer more guys treatments is great. The style of the treatments offered is very different from what we have already and the college involvement means the veterans now have more choice”

Due to the fantastic work being done at Erskine, George has applied to become a veteran member when he finishes his placement. The programme continues to run until the end of the academic year in June 2019 with plans being put in place to continue these wonderful partnerships going forward.

Feedback from the Veterans who have to remain anonymous:

Veteran H “Having enjoyed 2 group mindfulness sessions I am looking forward to more. The room has everything and the peaceful atmosphere which is created is great. I have had Mindfulness before but this is special”

Veteran G “I really enjoy the strong massage and having had a shoulder injury in the army I have always had pain. This is helping to ease it and relaxes my muscles after the gym”

Veteran N “I am 86 and that is my first time trying Mindfulness. I fell asleep and was in a peaceful garden in my mind. Just lovely”

Veteran S “I was diagnosed with PTSD 10 years ago, although I knew I had it for some time before that. I won’t go out on my own and when I get picked up and brought to the centre I am really looking forward to my massage. It is brilliant and I feel much calmer”