The College has been able to support a fantastic project in partnership with Scottish War Blinded due to funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.

West College Scotland received £19,232 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to establish a new project that will support local veterans, and build positive connections between student and veteran communities.

HNC Complementary Therapies students and staff are working with local armed forces organisations to put the skills they are developing to good use, and improve the wellbeing of veterans suffering from a range of age and service-related conditions.

Students are providing support at Scottish War Blinded’s Hawkhead Centre with at least 40 veterans expected to benefit over the course of the year.

The therapies on offer include mindfulness, visualisation therapy, massage, and aromatherapy.

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.’

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 and believes mindfulness can have a lot to offer people with vision impairments. She explained:

 “Mindfulness allows people who are sight impaired to use imagination in a much freer sense and with no constraints. Being still, focused and relaxing the mind and body is very important, as mindfulness has been proven to reduce high blood pressure, anxiety and insomnia.

“I’ve been delighted with how the members have embraced mindfulness. The veterans are very eager to participate and share life experiences. They’ve gone away and practised the exercises, and some of the veterans have told me that they’ve been working on their exercises with their families.

Alongside mindfulness sessions, some of the veterans have also been benefitting from massage therapy sessions through the partnership.

Sandra explained: “Ewa Surma, one of our HNC Complementary Thearies student, has also been attending the Hawkhead Centre every Monday conducting one-on-one sessions with the veterans in Thai foot massage and back massage, using Himalayan eggs. The sessions are also helping her to gain her HNC Complementary Therapies Clinical Practice.”

Here is Sally & Jac's story,

Sally Ross, Centre Manager and Hawkhead Centre Officer, Jac Clougherty, has been supporting the members taking part in the mindfulness activity, and says some of the veterans have also been reporting the positive impact of the mindfulness sessions to her. 

“One of our members told me he suffers from migraines, and he felt that the exercises helped – he’s been doing them at home, and another of the members has said it’s helping him health wise,” Jac said.

“It’s taken a wee while for the veterans to get into the mindset. At the beginning they were a wee bit restless, but from January you can see that they are now getting into the mind set a lot quicker.

“I’ve been printing out the steps and steps for the veterans to follow, and Sandra has a lovely manner. Mindfulness seems to be a hit at Hawkhead.”

Sally spoke highly of the project saying,

“The Members of Scottish War Blinded have embraced the concept of complementary therapies at the Hawkhead Centre. The students from the West College Scotland have enhanced the range of activities already on offer at the Hawkhead Centre, providing a high quality of service to the veterans. The feedback from the members has been positive, they feel they have benefitted from the time with the students”.

And Scottish War Blinded Rehabilitation Officer, Katrina Campbell, who is based at the Hawkhead Centre, added:

“Instead of focusing on your difficulties, mindfulness lets you focus on the good things. When you’re living with a vision impairment, especially when you’re on your own, it can be very easy to focus on negativity, but with practices such as mindfulness and with the support we provide to our members, we have seen people quickly start to come out of their shells.”

To read further about the benefits of the Programme to the Scottish War Blinded visit: