On 22 March 2016, Rugby for Heroes Patron Mike Tindall MBE, Trustee Simon Bailey & Head of Fundraising Alan Lamb visited New Belvedere House in East London, a hostel run by the charity Veterans Aid to provide care and support to ex armed services personnel. The hostel is currently undergoing a £7m refurbishment project, which once completed will provide high quality accommodation for up to 63 homeless veterans.

With monies raised from the inaugural Rugby Aid event in September 2015, the Trustees of Rugby for Heroes approved a grant application for £25,000 towards the cost of the refurbishment of a room within the hostel. The visit was arranged to view the progress of the development project and see where the money is being invested. The hostel staff and Veterans Aid representatives were on hand to provide an informed tour of the facility, led by CEO Dr Hugh Milroy and manager of New Belvedere House, Pat O’Connor. Most notably some of the current residents were also on hand to discuss their experiences and how the facility had benefitted them personally.

Speaking on behalf of Rugby for Heroes, Mike Tindall commented: “The visit was a wonderful opportunity to see firsthand the work that is being done at New Belvedere House and to be able to meet and talk to some of the residents to see how they have benefitted was a real privilege. We are delighted that Rugby for Heroes has been able to assist in some way to such a hugely important project.”

Simon Bailey added: “As a Charity this was a project that we were extremely keen to support. The success of Rugby Aid made this possible and as a result the Trustees were absolutely delighted to be able to approve a grant to help support the ongoing work at New Belvedere House.”

Gardening Leave tends to the invisible wounds of conflict by providing Horticultural Therapy for serving and ex-service Armed Forces personnel. Gardening Leave aims to help veterans with mental health issues through professionally conducted, individualised, goal-orientated treatment sessions within a safe garden environment in order to maximise their physical, psychological and social strength. Horticulture Therapy alongside other approaches can help veterans find coping mechanisms as well as ways of completing their transition to civilian life.

Heather Budge-Reid
Garden Leave