Keele physiotherapy students provide health and wellbeing support for local veterans

Physiotherapy students from Keele University's School of Allied Health Professions have provided valuable health and wellbeing support for former servicemen and women who have been isolated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since September, third-year physiotherapy students have undertaken two projects as part of their health and wellbeing placement, which involved working with local veterans in partnership with the Tri-Services and Veteran Support Centre and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity. The projects were designed to help veterans, many who have been shielding due to Covid-19, feel more connected to the community and their peers.

Five of the students supported a veterans’ foodbank, which was set up by the charities to help veterans who were struggling because of the pandemic. The students helped to shape what was delivered to recipients by reviewing the contents of food parcels, providing the nutritional values, and creating recipe idea cards for what to make with the ingredients.

Another group of three students also took part in a project to facilitate support calls for veterans to help alleviate the feeling of isolation. During the five-week placement, the students researched and developed appropriate health and wellbeing content for veterans, such as quizzes and wellbeing education on topics such as keeping active during lockdown, which they then delivered over the final two weeks of their placement. The calls were delivered via Facebook Portal which was set up in the homes of the veterans by the partner charities.

The placements provided students with a valuable opportunity to learn about the experiences of veterans and the mental and physical conditions that have arisen as a result of their service. This allowed them to diversify their learning from hospital and other familiar outpatient settings, which they can then apply in their future careers.

Dani Dunkley, a physiotherapy student who video-called veterans said: “it was a pleasure to work with The Tri-Service and Veteran Support Centre, and to meet some of the veterans via video calling. Learning about their experiences was fascinating and I hope we were able to have a positive impact."

John Painter, Trustee of the Tri-Services Veterans Support Centre said: “It is one thing to collect and prepare and to deliver food to the vulnerable veterans and their families, that is the easy part. What we had not considered initially until the students from Keele University prompted us, is that the food we offer is healthy and nutritious. Also are the food recipients able to utilise the food, prepare and cook it well. The tips and suggested recipes went down very well, so we believe that the food we offer is now being used in a more usable and beneficial way.”

Kathy Munslow, SSAFA Divisional Secretary of Stafford and Newcastle-Under-Lyme, added: “It is extremely important for our veterans to have time to connect online. It is also amazing to see this generation jumping at technology, connecting virtually, and alleviating some loneliness and isolation.”

Project coordinator and Doctoral student, Georgina Eckersley, continues to work with the Tri-Services and Veterans Support Centre and is researching the experiences of veterans and their wellbeing after leaving the forces. If you have served in the British Armed Forces and would like to share your experiences, please complete this online survey. If you have any queries, please contact