Spring Forward with Stress Down Day

Let’s face it, we’re ‘Zoomed out’, sick of lockdown and tired of staring at the same four walls. We may be able to get out for a walk but even the local park is getting boring, just ask your dog! Stress Down Day is not a solution to the difficult situation we’re all struggling through, but it might just provide some light relief and a fresh perspective whilst supporting two vital causes – our emergency services and your mental health.

Stress Down Day promotes emotional wellbeing and puts emphasis on the power of small actions, such as stretching, have in reducing stress and mental health issues. It was created by veteran’s charity, FirstLight Trust, for the emergency services; To provide funding for vital support when needed and most importantly to prevent stress and burnout through small manageable actions. The pandemic has been relentless, and our emergency services have been at the forefront throughout. They need some relief and Stress Down Day is just the ticket!

Founder of Stress Down Day andFirstLight Trust, Dorinda Wolfe Murray says, “Let’s be honest it’s been tough, and it is tougher on some more than others. We could all do with something to lighten our day and our load. Stress Down Day is designed to do that – take time out to do something small; something that gives you pleasure, makes your heart smile. It is so often the little things that make the difference.”

A variety of resources, polls, competitions and fantastic virtual activities including yoga, live music and baking to help with fundraising and can be found on the Stress Down Day website.

“Reading, writing, laughing, music, catching a smile – and if it helps raise funds for those that need it most, then that is a ‘win win’ in so many ways,” says Dorinda. “Join us in taking some down time whilst raising funds for those in the Emergency Services who find themselves on hard times.”

We will soon hug friends and family again, go out to restaurants and come together for special occasions. This is in the near future, but until then let’s come together virtually to support the very people who have made it possible. FirstLight Trust’s Stress Down Day is an engaging campaign promoting positive mental health through simple and effective actions, with proceeds going to support veterans of the emergency services. 

Visit the Stress Down Day website now to explore the ways you can get involved. You can also show support by visiting the web shop and buying amazing merchandise; use the #StressDownDayUK as well as tagging Stress Down Day and FirstLight Trust when uploading photos of you with your merchandise!

Update from FirstLight Trust

Our FirstLight Trust Hubs may have temporarily closed their actual doors in March 2020, but our virtual doors have remained open. 

During this time, we have continued to deliver support to veterans particular to their needs e.g., housing, employment, money and debt management or through the hundreds of phone calls we have made, as a listening ear just to say hello and alleviate the isolation being felt. The restrictions of lockdown significantly increased loneliness and isolation for many veterans, one way we tackled this was by offering more emotional support through activities. We have been working with veterans to build their self-esteem and state of wellbeing giving them the confidence to ask for help when they need it.

We have delivered many activities, ranging from things to do at home, virtual sessions such as ‘Brew and a Chat’, art therapy to cooking sessions which have been a tasty experience for all. Out in the fresh air veterans have taken part in walks, cycle rides transformed the garden spaces we have in Gosport and Scarborough and crops have been plentiful.  

We have been incredibly grateful to the people who have supported and funded us during this time to enable us to do the work so vitally needed, and now more than ever. However, the sincerest gratitude must go to our amazing team who without them our organisation would be nothing and veterans would not receive the support they do.  

We can still provide you with 1:1 support as long as we adhere to social distancing. Please contact your local Support Worker if you need support:

Sam (Gosport) 07881232597

Rachel (Redcar) 07721237315

Gary (Lancaster) 07464828051

Lynne (Hereford) 07342080362

Jane (Hawick) 01450 218647

Alison (Scarborough) 07775758388

John (Scarborough) 07464828050

We sincerely hope we will not be closed for too much longer but as the situation is completely out of our control, we are unable to give any further assurances at this time. We review Government guidelines on a regular basis, but we have to be socially responsible. We are still very much here to provide vital support to veterans of the armed forces and emergency services as we always have done. If you know of any veteran in need of help please send them in our direction.

Please stay safe, everyone.

Veterans Building for a Positive Future

During this challenging time something very positive has been building in Leominster, Herefordshire. Over the past eighteen months, six veterans have been working hard on a self-build project in which a staggering ten houses and nine flats have been completed just in time for Christmas.

FirstLight Trust is a national charity working with Veterans of the Armed Forces and Emergency Services. Their Support Worker, Lynne Gladwin, has been pivotal in the implementation of the self-build initiative. From its inception Lynne has been wholly committed to supporting the Veterans throughout the entire journey. She says, “They are all amazing, it hasn’t been easy but between them they’ve come through the highs and lows. They’ve come out on top”.

Alabaré have provided the Veterans with this self-build platform to transform their lives; Working with FirstLight Trust has started them on their road to recovery and will lead them to work and independent living.

Dorinda Wolfe Murray, Founding Trustee of FirstLight Trust says, “What a wonderful ending to a tough year; it just goes to show what the right type of support and the right type of collaboration can achieve – homes for 6 veterans who have warmth, shelter and a place to call their own. Thank you to all those who helped make this possible’”.

This initiative has helped build not just homes but provides a positive outlook going forward for many veterans at a time of many challenges. For those involved it also helped build self-confidence and self-worth and a real sense of purpose as we go into the new year. 

A Montage for Remembrance

Throughout this last year the world has become an incredibly difficult and uncertain place. Covid-19 has brought devastation and challenges for us all. Our way of life has changed dramatically and we have been forced to adapt to a ‘new normal’. Whilst we are unable to come together in person, it is more important than ever to carry on with our lives and traditions in the best way that we can. In a safe way and that abides by government Covid guidelines.

Remembrance Day will be looking very different this year. As parades and other events have been cancelled there is a need to find alternative ways to honour our fallen. As a charity FirstLight Trust is ensuring that they continue to support veterans of the armed forces and emergency services during this challenging time. They plan to bring people together safely for Remembrance this year. 

FirstLight Trust is asking veterans to send a picture of themselves or friends observing two minutes of silence on Remembrance Sunday, the 8th of November. These pictures will form a montage that will be uploaded to the FirstLight Trust website and social media pages on the 11th of November. It is a space to come together to honour those who served and remember the sacrifice that they made.

Dorinda Wolfe Murray, Founding Trustee of FirstLight Trust, says “We live in strange times, and this year has been particularly hard for so very many reasons. Tradition has been upended and much that we value has been difficult to maintain. Taking time out to remember those that we love and have lost is so important and I would say life affirming. Pictures do say a thousand words, and creating a memorial montage seems to me to be a fitting tribute’. 

If you would like to be part of the montage please send in your photo to office@firstlighttrust.co.uk. If you would be interested in supporting FirstLight Trust in a different way, their Tribute Fund gives you the opportunity to honour a loved one, whilst ensuring veterans are supported. For more information please visit their website https://www.firstlighttrust.co.uk/tribute-fund/.

Pumpkin Carving for Mental Health

This October, carve a pumpkin and help to raise awareness for mental health and wellbeing. FirstLight Trust, a charity doing so much to support Veterans, is hosting a pumpkin carving competition to coincide with their Stress Down Day campaign which aims to raise funds for Veterans of the Emergency Services and Armed Forces.

The current Covid-19 pandemic has left the Emergency Services overwhelmed and overworked and many people facing isolation and loneliness which can be extremely harmful for our mental health. Stress Down Day is a bi-annual event taking place on the Friday before the clocks go forward and back, with the next being on Friday 23rd October 2020. The campaign promotes the importance of taking moments out of our days to de-stress and relax and emphasizes the difference small actions can make to our mental health.

By taking part in the competition you will help to spread awareness about the importance of mental health whilst supporting FirstLight Trust’s vital work. An Emergency Service Veteran supported by FirstLight Trust states that, “In these circumstances things don’t just get better overnight, it could take some time. The charity remains a safe network of experienced, friendly, knowledgeable, caring and supportive people who I will remain in contact with as long as required and even beyond”. 

Stress Down Day urges participants de-stress which can be as simple as a stretch and yawn or reading a book. This year, the campaign is introducing a seasonal competition and encouraging entries.

Founding Trustee of FirstLight Trust, Dorinda Wolfe Murray says, “Stressing down does not have to be well, stressful, and enjoying something creative is not only great fun but gives a sense of achievement.  Families can enjoy this competition as well – and don’t forget the pumpkin flesh can be used to make a fabulous pie or cake”. 

Enter your pumpkin design into either the child or adult Stress Down Day Pumpkin Carving Competition for a chance to support Veterans and win some fantastic goodies! 

TO ENTER please follow these simple instructions: 

1. Carve a pumpkin with any design you choose (extra points for attempting the Stress Down Day logo!) 

2. Take a clear photo of your carved pumpkin and send it to office@firstlighttrust.co.uk by Thursday 29th October 2020 with your name, contact number and stating whether it’s an adult or child entry. 

3. Watch out for the winner to be revealed on social media on Friday 30th October 2020. 

An Update from FirstLight Trust

What have we been doing since lock down?

We wanted to give you an update on what we have been doing since lock down. Our Hubs may have closed their actual doors in March but our virtual doors have still remained open. During this time, we have continued to deliver support to veterans particular to their needs e.g. housing, employment, money and debt management or through the hundreds of phone calls we have made, as a listening ear just to say hello and alleviate the isolation being felt. The restrictions of lockdown significantly increased loneliness and isolation for many veterans, one way we tackled this was by offering more emotional support through activities. We have been working with veterans to build their self-esteem and state of wellbeing giving them the confidence to ask for help when they need it.

We have delivered many activities, ranging from things to do at home, virtual sessions such as ‘Brew and a Chat’, art therapy to cooking sessions which have been a tasty experience for all. Out in the fresh air veterans have taken part in walks, cycle rides transformed the garden spaces we have in Gosport and Scarborough and crops have been plentiful.  

We have been incredibly grateful to the people who have supported and funded us during this time to enable us to do the work so vitally needed, and now more than ever. However, the sincerest gratitude must go to our amazing team who without them our organisation would be nothing and veterans would not receive the support they do.  

So, what are we planning for the months ahead?

We know the considerable impact our Hubs make to veterans, we are not just a café, we are a place where socialising is a key part of what makes up the welcoming safe space for all our community. Due to the current restrictions on social distancing, opening our Hubs to offer what we offered previously has thrown us a challenge.  Having consulted with our teams we have been unable to come up with a safe affordable solution to open our Hubs that still provides that safe welcoming space where veterans can just drop in and out as needed like we had pre-covid.  Lots of groups of people meeting in confined spaces is not recommended and we support some very vulnerable adults, who we don’t want to place at risk.  Ultimately, we are here for veterans and our focus has to be on continuing to support veterans at this time.  That does not mean our Hubs will not open, they will just open in a different way, for veterans only for now until we are in a position to open them to the whole community.  

What will this look like?

We know that some veterans need face to face and that using Zoom is not what meets their needs.  With this in mind from the 31st August, provided no further government restrictions are put in place we intend to do a 2 week trial of holding face to face pre booked 1-1’s in our Hawick Hub.  If this works as planned this will be rolled out across our Hubs, Hub by Hub.

We are also intending to trial from mid-September, starting in our Gosport Hub a pre-booked group activity for up to 6 veterans in our Gosport Hub.  Social distancing measures will of course be put in place.

We know the difference the support we give to veterans makes, as they tell us.  They also tell us the impact activities have on them, being able to socialise and not feel isolated makes all the difference.  For this reason, we are working to ensure veterans have access to increasing numbers of activities as we know this helps wellbeing and gives a purpose. We are working at local level to connect with people who can deliver differing activities and on securing the funding to pay for these sessions.

We are still very much here to provide vital support to veterans of the armed forces and emergency services as we always have done.  If you know of any veteran in need of help please send them in our direction.

Dorinda Wolfe Murray, CEO

A Revamp for Redcar

Leading veteran’s charity, FirstLight Trust, is embarking on a new and exciting approach to supporting veterans in the Redcar area. Redcar is one of six locations that FirstLight Trust operates in through their café hubs, though their reach is much wider. The hubs provide a welcoming space for veterans and the public alike, and while the hub in Redcar is closing physically, FirstLight Trust will be ‘revamping’ their approach to enable them to support more veterans.

The outreach model will be led by FirstLight’s Community Coordinator, Rachel Henery, who says, “I am looking forward to the changes and working from a different structure here in Redcar. I feel this new approach is a turn in the right direction and will enable us to provide a better service to those that need it. I am also looking forward to finalising activities moving forward, once government guidelines allow us to, and until then anyone can give me a call if only for a chat. I cannot wait to see everyone from the hub again”. 

Activities that proved popular in Redcar such as luncheons, external day trips and mobility classes will continue to be accessible to all veterans and their families when it is safe to do so following government guidelines. FirstLight Trust’s Money Watch programme with Citizens Advice is still live, which includes helping veterans with budgeting, saving and debt support. The Aged Veterans Programme will continue supporting social outings and healthy living for veterans, and in addition, FirstLight are currently running a project to assist veterans into training and employment.

FirstLight Trust’s Founding Trustee, Dorinda Wolfe Murray expresses, “A huge thank you to everyone who has and continues to support us in Redcar. We may be changing the way we work, but we are still very much present in the area and are looking forward to continue our support to veterans in Redcar and beyond”.

Whether you are a veteran in need of support or would just like a friendly chat, please do get in touch with Rachel on 07721237315 or via email on redcar@firstlighttrust.co.uk. If you would like to be involved in future FirstLight Trust activities please follow the main FirstLight Trust Facebook page and the FirstLight Trust Redcar Facebook page. You can also reach out to Rachel directly for more information and to register with FirstLight Trust.

FirstLight Trust calls on supporters to join The 2.6 Challenge

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a catastrophic effect with the cancellation of thousands of events and the loss of billions in income through fundraising events. The Virgin Money London Marathon, which should have taken place on Sunday 26 April, is the world’s biggest one-day fundraising event, and raised more than £66.4 million for thousands of charities in 2019 alone. In response, the organisers of the biggest mass participation sports events across the country have come together to create a new campaign to raise vital funds to help our fundraising and save the UK’s charities.

The campaign, The 2.6 Challenge, will launch on Sunday 26 April 2020 – what should have been the date of the 40th London Marathon. The 2.6 Challenge is open to anyone of any age and ability – the only requirement is that the activity must follow the Government guidelines on exercise and social distancing and remember to stay local.

FirstLight Trust needs your help, as supporting UK veterans of the emergency services and armed forces has become vital now more than ever. Issues with housing, money and mental health are going to be widespread amongst emergency service personnel following the crisis. By donating or fundraising for FirstLight Trust in the 2.6 Challenge you can help them raise vital funds and enable them to help more veterans at this difficult time.

“This is a fantastic initiative bringing people together at a time when it’s needed the most,” says the charity’s founder, Dorinda Wolfe Murray. “We’re looking forward to seeing all of the creative activities people come up with!”

FirstLight is asking you to dream up an activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26 and start fundraising or donating now via their Virgin Money Giving page or JustGiving page.

If you’re in need of ideas for your activity, please visit FirstLight Trust’s website.

COVID-19 UPDATE

FirstLight Trust is committed to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and we are abiding by government recommendations that are currently in place. Action has been taken to protect the health and wellbeing of the people FirstLight supports, its colleagues, supporters and members of the public. 

Hubs 

The FirstLight Trust hubs are physically closed but we are still providing virtual (and very real) support to veterans.  Pease get in touch with one of our fantastic colleagues should you need support: 

Lynne: 07342 080362 

Sally: 07464 828050 

Sam: 07881 232597 

The hub doors will re-open when it is safe to do so following government recommendations. 

Events 

All FirstLight Trust events and activities are currently cancelled. Please see your local hub’s Facebook page for future updates  

Facebook Hereford

Facebook Scarborough

Facebook Hawick

Facebook Redcar

Facebook Gosport

Facebook Lancaster

If you have any specific queries you can contact us on 0207 730 7545. 

The FirstLight Trust team are having to adapt and work in new and innovative ways to provide support to those who need it at this unprecedented time. Like all charities the pandemic has hit hard our normal working and our fundraising initiatives and had a major impact on charity income. We are however still fully committed to supporting veterans of the emergency services and armed forces and welcome any donations to help us to continue this vital work. 

We thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.  

You can follow our Facebook page, Twitter or LinkedIn platforms for regular posts and updates. 

Please donate today and help us to help others. 

Stretch for Stress Down Day UK

Boost your mood with an online ‘Stretchalong’

A leading British charity is asking the UK to take stretching to a new level in a bid to help our physical and emotional well-being.

FirstLight Trust is a charity offering practical support for veterans of the emergency services and military. Their next Stress Down Day UK on 27 March will offer fun hints and ideas to educate the public and veterans alike with hints and exercises to help reduce stress.

“During this time of uncertainty, it’s more important than ever to take care of yourself and focus on your wellbeing,” says Dorinda Wolfe Murray, the charity’s founder. “We’re suggesting people take just a few moments to de-stress and relax. This could be anything from looking at the sky to yawning with your cat. Plus we’ve a fun online video to stretch along to.”

Through their work rehabilitating veterans back into their communities, the charity has found that even the smallest action can make a big impact. Many studies have shown that stretching helps release stress in the muscles. The Stretch for Stress Down Day UK video is suggested as a simple and effective exercise for anyone who would like to take part. Supporters are encouraged to post photos of their pets stretching using the hashtag #StressDownDayUK

For your very own free positive feeling, watch the Stretch for Stress Down Day video online. Any online donations will help the charity’s work supporting former ambulance drivers, paramedics, police, firefighters and armed forces veterans suffering from extreme stress.

Coronavirus statement from FirstLight Trust’s founder and one of our long-term supporters

This is a very difficult and demanding time for everyone. At FirstLight Trust the support that we give to armed forces and emergency services veterans, their families and the wider community and to each other is very important. It will continue to be more so in the weeks and months ahead as the world faces the many challenges the coronavirus brings.


Lady Jane Grosvenor, long-term supporter who is actively working with us behind the scenes, said:

“The charity’s founder Dorinda Wolfe Murray and I have been impressed by how FirstLight Trust colleagues have pulled together to keep Hubs open and at the creative ideas to continue offering support to veterans and emergency services despite the challenges faced. Each day the situation and recommendations are changing. FirstLight Trust is following government and public health advice and will take each day as it comes.

For any veterans who are requiring support please do reach out to us, and we will do all we can to ensure you are supported. This includes simple things that might make a difference if you are self-isolating, like being a friendly ear at the end of a phone, picking up shopping for you, posting mail or collecting urgent supplies.

To our colleagues we both want to say a very big thank you! This is what FirstLight Trust is about, helping and supporting others. We also value each and every one of our colleagues, so please do follow advice that is given and look after you and yours.”

If you want to get in contact for help or a chat, our hub phone numbers are:

Gosport 02392 583099
Hawick 01450 218647
Hereford 01432 806604
Lancaster 01524 587068
Scarborough 01723 361210
Redcar 01642 758021