I have kick-started the beginnings of a new journey for Rock 2 Recovery (R2R) who work to treat veterans and serving members of our armed forces’ mental health issues. The Ministry of Defence has agreed to help R2R so that they might be officially recognised for their work and perhaps qualify to join the Veterans' Gateway. I secured a meeting with R2R’s Company Secretary, Charlie Hobson, the Head of their Advisory Board, Ken Soar, and Veterans Minister, Tobias Ellwood MP, to discuss Rock 2 Recovery’s innovative approach to mental health and wellbeing.
We are all united in our pride for the courage and dedication of our Armed Forces. For the vast majority of people, their experience of serving is positive, however, there are those who need extra support. The MoD, health professionals, charities and groups such as Rock 2 Recovery do great work to offer the very best care for veterans and serving members. Their mission is to save and change the lives of those in our Armed Forces, the UK’s veteran community and their families who are affected by stress.
R2R aims to see their coaching techniques and coaching in general recognised by the Ministry of Defence’s Medical Services. R2R’s help is life-saving. Last November, for instance, an intervention by R2R helped prevent a senior non-commissioned officer from taking their own life. Like many mental health charities, R2R finds itself in huge demand. It also provides a sobering reminder of the ongoing struggle many in our serving and veteran communities are dealing with.
The Ministry of Defence is working to promote the widest spectrum of help possible to improve our Armed Forces’ mental health. The Head of the Veterans and Military Families policy for the Armed Forces Covenant, Jenna Clare, said that she has seen the value of coaching and Charlie Hobson highlighted its success when it complements a clinical approach. The Minister spoke of the opportunity that groups such as R2R and their work provide and noted their potential.
In recent years, mental health is finally getting the attention it deserves; now comes the action. It is essential that those who suffer from poor mental health get the support that they need and I am encouraged that the recent Budget announced £10 million funding specifically to support veterans with mental health needs. Rock 2 Recovery are working proactively to help those who are serving and those who have served. They can respond immediately to pull people back from a cliff edge and, complementing clinical help, assist in their recovery.
Rock to Recovery’s Chairman, Ken Soar, said “Kevin Hollinrake has been a huge support. Not only in helping us get our message to the right ears and steering us through the corridors of power but in many practical ways in York itself. We are very grateful that he has found time to assist us and very grateful for the encouragement and commitment he has given us".
Rock 2 Recovery are in the process of gaining academic accreditation from Edinburgh Napier University. R2R are also set to meet the Head of NHS England’s Director of Armed Forces, Kate Davies OBE, to discuss their innovative coaching techniques in greater detail. Ex-soldier and colleague, Johnny Mercer MP, and I will assist Rock 2 Recovery on their road to recognition to save those who have served in our Armed Forces.