DEPTHERAPY’s 2018 CHUUK LAGOON EXPEDITION
Funded by the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s 2016 Libor Fund
Today and for the next couple of days we are moving slightly away from the day by day tale of our Expedition to Chuuk to look at what fundamentally drives the charity and how we help those we work with, our programme members. Chuuk for the vast majority of those on the expedition was the end of their journey with the charity. A journey that started with them learning to dive with us on their PADI Open Water Course at Roots Red Sea.
That journey for many has lasted 2.5 years and during that time they have progressed through their PADI Advanced Open Water Course, the Deep Course, EANx, and Wreck Courses. Some have become Master Scuba Divers and others have progressed to being trainee Dive Masters.
They have been part of a 10 day expedition to dive the Red Sea’s Military and Forgotten Wrecks.
They have been trained in Coral Conservation and have launched our own environmental project ‘Protecting our Oceans’. They have completed beach clear up and dives against debris.
They have engaged with local communities.
It has seen some rack up over 200+ dives while coping with life changing mental and/or physical challenges.
The journey has delivered the Royal Foundation’s Endeavour Fund’s mantra:
Ambition – Adventure – Achievement
THE WORD REHABILITATION TRIPS OFF THE TONGUE
“Rehabilitation after illness or injury is a slow step-by-step process that aims to help you recover. Rehabilitation might help you to get moving again, regain your strength, relearn skills, or find new ways of doing things.”
For the vast majority of those who support the UK Military Charity Sector their giving was very much prompted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and seeing the repatriation of our soldiers, sailors and airmen/women together with images of the horrendous injuries suffered by many. Sadly in the absence of such images in recent years the ‘giving’ across the sector has seen a substantial drop off.
Some charities within the sector have huge overheads for staff, business premises etc.
THE 2018 SOLDIERING ON AWARDS
Winning the Healthcare and Rehabilitation category at the 2018 Soldiering on Awards was a huge endorsement of our work. It is acknowledgement at the highest level that what we do works.
DEPTHERAPY IS A VOLUNTARY ORGANISATION
Analysis of our budget shows that 97% of our income is spent on delivering our programmes. The remainder goes on insurance, displays, printing, membership of various organisations such as Cobseo, No one takes a wage despite putting in as many hours a week as if it were a full time job. We have no business premises, we do not have expensive lease cars and no one receives expenses.
WHAT WE DELIVER
- We have assisted 78 Veterans
- Since 2014 we have run 14 programmes
- We have provided 1900 dive hours and
- We have given 10,400 voluntary hours
THAT WORD - REHABILITATION
Sadly far too many charities suggest that are delivering rehabilitation, the fact is they do not offer sporting experiences, mostly as a one off. Our difference is that we do not deliver a one off, we offer a developmental programme, with if we can raise sufficient funds an expedition at the end of that developmental process.
On top of that we do offer 24/7 support where needed together with a highly effective ‘buddy peer support’ scheme.
We are committed to the Mental Health First Aid for the Armed Services’ Community.
THE LONG HAUL
For programme members such as Ben Lee, Andy Searle and Michael Hawley their journey to join the programme was long and drawn out. Surgery, medication in Michael’s case the stability of his MS prevented them joining the programme for several years. The fact that they preserved is a testament of their desire to live a full and productive life.
TO DIVE CHUUK LAGOON
The mecca of wreck diving is a diving destination beyond the wildest dreams of most divers. It is a once in the lifetime achievement and to get there expedition members needed to be the best, They had to embrace – Ambition, they undertook numerous Adventures along the way and ultimately they had the Achievement of diving Chuuk Lagoon.
SCUBA DIVING IS DIFFERENT
I think we view scuba as being different to any other form of sporting activity for those suffering from life changing mental and/or physical challenges in that it offers to those with physical injuries and who often are never without pain, the opportunity to be pain free. Pain free because under the water they are neutrally buoyant, there is no pressure on their limbs or injuries. Many report it is the first time they have been pain free since being injured.
For those with mental illness they report that once their head dips under the water, their demons disappear, there is no noise, there is no crowd, there is, tranquillity, peace and beauty.
WHEN YOU SURFACE
The pain can return and demons reappear that is why our support systems are so important. What we aim to do is to show that there is life beyond pain and mental anguish, that there is a better life.
We say to all our programme members from day one if they are going to be well, they have to want to be well. They are the only ones with the power to make themselves well. Where necessary we encourage programme members to seek professional help and in other cases we promote and encourage self-help strategies.
WHAT WE CANNOT DO
We cannot replace lost limbs, we cannot erase the traumatic events that gave rise to their PTSD. We can try to help them rebuild their lives, we can help them to see that in scuba diving they can partake in an activity on an equal basis with the able bodied and in fact in many cases exceed the standards that many able bodied divers set.
You only have to dive with these guys and see the reaction of instructors and guides with other groups, they are stunned, their buoyancy is immaculate.
WHAT WE HAVE DONE
Feel free to ask Chris Middleton, Gary Green, Danny Martin, Ben Lee, Andy Searle. Michael Hawley, Jason Cowan, James Wilding, Tom Swarbrick and others how our work has changed their lives. We know in some cases we have saved lives, we know we have changed lives, we know we have saved relationships. We know for the majority we have allowed them to live full, productive and loving lives.
Delivering programme needs money, we are still looking for a big corporate sponsor as without one the charity may not be sustainable.
Sadly across the sector there are charity hoppers and those who falsely claim to have suffered life changing challenges to benefit from the services of various charities. There is the sense of a culture of entitlement. Weeding out the wheat from the chaff is time absorbing and challenging.
Many of our expedition members are now diving independently and enjoying their diving in the UK and around the world.
As one book closes another opens. So now we have new cohorts of divers coming through the system, with the end to Libor funding we might not be able to offer expeditions to Chuuk Lagoon or similar locations but we will deliver that final destination.