Apr 13, 2021

Stress Down Day Supporting Emergency Services

FirstLight Trust’s Stress Down Day took place a few weeks ago on Friday 26th March before the clocks went back; The campaign takes place bi-annually on the Fridays before the clocks go forward and back, to frame the winter months within which mental health issues seem to increase. The first Stress Down Day of the year was a huge hit and raised vital funds to help support emergency service veterans. After the year we’ve had, Stress Down Day reminded us how important it is to take breaks, de-stress and make time to relax. It promotes simple effective movements, such as stretching and breathing, to prevent stress and improve mental health when done regularly.

The event itself showcased a range of activities from a calming yoga session to beautifully acoustic live music, bringing people together virtually to take a break from daily stresses. Mental health has suffered as a result of this pandemic, and it is more essential than ever that we take care of ourselves and pay attention to our mental health and overall wellbeing.

The next Stress Down Day will be taking place on Friday 29th October, the Friday before the clocks go forward. Please follow our social media for updates:

Instagram: @stressdownday @firstlight_trust

Facebook & Twitter: @firstlighttrust

Continued Support for Veterans of the Emergency Services and Armed Forces.

Social isolation and loneliness have contributed to a rise in mental health issues over the last year, particularly within the veteran community. FirstLight Trust as a charity has remained a base for veterans throughout this difficult year and provided more support than ever before. It will continue to do so as the Café Hubs begin to open over the coming months in line with government regulations.

FirstLight Trust currently has Café Hubs in Hereford, Gosport, Lancaster, Scarborough and Hawick, with a successful outreach programme in Redcar. They provide easy access to a friendly space, whether you’re a veteran in need of support or someone from the local area looking for a decent cup of coffee, FirstLight Trust’s Café Hubs are inclusive spaces that connect you to the community.

Like many other charities, we have lost income due to the pandemic and will need help funding to re-open. These spaces offer so much to local veterans and the community - if you would like to help FirstLight to re-open please consider donating to our project page on GlobalGiving or via the link below. Thank you so much.

FirstLight Trust Cafe Hubs - Sharpe's
FirstLight Trust Cafe Hubs - Sharpe's


Mar 5, 2021

Spring Forward with Stress Down Day


As you know we’ve not been idle during the last few months, far from it! We’re delivering more support to more people in more places than ever before - more walks and fresh air so that our pets are looking exhausted! (including Pepper in the accompanying photo)

As restrictions start to lift and we’re able to enjoy spending more time with those we love, now is the perfect time to come together virtually to re-connect and focus on what makes us happy; people, pets, exercise, good food, music, art – when you think about it the list is endless.

FirstLight Trust’s Stress Down Day is coming up on Friday 26th March (the Friday before the clocks go forward). This campaign exists to support veterans of our emergency services – work that is more vital than ever before.

Our campaign and website have undergone a refresh including the addition of some fantastic upcoming events for you and your friends and family to take part in, including yoga, live music and a baking competition. Please click the link below.

Ways you can support Stress Down Day:

1. Take a picture or video of you or your pet ‘de-stressing’, use the hashtag #StressDownDayUK and tag us on:

Instagram: @stressdownday and @firstlight_trust

Facebook: @firstlighttrust

Twitter: @firstlighttrust

2. Take part in activities and competitions through our website.

3. Send this out to your friends, family and network to reach as far and wide as possible and give Stress Down Day the engagement it deserves in working towards promote positive mental health and helping us support our emergency service veterans.



Dec 15, 2020

Supporting Veterans Through Outdoor Activities.

Exercise, fresh air and social interaction has become even more important for veterans after many have been self-isolating due to Covid-19. Here is a case study about the impact the Cycle Group has had for several FirstLight veterans in Gosport during this difficult time.

Cycle Group

The FirstLight Trust team in Gosport works with Cycle UK to ensure the correct measures are in place to keep everyone safe whilst out on their rides. Veterans PG, PM, MA and NF took part in the first socially distanced bike ride, which continues each week.

On one of the first rides, FirstLight Trust colleague, RB, could see something was wrong with NF so she pulled him aside to ask if he was okay. NF was stressed and anxious about moving house, so RB invited him to join the ride in his electric wheel chair which he eventually accepted. NF interacted with the group and he thanked RB for inviting him stating, “that was just what I needed”. RB reminded NF that moving house is stressful for anyone and encouraged him to continue with his breathing exercises and to reach out if he needs help.

MA brought his own helmet and was keen to get started. He said he had been waiting for months to get together and was ready for a good ride. The group took in the landscape as they rode and chatted when they stopped for a break.

On the second week, veterans JW and MR joined. JW had a bad knee so the group took a slightly slower ride this week. JW shared that his daughter had passed away quite suddenly last month and he explained this was the first time he had been out properly. He stated that it was “just what the doctor ordered”. JW spoke to FirstLight Trust’s RB about how he is coping, and was thankful for a listening ear. The rest of the group took the time to speak to JW and make him laugh. JW decided that he wanted to become a regular member of the Cycle Club. The veterans requested longer bike rides in the future as they are starting to feel physically fitter.

The group has continued to grow and has split into two with those less confident being led by FirstLight’s colleague, SF. Gosport’s mascot Hope the Bear joins the veterans on most rides, providing a good laugh to all. On the fifth week, the more advanced group were picking up speed and with the weather improving the veterans enjoyed the ride even more. JW opened up about his daughter stating that she loved the grounds they had cycled to that day. He says that even though he misses her every day, he is learning to get on with life without her and is thankful to FirstLight Trust for all the support.

On week six, NF had a low mood and told RB that he would not be attending Cycle Club this week, however he showed up anyway. He was quiet on the ride stating that he was having a bad couple of days. He had been turned down for a walk-in shower from the GP and occupational therapist. NF received a text message telling them his application had been rejected. However, when RB asked to see the text message she was able to tell him that he had been asked to contact the number they sent through for a self-referral. NF had read the text wrong, and thanked RB for the help. PG ad PM thoroughly enjoyed the ride this week. PM stated that it’s great for his mental health and if he had never found FirstLight Trust then “god knows where I would be now”.

The Cycle Group was joined by a representative from Cycle UK on one of their rides. They cycled along the beach front and over to a beautiful garden where they stopped for a break. The group enjoyed talking to S from Cycle UK, they spoke about their time in the forces and how the Cycle Group has helped them.

The Cycle Group has become a place where veterans can come to get some exercise out in the fresh air and where they can socialise and seek support from FirstLight colleagues. This has become increasingly important given that lockdown has left many veterans feeling lonely and isolated.

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