Latest Project: Blesma Community Programme set to help 4,000 young people in 2017.
Explore how we are training wounded veterans to tell their stories and inspire hard-to-reach teenagers.
The Blesma Community Programme gives limbless veterans who have or are overcoming the trauma of injury, the skills to share their stories with young people in a way that encourages resilience and the ability to overcome adversity.
About the Blesma Community Programme
We've shared the worst moments of our lives with each other, and that's helped to build strong bonds.Afghanistan Veteran Shaun
The Blesma Community Programme is an ambitious scheme that was set up last year to inspire and motivate thousands of students in the UK. During an intense training course, Members learn how to tell their personal stories of disaster and triumph in an engaging way. Then, they go out into the community to deliver their stories of overcoming adversity to students, some of whom are on the verge of school exclusion.
Following last year’s success, which saw Members help 3,000 teenagers, 14 more Blesma Members participated in a weeklong training course with public speaking trainers from the Drive Project in January.
This year, the programme has taken another innovative leap forward by giving last year’s participants the skills to lead a workshop.
"Last year, Members would deliver their talk and then a professional workshop facilitator would lead the following Question & Answer session with the students,” said Alice Driver, founder of the Drive Project, which runs the training course.
“This year, we gave six Members from last year’s project the necessary skills to be workshop facilitators, so now two Blesma Members can lead an entire workshop.” Even though the programme only started in 2016, the results suggest its impact has already been huge. Seventeen veterans took part in the inaugural programme, reaching out to 3,000 students in 41 schools.
The aim is to reach 4,000 more pupils in 2017
“This is a great example of Blesma helping out in local communities and making a very real difference to the lives of others. Members show the students it is possible to be scared and vulnerable, but brave and dynamic at the same time,” said Alice. “Meanwhile, they also learn valuable skills such as public speaking and class management, and they are even paid for their time, as well. Those who have taken part in the programme say it has greatly increased their confidence and enhanced work prospects.”
Nigel Woodward was one of the Members who took part in this year’s training course. “I missed out on the course last year but was given the opportunity to take part this year,” said Nigel. “I felt that hearing Blesma Members’ stories would help and inspire kids, and I can understand the peer pressure, adversity and bullying that they go through, so I wanted to do my bit.
“I’ve never really needed help with my confidence so, for me, this training was about getting help with structuring my story in a better way. It was incredibly emotional hearing everyone’s stories, but it was also very inspiring!” This year, participants ranged in age from 28 to 70 years old. Members have already started to put what they have learned into practice, telling their stories in schools across the country. One Member, Alex Krol, has even shared his story with prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs.
How to get Involved
To be considered for next year’s Community Programme get in touch with Bryony Stevens on firstname.lastname@example.org
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