Psychological Wellbeing - A Holistic Solution Focused Approach

Many of those who come to us at Surf Action have suffered either physical or psychological trauma or are struggling to re-adjust to civilian life. At Surf Action we aim to empower those affected to build a life that works in spite of their injuries; to move forward from psychological difficulties and to adapt creatively and effectively to their life circumstances and challenges.

We consider all that we do - the surfing, the family days, the education, the signposting and the one-to-one conversations, to each be a part of an all-round support package that those who come through our doors can access.

Once involved with Surf Action, veterans and their families know that this support will be available at whatever level they require for as long as they need it.

“One size does not fit all”

We strongly believe that one size, in terms of support offered, does not fit all and that our role should not be simply to ‘deliver’ specific and limited forms of support but to empower veterans and families, through education and experiential discovery, to make informed choices about what they need in order to take the next steps on the journey to recovery. We then strive to help them access support to do this on a bespoke and solution-focused ‘best fit’ basis.

At Surf Action our focus is ‘joined-up’ recovery.

We ensure all who come to us have access to education and information so that they have a better understanding about the difficulties which they face. They learn about effective coping strategies and techniques and are encouraged to engage with mainstream health services.

The Recovery model

All staff at Surf Action work from one model only, the joined-up Recovery Model. Recovery is defined as living well in spite of any difficulties we may have to face. We view recovery as a journey, a movement from the place a person is in to places that are better to be in, learning and making use of new skills and understandings along the way.

The joined-up recovery model is a multi-dimensional (holistic) approach to improving ones mental health which takes into account an individual's needs. Environment, social network, relationships, diet, physical wellbeing and so forth. For many of our service users, who may, in the past, have experienced being sent from one service provider or department to another to deal with the different aspects of their needs, coming into the joined-up recovery model approach often comes as a huge relief.

Surf Action recognises the joined-up recovery model as it means that often distressing stories do not need to be re-told each time they engage with service providers.

We recognise that recovery:

• Does not necessarily mean getting back to where you were before.
• Happens in 'fits and starts' and, like life, has many ups and downs.
• Is profoundly influenced by people’s expectations and attitudes.
• Requires a well organised system of support from family, friends or professionals.
• Requires services to embrace new and innovative ways of working.

What We Offer

Surf Action currently offers:
• Twice-weekly surf clinics with a focus on bonding and team building.
• Coastal and woodland walks and team-building activities that allow buddy support relationships to flourish.
• Educational sessions and presentations which allow understanding to develop and which help lessen the fear about some of the symptoms associated with anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD and physiological trauma.
• Home Front Family Days where close personal relationships can strengthen and where bonding or re-bonding can take place within a family environment.
• Surf Action Residential weeks spent learning new skills, forming strong peer-support relationships and in personal reflection.
• Empowerment Programme - Surf Action’s bespoke programme commissioned by the DWP and designed to aid currently unemployed ex-military personnel back to work in civilian life.
• Employment Programme – Surf Action with its partners have developed core life employment skills for the betterment of moving people forward.
• Access to the arts through music tuition, art activities and creative workshops which allow veterans to explore and develop new life skills.
• Access to high intensity watersports for the relief of PTSD, depression, anxiety and stress.
• Access to self-help and self-assessment tools and strategies, enabling veterans and family members to take informed and effective responsibility for their own psychological well-being.
• Signposting to recommended sources of support.

Above all we seek to ensure, through up-to-date knowledge and real understanding, that when one road becomes overwhelmingly difficult or leads to a dead end there is always someone with a map to offer hope of finding a better way to continue on the journey.


Art Activities and Workshops

Many of the veterans we support find painting, drawing and expressing themselves through other creative mediums to be beneficial; a way of developing skills, expressing themselves when words do not seem adequate and discovering hitherto unrecognised talents. In the long term we would like to develop a financially sustainable art project for veterans, managed by veterans, to aid better awareness of PTSD and other mental health issues that serving, ex-service personnel and those who have served in the ‘blue light’ services face. This would potentially provide employment and contribute towards the development of a National Veterans Art Gallery showcasing art work from veterans nationwide.

Art Action: Living with PTSD

Art Action is an exhibition of the work of artists who are living with the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Through exhibiting artwork by veterans who are experiencing PTSD and other psychological disorders, and also work by their wives and friends, the exhibition hopes to raise awareness of the condition and of the work of Surf Action in supporting them. All the work exhibited has been created at the Surf Action Studio at Penzance, a space developed to host further art workshops and exhibitions in the future.

Art to Recovery

An exhibition of arts and crafts by service veterans, servicemen and women.
Art Action is organised by a collaboration between Surf Action and Arts for Health Cornwall.

Arts for Health Cornwall is a registered charity which works to improve health and wellbeing through creativity