Saturday, 12 March 2011

Team Building at the beach

Friday afternoons are often there to be enjoyed, a time to get excited about the weekend and a time to relax a little from the stresses of work, possibly a couple of beers with your friends and colleagues. Friday afternoons at Surf Action can be about getting their veterans they work with through the weekend with a little more self-belief and positive thinking.

Those who have been following Surf Actions’ Surf and Beach Clinics over the past weeks will know that the sessions are partly funded by Cornwall Works 50+ and Cornwall Works 50+ Cares, which is funded by the European Social Fund. This week the St Buryan based Community Interest Company invited Tim Cocks from the Devon and Cornwall Fire Brigade to introduce the group to some team building and problem solving activities. Russ Pierre said “Tim leads Project Phoenix and uses these activities to work with young offenders and disadvantaged youngsters. Soon to be working in partnership with Surf Action, Tim has many years of experience building confidence and identifying inner strengths needed to move forward in society and its going to be great working with him”.

Each week Surf Action are attracting new participants and this week saw Sue Robinson from The Soldiers Charity (ABF) and her colleague Jeanette join in the fun designed to develop leadership, trust, communication and listening skills. Teaming up with two veterans Simon Green and Craig Foster they all took it in their stride to use their initiative to solve the problems set with just a piece of rope, some old tyres, a few pieces of wood and the beach. Tim Cocks enthusiastically stated “Its amazing that such simple resources can have such a positive affect on people”.

Last week Craig joined the group accompanied by his health worker from Pentreath Ltd. He enjoyed the coastal walk so much he said “it actually got him through the weekend, it got me out of the house”, the group has literally given him a way to move forward. A former soldier, Craig was also a joiner and retained firefighter until a tragic incident led to the darkest past four years suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

This week Craig returned to the beach; he went out last week and bought a motorbike to ensure he did not miss the Friday session. Through meeting Tim there is a possibility that Craig will be now be working to gain a coaching qualification and then take these same activities to other community groups. Meeting Sue from The Soldiers Charity may open up funding for Craig that he was not aware of, and meeting Surf Action has given Craig future aspirations.

Surf Action is moving forward and the veterans and 50+ participants are moving forward with them. “Our goal is smiles on faces, once we have a smile we can move forward” said Russ Pierre. The people we work with are amazing, and today we saw real evidence that our beach sessions are working.

Thank you to everyone who supports us, Cornwall Works, The Lottery Fund, Grass Roots (photography equipment) c-skins wetsuits, and a big thanks to Doug and Al at Sunset Surf Cafe at Gwithian.

If you are a veteran or 50+ and possibly out of work and interested in finding out more visit or please contact Russ or Rich on 01736 811920 or email: or

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Come and Join Us.

Each Friday since mid February Surf Action have introduced Surf and Beach Clinics which have been successful in bringing veterans and those over 50 to the beach. Using the open environment to clear their minds and change their perspective of what their future can hold in terms of feeling positive, confident and building self-esteem the clinics are attracting more participants each week. The clinic this week took our veterans from Sunset Surf Cafe at Gwithian Towans over to Godrevy to see the seals resting during their winter lay up. Nigel from the Wildlife Trust has joined the group to provide real added value to the walks, providing some great geological interpretation and educational team building but also he has met fellow surfers who enjoy the great outdoors.

Last week we also invited Catherine Powell from the London Meditation Project who works specifically with sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Meditation can help to deal with ongoing conditions of anger, anxiety, panic attacks, sleeplessness and nightmares and these can be symptoms suffered by combat veterans.

The session was used to introduce a few of our vets and 50+ to a method of relaxation that uses breathing techniques and self awareness. This ‘mindfullness’ teaches us to be aware of our body’s emotions and can lead to an awareness that can also help with negative emotions such as guilt, deep sadness and fear. We don’t believe surfing, walking or meditation are a ‘quick fix’ but given time can all help make us make better decisions about self care in life, offer a sense of belonging in society and in cases peace of mind.