Veterans set sail on boat trips to boost mental health

Former Army medic Jean-Claude Pierre said boat tours run by a local maritime charity help give veterans 'freedom'.

Veterans in Dundee say boat trips on the River Tay are helping them with their mental health by giving them a sense of freedom.

The group are residents at Rosendael House – a charity that helps support former members of the armed forces with their mental and physical health.

Jean-Claude Pierre worked as a medic in the army.

He said: “It was nice and warm, a bit breezy but there’s so much freedom out there on the water and it’s really good for my mental health.

“Really beneficial for my mental health; It gets rid of the cobwebs. There’s so much freedom and there’s no concrete around.”

The boat tours are run by the maritime charity Taymara.

Since 2016, they’ve been offering tours on the River Tay for people with disabilities and those with mental health issues.

Lynn Cunningham is one of the volunteers who helps organise the trips.

She said: “Just being able to be out in the fresh air, all the calmness the space and the sun shining off the water is wonderful – it’s really restorative.

“Sometimes we’re lucky and we get to see dolphins and that’s just great when that happens.

“But the Tay has so much wonderful natural wildlife and when people come out it’s something really special to look forward to. They have a great experience and then they have a really great story to share with friends and family afterwards.”

It’s not just the veterans who feel the benefits of spending an afternoon on the sunny river.

Niamh McQuillan is one of the support workers at Rosendael and said it gives her and the staff a real boost to see the men they care for enjoy themselves.

She said: “We have 44 residents and we try to fit everyone’s needs and do different activities to get them out and about.

“Most of our guys struggle with their mental health so the fresh air really benefits them.”

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