Sporting Force: cafes, collaboration and care for veterans

August 16, 2022

A VPPP update from Sporting Force…

In November 2021, the Trust made 10 portfolio awards through our Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People (Veterans’ PPP) programme, funded by HM Treasury.

We caught up with sports charity, Sporting Force, who received an award of more than £770,000.

Supporting veterans in the Northeast, Cumbria and Yorkshire

Sporting Force logo

Sporting Force work in partnership with nine other organisations supporting military veterans, to ensure veterans with mental health and wellbeing needs have access to the care they need in the Northeast, Cumbria and Yorkshire.

The charity supports veterans throughout the UK, providing education, exercise, and social events to help veterans and their families by relieving mental health and social isolation.

Meeting needs, meeting new faces

They describe the positive impact of working with other organisations on their Veterans’ PPP project as “an amazing opportunity to collaborate (..) to provide the best support and opportunities for veterans and their families”. They add that there is “a noticeable engagement with veterans who have not reached out for support before”.

Through the project, the organisation has already discovered a greater need for their services than first thought. The cases they are working with are significantly more complex than expected, often requiring input from more than one service.

Vital contact for the most vulnerable

Sarah Lough, Project Manager at Sporting Force, shares the importance of the work they do and the relationships they are building within the veteran community.

“We recently took a phone call from a worried mum. Her son had left the army and was struggling to return to civilian life. She feared for his safety after finding notes left for her and her family. We sent her details of our talking groups and kept in touch with her daily.

Her fears were proved right when her son later tried to take his own life. She asked us to intervene, and we managed to speak with him and persuade him to attend the support group funded through the Veterans’ PPP programme. We also provided him with a six-month gym membership through our partnership with a local health & fitness centre.

He now regularly attends the support group and gym and has accepted help from us in dealing with the issues surrounding his suicide attempt.”

As the lead organisation for the Veterans’ PPP portfolio grant, Sporting Force meets regularly with the other partners, which include Age UK; Care After Combat; Fighting with Pride; Finchale; Forces Link; Defence Medical Welfare Service; Growing Well; Veterans’ Woodcraft and Hull 4 Heroes.

Together, this collaboration of charities has built strong links across the region; targeting those veterans who are harder-to-reach, including those in rural communities.

Helen Skinner, from portfolio member Hull 4 Heroes, shares the positive effects of working with Sporting Force and the other charities.

“Being a part of the project has provided us with an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other charities and organisations to provide the best support and opportunities for veterans and their families in our area. With the new activities we can provide, we are seeing engagement with veterans who have not reached out to us before.”

Breakfast, a brew and so much more

Sporting Force has established a new Combat Café in Darlington with six very vulnerable veterans already accessing this new service and being additionally supported by other portfolio partners from within the VPPP programme. This follows the success of their Combat Café in Leeds, in collaboration with Leeds United Foundation which, as well as a free breakfast and a brew, provides activities such as indoor games and quizzes, free tickets to football matches and guest speakers, including Leeds United legend Noel Wheelan. The organisation hopes the new café will share the same success.

Find out more about the positive work of VPPP

It’s great to see such an effective mix of boots on the ground, virtual delivery and national charities, coming together to provide a strong network of support for veterans in the area.

We’ll continue to track the positive impact of this and the other Veterans’ PPP awards and share more good news of the support veterans are receiving.

Find out more about Sporting Force and the work they are doing in support of veterans, on their website,

You can also find out more about the fantastic work funded by the Veterans’ PPP programme, here.