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Wright uses rugby mentoring skills on services pilot scheme

11 October 2012

  • Derbyshire Community Rugby Coach helps sick serviceman
  • Rugby helps Sean Wright to mentor on SSAFA project

Sean Wright, the RFU Community Rugby Coach for Derbyshire, is using some of the skills he has developed with the RFU as a coach educator and mentor to help wounded, injured and sick servicemen and women make the difficult transition back into civilian life.

Ilkeston-based former Gulf War veteran Wright is working as a voluntary mentor for a Forces Charity, by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association to support men and women leaving the army.

Wright is one of 50 mentors nationwide who signed up earlier this year on a pilot scheme being run nationwide and who is now working on a one-to-one basis with a mentee.

The project is being run in partnership with Army Recovery Capability and has been funded by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, the Forces in mind Trust, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Army Central Fund.

The mentors were trained over three days at the Army chaplaincy centre near Andover in Hampshire and Wright has found that some of the skills he has developed in rugby have helped him in his mentoring role.

“I wanted to get involved in volunteering in a forces charity and I spotted an advert asking for volunteers for this pilot mentoring scheme early in the New Year,” Wright said.

“The aim of the scheme is for the mentors to take the hand of the mentee and help them back into civvie street. There are no right or wrong answers, it’s about helping to make sure that people are going in the right direction.

“As an RFU coach mentor there is a bit more technical advice needed to correct the way coaches do things and helping them to discover new and better ways of improving.

“The approach with the army is more sign-posting, letting the mentee discover the right path for themselves. I’ve found the experience to be a hugely positive one and also extremely rewarding. It does put your own little difficulties into perspective.”

Wright is bound by confidentiality agreements which prevent him from identifying his mentee other than to say that he is a 40-year-old man, based in Yorkshire who is recovering from a cancerous brain tumor.

The pilot scheme, which will conclude in April, is being constantly evaluated and the impact on the mentors is also taken into consideration.

“We have to feedback on a regular basis on how we are feeling and we are given a lot of support, practically and emotionally,” Wright said.

“Some of my colleagues are working with people who have been severely injured in combat, including triple amputees, and who are learning to live in very difficult circumstances. That can be quite upsetting for the mentors and we are offered whatever emotional support we need.”

If the mentoring scheme is successful it could be rolled out across the Army and potentially all armed services.

SSAFA Forces Help will help anyone who is currently serving in our Armed Forces, whether as a regular or reservist. They also help anybody who has ever served, even if it was for just one day, and they will also help the families of anyone who is serving, or who has ever served, in our Armed Forces.

The SSAFA's motto is: One day's service, a lifetime of support.