Skip to content

Mike’s story

Mike is a veteran client living at our homes in South Wales. He recently began working with Mel Watts, who runs our local Boots on the Ground activities. Here, he shares his thoughts on his recent experiences when he attended a camp and did a kayaking activity with fellow service users.

“I was somewhat apprehensive to start with as I had not been camping for a very long time.  I was unsure if I was expected to know how to erect a tent correctly; being ex-Navy, there is not much call for sleeping in fields!  Fortunately, I was with a group of fellow veterans who had done this before.  The first evening, once the galley was set up and we had done our personal admin, we gathered around and ate a hearty meal out of the rain.  After a brew, we were like a family gathered around the kitchen table, telling stories and enjoying the company.  If someone from outside had turned up, they would think we had known each other for years.

“The next day, we woke at 6:30 and noticed all the farm animals and local wildlife were still in bed!!! After food, we had a safety brief ahead of the kayaking, and it was here that my anxiety levels began to increase.  This is because I have a device fitted to my back for pain relief, and I worried it would not work or that it would get ruined, although it is safe in water.  Once out on the water, I relaxed; my back felt good, and although there was a slight drizzle in the air, the temperature was comfortable, and we stuck together as a team.

The service providers pulled us together and told us about the wildlife and the rock formations, which was interesting.  When a greater swell developed, we could get into caves and see things we would never have seen.  These challenges were mentally and physically challenging, but the BOTG staff and service providers were patient and encouraging, and there was no pressure to do anything.  On the return journey, I began to feel the wind had picked up, and we were battling against the tide going out, which affected me mentally and physically, but |I had lots of encouragement from every one, with each of them taking turns to stay with me.  I knew I had to overcome my negativity, so I dug deep, which gave me great achievement.

On returning to camp, we had a debrief, during which we were asked how we felt about the day and how we overcame our fears and hurdles. Everyone said it had been down to the encouragement. That evening around the table, we were even closer as a team after enduring a tough day at sea, during which we supported each other to overcome any fears and doubts about our ability.

The next day, we were up early again, and everyone was still laughing at the conversations from the night before. We then broke camp together, with each of us going around helping each other and getting stuck in.

What did I glean from this experience? A sense of purpose, knowing I was part of a well-oiled machine. It helped by being a form of therapy, and my mental health is greatly improved. I hope we do more of these trips, which are so beneficial. Everyone grew closer, and we formed friendships because we all had each other’s backs.

Mel, Si and Dave are amazing!!!  They always have our interests at the forefront.”

How you can help

Like to get more involved with our work?  We can’t do what we do without our supporters and fundraisers, whether that is running a fundraising event or taking part in one of our public events, or whether it is by volunteering your time and working alongside our clients. Please get in touch to find out how to be involved.


We rely on donations to continue our life-changing work providing care and support to homeless adults, young people, veterans and those with learning disabilities. Your generosity changes lives.

Find out more
Client at her desk in an Alabare home
Sponsor a room

Your donation will give someone who is homeless and vulnerable a warm, safe place to call home. Your generosity will not only help provide accommodation and support but also training and life skills.

Find out more

Our fantastic supporters put on all kinds of events and undertake incredible charity challenges, from quiz nights to raffles, from walks to Atlantic crossings – the more creative, the better!

Find out more

Quick contact

If you need some help or have any questions please get in touch. We will get back to you within 48 hours for any general enquiries. If you need emergency help click here

"*" indicates required fields

We will only contact you about this enquiry, and will not add you to any marketing lists etc.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.