• Offer respite to Veterans through re-engagement with wild spaces;

  • Deliver evidence-based, positive change in the mental well-being of Veterans;

  • Through partnership, achieve self-sufficiency and add value to the community.


47% of the Veterans we surveyed consider their mental well-being to be poor or very poor.

There are estimated to be 2. 5 million Military Veterans in the UK and they form a socioeconomically disadvantaged group. Historically ignored, Veterans returning to civilian life can feel alienated, lacking the sense of belonging, the camaraderie and focus that military service gives.

Often suffering from the mental and physical traumas of war, Veterans:

  • Are 11% more likely to suffer from a long-term illness that limits activity;
  • are 4% more likely to suffer from depression;
  • those suffering from PTSD are 4% more likely to be convicted of a violent offence;
  • are 13% more likely to be unemployed;
  • are twice as likely to misuse alcohol;
  • have been found to be over-represented in the most severe and enduring types of homelessness.

Little more than lip service is paid to supporting Veterans in need and although there is little in the way of official statistics, the realisation is mounting that the issue of Veteran’s mental health is of pandemic proportions. The burden of support falls upon not for profit organisations and Belisama’s Retreat addresses this clearly defined area of need.

As part of our research into the demand for Belisama’s Retreat we are conducting an anonymous survey to gain a better understanding of mental and physical well-being amongst the UK population and the specific issues that Veterans face.

We asked respondents, on a scale of 1 (low) to 5 (high), how they rated their mental well-being and split the results into three groups: Civilians, Veterans and serving UK Military personnel.

57% of the Veterans who have visited Belisama’s Retreat, 47% of all Veterans and 49% of serving personnel consider their mental well-being to be low in contrast to 29% in Civilians.

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92% of people who visit Belisama’s Retreat feel that their visit(s) produce a significant improvement in their mental well-being.

Ecotherapy is clinically proven to assist mental health recovery and at Belisama’s we employ it to offer respite, space to breathe, re-engagement with wild spaces and an opportunity for Veterans to re-gain their emotional resilience and self-esteem. Belisama’s Retreat employs a clearly defined mechanism to produce positive outcomes:

Pioneering activities based around a woodland “Harbour area” where both Veterans and the general public can learn or rediscover the core skills of campcraft, woodcraft and wilderness living; positive involvement of Veterans and other user groups in improving the environment through land management and conservation; the company of like-minded individuals. Sharing of experiences and self-exploration around the focal point of the campfire; Engagement with nature, fresh air and space.

  • 84% of the people we asked felt that being outdoors reduced their stress levels;

  • 66% felt it helped with their anxiety;

  • 27% said it helped reduce panic attacks;

  • 55% used outdoor spaces to control anger;

  • 74% felt it helped them overcome depression.

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Partnership, community & self-sufficiency

Our aim is for the retreat to be financially self-sufficient and have a development plan in place for the next 20 years. This involves working in partnership with the community to rejuvenate our woodland, use its resources for commercial products and make it accessible for a wide range of community groups as an area for shared learning, skills development and recreation.

We are currently working in partnership with and taking/making referrals with the following community organisations: