Ex-service personnel learn new skills in tree-planting project coming to Wigan

A team of ex-servicemen and women are learning about the environment as they plant thousands of trees across the city region in a programme designed to build their employment opportunities and improve their mental health.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 12:03 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 12:04 pm
L-R veterans Chris and Adam (red T shirt) from Walking With The Wounded planting with City of Trees in Manchester.

OP-REGEN is a volunteer programme run by military charity Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) which has partnered with charity City of Trees to offer paid short-term work to ex-service personnel to plant thousands of trees in Wigan Oldham, Bury, Rochdale, Tameside and Salford.

The team are now learning how to plan and create new woodlands and learn new practical skills.

Scott Briggs, OP-REGEN project manager, said: “Walking With The Wounded works with ex-military in the UK to support a pathway for disadvantaged veterans to reintegrate back into society and to sustain their independence.

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“This programme has been brilliant. We have 14 former veterans who are all learning new skills in paid employment, meeting people and having a positive impact on the communities where they live. It’s great to see the team share their experiences and talk to other individuals from a similar background.”

City of Trees plants trees and restores Greater Manchester woodlands.

Kevin Wigley, operations manager from City of Trees, said: “We work with lots of community groups to deliver tree planting sessions. Working with the veterans has been great. They’ve all got stuck in and worked really hard to plant trees as the planting season draws to a close.

“We know that nature has huge benefits for our mental and physical health and I hope these veterans have benefited from the programme as we will all benefit from the trees that they’ve planted.”

Adam 26, served in the Royal Logistic Corps as a chef until a road smash left him with life-changing injuries including brain damage. He has been with Walking With The Wounded for 18 months.

He said: “I love being outdoors. I’ve met loads of people through OP-REGEN and made some good friends. I was getting really bored and depressed being at home and this programme has been great for lifting my spirits. Although I find it hard to dig, we have a system in place where I put all the trees in the correct place and then I’m able to fill the wheelbarrow with the woodchips and put them on the planted trees. It’s good teamwork.”

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