Sport, Culture & Wellbeing: Community approaches to promote the wellbeing of British Nuclear Test Veterans and their families

Amy Prescott, Professor Tess Kay and Professor Louise Mansfield

The aim of this research project is to understand how community sport and cultural activities may help and contribute to improving the health and wellbeing of British nuclear test veterans and their families.

There are known health and wellbeing issues associated with military service. In particular, a survey conducted by Miles and Green of British nuclear test veterans in 2011 found that 72% of the veterans had reduced quality of life, 35% considered themselves anxious or depressed and 45% had not accessed any health and social care provision despite the clear need for them.

Community approaches have been successful in enhancing health and wellbeing generally. This involves working closely with people to understand their health and wellbeing needs and to develop appropriate activities and programmes. Despite the potential benefits of community health and wellbeing programmes for nuclear veterans and their families, researchers and practitioners have had limited involvement with them. Indeed, there are no published studies to date on the wellbeing of nuclear test veterans and their families. The purpose of our work is to develop partnerships with the nuclear veteran community to co-design and provide activities that can improve their health and wellbeing on a daily basis.

Therefore, our objectives for this research project are:

  1. To understand what it means to identify as a British nuclear test veteran and to be a part of the BNTV community.
  2. To identify what the health and wellbeing issues are within the BNTV community.
  3. To identify and co-design cultural and/or sporting interventions to address and alleviate the health and wellbeing issues within the BNTV community.

This project will use qualitative research methods which allow people to express their own views and feelings about key community and personal topics which are of importance to them. This includes the use of informal interviews and group discussions. Our approach is to listen to peoples’ personal stories and to identify actions that may be taken by both individuals and the community to address issues that effect their health and wellbeing. Our focus on community sport and cultural activities is supported by the extensive evidence that a wide variety of physical and social activities can enhance health and wellbeing. Such activities might include music and singing, dance, walking, cycling, reading, drawing and painting, conservation or remembrance photography. We will work very closely with community groups to tailor the activities to the personal circumstances of the veterans.

What do we aim to do, how will we do it and when? The Research Process