Image for Walking with the Wounded News - OP-REGEN volunteers plant thousands of trees across Greater Manchester in environmental initiative to help them back into work / (City of Trees OP-REGEN 
 - City of Trees- OP REGEN 

OP-REGEN volunteers plant thousands of trees across Greater Manchester in environmental initiative to help them back into work

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.

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

The veterans are provided with training and tools and measures are in place to observe social distancing throughout.

Scott Briggs, OP-REGEN Project Manager, says: “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.

“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 woodlands for the people of Greater Manchester. The charity is also part of the network of community forests delivering the planting for the Northern Forest.

Kevin Wigley, Operations Manager from City of Trees, says: “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.”

About the OP-REGEN volunteers:

Adam, from Urmston, served in the Army with the Royal Logistic Corps as a chef. He was medically discharged in 2019 after a road traffic accident left him with life-changing injuries in 2016.

Adam suffered life-changing injuries to his legs, arms, and skull resulting in a traumatic brain injury.

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’m still able to contribute and add value in different areas. It’s good teamwork, just like in the military.