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CashBack Gateway to Employment Wellness Retreat

20th September 2022
Image of a group of young people smiling at the camera with a white house in the background.

Participants from CashBack Gateway to Employment enjoyed a three day health and wellbeing retreat in Stucktaymore where they focused on personal development.

Participants from CashBack Gateway to Employment enjoyed a three day health and wellbeing retreat in Stucktaymore where they focused on personal development.

CashBack Gateway to Employment is a bespoke employability project focusing on engaging with young people from a variety of different backgrounds who are at risk of offending, (re)offending, or those living in the most deprived areas in need of advice and guidance, to progress into positive destinations. Delivering a wide range of life skills, personal development, employability and physical activity, the project’s aim is to assist those most in need of support in order to have an opportunity to change their lives and progress into positive destinations such as volunteering, training, education or employment.

We identified that many of our participants would benefit from the opportunity to engage in a wellness retreat to intensively work upon their personal development. 

The very word ‘retreat’ means “an act of moving back or withdrawing” and this is definitely what our participants experienced! Without the distraction of their everyday lives, they found themselves focusing on positive elements of self-development that they might have normally ignored or attempted to cram into hectic schedules.

Lauren Callan, Celtic FC Foundation Trauma Counsellor

Each participant enjoyed:

  • Time to focus and learn new skills through yoga and breath work.
  • Eating well – healthy vegan meals and time to try new foods.
  • Feel good experiences such as cold water therapy and abseiling.
  • A digital detox – time away from tech to fully focus on the here and now.
  • Time with likeminded people in a safe, positive environment.
  • Breaking unhealthy thinking habits and make positive adjustments to their lifestyles.
  • Energising themselves by taking part in outdoor exercise.
  • Activities that pushed out of the comfort zone, created a challenge and maximized personal growth.
  • Transferable skills to help deal with stress, anxiety, low mood and low motivation.
  • Setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely goals for themselves – in short pressing the reset button.
  • The shared experience of the retreat with their peers, championing each other throughout and creating strong friendships.

The participants found the retreat valuable and commented:

It was like I had lots of pain, and this [the retreat] was my medicine.  It was really good!

The people. Being with people meant the most to me.

I think every day was just kinda fun – I couldn’t think of a favourite moment!  I just really can’t express how grateful I am for the experience.  To have went up there [Stucktaymore] and done what I done, the abseiling and stuff – stuff I would never have gotten to do – it was amazing – good times!

I think this was a life changing experience….we’ve done a lot of good things.  My favorite was cold water therapy – really wakes you up and gets you ready for the day!  Brilliant – would do it all over again!

Additionally, the staff reflected upon the retreat:

The willingness and openness of all the participants was nothing short of miraculous!  The utter dedication and joy shown by all was heartwarming and reaffirmed why we do the roles we do.

I think for me, I feel it was double journey – the change in the young people and commitment for trying new things and comradery between them, but also for me as a person, I got a lot out of it, to reset and make some goals.

Delighted to be part of the whole experience and I found it to be overwhelmingly positive for everyone involved.

Absolutely outstanding experience, so privileged to be a part of it and experience it with the young people.  The journeys they are on are incredible and the retreat has just blown me away with what positive experience we have been able to offer them.

Research suggests that those who have attended a week long holistic retreat, showed substantial improvements in their psychological and physical wellbeing (Do wellness tourists get well?  An observational study of multiple dimensions of health and wellbeing after a week-long retreat – PMC [nih.gov] Cohen et al, 2017).  The most interesting statistic from this study was that six weeks later the improvements were still being displayed, suggesting that participants enjoyed benefits over and above the ‘vacation effect’.

Lauren Callan, Celtic FC Foundation Trauma Counsellor

The CashBack Gateway to Employment delivery staff noted baseline measurements of stress, anxiety, low mood, eating patterns and exercise for each of our participants with the view of revisiting these 6 weeks and 12 weeks after the retreat.  They will then use this data inform the future use of wellness retreats for Cashback Gateway to Employment. 

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