Raise the Game: 4 years on and going strong!
- Credit: Emily Damment
We look back on four years of Raise the Game - an initiative launched in response to health and well-being concerns within the gamekeeping community
RAISE the Game was launched in summer 2018 in response to concern for the health and wellbeing of those in the gamekeeping community. The partnership across the fieldsports sector brings together key organisations to work with the Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust (GWT). Four years later, the initiative has made great headway, but there’s still work to do.
The initiative launched with a varied package of support from the GWT, backed up by awareness-raising from partners and other organisations linked to the sector. Support includes Gamekeeping for Life Packs, Student Support Packs & Survival Kits, a Mentoring Service from established keepers, a focus group supporting promotion at grass roots level, and Jamie’s Helpline – free, confidential and available 24/7.
A key success from Raise the Game is the STAG course. Developed by the GWT and award-winning IED Training Solutions, STAG looks at leadership, career pathways, resilience, and coping strategies. The former Royal Marines-turned-trainers drew on their experiences to address common themes between the two professions including family sacrifice, poor weather, working in small teams, and more.
Wives and partners of men who attended STAG training were so taken with its positive impact, they requested a course for them. As a result, HIND was developed, covering understanding mental health, communication in relationships, nurturing, and developing resilience. The GWT recognise gamekeeping professions are livelihoods which shape the lifestyle of the whole family, and their support is for everyone. In 2020 the charity added free counselling to the range of assistance provided.
The GWT’s Raise the Game survey evidenced need for support in the sector. The Scottish Government’s 2021 report on abuse and waning optimism helped raise wider awareness of issues, indicating up to 64% of Scottish gamekeepers experience threatening behaviour or abuse from members of the public at least once each year .
GWT’s Chief Executive Helen MJ Benson commented: "In 2018 the GWT and others made a commitment to those in gamekeeping professions to be proactive regarding their health and wellbeing. We’ve made great strides forward with this in the last 4 years and we look forward to continuing with that progress. Our next phase of activity is Trauma Support, which will see a team of trained volunteers across the UK trained to provide grass roots support to families and individuals experiencing extreme and distressing situations."
Liam Stokes, Chief Executive of the British Game Assurance, said: "Many gamekeepers are feeling the pressure, the same gamekeepers who make game shooting possible. They often rely on their jobs not only for their salary but for their homes and vehicles. We think the work of the GWT has never been more important."