A team from scuba diving rehabilitation charity Deptherapy will be heading to the Caribbean island of Grenada for the first time this month as part of a two-year program funded by the U.K. Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust’s (AFCFT) Positive Pathways Program.
The expedition, which comprises several RAID training courses tailored to different beneficiaries as well as a reef survey, almost didn’t happen due to COVID-19 constraints.
The charity’s original plan for a two-week expedition to Egypt had to be re-booked and eventually cancelled, but thanks to the flexibility of the AFCFT and their strategic partners, the Invictus Games Foundation, permission was granted for the funding to be allocated by Deptherapy for an expedition to Grenada.
The Deptherapy team will be staying at the True Blue Bay Boutique Resort and diving with Aquanauts in Grenada. Aquanauts have experience working with clients who have mental and physical challenges and offer the accessibility that some expedition members require.
The 10-day expedition will take place from October 13th to 23rd, 2021 with the group having to quarantine in resort for two days while awaiting the results of “on arrival” COVID PCR tests. There will be at least seven days of diving which will comprise a RAID Deep Course, three RAID Advanced 35 courses and five RAID Nitrox courses.
Two or more days will be spent conducting a reef survey. This will be led by Deptherapy Ambassador and beneficiary Tom Oates, who is in his second year of studying for a degree in Marine Biology at Hull University. Expedition members have been supplied with Caribbean fish ID slates and are already developing their survey plan.
Over the last 18 months, the beneficiaries have been studying fish and coral ID led by Dr. Deborah McNeill of the Open Oceans Project as part of the Positive Pathways Program.
The reef survey work is leading toward the second part of the program which takes place in 2022 on an expedition to the Red Sea where a comparative survey of the aquatic life on the SS Turkia in the Gulf of Suez and the iconic SS Thistlegorm will be undertaken.
According to Dr. Richard Castle, an independent consultant psychologist specializing in trauma and one of Deptherapy’s vice presidents:
“The majority of Deptherapy’s beneficiaries have mental health challenges, predominantly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. For the last 18 months expeditions to Roots to complete the Marine Biology program have been cancelled, re-booked and cancelled again due to COVID. This can be extremely difficult for those with mental health challenges. I would like to say a huge thank you to the Armed Forces’ Covenant Fund Trust for being so flexible in allowing us to change our expedition plans at such short notice.
“We have a close relationship with the Trust, but I doubt that even they realise how important their flexibility is in supporting the mental health of our beneficiaries.”
For more info on Deptherapy’s work go to deptherapy.co.uk.
(Featured image credit: Aquanauts Grenada)