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Young readers ‘book a passage’ to easing stress

From a Special Correspondent

THE FirstLight Trust in Gosport has been collaborating with Elson School Heroes as part of its autumn Stress Down Day Initiative.

Last week at the Elson Community Library Hub, veterans and schoolchildren sat down together and enjoyed reading War Game. The book explores themes of resilience, empathy, stress and loss.  This in turn, sparked a truly engaging discussion about these matters amongst the participants.

The past 18 months have presented enormous challenges to everyone across the globe. And given the weather, the climate, the news and the world, there has never been a better time to take an hour out of your day to do something fun! Stress Down Day is the perfect opportunity to take some time to relax, ground yourself and work in some self-care.

This year, FirstLight is putting the spotlight on reading as a superior stress buster. It has many benefits including increasing empathy, improving mental acuity and encouraging imagination to take flight. Reading can take us to another world, a place where anything is possible and we can leave problems and stress behind for a time.

Stress Down Day happens twice a year, once in the in the autumn when the clocks go back and then again in spring before the clocks go forward. And this autumn the day is Friday, October 29.

FirstLight Trust is inviting you to come to one of our fantastic Café Hub locations to chill out, read a book and have a cup of tea and a cake; take that hour, pop in and take some time to ‘stress down’. It’s simple to take part.  First, decide how long you’d like to take to chill out and Stress Down and if you cannot get to one of our hubs, have a think about what book to read or what you’d like to do.

The activity to de-stress can be as simple and effective as a good yawn and stretch, practising a spot of yoga or catching up with a friend. And if you want a double whammy of feel-good factor, slip a donation into the mix to help support the work we are doing for the emergency services. A £5 donation for an hour to de-stress and provides a warm mug of tea or coffee in our Café Hub, £10 for two hours can help fund an emergency meal; £20 for an afternoon off can help fund 30 minutes of counselling or £50 for the whole day can pay for a support worker to support an emergency service veteran for half a day; all of which will help us make a real difference. And lastly, smile and RELAX!

Dorinda Wolfe Murray, founding trustee of FirstLight Trust, said: “Taking time out is vital; it helps us deal with life, relax and smile – and I cannot think of a better use of an hour or two.”

Wellbeing Wednesdays

If you are not local to one of the Café Hubs, post a video of yourself to our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts showing us what you like to do to reduce stress.  Do you dance to the radio in your kitchen? Or do you prefer playing card games with your kids? Perhaps you like ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’ when you take a few hours mid-week to focus on a hobby you love? There are so many easy ways to give your mental health the attention it deserves.

Please donate to or participate in Stress Down Day by visiting  If you are in the Gosport, Hawick, Hereford, Lancaster or Scarborough area, please pop into one of our Café Hubs to learn more about how you can take part, or just for a lovely cup of coffee and a friendly chat.

PICTURED: Elson schoolchildren joining emergency services veterans for their stress-busting reading session