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Public Lecture: Creating a Sense of Togetherness: Reflections on Enhancing Resilience and Leadership within the Military and Sport

A man with a lower leg amputation sitting in a wheelchair and lifting dumbbells
Date and Time
21st June 2023, 17:30 - 18:30
The event has passed


This public lecture was delivered by Dr Jamie Barker, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, and Dr Craig White, Economic and Social Research Council Fellow, in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University, on Wednesday 21st June at 5:30pm.

In this talk, Dr Jamie Barker and Dr Craig White discussed their work within the fields of the military and sport using interventions to enhance leadership, resilience, and performance. Exploring the concepts of resilience and social identity leadership, Jamie and Craig looked at how interventions based around these themes have been utilised to promote a sense of togetherness within military and sporting teams, as well as to enhance the mental wellbeing of veterans.

Dr White shared his personal experiences of serving in Afghanistan and leading a multinational team working with the Afghan National Police, and why his research has proven success in it’s application. This included a discussion on his collaborative work with Dr Barker to deliver a resilience intervention with several RAF teams, including a combat air squadron, based around social identity theorising to increase feelings of connectedness within the team. Dr Barker also presented the outcomes of similar interventions in elite and professional sport.

Dr Barker and Dr White then discussed their latest work in the design and delivery of a Veterans’ Resilience Programme aimed at enhancing the resilience and mental wellbeing of military veterans suffering from mental wellbeing issues. The course included adaptive physical activities (for example, wheelchair basketball) as well as workshops on social and psychological resilience, sleep, and healthy eating. The impact of the course has been highly significant in improving mental wellbeing over time, with some of the veterans describing it to be either “life saving” or “life changing”.

The lecture concluded with Dr Barker and Dr White’s reflections on how others can best enhance leadership and resilience in the military and sporting contexts.

Dr Jamie Barker is a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, with an international research profile in areas of stress, group dynamics, wellbeing, and mental health. Jamie has secured over £1million in research funding to support key research programmes with the English Institute of Sport, The Football Association, The England and Wales Cricket Board, The World Anti-Doping Agency, the Armed Forces Covenant Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council. Additionally, he has authored over 85 scholarly publications and five books. Dr Barker has vast experience in evaluating programmes in the areas of sport, business, and the military. As such, he has experience of working with the RAF, as well as with veterans.

Dr Craig White is an Economic and Social Research Council Fellow at the University. He is also a veteran, having been medically discharged from the RAF in April 2022, following a 24-year career, within which he reached the rank of Wing Commander. On secondment from the RAF, he completed a PhD at Loughborough University from 2017-2020 examining psychological and social resilience within the RAF, including evaluating a resilience intervention that he designed aimed at enhancing resilience within RAF teams. In collaboration with Dr Barker, Dr White received a grant from the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund to deliver and a evaluate a resilience-based programme, using physical activity as the driver to enhance the wellbeing of veterans with mental health and wellbeing issues. His fellowship is intended to continue his work within the field of military and veterans’ resilience and wellbeing.

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