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The heart of the Dockyard

Looking after your mental wellbeing

Our current living and working situations present challenges for us all. Last year Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust became the first heritage site in the country to sign the ‘Time to Change Employer Pledge‘ which demonstrates our commitment to mental health in the workplace. There are also a number of national, regional and local organisations that are equipped to help us through difficult times.

To find out more about Mental Health Support during the Covid-19 pandemic specifically in North Kent & Medway please click here.

Wellness Blog

... taking time to reflect on the moment

As a continuation of the work we produced supporting Mental Health Awareness Week, we have decided to publish a weekly blog dedicated to wellness. We’ve asked a few of our staff, volunteers and organisations we work closely with to write a journal post and diary a day in lock down. These blogs will provide a snapshot of the everyday lives, experiences and wellbeing of our people.

Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week

18 - 24 May 2020


Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems, it aims to inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.

The coronavirus outbreak has taken many of us by surprise. The pandemic isn’t just having an impact on physical health (although restrictions are beginning to lift, allowing unlimited outside exercise) but perhaps more so on mental health. However, the one thing that we have seen all over the world is that kindness is prevailing.  In response, ‘Kindness’ has been announced as the new theme for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Kindness has been chosen because of its singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health.

During Mental Health Week the Dockyard wants to shine a light, not only on the ways that kindness is already flowing at this time – in local neighbours Whatsapp groups, befriending volunteers and rainbows of hope in the windows, but also to encourage kindness to spread further in every community in the UK.

Random Act of Kindness

... take action today

We know kindness and our mental health are deeply connected, it is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging.

Get involved and make someone’s day by carrying out a Random Act of Kindness for someone else.

Here are some idea of how you can get involved and it doesn’t need to cost a thing:

  • Reach out to someone you have not spoken to for a while to have a phone call catch up or a virtual tea and cake
  • Send a small gift through the post
  • Post a lottery ticket under your friends door with a note
  • Host a virtual surprise birthday party, pub quiz or book club
  • Send a list of recommended podcasts over email
  • Take over an admin task you know a colleague is struggling with
  • Leave baked goods or home picked flowers on someone’s doorstep
  • Set up a treasure hunt in a local park for a colleague and their family
  • Post a book or DVD you recommend that you have already read or seen
  • Make a small donation on behalf of someone
  • Offer to walk their dog for them
  • Give a free tech lesson over the phone/ help with someone’s online shop or online calls with family
  • Send a small painting, drawing or something you have made to someone
  • Make an origami card and drop it of (see below for instructions)

(You may feel a bit nervous or foolish but take a step of bravery to make a positive difference, it can even be anonymous if you would prefer)

Let’s share the joy!

We would love to hear your Random Act of Kindness story, please share a picture with us via Social Media or email using #KindnessMatters

Small steps to improve your mental wellbeing

Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. We have combined some practical tips to boost your mood and improve your health while you are social distancing, all based on the NHS England’s 5 Steps to Wellbeing.

  1.  Give to others

Helping others is a great way not only to do good for someone else but to also make ourselves feel happy. Whilst the person you are helping will inevitably benefit, you will soon find yourself benefitting too. There are a number of ways that you can do your bit to help those in need throughout the community. This could be as little as a friendly phone call to somebody lonely, or if you can, offering more practical help to an elderly neighbour who might live alone.

Many reputable organisations are very happy to take on new volunteers to help with tasks such as driving elderly people in need or taking a dog out for a walk. If you would like to take a step further and volunteer for a particular charity, you can sign up very quickly and easily. We recommend reading into the NHS befriending scheme or the Silver Line scheme.

Find out more about NHS Volunteering tips and other schemes.

Baking and cooking is another great way to ‘gift’ both to people in your home and those nearby. There’s nothing better than the smell of homemade scones or a loaf of bread fresh from the oven (especially if you didn’t make them and they were dropped at your door).

From the volunteers who served onboard HMS Cavalier, there are mixed feelings about the food depending on the commission. However, with some of the more polite Navy food terms below, we’re sure you can guess what most of the food on board was like:

  • Spithead Pheasant (Kipper)
  • Train Smash (Tomato au Gratin)
  • Teddy Bear’s Ears (Prawn crackers)
  • Babies Heads (Tinned steak and kidney pudding)
  • Yellow Peril (Smoked Haddock)
  • Baby Spew (Sandwich spread)
  • Skinheads on a Raft (Beans on toast)
  • Deadfly Biscuits (Biscuits with currents)

Chatham stew anyone? This menu was taken from Periscope in 1977 …

However, it wasn’t all bad! We’ve found some Navy menus in our Collections. We believe these are from dinners at Pembroke Barracks as the artist (Admiral Sir Edward Eden Bradford) was Commodore of Chatham Naval Barracks at the time the cards were painted.

If you fancy trying some original Royal-navy recipes from home, here’s an all time favourite, Bread and Butter Pudding:

Or maybe you fancy trying Patriotic Pudding?

Acts of gallantry:

Why was stoker Frederick Marshall awarded an Albert Medal “For Gallantry In Saving Life At Sea” and how did he save many lives on board HMS Vengeance with a potato sack?

Read our latest blog post to find out more.


2. Connect with other people

Staying connected is a great way to feel happy. Keeping in contact with other people not only combats boredom, but is also critical for minimising any feelings of isolation or loneliness. Talking to others helps to provide a sense of community and empowerment.

Top tips for staying in touch:

  • Phone or send a quick text to a family member
  • Host a virtual birthday party for someone who will be missing out
  • Make a virtual quiz or try playing games with some friends on the app “Houseparty”

Download the Zoom app and instructions here.

Make an origami card

Do you need some ideas for your Random Act of Kindness? How about making something to help you connect with your friends, family or colleagues?

Follow our step by step instructions to make an origami card. Decorate your own or download our template.  This is also a great activity to share with your children.

Alternatively, take a look at our macramé craft video and make a friendship bracelet.

3. Be active

Getting out of the house and being active is a fantastic way to feel good and more relaxed. Regular physical activity is directly associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety across people of all ages. Exercise doesn’t have to be particularly intense for you to see the benefits – slower-paced activities such as walking are just as good!

Work out – Navy Style

Now you don’t have to do one of these intense looking Navy work outs to be active.  How about exploring somewhere new each time you go out?

If you live locally, we have a great trail that allows you to discover the exceptional story of Chatham’s Dockyard and Defences. You can even take the option to go “off route” and discover historic sites – have you seen the new free pedestrian entrance to Fort Amherst at Barrier Road? Or the brand new amphitheatre? Thanks to the Command of the Heights project and the Heritage Fund for these great new additions.

Download the Chatham Dockyard Defences Trail Leaflet.

If you do see yourself as really fit, could you pass the Royal Navy pre-joining fitness test?

Royal Navy:

The pre- joining fitness test is conducted on a treadmill. You will be required to run 2.4km in a time specific to your gender and age group.

Can you do it?

Age Female Male
15-24 14 min 29 sec 12 min 16 sec
25-29 14 min 58 sec 12 min 42 sec
30-34 15 min 29 sec 13 min 09 sec
35 – 39 16 min 0 sec 13 min 37 sec

Royal Marine Commando:

You will need to complete 2 x 2.4km runs on a treadmill. To pass you will need to do run No.1 in less than 12.30 minutes. Run No.2 will start after a one-minute break and will need to be completed in less than 10.30 minutes.

The time is an absolute minimum requirement and the expectation is that you return the best possible result.

Are you up for it?

Don’t forget to warm up before you start. These pictures are taken from “Physical and Recreational Training Volume I: Physical Training, 1955, Admiralty Issue BR Training Manual”

4. Take Notice, pay attention to the present

Paying more attention to the present can help to improve mental wellbeing. This includes your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you.

Try listening to podcasts, whether these be simply for entertainment, or to focus on learning something new. You can choose from a range of different podcasts and listen to these as much as you like. Alongside podcasts, there are educational and practical videos to be found online and on social media. For example, you can watch tips on how to paint a picture of a landscape, or take a live online cooking class.

The Dockyard’s favourite podcasts:

  • Happy Place by Fearne Cotton – what happiness means to her guests
  • Walking The Dog with Emily Dean – join Emily with her friends as she walks her dog talking all things funny and extraordinary
  • Desert Island Disks, BBC Radio 4 – Each podcast is by a different guest, share their soundtrack of their lives. These include Daniel Radcliffe, Ian Wright, Heidi Thomas (CTM writer) Louis Theroux etc.

Jigsaw puzzles can also be a great way to slow down and distract yourself while under lockdown.

If you have already completed all the jigsaw puzzles you have in your house, we’ve created some online jigsaws based on images in our collections. Give them a try by clicking on the pictures below …


For those of you undertaking the Arts Award you could even create your own with a picture you have drawn or painted.

Writing a daily journal is an excellent way to take notice and reflect on the moment. Some of the team have kindly volunteered to diary a day in lockdown. Read their accounts:

Eileen Clegg
Community Archaeological Producer, National Museum Royal Navy 

Chloe Wilson
Hospitality Sales Executive, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust

Vikkie Mulford
Digital Engagement Officer, Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust


5. Keep Learning

Immersing yourself in gaining a new qualification is great for your CV but also for your mindset. If you are finding yourself bored or un-motivated, why not try a free course? There are multiple online courses that are completely free and will really help you focus on gaining something positive.

Vision2Learn offers a broad and exciting range of qualifications online, with each course funded by the Government – so, if you are eligible, you can study for free.

If you are looking for a qualification that can be used in any job, or even to have handy in day-to-day life, why not try to get a first aid or safety qualification? Hawksafe is offering a discount on e-learning courses at the moment, and offer over 100 training course options.

Online Talk: Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744
Delivered in partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy and Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust invite you to join a talk on our upcoming exhibition Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744.

Part 1: HMS Invincible
Thursday 21 May:  2pm – 3pm

Join this virtual talk to find out more about the story of the amazing HMS Invincible, her capture, the contribution she made to the British Royal Navy and ship design and her subsequent sinking and rediscovery by a local fisherman, Arthur Mack, nearly 200 years later.

Part 2: Marine archaeological techniques and conservation
Thursday 28 May: 2pm – 3pm

The original archaeological excavation of this ship took place in the 1980s and a number of the finds from this dig were donated to Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust’s collection. Sadly the wreck is submerged in a sandbank under the River Solent and is rapidly becoming unprotected as the sands are washed away. Therefore, 40 years later divers have returned to undertake rescue archaeology.  Find out more about excavation techniques, the secrets they are uncovering and the conservation of the objects once they have been recovered.

How to join
Both of these talks will take place via ‘Zoom’. When the talk is due to take place please sign in (you will need to make a free account if you have not used Zoom before) via the link below and enter the assigned Meeting ID.

Please email Ally Curson ( to sign up. Ally will send you the Zoom Meeting ID. There are a set number of places available, if the talks get fully booked, additional dates and times will be rearranged.

Every mind matters

Public Health England have tailored their new “Mind Plan” tool for the coronavirus outbreak (Covid-19).

If you take this rapid online quiz, you will be emailed a tailored mental health support plan and given ideas straight away online.

Take the quiz

If you cannot wait to see a doctor and feel unable to cope or keep yourself safe, it’s important to get support – services are still open during the coronavirus pandemic. Don’t suffer in silence.

Release the Pressure:

Find out more about services that are still open during the pandemic.