Veteran Support Programmes

Waterloo Uncovered is a groundbreaking charity that combines world-class archaeology with a programme of care and recovery for Veterans and Serving Military Personnel (VSMP) who have struggled with the physical or mental impacts of their service.

In 2022, we will run five Veteran Support Programmes for VSMP.

Uncover, Discover, Recover

Since 2015, Waterloo Uncovered has been taking VSMP to excavate on the site of one of the world’s most decisive battles – Waterloo in Belgium – where we have made important new discoveries about the fighting there, and about the people who took part.

As the charity has grown, so has our scope of support programmes. In addition to our annual excavation at Waterloo, we now offer a varied range of programmes, all of which use archaeology as a primary tool to improve the wellbeing, education and recovery of our participants.

We’ve now supported over 150 VSMP from a number of different countries, and we look forward to supporting many more in 2022 and beyond.

Find out what our programme participants got up to in 2021:

Application and Requirements

No specific archaeological experience or knowledge is required to take part in our work – all training will be done as part of our programmes. Refer to our prospectus for eligibility criteria and number of places available for each programme.

Please note we can only accept applications that come via our referral partners, who help us to identify suitable candidates. A full list of our Cobseo member referral partners can be found here. If you are a veteran or a serving member of the armed forces and you’re interested in enrolling on one of our programmes, please do get in touch and we can support you in finding a referral organisations. Places are very limited and applications will close when places have been filled.

Applications for our 2021 programmes are now closed and will reopen in early 2022.

Programme Structure
Waterloo Uncovered programmes run year round. They are designed to maximise support whilst avoiding long term dependency. Participants will be an integral part of our work and team for a 12 month period. The main programme content is delivered in the middle of these 12 months. From application stage right through to the group reunions that conclude the programmes, we support our participants throughout.
Stage one - interview and selection. Stage two - onboarding. Stage three - main programme content. Stage four - Goal evaluation and continued support. Stage 5 - reunion. These five stages take place over a 12 month support period.
Learn more about the programmes available in 2022 by downloading our Programme Prospectus.

“Waterloo Uncovered has given me a handrail to life-it has helped me keep focussed whilst dealing with the day-to-day stress” - Excavation Programme Participant

2021 Programmes Reunion

In January, we hosted a reunion for the participants of all our 2021 Programmes, celebrating their hard work and achievements over the last year. Watch the highlight video from the reunion to find out more.

Virtual Programme

We delivered our first ‘virtual’ programme in 2020 in response to Covid-19, so we could continue to support VSMP at a time when many of them would have felt the profound effects of loneliness and isolation.

The content of this programme focuses on many aspects of Waterloo – the battle itself, the history surrounding it, and of course its archaeology. Participants will have the opportunity to learn fundamental archaeological skills and techniques in addition to virtual museum trips, including a behind the scenes preview of the most prestigious collections at the British Museum with its top curators.

The virtual programme will encourage veterans to use mindful techniques and to engage in archaeology – with a focus on the Battle of Waterloo – in a new and meaningful way with a powerful emphasis on wellbeing.

Participants in a virtual meeting.
The Waterloo Uncovered virtual programme has given me the skills to try new things. It has shown me that archaeology can be enjoyed when blind, it has identified areas I would like to explore. The ethos of this charity gives us our dignity. - Virtual Programme Participant

Excavation Programme

Waterloo Uncovered has been taking VSMP to excavate on the Waterloo Battlefield since 2015, and we are hopeful that we will return in July with a new group of participants for the first time since the pandemic.

Similar to the Virtual Programme, this programme will also encourage veterans to use mindful techniques and to engage in archaeology with a powerful emphasis on wellbeing. The key difference is that this programme offers a practical and immersive experience with a two week trip to Belgium for hands-on excavation with a team of world renowned archaeologists.

As with all our programmes, the Excavation Programme places a strong emphasis on improving mental wellbeing and offers the space for Veterans to engage with a new group of people, archaeologists, students & international VSMP. Our professional and experienced Wellbeing & Support team will be available to provide help and assistance to our participants whenever they may need it.

Some veterans have had horrific accidents and horrific things happen to them. This project is doing them a huge amount of good, you can see it day on day, week on week. Some of these guys are coming out of their shells in ways they probably haven’t done in a great many years - Excavation Programme
Veterans during an excavation.

Creative Arts Programme

Our Creative Arts Programme demonstrates the amazing potential for therapeutic yet educational activities to enhance the lives of VSMP.

One of Waterloo Uncovered’s more recent but already highly successful programmes, the Creative Arts Programme is returning for its second year in 2022 and reflects our commitment to developing stimulating, mindful and creative workshops that include art, writing and poetry.

This programme presents an opportunity to re-engage with the military community and to explore the historical context of the Battle of Waterloo in ways which may resonate with their own military experience. Participants will be encouraged to achieve a different, positive perspective on their personal experiences, whilst developing a new interest.

A veteran painting a small figurine
As a totally blind individual, I was intrigued about the idea of participating in the Waterloo Uncovered Arts Programme – it seemed a bit impossible. However, when I thought about the wider aspects of art, it became obvious that there were areas with which I could get fully involved, and it has been fantastic! - Creative Arts Programme Participant

Finds Programme

Archaeological Finds; discovering them, cataloguing them, preserving them and sharing them is integral to Waterloo Uncovered.

In our second year of the Finds Programme, we will provide training for veterans to develop a handling collection that they will use to teach others about the benefits of archaeology for mental wellbeing. This programme not only cultivates and fosters a lasting connection to heritage, but it also gives participants the chance to discuss a number of sensitive topics, such as death, loss, injury and trauma.

Participants will build physical and digital assemblages over the period of a year. It will provide them with an opportunity to re-engage with the military community and to explore the historical context of the Battle of Waterloo in ways which may resonate with their own military experience.

I was thrown into the virtual world which was hard to adapt, however support from the WU team made this transition easier. I love the finds programme and I'm loving this new adventure - Finds Programme Participant

Participants at Waterloo Uncovered's finds archive.

Battlefields Uncovered

This programme, run in collaboration with Utrecht University, offers participants the chance to gain academic credits from an accredited university course held online.

Ideally suited to those who may be interested in gaining news skills through engaging lectures and seminars with a particular focus on history and archaeology, participants will journey across the globe and through the ages, starting with the Battle of Waterloo, to discover what investigating conflict can reveal about the past, the present and even ourselves.

This programme consists of lectures, seminars and interactive workshops hosted by a range of expert lecturers and leading scholars, totalling 30 hours of online learning content spread over three months (roughly 2 hours a week). Friendly discussions groups and social events will be held regularly to help combat the isolation that can be felt over winter.

Participants on a Battlefields Uncovered course
I have gained so much knowledge from my fellow students, particularly from the Veteran community. The timing of this course could not have been better as it alleviated a lot of the feelings of isolation throughout the lockdown period. The team’s support throughout this course has been wonderful and I cannot thank them enough. - Battlefields Uncovered Participant
Sponsors, Supporters and Partners

Annington Homes
The Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust
COBSEO The Confederation of Service Charities
University College Roosevelt
University of Glasgow
Utrecht University
Summer School Utrecht
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