A leading charity for emergency service and military veterans is celebrating the results of their nationwide campaign to reduce stress. On 27 October, companies were encouraged to give their staff time off in exchange for a donation to Stress Down Day UK. Newspaper coverage and celebrities such as writer Stephen Fry and rugby international Serge Betsen on social media helped spread the message to more than 13 million people.

Dorinda Wolfe Murray of FirstLight Trust says: “Stress among our veterans is notoriously high. Because of this, we wanted to show how everyone can benefit from taking time to relax. Companies welcomed the opportunity to show their commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant through supporting the campaign and our products such as yellow jelly beans and stress balls proved to be a real hit. However, we were most proud of how people shared how they were making peace with stress, with posts streaming in of walks on the beach, knitting, yoga and even trampolining!”

Donations, merchandise sales and an auction including designer jewellery, a Philip Treacy hat and Mark Knopfler’s guitar helped raise more than £10,000 for the charity. The money will go towards supporting FirstLight Trust’s hubs across the country in Gosport, Redcar, Scarborough and a new one about to be opened in Lancaster.

“At our hubs veterans can get confidential advice, support or just a chat to help them combat any challenges they are facing,” explains Dorinda. “They are also charity cafes offering home-made delicacies to the public to help raise funds. This is pretty fitting given eating, cooking and hanging out with friends all made the Top 10 in our survey to find out the most popular ways to beat stress. We can’t wait for our next Stress Down Day UK on 23 March 2018 when we hope to spread the happiness even further!”