Hundreds of Scottish Veterans and Their Families Celebrate New Jobs Thanks To Charity Initiative

Annette Berry of RFEA with Gary Gray of PoppyScotland

Hundreds of Scottish veterans and their families are celebrating securing meaningful employment in civilian roles, thanks to the support of RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity.

There are around 214,000 working age veterans in Scotland, yet research shows that they are more likely to be unemployed, have lower levels of education and home ownership than other civilians,[1] with some figures suggesting they are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population.[2]

In response, RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity has extended its unique Ex-Forces Programme, providing Regional Employment Advisors across Scotland who are on hand to offer comprehensive career advice and access to job opportunities. The programme is open to service leavers, reservists and veterans, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service or reason for leaving, with a bespoke Families Programme also available to provide support to their partners and spouses.

Since introducing the team, who have bases in East and West Scotland, the programme has helped over 1000 veterans and their families with individually tailored employment advice and guidance, resulting in hundreds of new jobs being secured.

Mark Withers, from East Kilbride, served as an Army Guardsman and had been out of work for nine years due to caring for his mother who suffers from vascular dementia. He says:

“I was lacking confidence and didn’t know where to start with getting back into the workplace. After reaching out to RFEA I was contacted by an advisor the very next day. She listened to my circumstances and was able to suggest a series of short, middle and long-term goals. This made the process of understanding and figuring out the path back into employment stress free. My advisor was always at the end of a text or email and I was given support with my CV, finding local employers, interview preparation and given referrals to other organisations to support me with other issues I was facing. I now have a job as a loss prevention officer which has opportunities to progress into management. Getting my foot back in the door has been a massive stress off my shoulders especially financially and emotionally – the help I received from my RFEA advisor to secure my new job has been invaluable and I cannot thank her enough.”

Kenneth Nesbitt from Rosyth, a former CPO in the Royal Navy, sought help from RFEA after he was made redundant. He says:

“It was a difficult time after my previous position became redundant – I was losing money fast, despite tightening my budget. I also knew that the longer I was out of work, the more detrimental it would become for my mental health. In addition, I had enjoyed my previous job so much, I did not want to go into a job that did not match it in terms of job satisfaction.

“My RFEA Employment Advisor understood that I prefer working in a supportive team, that I need to be stretched and challenged, and that I did not want ‘any old job’. She kept a lookout for suitable positions, brought them to my attention, and discussed with me their suitability. Once I’d decided on applying for positions, she was able to review my applications and ensure an expert eyed second opinion was always available. For the job I have now as an Employment Coach, she helped me rehearse and prepare for the interview, then discussed with me how it went. Thanks to RFEA’s help, I have found the part-time role I wanted, in exactly the skill-set areas I possess and the gradual beginnings of sliding into despondency and subsequent mental health problems were immediately alleviated. I now work within a small team of extremely high-functioning, witty, intelligent, and supportive people. I, as others are in the team, are given almost complete autonomy to develop our own practices as individuals and as a team, and I could not be happier.”

RFEA’s Chief Executive, Alistair Halliday, adds:

“Whilst many veterans transition easily into civilian life, some struggle with challenges such as adapting to a new working culture, needing careers advice and job opportunities, as well as more serious obstacles including housing, debt, substance and alcohol misuse, through to health issues such as PTSD.

“RFEA’s support is invaluable as many of our advisors are ex-Forces themselves, so they really understand the unique needs of a veteran seeking employment. The help we offer is based on a completely tailored approach that is based entirely on the needs of each individual, coupled with a thorough knowledge of the local job market. As a result, we see life changing differences being made to our clients in Scotland and beyond.”

RFEA’s work in Scotland is made possible thanks to generous funding from Poppyscotland, the Veterans’ Foundation, Scottish Veterans Fund, ABF (Army Benevolent Fund), RNRMC (Royal Navy Royal Marines Charity), RAF BF (RAF Benevolent Fund) and has recently been awarded a National Lottery award from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Gary Gray, Head of Welfare Services at Poppyscotland, says:

“Finding a suitable and sustainable employment after leaving the military is vital. While most veterans go on to make a really positive impact in their post-Service roles, the adjustment to the civilian workplace can be incredibly difficult for many.  Partnership working lies at the heart of Poppyscotland’s approach and we’d delighted to have extended a very long and successful collaboration with RFEA through this funding. Together, we’ll ensure more members of the Armed Forces community receive the specialist employment support they need and deserve.”

David Shaw, CEO of the Veterans’ Foundation, comments:

“Meaningful employment is at the heart of giving veterans stability and prosperity and we are delighted to support RFEA’s work in helping ex-Servicemen and women achieve just that.”

Jim Wilson, General Secretary of Veterans Scotland, adds:  

“We welcome the important work carried out by RFEA – The Forces Employability Charity in support of those veterans who have difficulty finding long term, sustainable employment. Their collaborative work, with other Service charities and statutory organisations, ensures that those veterans can be supported across a range of difficulties that they may experience. By extending this support to include partners and spouses, the whole family should be able to improve its employment prospects.”

The National Lottery Community Fund, Scotland Chair, Kate Still: concludes:

“In these uncertain times our priority is to ensure that National Lottery money continues to flow to charities, voluntary sector organisations and grassroots groups. I would like to congratulate RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity on their award, theirs is an important project and will support people now and in the future when they can physically come back together to make great things happen in their community.”


[1] MOD Annual Population Survey: UK Armed Forces Veterans residing in Great Britain 2017: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/annual-population-survey-uk-armed-forces-veterans-residing-in-great-britain-2017

[2] Poppyscotland: The Lines Between Report 2015: https://www.poppyscotland.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Poppyscotland-Employment-Research-2015.pdf