My life at RFEA – what I do and why I do it

Photo of Sunny Oriunuta

Sunny Oriunuta talks about his role as RFEA Specialist Programme Coordinator

Sunny started his career as a counsellor, before moving into careers guidance. After 10 years providing help and advice in a variety of settings, from colleges, community centres, libraries to prisons, he took on the role of Specialist Programme Coordinator at RFEA in 2018. He says:

“I have supported veterans in the past through previous roles and I am motivated by the fact that they have put their lives on the line to protect us and their nation. They have given us everything, so I feel fulfilled knowing I can do my bit to make their lives better by supporting them through my work on RFEA’s Forces for London Programme.

“The programme is specially designed to offer expert bespoke advice and guidance to ex-Forces who face the unique challenges of finding jobs in our Capital. The clients we help are really varied. For instance, they could be junior ranking through to officer, young or old – the oldest person I am helping right now turns 77 this year! He is retired but is full of life, so I am helping him find something that suits him.

“Clients have varying degrees of skills too. Some clients are highly skilled and have achieved degrees, either before or after their service. Others have developed their skills within the Military, but don’t have any other qualifications. Regardless of their circumstances, people can sometimes feel lost and don’t know what they want to do. Or they might know what they want to do, but they don’t know how to get there. That’s where we come in.

“Sometimes our clients present other wider challenges, such as PTSD, or they could be homeless or have alcohol/ drug dependencies or personal development needs. In every case, we signpost to sources of support and work through what a career pathway might look like for them. We walk with them through that pathway, looking at what they need and what might be beneficial to help them to secure employment in the future.

“There is no typical day on the Forces for London Programme! Some days I could be helping a client to enrol on a training/ educational programme (including helping with funding applications where applicable) or working on their CV with them. This could mean starting from scratch or giving guidance on what they could do to improve it. A big part of this is often helping veterans to interpret and present their skills and experiences from the perspective of a civilian recruiter, so they understand how that person will be assessing and evaluating it. Other times I will focus on matching clients with prospective roles they might be interested in.

“Once clients get to the interview stage, I offer a lot of support in getting them ‘interview ready’, from suggesting questions they might be asked to practising interview skills. From the basics of checking they have the money for their travel costs to attend the interview, through to following up to find out how it went, we have everything covered.

“I spend a lot of time working with employers, from explaining the value that veterans bring to the workforce, to matching clients with professional mentors. These might be recruiters within a business, or those offering job shadowing, events and other forms of exposure to industry.

“The programme gives our clients hope. We work with people who go from thinking they could never secure employment, to finding meaningful jobs. We grow their confidence so they can see how their Military skills and experience can help them identify a pathway for themselves. That sometimes means challenging people’s ideas about themselves. Our process helps people look past their current situation and get them focusing on the situation they would like to be in if they had no barriers. Once we do that, we work on recognising what those barriers are and how to eliminate them. The one thing that cuts across all of our clients, regardless of what stage in their journey they are at, is that they are empowered to make the changes they need to get to where they want to be. When people are given the right support, it changes lives.”

Visit our Forces for London page for more information about how can help.