A new support programme for local veterans was launched today (Monday 14th December) at The Salvation Army’s New Future Employability and Training Centre on Falkirk High Street.
The service will offer tailored support to help veterans become job-ready, get a job and stay in work, with £20,000 from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund being invested in providing veterans with emergency essentials such as food, heating, clothing and travel.
Veterans will also benefit from the current services The Salvation Army offers, including access to IT and job search facilities, CV and interview workshops and SQA accredited training courses ranging from customer service to food hygiene.
The Salvation Army’s expertise in employment services dates back to 1890 when they opened the UK’s first Labour Exchange. Founder William Booth made ‘Work for All’ the cornerstone of The Salvation Army’s social programme, believing that employment was vital to building self-confidence and helping people improve their well-being.
Since beginning employment services in 2004, Falkirk Salvation Army has seen thousands of local people come through its doors. The New Future Employability and Training Centre has seen more than 7000 people since August 2014 and has delivered courses to nearly 1700 local people. A veteran support group was launched at the centre in October in response to high numbers of ex-military personnel reaching out for support.
The Salvation Army’s New Future Employment Development Officer, Louise McKnight, said: “On returning from military service many veterans find themselves disengaged from society and the journey into new employment can be difficult. We started the veteran support group to encourage social inclusion and peer support.
“Through the group we identified a gap in service provision as some veterans were facing financial barriers to employment; some did not have the spare cash to travel into town to access our services.
“Thanks to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund we can now give emergency financial assistance, provide appropriate clothing for interviews and offer vouchers for child care and family days out so veterans can spend quality time with their loved ones.
“This new venture centres on achieving fundamental well-being for each veteran so they can approach employment with confidence.”
Veteran Barry Kelly (47) started work as a HGV driver earlier this month thanks to the support he received from The Salvation Army.
Barry was referred by the job centre to The Salvation Army’s New Future Employability and Training Centre and started attending in September. Having left the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers in 1991, Barry found employment in the gas industry but over the past year the work dried up leaving him without a job.
Barry said: “I came to the New Future Centre nearly every day to use the computers to search for jobs and get advice. The team supported me throughout. They built my confidence and gave me direction.
“I decided to try something new and wanted to apply for jobs as a HGV driver. I also started coming to the veteran support group.”
On leaving the military Barry said: “It took me ages to fit in. The military is like your family so when I left it felt like that support system had been taken away.”
“Meeting other veterans at the centre helped me even though I have lived on ‘civvy street’ for a while now, and I was able to help others too. I love to help. We talk, have coffee and there’s lots of humour. It’s not just a job centre, it’s a great family.”
“They have given me the family support that I lost when I left the military. Louise, her team and everyone – they are fantastic. They understand. They get it.”
Through the centre’s strong relationships with local businesses they were able to point Barry to a job opportunity with a local transport company. Barry was offered the job and started work in December 2015.
“I am happier now,” said Barry. “They got me a job. I am so grateful.
“I think the new veteran support programme is a great idea. It can only do good. I will definitely be back to help out.”
Michael Matheson MSP attended the coffee morning to launch the veteran support programme today. He said: “The Salvation Army’s centre on the High St opens up a new level of service to the people of Falkirk district. The new programme is a fantastic idea and gives those who have served our country an opportunity to come along to the centre for a chat and also to get assistance and advice.”
Leader of The Salvation Army church and community centre on Woodside Court, Captain Peter Clark, said: “The launch of the veteran support programme is another example of how The Salvation Army is dedicated to meeting the needs of the whole community.
“Veterans seeking support at our employment centre on the High Street can also find help from our furniture project on Callendar Road, while our after school club here on Woodside Court can assist with child care. We’re here when you need us.”