A Day in the Life of…Employment Advisor Tom - Walking with the Wounded

Date: Wednesday April 10, 2019 at 10:32am

We read a lot about the ex-servicemen and women who need support, but not always about the people who help them.

Tom Knight is an ex Royal Marine who now works as an employment advisor for Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) and is embedded within the Military Veterans’ Service NHS Mental Health team.

Tom uses an evidence-based model called IPS (Individual Placement and Support) - personalised support to help ex-military find and sustain appropriate paid employment. His team in Manchester is now recognised by the Centre for Mental Health as an IPS Centre of Excellence – one of the first in the UK.

Tom, is it hard to adjust to civilian life?  ​​​

Many of the veterans I support joined the military straight from school and then – having perhaps served a full 22 years’ service - have difficulty adjusting to becoming a ‘civvy’. Military service wasn’t just a job, but a way of life; they are used to living and working alongside each other, and I have heard many veterans say that they struggle without this daily support network.

I served eight years in the Royal Marines, so I understand. I help them to establish a new network and routine. It is all about teamwork; whether that’s working with Military Veterans’ NHS team or the local employers to make sure the veteran is at the centre and gets the support they need.

What is the value of the employment support you provide? ​​​

When I first meet my clients, they are typically unemployed, complex, sometimes non-trusting. They may have unrealistic goals or perhaps no hope for the future. But they are also reliable, keen and trustworthy. 

Paid employment is so important for mental well-health, self-worth and those who are socially isolated. Working alongside the NHS, the ex-servicemen and women I work with are finding and keeping great jobs, which has a positive impact on their mental health.

What does a typical session with you look like?​​​

We work through a vocational profile so I can understand their goals and we can establish the steps we need to take to reach those goals.  

Then there’s usually time spent on CVs, job interview skills and job searching. We use action plans so we both agree the progress we intend to make. Some of the people I work with have never gone through a civilian recruitment process, so I take time to make sure they understand the differences.

I also engage local employers so I can make introductions and I stay in touch with both sides when a job is secured to support that transition.

Many of the employers we work with come to me when they are looking to recruit again.

   

What is the best bit of this job?​​​​

Witnessing positive change in my clients and looking back at their journey. Seeing and hearing about veterans I’ve worked with socialising with civilian colleagues and not isolating themselves as they once did.  

To find out more about WWTW’s employment service, email employment@wwtw.org.uk or go to wwtw.org.uk

Walk with Tom in the Lake District!​​​

Tom will be taking part with a team of ex-military in Walking With The Wounded’s Cumbrian Challenge on 18th May. You can show your support by entering a team of 3 or 4 to take part alongside them and other beneficiaries teams from across the UK, taking on one of three stunning walking routes. 

Find out more at www.CumbrianChallenge.org​​

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