From Barracks to Building Sites
03rd April 2018
Life after the Armed Forces can prove every bit the challenge that MOD employment does. Employers are still slow in waking up to the skills and personal qualities that military training provides. As a result, we're continuing to see Service leavers struggling to find civilian work. Meanwhile, those looking to start their own businesses find getting to grips with HMRC without support to be an uphill battle. Consider the fact that many are starting civilian life already out of pocket to the taxman and you start to see the scale of the problem.
Homelessness is a terrible price to pay for a career spent serving your country. However, there are organisations at work to put control back into Service leavers' hands. Construction and support services company Interserve has teamed up with the Community Self Build Agency on a really interesting project to help struggling ex-servicemen. Homeless former Armed Forces personnel are being offered the chance to build homes of their own.
The CSBA is an organisation focused on helping people off the streets. At the same time, those people are given training and a construction project to be part of. In the case of this collaboration with Interserve, the scheme's offering real construction experience to former servicemen. At the same time, these newly qualified construction workers are literally building homes to live in. The Nelson Project in Plymouth, for example, consists of 24 1-bedroom units designed as social housing. Half of those have been allocated as self-builds for homeless former Armed Forces personnel.
Only those in need of housing were considered for the project, and successful applicants were provided with training and equipment. The work itself was unpaid, but was organised not to interfere with the workers' benefit payments. At the end of the contract, they had a set of qualifications ranging from carpentry to bricklaying and an actual home to live in. Just as importantly, they were given the chance to develop a real sense of self-worth – and a great shot at future employment.
According to Interserve, these new construction workers very quickly proved up to the challenge. Military life had taught them teamwork, responsibility and discipline. They showed that they could get the job done, but they also understood how to keep each other safe while they did it. Building sites can be dangerous workplaces – which is something people with Armed Forces experience understand better than anyone.
The building trade is crying our for skilled hands at the moment. As the next few years roll by, that need is only going to get stronger. Schemes like this are already showing impressive results, getting ex-servicemen off the streets and into work. Putting more skilled people into the UK's workforce is a huge boost to local communities and the economy overall. Crucially, though, programmes like these are making a massive difference to people's lives.
Moving on from Armed Forces work takes determination, planning and strong back-up. Many of RIFT's own staff come from military backgrounds, so we know first-hand what it takes to survive as a Service leaver. Seeing ex-military personnel fight their way back from homelessness is inspirational, and a strong reminder of why we're so proud to have battled HMRC to claim refunds for over 35,000 Armed Forces customers. Get in touch to see what we can do for you.