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Norfolk NHS project to get military veterans into work expanding nationwide

PUBLISHED: 15:37 01 August 2017

Julia Watlling, regional lead at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the Step into Health project. She stands next to Chris Paul, corporate social responsibility manager for Serco, which is involved with the work placement project for ex-service personnel and their families. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

Julia Watlling, regional lead at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for the Step into Health project. She stands next to Chris Paul, corporate social responsibility manager for Serco, which is involved with the work placement project for ex-service personnel and their families. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

SOPHIE WYLLIE

It started as a small pilot project in Norfolk to help ex-service personnel get back into work on civvy street.

Mark Piggott, who is an airframe engineer for the RAF, will become a mechanical shift technician at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital from this September. He completed the Step into Health work experience project at the hospital. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE Mark Piggott, who is an airframe engineer for the RAF, will become a mechanical shift technician at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital from this September. He completed the Step into Health work experience project at the hospital. Picture: SOPHIE WYLLIE

And three years later, after helping scores of veterans experience jobs across five NHS hospital trusts the successful Step into Health work experience project will expand across the country this autumn to between 30 and 40 hospitals in England.

The programme was launched by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) in partnership with the Royal Foundation, Melton Constable-based charity Walking With The Wounded and the Career Transition Partnership.

Any service leaver can access the project which allows them to experience different areas of NHS hospital trusts, including clinical and non-clinical roles.

These include porters, catering staff and security posts, office managerial posts and mechanical engineering.

Polly Elworthy, operations manager for Walking With The Wounded, said: “Step Into Health has been an enormously important programme. A lot of people come on a work placement and find out what they want to do.

“A large number of service leavers have never experienced life on civvy street.

“Step Into Health gives people the opportunity to explore different horizons and for the more vulnerable people, it gives them the opportunity to train in supportive environments.

“Confidence can get damaged when people are wounded and the programme gets them excited about getting out there and believing they can make a difference.”

At the end of 2014, 19 ex-service personnel had experienced the NNUH placements.

The NNUH pilot project, open to spouses and relatives of ex-service personnel, was picked up by hospital trusts in Sheffield, London, Hampshire and Northumbria.

Out of the 116 work placements completed in 2016 across all five trusts, 75 people got jobs within those organisations or elsewhere.

Julia Watling, NNUH regional lead for Step into Health, said: “There is a huge talent pool within the armed services. Its values of public service, commitment and teamwork align with NHS values and are transferable skills.”

Visit www.militarystepintohealth.nhs.uk



RAF Tornado engineer’s new lease of life through Step into Health programme

An RAF aircraft expert has turned his hand to hospital work after benefitting from the Step into Health work project.

Mark Piggott, 51, from just outside Norwich, is due to work as a mechanical shift technician for Serco at the Nofolk and Norwich University Hospital from this September.

The father-of-two, who joined the RAF 30 years ago will leave the service after working as an airframe engineer on Tornado aircraft.

Mr Piggott, who completed the Step into Health project in May this year, said: “It had never crossed my mind before then to go into the NHS. I found Step into Health immensely interesting. I was worried I wouldn’t be suitable but nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

He was surprised at how similar the skills he picked up in the RAF - including adapting to different scenarios, teamwork and having pride in helping others - were to ones needed to work in the NHS.

2016 statistics

Below is a breakdown of the numbers of ex-service personnel who were helped in 2016 across Norfolk, London, Sheffield, Hampshire and Northumbria hospital trusts through Step into Health placements.

Some 116 people completed the project and out of all those individuals, 75 ex-servicemen and women had positive outcomes - meaning they went into employment or further training within or outside of NHS trusts.

Out of the 116 people, 75pc were from the Army, 14pc were from the Royal Air Force, 9pc were from the Royal Navy and 2pc were from the Royal Marines.

Age breakdown:

6pc of beneficiaries were aged 18-24;

29pc were aged 25-34;

35pc were aged 35-44;

19pc were aged 45-54;

11pc were aged 55 and over;

Approximately 20pc were physically or mentally wounded

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