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Pilot project will help veterans back to work

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 17, 2013

Surf Action directors Russ Pierre, centre, and Rich Emerson, right, at Sennen Surf Fair with organiser Simon Hann. www.thisiscornwall.co.uk/buyaphoto

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SENNEN surf charity Surf Action is to help nearly 50 service veterans find a way back into work after it successfully applied to run a Government project.

Every year 24,000 men and women leave the Armed Forces and enter civilian life and many find it hard to adjust and some to find work.

Surf Action, originally set up in Sennen and St Buryan, was started to work with former Service personnel suffering from the mental or physical scars of serving their country.

They run weekly surf courses for amputees and for veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Now Surf Action is to deliver an employment empowerment project for 48 former Service personnel through the Devon and Cornwall Jobcentre Plus Flexible Support Fund.

The partnership with Jobcentre Plus will improve the prospects of future employment outcomes for ex-Services who face barriers to work, said Surf Action's Fay Dutfield-Horton.

The pilot project started before Christmas from the charity's new headquarters in Heartlands, Pool, and delivers a one-day-a-week, six-week course of outdoor activity and classroom-based development.

Fay, welfare manager at Surf Action, said: "We're very excited about this pilot as it is so different to what has been previously offered.

"Each day of our training programme will be a mix of outdoor activity and class-based activities, stimulating confidence, esteem, well-being, life skills and knowledge.

"We believe the combination of outdoor and classroom activities will deliver more positive outcomes."

Elements of the programme will focus upon recognising the skills gained while in the Services and transferring those to 'Civvy Street'.

A key part of the project will be also informing potential employers across Cornwall and Devon of the benefits to employing these individuals.

Surf Action's Russ Pierre said: "Some young soldiers do not realise the value of their skills or how to transfer them to civilian organisations. Being a radio operator, team leader or medic, and having the ability to work under fire and communicate while under extreme pressure is both a skill and quality many civilians could not even fathom.

"Many older individuals we encounter who left the Forces many years ago may just need reminding of their skills or their confidence rebuilding after periods of unemployment.

"For Service personnel it seems working under pressure is second nature and if their attributes and qualities can be transferred to a covering letter, application form or interview, then they will stand a better chance of being employed".

Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication, said, "ESF Convergence has supported Surf Action in developing this specific package to open up opportunities for veterans, many of whom have either post-traumatic stress disorder or have been physically injured.

"The success Surf Action working with its targeted customers has been such that mainstream organisations such as Jobcentre Plus Devon and Cornwall are now investing in it so they can benefit their customers as well.

"The result is great – more people supported with the help they need and more people in a position to get a job and the economic independence that brings for the individuals concerned and their families."

Surf Action will run a series of four courses across Cornwall and Devon between January and June.

Unemployed former Service personnel can contact russ@surfaction.co.uk or fay@surfaction.co.uk or call Surf Action on 01209 613300, or talk to their advisor at Job Centre Plus.

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