A former soldier, forced to end his 14 year army service due to an injury sustained in an IED blast, is gaining valuable work experience on a Redcar construction site.
Anthony Allan, 31, from Darlington, is undertaking the placement at Vistry Partnership North East’s Kirkleatham Green development and hopes it will help him secure a trainee site manager position in the future.
The placement was arranged by BuildForce – an initiative that looks to attract the best talent leaving the Royal Air Force, British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Marines and helps former military personnel to transition into rewarding careers in construction.
“Having gone straight into the army from school at 16, I’ve never had a civilian job – so this has been a great experience.” Says Anthony. “I loved my time in the forces and served all over the world with The Rifles – including tours in Iraq, Kenya and Afghanistan. It was in Afghanistan where I was injured, suffering a badly dislocated knee in an IED blast. Although I was able to recover and to try and continue with my army duties, several set backs – including five operations – meant I ended up being medically discharged at the start of this year.
“Leaving the Army was difficult because you miss the camaraderie and all of your friends and colleagues. However, I’ve had great support from my family – and my brother who is also ex-military and was able to talk with me about what to expect.
“I engaged with BuildForce as I know that a career working in construction is something I’m very interested to pursue. The placement with Vistry has been fascinating, learning about all structures and processes that go in to developing a site. How it works is not dissimilar to the army in a way with a set chain of command and people responsible for different tasks that all need to work in tandem. The social interaction aspect is similar too and all the people I’ve worked with have been great to talk with and to and work alongside.
“I’m really thankful for the opportunity as it has given me a taste of what life on site is like and some good experience to add to my CV.”
Caroline Logan, Programme Director with BuildForce, added: “We have been working with Vistry Group for a number of years – with Roger Morton, former Royal Engineer and now Group Change Director, very much driving the relationship forward. We have a strong network of 20+ mentors from different levels and areas of expertise, providing industry support, advice and work placements.
“Work placements are an important part of the BuildForce programme and are a conduit to employment; offering a ‘try before you buy’ scenario on both sides, allowing our military candidates to explore their chosen discipline further and determine whether or not it is the correct career path. It also allows the employer to see how the individual performs and what value they bring to the team, resulting in a number of successes throughout the wider business -from placement to employment.”
BuildForce was able to connect with Vistry Partnerships North East and to set up this placement due to the developer’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant, which sets out the relationship between the nation, the government and The Armed Forces. It recognises that the whole nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces – and their families – and it sets out how they should expect to be treated.
Vistry Group is committed to ensuring that these people are treated with respect and fairness and actively looks for ways to support them through training and work opportunities.
Former Royal Engineer Roger Morton, Group Change Director – and the housebuilder’s Armed Forces champion – said: “We are delighted to be able to offer Anthony some work experience at our Kirkleatham Green development. As a veteran myself, I can vouch that we are completely committed to the pledges made, to ensure the Armed Forces community is supported as best it can be. Former military personnel have many talents that businesses can benefit from and we’re proud to recruit and back them as much as possible.”
“There are over 100 people with ex-military backgrounds working for Vistry nationally. In addition, since joining BuildForce’s Alliance in May 2020, we have employed six people, created 17 work placements and have registered over 20 mentors to its programme, providing valuable 1-2-1 support and industry advice over a number of disciplines, UK-wide.”
Picture caption: Anthony Allan