Local veterans looking for work or training are being encouraged to sign up for a specialist course called LifeWorks, which is dedicated to helping people who have had a military career get back into work.

LifeWorks aims to help veterans living in the Tyne and Wear area into work, training or higher education. The initiative is being backed by Tyne and Wear Councils, local businesses and MPs who have all pledged to work with Armed Forces charity RBLI (Royal British Legion Industries) on an initiative to reduce levels of unemployment among ex-service personnel living in the region. The support for local veterans underlines Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside, South Tyneside Councils’ commitment to the Community Covenant, which aims to prevent Forces personnel and their families being disadvantaged as a result of serving their country.

Research shows that unemployment is particularly high among early service leavers, where the rate of joblessness six months after leaving the Forces is just under 50%.

Councillor Veronica Dunn, Newcastle City Council’s Armed Forces Champion and Cabinet Member, said: “As a council, we are committed to providing access to support through the Armed Forces Community Covenant and deciding how best we can assist ex-serviceman and women living in our city.

“We are extremely proud to support RBLI with their LifeWorks pre-employment program. They can offer veterans the guidance they need when moving from life in the armed forces and back into mainstream society.”

RBLI’s Chief Executive, Steve Sherry CMG OBE, who served with the Army for 38 years said: “Although the vast majority of service leavers make the transition into civilian life fairly easily, some do struggle with the change. In extreme circumstances this may result in veterans experiencing issues such as homelessness and alcohol abuse, and some may even find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“We know that being in work can prevent such issues. By partnering with Tyne and Wear Councils and other military charities in the region, we can reach out to more veterans and work harder to reduce unemployment in the local veteran community.”

RBLI will be launching the initiative with Councillors from each authority, Chi Onwurah MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, Alan Campbell MP for Tynemouth and other local military charities. Businesses attending the launch include Astley Signs and Komatsu UK Ltd who will be assisting LifeWorks delegates with mock interviews as part of the course programme. The event takes place on Friday 12th February from 10:30am – 12:00pm at the Royal British Legion Pop-In Centre, 101 Grainger Street, Newcastle, NE1.

RBLI’s LifeWorks courses help ex-service personnel by providing free CV, interview and career advice, as well as helping individuals improve their confidence so they feel ready to find and go back to work. The course in Newcastle will take place from22 – 26 February, allowing up to 12 local veterans the chance to get free support.

RBLI helps over 2000 veterans into work every year. Phil Old who served in the Navy for 35 years is the manager of Launch Pad for Armed Forces and Veterans at Avondale House in Biker is fully behind LifeWorks. He said “We have had veterans attend this course and feedback has been very positive. For anyone who has served in the forces and is looking to get quality support and guidance to move into employment or training then LifeWorks is for you. I would definitely say to armed forces veterans take this course it will definitely help you and now LifeWorks is running locally here in the North East there’s no reason not to go.”

Veterans can book onto the Tyne and Wear LifeWorks course, which takes place at the Royal British Legion Regional Office, Pearl Assurance House 7 New Bridge Street West Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AQ, to book a place by call 0800 319 6844 or emaillifeworks@rbli.co.uk or visiting http://www.rbli.co.uk/employment_solutions/lifeworks/