How LiveWest is helping ex-soldiers find a fresh start
Marine Alex Fairbank could have been forgiven for fearing for his future after taking the decision to leave the forces.
Having been institutionalised during a 12-year spell in the Royal Marines, question marks over what the future would bring rose to the surface.
Alex followed in his younger brother’s footsteps in joining the Marine corps at the age of 21 after proving his ability to cope with the very highest of physical demands during a three-day fitness assessment at Lympstone.
He was attached to 42 Commando and embarked on two tours of Afghanistan, a tour of Somalia as well as training stints in Norway, America, Africa and the Middle East.
Yet Alex’s world changed when his partner, Nicola, gave birth to two young daughters Grace, now three, and Robyn, aged one. It was at this juncture that he sought pastures new.
Alex said: “I enjoyed every minute of it, but it was a lifestyle choice to leave the Marines.
“It is very much a single person’s world and I have my beautiful daughters now. That changes everything.
“So, for family reasons, it was time to make the decision to leave. For me, it was a no-brainer. Deep down I knew it was the right thing to do.”
And while some soldiers struggle to adapt to life on the outside, Alex grasped the opportunity with both hands.
He added: “Lots of people are institutionalised in the forces and it can be tough coming out on to Civvy street.
“You have to push yourself forward. For me, it is a relief knowing I go home every night to see my partner and children. I wasn’t concerned about finding employment.”
The 37-year-old, who was both in Maidstone but later moved to Plymouth, signed up with the Career Transition Partnership – a Government scheme designed to offer departing military personnel a route into alternative employment.
The scheme pays for career transition advice and training opportunities to give members the best chance of success in the civilian job market.
From tips about writing CVs and application forms to interview role-plays, the scheme covers the whole process of guiding former military personnel into employment.
And this is where the south west’s leading housing association, LiveWest, came in. The CTP seeks partner employers to give members invaluable work experience and LiveWest contacted them in an effort to sign up.
Alex was enrolled on to the company’s gas engineer work placement programme where he spent time with a buddy – former Royal Marine Mark Malone – in order to learn the ropes.
“We hit it off straight away,” Alex reflects. “He was great to learn from and helped me enormously.”
After completing the scheme, Alex was so determined to secure a permanent position with LiveWest he spent nine weeks volunteering with the organisation.
Eventually, the call came in June with an offer of permanent employment and Alex admitted: “It was a straight-forward answer.
“LiveWest has been so good to me and they were the only ones I wanted to work for.
“A lot of firms want to get the job done as quickly as possible and get on to the next one. But LiveWest is different.
“The attention to detail is second to none and that is why they have got such a good reputation amongst its customers.
“It’s great. I like the work, the hours and the team spirit. I feel lucky and privileged to be in this position. Lots of people I know would like to come and work for LiveWest.
“The fact that they are so pro-forces resonates with me as well because when you come out of the forces you want someone to give you a chance.”
LiveWest is planning to hold some more insight days where people, who have come through the CTP, can come and find out about careers and opportunities for training and development at LiveWest.
LiveWest has appointed a number of people via the CTP, including Kelly Fuller in the income team and Tom Purdie, who is a Construction Design and Management Advisor.
Laura Taylor, who facilitates the relationship with the CTP at LiveWest, said: “When people from the CTP come to us for their work placements, it’s really important that they feel part of the team.
“They are given an ID badge and our uniform and work with a buddy to ensure they get everything they need from the opportunity to allow them to succeed in their new life after the forces.
“I am really proud of the commitment that LiveWest has shown towards this initiative, and I look forward to building our links with the CTP further over the next 12 months.”