On 12th December 2014, Princess Anne awarded certificates recognising the achievements of 10 wounded veterans in gaining the first City & Guilds qualifications delivered by Help for Heroes and its partners.
Four years on almost 200 veterans and serving Armed Forces have benefitted from the ongoing partnership between Help for Heroes and City & Guilds/ILM, which awards all qualifications as a gift in kind.
Having received career support as part of their ongoing recovery journey, those affected by Service have gained qualifications in Employability, Horticulture, Creative Techniques, Health and Safety in a Construction Environment, Light Vehicle Maintenance (in partnership with Mission Motorsport), Coaching and Land Based Studies.
Glyn Cassidy, 45, achieved an Award in Land Based Studies in 2016 while taking part in Heritage Heroes, a project run in partnership between the Canal and River Trust and Help for Heroes. After being diagnosed with heart disease and undergoing major heart surgery while still serving, he recognised that his military career could not continue as it had and set out, with the support of Help for Heroes, to prepare himself for medical discharge.
“After my quadruple heart bypass it was a very daunting time, not knowing where life was going or if I could do anything like I used to do,” said Glyn. “I did a few courses with Help for Heroes then found out about the canal project. I was thinking of a job in land management and this would help get and keep me fit, and would also keep me outside in the fresh air.
“I had a few small moments where my body let me know I wasn't fully 100%, but as there was no pressure from the teams on the project I was able to find out what my body was capable of and slowly increase my physical stamina and mental confidence. It helped me understand that I was actually a lot fitter, healthier and more able than I thought. This kept boosting my confidence and by the end of the project I felt as though I had a future!”
As a result of his newly found land-based skills and qualification, when Glyn left Service on 1 May 2017, he already had a civilian job lined up and started work with Keiron Beattie Landscaping the very next day! After a few months, Glyn moved onto another land-based job with hopes of gaining more qualifications to move into land management, but difficulty with his hands and hospital tests which diagnosed carpal tunnel syndrome in both wrists meant he had to reassess, and with a heavy heart decided to move into a less physical job. Although no longer working in a land-based role, he credits the canal project for helping him gain new employment.
“The project helped build my confidence, my physical stamina and has given me a new lease of life. It allowed me to look forward with a positive outlook for once. Without this confidence, I wouldn't have been able to gain my new job in the MOD as a Civil Servant. I do miss the land-based jobs and being outdoors all day, but without the canal project and all that has been done by Help for Heroes, I would not be where I am now; back in full-time employment, enjoying life and looking after my family!”
Ronnie Allen, Head of Career Recovery at Help for Heroes, said: “Without the support of City & Guilds and ILM we would not be able to consistently deliver and award qualifications in programmes like Heritage Heroes to help those who have been affected by Service, and in many cases seen their careers come to an abrupt end, become job-ready once again.”