Former Sergeant, Richard Piggott, joined the Progression Pathways Programme at Finchale Training College in February when he was experiencing depression and facing several barriers in civilian life after leaving the Army in 2011. The College has been able to fund over 50 veterans through their specialist employment training courses, thanks to a successful partnership with Help for Heroes.Having serving 24 years in the Royal Artillery, completing tours in Gulf91, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, Richard thought his life as a civilian was inevitably going to be easy and care free. However, after going through a very difficult break up with his partner, having a young son to provide for and finding it incredibly difficult to gain suitable and sustainable employment, Richard quickly realised that making the transition to civilian life wasn’t going to be as easy as he’d first thought. “In the Army I felt part of a community that knew me well and I knew it well, we understood each other. Yet, after leaving, losing my partner and not being able to get a job, I quickly felt myself feeling more and more alone and unhappy”.
Unfortunately for Richard, he wasn’t aware of the help and support that was available to him and his new civilian life took a turn for the worst. “With no job and little income coming in, I began to fall in to serious problems with paying bills and managing my money. I ended up losing my home along with my self belief, motivation and confidence. I never thought these things would happen to me”.
Unable to find a way out, Richard tried to take his own life and it wasn’t until he was out of hospital afterwards that he was approached by a local charity that pointed him in the direction of Finchale.
“After coming to Finchale and undertaking the Progression Pathways Programme, my life suddenly began to turn a completely new corner. Everyone here, the staff and the other ex-forces men and women on the course, understand me and have helped me regain my confidence and determination to get my life back and track. The Veterans Team here are fantastic. They have not only looked at aspects of my life, like getting a job and what courses I can do, but they have helped me to access the right support to make me feel emotionally better. I finally feel like I’m not a failure anymore and I want to make my son proud. Instead of pushing me in to doing something, the staff just listen, offer support and help me move forward. I feel like someone’s finally listening and doing something”.
On the Progression Pathways Programme, Richard soon discovered that he wanted to look in to a new career where he could help others who have undergone similarly challenging experiences in life to him. With many opportunities now at his feet and after completing a Mental Health Awareness course, Richard is now enjoying his role as a volunteer Health Champion for the County Durham area. “I absolutely love being a Health Champion. It gives me something to focus on, take pride in and feel really positive about. More than anything, I’m just so pleased that I can help others and I know that whatever is behind the next door in my life, it’s certainly not the dark place I was in before”.