Kirsty is one of The Poppy Factory’s 22 Employment Consultants who provide bespoke support for ex-Service men and women with physical and mental health conditions. We caught up with Kirsty to find out what life is like as an Employment Consultant and what she loves most about her job.
How long have you been an Employment Consultant?
I joined The Poppy Factory as an Employment Consultant in November 2017. Before that, I used to help people in the criminal justice system into employment, education and training.
I’ve also taught Maths and English to Military Personnel in the Army and also been a lecturer at a university.
Where do you work?
I am based in South East Wales, so I cover Torfaen, Newport, Blaenau Gwent Rhondda Cynon Taf, Cardiff and the Vale, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire.
How did you get into this job?
I had worked with an Employment Consultant from The Poppy Factory called Suzanne in a previous job.
A year after we’d met, Suzanne emailed me saying she was moving house to the North of Wales and did I want to apply for her old position in the South East. She remembered I was interested in veterans so I applied!
What does a typical day look like?
From Tuesday to Thursday, I have a jam packed diary of meetings.
Mostly my meetings are with veterans who I help with a range of things like CV writing and application preparation. I also offer in-work support to veterans who have settled into their new job. I visit or call to make sure they are getting on well and if there’s anything more I can support with.
Aside from the client facing work I do, I also go to lots of community networking meetings, job fairs and veteran’s coffee mornings. I regularly attend a veteran’s drop-in session at Ton Pentre and Gelli Community Centre which is the biggest in South Wales. It’s every Thursday, and 30 or so veterans cook a big meal and share stories over lunch. It’s a great environment and it’s very welcoming to new veterans. There’s even a raffle!
I also go into prisons too. We’re now able to offer pre-release support three-months prior to an offender’s release. This means we can offer a ‘through-the-gate’ service so they continue with us into employment upon release.
Mondays and Fridays are my office days so I respond to emails and tackle paperwork that has built up on the days I’m out and about.
What do you love most about your job?
I love helping people. For some veterans, the meeting we arrange might be the only time they get out of the house that week. At TPF, all the ECs don’t rush our clients. We can completely work around them and their needs.
How do you approach working with a new veteran?
Generally, we all take similar steps. We look at each job the veteran has done before and we talk about what they liked or didn’t like about each role. We also talk about hobbies and interests.
If someone with no idea what they want to do in the future, we recommend they attend a Lifeworks programme with RBLI. It’s a five-day residential course and at the end, they’ll have a CV and a list of industries that might suit them. It is also very good at helping to tackle social isolation as veterans can spend time with their peers.
The programme is available all over the UK so people can either do it close to home, or use it as respite away from normality.
How many veterans are you working with?
Currently, I have 21 clients, and seven clients in jobs who I offer in-work support to for up to 12-months.
How many people have you helped back to work?
13 people so far.
Do you have any advice for a veteran who is thinking about contacting TPF?
All the ECs are very open-minded and approachable. If you sign up and it’s not the right time for you, it doesn’t matter, you can come back when you’re ready. Just give it a go – register with us today.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’ve started a Welsh speaking course recently. My son is at a Welsh nursery and I’m hoping he’ll be fluent. I did GCSE Welsh and got an A but it’s been a while and I’ll need help brushing up on my skills!