We pride ourselves in delivering a truly personal service that is adapted to each veteran we work with. Tom is one of our three Team Managers who oversees the team in the south of England.
How long have you been a Poppy Factory Team Manager?
I’ve been with The Poppy Factory for five and a half years in total, three of the years as an Employment Consultant, and now just over a year as a Team Manager.
Where do you work?
I’m based in Gloucestershire but covering the south of England means geographically, I look after the Isles of Scilly right over to the Isle of Sheppey!
How did you get into this job?
I got to know the The Poppy Factory when I worked for a different charity helping people with mental health conditions get into work. When a job came up at TPF I was really keen to apply and get involved in their good work.
What does a typical day look like for you?
If I’m not working from home or at the office in Richmond, I’m out in the field helping my team, meeting veterans or working with partner organisations to build new links and opportunities to support more veterans.
What do you love most about your job?
I love working within the military community and helping veterans get back into work. The support and collaboration from all corners of the military charity sector is really refreshing – it’s different to anything else I’ve experienced.
How do you approach working with a new veteran?
The most important thing is to start by building trust and rapport before looking at what we’re going to do to get the person back into work. Being able to have open communication is key to a good working relationship and from there it’s a lot easier to get things going. If a veteran doesn’t know what they want to do, that’s fine too as it’s our job to suggest options and avenues that veterans may not have considered before.
How many people have you helped back to work?
Around 130 but that was mostly in the three and a half years that I worked as an Employability Consultant. Sadly I don’t get as much opportunity to work directly with veterans as I used to, but I still enjoy my job hugely.
Do you have any advice for a veteran who is thinking about contacting The Poppy Factory?
If a veteran is unsure about what we do or how we can help, phone through first and ask as many questions as you like. The guys on the phone are very friendly, supportive and completely non-judgemental.
Do you have any hobbies?
When I’m not running around after my toddler in the Cotswolds, I play as much golf as I can, go mountain walking or hide in my office with my guitar.
In your career, what are you most proud of doing?
Last August I was lucky enough to take part in an exciting challenge to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. Alongside a colleague and seven veterans, we helped sail a tall ship in the final leg of Lord Dannatt’s Round Britain challenge. It was a great experience and I learnt more about the veterans we help in those 10 days than I had in the previous five years doing my day job.
(Photo: Tom is second from left on board the Lord Nelson tall ship.)