The housing team at Northumberland County Council has been helping armed forces veterans back into work.
The council has teamed up with Natural Gas Service Training (NGST) to offer three ex-servicemen practical training to allow them to achieve a qualification in gas servicing.
The 16-week course with NGST, which has a base in Newcastle, included 10 weeks of practical training when they shadowed a member of the Homes for Northumberland team, which provided them with on-the-job experience and allowed them to achieve their qualification.
The scheme has been such a success that the council has agreed to offer more veterans placements in the new year.
Coun David Ledger, armed forces champion for the council, said: “It can be quite daunting when you are about to leave the armed forces to know what to do in the future.
“As a council we were happy to offer help to veterans to allow them to make a future for themselves outside of the services.”
Laurence Green, assessor at NGST, said: “This has been a really successful partnership and we want to thank Northumberland County Council for showing their support in helping ex-servicemen to re-train and carve out a career for themselves once they have left active service.”
One of the veterans who has benefitted from the partnership with NGST is Michael Cummings, an ex-Army soldier, who has travelled from Macclesfield to complete his training. He is now hoping to set up his own business.
He said: “To have the opportunity to work alongside professionals and learn the skills of the job has been fantastic experience. We’ve also been able to learn how to handle the workload, as we have been going from job-to-job as you would do if you were employed full-time, which is not something you can learn in the classroom.”
To further support veterans, the council has now also employed an armed forces outreach worker, whose role is to assist members of the armed forces community with housing, debt, training, employment, health, mental health and social welfare.
Northumberland is in the Armed Forces Outreach Service partnership which covers County Durham, Tyneside and Northumberland and is unique in employing outreach workers based in the local authorities who solely look after the armed forces community. A second outreach worker will be appointed in the new year.