Leeds City Council has pledged to work with Armed Forces charity RBLI (Royal British Legion Industries) on an initiative to reduce levels of unemployment among ex-service personnel living in the region.

The initiative will take the form of a fully funded RBLI LifeWorks courses, helping veterans living in Leeds and the surrounding area into work, training or higher education.

The support for local veterans underlines Leeds’ commitment to the Community Covenant which aims to prevent Forces personnel and their families being disadvantaged as a result of serving their country.

Councillor Graham Hyde, Leeds City Council’s Armed Forces Champion, said: “We are committed as a council through our Armed Forces Covenant to ensuring that all ex-Armed Forces personnel living in Leeds can access a wide range of services and practical support.

“We are pleased to be working with RBLI on their LifeWorks courses, which will provide opportunities for veterans to see what training, work and higher education opportunities are available.”

RBLI’s Chief Executive, Steve Sherry CMG OBE, who served with the Army for 38 years said: “Although the vast majority of service leavers make the transition into civilian life fairly easily, some do struggle with the change. In extreme circumstances this may result in veterans experiencing issues such as homelessness and alcohol abuse, and some may even find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

“We know that being in work can prevent such issues. By partnering with Leeds City Council and other military charities in the region, we can reach out to more veterans and work harder to reduce unemployment in the local veteran community.”

Research shows that unemployment is particularly high among early service leavers, where the rate of joblessness six months after leaving the Forces is just under 50%.

RBLI’s LifeWorks courses help ex-service personnel by providing free CV, interview and career advice, as well as helping individuals improve their confidence so they feel ready to find and go back to work. The first course in Leeds will take place from 15 – 19 June, allowing up to 12 local veterans the chance to get free support.

RBLI helps over 2000 veterans into work every year. One former soldier from Leeds to benefit from attending a LifeWorks course was Chris Lund, who served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) for 10 years until 1993: Chris said: “Two years ago I attended a LifeWorks course in Catterick, and it was absolutely brilliant. People who serve in the Armed Forces come from many different walks of life and backgrounds and what was great about the courses offered by LifeWorks was how they catered for a wide-range of individual needs.”

Veterans can book onto the Leeds LifeWorks course, which takes place at 73-75 Albion Street, Leeds, LS1 5AA, by calling 0800 319 6844, emailing lifeworks@rbli.co.uk or visiting www.rbli.co.uk/employment_solutions/lifeworks

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