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South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (SSSFT) is one of the first Trusts in the region (and the only one in Shropshire and Staffordshire) to sign up to Step Into Health, a programme which supports veterans with finding second careers in the NHS.

Following a successful pilot, NHS Employers has taken on a national roll out of the programme which helps prospective service leavers and veterans see the potential for a second career in health.

The national public launch of the programme, attended by HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, took place in London on Thursday 18th January 2018.

Two representatives from the Trust were invited to attend. Alyson Sargeant is Head of Recruitment and Resourcing and is the partner of someone who served in the Grenadier Guards for 22 years. Martin Evans, Associate Director of Communications is himself a RAF veteran. Both were officially presented to the Duke of Cambridge and had the opportunity to talk to him about their own personal experiences and transitions into civilian life and how they were hoping to support the programme.

Managers at SSSFT recognise the transferrable skills, knowledge and experience that veterans can bring to the workforce and are keen to support them. Chatting to the Duke of Cambridge, Alyson Sargeant commented that her role is in breaking down the barriers that some veterans may face when looking to work in the NHS and although the Trust has only recently signed the Pledge, they are well on the way to establishing a ‘buddy system’ so those finding the transition difficult will have the experience of a veteran to assist them. As part of its commitment to the Step Into Health programme, the Trust advertises its vacancies directly to the armed forces and will be looking to organise insight days and work experience placements.

Martin was able to share his experience of RAF Shawbury with His Royal Highness and speak about how he moved from the armed forces into the NHS. He said; I am one of a number of armed forces veterans who now work in our Trust and I was proud to represent them at this launch. The Duke of Cambridge was very engaging and interested in how we can attract veterans to work for us”.

Leading on the programme for the Trust, Alyson Sargeant says “In the current NHS climate, workforce supply and skills shortages are high on everyone’s agenda, but it is also important that we connect with our local community. By pledging our commitment to the Step Into Health initiative we can tap into talent from the armed forces community, not only the veterans but their families too, which can help with these challenges. And at the same time we are supporting people who have served their country to have an easier transition back into civilian life”.