London veterans able to ‘bounce back and thrive’

RFEA thanks J.P. Morgan for supporting the Forces for London programme

RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity has been able to respond to a surge in demand for help from veterans in London, thanks to the support of J.P. Morgan.

The global leader in financial services has helped fund RFEA’s Forces For London programme to that the charity can respond to the challenges facing London’s veterans, brought on as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Office for National Statistics, for the three months ending August 2021, the highest unemployment rate in the UK was in London at 5.8%. The number of payrolled jobs in London fell by 214,000, with central boroughs being the worst affected.

Veterans have been adversely impacted by this, with many losing their jobs, being underemployed on zero-hour contracts, in temporary or insecure work, or furloughed with risk of redundancy.

As a result, RFEA’s bespoke Forces For London programme saw a huge rise in demand for its services (55.5% and 63.17% increase in registrations for support in the first two quarters of 2021). As well as rising demand in registrations, the Forces for London programme also saw an increase in the complexity of needs of those registering, with more veterans seeking help for welfare, wellbeing and digital support issues.

Gaining meaningful and sustainable employment is crucial to ensuring a successful transition from the Armed Forces and with support from RFEA and the Forces For London programme, London’s veterans are armed with the practical skills, knowledge, and resilience to achieve a fulfilling second career.

The bespoke assistance provided by RFEA’s Forces For London programme includes career diagnostics; individual employability and employment case-working support; access to vocational training funding; and brokerage to suitable and sustainable volunteering and work placements, or jobs leveraging our extensive database of forces-friendly employers and opportunities generated by RFEA’s Employer Relationship Managers.

Alistair Halliday, Chief Executive of RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity says, “We know that veterans in the Capital often face a unique set of challenges when entering this civilian workforce, which is why we have our dedicated Forces for London programme there to offer tailored support to ex-Forces in this area. The pandemic hit the London jobs market particularly hard, so we are incredibly grateful to the support of J.P. Morgan, which has meant we have been able to continue to offer all the support London’s job-seeking veterans need, so they can bounce-back from this challenging period and thrive in fulfilling and meaningful employment.”

Aaron Stokes, Vice President, COO, Senior Business Manager for Digital Client Services, Credit, Rates and Regulatory Reporting for Global Markets Operations, joined J.P. Morgan 1st March 2021, spent three years in the Royal Air Force before leaving in December 2012. He says:

“I had no Military connections before joining the Services. I had finished education and still working but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do as I wanted a change when an advisor suggested the RAF. It sounded like a challenging and exciting career that included travel, competitive pay, subsidised learning and an opportunity to be part of something bigger than myself. All of those things are important to me, so it sounded like a win-win!

“I enjoyed my time and experiences in the RAF. I learned great skills in my roles within project management and resourcing & compliance management and met nice people with a good mindset. I knew after some time it wasn’t what I wanted to do for a career in the long term though, as, ultimately, I wanted to have more control over what I did and how I did it.

“My transition wasn’t what I expected. I found a role in banking, which was an industry I had been considering, so in that respect my transition was smooth. However, with hindsight, I realise that my lack of insight into and knowledge of the corporate world, meant the role I went into wasn’t quite right for me, but there was so much I didn’t know back then. Had I known then about the many services that are available to help ex-Forces, as well as if there had been as many corporate programmes and schemes, I think my career would have been different and taken a different trajectory.

“As veterans, we don’t always like to ask for help. There can be pride, which is hard to get past, and a fear of taking time or money away from others that need it, but it’s important that veterans know that anyone can need help and that there is specialist support out there.

“I suffered a serious injury which left me disabled and unable to work for a few months. Unfortunately, I was employed on a contract basis at the time, so someone suggested I get in touch with the Royal British Legion (RBL) for support. I thought charity was only for people with long-term disabilities, loss of limbs etc., but RBL helped me with funding for training and also put me in touch with RFEA’s Forces for London programme which supports and enables veterans to find meaningful employment.

“The Forces for London team were so helpful, always checking in on me to see how I was, even when I wasn’t very responsive. Knowing they were there, and that they cared, made all the difference. Being employed helps with everything. It is a core staple in people’s lives that can really make the difference in terms of being able to fend for themselves and pick themselves back up when they need to.

“What drew me to the company was that it has a great culture. People were happy to help and very generous, spending time with me over coffee. It is also really diverse, with a truly global team and lots of senior female leaders, which I found inspiring. It also doesn’t feel like a massive corporation, it just feels like a great place to work.

“I’m now the Veterans Charitable and Community Co-Lead for EMEA, the Client Lead for the Force For Good project working with RFEA to help them upgrade their tech and business processes (which will in turn help them help more Veterans), a passionate advocate for Veterans and Athletes at the firm and also delighted that I was able to help RFEA be successful in receiving funding from J.P. Morgan, to help even more veterans, just like they helped me.”


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