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£250 prize winner! Social security

£250 prize winner! Social security


05 Dec, 2017

To be sure of securing the future career in social work he wanted, former Chief Petty Officer Ian Hall was careful to complement his Forces training and experience with an impressive set of relevant qualifications – and intends to use his ELC towards more. Now successfully ensconced as a Macmillan social worker, Ian can add to his list of achievements that he is this quarter’s Quest £250 prize winner!

Former Chief Petty Officer Ian Hall, 43, served for 25 years in the Royal Navy. Of his time in uniform, he says: ‘I joined the RN when I left school and met my wife when I was 18. At the time of leaving [October 2016] I was already three years into my extended career and was offered another five years on top. I had always been a traveller during my time in the RN and, during my final post, was based in Scotland while my wife and daughters were in Newcastle, but I had reached the point where this no longer worked for me and I wanted to be home full-time. I also wanted to begin a new social work career while I was still relatively young.

During his Service career, Ian secured a host of civilian qualifications, with a view to the career he intended to embark on post-Forces. These are listed in the accompanying box, ‘Ian’s achievements’. In addition, he attended his CTW in Rosyth, Scotland, which he says ‘was by far the best course I have ever done while serving. The most useful parts were those that helped me to translate what I had achieved in the Royal Navy into “civvyspeak” in support of future job applications and interviews. Also useful was the focus on social media and the powerful tool that is LinkedIn.’ During resettlement, Ian also obtained a level 3 Certificate in Education and Training and attended the course, Charity Management Awareness (both provided by CTP).

‘The level 3 Certificate in Education and Training gave me a sound basis on how to deliver training and how to ascertain if I had achieved the required learning goals,’ he says, ‘while the Charity Management Awareness course gave me an excellent insight into how charities are run and how they go about their daily business. I was interested in working in the third sector and this course gave some good tips on how to approach that area of the job market.’


During his Service career, Ian gained the following civilian qualifications:

  • BA (Hons) Social Work 2:1
  • Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management
  • Level 4 Diploma in Interpersonal Mediation
  • Level 3 Certificate in Education and Training (formerly known as Preparing To Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector, PTTLS)
  • GCSE Maths
  • British Sign Language level 1

When asked when and why he registered for ELC, Ian says, ‘I can’t remember exactly when I registered for ELC. However, I do remember my boss at the time stressing to me how important it was, which I admit didn’t really mean a lot to me as a young sailor. On reflection, though, I am so glad I listened to him! My education advisor also had the following great advice: “Two years will go by in the blink of an eye, so be selfish and dedicate this time to yourself.”

‘When choosing how to use my ELC, I knew that I would be looking for employment as a social worker on leaving, and having already completed lots of counselling training when I qualified as a case worker within what is now the Royal Navy Welfare specialisation, I wanted to do something that could improve these skills even further. This training gave me a good grounding for the mediation course I took and I now have a solid qualification to show for it.

‘I remember my boss stressing the importance of ELC, which I admit didn’t really mean a lot to me as a young sailor. On reflection, I am so glad I listened to him!’

‘I am now a qualified interpersonal mediator and am considering using my ELC to undertake my master’s degree in social work. I am only just coming up to my first year in full employment and have not yet considered further education, however I am determined to use my remaining ELC before the end of the five-year period.

‘Mediation is massive now, especially within workplaces where disputes are best settled internally if possible and I wanted employers to know I was willing to offer this service free of charge if needed. There is now a huge emphasis placed on relationship-based practice and therapeutic intervention within social work, with a focus on “doing with” rather than “doing to” people. My training has given me a really good insight into managing conflict, especially when working with families where relationships are strained – and I already know from speaking to some of my work colleagues that my additional qualifications are unique to my current employer.’

‘The exit door approaches
really quickly and, before you know it, you will be handing your ID card in. Don’t leave it until your last few weeks/months to decide what you want to do when you leave – start planning this years in advance. I did, and it made my resettlement process much easier.’

Now employed as a Macmillan social worker – a role he has been in since leaving the Services – Ian says of his day-to-day work, ‘I am a palliative care Macmillan social worker, currently based within a local authority adult social work team. I provide specialist social work support to people who are deemed to be at end of life (with around 12 months to live) and their families, during what is an incredibly difficult time for them.

‘I love the autonomy I am given and the trust placed in me by my employer to do my job without constant supervision. I also feel incredibly privileged to be allowed into the lives of those with a palliative diagnosis, and for them to share their life stories with me and their worries and hopes for the future.’

Ian finds he is also able to draw on the training and experience he gained while in uniform: ‘During my time within Royal Navy Welfare I was employed as a Visiting Officer for the families of Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel during the conflict in Afghanistan. This primarily involved providing emotional and practical support to serving personnel with life-changing injuries, or to the families of those killed in action or on duty. In my role, I learned the importance of the relationships we build, both with the people we support and external agencies, and how it was – and is – impossible to do my job alone.

‘My current job can be emotionally taxing and I am lucky that, within my team, there are a couple of other ex-Service people, who are always on hand with a word of support or some appropriate Forces humour if required. I experienced some incredibly challenging times during my time in the RN, none more so than Gulf War 2 or preparing myself to walk up the garden path of a wife or mother who had only just been informed their loved one had been killed. During my current role, when I start to feel overwhelmed I draw on these experiences and the tools I used to get through them.’

Asked if he misses anything about Service life, Ian responds, ‘Being able to go to the gym at lunchtime, and the free dental and medical treatment. I also miss having a little bit of “me time”, which I don’t get any more as a result of a busy family life. I do, however, now get flexi-time, which is great, and I no longer need to listen to the “you get paid 24 hours a day seven days a week” mantra that was often trotted out by previous bosses in the RN.

‘I don’t miss the travelling, though, and I certainly don’t miss being in uniform. But I do miss the craic with the lads and lasses from my time in the RN – no civvy workplace is able to replicate that. I took a significant pay cut when I left the Royal Navy, however my Armed Forces pension more than makes up for that.’

Asked if there is anything he wishes he had known before beginning his transition, Ian responds: ‘How quickly your resettlement time goes! Also, registering for ELC is a total no-brainer – free education … what’s not to like?!’ Q

Could you be our next quarterly £250 prize winner? To find out how to follow in Ian’s footsteps, visit where you can find out more and download a copy of the Quest Questionnaire. We look forward to hearing from you …

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