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Transition Tales

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01 Dec, 2016

Your resettlement should be the focus of your preparation efforts for more years than you might think, not treated as an afterthought, cautions former REME WO1 turned events coordinator Verity Bartlett

Wiltshire-based Verity Bartlett served in the REME for more than 25 years, specialising in technical support, before leaving at the end of her contract this April. While serving, she also found time to get a few very useful qualifications under her belt: PRINCE2 Practitioner, M_o_R Practitioner, First Aid at Work, Chartered Management level 5 and IOSH Managing Safely. ‘Each course was useful in its own way,’ she says, ‘but the one I have benefited most from since leaving is IOSH Managing Safely, as I use practical elements of the course in my current role as an events coordinator for Westbury Town Council.’ She hasn’t stopped studying yet either, adding: ‘Since leaving, I have gained a distinction in a Diploma in Event Management from Ashdown Academy in London.’

This job – her first on leaving the Forces and a role she remains in to date – involves the organisation and delivery of an annual Christmas street fayre and lights switch-on, as well as a biannual summer street fayre and concert. Says Verity: ‘Both events involve finding and booking stall holders, entertainment, first aid and security, as well as liaison with local authorities for permissions and licensing. I also need to write an event management plan for each event, brief teams and submit requests for road closures to the local authority.’

Not surprisingly, asked what training or experience gained during her Service career she has so far found useful in civilian life, she lists transferable skills such as ‘organisation, delegation, briefing, time management, the ability to write admin instructions, practical decision making on the day of the event, delegation, the ability to brief teams and to prioritise, and an understanding of budget management.

‘I enjoy the responsibility, the experience gained by dealing with multiple agencies in the public sector, always learning and facing new and different challenges, and the opportunity to be creative in trying to broaden the scope and appeal of events run by the Town Council. The team in the office are great and there’s still a high level of banter, which always helps a day go by. And I can now walk to work, which must be a plus in any job – not having to commute is a great bonus!’

In terms of any similarities between Verity’s Service role and her current job, she says: ‘My current role is only part-time (25 hours per week). This clearly has a financial impact, but also serves up additional free time for me to explore other avenues around the events industry, as well as putting more time into my small business as a professional toastmaster and master of ceremonies (you can find details of her website at the end of this feature). 

She concludes with some sound advice to other Service leavers going through resettlement and career transition: ‘The last two years of service – while very useful in aiding resettlement, and providing focus and specific courses – I don’t think is far enough out for those with families, particularly if you have children in school. Where a family ultimately wants to settle, and by default where they will then buy or rent property, is something that I think should be thought about, considered and planned for as early as five years out. For many this will be fewer than two full assignments, and if you add overseas deployments, exercises, adventurous training and leave into the equation … then quality time and opportunities for a family to discuss the practicalities of life after the military may well be few and far between.

‘The financial aspects of resettlement, and money management in general, should be continually pressed home as a “through service” concept, as it already is in many units. It’s never too early to save for a deposit on a property!

‘For anybody about to enter resettlement or who is coming to that stage of their career (regardless of how long you’ve done) my best advice would be: be selfish – identify as early as you can what you want to do, where you want to settle and let your Chain of Command know in plenty of time. Have a plan. Be proactive.’

We certainly toast that sentiment!

Visit Verity’s website at www.itoast2you.co.uk

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