Charity RFEA helping ex-forces veterans including Penistone man Mark Lightowler to find civilian careers

Thousands of veterans including a Penistone man are celebrating finding jobs, thanks to a specialist employment charity.

Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 3:20 pm

The ex-forces programme delivered by the charity RFEA is available to all service leavers, reservists and veterans, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service or reason for leaving. It offers regionally-based, comprehensive career advice and job opportunities.

The programme has recently received a significant boost from soldiers’ charity ABF of £267,000. Last year RFEA helped 19,758 ex-military personnel.

Mark Lightowler, a former army captain now based in Penistone, secured an operations manager role.

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Mark Lightowler in uniform and in his new civilian job

He said: “From the very first call I had from RFEA it was so very refreshing to hear and to speak to someone who spoke ‘the language’ and understood the needs and challenges of veterans looking for work in a civilian world.

“My advisor is a very personable individual who offered sound advice. However, by far the most important attribute that RFEA demonstrated was taking the time to care, to really care.

“My advisor phoned and/or emailed regularly with updates, details of employment seminars or with inspiring, uplifting and very welcome words of encouragement.

“He helped by giving some guidance on my CV construction so that it delivered the desired impact and tone with potential employers, by forwarding me job opportunities that were geared towards my skills and qualifications and by helping me identify employers that had signed the Armed Forces Covenant and were, therefore, more open to receiving applications from ex-forces.

“Prior to starting my new job I had been off work for six months following a serious motorcycling accident. This meant that I was facing some financial difficulties and I don't mind admitting my mental health was also taking a knock.

“When I received my job offer these difficulties melted away in an instant. It was a big relief not only for me but also my wife and family too.

“Not only had my new job given me the opportunity to feel a of worth again, but the social interaction I now have with my peers and subordinates alike means that I look forward going into work daily.

“Furthermore, I enjoy the fact that I am making a positive difference both in terms of work and in the lives of those that work for me. It’s a great feeling.

“I wholeheartedly and unequivocally recommend the services of RFEA to all veterans looking for meaningful work and to employers who seek to enhance their workforce by recruiting some of the very best, loyal and trustworthy people our society has to offer - our veterans.”

Alistair Halliday, RFEA’s chief executive, said “The Ex-Forces Programme is there for all veterans and reservists who need help to find work once they have left the armed forces. This means that later in life, if veterans face redundancy, under-employment, or difficulties fitting into a new work culture, we can help them.

"Serving in the armed forces means shorter relevant industry experience and less understanding and practice at the recruitment process than the civilians veterans are competing with for jobs.

"Our programme provides an essential safety net beyond transition from the Armed Forces and we are so grateful to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity for the continued support we have received to enable RFEA to carry out this essential work.”

Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, chief of staff, ABF The Soldiers’ Charity added: “Meaningful employment plays a major role in ensuring veterans and their immediate families can live a life of independence and dignity and we see RFEA’s Ex-Forces Programme as playing a vital part in helping them achieve that.

"We are delighted to be able to contribute to such a worthwhile initiative that reaches so many.”

More at or search for RFEA on social media.

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