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‘I don’t know where I’d be now if it hadn’t been for WWTW. Things weren’t going well for me but they pulled out all the stops to ensure that I got the qualification I needed to start a new career after my Army career had finished.’
Originally from South Africa, Bjorn was only 19 when he moved to the UK in 2005. Motivated by a strong sense of purpose and duty to help in the global fight against terrorism, Bjorn joined the British Army and served in the Royal Logistics Corp for 10 years.
His Army career was varied and included a tour of Iraq in 2008, 5 years based in Germany and 3 years in Cyprus, ceremonial duties at the Royal Palaces, and as part of a counter-terrorism unit working alongside the Merchant Navy.
Unfortunately, whilst Bjorn was taking his PNCO training in Germany he suffered a non-freezing cold injury which resulted in permanent nerve damage to both his hands and feet. At the time, he was stationed in Cyprus and had not acclimatised to the significant temperature difference between the two countries.
Bjorn found that although he was able to continue his duties in the warm climate of Cyprus, when he was posted back to England, the cold and damp caused him to suffer extreme and debilitating pain. He had physically reached ‘a glass ceiling’ - a situation that he found hard to handle and that significantly eroded his morale. Bjorn, a Lance Corporal at the time, unwillingly handed in his papers and was discharged in 2016.
‘I was 100% committed to the UK and to serving Queen and Country. Losing my Army career was a huge blow and left all my plans and prospects of advancement in ruins.’
In his final year of service, he considered his future and decided that he wanted to train to become a Clinical Psychologist. He approached several universities but they wouldn’t consider his application as he didn’t have any of the necessary UK qualifications. He felt rejected and disheartened as he knew it would take him years to achieve their access requirements.
At the same time, Bjorn and his wife were without permanent accommodation and were sofa surfing. Things were not going well. Fortunately, they were provided with veterans’ accommodation in Canada Street, Manchester and Bjorn went to WWTW to ask advice about his problems accessing Higher Education. He expected his meeting to last half an hour...
The WWTW team in Manchester spent 4 hours with Bjorn at their first meeting. The team immediately leapt into action ringing their contacts and they didn’t stop until they had found him a suitable access course at Bolton College. Bjorn was accepted and a year later successfully obtained his qualification.
Bjorn is now on his second year of a Clinical Psychology degree course at Bolton University. Alongside his degree studies, Bjorn has passed his GCSE in Maths and is currently working to achieve his GCSE in English. He has also trained and works as a volunteer Restorative Justice Practitioner to help offenders move away from a life of crime.
‘I am able to study because I have a wonderful support system - my wife and family are always there to motivate me and WWTW has been truly amazing and backed me all the way.’
Never one to waste his spare time, Bjorn volunteers at WWTW events and takes part in the Walking Home For Christmas campaign every year. He is very keen to raise awareness of the charity and to encourage other veterans to turn to WWTW if they need help.
Bjorn is now planning to get a part time job so that he can contribute financially whilst he is completing his studies. In the long term, he is considering whether to take his Master’s degree or to find a job and buy a family home. Whatever he decides, he is now well on his way to a successful new career.
For more information about our Employment Programme, click here