Helen's Story - Employment Programme

"I was banging my head against a brick wall trying to get my nursing career going again. My WWTW Employment Advisor was an absolute star, she got everything moving for me - I wouldn’t be where I am now without her persistence and support."

Helen wanted to do something interesting in life – something that was different and rewarding. At 21, she decided to join the TA and after a year she progressed to a full-time career as a medic in the QARANC. She completed her initial training at Tidworth and then passed her final nursing qualifications whilst posted in Germany where she also met her husband. 

Helen was a very capable and committed nurse and she loved her job. Unfortunately, her husband, who was posted many miles away, eventually decided that he wanted to quit military life and so, after 4 years in her nursing role, Helen regretfully handed in her papers and returned to Edinburgh.

Back in Scotland, Helen returned to civilian life – she raised her family, continued her medical career as a bank nurse at The Royal Edinburgh Infirmary and moved on to a full-time role in administration for the Police.

In 2011, after she had been through a very unhappy divorce, lost her home, and been made redundant from her Police job, Helen decided to spread her wings and move to Spain where she spent 5 happy years. To help subsidise her redundancy payment, she worked firstly in a French restaurant, and then in bars.

In 2015, Helen returned to London with her new partner - who she had met in Spain – and together they took a room in a hotel. Helen planned to find work and then to rent a flat but as she had been out of the country for so long, she found it impossible without current references to get either.

Her nursing qualifications needed to be updated and she was unable to return to medical work without completing a Return To Practice (RTP) course. Helen and her partner found themselves financially crippled and unable to pay their living costs or for their hotel. They were totally stuck and didn’t know how to turn things around.

Helen, desperate for work, became a care worker, and one day, by chance, she happened to meet and talk to another veteran. She explained her situation and he advised her to contact Veterans’ Aid - this would be her first contact with a military organisation in over 25 years.

Veteran’s Aid helped Helen get housing at Stoll (a charity that provides supported housing to vulnerable veterans) and helped her to sort out her financial situation. It was at Stoll that Helen was referred to Walking With The Wounded and where she first met Alex, her Employment Advisor.

Helen knew that she wanted to return to nursing and use the skills that she had initially gained in the military. However, before she would be able to renew her registration, she needed to update her nursing skills and complete a Return To Practice (RTP) course. Alex worked closely with Helen on her applications, she managed the process and helped with the presentation and content and ultimately, Helen was accepted onto a course.

‘WWTW gave me constant support to help get me back into nursing. My Employment Advisor found me an access course and got everything moving for me. If it wasn’t for her, I think I’d still be back at square one.’

Alex provided the guidance and structure that Helen needed to get her nursing career back on track and she supported her throughout her course. Alex also helped Helen through a very stressful time when a ‘nightmare neighbour’ caused months of tension and disruption to Helen’s home life.

In October 2019, Helen successfully passed her RTP course, and she regained her nursing registration at the beginning of 2020 just before the outbreak of COVID 19.

With her placement work complete and her exams successfully passed, Helen is now waiting for her nursing number to be reactivated so that she can start to apply for jobs. She hopes to find work as a Surgical Nurse, an Orthopaedic Nurse or in End of Life nursing.

In the meantime, to keep financially buoyant, Helen completed a security (SIA) course which has enabled her to take a job as a Concierge at the exclusive Wolseley restaurant in London. As extra back-up, she has also updated her computer and admin skills.

Alex is still regularly in contact with Helen. She is always on the look-out for suitable vacancies for Helen to apply for once her nursing registration finally comes through.


Walking With The Wounded supports all ex-military men and women who have served their country. For more information on the work that we do and how we can help, click here

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