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A Day in the Life of…

IPS Employment Advisor Tom

Tom Knight has been a Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) Employment Advisor since January 2017. Tom is embedded within the Military Veterans’ Service NHS Mental Health team to provide employment support to the ex-servicemen and women who are receiving mental health treatment with them.

Tom practices an evidenced based model of employment support called IPS (Individual Placement and Support). IPS is essentially personalised support for our service users to help them find and sustain appropriate paid employment. Tom works alongside Nelly and Gary to make up our Manchester IPS team and recently their work was recognised by the Centre for Mental Health as an IPS Centre of Excellence.

Tom, what is the value of the employment support you provide?


When I first meet my clients, they are typically unemployed, complex, sometimes non-trusting. They may have unrealistic goals or perhaps no hope for the future. But they are also reliant, keen and trustworthy. Paid employment is so important for mental well-health and working alongside the NHS, the ex-servicemen and women I work with are finding and keeping great jobs, which has a positive impact on their mental health.


What does a typical session with you look like?


One of the first things we would do together is work through a vocational profile so I can understand their goals and we can establish the steps we need to take to reach those goals. Then there’s usually time spent on CVs, job interview skills and job searching. We use action plans throughout the process so that we both agree the progress that we intend to make before the next session. Some of the people I work with have never gone through a civilian recruitment process, so I take time to make sure they understand the differences.


I also engage local employers on behalf of my service users so that I can make introductions. This works really well. I stay in touch with both sides when a job is secured to support with that transition into civilian employment.

Do employers want to employ veterans?


Yes, they do. We have had a great response from employers in the Greater Manchester area. Employers are also more aware of mental health and supporting their employees to have well mental health.

Employment is key in addressing social isolation. Many of the people I work with are isolated and employment provides not only financial security, but social inclusion, community and self-worth. Many of the employers we work with come to me when they are looking to recruit again.

Is it hard to adjust to civilian life?  


Many of the veterans I support joined the military straight from school and then – having perhaps served a full 22 years’ service - have difficulty adjusting to becoming a ‘civvy’. Military service wasn’t just a job, but a way of life; they are used to living and working alongside each other, and I have heard many veterans say that they struggle without this daily support network.


I served eight years in the Royal Marines myself, so I understand. I can support them to establish a new network and routine. It is all about teamwork; whether that’s working with Military Veterans’ NHS team or the local employers to make sure the veteran is at the centre and gets the support they need.


Is there enough support for veterans?


There are many charities now working with veterans, but the most effective and efficient are working in partnership and linking with the NHS and other statutory services to ensure whole families are supported and avoiding duplication of effort.  There have been great changes and improvements in support for ex-servicemen and women when they leave the military and transition back into civilian work but it is important that we continue to help promptly those who are struggling with significant life changes.


And lastly, what is the best bit of this job?


Getting to that stage when the veteran moves into “in-work support” as they have gained employment or reached their goals. Witnessing positive change in my clients and looking back through their pre-employment journey. Seeing and hearing about veterans I have worked with socialising with civilian colleagues and not isolating themselves as they once did.

To find out more about WWTW’s employment service and our IPS centres contact