West Lothian veteran who lost her job during Covid-19 finds new employment

A servicewoman from Broxburn, who lost her job during Covid-19, has managed to turn her life around thanks to the help of a national charity.

By Shona Elliott
Saturday, 12th June 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 6:36 pm

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During the Covid-19 outbreak ex-Army chef, Kara McCallum struggled to find suitable employment after her job at the airport was put at risk.

Ms McCallum, who was only 18-years-old when she joined the armed forces, said she struggled to get a job after leaving active service due to her limited “civilian experience”.

Kara McCallum joined the armed forces aged 18.

Worried about her future, the veteran contacted the Royal Forces Employment Charity, RFEA, and asked for help.

She was placed with a RFEA Advisor who encouraged her to apply for new roles and is now working in the security sector, with a view to eventually joining the police force.

She said “I joined the Army at 18, so when I came out, I didn’t really have much in the way of civilian experience.

“It can be hard to know where to look for help, so I was really grateful to my advisor for the support I got from her.

Kara McCallum while serving in Afghanistan.

“She would regularly check in with me to keep me on track with my job search, making suggestions of roles I could consider, as well as boosting my confidence in terms of the skills I have to offer.

“I live far away from both my partner and my family, so having someone to give me that regular support, especially coming from someone who was ex-Military and therefore understood the challenges I was facing, has really made a difference.

“Being without a job during lockdown meant I didn’t know what to do with myself – now getting out regularly and seeing people through work has taken my mind off other pressures. I would 100 per cent recommend RFEA.”

Military families and ex-Servicewomen often face unique challenges entering the job market, owing to issues such as frequent moves or stepping off their career pathways to meet caring responsibilities.

Covid-19 has added an extra level of complexity as many of the roles often suited to them have been massively reduced.

One of RFEA’s Regional Employment Advisors for Scotland Claire Sally said: “Covid-19 has had a huge impact on employment in Scotland and sadly, many ex-Servicewomen and Military partners/ spouses have been disproportionately affected.

"The good news is that we are actively working with a range of organisations, across industries such as financial, technology and healthcare, who all have vacancies to fill and recognise the value of employing people with experience of a military life.”

Thanks to a new funding boost from the Scottish Government’s Women Returners Programme, RFEA has been able to bolster its efforts to meet increased demand for its services, ensuring it has been able to provide employability support to some of those hardest hit by the pandemic.

Chief Executive of RFEA Alistair Halliday said: “As a result of our work, RFEA brings about life changing transformations for thousands of veterans, and their families, every year. We are incredibly grateful to the Scottish Government’s Women Returners Programme fund for their support, which has enabled us to continue to give help to those who need it during this challenging time.”

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