Charity receives unprecedented number of BAME applicants for veteran employability programme

RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity has found BAME veterans are struggling to find employment in the capital.

The revelation comes after RFEA’s Forces for London Programme (an employment support service solely dedicated to providing jobs and careers advice to ex-Servicemen and women living in the capital) received an unprecedented number of BAME applicants.

Since its launch in November 2017, the programme has attracted 56% BAME applicants, a figure 10 times greater than the predicted 5%.

RFEA’s Forces for London programme uniquely offers one-to-one advice and guidance with a dedicated advisor, plus volunteering, mentoring and work experience opportunities with employers in the capital who value the skills and attributes of ex-military. It also offers training to help job seekers gain the right skills.

As Forces for London moves into its exciting next phase, RFEA is calling for more to be done to support BAME ex-Forces job seekers.

Alistair Halliday, Chief Executive of RFEA says,

“We know that Service leavers and veterans face a unique set of challenges when seeking civilian employment. We were surprised to hear from such a high number of BAME applicants, as there is a relatively small number of BAME ex-military living in the capital, so it shows that more needs to be done to make sure that all ex-servicemen and women are getting the support they need to find employment opportunities that enable them to thrive.”

Deputy Mayor of London for Social Integration, Social Mobility, Debbie Weekes-Bernard says:

“Our armed forces make unimaginable sacrifices in order to keep us safe so it is only right we provide our veterans with the help they deserve once they return to civilian life.

“While they have gained extensive skills in service, it is clear that veterans from BAME communities in the capital face particular challenges finding meaningful work once they leave the forces.

“The Forces for London programme provides crucial support to veterans from diverse backgrounds, offering them invaluable insight into the job market and helping them develop the competitive edge they need to compete in an ever-changing job market.”

Care study

Ryan Gill, who is based in North West London, served in the Army for 14 years, reaching the rank of Sergeant and serving in the War in Afghanistan.  When he left the Services in 2017 he aimed to run a fishing business in Jamaica, but the business did not make enough for him to live on.  Ryan is now back in the London looking for work. Ryan has recently joined RFEA’s Forces for London programme where he has been given CV advice, been pointed in the direction of jobs and job fairs specifically for ex-Forces and gained practical work experience opportunities through volunteering.

He says:

“The biggest challenge I face is finding a permanent role instead of a temporary role – especially one that pays enough to cover the cost of living in London. There is a Catch 22 of being a veteran seeking civilian employment. Employers know that your work background is military, but they want experience relevant to their role – so how do you bridge that gap? There are a lot of courses and funding available to help veterans, but getting the support and aid available to access them is harder to find.”

“If you’re an individual who has always considered themselves as the breadwinner and someone who wants to strive, not being employed permanently, or full time, affects you mentally – it drains you. Without a good job you, are unable to function and that affects everything.

“It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one struggling, but the programme has given me a chance to speak with other ex-military personnel, which has been a huge help – it puts you on a level platform with everyone else, which helps you realise there are other people with the same struggles and difficulties.

“I would advise any ex-military to get in touch with RFEA. It is a great platform to get help progressing into civvy street. The RFEA team really understand the needs of ex-Forces, so can relay information much more easily. Having someone from RFEA to help guide you through, so you can get the help you need, makes a huge difference.”

Forces for London is delivered in partnership with the Mayor of London and part funded by the European Social Fund.

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Notes to editors:

For further information, interview or photograph requests, please contact Kristy MacLeod: / 07778 842274.

About Forces for London

The programme helps ex-Forces find jobs in London across the 32 London Boroughs and the City of London.  It provides support for all who are leaving the military, Early Service Leavers and Veterans including Ex Army, Ex Navy and Ex RAF.

About European Social Fund

The project receives funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

About RFEA:

RFEA – The Forces Employment Charity – exists to provide life-long, life-changing support, job opportunities, and training to service leavers, reservists, veterans and their families, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service, or reason for leaving.

Founded in 1885 and operating across the UK, we have the specialist knowledge and understanding to bridge the gap between military life and civilian employment. We work in partnership with other organisations and employers who, like us, respect and value the unique qualities and abilities of all those who have served.  / /

Our Executive Members

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Afghanistan support

In light of recent events in Afghanistan, please find information and support resources here