Health officials are celebrating after receiving a prestigious award for the support it provides to the armed forces community in the region.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is an official Step Into Health partner – a collaboration between the NHS, Walking with the Wounded and The Royal Foundation.
Over the past year, it has helped dozens of ex-armed forces personnel to explore new careers within the NHS.
At an awards ceremony, the trust received a silver award from His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent as part of the Step Into Health employer recognition scheme (ERS).
One veteran who has benefitted is Kevin, 42, who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and was a former lance corporal before leaving the army in 2004.
Kevin attended a Step Into Health information day held by the Trust and went on to complete a work experience placement at The Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington.
Kevin, who is hoping to become a nursing assistant, said: “The support I’ve had from people at Northumbria really has been life changing. It has turned my life around completely.
“Since starting on my work placement programme, I feel like doors are starting to open for me and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Northumbria began running its Step Into Health programme in February.
So far, 47 service leavers and veterans have attended the trust’s events.
Sarah Moore, regional ‘Step into Health’ co-ordinator at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As an organisation, Northumbria is proud to work on the Step into Health project and to help ex-military personnel into healthcare roles.
“People who have served in the armed forces have a broad range of knowledge, experience and transferable skills that we need in the NHS and we are delighted to be able to offer the right help and support for local people to think about a new career in the health service.”
The ‘Step into Health’ programme at Northumbria Healthcare consists of a one day, quarterly, information session, which provides an overview of the NHS and the trust.
Veterans are given a hospital tour and departmental visits which provide access to career information and guidance with the aim to deliver a clear insight into the range of opportunities available within Northumbria.
Those who attend are also helped to create bespoke work attachment programmes tailored to their experience and skills to help identify areas of interest for future employment.
Following a placement, if delegates apply for a position in the trust and meet the person specification, the trust will support candidates through the application process.
As well as receiving the ERS silver award for 2016, the trust is now developing a reservist policy and is looking to positively encourage the recruitment of more reserve forces personnel into NHS roles.