Employment and Empowerment Project

The Surf Action Joined-Up Recovery Model recognises that the transition to civilian life can be a challenging process for all armed forces leavers, and even more so for those medically retired due to injury, a health condition or a disability. With this in mind, we created the Surf Action Employment Project, an innovative series of courses and seminars designed to build on existing skills for employment beyond the Armed Forces.

A 2011 Jobcentre Plus report on the forthcoming armed forces redundancies found that each year 24,000 men and women leave the armed forces and enter civilian life. They leave for a variety of reasons and in a variety of different circumstances. Some have served lengthy terms of service. Others have not even completed their basic training, and we know little about the fate of either group. It is estimated that 1,100 veterans sleep rough on the streets of our capital every night and according to the MOD 3% of prisoners are ex-military personnel. On top of the 24,000 who regularly leave each year, The Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2010 announced plans to reduce the armed forces by an additional 17,000 by 2015.

Surf Action has delivered a very successful series of Employment Courses for veterans on behalf of Jobcentre Plus financed through the European Social Fund and then the Jobcentreplus Supplier Framework. Surf Action now also works with funding from the Royal British legion to provide and extend its Employment Project for veterans.

The core of the Employment Project is a comprehensive assessment of each veteran’s background, skills and ambitions. By identifying and developing their transferable abilities/skills we build a bespoke action plan for each veteran and provide ongoing guidance and encouragement to help them progress towards their identified goals.

Some veterans are still in the recovery stage from their injuries, whether they are physical and/or psychological, and are not ready for full-time work, but they may be capable of doing part-time work or volunteering. Similarly some are on specific benefits and limited in the number of hours of part-time work and volunteering which they can do. Whatever their situation Surf Action encourages them to re-engage with society in whatever way they can as this will boost their self-esteem and their physical and emotional wellbeing.


We encourage those who are not ready for part-time work or volunteering to attend some of our vocational and non-vocational life-skills courses at the Surf Action Veterans Centre. This helps build their self esteem, boosts their practical knowledge base, gets them back into a good routine and is good for their psychological wellbeing. This should all help in their recovery and move them on to a position where full or part-time work is practicable.

The in-house courses offered include:
Your rights as a consumer
Electrical safety in the home
Fire safety in the home
First aid
Health and safety
Manual handling
Money and debt
Business Skills
Boost your IT skills
Housing – Your rights as a landlord/tenant
Brush-up on your GCSE mathematics
Surf skills leading to a RLSS qualification

“The success of Surf Action working (with veterans) has been such that mainstream organisations such as ‘Jobcentre Plus Devon and Cornwall’ are now investing in them so they can benefit their customers as well. The result is great - more people supported with the help they need and more people in a position to get a job and the economic independence that brings for the individuals concerned and their families.”

Mark Yeoman, Head of ESF Convergence Communication.

Alongside our Employment Programme we are constantly working with and talking to civilian organisations and businesses to raise their awareness of the skills held by many ex-service personnel and also of the challenges faced by them on their return to ‘Civvy Street’. We believe that through this work not only will we improve veterans’ employment opportunities and reduce economic inactivity but will also help employer organisations to flourish by enabling them to tap into the wealth of experience and skills which veterans have to offer.