How youth work helped injured veteran to start again

Friday 5 August 2016

Jimmy Thorpe, a former Scots Guard, suffered a life changing injury whilst on tour in Afghanistan in 2010. He initially struggled to adjust to civilian life, but thanks in part to funding from Help for Heroes, he has established a career in youth work and is employed by The Prince’s Trust, where he helps vulnerable young people to take control of their lives.

Jimmy Thorpe

Here is his story in his own words:

“It was in 2010 when life as I knew it changed forever and my career in the army came to an abrupt end. I was on tour in Afghanistan when the blast from an Improvised Explosive Device damaged my coccyx and caused multiple injuries to my entire left leg, resulting in chronic pain disorder.

“In many ways, I found it more difficult to come to terms with leaving the army than with the injury itself. After years of being in the army, the realities of moving back to my home town of Blackburn hit me like a tonne of bricks. I felt very disconnected from civilian life and employment prospects were bleak, but I was determined to move forward with my life.

“Things started to change when I responded to an advert for The Prince’s Trust. The youth charity has long supported military personnel making the transition into civilian life; a commitment it bolstered earlier this year by signing the Armed Forces Covenant.

“One of the many ways The Trust supports ex-servicemen and women is by enabling wounded, injured or sick personnel to access secondments on its Team programme, a 12-week personal development course. I was selected to work as an Assistant Team Leader for Groundwork, a role initially supported with a grant from the Department for Education’s Military Ethos funding and later through Help for Heroes. My role was to help vulnerable young people to gain the skills, confidence and qualifications they needed to move into work, education or training.

“I could see the same sense of uncertainty I had so recently felt in many of the young people we were helping, but knew that with the right support they would find their way and build a better future for themselves. The experience of working with them was hugely rewarding and gave me a new sense of purpose.

“When my secondment with Groundwork came to an end, I accepted a new role as a Fairbridge programme executive at The Prince’s Trust’s Pennine Lancashire Centre in Burnley. I was soon promoted to Programme manager and now help young people on The Trust’s Fairbridge programme.

“Looking back, it’s amazing to think I’ve come so far. Youth work has given me a new lease of life, so to anyone who feels daunted by having their military career cut short, I’d say this – keep going, there’s something out there for you.”

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