Former soldier helps colleagues back to work

29 November 2011

A SOLDIER who runs a project to help other servicemen back to work has spoken of his experience in the new role.

Ashley Williams (left) has been helped by veteran Darren Rogers through the ExTRA project. Photo by Rachel Moses

Ashley Williams (left) has been helped by veteran Darren Rogers through the EXtra project. Photo by Rachel Moses

Darren Rogers began working at ExTRA, the NSA-based prgramme, in September and has since helped six people back into employment.

The role itself was an achievement for Darren, a Royal Welsh veteran, after he became at a loss after leaving the forces.

Thanks to friend and colleague Paul Thomas, Darren – known to his friends as Stan – found out about Bridgend-based charity Healing The Wounds (HTW), which treats people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Upon gaining help from the charity, which is run by husband-and-wife team Kevin and Carol Richards, Darren was able to find out about the opportunity at NSA through HTW.

“We found out that NSA had funding froom the European Social Fund and WCDA, to create a job for an ex-service person to have training to help people back into work,” said Darren, 27.

“It was a bit intimidating to start off with, because I had never done anything like it in the past.

“But when I got my first person back into work, it was a reallt good feeling, it’s very rewarding.”

Darren is currently working with 23 participants and works with each individual and their needs to best find their way back into employment and into society.

“One guy we had, didn’t have very many qualifications and was more of a hands-on worker,” added Darren.

“But when he started coming to us, he had an eviction notice with a month left at his house.

“We worked with the British legion and got him a flat in the Port Talbot area, and he’s now working in a gym in Sandfields.”

The majority of people Darren is working with are from Port Talbot, but he also has people from as far afield as Bridgend and Llanelli.

One person from Port Talbot who has been helped by Darren and the project is 23-year-old RAF veteran, Ashley Williams.

Ashley spoke to the MagNet within days of starting a new position at Neath’s YMCA, where he will be working at the Poppy Factory.

“My friend was in the army, and he had help with his CV from the project,” he said.

“One day I went to pick up his CV, and booked an appointment for myself.”

Ashley said he has wanted to work as a personal trainer since leaving the army, and used funds he had saved to train. ExTRA then helped find him the position.

“I’m absolutely landed,” he said.

“It’s a brilliant location for me, because I know the area as well.”

Richard Thomas, manager of the YMCA, said he hoped to continue working in partnership with ExTRA and would continue to support Ashley throughout his time at the centre.

Anyone wishing to find out more about ExTRA can phone Darren on 07791 809672.

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