“As one door closes, another opens”
Having sustained a prolonged period of challenging life events, the title of the email intrigued me and so I clicked through to the blog and started reading.
The author described how they were moving to be National Lead on the Going Forward into Employment scheme. Setting out that “it was time to take previous experiences and move onto the next challenge”, alongside, “together, we can help people who have had doors closed on them for a variety of reasons open new doors themselves and help improve the Civil Service through everything they can give”.
That was similar in regard to the challenges that I had been experiencing - it felt like the doors of opportunities had been closed due to everyday pressures, I wondered if I had the confidence to make a change, but I dug deep to find the energy to be brave and coupled with the support and encouragement from my department, I found the key to open a new door.
A time for action?
I sent an email to the Going Forward into Employment mailbox as suggested and was quickly invited to an informal chat where the scheme was explained to me. They had provided 25 life-chance opportunities for individuals with barriers into employment across seven government departments, helping to create a Civil Service that is more diverse and reflective of the society it serves.
After some discussions with my managers, I was able to apply for a role and I quickly found myself at the heart of a national, cross-government, award winning scheme - creating, developing and improving a central point of information that was, and continues to drive the scheme forward and support planning and decision making processes.
Those doors that sometimes shut on us aren’t necessarily bad. They are opportunities for us to reflect on the skills and strengths we have developed – often in challenging environments – ready to take through to the next opportunity that is opening.
My nine years serving as a regular and a reservist in the armed forces gave me a wealth of those strengths that I hadn’t fully utilised of late, but this new opportunity required me to draw on those transferable skills. To troubleshoot problems, to collaborate as part of a team no matter whether we’re sat next to each other or more recently, communicating virtually at unusual hours to get the job done. That very real responsibility for individual & team performance and accountability in accomplishing a task when we’re under pressure from events or circumstances that are out of our control. This is something that we can all relate to recently.
Bringing those strengths, amongst other worthwhile and challenging projects, I now find myself leading on a high profile piece for a new strand to the scheme which is to be launched this summer. An opportunity to take part in something like this, shaping a piece of work from scratch, when confidence was low, did not feel feasible - but I took that chance.
So what's changed?
As a result I am much more confident to take on opportunities that were once viewed as challenges. Communication, collaboration and decision making skills have improved as I engage with colleagues and stakeholders nationwide to drive the scheme forward.
My own style of leadership and creativity is encouraged which enables me to learn new areas of work. One day it can be Project Management, another day it's influencing, and strategy the next. The flexibility and adaptability which that requires helps to build upon and improve the scheme, my personal contribution and capability, and in turn the Civil Service.
This opportunity has provided everything I need to develop further and enhance my career.
Knowing that I am helping others and improving their lives - creating real life-chance opportunities that they may never have had is the reason I chose to become a Civil Servant in the first place. Be part of it and make your difference.
Inspired by Nick's story?
Register your interest - unlock your door.
The Going Forward into Employment scheme is always looking for support. There are opportunities available now to join us and work with us on loan or secondment - full time, part time or as an advocate in your department or towns and cities.
Register your interest - unlock someone else’s door.
If you're recruiting and think a veteran’s skills could be utilised and benefit your organisation, contact us at GFIE@cabinetoffice.gov.uk and speak to us today. You may be interested in another veterans’s story from our last blog in which we helped translate the skills brought from the Army into the Civil Service.