Scotland’s Armed Forces Children’s Charity

This month’s #DreamBig Blog focuses on our many good friends and contacts who support Armed Forces children and young people to reach their full potential and THRIVE through their professional roles:

Alistair Ferrier is Veteran Project Team Leader at Scotland’s career service Skills Development Scotland (SDS).

A veteran himself, he works with many different partner organisations such as the Royal Caledonian Education Trust and groups including the Tri-Forces Family Federations and school-based colleagues who encourage children of Service Families to #DreamBig!

Careers Adviser Ann O’May works with pupils in Helensburgh’s Hermitage Academy, where there is a substantial number of pupils from Service Families. Ann believes getting to know each pupil, finding out about their interests and what they like to do is a vital first step.

She said: “It is so important to look at each young person’s personality and strengths so I can help them learn more about themselves and work with them to identify strengths they may not even know they have. Then it is about supporting them to see how they can use their strengths in different ways.”

Her colleague Chris Simpson is a careers adviser at Madras College in St Andrews which regularly welcomes new pupils from Service Families. Some of the challenges these young people face include constant transitions and interrupted learning.

“There might even be issues around the differences between the Scottish and English education and exam systems, so some young people may choose to stay back a year to consolidate their learning. I’m here to help make that transition smoother, help them to look at their options and different routes,” explained Chris.

He added: “Sometimes it is hard for young people to trust and it takes time to build relationships and that’s very important. It’s equally important to focus on ways of optimising their experiences – such as highlighting them being good at making transitions from one place to another – and using them to their advantage.”

Like Chris, Inverness-based careers adviser Lorraine McGarry believes young people from Service Families often develop core skills and strengths which will help them progress in the future.

Lorraine, who works with pupils in Millburn Academy, said: “We help young people to look at their strengths and one of these strengths that these young people have is resilience because change is something that is life for them and very familiar. Another is communication because they are used to making connections and friends in different places.”

She added: “SDS encourages all young people to consider ‘Self’ which is about understanding their personality, interests and values which are key to making the right career decisions; ‘Strengths’ which is about knowing how to use their talents, skills and personal qualities; ‘Horizons’ which means exploring the world of work, training and learning and ‘Networks’ which means identifying who can help in their career journey.

“Young people and their parents can contact the careers adviser in their schools, or visit to access our services online. The good thing about registering on My World of Work means that young people can access it at any time and from anywhere, so it is always available wherever they may be.”

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