We receive great feedback stories from the many men and women we have supported who go on to successfully gain employment. Matt Lambeth's story is no exception. After attending an ex-forces day at Suited for Success earlier his year, veteran Matt Lambeth is now running his own business as a locksmith.
Life as a soldier
Matt served in the military for 26 years, travelled the world as a solider and rose through the ranks before retiring as a Warrant Officer First Class. After retiring Matt had the belief that the skills he had acquired during his service would assist him in gaining employment. However, like many ex-servicemen the transition from service life to to civvy street employment has not been an easy road.
"I knew from an early age that soldiering was what I wanted to do", explains Matt, "I realised my dream and enlisted into the Army after leaving school in 1987. I completed 12 months training as a Junior Leader at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone in Kent and on completion I joined the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. What followed was a whirlwind career spanning nearly 26 years.
"I saw active service in the First Gulf War – The Liberation of Kuwait, served as a United Nations Peace Keeper in Bosnia and then as a peace enforcer as part of NATO, numerous tours of Northern Ireland during the troubles, Kosovo, the 2nd Gulf War and a further tour in Iraq and 2 tours in Afghanistan.
Rewarding career in the military
"I travelled the world as a soldier and was part of monumental events through the latter part of the 20th century, being in Germany when the Berlin Wall came down, assisting in the division of the former Yugoslavia after the Dayton Peace Agreement was brokered, the Gulf Wars, and the transition to peace in Northern Ireland. I found soldiering a rewarding and fulfilling career".
After leaving the military Matt wanted to use his transferable the skills that he had acquired during service and decided that he would pursue a career in IT / Telecoms Project Management.
"I attained the correct qualifications but found that on leaving the service my experience was not compatible with a civilian career", says Matt "I eventually found employment in retail and started to progress through that career stream, however I felt that the better part of me was missing, I missed the service life and was not prepared for the transition to being an ex serviceman.
"This caused problems in my personal life where I started to believe that I was failing in life and I started to fall into depression. I gave up work and became disillusioned with life in general".
"The hardest part was admitting that I needed help"
"I attempted to get financial support from the DWP, but was not entitled, this caused me further anguish.
I hit the lowest point of my life and from there decided that I had to pick myself up and move on. I needed to be true to the ethos that I had observed throughout my military career. The hardest part was admitting that I needed help. I used my learning Credits from the MOD to retrain as a Master Locksmith, but couldn’t establish myself in that industry due to financial constraints."
Matt approached the Regular Forces Employment Agency (RFEA) and The Royal British Legion, who were understanding and offered great support. An advisor at The Royal British Legion suggested Matt attend our ex-forces day at Suited for Success on Tuesday 19th February. Suited for Success hosts several ex-forces days throughout the year to support unemployed ex-servicemen and women get into work.
On the day we had a team of staff volunteers from the National Grid and Birmingham businessman Paul Cadman, a keen supporter of Suited for Success, volunteering with us for the day. The volunteer team of business professionals did one-to-one interview coaching sessions with the ex-servicemen and women also offering employment advice and reviewing CVs.
We were also joined by stylists from Clements and Church bespoke tailors who dressed an styled clients on the day and a hairdressing team from award winning hairdressers Benjamin Ryan. Read more about the day.
Turning a business idea into a reality
Matt had the opportunity to have some one-to-one coaching with leading Birmingham businessman Paul Cadman who encouraged Matt to follow his desire to set up his own locksmith businesses. Through his contacts in the business sector Paul went one step further and offered to help Matt to make his dream a reality.
"Since meeting Paul at the Suited for Success ex-forces day it's been like a whirlwind", explains Matt. "He introduced me to an established Locksmith – Paul Austin, who agreed to take me out with him for a couple of weeks to gain experience in the industry, which has now given me confidence in my abilities. Paul Cadman also introduced me to Peter Higgs, who has very kindly offered me a place with BNI (Business Network International)".
Matt has also been kindly helped by a number of business connections in the city to set up his business 'The Veteran Locksmith' providing emergency 24/7 locksmith services, residential, commercial, industrial & auto including a signed van, company logo, tools, a website, LinkedIn page and even a twitter account @TheVeteranLock1.
"I can't believe what has happened in such a short space of time and the help and support I have received", says Matt, "I feel like I'm going to wake up one morning and the bubble has burst.
"With the help and support of Paul Cadman and Paul Austin, I am now in the position to begin trading as a Master Locksmith and to begin to rebuild my life and my future."
Left to right: Peter Higgs (BNI), Matt Lambeth, Patricia White ( Suited for Success, CEO) and Paul Fulkner (Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, Chief Executive)