Transition Support for Early Service Leavers

The Future Horizons Programme (FHP), a pilot project based at Catterick Garrison supporting Early Service Leavers (ESLs), had an incredible 99% take-up in its first year.

An evaluation report of the programme urges the MoD to consider the viability of adopting the FHP model across all three branches of the Armed Forces; continuation and analysis including research into the needs and vulnerabilities of this cohort and explore ways of the use of different technologies and interfaces to communicate with ESLs should be explored further.

ESLs are servicemen and women who have been discharged from the Armed Forces, either compulsorily or at their own request, before completing an initial four years of service. They are not currently automatically entitled to resettlement support.

During the year-long period of evaluation, FHP has engaged with 777 ESLs from the Infantry Training Centre, Catterick.

After the initial six months over 60% of the ESLs were in employment or training and 90% of ESLs engaged in the programme said they would recommend it to others. This figure compares very favourably to other government funded employment schemes.

“It gave me a push in the right direction; I would have literally nothing if it wasn’t for Future Horizons.” Said Scott Carniegie, an ESL who was medically discharged after two years in the Army. “I have a way to go but I know the support is there and I can ask for help and advice anytime.”

FHP’s primary aim is to help ESLs into sustainable employment and the programme offers a range of training support and opportunities. Much of this support was delivered by Specialist Employment Consultants, with a diverse mixture of partner organisations, both military and civilian, providing bespoke services to ESLs requiring additional input.

James, whose name has been changed, explains: “I wish I could turn back time, it has been a really difficult life change leaving the Army as it was my whole life. However, I have started to pick myself up with the amazing support of Future Horizons and I couldn’t have got to where I am without them.”

“The programme organised for me to attend a residential course at college, picking me up from home on the Monday and dropping me back every Wednesday. They then helped me to get an apprenticeship and out into the workforce. I really believe that every ESL should have access to the Future Horizons Programme.” James now has a full time job in a warehouse and credits Future Horizons for his achievement.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust commented: “The aim of the Forces in Mind Trust is to support successful, sustainable transition into civilian life. We know the ESL cohort is particularly vulnerable to unsuccessful transition, and we now have an excellent piece of evidence that supports the case for ESLs’ transitional support and points the way towards how it can best be delivered.

Darren Bickerstaffe, the FHP’s Programme Manager, said: “We always knew there was a need, and the Future Horizons pilot at Catterick has enabled data and experiences to be collected to build the case for rolling this method of ESL resettlement help out further.”


Image: © Alan Uster /