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Life after conflict

In this guest article as part of Barclays’ World War One commemoration series, Stuart Tootal discusses the vital importance of considering how best to integrate soldiers back into civilian life – and how Barclays is helping.  

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Stuart Tootal - Chief Security Officer and Accountable Executive for Barclays AFTER

One hundred years ago, on 4 August the lights began to go out all over Europe, as hundreds and thousands of people began to answer the call to arms and march towards four years of bloody conflict. Six months later, on 15 February 1915, Second Lieutenant HS Davy, serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles was killed in action.

He was just one of 4,246 employees from Barclays – and those banks which were later to become part of the organisation - who joined up to fight in the First World War, and the first of 645 colleagues who laid down their lives in places like Ypres, Arras, on the Somme and at Cambrai. 

Hundreds of others were maimed and suffered from the mental anguish of their experiences in the trenches and no-man’s land of those battlefields.

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Yesterday and today

A century later it is right and proper that we commemorate their sacrifice and the loss of millions of other people from across the world in the carnage of that terrible conflict. But as we remember the veterans of the First World War, it is important that we also acknowledge the veterans of more recent conflicts from across the world. In particular, we need to consider how we support those people who have served their nation as they return to civilian life.

This is something I feel very strongly about having myself been a soldier for twenty years before joining Barclays. In 2006 I commanded 3 PARA, the first UK unit to be sent into the lawless province of Helmand in the south of Afghanistan. Undermanned and lacking helicopters, resources were stretched to breaking point and 3 PARA became engaged in an intense level of combat not experienced by the British Army since the Korean War.

This is not the kind of experience a soldier forgets. And while our experience of battle was in many ways very different to that of the soldiers fighting in World War One, the challenges faced by military personnel today – physically, emotionally and even economically - when transitioning back into peacetime society are likely to be very similar.  

As we remember the veterans of the First World War, it is important that we also acknowledge the veterans of more recent conflicts from across the world.
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The Barclays AFTER programme

It can be a particularly daunting prospect for young men and women who have spent all their adult lives serving in the armed forces, especially if their military careers have been cut short by injury or as a result of their experiences on operations. To provide support, in 2010, under the leadership of Antony Jenkins, Barclays set up the Barclays AFTER (Armed Forces Transition, Employment and Resettlement) programme. Since then, in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence and several service charities, Barclays AFTER has helped over 2,400 veterans in their transition to finding civilian employment on leaving the military.

This has been achieved by donating over £1 million to our Barclays AFTER partner charities and encouraging our colleagues to raise a further £1 million to pay for vocational and educational courses for individuals leaving the military as a result of being wounded. 

Many of our colleagues have also volunteered to run Money Skills and CV and interview workshops for veterans, while hundreds of service leavers have benefitted from attending Barclays Military Talent Days and work experience placements across the bank.

Barclays Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, discusses the AFTER programme with guests

Barclays Chief Executive, Antony Jenkins, discusses the AFTER programme with guests before his keynote address at the 2013 Armed Forces Day at the bank’s headquarters in London.

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Barclays AFTER forms an important part of our Citizenship agenda and contributes to Barclays’ overall commitment to change 5 Million Young Futures. By helping military personnel translate and transfer their skill-sets of leadership, discipline, complex problem solving, work ethic and cultural values in a manner that resonates with a civilian employer the programme is positively impacting thousands of men and women.

We have certainly seen the benefits of employing many veterans through the programme in the past few years. They have come from a diversity of different backgrounds and experiences, but all would admit that their transition process back into civilian life and employment has been made considerably easier as a result of being assisted by Barclays AFTER.

The Barclays AFTER programme is underpinned by our own network of colleagues who have served in the armed forces of their nations as well as civilian colleagues who have an interest in supporting veterans. The Barclays Military Services Network is active in the UK and the United States and there are plans afoot to expand the network to colleagues further afield, such as India.

It is a great initiative and enthusiastically engaged with other diversity networks within Barclays, such as the Women’s Initiative Network (WiN); our disability network, Reach; and Spectrum, the Barclays network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender issues.

Helping people achieve their ambitions – in the right way

The AFTER programme has taught us much about assisting veterans when their military service comes to an end and we believe that there is more that we can do to help others Consequently, this year we have announced that we will run another 200 work experience placements in the bank and we are already well on the way to fulfilling that pledge.

We are also looking at how we can make a wider call to arms and work more collaboratively with other companies to share our experience and encourage other organisations to help veterans find optimal employment, which is not only good for the individual, but also - as we have found - good for the employer. This has also been acknowledged more widely in July when the Barclays AFTER programme received a Gold Award in the UK Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme.

Just as the bank played a role in the process of rebuilding the post-First World War economy in 1918, we are now leading the way in supporting veterans of more recent conflicts. Barclays is incredibly proud of what it has achieved in helping today’s veterans and Barclays AFTER is a fitting tribute to them, which I believe our colleagues who served in the First World War would be equally proud of. 

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