Yvette Beer, a veteran of the Army Royal Logistics Corps, served in the First Gulf War and in Bosnia before being medically discharged in 1997. Then her life changed…
The work of The Poppy Factory
Iwas on the Gulf War Syndrome programme, for Gulf veterans who experienced a range of symptoms post-war, such as chronic fatigue and nerve pain,” explains Yvette.
“Then while I was out running one day, I had a stroke, a massive infarction and bleed to the brain. I had been training to get into the police force but suddenly, everything changed. I was left with long term health problems, including a neurological condition called dystonia which causes uncontrollable muscle spasms down my left side.
“It is now controlled with regular treatment, without which I just don’t think I would be functioning at all.
“Back then, aged 29, my life went on hold. I used to live for the day, I hadn’t really planned for the future and certainly not the one now facing me. I’d lost everything, my trade and my skills – it all came as a real shock.
“By the time I turned to the British Legion for support I was also struggling financially as I had been a single mum since 2004. My daughter had been born two months prematurely and is profoundly deaf. She had also contracted meningitis when she was around one year old.
“The Legion supported me for several years and I began volunteering at my local Plymouth branch too, which has a drop-in support facility for veterans.
“That really brough ht home to me the scale of the struggle going on for ex-service personnel returning to civvy street. It can be a real culture shock and sometimes it is just too much for some people to deal with.
“Thankfully organisations such as The Poppy Factory can helpelp with finding meaningful work and as an injured veteran, I recently turned to them as I qualified for their support.
“My daughter is now a young adult and has gained her independence so my caring duties have come to an end. I am now ready to get out there and find some routine and structure in my life and get back into the job market.”
There are an estimated 20,000 wounded, injured or sick veterans of working age in the UK who are struggling to get back into employment after leaving the Armed Forces.
Individuals might struggle with additional complicating issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or depression, alcohol or substance abuse, homelessness or breakdowns in their family structure.
In addition to producing millions of Remembrance products, The Poppy Factory in Surrey is the hub of the highly successful Getting You Back to Work programme, which provides personalised
Once I get a foot in the door somewhere they’ll see the value of me as a person
support across England and Wales to assist ex-Forces men and women with physical or mental health challenges to return to meaningful work and fulfilling careers.
Veterans work on a one-to-one basis with regional employability consultants, who match the skills and needs of the veteran to meaningful opportunities in their local job market. The support includes interview coaching, career planning and help with the veteran’s CV and job applications.
“My consultant Farrah is like my guardian angel,” says Yvette. “She has always been there for me, supporting me through any emotional difficulties and rocky situations. She knows my background and understands my capabilities and is helping me to look for opportunities.
“The jobs market is so daunting, having somebody else looking out for you and helping you to develop the right tools is really nice. I so value having her in my life.
“I am hoping to move from part-time self-employment to a full-time role, ideally putting my driving skills to good use. I enjoy being out on the road and dealing with people. Without the network of help and encouragement from The Poppy Factory I probably wouldn’t have pursued this plan, but I have a ‘can do’ approach and I will keep going.
“I have had lots of challenges to deal with – I felt like I was on the scrap heap when the army discharged me – but my daughter has even more challenges in her life and I am humbled and inspired by what she achieves.
“Once I get my foot in the door somewhere they will see the value of me as a person. I know the right job will happen and, with The Poppy Factory byy myy side, I am readyy for it!”
Farrah and Yvette explore opportunities Making poppies can be the first step towards recovery
Yvette during her time in the Army
Yvette has a positive attitude
Yvette meets the Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla adds the 1,000th message to veterans