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Military precision

Louisa Clarke, MD of Operations at Churchill, describes the positive contribution veterans can make to FM and how the Veterans Advisory Board is helping former service people transition to civilian life

My military career began in 1996 when I joined the RAF and when I left in 2006 I remember feeling overwhelmed. I was out of my depth and navigating this new world of work where nothing felt as stable as the military. When I discovered the world of facilities management, things felt like they were falling into place. My first role was something I felt comfortable in as it was familiar from my RAF days. I joined Churchill in 2011, and the rest is history.

As Churchill was developing its diversity and inclusion policy, we discussed how to target people from different socio-economic backgrounds. As a veteran, I suggested targeting people like myself as they suit the FM sector well. I started developing my ideas, and fast forward to this year, we are now an ERS gold award winner. It was an honour to be granted the ERS gold award from the armed forces covenant as recognition of the work we do.


The Veterans Advisory Board (VAB) is a committee that provides advice, challenge, and diversity of thought to the government on veteran’s issues. When opportunity came to sit on the Board I thought that with everything we’d done internally at Churchill, it would be the right time to apply. When I heard back eight weeks later that I was invited to join the Board, I was delighted at the opportunity to make a real difference to the veteran community.

Its strategy revolves around themes which truly resonated with me and my experience in the UK military. Employment and education skills is completely my remit considering my work at Churchill, and our recent partnership with veteran employment community JobOppO. Ensuring that those adapting to civilian life and work are given the necessary skills to help them transition to this new way smoothly, and with success, is essential.


Mental health services for ex-military need improvement, as the transition to civilian life can be anxiety-inducing. Ensuring service personnel are not left behind is key for mental health services to improve. By providing more mental health and employment help, fewer veterans will end up in custody, or be likely to take part in illegal activity.

Civilian housing is also another huge factor. We want to ensure all veterans have a safe and secure place to live, or the facilities to help if this isn’t the case. Preventing more veterans from being
homeless is a must. All the elements of the strategy put forward by the VAB are extremely important for the development of a veteran’s life and providing positive change.

Other research projects that the Board is pursuing, such as the LQBTQ+ project, are also extremely important for the world of the UK armed forces. Times have changed dramatically since I first joined the RAF, but the impact of older generational opinions of those in the LGBTQ+ society can still have harmful effects today. It’s important to the VAB that we investigate the effects this has had upon veterans as well as their families and the people around them to prevent this from happening again.

Additionally, there is further research taking place regarding women in the armed forces, how they have been treated, and what impact they have made both in the past and the potential for their future. My lived experience as a woman in the RAF demonstrated the lack of support for women in the male-dominated field, and I know that needed to change.


Transitioning to civilian life is quite daunting, and the thought of beginning a whole new career is enough to give anyone anxiety. It is important for veterans to remember that they have so many great transferrable skills from their time in the armed forces. They have all the ammunition they need to get great jobs; they just need to know how to use it. That’s where the work of the VAB comes in. The strategy and research that is conducted by the Board is there to assist and develop the livelihoods of those adapting to the civilian world.

Meanwhile, we have been busy at Churchill setting up our new partnership with JobOppO; a job platform created by and for use by UK veterans. I am interacting with veterans on their platform, whether they are interested in Churchill or not, to help find the right position for them.

We have also set up internal mentoring and support networks, with an area of the Churchill website specifically for ex-service personnel, including a mailbox that goes straight to me. These could be any general queries or just people looking for employment, and I can then signpost them to where there is support available.

This network led us to set up several projects, including a blog series around ex-service personnel starting their new career in FM, as well as coaching and CV writing support sessions. The main area we are focussed on is educating other likeminded businesses on joining the covenant, veteran employment, and mentorship for veterans.

I hope that through my work with Churchill and involvement with the VAB, I can help provide support to veterans in FM and throughout the UK.

About Sarah OBeirne

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