Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Continued vandalism at KIM - story covered by and the Evening Leader

Story on

Story by the Evening Leader

Having a community space comes with certain risks....vandals.

Sadly, we have had over 6 months of damage to our Men's Shed building. We can no longer afford to pay for the on-going repairs. The young people have got more and more nonchalant in their destructive behaviours as the Police have been powerless to take any action - despite knowing the individuals concerned.

We continue to work closely with the local Police and have offered a restorative building project if the young people wanted to make some different choices and start building something here, rather than destroy things.

The safety of our staff and people we work alongside is paramount. To reduce the chances of the vandals coming back we have taken down the shelter they were using to congregate. We will be able to re-use the materiel in one of our other projects and we have pop up shelters for the Men's Shed to use. There is always a plan :)

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Armed Forces Covenant Conference, Cardiff

I sit on the Flintshire Armed Forces Covenant group to provide my experience as a veteran and update the committee on what I'm observing with veterans at our third sector level. Flintshire suggested to Welsh Government that I would be an ideal candidate to present my 'transition story' (transition is the term used when leaving the military to become a civilian) to a conference that included cabinet members from UK and Welsh Government. As ever, we at KIM Inspire get involved in many levels of social justice within Wales as a means of promoting the voice of individuals and to promote thinking within policy making forums. It is time-consuming, and not easy to prepare speeches/presentations/workshops at large conferences - yet we do, as we believe passionately  in the work we do alongside individuals and the importance of having those voices heard.

So this was my story to be heard - me as me, not as Andy from KIM. Can you really separate things out cleanly? Not really. I could of indulged myself and gave a 15 minute speech about me - of course I included my context and how the military supported me to transition back into civilian life (my story is below as part of a research project I took part in). However, I was able to get over messages of how the veterans community could be supported and the lessons I identified from my own journey. Our work at KIM is always about encouraging others to consider issues in their own context and the wider societal view.

Raising questions at the conference.

Forces In Mind - Equipped for Life Gallery

Article in the Evening Leader

Exhibition at Ty Pawb, Wrexham

Invisible juggling.

Portrait taken for the exhibition.
“I enjoy the camaraderie of the people I work with and I enjoy being settled, having a house and not having to pack your bags all the time is brilliant, things like putting in plants and watching them grow rather than leaving them behind has made a big difference.”
I had worked for 10 years as a civilian in retail but I wanted to do something for my country, so having looked at the other Services I decided to join the RAF in 1999 as an assistant air traffic controller. I served 14 years before coming out.  During my career I was promoted to sergeant and I had responsibility for flight operations which involved making sure it was safe for aircraft to take off and land. I also worked in the embassy in United Emirates where I had to make sure all aircraft were given diplomatic clearance over their air space, it was a really important role.
My decision to leave was nothing to do with not liking my job, I had intended to stay until 55yrs but after taking up the role of instructor and I was spending increasing amounts of time responding to the welfare needs of the younger students, I realised, after looking out for one these students who was sent to me for guidance, that I could see myself doing more in an advocating role. I spoke to a social worker at one of the bases and he persuaded me that I could go to University and that it would be worth taking the big financial hit to become a student and then a social worker.
When I was going through transition, although my primary aim was to go to University, I didn’t know I would be selected, so my fall back option was to address the two reasons I might not be selected. The first was my lack of academic qualifications and the other was not having the right experience. What I did before I left was work through the Open University to gain a level 4 certificate in Health and Social Care and I did some volunteer work with the NSPCC and the RAF also allowed me to do voluntary work in the community. This meant I was confident I would achieve my goal.
Moving Forward
Although the English Social Work board weren’t particularly interested in my military experience and did not see it as relevant, the Care Council in Wales were really supportive and valued the skills I could bring to social work as an ex-military person. Being a student was a really positive time and I went from having 2 GCSEs to achieving a first class honours degree and an award for the most achieving student.
Since leaving the University, I started working for a third sector charity which needed some organisation and although they only took me on for one day a week initially, I have been promoted twice and I am now their director of operations. I am able to use the skills I gained in the military to my current job which is to make a difference for the people the charity supports.
Change of Pace
At the University, the majority were mature students and while they had some insight into what the military is, there was an assumption of people being ‘armified’ with barking sergeant majors, being extremely organised and well structured. Of course the style of leadership in the RAF is nothing like that so it was overcoming prejudices and helping them understand that the ways the Army, the RAF and the Navy go about their training is completely different even though they might have the same objective.
Putting down roots
I enjoy the camaraderie of the people I work with and I enjoy being settled, having a house and not having to pack your bags all the time is brilliant, things like putting in plants and watching them grow rather than having to leave them behind has made a big difference. When I left, my eldest son was 11yrs and he had been to 11 different schools. Being in the same house has meant he and my daughter are doing well academically. My decision to leave I think was the right one because I am the first person in the history of my family to get a degree, so seeing me study has given them the confidence to know that they too can go to University.
So having taken a risk 5 years ago when leaving the military, everything I have learnt has paid off beautifully. I think my transition from one role to another has been seamless because I took control of what I wanted to do and did not rely on the military to do it for me.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

KIM at the Steve Morgan Foundation Conference


Our blog looks at all aspects of what KIM gets up to - here's a peek behind the curtain of how Annie, Amy and Andy worked with a key funder to continue our ongoing excellent relationship.

KIM were honoured this year to be invited by Steve's fantastic team to deliver a 15 minute presentation and a 50 minute workshop at the inaugural Steve Morgan Foundation Conference at Carden Park. You can find more out about the difference Steve is making here.  The foundation supports our volunteer programme - you can read more about eVOLution on Twitter.

Anxiety can touch everyone.......

Annie looking, er, 'pensive' before the conference. She was off her sick bed to!

I'm going to throw this out there. We are not robots - well Amy and Annie are not, my mum tells me she had me tested (Big Bang Theory fans). Attending a conference and speaking in front of a large crowd is nerve wracking. Annie feels anxious leading up to events and is a bag of nerves....until she starts to speak - then her charisma and passions oozes out. Amy brings her infectious laissez faire mask to hide behind. Sergeant Matthews comes over as mr organised and on a mission. Together we are stronger, together we have overcome many hurdles, together we have lifted the profile of third sector work, together we laugh, together we can achieve more. At KIM, it is always about the strength of our overall team...otherwise, Annie would still be anxious and would not attend workshops, Amy would be on a deck chair and Andy would be talking to airplanes.

We have some fantastic team members, volunteers and individuals at the KIM Hub...hopefully you will view the stories they share and see how we all work together.

15 minutes can feel like.....

Annie and Amy produced a wonderful presentation to the conference

No escaping for Andy, he was 'voluntold' to go on for the feedback session and rhyme the comments !


We had a fantastic workshop in the lovingly named 'Shooting Lodge'.

Thank you to everyone that took part, some great conversations but, as ever, not enough time to unpick everything. As promised, I've posted our flip charts below and would welcome any comments you would like to add to this blog. We are really keen to get out and see as many of you as we can - there is some amazing work going on. Likewise, you are always welcome to call in to see is if you are ever cruising up the North Wales coast!

Sheet 1. 

Getting started on the 'why' people volunteer.

 Sheet 2

Some interesting topics emerging.

Sheet 3.

I wonder if we could craft a statement? I did my best to improvise at the feedback.

And finally.....

The smiles afterwards. Annie had gone back to her sick bed whilst Andy and Amy took part in a liquid debrief.

Bill White tells his story to the Daily Post

Bill White - my story

Bill recently spoke to a reporter about his past and how engaging with support "saved my life". It is really powerful to hear somebody's words about their experiences. Thank you for sharing these words with us all.

This article was seen by another man on the website, he has since asked to come along to KIM as he feels inspired to talk by Bill's story.

You can read Bill's story and watch his video here

I've clipped the article from the paper and posted below:

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

KIM Together River Boat Trip in Chester

Lady Diana Boat Trip 3rd October 2018

KIM 4 Him and KIM 4 Her Flintshire/Wrexham

Today we had 29 intrepid sailors board the Lady Diana for a 2 tour trip down the River Dee.

The Lady Diana is operated by the Chester Boat Company and something I have always wanted to do. Isn't it funny that we quite often don't do things that are right on our doorstep? We live in a beautiful part of the world and take so much of it for granted - I wonder what you can think of, that is near to you, and that you haven't visited yet. It's a good topic for discussion in the KIM groups and is a wonderful way of pooling our local knowledge and piquing  interest in others.

The vast majority of the groups arrived in good time for 2pm sailing. Some arrived a little later and nearly had to swim to the boat - I'm not naming names but I'm looking at you - MEN!!

Some people were anxious about getting on the boat, but with a combination of determination, team bonding and helpfulness from the Skipper you all come on board. A big thumbs up for overcoming the challenge - you can rightfully take confidence from this and draw on your feelings of overcoming an obstacle next time you are unsure. 

We had perfect conditions for the cruise, lovely sunshine and flat calm water. I knew hearing the Titanic theme on Classic FM on my way to Chester was not an omen!!

Everybody seemed to be chatty during the trip and tucking into packed lunches and on-board refreshments. What did you think of the prices to the riverside properties?? 400k for a

All in all, I felt it was a good trip out and people had some amazing outcomes.

A big thank you to Gail and Dave for organising with the groups. 

Thanks to the staff for attending it make it possible - Sian, Scott and, well, me!

Last of all, thank you to everyone that came along - think about what you got out of the day and let us know about it when we evaluate the group in November.

Ready to sail.

4 of the KIM staff ready to escape. Gail seems to have grown!

A view of the Groves from Handbridge.

Wrexham and ready!

Don't jump Dave!!

Captain Alan.