MP opens forces' charity training hub

A new training hub aimed at helping ex-service personnel from across the region into civilian employment has been launched.

The premises in Dumfries town centre were partly funded by the UK Government and officially opened by Dumfries and Galloway MP Alister Jack.

Forces veterans are offered funded training to help them qualify as HGV drivers, a sector where there are numerous vacancies regionally and nationally.

The project is run by established local charity South West Scotland RnR, which offers much-appreciated breaks on the Solway coast to help servicemen and women injured on frontline duty recuperate.

Located in Friars Vennel, the former shop is fully equipped with laptops and other technology to help HGV students through Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC) theory and hazard perception training. 

Charity chief executive Robin Hood explained that the new service complemented the recuperation opportunities for which they are best known.

He said: "Leaving the forces can prove a difficult time for many as they adjust to civilian life. Having the dignity of a job, together with the motivation it provides, can make a big difference and help avoid health and other issues later.

"SWS RnR is offering the initial training which would normally cost up to £2000. 

"Avoiding this outlay will encourage veterans, who otherwise could not afford to do so, to complete the HGV training and make a difference to their lives by hopefully getting a job."

The project was awarded £130,500 from the UK Government, which is being match-funded over several years through the charity's own fund-raising efforts.

They initially hope to put 30 students from the region and beyond through their HGV training before Christmas.

Alister Jack said: "South West Scotland RnR have built up an excellent reputation in providing much-needed breaks in our region for injured servicemen and women.

"I wish them similar success in their new venture in providing these valuable training opportunities for veterans, while also potentially helping to alleviate driver shortages in the transport industry."