An interview with our Reservist Ambassador

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James; 14forty Area Facilities Manager and Private, Prince of Wales' Royal Regiment

How long have you been with Compass and what do you do?
I joined Compass 5 years ago after six years as a Prison Officer. I joined VSG initially as relief officer. However, about a year ago I was promoted into an Area Facilities Manager role at 14forty, working for a blue chip client. The job is hugely varied which I love, covering facilities, cleaning, vending and pest control.

Why did you become a Reservist and how did you apply?
My father was in the Army so I have always had an interest in the forces and thought I would explore the Reservist route. It was a very easy process, I did a bit of research on the British Army website then completed an online application form. I was able to list 3 career options that I was interested in and luckily got my first choice. I have joined as a Private in a C Company Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment, a Light Infantry regiment.

How did your line manager respond when you told him?
My line manager was very supportive, looked into what support was available, initially Compass wasn’t a signatory of the covenant, but I was still supported. Within a few months of being a reservist Compass signed the Covenant and I found out I could receive 10 days of paid leave for my training, which was fantastic. My Battalion sent my line manager a schedule of my training. Having support from both Compass and my Battalion, C Company, makes it a lot easier to manage.

And added bonus has been that my client is also a signatory of the armed forces covenant and as a result they provided me with 10 days paid leave to complete my second lot of training. So I really have received the most fantastic level of support.

What training have you had to do?
Initially you go and meet the battalion, I went for a night and then also did a weekend. It was great to meet the company and get to know the other soldiers. It was a pretty challenging training weekend, but I loved it and it confirmed that I wanted to be a reservist so I made the commitment to continue.

You then have to complete a 2-day selection process, carry out fitness test, etc. When you pass this you can move onto a 1-week training course and have to complete the second training course, a further 2 weeks within 12 weeks. After this basic training you complete your trade specific training, for me this was combat infantryman Course at ITC Catterick. I am now fully deployable so am happy to be deployed sometime in the future. I will have 3 months of training before I go anywhere to ensure my skills are up to scratch then could be away for a matter of weeks or months.

How has your Reservist training supported you in your current job role?
I have learnt skills around displace and organisation from the army that I apply to my day job. You learn how to work with anyone, anywhere and take advantage of opportunities as they arise.

What has been the highlight?
I went to the USA and took part in a training exercise with NATO forces, involving live fire and Black Hawks. It was the best thing I have ever done in my life!

What would you say to anyone thinking of being a Reservist?
I would encourage anyone who has thought about wanting to be a Reservist to look into it. It’s a really simple process to sign up and you have the opportunity to attend one training session to see if it’s right for you or not.