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  1. Impact Philanthropy
April 26, 2012

1 Per Cent Campaign: Soldier On!

By Spear's

SOLDIER ON!, A charity started four years ago by ex-headhunter Nicholas Harrison, aims to ease the transition between life in the armed forces and life back at home for those who been discharged from service on medical grounds.

Harrison clearly has an axe to grind about recruitment methods in general in the UK, arguing at length that because former service personnel may not have standard ‘office skills’, their other talents are overlooked or misunderstood. ‘They find themselves having to “translate” what it is they can do into the corporate language of skill sets. It’s the equivalent of saying to someone, “You can drive a Ferrari, but I’m not letting you anywhere near my golf buggy.”’

This extremely able workforce, says Harrison, are being let down by the traditional headhunting model of finding a job and matching it to someone with a suitable skill set, with talents or ambitions rarely figuring in the equation at all.

Soldier On!, which has put ten former service personnel in work placements or employment over the past twelve months, has turned this method on its head to get the best results for its clients: Harrison calls it ‘reverse headhunting’. First he spends time getting to know each and every one of his candidates — their talents, ambitions and any particular medical requirements they may have — then he turns to the charity’s fast-growing book of corporate partners and contacts to see which would be the best match for the candidate and client company.

Ten placements in a year might not sound like much, but Harrison estimates the charity has helped over 250 former service personnel in other ways over the past four years. Regular career-management workshops and networking events — the most recent of which was at the City’s Honourable Artillery Company a few weeks ago — are crucial for men and women trying to reintegrate into civilian life.

Eventually, he wants the charity to be run entirely by the very people it supports, a process which has already started. Nick Davis, who lost his right leg fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2007, now works for Harrison as a candidate manager and is cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats in September to raise funds for the charity.


As well as donations, the charity needs the support of individuals and corporations, which might include the offer of placements and perhaps employment to suitable candidates. Sponsors and hosts for networking events, at which candidates are introduced to potential employers, are also needed.

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Photograph courtesy UK MOD/Crown copyright 2012
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