From redundancy to self-employment 

51-year-old Richard Hamilton was in his seventh year as Director of Outdoor Education at Atlantic College – located within the 12th century St Donat’s Castle near Llantwit Major – when his role was made redundant.

As Richard, of Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan, says, he had worked at the college for 20 years by the time he left, so being back on the jobs market came as a shock. 

“I wanted direction. There’s an assumption that you know what to do and how to navigate the system – from claiming benefits to looking for a job. But I didn’t. 

“I went to Careers Wales and they asked me what I wanted to do. I said I would love to upskill, as while I could change and go down another career path, I’d worked in the outdoor adventure field for 35 years, so I had plenty of experience and great contacts.”

Richard found out about ReAct funding, which is supported by the Welsh Government and European Social Fund and covers the cost of training courses for workers who have been made redundant. 

“I took a one-week bushmaster course, which covers learning how to live in the outdoors so tasks such as building shelters, lighting fires and foraging. I also did two courses which covered how to safely use ropes at height – for both recreation and rescue purposes.

“These courses added to my outdoor adventure skills so I could set up my own company - The Adventure Alternative.

The father of four – all daughters – adds: “It’s called The Alternative Adventure because I’m passionate about getting away from the idea that outdoor adventure is super-macho.  

“Being outdoors benefits men and women and it’s a great way for parents to spend time with their children, so my focus is very much on outdoor education.

“I didn’t plan on starting my own business but circumstances made it happen. Now I’m excited about the future and happier than ever.

“The help I received with training courses and funding put me on the right path.   

“I would recommend anyone in need of careers help starts with Skills Gateway for Adults.”

Richard is just one of thousands of people who have been helped by programmes available through the Skills Gateway for Adults service since its launch in January 2015.

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