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The Benefits Battle - a local report from Stirling CAB

When Ashleigh Bird's work placement for her Stirling University Law degree fell through at the last minute, she couldn't have imagined that her misfortune would lead to such a fulfilling experience.

The Community Action Team asked Ashleigh a few questions - read on to find out more about her experience at Stirling CAB, her research into the issues facing the armed services community, and the launch of her report on Armed Services Day...

Getting involved with CAB

I first got involved with CAB during my third year of Law School at the University of Stirling. I had enrolled in a 'workplacement in law' module and had originally been allocated another organisation. However, they pulled out of the program at rather short notice and I approached Craig (Stirling CAB Manager) following a presentation he gave at a careers event. He kindly agreed that I could complete my placement at the bureau. Therefore, I very nearly missed out at being at the bureau at all!

Choosing to write a report and the topic

While the module had no specific requirements, I decided early on that I wanted to complete a piece of written work which I could potentially reflect on when making future law traineeship/graduate applications. Having spoken to Craig about my interest in the armed services he suggested that I focus on veterans and get guidance from Ally Gemmell, the regional ASAP support worker.

My interest in the armed services originates from my involvement in the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) - a military organisation for university students which focuses on teamwork and leadership. I have been a member of the organisation for four years and have been promoted to the rank of Junior Under Officer (Senior Cadet).

About my research

Craig and Ally provided me with the starting point of my research with the document: Civvy Street, The New Front Line. This provided me with an introduction to the challenges that veterans face and helped focus my investigation. I also carried out surveys and interviews to research the issue further and get other points of view. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the project was putting all the different elements together and seeing the final product. In my course there isn't the opportunity to 'decorate' your work so being able to format the document with images was a welcome change.

I never set out for this document to be published. As said it was originally just a personal project and so for it to have reached this stage is fantastic - I'm overwhelmed. Seeing it in hard copy on Armed Forces Day was fantastic, as was the day itself. I particularly enjoyed the parade and the rain did not detract from the entertainment on offer.

You can download Ashleigh's report from the bottom of this page.

What I gained from the experience/ Enjoyed the most.

Thorough enjoyment! Given that I was not originally allocated the placement at the bureau, I'm thrilled that it has been such a success. Everyone was more than willing to offer me their time and support. In addition to the report, I got to observe the other services that the bureau provides from the advisory role to their work with the Community Payback Scheme. I have also enrolled in the Adviser Trainee Scheme and have just started shadowing other advisers.

I hope to continue volunteering through my final year at university and build the bridge between the law in principle and how it is in practice. As for the workplacement module itself, I actually received the highest grade in my class so I have to say that working at CAB has been doubly beneficial.

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