A University of Wolverhampton project supporting the Armed Forces has been praised as “innovative” and “much needed” by a top Army commander.
Brigadier Gerhard Wheeler, Commander 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, hailed the University’s Supporting the Unsung Hero initiative at its launch on November 25.
The project offers a business start-up programme for the dependants of serving Armed Forces personnel, Reservists and Veterans to enable them not only to financially support their family but integrate them into the local civilian community.
It has been running for several months but was this week given an official launch event, held at the Seminar Room of the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre.
The launch event was attended by an audience of senior military personnel, Local Government and military organisations and opened by Brigadier Wheeler, who has served in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his opening speech he praised the University of Wolverhampton for its delivery of an “innovative and much needed programme” that recognised the challenges and sacrifices dependants’ of serving personnel often have to make in support of loved ones serving in the military.
He said: “It is particularly difficult for family members who relocate with their serving spouse or parent to maintain sustainable employment and education. This programme is a step towards helping those within the military community prepare and plan for life beyond the services, by providing them with the autonomy, skills and support needed to start a flexible and financially viable business whilst contributing to their local and national economy.”
The programme, made possible through the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund announced by Prime Minister David Cameron this year, has been successfully completed by the first ten delegates who are now prepared to start their journey in self-employment.
One of those is student Sally Wagstaff. She said: “After leaving the Navy in 2011 following eighteen years dedicated service as a Nursing Officer, I decided it was time for me to focus on my families future needs and prepare for my husband’s retirement from the Royal Navy Medical Services.
“The programme has given me the confidence and knowledge to understand how to approach my business idea in Laser hair removal. Within two months of starting the course I had devised a business plan and with the help of my assigned business mentor I have successfully secured funding. I am now the company director of my own business Xodos Aesthetics Ltd and I couldn’t praise the programme enough.”
Each intake of the ‘Supporting the Unsung Hero programme offers information and advice on self-employment, a business start-up course and individual/group mentoring for seven months with business advisers from the Black Country Chamber of Commerce.
The project is delivered through the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre in conjunction with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and The Ministry of Defence Hive Information Service.
Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton, said: “This is a really vital project. There is, rightly, a lot of support and attention for those serving in the Armed Forces.
“But there is perhaps less so for dependents of those individuals, despite the amazing work they do. This project is a way of redressing that and shows our commitment to the wider community as the University of opportunity.”
For more information please contact Chris Jones in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736