There is a huge network of organisations supporting the Armed Forces community, so finding the right one for your needs can be tricky. Veterans’ Gateway is made up of a consortium of organisations and Armed Forces charities, including The Royal British Legion, SSAFA – the Armed Forces charity, Poppyscotland, Combat Stress and Connect Assist. We make it quick and easy by being your first point of contact for whatever support you need, whether you are based in the UK or abroad.
January Employment Campaign Case Studies
Kevin Bath (Former RN)
50 Years old
Referral Partner: X-Forces (Start Up)
Kevin was in the Navy 8 years and left in 1993. He was based in Gibraltar for 2 years and served on HMS Intrepid and HMS Ark Royal. He met his wife Kellie (47yo) on a night out when they were both working in London, they’ve now been married 14 years and have 2 children (11yr old Evie and 7yr old Jack) and a dog called Blue!
Together they set up their business making healthier spreads.
Finding a healthier, and just as tasty, solution to eating jams and spreads like Nutella is now much simpler than you think, thanks to the former Royal Navy Leading Hand and his wife. The husband and wife business partners were both shocked when discovering that a jar of children’s beloved Nutella contained 57 cubes of sugar inside, but found it difficult to find a healthier solution. Realising there was a major gap in the market for healthy and sugar free alternatives to their kid’s favourite snacks, Mr and Mrs Bath decided to create their own. Jim Jams now holds the Great Taste Award and was featured on an episode of BBC One’s Inside Out East, which focused on recognising unhealthy foods and their healthier alternatives.
“I would never have thought that my career in the Royal Navy would eventually lead to me owning my own business, but it’s proof that, with the right guidance, anything can happen to you once you leave the military and you can achieve your goals. X-Forces, through their support network equipped me with everything I needed and Veterans’ Gateway is another great support in starting that journey, to explore what support is available to you and how you can reach your potential.”
Olivia Smith (RM Spouse)
36 Years old
Referral Partner: X –Forces (Start Up)
This autumn Royal Marines military spouse Olivia Smith launched Olivia & Pearl, an accessible, luxury pearl jewellery brand and online retailer. Providing collectable, classic and contemporary pearl jewellery designed for a new generation of pearl lovers. Her contemporary take on pearls are high quality and sourced ethically while remaining affordable.
After drawing down a Start Up Loan from X-Forces earlier this year, Olivia Smith decided to start Olivia & Pearl, an accessible luxury pearl jewellery brand and online retailer. Providing collectable classic and contemporary pearl jewellery designed for a new generation of pearl lovers. Through reducing product mark-up and making full use of e-commerce and direct to consumer sales, Olivia & Pearl offers luxury products at an accessible price point. With the global pearl market estimated to reach 10.7 billion by 2020, Olivia is keen to gain a slice of the market and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Monica Vinader and Pandora in creating an International brand over the next 10 years. As an avid lover of pearls when she was younger, Olivia made the decision to be self-employed after numerous advertising roles and time as an actor in both New York and London. She ultimately decided she wanted autonomy over her own career and wanted to be in the driver seat.
“It’s great that military spouses like me can get support via Veterans’ Gateway. The employment support and start up mentoring that X-Forces provided has been invaluable and allowed me to start my business. By accessing the support available on Veterans’ Gateway you can look to make your start up dreams a reality.”
LINKS: To shop Olivia & Pearls brand new collection visit: www.oliviaandpearl.com
46 Years Old:
Referral Parnter: Walking With The Wounded
Photo by Mike Buss
Duncan from Aldershot joined the Army in 1989, aged 18, and served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) as a vehicle mechanic. During his 12 years in the Army Duncan undertook operational duties in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
In 2001, Duncan left the army and joined the fitness industry. However, he began to struggle financially and in 2015 he was given notice to leave his rented accommodation. Duncan became a resident of Mike Jackson House in Aldershot which provides supported accommodation to veterans, although the loss of his independence took its toll and Duncan openly admits to being reclusive.
Since living at Mike Jackson House, Duncan has received support from Walking With The Wounded’s Employment Advisors to create a CV, have interview practice and to secure job opportunities.
Duncan has been in full time employment in the healthcare industry since February 2016. He is part of a successful marketing team and is now the most senior member of his team.
“I now have the energy to get up and get on with getting my life back together. Mike Jackson House helped put a roof over my head and supported me until I got back into work.”
“Any veteran who needs employment support should access the Veterans’ Gateway. There could be help available similar to what I received from Walking With The Wounded, they helped me on my career path. For me, it wasn’t just about finding a good job but also dealing with my other issues. Veterans’ Gateway can assist you with any concerns you may have.”
Jel (Jeremy) Bearder
Referral Partner: Civvy Street (RBL)
Jel served in the Royal Regiment of Artillery from 1986-1991 in 3rd Regiment Royal Horse Artillery. He served in the UK, Germany, Cyprus and Canada during his military career. Jel always loved sport and represented his regiment at football, rugby, tennis, cricket, athletics (junior army discus champion 1990) and competed at swimming (butterfly) within his unit. When he left the Army he missed the comradeship that he found from his fellow soldiers.
When his relationship broke down in 2008 and he left the family home and his two boys behind, he became quite low. Jel realised he needed a decent career and, as sport and competing had been such a big part of his life, a friend suggested British Military Fitness (BMF).
On learning more about them, Jel became very excited but found he would need to complete an NVQ level one course before he could be considered as a BMF trainer. Not in regular work at the time, the course fees were beyond his reach.
Shortly afterward and by chance Jel was passing his local Royal British Legion so he popped in for a chat. They quickly put him in touch with Civvy Street, the Legion’s service which helps ex-Service personnel make the often difficult transition to civilian life. Within a couple of weeks Civvy Street had confirmed that not only would they cover the costs of the level one NVQ but also the level two.
Shortly after passing the NVQ, Jel was shadowing various BMF sessions in parks around London and quickly went on to lead his first session in Finsbury Park.
Jel said: “I felt alive being outside after what had been a pretty rough time for me. I was starting to get my life back into some kind of reality and this was thanks to The Royal British Legion and their fantastic Civvy Street service.”
Jel has been working for BMF for over nine years now and is now the park manager at three London venues as well as representing BMF at events across the country and abroad.
Jel said: “All in all I can’t thank the Legion enough for their assistance in providing me with a new career and helping me to build a new life. It’s given me a new direction and purpose and I will be forever grateful to them.”
He added: “Leaving the forces and then having to choose and find a new career can be a really challenging time. You need support around you and having experts on hand is vital. The service Veteran Gateway offers will be invaluable for those beginning or already on their journey to a new career.”
“Having done it myself I’d say to any Veteran to use what help is out there. It’s given me a direction and purpose and if 2018 is your year for finding a new path contact the service to see if there’s support available”.
John Geden (Former RMP)
52 Years Old
Referral Partner: X-Forces (Start Up)
John Geden joined the British Army in 1983 as an officer in the Royal Military Police at just age seventeen. After his military service, John joined the Hampshire Police and worked in a number of departments over his twenty-two years of service. In 2014, he was diagnosed with PTSD from his traumatic experiences serving in the army and police force. He received support from Help for Heroes and Combat Stress before taking early retirement.
Back in 1991 after John retired from the army, he was given the opportunity to take a resettlement course in bee keeping. John completed the ten-week course where he quickly became captivated by the bees. Ever since, John has owned bees on and off, and fourteen years later his bees have become a business.
“I feel safe next to an open bee hive, after all, who is going to come and bother me!” said John.
John’s business, Sinah Common Honey, is small-scale business which produces local, natural honey from Hayling Island and in the surrounding areas on the southern slopes of the South Downs. The honey is produced locally, is 100% natural and can be found in local food markets, farm shops and Southern Cooperative Stores in Hampshire and Sussex.
John attended a Help for Heroes and X-Forces six-day business skills course in order to develop his brand and learn more about the ins and outs of running a small business. Since the course, John has been able to turn his love for bees into a business that makes him happy. Although Sinah Common Honey does not produce a massive amount of honey on an annual basis, John runs approximately 140 colonies at a time and is proud to guarantee every pot of honey is local, fresh, and natural.
He must have taken notes during his business skills course because in 2016 he was awarded the Service Leaver Business Start Up of the year at the prestigious Nationwide Resettlement Awards ceremony held in Manchester Arena. Former BBC Breakfast presenter Bill Turnbull who, coincidently, is a fellow beekeeper presented John with his award.
“After attending the Help for Heroes and X-Forces six-day workshop to develop my brand and learn more about small business development, I’ve been able to turn my fascination for bees into a business that really makes me happy.”
In addition to selling honey at local food fairs, farmers markets, and the local co-op, Sinah Common Honey also produces beeswax candles, wedding favours, and they also run bee-keeping courses for beginners and more experienced beekeepers.
John is also looking into creating alcohol infused honey products, and his newest endeavour is to produce honey cosmetics. His beeswax based cosmetic idea is still in the early stages of development, but John hopes to create a beeswax, honey and propolis balm for soldiers who have lost limbs to use where their prosthetics rub against their amputated limbs. He hopes to partner with other military charities to make this idea a reality in the near future and to bring the product to the mainstream marketplace.
John also runs his own bee-keeping course for various levels of skill and he breeds Queen Bees to sell. He also gives his time freely to run bee-keeping courses for Help for Heroes beneficiaries in order to help other injured, wounded or sick veterans. In the last six months or so, John has spent a lot of time investing in the bees themselves and the facilities to run a colony. His hope is that he can slowly build the business over time while remaining a local, trusted company.
“I now give my time to run bee-keeping courses for wounded, injured or sick veterans. I have experienced first-hand how hard life can be and in particular the difficulties in holding down a job when you are suffering from PTSD. X-Forces has been there from the start, supporting me every step of the way and the service that Veterans’ Gateway offers will allow individuals to deal with multiple issues that might be impacting their employability. It’s a great first point of contact for any veteran.”