Employment for Army family members is high on the agenda of the MOD, government and Service charities. There can be numerous barriers to finding a job or regular income, yet AFF Employment & Training Specialist Laura Lewin discovered many of you are successfully rising to the challenge…

Name: Lizzie // Challenge: Posted overseas // Solution: Start a business

As a solicitor posted to Kenya with her soldier, Lizzie soon found that Army spouses are not allowed to work. So, when she fell in love with the local fabrics, kikoy, she started a UK business which also helps Africans.

“It was all possible without using BFPO so, along with my sister, Kate,  who is my sales partner back home, I created and registered Toto&Home as a UK company. Kate receives stock from me and posts to UK customers. We are posted to South Africa soon and I will continue my business from there. With a mobile phone, email and a Kenyan bank account anything is possible, especially in Africa!”

Name: Mandy // Challenge: Finding childcare // Solution: Become a childminder

Mandy decided to take the plunge into childminding after a friend, who was the only childminder on the patch, received a posting order. She now runs Little Saplings, which fits perfectly with Army life.

“Working for myself gives me independence, a sense of worth and my own wage.

“I love what I do which I think is really important for my own wellbeing and, through childminding, I’m also helping others in our community to go out to work.

“To become a childminder you have to attend a brief where you are told all about the job, statutory requirements and courses you need to undertake.”

Name: Gemma // Challenge: Soldier working long hours; pricey childcare // Solution: Work from home as a bookkeeper

Braunton Bookkeeping was recently established after Gemma struggled to find work at her new posting.

She was already qualified and her dream had always been to be self-employed.

“Childcare for two children is expensive and I knew that my husband would be extremely busy at his new unit.

“I decided to take the leap and I’m currently working on getting my licence up-to-date and gaining clients.

“Now, I work my own hours, don’t worry about childcare and never miss those special moments like school plays and sports days.”

Name: Zoe // Challenge: Help other spouses with their businesses // Solution: Offer advice through her own company

Zoe set up accountancy firm Bailey Lynas so she could work flexibly around her children. She also wanted to help other Army spouses with their own businesses, particularly those with children who need out-of-hours support.

“I provide accountancy and tax services using cloud software; all correspondence is electronic which means I can easily take my clients with me wherever they – or we – are posted.

“I help other spouses to work for themselves by advising them to set up and register their new business, and ensuring they comply with all the requirements.”

Name: Laura // Challenge: Moving home // Solution: Employer agreed to flexible working

Laura was working for Nuneaton and Bedworth Council when she got the news of her soldier’s assignment order.

“I spoke to AFF’s Employment Specialist and we looked at the Armed Forces Covenant that my employer had signed up to. Most of my job was easily doable from home so I approached my boss, who was keen on the idea of flexible working.

“It made the upheaval of moving so much easier and I won’t have a gap in my employment. If you think there is a possibility of flexible working, just ask your employer. You never know how flexible they might be.”

Name: Claire // Challenge: To have a continuous career // Solution: Buy a property

Claire has worked for Twinings in Andover for 11 years after deciding to focus her career in one place living apart from her soldier.

“We had to put things in place to make it work for all. I’m lucky that my work is truly flexible. I can start or finish early and work from home, so I can work around our children.

“We’ve just bought a house locally so the boys and I will have a consistent base for school and work in the longer term.”

How do you make work work for you? AFF’s employment survey, which goes live in September, seeks to discover all about your career journey and the secret to your success. Look out for more on social media and at www.aff.org.uk

If you have an interesting story to share about how you have overcome employment challenges, email etam@aff.org.uk

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