The Armed Forces Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme is a unique free course designed specifically for military families. Army&You finds out how it equips Service families with the professional know how, tools and skills to turn “just an idea” into a real business opportunity… 


THE course, which is delivered by the University of Wolverhampton, works because it has been developed in consultation with members of the military community who know first-hand the challenges spouses and partners have when trying to maintain continuous employment.

Lianne Bradbury, Programme Manager who served with the Royal Logistic Corps for 22 years, says: “I understand how difficult it is to find work as a military dependant; my husband followed me around the world for 12 years.

“I had seven postings during this period and my husband had eight different jobs.

“I have seen him go through the highs and lows of searching and securing work and the impact this has had on us as a family.

“I wanted to ensure that the programme is built on a platform of understanding so we have tailored it to be flexible, practical and above all offer a solution to those wanting to break the cycle of an uncertain career.”


The programme has been made possible with funding from the Armed Forces Covenant LIBOR Fund which means the University of Wolverhampton in conjunction with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce can deliver it free of charge to Service families.

Cohort one started in October of last year and has already enabled ten entrepreneurial, military  spouses to see their business ideas come to life.

Christine Dedman, who has recently completed the first stage, cannot praise the course enough: “I have been a military dependant for 12 years and we are currently on our eighth move.

“I consider myself fortunate to have achieved a successful career to date despite our continued mobilisation.

“Keeping a healthy work life balance is a challenge for any mother. I have found the past three years the hardest; my husband has spent a lot of time serving away from home.

“After we moved in the summer, I started to look for work. I applied for numerous jobs and registered with recruitment agencies but it quickly became apparent that ‘part-time’, ‘flexible’ and ‘school hours’ were words most employers did not want to entertain.

“Add ‘military spouse’ into the mix and you’ll be amazed how quickly a conversation can end!”


“I have considered freelancing for a couple of years now but the Armed Forces Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme was the driving force behind me finally taking the plunge.

“I have just completed cohort one and can honestly say it has changed my life.

“I now have my own freelance business and manage my time around my children.

“The course has given me the practical skills to manage a business but the best bit for me is making new connections both socially and for the benefit of my business.

“We have a closed Facebook page which we use to sound ideas out and I can guarantee an honest and useful response.

“We also refer each other for work and this has been lucrative for a number of us already.

“It is amazing the different talents my fellow cohort members have from language tuition to dog grooming, event management to joinery, and the list is growing each month.

“We span the globe with our connections so we have the potential to market ourselves wherever we are posted before we even get there!

“My advice to any Service dependant thinking of setting up a business is to just go for it, the course is the perfect platform to get you started and it’s free!”


You can take part in the Programme no matter where you live. It lasts for 10 months, consists of:

  • Introduction to business start-up
  • A four day business start-up course
  • Individual mentoring sessions with a business adviser
  • Group mentoring sessions with other Service dependants led by a business adviser.


To find out more, speak to your local HIVE or contact Lianne Bradbury, the Armed Forces’ & Uniformed Services’ Co-ordinator at the University of Wolverhampton at or

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