Three talented entrepreneurs have recently completed the first stage of the Armed Forces dependants’ business start-up programme at the University of Wolverhampton. They’re now driving their companies forward with help from “Supporting the Unsung Heroes”, tailored to meet Forces families’ needs. Here, they share their experiences with Army&You

Paula Ferris, Positive Enerje

TFT1Paula has been running a successful business as a fitness instructor, personal trainer and sports therapist for more than ten years.

But there were areas that she struggled with, such as accounts, marketing and social media.

“I have always known my weak points but have never had the confidence to face them until completing the course.

“I now have the knowledge, information and understanding to take Positive EnerJe to the next level.

“Fitting the course in to my working week was manageable as it was designed to avoid problems families face like childcare, distance and cost.

“I would encourage anyone thinking about enrolling to do so!”

Jen Ives, Grippy Leads

TFT2After several years of developing the idea for a multi-loop grip dog lead, Jen took the opportunity to turn the concept into a reality.

“It has given me the opportunity to meet other like-minded people, access the support network and make business connections.

“I have made a few sales to delegates on the course, their recommendations are great for promoting my business and I value their opinions.”

Grippy Leads has featured at various events, including Crufts 2014.

Clair Hughes, Calicoclair


As a professional nurse it became difficult for Clair to maintain employment, often moving home and trying to juggle shift-work around family demands and her husband’s Service commitments.

“When I fell pregnant again I wanted to stay at home with my baby so I looked for new interests.

“I made gifts for family and friends and received such good feedback that I wondered if I could turn my hobby into a business.

“The course has given me the tools and confidence to take my love for crafting to another level.

“They have helped me to approach my business with a commercial mindset, from understanding my product value to managing my time and marketing.”

Interested? Enrol now!

Supporting the Unsung Hero is available to dependants of serving Armed Forces personnel, veterans and Reservists at no cost.

Run by the University of Wolverhampton, Black Country Chamber of Commerce and HIVE, the ten-month programme includes an introduction to self-employment session, a four-day business start-up course and a seven-month individual and group mentoring programme.

There is a course in Cyprus later this year and plans to run one in Germany to support families who are rebasing.

Visit for more information.

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