One of the HRH Prince’s Charles’s leading youth charities has joined forces with two of the UK’s leading ex-Service charities to help young Armed Forces personnel fulfil their self employment ambitions.
The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) in conjunction with The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland is delivering the new scheme, called ‘Be the Boss’, which is aimed at supporting recent UK service leavers to plan, fund and grow their own small businesses.
Funded by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), ex-service personnel could qualify for business start-up funds up to a maximum of £7,500 and up to £30,000 for business expansion.
In Scotland, the PSYBT, in association with Poppyscotland, will deliver the Be the Boss small business support package to young people aged 18-25 years, or up to 30 years of age if the applicant has a disability. This will include providing assistance with writing a business plan and financial forecasts, overseeing the loans process, offering aftercare advice and business mentoring.
Business Gateway will deliver the scheme for all other ex-Service personnel in Scotland and The Royal British Legion will work with other appointed partner organisations to deliver the same business support package in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In the last two years alone, PSYBT and Poppyscotland has supported 10 ex-Service personnel make the transition from taking orders to making their own decisions. One of those is 26-year-old Billy Morris from Kirkcaldy who served as an infantry soldier with The Black Watch.
Billy left the Army last year and now runs a successful plastering and roughcasting business. “Joining the Army was all I could think about for as long as I can remember” said Billy. “I joined when I was 17 and served in Iraq, Poland, Germany, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Kosovo. During my first tour in Iraq I spent eight months in Baghdad as a gunner working alongside the American troops. Sadly, we lost two of our guys during the first tour and six during the second tour.
“When my girlfriend told me she was expecting, I decided it was time to leave the Army. I wanted them to have the security and comfort of knowing I would always be there for them.”
“It wasn’t easy knowing what I would do for a job because I didn’t feel I had any useful skills other than what I had learned in the Forces. So, I started labouring and working with tools and then chanced my luck at applying for a tradesman job doing roughcasting. As it turned out, I became pretty good at it and after a period of time I decided to take the plunge and start my own business. That’s when I approached PSYBT. They were really supportive and gave me lots of advice on what I needed to do, as well as funding to get me started.”
In just over a year, BM Plastering and Roughcasting has developed a loyal commercial clientele which extends all over Scotland and includes B&Q and Homebase.
“Leaving the Army and becoming my own boss has changed my life, admittedly it was daunting having to start all over again outside the life I had known in the Army. But my business is going well and fortunately I am able to enjoy much more time with my family and my son, Rhys” said Billy.
Welcoming the new collaboration with the Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland, PSYBT chief executive, Mark Strudwick said, “It is a great honour and a privilege to join The Royal British Legion and Poppyscotland in providing support to the young men and women who have served our country, by helping them carve out a new life and a new career for themselves. As former service man myself, I understand the challenges of re-adjusting to life outside the Army, but I also know it can be a very positive experience with lots of opportunities and rewards for those who are offered the right support.”
Ian McGregor, Chief Executive of Poppyscotland, added: “We are delighted to be further developing our relationship with PSYBT and our sister charity, The Royal British Legion. Our role in Be the Boss is to ensure that the Scottish clients’ journey through the application process is as easy as possible and we look forward to helping young veterans achieve their goals.”
Alexander Knapp, Project Manager of Be the Boss with the Royal British Legion said, “Poppyscotland has been working with PSYBT successfully for some time now and The Royal British Legion is delighted to be able to collaborate in this relationship with Be the Boss. Service-leavers throughout the UK gain valuable skills in the Armed Forces and, with Be the Boss, we are now in a position to help them apply these skills after their discharge to support themselves, their families and community.”
For more information about the Be The Boss scheme visit www.civvystreet.org and click on Be The Boss to find out more.
Issued on behalf of the Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust by Jen Nash, Panache Communications tel 07971 466 220 firstname.lastname@example.org. For further information contact PSYBT Margaret Gibson/Emma Fitzpatrick at PSYBT head office on Tel no. 0141 248 4999. Visit the PSYBT website at www.psybt.org.uk
For information on Poppyscotland visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk
Billy Morris can be contacted on 07707 978977 e. email@example.com