By Claire Mitchell – April 2017
Very few people outside of the armed forces understand the difficulties some face when transitioning to civvie street.
We have created over 50 price guides so our visitors can see what the “going rate” is for various home improvement projects.
We also wanted to go one step further and offer dedicated help/advice to ex-service personnel.
We suggest you bookmark this page as it contains a lot of information and we think you’ll probably want to come back here again.
On this page you will discover:
- a comprehensive list of charities and organisations that offer dedicated advice
- a list of organisations where direct financial help and grants can be sought
- debt advice from professionals that specialise in helping veterans
- career advice
- two actionable hacks that can help any ex-armed forces can get a discount on home improvement projects
General Advice and Help
Below is a list of organisations that offer general advice to those leaving or have already left the forces:
Veterans’ Gateway was launched in April 2017 is aiming to be the first point of contact for ex-armed forces personnel. The site is backed by the British Legion, Poppy Scotland and Combat Stress, to name just a few.
Citizens Advice is the government organisation set up to help individuals with civil matters and has a recently updated their comprehensive list of concessions and benefits for current and ex-armed forces personnel.
Turn2Us offers advice on financial grants and assistance. They have several tools, calculators and grant finders that are both easy to use and effective. The site claims to help individuals in hardship gain access to benefits, charitable grants and support services.
Financial Assistance and Grants
Grants, low-cost loans and financial help is available to current and ex-forces.
Explore the charities and organisations below for more information:
Forces Money is a tax reclaim specialist set up by two ex-paras currently working alongside a chartered accountant with 30 years experience. They specialise in tax returns for forces and ex-forces personnel. Don’t forget, if errors have been made on previous tax returns, you can correct them and claim back expenses going back several years.
The Soldiers Charity offers grants and assistance to ex-soldiers and has done so for over 70 years. In 2015-16 they directly supported over 5000 former or current soldiers. 20% of their grants for this year went to serving soldiers.
Veterans UK is part of the Ministry of Defence and is responsible for administering pensions and payments for those bereaved and injured while in service. They have a helpline that also offers advice on other issues including benefits, loans and grants, emergency accommodation, finding a job, retraining, health issues, welfare concerns, service records and medals.
The respected British Legion is a well known organisation and on their site you’ll find a helpful grant finder tool and a separate crisis grant page for emergencies and essential support such as funerals, food, home adaptations and mobility vehicles.
You can find information about discount railcards for veterans and their families here. Up to 60% savings can be achieved by registering for this card but check the small print.
The Veterans Recognition Card is a scheme where discounts have already been negotiated on your behalf. Sign up and take advantage of this discounted program.
The latest research has shown that over 92% of those leaving the armed forces are physically fit and yet within 6 months 42% are unemployed.
These organisations can help those struggling with the transition:
The Career Transition Partnership is part of the Ministry of Defence and offers resettlement training courses so service personnel can have the best chance of success in the UK jobs market.
The Department for Education has a dedicated Troops to Teachers program that can help veterans achieve Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) efficiently and quickly.
Hire a Hero is a registered charity set up to help veterans transition into civilian life. They focus on career development with mentoring and career coaching.
Civvie Street is a charity set up in partnership with the British legion and as the name suggest, they offer help to those who are leaving or have just left the armed forces and are seeking employment. Keep an eye on their list of job offers, we have and now and again some really exciting and well-paid jobs crop up.
The period of adjustment that many veterans experience between leaving the forces and achieving stability in civvie street can often result in a build up of debt.
There are several organisations that can offer help:
The British Legion have an online knowledge base, a dedicated live chat feature, a support telephone number and an email address for those seeking help.
Step Change offers general debt advice and has management plans, debt relief advice, bankruptcy advice and several help tools.
Money Force has suggestions and links so you can get debt help. They are backed by the British Legion, the Ministry of Defence and the Standard Life Charitable fund.
Help With Housing
Moving from military accommodation to civvie street is never an easy step, there is uncertainty and extra bills and maintenance costs.
But there is help available for those who need it most.
Stoll is a leading provider of housing and support for vulnerable veterans and has been doing so for over 100 years. They currently assist over 600 ex-forces personnel per year.
The Haig Housing Trust has over 1500 properties on their books and is a dedicated organisation that helps ex-forces personnel with their housing needs.
How to Get a Discount on Almost Any Home Improvement Project
The aim of this website is to investigate how much home improvement projects cost and then publish the results on our pages.
We hope that armed with this information, you can steer clear of businesses that overcharge and get the work done at a reasonable price.
You can see a full list of researched home improvement prices on this page.
But how can forces and ex-forces secure an extra discount?
The answer is simple but often overlooked.
Ask for it and offer something in return.
We have found that many businesses, especially smaller firms, are desperate to promote their services and find new customers.
By offering to promote their business on forums, groups, charities and noticeboards, you can easily secure a discount in return.
Here is an example email that one of our founders received several years ago.
We have blanked out certain sections so you can copy and customise the email:
I am writing on behalf of my partner as we need a [insert home improvement project here] and are looking to get quotes from local businesses.
Do you offer discounts for ex-services personnel?
We contacted your competitor at [insert competing business name here] but they haven’t got back to us yet.
My partner volunteers for [insert forces charity here] and is an active member of several website forums and groups for ex-forces personnel.
If you offer discounts and do a good job for us, we would be more than happy to get the word out about your services and drum up business for you within this tight-knit community.
My contact details are: [insert phone number]
Awaiting your response.
Another tactic you can use is to create a shortlist of businesses that offer discounts to ex-service personnel.
Here’s how you do it, this will take a little bit of effort but when you are done, you’ll have a nifty list of businesses to choose from.
First, create a spreadsheet using Microsoft Office or a free one over at Google Docs.
Next, using your favorite search engine, do a series of searches for your desired tradespeople followed by “forces discount” or “veterans discount”.
For example, if you needed a locksmith, you would search for something like this:
If you were looking for a plumber then try searching for something like this:
You’ll need to try the search with different word variations but with a little bit of effort and time, you can draw up a handy list of tradespeople and businesses.