Sodexo employees join mentor scheme to help ex-services personnel

Sodexo has extended its support to SSAFA, the Armed Forces Charity with HR director, Rachel Evans and HR business partner, Marc Vincent joining its mentoring programme aimed at helping service personnel leaving the Armed Forces transition into civilian life.

SSAFA’s mentoring programme was launched as a trial in 2018 at Catterick Garrison to support the transition of individuals returning who were, in some way, wounded, injured or sick (WIS) and, because of this, had been discharged from military service.  In 2020 the programme was expanded to include other service leavers and rolled out nationwide.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown and restrictions imposed to fight the virus has not halted the programme.  Service personnel have continued to be discharged from all three services and still require support with their transition to civilian life. In some cases more support is needed now more than ever due to the uncertainty of the future as the lockdown eases and the country adapts to a new normal.

SSAFA has adapted the mentoring programme to ensure it meets the continued demand and support needed by those who need it most across the UK and have gone the extra mile to ensure support is provided in line with lockdown restrictions. SSAFA’s mentoring team have also been working with its crisis team and have been able to access funds from SSAFA’s Emergency Response Fund for those in most need.

Both Rachel and Marc have already engaged with their respective mentees from the programme and despite not being able to meet face-to-face all have embraced the adapted programme and are using a variety of IT services to ensure the valuable support the programme offers continues.

Rachel Evans, commented: Mentoring is a fantastic way to give something back to the service leaver community both personally and as an organisation. It’s not about advising or telling people what to do, it’s about providing guidance and empowering people to make their own decisions, find their own solutions, and give them the confidence to make a difference by themselves.”

Prior to March 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic, SSAFA’s programme had already seen the charity’s trained mentors help 560 individuals and their family members through holistic, one-to-one, face-to-face support for up to two years post service. Its aim is to motivate, support, build resilience and empower service leavers to fulfil their potential in their new lives outside the military and has been set up to help provide reassurance and support at what could potentially be a daunting time.

Sir Andrew Gregory, Chief Executive of SSAFA said: “This programme is incredibly important to those leaving military service. While most make the change successfully, adjusting to civilian life can be hard for some.  Having organisations such as Sodexo supporting this scheme, including with mentors like Rachel and Marc, will make a real difference.  I thank them for their time and dedication to the programme.”  

Results of the mentee questionnaires completed those who participated in the 2018 Catterick trial showed a significant improvement in seven of the ten outcome areas amongst the service leavers on the trial. The results reveal that mentees experienced a 31 per cent increase in feelings of self happiness, 35 per cent reduction in social isolation, and more than 20 per cent improvement in their financial and housing stability.

image courtesy of Sodexo