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Posted - 5th June 20

Volunteers Week 1 – 7 June: Aspire & Sodexo supporting Covid community response in Aldershot

Sodexo chef returns to voluntary kitchen duties at The Vine Centre to help out during crisis

A community centre in Aldershot has received a helping hand from Aspire Defence Services Limited (ADSL) and Sodexo, to deliver crucial support to vulnerable people during the Coronavirus crisis.

The Vine Centre helps transform the lives of the disadvantaged and socially isolated in the local community, including the homeless, by providing a broad range of services from financial advice and counselling to hot meals.

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the impact of social distancing and self-isolation rules, the Centre introduced a Dining Delivery service to ensure that its most vulnerable clients would continue to receive vital provisions.

Responding to a plea for help with this initiative, ADSL organised a team of back-up drivers, who are on standby to ensure the meal delivery service can continue to meet demand. ADSL has been involved with The Vine Centre for a number of years through fundraising and other support activities.

ADSL’s partner company Sodexo was keen to get involved, too, and one of their professional chefs, Chris Barnes, volunteered to help out with food preparation at the Centre. This has been something of a ‘homecoming’ for Chris, who usually works in the soldiers’ diner at St Omer Barracks: he trained to become a fully qualified chef with Sodexo after he was ‘talent-spotted’ whilst volunteering at The Vine Centre kitchen back in 2016.

“It’s been lovely having Chris back with us helping out during these very difficult times, especially with the experience he brings to the table,” a Centre spokesperson said. “He is always keen to get on with the task and has fitted in extremely well. We are very thankful for his help.”

Chris has found his time volunteering at The Vine Centre rewarding and a fantastic opportunity to give something back:

“The Coronavirus crisis has meant support for organisations such as The Vine Centre is more important than ever.  With the current situation, more people needing their support and less people are able to volunteer due to the government’s restrictions.  I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to use my skills and experience at a time when it’s needed most and really make a difference to the communities that The Vine Centre works with.”

In recognition of Chris’s commitment, ADSL management awarded him a certificate of recognition. Aidan Murphy, ADSL Operations Director (East), said:

“During this time the collaborative working between our team and Sodexo has been simply amazing. I am extremely appreciative and grateful for the flexibility, agility, passion and empathy they have displayed. There have been so many individuals and teams in Sodexo that have gone well above the call of duty.”

In addition to assisting with the Dining Delivery service, ADSL and Sodexo have set up several collection points across Aldershot Garrison for donations of food and toiletries. These care packages are being distributed by The Vine Centre to those in need in the local community, and the collection points will remain in place until lockdown ends.

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