Caring for the Forces – Happy centenary birthday to The Royal Airforce
Posted by |In Recognition |
This blog was written by Mark Baker, Managing Director of Operations, Defence & Government Services, Sodexo UK & Ireland.
Today is a special day as we celebrate 100 years of the RAF at the formal parade and spectacular flypast in London. Before joining Sodexo, I spent more than 30 years at the front end of operations in the RAF – starting as a navigator on anti-submarine patrols in Scotland and finishing as Deputy Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan. When I decided to hang up my uniform, I joined Sodexo’s Defence & Government Services business and in my current role I find my military experience to be invaluable.
Sodexo delivers a variety of facilities services from food, cleaning, accommodation and waste services to infrastructure maintenance, fleet management, logistics and supplies. In the Defence sector, we work in dozens of messes, as well as hospitals, prisons, airfields and garrisons. We also run supermarkets, convenience shops and bars on bases for military personnel and their families.
Sodexo’s strong family approach is part of what makes the organisation unique and our founder’s daughter, Sophie Bellon, is chair of the Sodexo board. Having that strong family ethos and values helps us focus on a variety of areas that others talk about but we actually act upon, such as partnering, equality, diversity and inclusion.
We aim to improve ‘Quality of Life’ in whatever way we can by delivering our services; we see ourselves as partners, not sub-contractors, and that pays dividends. Last year we were awarded the MOD’s Employee Recognition Scheme Gold Award to acknowledge our support to the UK Armed Forces community.
We positively recruit ex-service personnel and reservists, and, where we can, support employment for families to help reduce the disruption that regular postings can have on domestic life – particularly when on accompanied postings overseas. In doing this, we are actively embracing the military’s “whole force” approach, which reflects an ambition to see civil servants, civilian contractors and military personnel as part of a single capability.
Sodexo is also a significant partner of SSAFA (the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association), the Armed Forces charity. Through our partnership we sponsor events like the SSAFA Young Achiever Awards, an event that recognises young people who have succeeded in the face of adversity. We also have our own corporate foundation called Stop Hunger, through which an additional £40,000 is donated each year to support SSAFA’s homelessness welfare fund.
At Sodexo we try and knit ourselves into the fabric of our clients’ business, this is particularly valued by our military clients as they benefit so much more from our involvement in the military communities where we deliver our services. As a result, we have a very close relationship with our military employers and customers – one we truly value.