Army chefs help out the homeless for Christmas

Chefs from 16 Air Assault Brigade have served up platefuls of festive cheer to homeless people at Colchester Emergency Night Shelter.

Chefs from the town’s Merville Barracks have volunteered their time to cook dinner once a week at the homeless shelter since 2014, but always make a special effort for Christmas. This year, they decorated the centre before serving up turkey with all the trimmings and handing out presents for the residents, such as jumpers and toiletries.

As chefs, it’s nice to use our skills to give something back to less fortunate members of the local community WO1 Rogers

Warrant Officer Class 1 (WO1) Ollie Rogers, the Brigade’s head of catering, said: “As chefs, it’s nice to use our skills to give something back to less fortunate members of the local community. It’s particularly important to make an extra effort at Christmas, because the residents don’t necessarily have families and friends to celebrate with.

"The Brigade has been supporting the Night Shelter for several years now, and cooking for the residents has given our junior soldiers a different perspective on the challenges they may face in their lives.”

Night Shelter resident Brad said: “When the Army come in every week it’s a highlight for us, because the food is exceptional. It means a lot to us because, as homeless people, our self-opinion can be quite low. To see the Army guys come in and put a show on for us like this is fantastic.”

Marina Woodrow, Colchester Emergency Night Shelter manager, said: "Christmas is a time to be with family and friends; many homeless people are either estranged from or without family or friends which can make Christmas an incredibly lonely and isolating time. The Army Christmas dinner is a very special occasion at the shelter that really promotes an atmosphere of family and community.

"The work that the Army chefs put into producing, not just an excellent meal, but also decorating the Shelter and providing gifts to our residents is phenomenal and we are as grateful as always for their support. Their weekly volunteering has also continued this year and we remain so appreciative of their commitment to our project and helping the most vulnerable in our society."