Rachel Evans

SSAFA Mentor, and HR Director at Sodexo, one of our corporate partners.

Rachel Evans

SSAFA Mentor, and HR Director at Sodexo, one of our corporate partners.

For over 15 years, Sodexo has supported SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, with their partnership raising over £350,000 for the charity, including funding of SSAFA’s Homelessness Fund through Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation.   HR Director, Rachel Evans, has worked in the Defence Sector for eight years and has recently decided to become a SSAFA Mentor to help support those transitioning to civilian life.

Rachel Evans, from Huddersfield, has worked at Sodexo for twelve years, but found out about SSAFA when she began working in the Defence Sector eight years ago.

“I first came across SSAFA when I was working out in Cyprus and during that time my connection with the military community became much closer. I had an incredible opportunity to observe and understand how the military works together, and subsequently the impact this has upon families.”

Rachel was working with students at the British forces school in Cyprus as part of their Business Studies course and was invited to attend the SSAFA Young Achievers Award, after the students were nominated.

“The Awards were absolutely phenomenal. I could see the impact that a military lifestyle could have on a family and some of the adversities that those young people must overcome. So, it kind of brought it back down to earth for me.”

Rachel decided to become even more involved with SSAFA and took on their D-Day Cycle Ride in September 2019 to help raise money for the charity.

“I can honestly say it was the most amazing experience that I’ve ever had in my life. I think the comradery that you experience, the feeling of belonging is just incredible. You are part of a team and everybody is supporting everyone else. Everyone is there with that one purpose, for one charity.”

 The D-Day Cycle Ride took 72 cyclists on an epic 230-mile cycle challenge to Northern France, with the chance to pay respects to those who fought and fell on D-Day.

I was extremely honoured and humbled to have taken part in the D-Day Cycle ride

“I felt as if I had achieved something quite huge for SSAFA and I think there were quite a few shocked faces! Nobody could quite believe that I’d done it!

 “I was even brought to the point of tears when Sir Andrew Gregory (SSAFA CEO) asked me to lay a wreath at the British Cemetery in Bayeux. I’m so proud to personally support SSAFA and to have done something like that.”

Rachel recently decided to volunteer for SSAFA and train to be a SSAFA mentor for their Mentoring Service, that supports forces leavers with their transition back into civilian life.

“I found out about SSAFA Mentoring through my regular email updates and by following their social media channels. I decided to become a Mentor because of my connection; I have seen first-hand impacts that lifestyle has on individuals.

“From an employer perspective at the other end, I see people transitioning into employment do best with support for every aspect of daily life. It is truly a life-changing experience, and therefore should be handled as such.

“I also thought that on both a personal and professional level, I had the skills that could really benefit the military community. I really wanted to be able to give back to those who served us and our country.”

As part of becoming a Mentor, individuals are required to complete an application form and a formal interview, as well a three-day training course.

“I went through a very clear and comprehensive selection process. I completed an application form and was interviewed by a member of the team. The interview was very structured and focused on whether I was right for this, so it wasn’t necessarily about my technical skills, it was more about my behaviours and my competencies.

“The training has been fantastic. I attended the three-day course and it was an incredible opportunity to take myself out of a corporate environment for a few days and work with individuals who all had very different backgrounds. Be that a teacher, ex-military, someone from the corporate world – we were all very different but were all there with that same common purpose.”

It gave me an opportunity to look at the world through a different lens.

“I think personally one of the most valuable things you can ever give somebody is your time. Time is a precious thing and it’s something that we don’t get back.

“I would say to anybody considering becoming a mentor. If you can give your time to support them through a transitional period in their life and you have the skills and experience to do that, then do it.”

Rachel is now in a Mentoring relationship and, although challenging, she has embraced the blended mentoring that SSAFA has to offer and has been using a variety of IT services to enable her to carry out her mentoring. Rachel hopes she will be able to meet her mentee face to face soon.