Aramark Defence Services has entered into a five-year partnership with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity which provides lifelong support to those who are serving or have ever served in the British Army, the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and the Royal Air force – and their families too. ADS has pledged to raise £250,000 during their five year partnership with SSAFA through an exciting calendar of fund raising activities.  

Beginning their vital work in 1885, this makes SSAFA the oldest tri-service, military charity running in the UK. Nearly 6,000 volunteers across the UK lie at the heart of SSAFA’s work with the Armed Forces family.  SSAFA’s network of 91 branches and 68 committees on military sites provide practical, emotional and financial support to those that need our help across 12 countries worldwide including the UK, Germany, Cyprus and the Falklands.

This year alone, staff and teams of volunteers have helped over 73,000 people – from World War Two veterans to those involved in more recent conflicts and their families.

If you would like to make a donation to this very worthwhile charity, you can do so on line at:

Quote from SSAFA Controller, Sir Andrew Gregory Lieutenant-General  KBE, CB:

“We are delighted that Side by Side is now partnering with SSAFA, the Armed force’s charity, helping us to be there for the servicemen and women, veterans and their families who find themselves in need. As the oldest, tri-service military charity, we are proud to be delivering and adapting our tailored support to all those who make up the Armed Forces family. This new partnership means we can provide continue providing practical, emotional and financial assistance and making a real difference to those who have dedicated their lives to protecting our country.”


Mark McDonald, 44, served in the British Army for nearly 24 years before being medically discharged in 2013. He lives with his wife in veterans’ accommodation and the couple are fostering a nine-year-old boy.

“I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2006 while I was serving in the infantry, but I carried on as it was manageable at that stage. In 2007 I spent three weeks at Headley Court and started having neck problems the following year. The military consultant said it was nerve pain from my MS, but when I left the Army, I saw an NHS consultant who disagreed. The scans showed I had three shattered neck vertebrae so it was a completely separate injury.

I started the standard resettlement with two years left, but because of my illness I could not do the courses and went on to a rehabilitation programme. After 22 years in the Army the outside world is an alien environment.

I was introduced to SSAFA who connected me to all the right charities who could help me – having a single point of contact is crucial. My SSAFA caseworker helped get my medical pension increased from 60% for MS to 90% because of my neck injury. I have had three discs removed from my neck and surgery to relieve the pressure on my spinal column and stop the numbness in my arms and legs. It hasn’t stopped the pain, but hopefully it will bring it under control.

My SSAFA caseworker also helped me get a £6,000 bursary from the Army Benevolent Fund, which paid for me to do a history degree and arranged for a Citizens Advice Bureau adviser to help with money management skills. My caseworker and my wife got me funding from my regimental association for a mobility scooter – I resisted it at first, but it means I can still get out and about.

I have a lot of bad days with the pain, but I’m finishing my degree and I would like to do some teaching, either part-time or voluntary work. Employers will be pleasantly surprised by the quality of recruits from the Forces: people who are smartly dressed, always on time, know how to talk to people. We have a lot to give.”