Funds help cook up kitchen renovation

Chris Kelsey, of The Banks Group; with ex-serviceman and kitchen volunteer Bob Wilson; James Eaglesham, of the County Durham Community Foundation; and Jon Clapham and Tony Wright of Forward Assist.
Chris Kelsey, of The Banks Group; with ex-serviceman and kitchen volunteer Bob Wilson; James Eaglesham, of the County Durham Community Foundation; and Jon Clapham and Tony Wright of Forward Assist.

A North East charity which helps ex-service personnel adjust to civilian life is serving up new opportunities for its clients after completing the refurbishment of its kitchen facilities.

Forward Assist provides information, advice, guidance and opportunities to former military personnel who are experiencing difficulties in returning to Civvy Street.

Based at the John Willie Sams Centre, in Dudley, near Cramlington, the charity has been looking to upgrade its kitchen facilities in order to offer new work experience, training and employment opportunities within its cafe, as well as to provide an improved meeting space that can be used by the charity and local people.

A £5,000 grant from The Banks Group’s Banks Community Fund enabled the charity to get things moving, and having completed work on the project, it is now looking to encourage as many people as possible to visit the cafe.

New furnishings, crockery, cutlery and signage have been brought in, along with a professional coffee machine and an electronic digital till system.

The cafe has been fully redecorated, and the charity is now looking for an accredited partner that can help deliver training in areas such as hospitality, catering and food safety.

Forward Assist’s services are delivered by a mix of employees and volunteers, and the charity has helped more than 2,000 veterans since it was set up in 2013.

A range of activities are offered, while a weekly community meal is cooked by ex-service personnel cook and is free to anyone who wants it.