The Paras bring Christmas to CENS

Being homeless at Christmas can be a bleak time for the residents at CENS, but with the time, effort and care from the chefs at the 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment (3 Paras), everyone had a festive night to remember.

A special effort

Led by head chef Warrant Officer Class 2 Ash Jacobs, the preparations took all day. They arrived at CENS at 10am to start decorating the communal areas with a beautiful tree, fairy lights and dining table adornments. The chefs got prepping at 11am to start cooking for the 15 residents and staff. The menu was home-made tomato soup, roast beef, gammon and turkey with all the trimmings, plus a selection of desserts (and the kitchen was left spotless!).

Individual gifts were provided which included jumpers, hats and scarves, and were especially well-received as they may be the only gifts some of our residents receive this year.

Giving to local charity

“It was a great atmosphere” says WO2 Ash Jacobs. “I’ve been involved with CENS since 2015. We would cook at CENS every Thursday night and I thought it would be nice to offer a Christmas meal before we go on leave. This is the first one we’ve been able to do since the pandemic.

“I was concerned about whether the residents would enjoy it, but it seemed like everyone was having a good time. We all ate together and then spent the rest of the evening chatting in the communal areas.”

“CENS is a good local cause, I’ve seen it help lots of people over the years. Plus, it’s right next to the Merville Barracks so great for our community engagement. We would like to have the meal closer to Christmas, but we all go on leave early December. We hoped it got everyone in the Christmas spirit.”

Residents get emotional

One resident was so moved by the effort he made an impromptu speech. “I got chocked up when I saw the dining room. They had put a lot of time into making it special for us. It reminded me of being a child sat around the table with my family.”

“The food was sensational and the guys were down-to-earth and friendly; we had a good laugh. I never expected to have such a nice time whilst being homeless. It let me forget about my situation for the evening.”

If you’d like to support the work we do, please consider becoming a monthly donor

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you