RAF charity seeks to tackle loneliness
The Royal Air Forces Association is encouraging members of the RAF family to get in touch if they are feeling isolated or lonely and their life could be brightened by visits from a volunteer befriender.
The befriending service has teams of dedicated and specially-trained befrienders, who work across the UK to support people in need of a friendly face.
“Our volunteers who take time out of their days love doing it, and befriendees benefit hugely from the visits”
The befrienders pay regular visits to their befriendees, giving them someone to talk to and look forward to seeing. Time is often spent reminiscing about life in the RAF and conquering loneliness.
Volunteers are able to provide support to befriendees in re-establishing old connections or forming new ones with people in their local area, helping to establish a wider group of friends.
In 2017 alone, the Association responded to hundreds of appeals for befriending support, and the charity’s Director of Welfare and Policy, Rory O’Connor, hopes more people will benefit from the scheme.
He said: “We know, from the Office for National Statistics data, that five per cent of adults in England last year reported feeling lonely ‘often’ or ‘always’. Single or widowed people are at particular risk of experiencing loneliness more often, and we know that elderly people with reduced mobility can be also be hit hard.
“Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be a serious issue for people who served in the RAF because, when they retire, they can suddenly lose the camaraderie of being part of a close-knit community of colleagues.
“Our experience shows that our befriending scheme benefits everyone involved – our volunteers who take time out of their days love doing it, and befriendees benefit hugely from the visits. It’s an extremely positive and far reaching scheme which we hope will help people to live a healthier and happier life.”
If you are serving in the RAF, have served, are a partner or know somebody who is feeling a little lonely, get in touch with the RAF Association and find out how they can help you.
Areas where befriender volunteers are available*:
Wales, Midlands and South West: Conwy, Shropshire (Wem and Oswestry), Goucestershire (Cheltenham and Moreton-in-Marsh).
Scotland and NI: Dumfriesshire, Falkirk, Galashiels, Inverness, Kirkaldy, South Lanarkshire.
South East and East: Brackley, Bury St Edmunds, Carterton, Coningsby, Great Yarmouth, Kings Lynn, Leicester, Leighton Buzzard, London (North), Louth, Navenby, Norwich, Rutland, Scampton, Steyning, Stowmarket, Woodhall Spa.
North: Alnwick, Cumbria, Darlington, Derbyshire, Durham, Fylde Coast, Harrogate, Lancaster, Liverpool, Pontefract, Preston, Manchester, Warrington/St Helens.
*Please register your interest if you live in an area where a volunteer isn’t yet operating.
Want to volunteer to become a befriender?
As a volunteer, you could step in to change that. It won’t take much of your time and it’s a great way to use your skills, give something back and feel good. Simply register you interest online.
This article came to you from the Winter edition of Envoy magazine.
The RAF Families Federation’s free, quarterly magazine which is there for both RAF personnel and their familes and can be sent wherever your family is. If you haven’t already subscribed, you can sign up online.