Fighting loneliness with friendship…

Our Connections for Life initiative has continued to prove popular with both volunteers and beneficiaries alike. RAF Association Connections for Life manager Sam Squire said the charity had seen growing demand for the service over recent months.

He said:

“While many people are starting to get their social lives back on track after the worst of the pandemic, older and more vulnerable people are struggling to do this for a variety of reasons.

“Two years of very little, if any, social contact will, no doubt, have taken its toll on these people’s ability and opportunities for socialising going forward. Indeed, we know that many of our beneficiaries have lost loved ones during the pandemic, leaving them to face the future alone.

“In addition, those most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19 are likely to continue to restrict their face-to-face social activities, so telephone friendship will, quite literally, continue to be a lifeline for them.”

Sam said the charity’s existing volunteers came from all kinds of backgrounds, and that, while an RAF connection was helpful, it wasn’t necessary.

“The main thing is that our volunteers are happy to chat about a range of topics, and use their conversations to brighten people’s day”

Among those benefiting from the service is Marie Findlay (pictured above with Mal Hodgson) whose RAF veteran husband died shortly after they moved house in 2018.

Marie (71) of Dundee said:

“Brian’s death was a real shock, and, not having any local friends, I could have easily ended up alone if I hadn’t heard about the Connections for Life initiative”

Within a month of contacting the RAF Association, Marie was getting regular phone calls from volunteer Mal Hodgson, a retired RAF Chief Technician.

Mal (74) said:

“Volunteering keeps me busy and helps me to make a real difference to people’s lives. Since I started calling Marie, she has grown in confidence, and I have helped her to find ways to connect with her local community.”

All RAF Association Connections for Life volunteers are asked to give a regular commitment of at least a couple of hours per month, and online training is provided.

The RAF Association’s Director of Welfare and Wellbeing, Rory O’Connor, said:

“Loneliness affects tens of thousands of people across the RAF community. Whether it’s a veteran struggling to adapt to life after service, or a family member facing difficulties alone, loneliness can be devastating to people’s mental and physical health.

“Our volunteers help to fight loneliness with friendship, creating a resilient, empowered and thriving RAF community of people who are able to remain independent.”

Connections for Life

Loneliness affects tens of thousands of people across the RAF community. Whether it’s a veteran struggling to adapt to life after service, or a family member facing difficulties alone, loneliness can be devastating to people’s mental and physical health. Our volunteers are at the heart of the service as they provide one-to-one, personalised conversation, vital friendship and support via telephone and digital initiatives. The positive impact our volunteers have on the RAF community is huge and is shown through the wonderful responses from our beneficiaries.

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