Exhibitor Spotlight

Exhibitor Spotlight: Royal Air Forces Association

Exhibitor Spotlight: Royal Air Forces Association

Royal Air Forces Association is just one of many exciting exhibitors attending the Volunteer Expo and Carina Thomas, Volunteer Manager, discusses how the charity provides welfare support and acts as a good friend to 85,000 members each year.

The Royal Air Forces Association has been providing welfare support to the RAF family for 90 years.

We recognise that RAF personnel and their immediate families dedicate their lives to their country, and we believe that such a sacrifice should not result in any form of suffering.

Our initiatives provide practical, emotional and financial support to tackle loneliness, isolation, worry and poverty among all generations of RAF personnel, veterans and their immediate family members.

Thanks to our hundreds of volunteers across the UK, we are able to be a good friend to around 85,000 members of the RAF family annually.

Our volunteers ensure that the people we serve benefit from our wide range of services. These include casework support, befriending, mental health awareness courses, professional childcare training for spouses and bedtime stories for children with parents serving away from home.

After recovering from a long and difficult illness, Iona Docherty wanted to give something back to her local community.

 She said: “I used to dream of joining the RAF, so I thought helping veterans would be perfect. I heard about the RAF Association’s work, so applied to become one of their volunteer befrienders.”

After completing her volunteer training, provided by the Association, Iona was introduced to Women’s Royal Air Force veteran Morag MacFarlane.

Thanks to our hundreds of volunteers across the UK, we are able to be a good friend to around 85,000 members of the RAF family annually.

Morag (88) had become desperately lonely after the death of her husband. Many of her friends had died in recent years, so she felt she had no one to turn to.

Morag said: “Iona came into my life just when I needed someone most. We hit it off instantly and became good friends. She’s since encouraged and helped me to get back into community life.”

Over time, and through many hours of conversation, Morag discovered that Iona had overcome her own personal challenges, including lengthy treatment for a rare autoimmune disorder.

Morag said: “I was blown away when I heard Iona’s story. She had been through so much in her own life, but here she was volunteering to help me. I’d never met anyone so generous.”

Iona said: “Helping Morag is an incredibly fulfilling way to spend the spare time that I have, and she has become a good friend to me, too.”

The work carried out by our volunteers can be life-changing, not just for the people we serve, but also for the volunteers themselves. Volunteers gain valuable skills and experience that may be useful in other areas of their lives, and supporting someone in need can be tremendously rewarding.

The Association’s Director of HR and Volunteering, Alyson Hunter, said: “We couldn’t do what we do without brilliant volunteers like Iona.

“We have lots of volunteering opportunities throughout the country, and we would particularly like to hear from people who feel they could be a befriender or a caseworker – supporting people with multiple needs.

 “No prior experience is necessary, and the roles are open to people from all walks of life. Full training is provided.”

Why not join us? Please visit the Royal Air Forces Association website to find out more or find us at The Volunteer Expo.