Gavin Davey says the Covid-19 pandemic will not stop vital work with RAF personnel and veterans
For the past 100 years, the fund has stood side by side with the RAF family during its toughest times and the coronavirus pandemic is no exception. The welfare of our beneficiaries and staff have been and will continue to be at the forefront of all we do.
We have adjusted our working practices to ensure we are ‘open for business’ for those members of the RAF family who need our support. Indeed, in the first two months of the lockdown, the fund awarded more than £2.6m in grants to RAF veterans, serving personnel and their families.
We have also produced a Covid-19 Resources and Information page on our website to signpost the different services available to members of the RAF Family throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
We want to ensure the most vulnerable RAF veterans, serving personnel and dependants are able to access the very best level of support we can provide in these challenging times. To that end, we have expanded a number of our welfare services.
The fund has launched an online grant application process for RAF veterans and their partners. Beneficiaries can apply directly for grants up to £750 using an online form, allowing our case working partners to focus on the more complex cases.
Larger financial grants are available for members of the RAF family including working-age RAF veterans who may be out of work due to the crisis. We continue to work with case working organisations to ensure that the application process is as effective as possible, despite many of their volunteers being affected by social distancing.
Veterans can seek advice through the fund’s Benefits Advice and Advocacy service. The service is also able to assist people with understanding and challenging social care and CHC (continuing healthcare) decisions.
The fund has made £2,500 available for each RAF station to provide activity and wellbeing packs for RAF children who will be missing our Airplay youth support sessions which have been temporarily paused.
We have introduced a weekly Check and Chat service and expanded our Telephone Friendship Groups service to allow more veterans to join a weekly call. For more information about both services, please visit our website.
Our Community Engagement Workers are continuing their great work with vulnerable beneficiaries, but now over the phone, and our Social Engagement Workers have flexed their role and are working hard with their local station to better support the socially isolated on and off station.
Our Listening and Counselling Service, which has been expanded to provide 24-hour support, is available to veteransand serving personnel in need of emotional support. There are still some spare spaces on our existing Headspace provision for the Serving RAF, and we have agreed to double this in the coming months.
We have an online mental wellbeing zone on our website where RAF veterans and personnel can reach advice and support, and find out where to go for more help.
Gavin Davey is RAF Benevolent Fund area director (Scotland, Northern Ireland and NE England)