Members of the RAF community in Chester who are facing loneliness or isolation are urged to join the RAF Association’s befriending service.
Research shows that issues with isolation are likely to affect some 170,000 RAF veterans, with 85,000 of them coping specifically with feelings of loneliness.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness can affect people of all ages and the befriending service, which runs across the UK, pairs volunteers with members of the RAF family in need of company.
The results can be life changing.
Mrs E – who does not wish to be named – was struggling to cope with her grief following the loss of her husband. Not wanting to be a burden to her family, she was becoming increasingly isolated. Since being paired with a befriender Mrs E can share her thoughts and feelings with them and describes her befriender as ‘a brick wall of support’.
As the association’s director of welfare and policy, Rory O’Connor explains, the befriending service builds on the community feeling the RAF already offers:
“The befriending service alleviates loneliness and isolation by providing an opportunity for members of the RAF family and volunteers to forge enjoyable new friendships based on shared interests.
“The befriender will provide companionship and support to a member of the RAF family to ensure that they remain part of the community and feel socially connected to the wider RAF family.
“We recognise that loneliness and isolation are having a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of an increasing number of the RAF family.
“Tragically, in the past 12 months there have been many instances when cases of loneliness have been brought to our attention too late. The first we knew of them was when we were approached for help in ensuring that these brave individuals were not buried without people there to honour their lives. There are thousands more in the same situation that we want to support.”
If you, or someone you know could benefit from being befriended, call 0800 018 2361 or visit rafa.org.uk/talk.