Making a real difference for the RAF family
How the RAF Benevolent Fund is enabling work to support RAF veterans, serving personnel and their families …
In 2019, the RAF Benevolent Fund pledged to provide annual support over three years towards SSAFA’s Forcesline and Norton House services. In 2020 alone, the charities were awarded a generous grant of £25,275 across these two services, enabling staff and volunteers to continue to make a real difference, especially during the very challenging times brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forcesline is SSAFA’s free and confidential telephone helpline, email service and webchat, which provides support for serving personnel (regulars and reserves), veterans and their families.
Bill Grant, Forcesline manager at SSAFA, comments: ‘Year two of the grant from the RAF Benevolent Fund has allowed us to reach even more members of the RAF family in their greatest time of need. Whether they’re facing emotional, financial or physical issues, we are on hand to support them and point them in the right direction.’
SSAFA’s Forcesline team have supported a case involving an RAF veteran who was facing the very real possibility of becoming homeless, which would have left him and his 26-year-old daughter, who has a disability, in a desperately challenging situation. The family reached out to the Forcesline team and were signposted to specialist assistance and support to ensure they remained safe, with a roof over their heads.
Forcesline is also available to spouses and family members of the RAF family in times of need. One spouse reached out to SSAFA after her husband had transitioned from the RAF to civilian life and had subsequently experienced depression. She told Forcesline that he had begun experiencing nightmares involving flashbacks from his previous tours of duty and was still struggling to adapt to civilian life after 18 months. Her Forcesline advisor was able to offer support and guidance, referring the couple to guidance provided through the RAF Benevolent Fund’s website and SSAFA’s mentoring service for early Service leavers.
The RAF Benevolent Fund’s grant also supports SSAFA’s Norton House, located in Leicestershire. Norton House provides free, safe and supportive accommodation to family members whose loved ones are receiving treatment for injuries at the nearby Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre. It also provides a haven for those receiving treatment, allowing them a break from the hospital environment, and providing them with peace of mind in the knowledge that their family are in a comfortable and reassuring environment.
Says Michelle Arthur, housing manager at Norton House: ‘One of our regular families visiting the house stay here in order to support their daughter, who is an inspirational young lady serving in the RAF. She suffered an accident that resulted in a brain injury almost three years ago. The existence of SSAFA’s Norton House means that the patient is able to spend precious time with her family, who are able to stay close by, without having to worry. They’ve been able to spend Christmas together here too, which is really special for the family.
‘This Christmas, her parents and her fiancé came up together. Although the family regularly visit her at the DMRC, nothing beats the smile on their faces when they get to have their daughter here with them at Norton House. Her mother can cook her favourite dinner and they can watch films together as a family unit.’
When asked if they would be happy to share their story, her parents wrote: ‘It is true to say that Norton House has been a home from home for us when visiting our daughter, and your continued support – whether an ear to listen, a shoulder to lean on, or just giving us time and space to relax after each visit – has been invaluable in allowing us to continue to support her.’
Call SSAFA’s confidential helpline, Forcesline, on 0800 731 4880 or start a live chat here
For more information about the work of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, click here
You can find out more about Norton House, including how to make an enquiry about the service, on SSAFA’s Housing during illness and injury page
About the RAF Benevolent Fund
The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund is the RAF’s leading welfare charity. We exist to support current and former members of the RAF, their partners and dependants, whenever they need us. In 2019, we spent £28 million supporting more than 71,000 members of the RAF family.
About SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity
SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity has been providing lifelong support to our Forces and their families since 1885. Last year our teams of volunteers and employees helped more than 85,000 people in need, from Second World War veterans to young men and women who have served in more recent conflicts, and their families. SSAFA understands that behind every uniform is a person. We are here for that person – any time they need us, in any way they need us, for as long as they need.
Main picture: The RAF Benevolent Fund provides support to the whole RAF family, serving personnel, veterans and their dependants