RAF charities bring festive cheer to serving personnel
Hundreds of RAF personnel serving away from their families over the Christmas period were helped by military charities to celebrate together to combat loneliness. The Royal Air Forces Association and the RAF Benevolent Fund – two charities that support the well-being of RAF veterans, serving personnel and their dependants – organised festive extras at UK RAF stations to help combat social isolation. All serving RAF personnel on active duty in the UK on Christmas Day received treats paid for by the charities, including ‘enhanced’ Christmas lunches, plus a choice of entertainment vouchers.
Says Rory O’Connor, director of welfare and policy for the RAF Association: ‘We worked with the RAF Benevolent Fund and RAF stations to encourage service personnel on operational duty in the UK this Christmas to share together in the festive spirit. While people across the country were relaxing at home with loved ones, hundreds of men and women were still be working at RAF stations, helping to keep us all safe, and it was important they didn’t feel alone and isolated at this time of year.
Air Commodore Paul Hughesdon, director of welfare and policy at the RAF Benevolent Fund, adds: ‘For most people, the festive season is a chance to take a break and spend time with their nearest and dearest. However, there are many RAF personnel who did not have the chance to do so, as they were helping to protect the country and our interests, and many were far from their loved ones on Christmas Day. To recognise this and to say thank you, we were very happy to be working alongside the RAF Association to ensure these service men and women were able to join in with the festive celebrations, to the extent that their duties allowed and regardless of where they were.’
About the Royal Air Forces Association
The Royal Air Forces Association (or RAF Association) is a membership organisation and registered charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family. It recognises that RAF personnel and their immediate families dedicate their lives to their country, and we believe that such a sacrifice should not result in suffering, poverty or loneliness.
Whether it’s an injured airman or woman fighting to get back on their feet, a young child missing their parent away on overseas operations, or a Second World War veteran needing a shoulder to lean on, we are here to help all generations of RAF personnel and their families. We also support serving families if they need us, and give practical, emotional and financial support.
Our membership of 74,000 includes serving RAF personnel, veterans and members of the public who want to show their support for the work that we do. Across the UK in 2017 the Association carried out more than 115,000 welfare contacts, calls and visits, helped tell thousands of bedtime stories to children whose parents were away on operations, and gave tailored holidays to 2,500 RAF veterans, widows and family at our Wings Breaks hotels. Our support ranges from simply providing conversation and friendship to preparing and submitting application forms for financial assistance.
About the Royal Air Force 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 2018 we spent £21 million supporting more than 53,000 members of the RAF family.
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