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Calls for volunteers to help tackle veterans’ loneliness

The Royal Air Forces Association is looking to recruit volunteers across Dereham for its befriending service. Picture: THE RAF ASSOCIATION

The Royal Air Forces Association is looking to recruit volunteers across Dereham for its befriending service. Picture: THE RAF ASSOCIATION

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Volunteers are being urged to come forward and help combat isolation for veterans.

The Royal Air Forces (RAF) Association is looking to recruit volunteers across Dereham for its befriending service, to pair with members of the RAF community who are struggling with feeling lonely or isolated.

The Association’s volunteer manager, Katharine Montgomery, will be recruiting from all ages and backgrounds and explained what key qualities befrienders need to ideally have.

She said: “Befrienders can play such an important role in somebody’s life and while there is no single type of person we look for, a good befriender is someone that is caring and empathetic, able to build a rapport with people, reliable and a good listener.”

Volunteers support their befriendees in a number of simple ways such as popping round for a cup of tea, researching local community groups where the befriendee could potentially meet new people, or simply being at the end of the phone for a chat.

The benefits for volunteers include learning new skills, building confidence, meeting new people and the opportunity to give back to their community. Training is given to volunteers at a one-day course, which covers everything they need to know to be an effective befriender.

The RAF Association is a membership organisation and registered charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family. Membership of more than 72,000 includes serving RAF personnel, veterans and members of the public who want to show their support for the work that is done by the charity.

There are currently 170,000 RAF veterans struggling with isolation, and 85,000 of them specifically with loneliness. The Association believes that none of its veterans should suffer, or face poverty or loneliness.

Across the UK in 2016 the Association carried out 13,800 home 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 its Wings Breaks hotels.

- For more information about becoming a befriender for a RAF veteran visit rafa.org.uk/befriending.

- To find out more about the work of the RAF Association, how to become a member, or the group’s history visit rafa.org.uk.

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