Today, we turn our focus to Air Training Corps (ATC) for Armed Forces Week. Air Cadets take part in various activities and sports as part of their training, but they have also been long-term supporters of the RAF Benevolent Fund.
During lockdown, 14-year-old Aidan Griffin undertook a challenge to cover the total distance between Long Eaton to Dunkirk to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund. He completed the 260-mile challenge by running and cycling three to seven miles every day over the course of two months.
Aidan said: "Until recently I was a member of 2195 Long Eaton Squadron. My dad is an instructor so I got to see the exciting activities the corps take part in from an early age, and I wanted to join as soon as I could.
"I was involved in various charitable events with the cadets, so I decided to complete this challenge raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund to help support their important work throughout the coronavirus crisis."
Support from the Air Cadets doesn't only come in the form of fundraising work. In May, a number of Cadets wrote letters to isolated RAF veterans who may have been feeling lonely as social distancing measures meant they were shielding alone at home. These letters were delivered to guests who live close to Princess Marina House, along with VE Day-themed care packages of essential food and household items and party extras.
25 June 2020
The fourth day of Armed Forces Week celebrates the nation's veterans.
The RAF Benevolent Fund supports all RAF veterans and their partners, regardless of whether they served for a day or for years. This includes regular financial assistance for day-to-day living costs or care home fees, emotional wellbeing support, and practical support to help elderly veterans to aid independent living.
Support is also available to working-age veterans with grants to assist with employment, training and transitioning to civilian life.
Working-age veterans are also able to access our range of emotional wellbeing support services. Andrew Stevens' Royal Air Force career was unexpectedly cut short in 2007 and he struggled to transition back into civilian life.
Despite being successful in finding a civilian job, Andrew became anxious and depressed, worrying about everything: from finances and his new job to his family and new home. Eventually that worry turned into obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
After suffering in silence for 10 years, Andrew reached out to the Fund. We were able to step in, offering Andrew access to our Listening & Counselling service which helped him learn to manage his OCD. Today, Andrew is working on the frontline again as a key worker delivering groceries in his community throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
24 June 2020
Today, we celebrate Reserves as part of Armed Forces Week. Reservists play a key role in the Royal Air Force by providing additional support at home and overseas. This year, many RAF Reserves have stepped up in response to COVID-19.
This includes the likes of RAF Benevolent Fund Trustee Marie-Noelle Orzel, who recently led the development of the seventh NHS Nightingale Hospital in Bristol.
Wing Commander Orzel served in the Royal Navy for six years and sits on the Fund's Welfare Committee and is the charity's Safeguarding Lead Trustee. Following her naval career, Wg Cdr Orzel joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and has served in the Reserves ever since. She is currently the Senior Nurse Advisor (Reserves) for the RAF and a Non-Executive Director of a mental health Trust.
Wg Cdr Orzel said: "Like the others across the country our hospital is an extraordinary achievement and a testament to the hard work of all those involved from the NHS staff, to the builders, carpenters and architects, the armed forces, our university hosts and everyone else."
23 June 2020
The theme for the second day of Armed Forces Week is Innovation, something we constantly strive for here at the Fund.
Over the years, our team have innovated in countless ways to meet the changing needs of the RAF Family.
More recently, we have introduced and expanded a range of support programmes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation which has particularly affected elderly and isolated members of the RAF Family.
In a first for the military charity sector, the Fund recently launched a new online application form allowing veterans and their partners to apply for financial assistance up to £750, streamlining and simplifying the process.
Similarly, the Fund has launched a new digital platform for children who attend its Airplay youth clubs. You can learn more about the platform, which was developed by the Fund's Airplay partners Action for Children, here.
The coronavirus lockdown has also had an impact on fundraising opportunities. However, thanks to the innovative thinking of our supporters, much-needed Funds have been raised. Fourteen-year-old Jessica May Frost hosted a virtual VE Day concert when her village’s usual celebrations were cancelled, raising more than £1,300.
22 June 2020
Today marks the first day of Armed Forces Week, an annual event to recognise and honour our Armed Forces.
Each day of Armed Forces Week has a different theme to celebrate the various elements that make up our Armed Forces. Today's theme is Global Armed Forces.
The RAF Benevolent Fund is there to support the RAF Family, no matter where in the world they are. This means that deployed personnel, veterans living overseas, and their dependants know they can turn to us whenever they are in need.
Last month, to say thank you for this unwavering support, a team of 13 servicemen and women deployed on Operations at 906 EAW in the United Arab Emirates walked a collective 3,500 miles to raise money for the RAF Benevolent Fund.
A spokesperson for the team said: "The RAF Benevolent Fund and NHS Charities Together are two very worthy causes which deserve recognition, especially in the current climate concerning the COVID-19 pandemic. Both organisations make significant differences to people's lives every single day and we feel indebted to assist them in any way possible."
You can read more about the challenge, which saw each team member walking around nine miles every day in temperatures of 40 degrees+, here.