The RAF Benevolent Fund will be able to make 20 homes more accessible for wheelchair-bound RAF veterans and family members, thanks to a £400,000 grant from the Veterans Accommodation Fund.
For more than 40 years, the RAF Benevolent Fund's Housing Trust has provided adapted homes for wounded, injured and sick veterans. The charity currently owns 250 homes with bespoke adaptations for lifetime disabled veterans and their families, however 20 homes need significant adaptations to their gardens and kitchens.
RAF Benevolent Fund Director of Welfare and Policy Paul Hughesdon said: "We are delighted to receive these funds, enabling us to adapt the kitchens and gardens of 20 wheelchair-bound beneficiaries.
"We have already made the main entrances, hallways, and bathroom facilities in these homes suitable for wheelchair users, but adapting the kitchens and gardens will allow the residents to fully access all areas of their property, achieving a new level of independence and self-sufficiency. This will provide them with a real lift and substantial improvement in their overall quality of life."
Defence Minister Anna Soubry said: "Our Armed Forces and their families give so much to our country so it is only right that we continue to recognise their contribution and sacrifice after they have left Service. I'm delighted that the RAF Benevolent Fund will receive very well deserved funding which will allow them to continue their efforts in assisting veterans and their families in finding and adapting accommodation."
Sarah McCready is one beneficiary who knows first hand the difference an adapted kitchen and garden can make. Ms McCready, a keen gardener, is wheelchair-bound due to multiple sclerosis and since 2011 has benefited from a bespoke kitchen and raised flowerbeds in her garden, which the Fund provided as a proof of concept.
Sarah said: "The adaptations made by the RAF Benevolent Fund allow me to live more independently and really enjoy my home. I can safely make a meal or cup of tea now, which I couldn't before.
"And the paving and raised flowerbeds mean that I can once again access the garden and get stuck in with my flowers which bring me a huge amount of joy. Being able to do the washing up or plant vegetables makes me feel normal.
The RAF Benevolent Fund is the RAF's leading welfare charity, providing a range of services for serving and former RAF personnel, their spouses, and dependent children. In the last year, it spent more than £18 million to help over 60,000 members of the RAF family.
Paul Hughesdon said: "RAF personnel are very independent and active people. Being suddenly wounded, injured, or ill can have a devastating impact. This funding will allow us to provide the bespoke and individual home solutions needed for those members of the RAF family and will help give them back some independence."