Last week, our Housing Trust received the AFF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Resettling Military Families at the Resettlement Awards 2016. In this blog, Housing Trust Executive Tim Bevan tells us about the award and how the Housing Trust helps members of the RAF family in need.
Leaving the RAF can be a daunting prospect for any airman or woman. Leaving the RAF prematurely due to a medical discharge when you're Wounded, Injured, or Sick (WIS) or to take care of a disabled family member can be absolutely overwhelming – especially when suitable housing just isn't available.
That's when the RAF Benevolent Fund can step in, as we have done for the 230 families and individuals currently living in Housing Trust properties across the country.
Our team of just five people works with every beneficiary to ensure that each property is selected and often adapted to meet their medical, emotional, and practical needs, such as proximity to family, particular schools to meet special education needs, or hospitals for treatment or rehabilitation.
But more than that, we really want every property to meet the needs of the whole family. Something as simple as making sure, for example, that a house has a garden suitable for young children to play in and doorways wide enough for the father's wheelchair can reduce strain on the whole family and help them stay happily in the home for years.
And as the years go by, we work with our residents to make sure the accommodation continues to meet changing needs. Because we know that as medical conditions progress or, a beneficiary ages, they might need more support.
One of the families that I've had the pleasure of working with for a number of years is the Pammenters. Thirteen-year-old Jamie has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and his father, Gary, left the RAF after 18 years of service to become Jamie's full-time carer. We provided a specially adapted bungalow but as Jamie's condition worsened he was unable to access the garden. We re-designed the garden and provided Jamie with a new wheelchair, giving him the ability to move freely inside and outside of the house.
Working for the Housing Trust can be challenging, as you get to know so many families over the years and see them cope with difficult injuries and illnesses. But it's also incredibly rewarding to know that what we do makes life a bit easier for them.
Receiving the AFF Award for Outstanding Contribution to Resettling Military Families last week was a great honour. It was recognition of the quality of the work we do and our commitment to the whole family, not just the RAF veteran. It's one small way that the Benevolent Fund continues to repay 'The Debt We Owe' to those who have served.