A new way to help RAF Benevolent Fund beneficiaries is already making a difference. The Benefits Advice and Advocacy Service was launched earlier this year to offer a new kind of support. Robert Rimmington explains how it has helped him.
Robert Rimmington and his partner were resigned to the fact that setting up home together in Bourne, Lincolnshire, would come at a cost as the amount of benefits Robert could claim would be reduced.
Sixty-eight-year-old Robert had been claiming benefits after moving back to the area from Scotland with little financial support. But when the couple moved in together the local council told Robert he was no longer entitled to as much help and that decision was final – there was no process for appeal.
Robert, who served in the RAF for five years, explained: "There was absolutely nothing we could do. It was an awful feeling. Before the Fund's help we had struggle after struggle. It does not bear thinking about, what I would have done without it.
"We would have been living hand to mouth and now this has given us a little bit extra so we can occasionally go out."
Benefits specialist at the RAF Benevolent Fund Laura looked into Robert’s issue and provided him with a case to argue.
On her advice he disputed the council’s decision, citing statute she had advised him applied to his case. The council overturned their ruling and Robert was able to claim.
Robert said: "It is a natural thing to worry about asking for help, if you are a proud person. It is a very difficult thing to ask about but when you do you feel so at ease. We were not made to feel like we were begging, we were made to feel like it was a right, like I had done my bit for the country and now they were going to help me."
Robert heard about the RAF Benevolent Fund during his time serving the RAF as a Leading Aircraftman air frame mechanic. On leaving the service Robert pursued an engineering career which eventually took him to Scotland where he retired.
Earlier this year Robert decided to return to Bourne to be closer to his family. He found himself living in a bedroom in his son’s house, with his possessions stored in his grandson’s garage. He turned to the Benevolent Fund for a grant to help pay for new furniture which allowed him to move into his new home.
He said: "I just did not know what I was going to do because I could not afford to do anything. The Fund’s help was a tremendous relief. It took a weight off my shoulders and made me feel I could get on with my new life. I was elated."