A new All Ranks Common Room has recently opened at RAF Benson. The facility, which cost £400,000 in total, was supported by a £150,000 grant from the RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity.
Located in the Junior Ranks' Mess building, the new facility will help to reduce isolation by providing a relaxing, welcoming environment with flexibility in catering for personnel and families at RAF Benson.
Group Captain Adam Wardrope, Station Commander of RAF Benson, said: "This new common room is a fantastic facility and it will make a huge difference to the whole force here. It's been a real team effort to keep driving forward with this project, despite all the challenges that lockdown posed, and we really appreciate the support of the RAF Benevolent Fund in helping to make our vision a reality."
The facility was opened on 11 September by Air Vice-Marshal Maria Byford, RAF Chief of Staff for Personnel, and the Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot.
The RAF Benevolent Fund provides financial, emotional, and practical assistance to serving and retired RAF personnel and their families. This includes grants to help with financial difficulty, free memberships for Headspace, Airplay youth clubs, and more.
Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot, Controller of the RAF Benevolent Fund, said: "It was a pleasure to help officially open the new All Ranks Common Room at RAF Benson. It's been a tough year, with social distancing measures leading to isolation and loneliness for many of us, so this new facility will be a really valuable space for those based here at Benson."
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund has expanded its Telephone Friendship Groups service to allow more veterans to join a weekly call and developed an online application form for grants of up to £750. It has made £2,500 available for each RAF station to provide an activity and wellbeing pack for RAF children and launched Airplay Connect, an online version of its youth support service.