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Social Engagement Worker Dave Rose on supporting the RAF Family throughout the pandemic

David Rose is a Social Engagement Worker (SEW) for the RAF Benevolent Fund based at RAF Honington in Suffolk. In this guest blog, he explains how he continues to engage with serving personnel and their partners during the lockdown and how he has an eye on the future.

As a Social Engagement Worker, I provide tangible support to members of the serving RAF community who are affected by social isolation and loneliness, helping individuals to overcome these barriers.

My role is very much public facing and centres around meeting people face to face, which has meant adapting to new ways of working to keep everyone safe during this destructive pandemic. So, from my spare room in Norfolk, I now conduct my business in support of the personnel and families of RAF Honington via telephone, video call, text, email and the occasional letter. I also host a weekly Telephone Friendship Group for five RAF veterans, and have one-on-one calls with 19 veterans and widows every few weeks as part of the Fund's Check and Chat scheme.

Everyone that knows me would agree I'm an optimist and I always look for the silver lining, but despite not facing a daily commute, instead enjoying the extra minutes in bed and lunch in my garden, I do miss the buzz of being on camp and the human interaction.

I continue to support those coming to me for assistance, which in a time when everything bar supermarkets are closed allows for a bit of creative thinking. However, I'm glad I can turn to my fellow SEWs across the country as they've always got some cracking ideas.

Some of those seeking help will be new to RAF Honington, in which case I can make virtual introductions to the many sporting and hobby clubs on station in addition to organisations further afield. Just the other day I linked an individual with the cycle club on camp along with the RAF Cycling Association and local clubs, which has given them a social group, training ideas and future opportunities. It also reminded me that The Dambusters Ride is fast approaching, and as I'm taking part in the 56-mile route, I ought to up my training…

I'm now planning ahead for the safe lifting of restrictions over the coming months. The hope is for the community facilities to reopen, clubs to begin meeting in person again, and for that all-important element of human interaction to return. If all goes well there will be a number of fundraising challenges taking place at RAF Honington, including one involving rowing machines which I may or may not have volunteered for!

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