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Why I volunteer – by Telephone Friendship Group facilitator Jo Terrey

This International Volunteer Day we spoke to Jo Terrey who shared why she volunteers and how as well as helping others it’s also helping her.

Giving up your spare time for others isn’t something everyone is able to do, but for RAF Benevolent Fund volunteer Jo Terrey it’s personal.

Since August, Jo has been facilitating one of the Fund’s Telephone Friendship Groups, determined to give something back to the charity which was by her side when she needed them. The groups are a way for RAF veterans and their partners to stay in touch with the RAF Family and provide a weekly conference call where they chat and support each other.

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Jo, who lives in Weir, Lancs, said: “I wanted to pay something back after the Fund supported me. It kind of feeds into what I do in my current job as a probation officer, talking to people and not being surprised by anything they come out with.

“I love listening to the guys. They are fantastic. I love what they talk about and I love the banter. I get out of it as much as they do, if not more. You get to have an insight into what they are doing, especially in these difficult times it is so important to have these kinds of communications.

“One of my chaps, his wife is in a care home so he can’t visit her. That must be so horrendous, so it is nice for them to be able to speak about that in a place where he is not going to be judged.”

Forty-nine-year-old Jo served in the RAF for nine years as a caterer and enjoys the link back to her service days which the calls give her. She knows first-hand the life-changing impact the Fund can have. When Jo’s marriage broke down she needed to move out of service quarters and find a home for her and her two young children. The Fund provided a grant for furniture and white goods, helping Jo and her family build a new home.

The telephone friendship group has provided a real lifeline for isolated veterans during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jo added: “All my group have all been in marriages for a long time, most of them married for over 60 years, and are now on their own. Some of their wives have died and some are now in a care home with dementia. It is really important to them, to have this kind of forum and they are forming really good friendships.

“The calls are a date in my diary and I look forward to them every week. I even made my friends wait for cocktails when we were away for a few days last month! I had to chat to my guys first!”

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