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Telephone Friendship Groups

Telephone Friendship Groups are a lifeline to isolated members of the RAF Family

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The RAF Benevolent Fund's Telephone Friendship Groups provide a lifeline to isolated members of the RAF Family.

The service, for veterans and their partners or widows(ers), allow those in need of company to meet new people from across the country.

The calls connect up to six people at the same time each week on the phone, for up to an hour, with the aim of reducing social isolation and loneliness.

All calls are confidential and are hosted by trained volunteers who are on hand to make sure they run smoothly, and members are grouped together based on their similar interests and experiences.

The scheme has been praised by its users who value the opportunity to share stories, news and memories with others who understand their situation because of their mutual connection to the RAF.

Eileen, who is 79 and lives near Bury St. Edmunds, whose husband was in the RAF and now has dementia, said : "I talk to these ladies, there are about six of us, on the phone all in one go and we talk to each other because our husbands were in the RAF. It’s so interesting because they tell me what they’re going through and I do the same. I think it’s brilliant. We take it in turns to say how we’re getting on and what we’re doing and we listen to each other." 

She added: "Life was hard before [the RAF Benevolent Fund helped]. I don't feel alone now I know I've got somebody there. It's very helpful for me and others involved. I talk to my friends at home and they don't even know what I'm talking about because their husbands didn't serve in the RAF, so it's a great thing because you get to talk to those who really understand." 

Morag, a widow whose husband served in the RAF mostly in Germany, is 80 and lives near Glasgow. She said: "We just really enjoy each other’s company – we talk about everything, we exchange recipes, we talk about what's on television, we talk about our families, we put the world to rights at times with politics and whatnot. Health issues come up a lot, when someone has a problem, we all talk about it, but then when we've got something nice, we talk about it too."

She added: "It's been the same group all the time and we have a real laugh, we talk about everything – and I mean everything! We look forward to our Monday nights. Some of the ladies are housebound all the time and some of them are in their late-90s and they don't get out, but I get out. I think the Telephone Friendship Groups are a great thing, really."

To find out more, or just have a chat about the service, call 0300 222 5703 or email support@rafbf.org.uk for more information.