RAF Benevolent Fund

The Royal Air Force’s Leading Welfare Charity

by David Milloy

It’s appropriate that the charity partner for this year’s Scottish International Ayr Show (and indeed the next four) was created with the welfare of RAF veterans and their families very much at its heart: The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

Founded in 1919, the RAF Benevolent Fund exists to provide support and assistance to the ‘RAF Family’, including serving members of the RAF and the RAF Reserve, former members (i.e. those who served for at least one day) of the RAF and the Royal Air Force Auxiliary and Reserve forces, former members of Royal Observer Corps and Air Transport Auxiliary, as well as current and former members of University Air Squadrons. It also covers the immediate family of serving or former personnel, including spouses, civil partners, widows/widowers, and dependent children.

The supports provided by the Fund, which range from emotional wellbeing and family support to help with independent living and even direct financial aid in cases of need, are available to people of all ages, with the oldest beneficiary being 103 years of age and the youngest being just six months old. The Fund also has an international reach and provides support to those who served in the RAF over five continents.

Like most charities, the Fund does not receive direct financial contributions from either the UK or devolved governments. Instead, it is funded by legacies and individual and corporate donations, including a substantial sum raised each year through voluntary contributions from serving members of the RAF. Its annual spend is around £24M and has supported the RAF Family in Ayrshire over the last five years amounting to over £415,000, and a similar amount in Lanarkshire.

Impressive as that is, the Fund is constantly exploring new ways in which to reach out to those who may need its support. As Gavin Davey, the Fund’s Director for Scotland, Northern Ireland, and North-East England, explains: “In the past year, we’ve appointed two dedicated Welfare Support Executives (professional, full-time case workers) in Scotland. We have also devised new ways of working together with local authorities and statutory bodies in order to help facilitate access to support and services, with very impressive and encouraging early results. We won’t, however, be resting on our laurels. We’re determined to keep finding new ways of making the RAF Family aware of the support we can provide and to improve and enhance the accessibility and delivery of that support.”

Further information about the The RAF Benevolent Fund and its work can be found on its website: www.rafbf.org. The Fund will also have a presence in the military village at Ayr’s Low Green over the weekend of the Scottish International Ayr Show, 8th to 10th September.

Members of the RAF Family who need support – as well as anyone who knows of someone who may need support – are encouraged to get in touch with the Fund without delay. Enquires can be made by telephone (0300 102 1919) or email (welfarenavigators@rafbf.org.uk) and are treated in complete confidence. As Gavin Davey succinctly puts it: “We are here to help.”

You can help too by donating to the RAF Benevolent Fund, whether it be by making either a one-off or regular payment, or by making a bequest to the Fund in your will, or even by participating in the Fund’s weekly lottery. Full details can be found on the Fund’s website: https://www.rafbf.org/get-involved/ways-to-donate

The RAF Benevolent Fund in action in Ayrshire

One beneficiary, an RAF veteran living in Ayrshire, was unable to work due to ill health and struggled to keep up with the rising cost of energy. A Welfare Support Executive from the Fund carried out a financial assessment to check the beneficiary was receiving all the funds he was entitled to from the government. The Fund was able to offer a grant to pay off the beneficiary’s energy arrears, as well as a home fuel grant to help with future payments. The beneficiary also had difficulties with his mental health and felt lonely, so the Fund referred him onto support groups and veteran organisations which enabled him to feel less isolated.