The Royal Air Forces Association (or RAF Association), is a member-led charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family. Receiving no government contributions, its work is completely funded by the generosity of its members and supporters.
The Association exists in the recognition that RAF personnel and their immediate families dedicate their lives to their country, and to ensure that such a sacrifice does not result in suffering, poverty or loneliness.
Whether it’s an injured airman fighting to get back on his feet, a young child missing their parent away on overseas operations, or a World War II veteran needing a shoulder to lean on, the Association is here to help all generations of RAF Service personnel and their families.
The membership of over 63,500 includes serving RAF personnel, veterans and non-service individuals who want to show their support for the work the Association does.
With a UK-wide caseworker network of over 540 volunteer Honorary Welfare Officers undertaking over 82,000 welfare contacts annually, help ranges from simply providing conversation and friendship to preparing and submitting application forms for financial assistance.
The Storybook Wings initiative helps to ease the pain of separation for children with parents serving overseas. Equipment is provided for parents to record a bedtime story along with a personal message for their children. The story is then edited and sound effects are added, before the story is sent on a CD to the child. Parents can choose whether the CD is sent before they deploy or while they are away. This is a hugely important initiative as it provides a vital link between parents and children at what can be a difficult time.
The Association works closely with the RAF to support serving personnel to ensure that they and their families enjoy as normal a life as possible. For example it contributes to refurbishment of contact houses on stations to allow separated RAF families the chance to enjoy quality time together.
More than £1.78m in welfare grants was distributed in 2013 to serving and ex-serving personnel as well as help in securing more than £460,000 in pension and compensation payments for those facing financial hardship.
For serving personnel, when they’re thousands of miles from their family, it can be tough going at the best of times, especially missing events like their children’s birthdays, their first school play, or the heartache of not being there for the cherished birth of a new-born. Of course, nothing can ever replace the magic of actually being there. But, the next best thing is Wings Video Mail.
Wings Video Mail is the RAF Association’s innovation to allow RAF personnel serving in Afghanistan, stay in touch with family and friends, offering a secure, personal way to send a one-minute message free of charge back to the UK.
A total of 8 of the distinctive blue, touchscreen Video Mail recording booths are now located in specific areas across Afghanistan such as Bastion and Kandahar.
The Association assists around 50 RAF veterans, their wives/husbands or their widows/widowers to lead safe, independent lives in sheltered and supported housing. Around 2,000 people enjoyed much needed breaks last year.
Through the RAF Families Federation RAF personnel and their families have the chance to influence future policy.
You don’t need to be a member to receive support from the RAF Association, but there are benefits to joining. These include a discount on a subscription to RAF News, exclusive discounts and offers, many of which give a charitable donation back to the Association, eligibility for a retired service card and the opportunity to stay part of your RAF sports team after you leaving the RAF.
rafa YOUTH is the RAF Association’s exciting youth membership scheme for young flying enthusiasts who are into aviation, aircraft and adventure. Young flyers between 13-17 already in the Air Training Corps, Combined Cadet Force (RAF), Girls Venture Corps Air Cadets, Air Scouts and Air Explorer Scouts are eligible to join rafa YOUTH and benefit from a range of opportunities to help enhance their career prospects such as aviation events and volunteering.
To find out more about how you can join the RAF Association and the many areas of welfare delivered, visit www.rafa.org.uk