Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, pledged to support the RAF Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force’s leading welfare charity, in their drive to reach even more RAF veterans in need.
It is estimated that as many as 100,000 people are in urgent need of what could be life-changing support, but they are often unaware that such help is available or that they might be eligible for it. Recognising there is a limited time to help these veterans, the campaign’s main aim is to reach them before it is too late.
Research carried out by the charity estimates that 35% of us (one in three) know of someone who has served in the RAF and therefore the Join the Search. Change a Life. campaign calls on us all to reach out to those men and women who served as regulars or reservists or did their National Service in the RAF. Many are too proud to ask for help when they need it most or simply do not know that the RAF Benevolent Fund is here to support them.
Mr Stewart, who was a member of Westminster’s Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme for two sessions, said: “The RAF Benevolent Fund has launched a major new campaign in its centenary year urging the country to help repay the debt we all owe to the RAF veterans and their families who urgently need help. In particular, we need to reach out to the National Service and Second World War veterans, before it’s too late. They put on the uniform of our country when we needed them to, the least we can do is be there for them when they themselves need our help.
The RAF Benevolent Fund offers a wide range of support, from financial grants for one-off and day-to-day costs, respite breaks and emotional support. Last year it spent £21M supporting 53,000 members of the RAF Family across the globe.
In Scotland they spent over £1M (£1.13M) supporting 290 people directly with support ranging from housing to Care Home top up fees, mobility and adaptations in the home so individuals can live more independently. They also supported thousands more with grants provided to other organisations such as Scottish Veterans Residences, National Gulf Veterans and Families Association, and RAF Widows Association.
The campaign was launched at the end of June and to date more than 5,700 people have been in touch with the Fund seeking information, 4,300 of which have been welfare specific. More than half of those have come from family members or friends of an RAF service person or spouse, 41% has come from the individual themselves and requests for help have come from as far as Canada and South Africa