Befrienders wanted

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The RAF Association is looking to recruit volunteers across Southend-on-Sea for its befriending service, which pairs volunteers with members of the RAF community who are struggling with feeling lonely or isolated.

With 170,000 RAF veterans dealing with issues of isolation, and 85,000 of them coping specifically with feelings of loneliness, the service is a valuable source of companionship to members of the RAF family.

Looking to recruit volunteers from all backgrounds who are 18 years old or over, the Association’s Volunteer Manager, Katharine Lord, points out there are key qualities they look for in befrienders: “Befrienders can play such an important role in somebody’s life and while there is no single type of person we look for, a good befriender is someone that is caring and empathetic, able to build a rapport with people, is reliable and a good listener.”

Volunteers support befriendees in a number of ways such as popping round for a cup of tea, researching local community groups where the befriendee could potentially meet new friends, or simply being at the end of the phone for a chat.

It’s not just the befriendee who benefits from the service. The benefits for volunteers include learning new skills, building confidence, meeting new people and the opportunity to give back to their community. Those who successfully complete training will also achieve the AIM Awards Level 1 Award in Befriending qualification.

Kelly, an Association befriender said: “Everyone you meet is so interesting and they all have a twinkle in their eye about what they got up to. It’s brilliant!”

The training given to volunteers is a one-day course, run locally, that covers everything volunteers need to know to be an effective befriender.

To find out more, search for ‘befriender’ roles on the RAF Association website at www.rafa.org.uk/volunteer

You can also call 0800 018 2361 or email [email protected]

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