A Friend on the Phone

Raytheon UK employee volunteers to help vulnerable veterans

Kitty, a Raytheon UK Digital lead business analyst, volunteers her time as a “befriender” to veterans through a Royal Air Forces Association programme. She checks on their welfare, offering them regular telephone friendship and alerting them to other support services.

You could forgive Kitty for having little down time. She has a demanding day job as a Raytheon UK Digital lead business analyst, and she volunteers for various charities and organizations. Even so, when the Royal Air Force Association put out the call for volunteers to check on vulnerable people, she was quick to sign up.

The association’s Befriending Service is part of a larger scheme, Operation CONNECT, where volunteers call veterans to check on their welfare, offer friendship and alert them to other support services. However, with more than 30,000 people to get in touch with – help is desperately needed.

“I am very grateful to be able to help the RAF veterans who are vulnerable and could become lonely and isolated during the coronavirus outbreak as many of them are elderly and are in shielding. RAFA is a fantastic organisation to provide welfare assistance to the veterans,” Kitty said.

Kitty is no stranger to supporting her community; she has been a volunteer Police Officer Special Constable with the London Metropolitan for 11 years.

Special constables (or “Specials”) are volunteer police officers with the same powers as regular officers. They play a crucial role in fighting crime and making our streets safer in communities. “Specials“ come from many different backgrounds and all walks of life. They volunteer around four hours per week and form a vital link between their community and the police.

Kitty’s role as a “special” is largely focused on preventing crime that targets elderly and vulnerable people. Her contribution was rewarded when she received the Metropolitan Police Borough Commander Commendation, recognising her contribution to the local community in the Kensington and Chelsea Borough.

“I paid home visits to elderly and vulnerable people to check their welfare and to provide them information about crime prevention such as being more vigilant on phone scammers, suspicious visitors to their home.” Kitty said.

“I hope I’d be able to apply my experience to the RAFA telephone befriender initiative,” she said.

Kitty has devoted part of her weekends to the Royal Air Force Association initiative, having already been delegated five “befriendees” to begin contacting. The association have also provided her with detailed instruction on how to conduct calls and best code of practice, as well as an online call log to keep track of her ongoing conversations.

Like many others, Kitty has been struck by the volunteering efforts going on around the country, which is why she hardly hesitated to sign up for this one.

“It might sound a bit cliché but I want to volunteer in order to give something back to society by helping people who are vulnerable and in need,” she said. “We should make the world a better place not a worse place.

“It is very fulfilling to help others and even more rewarding when my efforts get recognised whether it is a pat on the back or a smile on people’s face when they thank me,” Kitty said.