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Our fund is here to combat loneliness

Earlier this month, the Prime Minister announced a third national lockdown. Although necessary, these measures mean many of our veterans will be facing the next several weeks – or months – completely alone.

And while the vaccine roll-out across the country provides some hope, social isolation and loneliness poses a real threat to our elderly this winter, among whom are many former RAF personnel and their partners.

To help combat this, last year, the RAF Benevolent Fund introduced a weekly check-and-chat service to support members of the RAF family experiencing loneliness.

I speak to one such gentleman every Tuesday. He lives alone and spent much of 2020 totally isolated. For him, this service truly is a lifeline.

We chat about what he’s been up to and what he’s cooking for his tea, as well as looking back on his time in the RAF. Often, I’m the only person he will speak to for days.

The fund also facilitates weekly telephone friendship groups, provides access to a listening and counselling service, relationship counselling support and an online wellbeing portal to help support emotional wellbeing amongst the veteran community.

Throughout the pandemic, many of us have learnt more about our neighbours and local community. That’s why we are calling on the people of East Anglia to consider whether they know any RAF veterans, or their spouses or widows, who may be experiencing loneliness.

To refer someone to the RAF Benevolent Fund, go online to rafbf.org or call 0300 1021919.

Air Vice-Marshal Chris Elliot

Chief executive

RAF Benevolent Fund

Where did this man get such strength?

Listening to a recent radio interview with Terry Waite (pictured below) certainly opened my eyes to the privation and torture on an unimaginable scale suffered by the man whose sole object of visiting Lebanon in the first place was to secure the release of imprisoned journalist John McCarthy.

We (myself included) are full of what we can’t do, where we can’t go, and who we can’t see for but a few days, perhaps even months.

Yet this man suffered an interminable five long years isolated, shackled, in total darkness and almost starved to death – all the while under the constant threat of execution.

Where did this incredible man get such strength to exit such an ordeal with his sanity in tact and seemingly without any bitterness? God knows.

Brian Davies

Bury St Edmunds

Brexit is done, now the real work starts

Several years ago, I regularly attended a breakfast meeting in Stowmarket. I met Steve Britt – now a Diss Express columnist – at these meetings fairly often.

He would talk to me about the amount of red tape involved in moving goods to and from the EU.

My husband was involved in the malting industry and regularly had to complete paper work to send malt to both EU and non-EU countries.

It was easy to complete the four-part carbonated EU form (red tape done and dusted quickly) but the forms he completed to send malt to Japan, for example, involved two different forms (with three copies of each) and required a lot more information. To make matters worse, they were not carbonated, so you faced extra work if you forgot the carbon between the sheets. Plus, there was a custom clearance form.

Does Steve really expect the red tape to be less (‘Brexit deal is a major triumph’, Diss Express, January 8)?

I noticed over the last couple of years that Steve failed to mention red tape as a reason to leave the EU.

We have already heard about businesses facing increased paperwork, not to mention the hold-ups at various ports and issues with custom clearance. I know the hold-ups will improve, but the paperwork will not.

Jackie Gooch

Waveney Road

Diss

Profits should mean better pay for staff

Last year was turbulent for most of us, but a lucrative one for supermarkets.

Sainsbury’s has already reported a 9.3 per cent rise in sales over Christmas, and Morrisons is not far behind with an 8.5 per cent increase in what is expected to be a bumper trading period for supermarkets.

It’s time these profits were reflected in shop workers’ pay. After all, they have put themselves at an increased risk during the pandemic to keep everyone else’s fridges and cupboards stocked.

For shop workers, it’s galling enough that they are paid less than their colleagues in distribution centres; for this to continue to be the case, when supermarkets are experiencing a rise in sales, is another blow to hard-working employees.

At Leigh Day, we are currently acting for more than 45,000 supermarket workers in their equal pay battle. We promise to continue fighting for this for as long as it takes to ensure shop workers are paid fairly.

Supermarkets need to recognise that their staff are the beating heart that keeps their businesses going and give their employees the pay they deserve.

Emma Satyamurti

Partner

Leigh Day legal firm

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