Volunteers’ Week – Alan Poole, a man with many hats!

Alan is one of many RAF Association volunteers who give up a huge amount of time to deliver friendship, help and support to the RAF family.

Not only is Alan an Honorary Welfare Officer (HWO), a voluntary position within a branch, but he sits on his Area Council, the Association’s Central Council (board of trustees) and he oversees the group responsible for the homes owned and run by the Association.

Here he talks about how he became involved and why.

“I joined the Association in 2005 and had a very rapid ‘promotion’ to HWO. I was initially recruited by a friend who was about to become the HWO for the Shrewsbury Branch and he was twisting my arm to be his deputy. Unfortunately, he suffered a massive stroke within days of me agreeing so I stuck to the original deal, went along to the branch AGM and met up with an old RAF boss of mine who was the Chairman. During the meeting the Chairman nominated me as the new HWO and I was accepted. And so began the story…

“Having spent all my working life with the RAF it was only natural that I would become involved at some point. Like a lot of my colleagues, I thought that the time for the Association was after the RAF – I now know that was an error of judgment!

“I enjoy the work of Welfare Officer and I am also a caseworker. It is in that role where I get the opportunity to work on more complicated cases which can be very challenging and demanding. The clients I get to meet can be in desperate circumstances and in real need of support and help – not always solved by money. Pragmatic support involving some ‘out of the envelope’ decisions need to be made and these can involve calling in favours and other solutions. The ability to think ‘out of the box’, convince people that they are needed and to encourage them to assist complete strangers takes a considerable amount of effort and persuasion but the results can often be overwhelming. The relief on the faces of those that I help is worth all the effort and, as I never leave a client, the chance to see the way my efforts have changed their lives is really fantastic.”

Not all of the RAF Association’s volunteers give as much time as Alan, but they are grateful to anyone who can spare an hour or two to help. To find out more about the ways in which you can volunteer, visit www.rafa.org.uk/Get-involved

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Pete White Pete White

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