A third of RAF personnel can now keep in better contact with friends and family after a £1.2m free communal wi-fi system was installed at 16 RAF stations.
The RAF Association, a charity that provides welfare support to the RAF family, developed the project after it was told about the social isolation that many new recruits feel when they begin service life. Security considerations often prevent access to military wi-fi for personal use and the cost of extra infrastructure to reach the more remote RAF bases has often prevented systems being put in place.
The association said that, for those housed in single person accommodation, the opportunities to socialise and engage with peers are reduced, and parents can be affected if they are working away from their families. The wi-fi hotspots are set up in communal areas on stations to encourage peer-to-peer contact as well helping personnel to stay in contact with their existing support networks: family, friends, partners and children at home. About 11,000 servicemen and women are expected to benefit.
Rory O’Connor, director of welfare and policy at the RAF Association, said: "In this age, we are reliant on digital technology to stay in touch with friends and family, but also to manage our online presence and daily tasks.
"We are dedicated to providing a programme of digital support to all serving personnel, whether they are newly arrived in the service or they are seasoned professionals away from their friends and family on another tour."