Stansted Helpline celebrates a landmark

PUBLISHED: 12:32 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 22:02 31 May 2010

A COMMUNITY voluntary organisation has celebrated its 25th birthday. Stansted Helpline was initiated on November 1, 1984 by the Stansted Association of Christian Churches (now Churches Together) at the suggestion of the then Anglican curate, Tony Bundock.

A COMMUNITY voluntary organisation has celebrated its 25th birthday.

Stansted Helpline was initiated on November 1, 1984 by the Stansted Association of Christian Churches (now Churches Together) at the suggestion of the then Anglican curate, Tony Bundock.

Helpline's original aim was to provide practical assistance to Stansted residents in times of need where no other help was readily available.

Organiser Yvonne Ayres said: "Many changes have occurred within Helpline over the years but that aim has never altered.

"The range of tasks undertaken has been quite extensive - from cooking and delivering a meal to babysitting. No reasonable request has been refused and if Helpline has been unable to assist they have usually 'known of a man who could'."

Stansted Helpline uses a system whereby a phone is manned by a team of 'listeners-in', who operate on a rota basis and then arrange whatever help is required.

It now mainly caters for people's transport needs, largely due to the formation of other specialist organisations and charities in the area.

In its first year Stansted Helpline dealt with around 150 calls, of which 50 per cent were for transport. In 2008 it received just over 200 calls, of which 90 per cent were for transport.

"These figures prove that there is still a real need for Helpline," said Ms Ayres.

"For it to have been so successful for so many years is testament to the generosity and dedication of, mainly, Stansted people.

"Helpline is run entirely by unpaid volunteers, many of whom have been with us since day one. Thank you all, past and present."

Although affiliated to Care Network (Uttlesford), an umbrella group for community car schemes in the district, Stansted Helpline is funded solely by donations.

The organisation operates with a committee of just six people and less than 50 volunteers.

As such, it is always on the look-out for new volunteers, particularly day-time drivers, so if you could help out call them on 07704 553727, between 9am and 4pm, Monday to Friday (not Bank Holidays).


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