Former Northamptonshire teacher clocks up more than four decades of volunteering

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As part of Volunteers’ Week 2024 – from June 3-9 – Christian Aid is joining other organisations to celebrate 40 years of the movement, share stories of its volunteers and inspire people to sign up for a role.

Oundle former teacher, Eleanor Rayden, was inspired more than 40 years ago to give up some free time to volunteer for international development agency Christian Aid.

Approaching its own anniversary, the charity was set up in 1945 to give aid to refugees in Europe after World War Two. It works alongside local partners, providing urgent, practical help in times of crisis and beyond to vulnerable communities worldwide, while highlighting suffering, tackling injustice and championing people’s rights.

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Eleanor first heard about Christian Aid from her father, Canon Charles Cockin, who was Vicar of Oundle from 1963 – 1977 and who formed the Oundle Deanery Christian Aid Committee in 1966.

Eleanor Rayden and husband Alan campaigning with Christian Aid..Eleanor Rayden and husband Alan campaigning with Christian Aid..
Eleanor Rayden and husband Alan campaigning with Christian Aid..

Eleanor now chairs this committee herself, and for more than 40 years has been responsible for telling people about the work of Christian Aid and raising funds. She explained: “I organise the annual Christian Aid Week collection in the Oundle area. It used to take the form of a house-to-house collection, with volunteers delivering red Christian Aid Week envelopes to the houses in Oundle and about 25 surrounding villages, and then going back to collect donations.

“In recent years, especially after Covid-19, this has changed to more online giving platforms, collections in local churches and other fundraising events such as cake sales and coffee mornings.”

Eleanor also organises the annual Lent Lunches in Oundle, run by all the local churches - which this year raised more than £1,200.

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“As well as fundraising, we’ve also had visits over the years, from Christian Aid partners from Chile, Bangladesh, Haiti and Ethiopia,” Eleanor added. “And my husband Alan and I have taken part in various Christian Aid mass lobbies of Parliament, raising issues such as debt in the Global South and climate change with MPs.

“We support Christian Aid because we’re conscious of how privileged we are in this country compared to so many people in the poorer countries of the world. “I taught for five years in Africa, and saw first-hand how organisations like Christian Aid can transform people’s lives.

“I value the way Christian Aid works through local partners in those countries, helping people to become more resilient against the many challenges they face, not least as a result of climate change.

“I’d encourage anyone who would like to volunteer to help, especially if they have creative ideas as to how to increase interest in Christian Aid and how to raise money to fund its work.”

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Senior Volunteering Officer, Ian Hind, said supporters are the backbone of Christian Aid's mission to end poverty. He added: “Without their unwavering dedication and commitment, we simply couldn't make the impact we do. We invite everyone to join us in this fight against poverty and stand with us as we make a difference.

“We have all kinds of roles from fundraising to helping at festivals and we’d be delighted to have more people sign up and be a part of something truly inspiring.”

If you’d like to find out more about the variety of volunteer roles with Christian Aid, visit the website and email [email protected] with queries.