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Furloughed Stansted Airport staff volunteer to support community

Furloughed Stansted Airport staff have been supporting the community during the Covid-19 pandemic, amassing more than 7,000 volunteering hours.

While the Manchester Airports Group-owned hub is operating at a much-reduced capacity, workers have delivered groceries to food banks, collected shopping and delivered medication to the elderly and vulnerable, and organised food and gift parcels for NHS workers.

Staff have also assisted the emergency services as patient transport drivers, community first responders, special constables and at London's Nightingale Hospital.

Stansted Airport volunteers (43850740)
Stansted Airport volunteers (43850740)

Managing director Steve Griffiths said: "Stansted Airport's response to the Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates its deep-rooted commitment to being a good neighbour.

"We already have a number of initiatives to support communities and provide education and employment opportunities, but I've been immensely proud of how our corporate social responsibility team has reprioritised our community work during the crisis to make sure we're focused on the issues that matter most to local communities and our people.

"Against challenging business and personal circumstances, the support provided to local communities has made a real difference, with staff giving up more than 7,000 hours of their time to help those who are less fortunate than themselves. I would like to thank the teams and individuals who have been so generous with their time over the last 10 months."

Stansted Airport volunteers (43850742)
Stansted Airport volunteers (43850742)

After delivering 20 tonnes of items to local food banks in the last three years, the airport kept up supply drops to the Harlow and Saffron Walden sites during the pandemic. More than 50 trays of food and toiletries surrendered at airport security have been delivered by volunteers since last March.

In the run-up to Christmas, security advisor Brenda Watt collected 100kg of food donations from airport staff for the Uttlesford Foodbank as part of the airport's Christmas Give & Go initiative. Additional donations were sent to organisations in Thaxted and Saffron Walden, which ensured those identified as particularly at risk still received a festive treat.

Karen Spencer, principal of Stansted Airport and Harlow colleges, who is supporting the Thaxted scheme, said: "In difficult times lots of people need a bit of TLC. The support from the community, local businesses like the airport and volunteers has been phenomenal."

Airport firefighter Simon Phillips and security officer Angela Richards made sure any Christmas crackers surrendered at airport security did not go to waste, delivering over 500 of them to sites around Harlow.

Lois Robertson, brand and marketing manager, spent some of her furloughed time volunteering with Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, helping to put together over 2,000 care packages for staff working in hospitals and clinics throughout the pandemic. She said: "I met and spoke with so many different NHS staff undertaking a variety of roles, all of whom are working around the clock doing tremendous work."

Airport engineering technician Daniel Humphreys, who is also a qualified ambulance driver, said: "I volunteered as an emergency crew member with St John Ambulance, helping provide support to the NHS ambulance services. I was called out to numerous medical emergencies, from cardiac arrests to strokes, and responded to patients suffering from Covid-19."

Lydia Marquer, landside operations key controller, took a career break to work on the front line at the NHS Nightingale Hospital in London. She said: "I worked 12-hour shifts. Like all people working on the ward, I had good days and bad days, but knowing those patients needed my help is what made me keep coming back."

Community engagement co-ordinator Emily Ferris, who oversees the airport's volunteering activities, said: "We had an amazing response from colleagues, who came forward as soon as we put the call out for volunteers.

"Many have said that they've loved being able to give something back and know they've made a positive difference to people's lives during these difficult times.

"I've really enjoyed helping to organise some of these activities and then to hear all the lovely stories about how it's really helping people."

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