Sat 25 Jul 2015
By Ellie Sales
I first heard of Operation Fish from a friend, he was volunteering his time once a week to take an elderly gentleman, who would otherwise be housebound, out for a walk in Broomfield Park. I was eager to find out more about this little known local charity and visited Christopher and Cora Howell in their home based in Southgate. Both, now beyond retirement age, have dedicated over 40 years volunteering to help run the charity that has a small office based in the Bourne Methodist Church in Southgate.
How did this local charity start and what is its purpose?
Don Placid the Priest at Vita Pax Church in Cockfosters was instrumental in the formation of the charity some 45 years ago. Initially it was set up as a neighbourhood scheme to help the older generation. At the time local churches in Southgate, Oakwood and Cockfosters came together to ensure that the needs of the elderly were met.
How has it changed over the years?
The needs of the elderly have remained the same but with today’s technology many jobs are now more manageable from home. In the past our volunteers would often shop once a week for those unable to visit the supermarkets. Now, with the aid of the internet and the introduction of the free bus pass and dial a ride, there is not as much demand for practical jobs. Befriending has become a pivotal part of the work we do for individuals whom, without local friends or family can become lonely.
How does your charity help the housebound today?
In the past the charity used to undertake around 900 jobs each year for local people, this has now reduced to around 300. We are trying to build awareness of our charity as our willing volunteers are able to help with basic needs such as collecting shopping, pensions or prescriptions, driving people to doctors appointments or hospital appointments, letter writing, and most importantly befriending someone in need. Our visits can also offer respite for couples where one may be a carer for their partner. We are able to help anyone over the age of 18 that requires assistance. Being on your own can be scary at times and knowing you can give someone a call can make things a little easier and help build confidence.
How many volunteers do you have?
We currently have 30 active volunteers.
How is your charity funded?
We are entirely funded by donations from individuals and the churches; we are very grateful for this without it Operation Fish would have to close. In 2013 profits from our local street party on Oakfield Road were kindly donated to the charity.
How do people in need get in touch with the charity?
We operate a small office in The Bourne Methodist Church. If you are in need of assistance or know someone that would benefit from our services please contact the office and leave a message at anytime, you will be called back as soon as possible. Our number is 020 8882 1831
Operation Fish rely entirely on donations, if you know a local company that would be interested in helping the charity through sponsorship or you would like to make a donation please call 020 8882 1831.
"As a first time buyer I had no previous experience of the buying process. Susan was good at keeping me updated on progress and explained the process clearly to me at every stage. Anthony Webb kept up momentum on the sale when things could have slacked off, particularly towards completion, and responded very quickly to any questions I had. A good, reliable local firm from my experience, with good connections and knowledge of the local area."