“The majority of our callers are members of black and minority ethnic communities in London and around the country, although we welcome everyone in need, irrespective of their beliefs and background,” said Julie. “We take calls from as far away as Devon, Blackpool, Gloucestershire, and Scotland.”
The UCKG Helpline – tel: 020 7686 6000 – works from a Pentecostal Christian standpoint. Julie and her team are fully trained in the necessary counselling skills by UCKG, which is a world-wide church active in over 90 countries. They offer support, guidance, and prayer according to the caller’s situation.
The volunteers range in age from 20 to over 54, and include men and women from Brazil, Uganda, Singapore, Nigeria, and France, as well as those born in the UK. They are all committed to supporting the Helpline callers so that Christmas is a pleasure, not a trial for them. Importantly, their long term aim is to encourage a lasting improvement in callers’ lives.
“Unlike some support services, we do not restrict our assistance to what can be done over the phone,” Julie continued. “We appreciate that many problems are deep seated and need more than a brief conversation. We therefore make appointments for callers to receive free guidance and one-to-one counselling at their nearest UCKG HelpCentre.
“If the problem is a matter of health we stress the importance of seeing a doctor, and do all we can to persuade the person to make proper use of the NHS. We do not hesitate to refer callers to Social Services or other agencies as appropriate. We also arrange for UCKG’s trained volunteers to visit people at homes, in hospital or in prison if they wish,” she added.
UCKG has been serving the UK for over ten years, offering a mix of practical and prayerful support. The first services were held in Brixton in 1995. Since then a network of churches has been built up across London and throughout the country. Typically, congregations are 60 per cent African/Caribbean, 10 per cent Asian, 20 per cent Caucasian, and 10 of other ethnicity.
Julie is living proof of the beneficial results of the support UCKG gives. When she first encountered UCKG she was a single mother of two sons then aged 15 and 22. She was dependant on both alcohol and sleeping pills to help her cope with life’s stresses, suicidal thoughts, nightmares and insomnia. Her life turned around once she found UCKG. She has managed the Helpline since 2002.
“Although many people have willpower, as I did, life’s stresses are sometimes too strong. UCKG helps through prayer and by teaching people to develop inner strength, Julie concluded.