Sunderland call centre staff man the lines for Comic Relief

Sunderland City Council callcentre staff get in the mood for tonight's Comic Relief shift.
Sunderland City Council callcentre staff get in the mood for tonight's Comic Relief shift.
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RED Nose Day is here again – and hundreds of volunteers at two Doxford International contact centres are bracing themselves to handle a deluge of calls.

About 240 staff members at EDF and a further 100 at the city council’s callcentre will be manning the phones through the night.

During the last Comic Relief phone-in, EDF volunteers took more than £55,000 in donations from more than 1,500 calls.

The company’s 1,800 employees will also be taking part in a range of fund-raising activities tomorrow, including an 80s-themed dress down day, with staff paying £1 each, Rubik’s cube challenges, a funky furniture auction and a bake-off cake-making challenge.

Learning facilitator Colin Hagan said: “We are really happy to be able to support such a worthwhile campaign and it’s fantastic that staff are giving up their own time to volunteer on the evening to take donation calls.” Sunderland City Council was one of just two local authorities out of 125 centres handling calls for the last Red Nose Day and Coun Celia Gofton, cabinet member for responsive services and customer care, is delighted the council has been asked to help out again.

“This is the fifth time Sunderland has provided telephone support for the event and if previous years are to go by, it should be very rewarding for everyone involved,” she said. “In the tradition of Comic Relief it won’t be all work and no play for the volunteers, we’re planning to have lots of games, face painting, and even a balloon artist.

“There’s also a council-wide raffle organised through the call handlers.”

Business, schools, community groups and individuals across Wearside have been getting in the fund-raising mood this week.

Nas Khan, managing director of the Jennings Motor Group, took the plunge in a bath of beans and also agreed to have his head shaved at the firm’s Washington showroom.

“As a charity organiser and fund-raiser myself, I understand and appreciate hoe difficult it is to raise money, let alone reach fund-raising targets, which is one of the reasons I agreed to take part,” he said.

“It all got a bit messy, but at the end of the day it was fun and has boosted the fund-raising total.”

And former BT callcentre manager Jamie O’Brien was back on Wearside this week as part of a team from the company cycling from Edinburgh to London. The St Thomas Street centre was a stop-off on the route as the group aims to make it to the end of the line in time for tomorrow night’s telethon.