Gatwick TravelCare is an independent registered charity that has served alongside Gatwick Airport’s terminals since 1986, assisting troubled passengers – in June last year they celebrated their 30th Anniversary.
In 2015, the office helped more than 1,250 clients with travel-related problems in person and more than 800 enquiries by telephone. Based in Gatwick’s South Terminal, the charity operates seven days a week, all year round (with the exception of December 25, 26 and January 1).
A team of five duty managers and 24 volunteers rely on the co-operation and goodwill of everyone in the airport community. Each day the Gatwick TravelCare team helps to resolve a wide range of issues including financial difficulties, missed flights and passport irregularities.
The team also works in conjunction with airlines, handling agents, embassies, social services and the police to provide their passengers with the best service. Often, passengers only need the use of a telephone, email or some basic support.
If necessary, the charity has clothing and toiletries that can be used in the showers at the airport. Family and friends are usually the first stop for financial help if this is not possible the charity may be able to assist funding clients to their countries’ embassies or consulates for help.
The team has built up a wealth of knowledge over the years and often has to play detective by tracing phone numbers, tracking down relatives and ensuring the safety of passengers.
Another important part of the charity’s work is part of the airport emergency call-out team.
Staff and volunteers participate in regular training with an exercise taking place every 18 months. In September 2001, they played a part in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in by assisting stranded passengers and matching them with local temporary accommodation.
Other emergency help has included returning passengers from the Bali and Sharm-el-Sheikh bombings, countries hit by the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and countries affected by the Arab Spring and an aircraft which made an emergency landing with passengers leaving personal belongings behind.
“Looking after the welfare of passengers, even in traumatic circumstances, is all in a day’s work” said a member of the team.[box type=”shadow” align=”” class=”” width=”600″]
Volunteering with TravelCare could give you a glimpse into lives from around the world and be incredibly rewarding. You can become part of a caring network stretching throughout Gatwick and beyond.
If you want to make a difference within the Gatwick community, even if only for a few hours a week, please call: 01293 504283 or email: email@example.com.[/box]
By Georgia Lambert