The Archbishop of Canterbury has expressed his sadness at the closure of a Christian telephone line. The Daily Hope closed on Wednesday after four years because of a lack of funding.
It was launched in April 2020 as a response by the Church of England, Faith in Later Life and Connections at Holy Trinity Church in Claygate to support older people who would not be able to access online worship during lockdown. The aim was to ensure that the spiritual life of older people could continue to flourish as churches closed their doors to in-person worship and events.
Since its launch, Daily Hope received an average of 10,000 call every month, even after lockdown restrictions ended.
Stephen Hammersley who is Chair of Faith in Later Life told Premier that while the Church of England was the primary funder, Faith in Later Life took over the running around a year ago. Since then, the organisation has been trying to attract funding from various sources including private funders, but this has proven difficult.
“Unfortunately, it is simply a matter of finance and funding,” he said.
“We've reached the point where we haven't got any more money that we can put into the operating of the helpline. I'm afraid when we talked to some people about funding it and financing it, they felt it was just a little bit too expensive per user.
“It certainly met an absolutely urgent need during those pandemic periods and it has helped many people and I'm really sorry that we've had to stop it. But it is also the case that there are now alternatives. The closure comes with a challenge and an opportunity for Christian people to look out for neighbours, particularly members of their congregation, who aren't getting visits and who aren't hearing from their church fellowships. And so that's the challenge that comes with the news of closure.
“I'm very sorry that it's closed because it's been a service that's been immensely and very profoundly helpful. So it's a sad moment. But when anything stops, you can look back and you can regret. But you can also look back and give thanks and rejoice.”
Most Rev Justin Welby said: “Over these past nearly four years I have been so glad to hear the stories of lives transformed, encouraged and supported by this telephone line. It is therefore sad that we have to cease this service.
“Daily Hope has been an example of what followers of Jesus can do when they put their minds to making a difference – it has been a wonderful team effort and I am beyond grateful for the skill, drive and commitment given by individuals and charities. A huge amount of work has gone on to make it happen. And of course I want to thank everyone who has called - whether during the day or late at night or first thing in the morning.
“Even though the Daily Hope telephone line ends, we continue to have Jesus Christ as our hope, help and constant companion and I pray today that many of the older people who are still alone, would know this each and every day.”
Pippa Cramer MBE, who co-founded the telephone line and is Pastoral Care and Seniors Minister at Holy Trinity Church, Claygate, in Surrey added:
“What a journey the last three and a half years have been for Daily Hope!
"As it ends, I want to pay tribute to, and assure all the older people who have called the telephone line, of our continued prayers and want them to know what a privilege it has been to support them over such a significant period of time.”