Lancaster charity recognised for vital voluntary work in community

A Lancaster group which supports vulnerable people in Lancaster has been rewarded with a top national honour.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 12:41 pm
Lancaster MP Cat Smith (left) and Lancaster mayor Coun Mike Greenall (centre) join volunteers from The Olive Branch at their temporary unit on Lansil Way.

The Olive Branch has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service with a special designation recognising the support provided to the local community during the pandemic.

All involved with the Olive Branch were delighted and proud to have been recognised in this way, particularly after a challenging year in which the team moved premises twice to provide suitable and safe space.

With the support of local churches, individuals and businesses, thousands of food parcels have been delivered to those in desperate need. The support of Booths in particular has been key to having sufficient food.

Lancaster MP Cat Smith gives a speech to Olive Branch volunteers.

The regular team of volunteers was joined last year by many local people who wanted to help their community through these difficult times.

This award recognises the outstanding efforts of all of these people.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK.

It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation. It is the MBE for volunteer groups and is awarded for life. It is awarded to outstanding groups of volunteers whose level of initiative and impact are truly exceptional.

Some of the Olive Branch team with Lancaster MP Cat Smith (left) and Lancaster mayor Coun Mike Greenall (second left) at their temporary unit on Lansil Way.

Each group is assessed on the benefit it brings to the local community and its standing within that community. Volunteers are expected to be leading its work.

This year a special designation is being given to QAVS awardees that provided impactful support to the community in response to the pandemic last year - either by managing a significant increase in their usual work or providing extra support in other ways.

Mike Pidd, chair of trustees at The Olive Branch, said: “I was delighted and surprised to hear that we would receive this award. I want to thank the people of Lancaster. They’ve donated food, money and time to support people in need.”

The Olive Branch (Faith in Action) is a Lancaster-based Christian charity serving and helping the socially disadvantaged in Lancaster.

Lancaster mayor Coun Mike Greenall is shown around the Olive Branch's temporary unit on Lansil Way.

Its mission is to support those suffering distress caused by addiction, broken family relationships, poverty and homelessness, and to enable individuals and families to resolve and alleviate their difficulties.

As well as hospitality and advice The Olive Branch provides free emergency food to families and individuals in difficulty.

As reported last week, three other Lancaster district groups were also awarded with the QAVS.