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Seven Sussex Charities Win Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service

Seven Sussex charities that have worked tirelessly for their communities have been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Three East Sussex charities have been honoured with the prestigious award. Lewes-based Sussex Pathways along with Eastbourne’s Wayfinder Woman and Medi-Tech, stand proud this week as part of an elite group of 241 charities from across the UK and the Channel Islands to receive the much-acclaimed royal accolade.

The voluntary service award aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. It is recognised nationwide as the charity world’s ultimate honour.

The three East Sussex successes this week have brought enormous pride to the county’s wide and diverse voluntary sector.

Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Sir Peter Field, said:

“I’m absolutely delighted that the work of these three groups has been recognised in this way. During our assessment visits, our panel were incredibly impressed by their commitment to their varying causes.

“Each had also adapted so valiantly to continue to operate and support some of those most at need during the awful pandemic through which we have lived. They all did such incredible work and East Sussex salutes them.

“They have set a high standard for others to follow but we know we will see more excellent groups stepping up and being nominated for the award in the future.”  

Award winner Sussex Pathways has worked for more than 12 years with the victims as well as the perpetrators of crime, helping to heal the harm and pain caused alongside resettling offenders into the community. Its team of more than 30 volunteers begins work with inmates inside Lewes and other prisons and extends beyond meeting them at the prison gate to helping them find accommodation, support, jobs - and a new purpose.

Fellow award winner Wayfinder Woman has equally achieved some remarkable successes in its relatively short life through its ambition of helping marginalised women to “stand tall and shine brightly”. The group’s aim has been to further the cause of women and young girls in nurturing their social inclusion, raising aspirations, relieving financial hardship, instilling confidence and giving them “the tools to transform theirs and their families’ lives.”

Medi-Tech, the third of the East Sussex trio, is an entirely volunteer-led charity reaching out both locally and to people across the world with cutting-edge medical technology. From its Eastbourne base in the past four years alone, Medi-Tech has supplied some £1.5 million of equipment to local hospitals and related medical services.

Overseas, too, it has made a huge impact in helping to teach new skills to surgeons in African and other nations – globally benefitting some 500 doctors.

Award recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Representatives of Sussex Pathways, Wayfinder Woman and Meditech will receive their award crystal and certificate from Lord-Lieutenant Sir Peter Field later this summer. Two chosen volunteers from each of the three groups will also get to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May of next year, Covid restrictions allowing.

Four voluntary organisations in West Sussex have also been honoured with The Queen’s Award. The successful groups are:

4Sight Vision Support

4SVS improves the quality of the lives of visually impaired people throughout West Sussex, offering outreach support, home visits, telephone befriending, accessible tech support, low vision assessments, assistance with and provision of daily living aids that enable people to remain safe and independent in their own homes.  The group celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2021.

Gurjar Hindu Union

Gurjar Hindu Union serves the needs of the Indian community in Crawley, allowing its members to integrate effectively into society.  The group offers activities for children, young people and the elderly and provides skills training for its community as well as cultural and supportive services to the Hindu and wider community.

Olive Tree Cancer Support Group

Olive Tree Cancer Support Group helps those affected by cancer in Crawley, aiming to encourage patients and their support network to be proactive in their wellbeing.  The group’s volunteers hope to reduce the anxiety and stress felt by people of all ages and at different stages on their cancer journey and offer a range of therapies and workshops to suit everyone.

Streetlight UK

A specialist support service for women involved in prostitution, sexual exploitation and trafficking across Sussex, Surrey and London.  The group offers hope to thousands of vulnerable women who are hidden, isolated and exploited across the region.  Through local partnerships Streetlight tackles violence against women and seeks to prevent perpetrators from re-offending.

Later this year the groups will receive their awards from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, who makes the presentation on behalf of the Queen. Two volunteers from each group will also attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time).

The Lord-Lieutenant said:

"I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to the four outstanding and diverse groups in the county that have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The challenges of the last year have put immense pressure on the voluntary sector across the country, and here in West Sussex we have seen countless groups and individuals give their time and expertise to help others, and we have been reminded yet again of the vital contribution that volunteers make to their communities.

"The Award is a tremendous accolade for these four outstanding groups and I sincerely hope that their achievements will encourage other volunteer groups to consider putting themselves forward for nomination for this prestigious award."

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