A Stirling-based refugee charity has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The accolade was presented to Forth Valley Welcome – a group of volunteers based in Stirling and Clackmannanshire – for their work supporting refugees who have been resettled locally.
Volunteers support vulnerable refugees who have fled countries overseas, like Syria, to learn English, organising events for them to get together and supplying them with material needs like furniture, clothes and kitchen equipment.
The charity has been busy during the coronavirus lockdown supporting refugee families, including distributing food parcels to mark the end of Ramadan and delivering arts and crafts packs to children.
— Forth Valley Welcome (@forthvalleywelc) June 2, 2020
Forth Valley Welcome is one of 230 voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year, alongside a community shop in Cornwall, an environmental group in Swansea and a thriving community arts centre in County Down.
Representatives of Forth Valley Welcome will receive the award from Alan Simpson, Lord Lieutenant of Stirling and Falkirk, later this summer. Two volunteers from the charity will attend a garden party at Holyroodhouse in July 2021.
Save Maharaj, Chair of Forth Valley Welcome, said: “We were very surprised and absolutely delighted to receive this prestigious Award. Our organisation started because of a small group of volunteers who were passionate about supporting and welcoming refugees into our area.
“We currently have around 75 volunteers and it’s really hard to put into words the incredible contribution they make to the organisation and their commitment to the families we support. We literally could not do it without them and it great to see them recognised in this way.”
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise the outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.