More than 200 organisations have been given the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the accolade that celebrates exceptional service within communities.
A total of 241 charities have been recognised for their work, and for adapting their services during the first Covid-19 pandemic lockdown to support service users.
The awarded charities work across a wide range of cause areas, with services supporting the elderly, refugees and asylum seekers, young people at risk of criminal activity, animals and the environment.
Congratulating the winners, Baroness Barran, minister for civil society, highlighted the positive personal benefits of volunteering.
“In these challenging times, charities, social enterprises and their volunteers have been the backbone of local communities,” she said.
Winners include the Second Wave Centre for Youth Arts, a London-based charity that helps to divert young people away from crime by involving them in theatre and writing projects.
Numerous charities operating in rural areas were also given the award, including The Fellrunner Village Bus in Cumbria, which helps elderly people living in rural areas to access shops and services.
During the pandemic, the organisation provided shopping and collected prescriptions for shielding villagers, as well as delivering food parcels.
The Westhill and District Men’s Shed in Aberdeenshire was also recognised. The charity offers men a place to make friends, to help reduce loneliness and improve mental health, and used a 3D printer to produce 2,700 face shields for care staff during the pandemic.
More than 160 of the winners also received a special designation for providing impactful support during the initial lockdown of the pandemic.
The Link Foundation, which works to improve the lives of children and their families in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, is one of the organisations to have received the designation.
Una Loughrey, founder and chairman of foundation, said it was “beyond thrilled” to receive the recognition.
“Over the years the charity has provided support for struggling parents, helped neglected children, and supported vulnerable families [to] regain a foothold on life, and we are very proud that this effort has been recognised by the most esteemed award in UK volunteering,” Loughrey continued.
Commenting on the awards, Martyn Lewis, The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Independent Committee chair, said: “There is no finer example of democracy in action than people getting together at a local level to tackle a problem or issue at the heart of their community.
“This year’s magnificent award-winning groups touch virtually every area of need across our society. They also highlight the growing and key role which volunteers are playing in times of rapid change and unprecedented challenges.”
The full list of charities that received a 2021 Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is available here.