Three organisations in Sandwell are today being honoured with the King’s Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS), in recognition of their significant contributions to the local community.
This award is the highest recognition that a local voluntary group can receive in the United Kingdom and is equivalent to an MBE. It is awarded for life.
Previously known as the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS), the awards were first created in 2002 to mark Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee and have traditionally been announced on the monarch’s birthday ever since. However, this year is the first time that awardees have been honoured as part of the King’s birthday celebrations.
This year, 262 local charities and voluntary groups are to receive the award. Eighteen of these are in the West Midlands, recognising the hard work and dedicated of over 1,000 volunteers.
The three charities recognised in Sandwell are the Cape Community Care Day Centre, New Beginnings Community and Student Voice.
Leader of Sandwell Council, Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, has congratulated all the groups receiving this prestigious honour. She said: “These groups do such important work in the local community, work that wouldn’t happen without the dedication of their fantastic volunteers. It is wonderful to see their efforts honoured with such a prestigious award.
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to all those recognised.”
The Cape Community Care Day Centre, based in Cape Hill, Smethwick, offers services for those facing issues including disability, low income or poor housing. By providing physical and mental health wellbeing sessions and home visits, volunteers at the centre reduce social isolation and encourage independent living, creating support networks throughout the community.
Manager of the Centre, Paulette Fairin Suban said: “It is a great honour to receive this prestigious Kings Award. We are beyond blessed to have been recognised.
“We give thanks to the Almighty for our amazing team – from the initial founders to today’s volunteers – who have been so dedicated and resilient over the years. I believe this award highlights our journey to excellence.
“I am immensely proud of our team and, on behalf of the Cape Community Care Day Centre, thank you to all our supporters.”
The New Beginnings Community, based in Smethwick, provides support for young families, providing activities for children under five, as well as running a Moses-basket-based baby bank. In addition to this, they deliver community services such as warm spaces, weekly breakfasts and signposting services. Through their close links with local maternity hospitals, they also play an important role in supporting new mothers who have been victims of human trafficking.
Peter Spence, Chair of Trustees at New Beginnings, said: “We are over the moon to be chosen. Our vision is always about empowering the community to become the best possible version of itself.
“We believe our strength is in our wonderful volunteers, who we value hugely and, without whom, our work wouldn’t be possible.”
Student Voice is an initiative run through St Michael’s C of E High School in Rowley Regis. Members raise awareness of local and national issues, offering a safe space to engage young people in school and community-based initiatives. The students, aged 11-16, have organised a number of events, including mental health initiatives, skills workshops and community outreach projects.
Christina Handy-Rivett, Headteacher of St Michael’s, said: “I am extremely proud of all members of Student Voice, both past and present. They are agents of change, and their work exemplifies St Michael’s core Christian vision. Students’ selfless acts of kindness and generosity in dedicating their personal time to support such a wide range of initiatives, fundraising events and projects are truly inspirational.”