The Southend-on-Sea Street Pastors have been recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2016.
A group from Southend has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The Southend-on-Sea Street Pastors have been helping vulnerable people by taking Jesus on to the streets almost every Friday and Saturday night since May 2005. They offer assistance to tourists, night-club goers, and rough sleepers by giving out sleeping bags, hot drinks, water and flip-flops. They also clear up broken glass, and dispose of bottles to prevent them from being used as weapons. They are supported by a team of Prayer Pastors who pray for the team, and particularly for any incidents reported to them by the team.
John Simmons (Chair of the Management Group) and Wendy Shewring (one of the Team Leaders) attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 19th May where they met the Queen and members of the Royal Family, and other winners of this year’s award.
The Southend-on-Sea Street Pastors are one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than last year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work in their communities. The awards were created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation.
Award winners this year range from a War Memorial Community Trust, providing social facilities for the benefit of the community in Clwyd, Wales, to a club enhancing the community by developing individuals through athletics, in Ayrshire and Arran, Scotland.
The Southend-on-Sea Street Pastors will receive the award from the Lord Lieutenant of Essex later this summer.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service Committee Chair, former broadcast journalist Sir Martyn Lewis said:
“I warmly congratulate all of the inspirational voluntary groups who have been rewarded for their community work with a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”
The Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, said:
“I would like to congratulate all groups who received this year’s Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, in recognition of their fantastic achievements. The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer. I hope these groups continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact so that we can continue to build a more compassionate society.”
Lord Petre, Lord Lieutenant of Essex, said:
“I am delighted that Southend Street Pastors have won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service this year, one of only four Essex bodies to do so. The Award is only given to the very best Voluntary Organisations, but, knowing something of the work of Southend Street Pastors and the effectiveness of what they do, I am not in the least surprised that they have been so honoured.”
John Simmons, Chair of the Management Group, said:
“We are honoured to have been given this award. I would like to thank God for, and pay tribute to, all those who have been Street Pastors and Prayer Pastors over the last 11 years, and especially the Co-Ordinators, David Ince, John Bastin, Del Thomas and Phil Norton. In particular, I would like to thank Del who worked so hard on completing the paperwork that had to be submitted as part of the nomination procedure, but then had to step down from the post just as the process was completed.”