On July 21st, the Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Mrs Helen Nellis, presented local homelessness charity Emmaus Village Carlton with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, as part of a special double celebration event.
Customers from the charity’s popular charity shop and bistro, as well as well-wishers from the local area, gathered at the charity’s community buildings in Carlton to witness the presentation. The Mayor of Bedford, Mr Dave Hodgson, continued proceedings by then officially opening ‘Silverbirches’ new accommodation on site, including seven new rooms and two flats.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to voluntary groups across the UK for their outstanding work in the local community and has equivalent status to an MBE.
The opening of Silverbirches sees the charity’s accommodation facilities increase to 42 bedrooms for companions (formerly homeless adults). The £130,000 project has seen the conversion of underused space in an existing building to create seven self-contained rooms for companions, two move-on flats for those companions close to fully independent living, as well as an overnight bedsit for visitors. The building work was funded through kind support from other charities and local supporters.
Speaking about the event, Emmaus Village Carlton’s Chair of Trustees Steve Arnold said: “We’re extremely proud to have celebrated two such great achievements. It’s such an honour to be given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, as volunteering is all about helping out those in need – which is central to the Emmaus ethos. We’re very fortunate to have many volunteers who have given us so much of their time over the years; we are also very proud of the people who live here – our companions – who also often volunteer their time to help others in need. Opening Silverbirches also means a great deal to the charity; we’re now able to provide a home for more homeless people in Bedfordshire.”
Steve Scott is an existing Emmaus companion who has moved into one of the new bedrooms: “I’m really happy and proud that Emmaus Village Carlton is expanding. I’ve lived here just over a year now – they’ve helped me so much and it’s great news that they will now be able to accommodate even more people. I’ve moved in ahead of the new people, so I can keep an eye on things and help support them as they settle in. I see it as my chance to help others in the same way that Emmaus has been there for me.”
The Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Mrs Helen Nellis said: “Emmaus Village Carlton is such a wonderful organisation and there was nobody more pleased than myself when I heard that they’d been given this award. It truly is a jewel in the crown of Bedfordshire.”
Dave Hodgson MBE, Mayor of Bedford said: “It was an honour to be invited to officially open the Silverbirches accommodation. The opening of the new rooms shows that the charity is going from strength to strength.”
Emmaus Village Carlton supports 42 formerly homeless people by giving them a home, meaningful work in a social enterprise and an opportunity to regain lost self-esteem to help rebuild their lives.
To find out more about Emmaus Village Carlton visit www.emmaus.org.uk/village_carlton