Doncaster charity that brings lonely people together gets Queen’s award

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Volunteers of South Yorkshire charity, b:friend, have just been awarded The Queen’s Award for VoluntaryService.

This is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.

In the UK, over 500,000 older people can go over a week without seeing or speaking to another person.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The issue of loneliness, and the long-term impact this can have on health, is the reason behind the charity setting up to offer weekly connection to large numbers of older neighbours.

Ellie and IreneEllie and Irene
Ellie and Irene

By bringing people in the community together of all ages and backgrounds, b:friend is a movement of people pledging to improve their local area for the people that live there.

Since launching in 2017, b:friend have created over 1,400 volunteer befriending pairings for isolated older neighbours living alone in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Volunteers of the project give over 15,000 hours each year visiting neighbours on a weekly basis, in their homes or out-and-about locally.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

b:friend is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Helena and OliveHelena and Olive
Helena and Olive

Their work, along with others from across the UK, reminds us of all the ways in which fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them.

Read More
Plaque paying tribute to Platinum Jubilee unveiled at The Dome

Volunteer befriender, Becky Roberts, said: “How great for b:friend to be recognised after such a challenging couple of years.

"I've seen the charity jump in to help those suffering in the crisis of loneliness during the pandemic and they have thrived.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Colleen and DaveColleen and Dave
Colleen and Dave

"Over the last two-years volunteering with b:friend has been incredibly rewarding and has got me through some difficult times.

"It is not just our neighbours that benefit; it has changed my life too.Volunteering with b:friend has allowed me to form a special friendship but also to enjoy spending

time with the community of volunteers.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by local volunteer groups to benefit their communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.

Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including: a rural support group for farmers in Shropshire; a community magazine addressing isolation in the Western Isles; a running club engaging all ages in County Tyrone; a film academy and community hub based in South Wales, and a food bank in Greater London feeding vulnerable individuals and providing training opportunities.

Jenny Pitman, Programme Manager at b:friend, says: “It’s such an incredible honour. Every single day, people in our community give their time and care to support isolated older people to feel more connected and loved.

"It really changes people’s lives. The last few years have been especially challenging for all of us but, when people were completely alone, an awesome number of volunteers pledged their time to keep our community together.

"These amazing people also inspired others to volunteer. This award is recognition to each and every volunteer. They make our communities better places to live.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.