Sheffield older persons' charity presented with UK's highest voluntary honour

Andrew Coombe, Sister Clare Smith and volunteer Brian Gannon. Picture by Peter WolstenholmeAndrew Coombe, Sister Clare Smith and volunteer Brian Gannon. Picture by Peter Wolstenholme
Andrew Coombe, Sister Clare Smith and volunteer Brian Gannon. Picture by Peter Wolstenholme
A Sheffield charity that's been serving older people for more than half a century has been presented with the nation's highest possible voluntary honour at a special city ceremony.

Sheffield Churches Council Community Care (SCCCC) is one of just a handful of Sheffield organisations to have ever been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service- the sector’s equivalent of an MBE.

HM Lord-Lieutenant Andrew Coombe bestowed the award- a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal- at Sheffield Town Hall in front of the Lord Mayor of Sheffield Cllr Anne Murphy and the charity’s staff, trustees and army of dedicated volunteers.

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The event was followed by an afternoon tea to thank volunteers for the 6,000 hours of unpaid work they give each year visiting older people to battle loneliness and isolation. Each volunteer is now also able to wear a commemorative pin badge in recognition of the honour.

Mark Storey, Chief Executive Officer at SCCCC said: “The presentation of this award is the culmination of a hugely significant 12 months for the charity, since finding out that we were being given the honour earlier this year.

“It’s a huge honour, but most importantly an overwhelming tribute to the hard work and dedication of our incredible volunteers. They are the heart and most important part of our work and generously give their time and energy, enabling us to much needed help to older people in Sheffield for more than 50 years.”

The Queen’s Award is the highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation.

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Any group doing volunteer work that provides a social, economic or environmental service to the local community can be nominated for the award. The groups are then assessed on the benefit they bring to the local community and its standing within that community.

SCCCC was set up in October 1966 by church members of all denominations from across Sheffield, but has today expanded to support older people of different faiths and secular groups from across the city.

It thrives on its strong community links and works alongside the council, NHS and all church denominations to achieve its mission of improving the wellbeing of older people in Sheffield.

The charity’s flagship ‘Good Neighbour Scheme’ offers a befriending service to over 65s who are referred by health agencies, care teams or relatives. Social visits, welfare checks, telephone support and one off emergency shopping trips all form part of the help offered under the scheme.