One of the many initiatives that CNI Network is involved in is the Queens Award for Voluntary Services – our CEO is one of around forty assessors.

This prestigious award is given to between two hundred and fifty and three hundred voluntary groups each year and is the equivalent to an MBE for volunteer groups. It is an Award which aims to celebrate outstanding groups who are excellent in their field and winners are announced on 2nd June each year (the anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen’s Coronation).

Each winter the assessors meet to look at around seventy applications each. They spend time looking for those groups where the volunteers are taking the initiative, leading the project and making things happen that bring huge benefits to the community where the organisation is based. The groups come in all shapes and sizes – some only known within the community they serve, others having a much bigger profile.

The impact of voluntary groups is always amazing to read, as chair of the assessors Sir Martyn Lewis OBE explains:

“Like those in Oxfordshire mentoring children who have a parent in prison – thus breaking the cycle of inter-generational offending; the Shropshire group helping older adults to get online; the boxing club in Northern Ireland encouraging normally excluded kids to reach for a better education; the Welsh group proudly promoting the maritime history of their town.”

“There is no limit to the ingenuity of our Award winners. The West Midlands volunteers not only turning redundant plots of land into community gardens but going on to teach gardening skills to the unemployed, to ex-offenders and people with disabilities; the Suffolk folk who use a campervan to give people in rural areas access to a mobile cafe and information centre; the Isle of Wight cafes created especially for people with dementia; and the Manchester volunteers with learning disabilities themselves who organise dance workshops and high-quality performances.”

CNI Network’s Guildford Street Angels were the recipients of a QAVS Award in 2015 for the work they carry out on the streets of Guildford on weekend evenings as well as through daytime Chaplaincy.

Nominations for QAVS open on 1st April. Anyone can nominate a group, as long as they are not involved with it as a volunteer, employee or close relative. You can nominate by visiting https://qavs.culture.gov.uk.