Lewes-based charity presented with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
A Lewes-based charity has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service – the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Sussex Pathways is part of an elite group of 241 charities from across the UK and the Channel Islands to receive the much-acclaimed royal accolade.
The voluntary service award aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
It is recognised nationwide as the charity world’s ultimate honour.
Margaret Carey, chairman of the board at Sussex Pathways, said the charity was ‘very honoured and excited’.
“It is such a marvellous endorsement of our work, and the fact that other people recognise that what we do is a good thing,” she said.
Sussex Pathways has worked for more than 12 years with the victims as well as the perpetrators of crime, helping to heal the harm and pain caused, alongside resettling offenders into the community.
Its team of more than 30 volunteers begins work with inmates inside Lewes and other prisons and extends beyond, meeting them at the prison gate to helping them find accommodation, support, jobs – and a new purpose.
Margaret said: “We’re extremely proud of what we do. We’ve managed to keep going through lockdown, everything is remote and on zoom, but we’ve still managed to support people who need us.
“I think that’s pretty remarkable.”
She added: “The thing we thrive on is being trusted. Most of the people we’re working with haven’t ever had people they can trust before.
“That’s the first person they felt has actually cared about them. Whatever is going on, we must never forget that.”
She praised all the charity’s volunteers, who she said acted with ‘enthusiasm and commitment and love’ despite the challenging nature of the role.
A representative from the charity will receive an award crystal and certificate from Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Sir Peter Field, later this summer.
Two chosen volunteers from the group will also get to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May of next year, Covid restrictions allowing.
Sussex Pathways was one of three charities in East Sussex to be presented with an award.
Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex, Sir Peter Field, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the work of these three groups has been recognised in this way.
“During our assessment visits, our panel were incredibly impressed by their commitment to their varying causes.
“Each had also adapted so valiantly to continue to operate and support some of those most at need during the awful pandemic through which we have lived.
“They all did such incredible work and East Sussex salutes them.
“They have set a high standard for others to follow but we know we will see more excellent groups stepping up and being nominated for the award in the future.”