West Sussex homelessness charity thrilled to be honoured with Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

The volunteering spirit thrives at West Sussex homelessness charity Turning Tides and everyone involved is thrilled it has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

It was announced this morning that Turning Tides was one of four groups in West Sussex to receive the annual award in 2020. It is the highest award for volunteer groups, in recognition of the outstanding work they do in the community.

Turning Tides is the largest provider of services for single homeless people in West Sussex. The charity runs 21 projects in various locations across the county and has more than 300 volunteers, plus 140 paid staff, supporting its mission to end local homelessness.

Sign up to our daily SussexWorld Today newsletter

John Holmstrom, chief executive, said: “Our charity was founded on the sheer effort, spirit and tenacity of a group of volunteers who wanted to make a real difference to those locally who had nowhere to call home.

Moira Gardner, community fundraising officer, left, and volunteer Janet Green at last year's Littlehampton Town Show, promoting Turning Tides. Picture: Scott Ramsey

“This award is dedicated to them and all the volunteers we have had supporting us throughout our 28 years. Their dedication, passion and selflessness continues to be invaluable.

“Even now, when the nation faces it’s biggest crisis, our volunteers have reshaped the support they offer us and our clients.”

Turning Tides is currently seeing a steep rise in the need for its services due to Covid-19. It was already supporting 200 clients in residential projects and 245 homeless people through outreach work but now has a further 150 men and women who have been temporarily housed in hotels to protect them from the virus.

This number is set to grow as the virus escalates financial hardship and it was the exceptional circumstances that led the charity to launch its first Emergency Appeal.

Volunteers have had a big part to play in responding to the crisis and they continue to find new ways of supporting homeless men and women by batch cooking meals and delivering essential food, clothing and hygiene supplies.

Alison Nicholson, community development manager, said: “The volunteering spirit truly thrives in our charity and we are thrilled to have this acknowledged by the award.

“In the past financial year, 2019-2020, almost 300 volunteers collectively gave more than 18,000 hours of their time to support our charity. For our volunteers to be recognised nationally for their outstanding energy and efforts in our community is wonderful.”

The volunteers also offer much-needed warmth, support and friendship to homeless people.

Paul, a former client, recalls the help he was given at St Clare’s Community Hub in Worthing: “I had been living on the streets for two years. I was profoundly distressed, scared and alone when I came to St Clare’s for help.

“I recall the warmth and humanity of the volunteers in the kitchen. These memories still move me today at a time when I’m so relieved to say, my life is in good shape now.”

The award will be presented by the Lord Lieutenant of West Sussex, Mrs Susan Pyper, on behalf of the Queen in the autumn.

Visit www.turning-tides.org.uk/emergency-covid-appeal for more information about the charity and to find out about future volunteering opportunities.

A message from the Editor, Gary Shipton:

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news, I am asking you to please purchase a copy of our newspapers.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspapers.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

Stay safe, and best wishes.