VOLUNTEERS at Berkshire women’s community project Alana House have been awarded a top royal honour – The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Alana House, part of the charity Parents And Children Together (PACT), is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award.
The Queen’s Award is the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE.
Alana House, based in Reading but operating across Berkshire, supports and empowers women facing multiple disadvantages to make positive changes in their lives.
A team of 13 volunteers give around 80 hours a week between them to carry out vital roles at the charity, supporting the women at groups and workshops as part of the holistic and trauma-informed support.
The volunteers work alongside the staff team and fulfil roles such as counsellors, cookery skills instructors, administrators, assistant support worker, sewing instructors and supporting at drop-in sessions.
Sally Charlesworth who has been a volunteer at Alana House for three years said: “Alana House is one of those rare places that means a lot to everybody who is involved with it – members of staff, users of the service and volunteers.
“I’d never heard of Alana House until I began to volunteer there but in a way that says a lot about the way it is. Its not fussy, or attention seeking or self promoting.
“Rather its just reliably there, giving women time and space to come together, to build good relationships, to realise their own worth and to find courage to build better lives, especially when those things have sometimes seemed so very, very far away.
“Volunteering at Alana House has been one of the most worthwhile jobs I’ve ever done.”
Jan Norbury, a volunteer since 2016 said: “There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the ladies experience real success and develop a feeling of self-worth. I just love the work and hope to continue to volunteer for some time to come.”
One of the Alana House women said of another volunteer, Jane: “Jane has been amazing, been a star, she always asks how I am, it’s nice to know that someone cares about my welfare.”
PACT’s Head of Communities Kathryn Warner said: “We simply couldn’t provide the range of groups and support services without the amazing contribution made by our team of volunteers.
“They bring such rich skills and experience to the team which strengthens the support we can offer to the women coming to Alana House.”
PACT Chief Executive Natausha van Vliet said: “Our volunteers are simply fantastic and it is a testament to the value they bring to our organisation that they have been recognised for this honour.”
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.
Six representatives of Alana House will receive the award crystal and certificate from HM Lord-Lieutenant of the Royal County of Berkshire, Mr James Puxley, later this summer.
In addition, two volunteers from Alana House will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2023.
Much of the holistic support offered through Alana House relies on fundraising and donations to enable the team to support hundreds of women each year. A donation of £20 could fund an emergency food and toiletries parcel for a women and her family for a week. If you’d like to support PACT and Alana House’s work please click here to find out more.
If you’d like to join our award-winning team of volunteers please visit our volunteering page. Just two hours a week could help provide vital support to women, children and families.