This recognition of our services in the borough by the Queen has shown that even in the most difficult of times when small groups and communities pull together they can achieve anything. #qavs @DiscoverUdy5

Discover U is a charity based in Wollaston working to help people with barriers into employment. Our aim is to provide work related experience to adults with any level of learning disability or others similarly disadvantaged because of physical disability. We believe that everybody who wants to should have the opportunity to work and we support them to do that with a range of programmes suited to enhance their skills. We operate a Workshop and Tea Room in Wollaston enabling us to connect with our local community and provide a warm and friendly environment for people to come.

As a relatively young charity, founded in August 2015, the whole team is absolutely delighted and so proud that Discover U is in receipt of such as prestigious award. The award is particularly poignant for us following the recent passing of Lynn Brooks, co-founder and our much loved, longest serving volunteer, to whom we dedicate the award.

It’s a wonderful acknowledgement of the amazing work our team do every day and the effort that has been put in over the last 5 years. We’re looking forward to flying the QAVS flag and certainly want to have a big celebration with all our team and our members as soon as it is safe to do so.

We think this award will really help promote our work and raise interest with our wider community. While our centre is currently closed we are taking some time to perfect our services, skills and redecorate to create an even more exciting environment for our members, staff, volunteers and visitors. Really hope you’ll come see it all soon!

It has been difficult during the pandemic as we work so closely together and any form of social distancing poses an immense challenge as it does for so many charities and service providers. Prior to lockdown we distributed leaflets around the local area to let people know we were there to support anyone that needed it and have continued doing this, providing shopping and medicine runs for isolated people in the local community. Staff and volunteers have been working from home, providing phone support for all members and volunteers and their families. They have been checking in on a regular basis to ensure everyone is doing ok and helping people stay in touch with each other too. They have also on their daily walks been dropping off gifts, craft goody bags, Easter eggs, and even handwritten letters to bring smiles to as many faces as possible. Our staff are also providing off site support for those members and their families that are struggling with the current situation. Taking members shopping, out for walks to local beauty spots for exercise, even running errands etc to safeguard their mental and physical well-being as well as give much needed support to their families. I’m so proud, to say the least, with how the team have stepped up to challenge and made so much happen in such restrictive circumstances.

This recognition of our services in the borough by the Queen has shown that even in the most difficult of times when small groups and communities pull together they can achieve anything.

I am so proud of our team of volunteers. They all work so hard in their different roles and I am thrilled that this hard work and dedication has been recognised in such a prestigious way #QAVS

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust Volunteers, a group of volunteers based in Dudley have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The volunteers support an internationally important heritage site, ensuring the Dudley Canal Tunnel and limestone mines remains at the heart of the community. Volunteer activities are wide ranging from learning volunteers supporting school visits teaching children about rocks and fossils or black country industrial heritage; befriending volunteers who run the Chit Chat conversation club in the Gongoozler cafe every Tuesday morning engaging with those in the community who may be feeling isolated; to garden and towpath volunteers ensuring visitors have a great time on the boat trips and the site and surrounding waterways are kept clean and tidy.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust’s Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rebecca Cooper-Sayer says

“ I am so proud of our team of volunteers. They all work so hard in their different roles and I am thrilled that this hard work and dedication has been recognised in such a prestigious way”

Representatives of Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust will receive the award from John Crabtree, OBE, Lord Lieutenant of West Midlands later this summer. Furthermore two volunteers from Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.

Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust’s CEO, Traci Dix-Williams says:

“It’s amazing news. We are delighted that the work our volunteers do has been recognised in this way. Volunteers have been the backbone of the organisation for almost 60 years. Their hard work and dedication has helped ensure that the Dudley Canal and Tunnel Trust, a heritage site of international importance, is preserved and remains at the heart of the local community”.