4th Jun 2021

Photo: Northumberland County Blind Association receiving The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. (l-r) Mala James (Chair); the Mayor of Morpeth David Bawn; Julie Boyack (Chief Executive).

A local charity has received The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary organisation can receive in the UK. Northumberland County Blind Association works with 181 volunteers to deliver services to Blind and Visually impaired people across the county. The Association has received grants from the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland, including from the FB & PFB Lough Fund, which enabled them to keep working through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.

Jon Goodwin, Senior Philanthropy Advisor at the Community Foundation, said:

“This award is well-deserved. People with disabilities can feel very isolated at the best of times, especially in rural areas, and this isolation can only have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“The Community Foundation’s FB & PFB Lough Fund has supported the Association with more than £14,000 in recognition of their role in mobilising volunteers to provide ‘real-life’ and ‘virtual’ support to blind people in rural Northumberland and I’m delighted to see the organisation – and its volunteers – honoured in this way”.

Julie Boyack, Chief Officer at Northumberland County Blind Association said:

“We are so proud and delighted that our organisations work has been recognised, it’s a tribute to hard work and commitment of our volunteers.

“The award could not have been achieved without the support of funders in particular the Community Foundation. They have supported our small organisation to enable us to do great things, helping so many Visually Impaired people through our amazing volunteer network”.

The award recognises the work the Association have done providing impactful support to the community in response to the pandemic. In particular by creating a Befriending service comprising of 91 volunteers contacting over 600 Visually Impaired people through the pandemic. These calls helped to reduce isolation, loneliness and providing a lifeline to their clients during unprecedented times.

Northumberland County Blind Association will receive the award crystal and certificate from Her Grace, The Duchess of Northumberland, Lord‐Lieutenant of Northumberland later this summer.

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