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Christian Youth Work Charity Receives “MBE’ For Volunteer Groups

Published on: 3 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 3 Jun, 2021

Volunteers from five Surrey groups have been rewarded with the 2021 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, including Guildford-based Emerge Advocacy.

This is the MBE for UK volunteer groups and Emerge’s Advocacy is a Christian youth work charity. It’s team of staff and volunteers have provided more than 2,000 support sessions for young people since 2016.

They have not only continued their work during the pandemic, but intensified their efforts delivering 196% more support sessions in the community than average during the first lockdown while working remotely.

Its projects run throughout Surrey and into Kent with a vision to empower others nationally.

At the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford it currently has 10 volunteers who volunteer either weekly or fortnightly. The volunteers mostly come from Emerge Advocacy’s connections with local churches’ networks.

As a Christian youth work charity, Emerge Advocacy enables trained staff and volunteers to support young people attending hospital accident and emergency departments as a result of self-harm or attempted suicide. Without the time constraints or targets that restrict so many healthcare professionals, Emerge’s team build relationships with vulnerable young people which inspire hope, and encourage them to engage with the care and support on offer.

Its founder, Joy Wright, said: “The vision for this work is simple – empowering local volunteers to be part of the solution to the growing mental health crisis experienced by young people by being there for them in A&E, then offering support in the community so they know that they’re not alone.

“We’re totally overwhelmed to receive this award, although I have to say our wonderful volunteers thoroughly deserve it!

“I’m always so inspired to see them give up their evenings to spend time in A&E with young people and it makes such a difference.

“One parent just this month told us her daughter was ‘transformed’ by the visit from one of our amazing volunteers!

“Thank you so much to those who nominated us, and well done to all the other groups too. We’re humbled to be recognised in this way and hope it inspires others that they can really make a difference too.”

Volunteers’ Week -June 1 to 7.

Bethany, one of Emerge Advocacy’s team members, added: “We never take the place of mental health services while we support young people in the midst of their journey.

“We can be a friend, advocate, comfort, tea-drinking companion, shoulder to cry on, card game supplier and, in the face of despair, we are carriers of hope, peace and joy.”

Natalie, aged 15, said: “Bethany has been brilliant throughout the pandemic. She was one of the only people that remained consistent and was always there if and when I needed her. I really cannot fault her support in any way.”

The five groups from Surrey are among the 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the UK to receive the award this year.

The Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Michael More-Molyneux, congratulated the winning groups and highlighted the outstanding contribution made by these volunteers, who this year represent all ages, ethnicities and diversity.

He said: “The work that these groups do for the benefit of their local community or across this county is quite outstanding.

“In several cases, during the Covid pandemic they have been working hard to support families and individuals, and helping to keep the NHS running. And across all five groups, if it were not for the volunteers’ tireless work and commitment – and the dedication to the good of others which they represent – the services they provide would not happen. I am delighted that these extraordinary contributions to the welfare of the people of Surrey have been recognised nationally.”

The other Surrey groups who have received the award are:

Dorking Museum & Heritage Centre: Local history in action – making Dorking’s heritage relevant today.

Mid Surrey Community Fridges – Reducing waste and meeting serious need by large-scale redistribution of food, to encourage sustainable living.

SERV Surrey & South London – Reliably transporting blood, urgent samples and donated breast milk to Surrey and London hospitals.

Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum – Advocating for the needs, strengthening the voice and building the capacity of Surrey’s black, Asian, minority ethnic and refugee communities.

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