Coventry & District Samaritans has won the prestigious Queen’s Award for voluntary service.
The Award – the equivalent of the MBE – is the highest given to local volunteer groups across the UK and recognises outstanding work in their communities.
Winners receive a certificate signed by the Queen and a domed glass crystal.
Coventry Samaritans was established in 1964 and is currently celebrating 50 years of service to people in Coventry and Warwickshire.
It is managed and operated entirely by unpaid volunteers and provides a free 24 hour helpline, every day of the year, for people who are upset, or troubled or feeling suicidal.
The well-known charity was nominated for the Queen’s Award by Coventry City Council.
It is one of only 187 organisations across the UK to win the award this year and the only one in Coventry.
Councillor Phil Townshend, deputy leader of Coventry City Council said: “I am delighted to hear that Coventry Samaritans has won this award.
“They do amazing work and are an excellent example of the many hardworking and dedicated voluntary organisations we have in Coventry”.
Coventry & District Samaritans has 123 volunteers ranging in age from 19 to over 80. Ten of its members have been volunteers for over 20 years and three have been volunteers for over 40 years.
In recognition of the award, three volunteers were invited to a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace on May 20.
Roger Hughes, branch director of Samaritans, said “We are of course extremely pleased that our work has been recognised in this way.
“Over the last 50 years we have answered over 1.5 million calls for help and I am very proud that we still provide all our services entirely with volunteers. The Award recognises their dedication, professionalism and commitment”.
Ex-broadcast journalist Martyn Lewis, chair of the awards committee, said: “The judging panel for this year’s awards were struck by the quality and breadth of all the successful groups. The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the best of democracy in action.”
The nomination for the award was supported by senior managers at Rye Hill Prison near Rugby.
Coventry Samaritans works in partnership with the prison where it trains prisoners to support fellow inmates who are going through difficult times or who may be feeling suicidal.
Laura Lowe, Head of safer custody at HMP Rye Hill said “the work of Samaritans significantly contributes to the well-being of offenders at the prison.
“The approach from the team at Coventry Samaritans promotes and achieves positive working relationships with offenders, officers, managers and members of our senior management team.”
Anyone who needs to talk over their problems or worries can ring Samaritans on 02476 678678 at any time of the day or night. People needing help can also contact Samaritans by sending e-mail or text messages or calling in for a chat at their branch office in Moor Street, Coventry.