The QueenDate: 2nd June 2021

Westbank Neighbourhood Friends volunteers, who are based in Devon, have been honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Westbank Neighbourhood Friends help vulnerable or frail people aged 18 and over from Exeter, East and Mid Devon to stay out of hospital or to have shorter hospital stays. The service simply matches volunteers who want to help with people who need assistance on their onward journey from hospital.  

Nina Parnell, Westbank Head of Volunteering and Community Support, says, "The Covid-19 crisis put our 'Can Do' reputation to the test. Our dedicated Neighbourhood Friends team of volunteers rose to the challenge by providing support to over 2,030 patients. As always, volunteers answered the call quickly, they moved beds to make way for hospital beds and equipment; they installed key safes so carers could gain access; and they provided a bit of company and a warm drink to patients following a stay in hospital. They did all of this whilst the country was in lockdown, and at no point ever questioned why they wouldn't help."

"We are incredibly proud that our Neighbourhood Friends project has been recognised with the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service and pay tribute to the dedication, hard work and commitment of our truly deserving team of volunteers."

Westbank Neighbourhood Friends is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local 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. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children's bereavement charity in London; a group supporting young people in Belfast; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.

Representatives of Westbank Neighbourhood Friends will receive the award crystal and certificate from David Fursdon, Lord-Lieutenant of Devon later this summer. Furthermore, two Neighbourhood Friends volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year's Award.