When Bedfordshire’s Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis presented the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service to NOAH Enterprise last week, it was fitting that two of the charity’s most staunch supporters were on hand to receive the framed citation and accompanying crystal sculpture.
Grandmother-of-three Phyllis Pinney has volunteered since the organisation was started 30 years ago.
She said: “I feel very proud and privileged to be part of this project and it’s wonderful to work for NOAH.
“It’s not easy providing services 365 days of the year but it certainly provides us with the feel good factor.”
Jane Lipman has been with NOAH for 13 years. The softly spoken mother-of-two has a particular affinity with NOAH’s service users because she herself was homeless for a brief period. She works mainly in the kitchen although she also spends time talking to the people who come for meals and listening to their stories.
She said: “It can be very sad but it’s very rewarding work. I try to give them words of encouragement, to say everyone deserves to fulfil their potential.”
The Lord Lieutenant described the award as ‘the equivalent of an MBE for volunteers.’
Chief executive Jim O’Connor said: “I’m thrilled for this recognition for our 300 volunteers who do so much to enable NOAH to help those who are homeless, sleeping rough or otherwise destitute. This is done so generously in so many ways, whether it’s by preparing and serving meals in our centre, assisting in our charity shops, helping provide welfare services or acting as trustees.”
Mr O’Connor said in the past year NOAH had supported 664 people in its day centre - comprising 22,916 visits with an average of 83 people a day - as well as serving 16,413 lunches, 5,669 breakfasts and 9,118 evening soups.
In addition the charity provided 730 night shelter bed spaces.
He added: “With our staff team, many volunteers and benefactors, we have come through some tough times to create an organisation that can do some extraordinary things.”
Lord Lieutenant Helen Nellis said: “Volunteers are not paid, but what they do is priceless, giving up their precious time to provide friendship and companionship, picking people up, giving them a sense of belonging and worth and showing them with love and compassion that there is a way back to realise their full potential. It’s a beautiful thing to do.”
She said the Queen’s Award, created in 2002 to mark the Golden Jubilee, was the highest honour and recognition the monarch could bestow on volunteer groups in the UK.
Five charities in Bedfordshire, including three in Luton, have won the Queen’s Award. They are NOAH, Youthscape and the Bangladesh Youth League.
> For more information visit www.noahenterprise.org