Hundreds of people joined Signposts at a special event in Luton where they were presented with The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
The charity provides temporary accommodation to people who are homeless and have been recognised for the efforts of their clients who volunteer in Bedfordshire, the award is the highest award a voluntary group can be bestowed with in the UK.
The Queens Award for Voluntary Service was presented to Carole Vanschagen, Chair of Trustees, and Kevin Porter, CEO, from Signposts by Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, on Tuesday, July 16, in St Georges Square, Luton.
Over 200 people, including representatives from the charity’s partners that volunteer and the Signposts Team SP attended the presentation. The network of partnerships serves schools, businesses, faith groups, our local authorities and members of the public who work together so all can have a cleaner, safer, town, with volunteers and partners enjoying a sense of achievement and civic pride.
The Bishop of Bedford, The Rt Revd Richard Atkinson gave a blessing to start the event and there were also speeches from Tim Archbold, Signposts’ Director of Operations, and Phyl Rainey, Head of Community Partnerships and Innovation, and an inspiring poem performed by the children of Chantry Primary Academy about volunteering.
Meryl Dolling The High Sheriff of Bedfordshire spoke about the long relationship between Signposts and the Office of High Sheriff and Robin Porter CEO at Luton Council talked about the great work undertaken by local charities in our towns.
A play titled ‘My Kingdom, My Castle’ was performed. ‘My Kingdom, My Castle’ was written by David Lloyd of Next Generation Youth Theatre (NGYT) and is directed by Laura Lloyd of NGYT.
The play captured the inspiring stories of people who have lived at Signposts and showcases their talents and hopes for the future while at the same time aiming to challenge the stereo type of homelessness.
Finally the highlight of the event with a wonderful speech by The Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis, and the presentation of the award firstly to Carole Vanschagen and Kevin Porter after which Phyl Rainey invited the Cllr Tahir Malik (Mayor of Luton) and Cllr Sid Abbott (Mayor of Dunstable) to the stage.
Since its inception in 2010 Team SP has spent over 25,000 hours volunteering at events in Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, including the Love Luton Half Marathon, People Power Passion, Zee Mela, Houghton Regis May Fair, High Town Festival, Dunstable Town Council Big Lunch and The Great British Spring Clean.
Phyl Rainey said: “I am truly delighted that the work of Signposts has been recognised by HRH Queen.
“The volunteers of Team SP who are people that are homeless from Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis are dedicated and have committed themselves to continue to work towards making Luton, Dunstable and Houghton Regis a better place.
“At Signposts we are passionate about challenging the stigma and stereotypes around homelessness and this prestigious award recognises the great achievements of each and every individual person.”
Signposts has thanked the talented performers Elizabeth Chapman (Signposts Apprentice), Dave Townley (Volunteer and Luton’s Most Outstanding Citizen 2017), Carl Connelly and Hannah Kelly (local actors and members of the NGYT family) for their incredible performances at the celebration event.
Phyl thanked the two mayors for their ongoing friendship and support to Signposts and presented them with a commemorative Signposts Queen’s Award Badge.