Award from Queen gives ‘bolt of extra passion’ to volunteer group in Manchester

An ‘overjoyed’ group of volunteers in Manchester have received a prestigious award from the Queen for their outstanding services to the community.

The volunteers, from the World Mission Society Church of God in Old Trafford, were given the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service which is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK

They aim to spread the ‘mother love’ by making people feel special in the community and have carried out various projects such as visiting care homes, implementing clean-up campaigns and co-ordinating disaster relief.

Volunteer Coordinator, Anna McNichol, 28, said that the group were ‘joyful and thankful’ at the news and they felt ‘touched to be even nominated’.

She told MM: “Receiving such a highly esteemed award has really put a bolt of extra passion in the volunteers.

“It encourages them a lot more. They feel very excited and at the moment there’s a great buzz between everybody.”

Since 2009 the group has grown and now there are around 250 members from many different backgrounds.

They started by doing care home performances, travelling throughout Manchester going to different homes and doing lively energetic shows with professional musicians.

“We started with just a few people at first and they found there needed to be more of a community spirit to be shared, to get people together once again and to help one another,” Ms McNichol said.

“The care home work is to let people in care homes know that they’re not forgotten because they are the background of our country so we want to spread mother’s love to them.

“And then with the clean-up campaigns, which is vital for cleaning up the streets, we work with different councillors around Manchester to know where the best places are, and we clean up our local area as well.

“Then we wanted to spread out to help out in other areas apart from Manchester. We’ve done disaster relief. We’ve gone to places like Oxford for when there was the flooding.

“Everything we do is to help as much as we can, if anyone needs a helping hand we want to help. And that’s how it’s built up.

“A lot of people want to help so we let them know how they can help their community. Even the students who’ve come to Manchester and are not originally from Manchester but want to help – always with the willing heart to help spread the love of mother.”

When the hard-working group found out the good news, Ms McNichol said they were excited – and surprised.

She said: “We’ve received previous awards before in Manchester but to have received an award from the Queen is amazing.

“We do the work not to receive rewards or awards for what we do, but it does encourage people, of course, when they are rewarded for their work.”

The group is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the recognition this year.

Michael King and Kim Joo-cheol from the World Mission Society of God attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on 24 May where they met the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.

Ms McNichol said they told her it was a wonderful experience to be able to go to Buckingham Palace.

The number of awards given to groups this year is slightly higher than before, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to tackle community challenges.

Sir Martyn Lewis Committee Chair for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service congratulated the groups and said: “The thousands of volunteers who give up spare time to help others in their community and to help solve problems demonstrate the very best of democracy in action.”

Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson MP, also congratulated the groups and said that he hopes they continue to inspire others to get involved and make a positive impact to continue building a more compassionate society.

He said: “The huge amount of work and commitment these organisations put into their local communities is surpassed only by the passion and motivation of the individuals who volunteer.”

Ms Nichol invites anyone who wants to volunteer to feel free to join them – or any voluntary group in their area.

“Every community group does a fantastic job and they are vital for our community volunteers, for anybody, even if you do a just little bit of help for just one person,” she said.

“If you help spread community spirit or love, even just a small bit, it actually has a great effect – a bigger effect than you think it does.”

The World Mission Society Church of God will receive their award from the Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester later this summer.

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