Neighbourhood Care Scheme receive prestigious Queen’s Award for volunteering

A service run by Impetus, the Brighton and Hove charity dedicated to providing befriending, advocacy and support services to vulnerable adults, has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The award has been presented to the charity for their work in the city enabling people to befriend and support their isolated older and disabled neighbours through their Neighbourhood Care Scheme (NCS).

The NCS works with a team of over 240 volunteers who give around 10,500 hours of their time a year to support more than 280 vulnerable adults who are dealing with loneliness and isolation because of age, disability or poor mental or physical health. In 2015 Impetus hit an all-time record number of new volunteers signing up to its Neighbourhood Care Scheme which is the largest befriending network in Brighton & Hove and one of the largest in the country.

Sean de Podesta, NCS Manager, and Sheila Wood a volunteer from the care scheme at Buckingham Palace
Sean de Podesta, NCS Manager, and Sheila Wood a volunteer from the care scheme at Buckingham Palace

Sean de Podesta, NCS Manager, and Sheila Wood a volunteer from the care scheme attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, 19 May where they met the Queen and other winners of this year’s award.

Jo Ivens, CEO of Brighton & Hove Impetus, said: “We’re delighted to be recognised with such a prestigious award. It’s testament to the incredible work our volunteers carry out across the city. Everyone involved with the charity gives their time, energy and expertise so generously, and we all feel enormously proud that the work of our organisation and particularly our volunteers has been given this honour. It’s a tremendous achievement for the Neighbourhood Care Scheme and Impetus as a whole and it was wonderful that one of our long-standing volunteers could attend the Royal Garden Party!”

Impetus’ Neighbourhood Care Scheme is one of 193 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The NCS was selected for the award by an independent Assessment Committee, chaired by Sir Martyn Lewis CBE, and the group will receive a signed certificate from Her Majesty The Queen presented in Brighton & Hove by HM Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex – Peter Field.

Jo added: “There are 35,692 people over 65 in Brighton and Hove, and 41% of these live on their own. BBC Sussex recently did a survey of 400 local people from a range of age groups, 70% said they’d experienced loneliness in the last 12 months. Referrals to the Neighbourhood Care Scheme have been rising year on year, so we know that our work is more needed than ever.

It costs £8.90 per person, per week, to deliver our befriending services in the City. This provides vetted and trained volunteers making weekly visits, phone calls, our newsletter and on-going support from our staff team. We need to raise £20,000 this year to help us meet the increasing demand for befriending in Brighton & Hove. To donate or volunteer please go to www.bh-impetus.org.”