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Volunteers celebrate across Black Country after King's Award honour

Wrestlers, blood bikers, community champions and care supporters are among those celebrating after receiving a royal honour.

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The Parent & Carers Support Group in Willenhall celebrate receiving the King's Award. Pictured front left, Debra Jones, Julieth Abrahams, Alison Fisher and Inara Joesbury with volunteers.

The first set of organisations from the region to receive the King's Award for Voluntary Service (KAVS) have been named by the West Midlands Lieutenancy, with 10 groups from the Black Country among those named.

The KAVS is the only honour given to groups of volunteers to recognise the significant contribution they make to their community and these are the first to be named by the King since his coronation, as part of his birthday on November 14.

The organisations named from the Black Country are the Parent & Carer Support Group, Wolverhampton Alz Café, Wolverhampton Samaritans and Wolverhampton Wrestling Club from Wolverhampton, Cresswell Wanderers and Midland Freewheelers - Blood Bikes from Walsall, Cape Community Care Day Centre, New Beginnings Community and Student Voice from Sandwell and Champions Community Trust from Dudley.

The Lord-Lieutenant for the West Midlands, Sir John Crabtree OBE, said he was delighted with the wide range of support and help provided by the groups gaining a KAVS this year.

He said: “It is terrific to discover how many groups in this region go beyond what’s expected to provide so much help to others.

"The organisations this year have excelled in offering services to others that simply would not exist if it weren’t for the volunteers who are passionate about making a difference to so many lives.

“There is a tremendous amount of kindness and caring for vulnerable people, whether it be for those with mental health issues, many dealing with grief or in need in crisis situations or just simply wanting to be with people to connect over a coffee.

"Quite a number of the volunteers have benefited from help in the past and now want to help others in the same way they were helped, which is wonderful.

“I look forward to meeting each one when we hold our Celebration event at the Hippodrome on Sunday, April 14, next year."

Here is a more detailed look at each group from the region:


Parent & Carers Support Group

The Parent & Carers Support Group in Willenhall celebrate receiving the King's Award. Pictured front left, Debra Jones, Julieth Abrahams, Alison Fisher and Inara Joesbury with volunteers.

The Parent & Carers Support Group offers a lifeline to families, some of whom are providing round the clock support to children, to help navigate the national and local services that can help ease their situation and benefit their mental health.

Their support for over 800 families has been life-changing for people who are helped with support for caring, education and coping on many levels.

Many volunteers have experienced challenges themselves and are able to go on to help and pass on support that they so much appreciated.

Founder and chair Alison Fisher spoke about the work the group does and said it was an honour to be given the award.

She said: "We support members from seven local authority areas in Walsall, Wolverhampton, Sandwell, Dudley, Birmingham, South Staffs and Tamworth.

"Our committee have volunteered for five-and-a-half years, supporting SEN parents and their families.

"We are all SEN parents ourselve, of either children and young adults with special educational needs and disabilities.

"We have been running meetings for the last couple years and are now running nine different venues a month from this week, across the region so that we can reach as many members and families as possible.

"Everyone is a volunteer and we survived lockdown, had 50 members before lockdown and now have just under 300 families registered, so it has grown so much.

"Our hard work has paid off and somebody has recognised how well we have done to win this award."

Wolverhampton Alz Café

Wolverhampton Alz Cafe provides emotional support and opportunities to socialise, have fun and make new friends

Wolverhampton Alz Café is a bi-monthly gathering where people with memory difficulties, their families and friends, can be together in a safe, welcoming environment.

In the company of others in the same situation, with support from volunteers, the Alz Café aims to provide emotional support and opportunities to socialise, have fun and make new friends

Coffee mornings typically offer the opportunity to chat over a cuppa with a choice of cakes, biscuits and sandwiches and the group said it aims to invite someone from a local service to chat informally and individually to guests.

Evening Cafés start with an informal chat with others over a hot or cold drink, then time to enjoy live music and entertainment and even to dance, while supper is always provided and includes fish and chips, a buffet, hot pork baps and various hot meals.

Both events are ideal times to get to know others in the same situation and share experiences, including the opportunity to talk informally to the helpers at the café.

Volunteers of Wolverhampton Alz Café will receive the award crystal and certificate from Sir John Crabtree, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands next year.

In addition, two volunteers from Alz Café will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May and June 2024, along with other recipients of this year’s awards.

Group leader Julie Grainger said: “It is truly wonderful that the hard work, commitment and love our amazing volunteers put in to Alz Café has been recognised in this way.”

Wolverhampton Samaritans

Jenna Wilkins from Wolverhampton Samaritans celebrates the announcement that they have received the Kings Award for Voluntary Service for their selfless work helping others in need

Since Wolverhampton Samaritans was established in 1965, the volunteers have saved many families from the heartbreak of losing a loved one.

Being a volunteer is a major commitment, with a minimum time commitment of 12 hours a month, yet many volunteers have been with the charity for more than 50 years.

As well as helping people in distress, they support families whose loved one has committed suicide, go out into the community to promote what they do and talk to men from the Wolverhampton Wanderers’ group to help with mental health.