A ‘VITAL’ community centre has been honoured with the equivalent of an MBE.
The Benn Partnership Centre (BPC) has won a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services – the highest award a UK voluntary group can receive.
The Railway Terrace centre delivers services with a focus on getting people back into work, and hosts a range of community classes.
Volunteers Sonia Johns and Keith Ranu attended a garden party for recipients of the award at Buckingham Palace.
Sonia, also the chair person of the BPC, said: “It is a great honour and privilege to be part of the community centre and to have its work recognised.
“I would like to thank everybody involved in our centre – the funders, sponsors, staff, volunteers, and each person who uses the services – who have helped make the centre what it is today.
“The award is an amazing tribute to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our volunteers. Without them this award would never have been possible.”
The BPC’s many volunteers were thanked at a special Royal Afternoon Tea Party at the centre, where they were presented with a certificate and a letter of thanks.
BPC deputy manager Rob Higgs said the centre helped him recover from a period of unemployment.
“After being ill, I was off work for two years,” he said. “I volunteered for two years in the IT room at the centre which got me back on my feet, then I applied for the role of deputy manager when it came up. The centre made me employable again.
“This award means we’re doing a good job for the people of Rugby who are struggling to find help elsewhere. The volunteers carry out the activities here and we wouldn’t be able to carry on without them.”
The centre fulfils needs outlined by Warwickshire County Council (WCC).
WCC customers spokeswoman Coun Kam Kaur said: “Warwickshire County Council is committed to supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities. We receive tremendous support from the voluntary sector in doing this so it’s a pleasure to see the Benn Partnership Centre handed this fantastic award.
“The centre supports local residents and people from across the world who have settled in Rugby with employment issues, integration into the local community and English lessons.
“The Benn Partnership Centre is a vital resource within Rugby, run by dedicated volunteers, which is reflected in this award.”
Representatives from the BPC will receive the award from Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire Timothy Cox later this summer.