The Durham Police and Crime Commissioners scheme Community Peer Mentors, were presented with their Queens Award in a ceremony held at St Peters Chapel in Auckland Castle.
The event, which was held on Thursday 8th September, was attended by over 40 of their 100+ volunteers. The ceremony enjoyed speeches from Commissioner Joy Allen, Lord Lieutenant Susan Snowdon and Community Peer Mentor Manager Jim Cunningham, before the awards being presented by The Lord Lieutenant. The occasion was made event more poignant due to the sad passing of Her Majesty the Queen later that same day.
The Community Peer Mentors were the initiative of the previous Police, Crime and Victims’Commissioner the late Ron Hogg CBE in 2015; however, funding continues under Joy Allen’s leadership as the Durham Police and Crime Commissioner and the scheme has grown exponentially.
Commissioner Joy Allen said “I am so proud of how much the scheme has progressed. It has gone from strength to strength in recent years and this is a fitting accolade for the monumental achievements it has made. I hope that the Community Peer Mentors will continue to provide wrap around support for so many members of our community in the future.”
Community Peer Mentors work to provide a voice for the unheard by empowering change and reducing the vulnerability of victims, survivors, perpetrators, prison leavers and someone who is simply neglected by society.
The Community Peer Mentors have supported nearly 3000 people across Darlington and County Durham since 2016 with the amazing volunteers providing over 184,000 days of support and helped towards an 81% reduction in contact with services, including reduced offending and hospital admissions. This has included an assisted reintegration back into society, by returning to employment and education. For many people in crisis this has been a lifeline and without this support they would have taken their own lives.
Community Peer Mentors manager, Jim Cunningham said “The fact is sadly clients will always be there to receive help from us but it takes volunteers who give up their time and their space to take others forward and give them the options of how they can change their lives. We are delighted to receive this award and for all of the volunteers to be recognised for their tireless work for many across our community. It is such an amazing honour, one that I never imagined we would receive when embarking on this journey. The occasion was marked even more significant later that day when we found out the terrible news about our Queen. It feels such a privilege that we were able to be one of the final projects to receive this award from her and it will be something that I personally will hold very close to my heart.”
The Queens Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award that can be given to volunteer groups across the UK. It is an extremely prestigious award in line with that of an MBE. The award was created in 2002 for the Queens Jubilee and every year since the fantastic work of voluntary organisations has been highlighted with this notable achievement. To be considered the charity needs to show that they have made a big difference to their local community, be ran by volunteers and demonstrate the highest levels of care in everything they do.
Lord Lieutenant Susan Snowdon said “This valuable work being carried out reduces the client’s vulnerability and empowers change which has a profound and positive impact on their lives. Turning lives around is what these people do each and every day.This award is not lightly given or easily gained. It recognises hard work and vision, commitment and dedication. Its hardly surprising it is recognised as a hallmark for excellence.”
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Jim Cunningham at CommunityPeerMentors@durham-pcc.gov.uk
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