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Devon charity to receive the highest award for voluntary work during the pandemic

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A Devon charity is to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services, for outstanding work throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Westbank Neighbourhood Friends in Exeter help to keep vulnerable or frail adults out of hospital, or to have shorter hospital stays. They match volunteers with people who need assistance, so that they’re able to get out of hospital and back home as soon as possible.

During the pandemic, their volunteers provided support to over 2,030 patients across the Exeter, East and Mid Devon area.

“Our dedicated team of volunteers rose to the challenge,” said Nina Parnell, Westbank Head of Volunteering and Community Support.

“As always, they answered the call quickly.  They moved beds to make way for hospital beds and equipment at home; they installed key safes so that carers could gain access; and they provided company and warm drink to patients following a stay in hospital.

“They did all this while the country was in lockdown, and at no point ever questioned why they wouldn’t help.”

It meant in some cases that people didn’t need to go into hospital, and for others, they were able to get home sooner because they’d had help from the volunteers to get things ready for their return.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award for voluntary groups in the UK.  Westbank Neighbourhood Friends will receive the award and certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, David Fursdon, later this summer.  And two of the Neighbourhood Friends volunteers plan to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace next year.

“We are incredibly proud that our Neighbourhood Friends project has been recognised with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service, and pay tribute to the dedication, hard work and commitment of our truly deserving team of volunteers.”

More information on the recipients and the Award can be found online.