The Proud Trust, a specialist LGBT+ charity for young people based in Manchester, has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The charity has been fittingly announced as an award recipient during National Volunteers Week, which takes place during the first week of June in 2021.
Offering regular youth groups and a huge range of support services in the North West and beyond, The Proud Trust is the UK’s largest LGBT+ charity for young people. It relies heavily on the support of volunteers who can assist the charity in anything from youth work to mentorship.
Such has been the demand for The Proud Trust’s services over the past twelve months, with the support of volunteers, it has recently extended its offering by launching a new digital help service, Proud Connections. This one-to-one web chat is operated by The Proud Trust’s Youth Workers. It sits alongside a hub of resources packed full of information on all aspects of LGBT+ lives and identities, including coming out, exploring identity, staying safe and faith and religion. Visit www.theproudtrust.org/proud-connections
Proud Connections is run with the full support of volunteers who provide ongoing mentorship to young people who might require support after accessing the webchat, as well as offering advice and boosting young people’s confidence to attend other Proud Trust services where needed.
Ashley Hind, Help Services Manager at The Proud Trust said:
“Whether helping out on a short-term project, mentoring, providing support at longer standing groups or overseeing the work of The Proud Trust as a trustee, volunteers make up the backbone of our charity work. We simply couldn’t exist without them.
“We’re extremely proud to have received this prestigious award. It really is a fitting recognition for all those who have provided voluntary service to us, helping us through a particularly difficult year, where the demand for our services has grown to a level not seen since the Proud Trust was set up almost two decades ago.”
Another volunteer-led service from The Proud Trust is its mentor scheme, which is set to grow exponentially during 2021, as visitors to Proud Connections are signposted to the service. Velma is a mentor who has helped to shape the mentor programme over the past two years, they said:
"Working with The Proud Trust to help create the mentoring programme has had such a positive impact upon me. I had the opportunity to work with like-minded adults who wanted to support The Proud Trust and the LGBT+ community of young people. As our group helped develop what the programme would be, I could not wait to get started in mentoring The Proud Trust's young people. Working with young people as a volunteer mentor, I can see first-hand how vital our connections are with them especially over this past year. Mentoring has become virtual and expanded the reach to young people at The Proud Trust."
Mark, another mentor for The Proud Trust added,
“From my experience of growing up gay, I'm well acquainted with the feelings of isolation, fear and shame that it brought me. The opportunity to become a mentor at The Proud Trust and be the adult that my younger self could have really done with, is amazing. It’s clear to see the transformative impact we can have on young people's lives from something as simple as a weekly chat.”
Find out more about volunteering at The Proud Trust here
The Proud Trust is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteer groups from across the UK, including an inclusive tennis club in Lincolnshire; a children’s bereavement charity in London; a support group those living with dementia and their carers in North Yorkshire; a volunteer minibus service in Cumbria; a group supporting young people in Belfast; a community radio station in Inverness and a mountain rescue team in Powys.
Representatives of The Proud Trust will receive the award crystal and certificate from Sir Warren James Smith Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from The Proud Trust will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s Award.