Berkhamsted charity Sunnyside Rural Trust awarded The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2021

The award aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 5:56 am
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 8:55 am

A charity in Berkhamsted that offers work experience for vulnerable adults has been honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service with special recognition for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sunnyside Rural Trust is a charity and social enterprise working with adults with learning disabilities through horticultural activities in Berkhamsted, Northchurch and Hemel Hempstead.

Sunnyside provides meaningful and enjoyable work opportunities for learning specific skills that enable young people and adults with learning disabilities to achieve greater independence and employment.

Sunnyside Rural Trust receives The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2021

It aims to offer paid, supported employment posts to people with learning disabilities and currently has six former service users in paid positions with Sunnyside - including caretakers, head of animal care, a barista and gardeners.

Sunnyside challenges the public’s perception of people with learning disabilities by focussing on what they achieve rather than on their ‘disability’.

Trainees, at Sunnyside are enabled to gain horticultural skills and, more significantly, to develop valuable social skills.

A spokesperson for Sunnyside Rural Trust said: "We are delighted to announce we’ve been awarded for The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2021 The equivalent of an MBE for charities.

Sunnyside Rural Trust

"So it’s a massive thank you to all our volunteers who work with us and our 150 trainees at our three sites.

"The Queen’s Award represents a tremendous achievement for our charity and we are all immensely proud to receive it - the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK."

Working within new safety protocols over the last year, staff and volunteers have continued to work with trainees throughout the pandemic.

In a typical week they have 150 trainees supported by a paid team, and 37 volunteers, providing some 200 hours of work, across the three Sunnyside sites.

Volunteers support the vital work by supporting trainees to undertake hands-on horticulture, work with the animals and do other practical tasks; volunteers often lead a team of trainees.

Others are involved in marketing, fundraising and administration, working in one of the farm shops or off-site market stalls, helping make jams and preserves or craft making. Some also drive a minibus to transport trainees or assist the driver to support trainees.

The day-to-day operation of the charity depends so much on the hard work and commitment of the volunteers, as they contribute so much and undertake tasks that mean the charity can offer a great service.

Keely Siddiqui Charlick, CEO at Sunnyside Rural Trust, said: "We all feel very proud of this significant achievement and well-deserved recognition for the tireless efforts of every trainee, volunteer and team member.

"We look forward to helping our community grow in the years to come."

Sunnyside is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

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 June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

Representatives of Sunnyside will receive the award crystal and certificate from Robert Voss CBE CStJ, Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, later in July.

Two volunteers from Sunnyside 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.