The volunteers from Charis Cancer Care and Friends of Charis have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
Charis Cancer Care is a charity located on the outskirts of Cookstown which was established to support people who are affected by cancer, their family members and families who have been bereaved through cancer. Friends of Charis is a charity shop in Magherafelt that supports Charis.
Representatives from Charis Cancer Care and Friends of Charis attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other recipients of this year’s award.
Charis Cancer Care is one of 281 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.
The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
Centre Director Imelda McGucken, MBE, said: “It’s absolutely amazing that our volunteers have been acknowledged for their contributions. Charis Cancer Care is a charity which supports people affected by cancer, their families and supporters at every stage of the journey, and any family member bereaved by cancer.
“Moving forward after treatment can feel like a huge mountain to climb, and Charis Cancer Care aims to empower more men and women to live life with confidence.
“This award means a lot to all our staff and volunteers in the Friends of Charis charity shop and Charis House.”
Charis Cancer Care volunteer Jacqueline Bell added: “This service is invaluable to the local community. Many people have been touched by cancer and without a place like Charis to provide care and support, their journey would be so much more difficult.
“My husband has cancer and I found that I needed support. Charis provided that haven of calm.
“From the warm welcome as soon as you enter the centre, to the counselling and the services available, Charis really makes a difference. Choosing to become a volunteer is my way of saying thank you.”
Almost 8,000 people have accessed Charis Cancer Care to date and, on average, there are 120 centre users per month.
The charity is planning an extension to its current footprint at Lough Fea, as it aims to offer greater numbers of cancer patients and those impacted by cancer, counselling, complementary support and therapies.
The new facility will provide two new treatment rooms for the delivery of complementary therapies by trained practitioners and an additional seminar room for group activities.
An independent charity, Charis does not receive government funding and relies exclusively on support from the local community and businesses to raise funds. The annual running costs for the centre are currently in the region of £350,000.
n Should you wish to use the services or make a donation to Charis to support cancer patients, their families and those bereaved with cancer, please contact the centre on 028 8676 9217 or Director of Fundraising Veronica Morris on 028 8676 9217 or 07738 492541 or email firstname.lastname@example.org