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Volunteer Groups Recognised by The Queen

Foodbank PLUS a project run by Barnabas Church in Shrewsbury has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2020. This is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise the outstanding work done in their own communities; the award is the equivalent of an MBE.

On hearing the news Martin Charlesworth (Chair of Directors of Barnabas Community Projects) said “I am really thrilled that the Foodbank PLUS team has received this prestigious national award. It is well deserved. The volunteer team is outstanding in it commitment and this enables Foodbank PLUS to provide a remarkable series of initiatives to support and empower a wide range of people in our community. Well done!

Foodbank PLUS has been developed over the past five years and is led on the ground by Karen Williams who is currently employed four days a week to head this initiative. This is the only Foodbank in Shrewsbury which has been running for over 20 years and there is also an outlet at Hope Church (North Shrewsbury). Runnning alongside the food bank for many years has been a debt advice centre - linked to CMA. In addition to these two projects the Barnabas Community Projects initiative has developed a range of life skills courses which they call “360”. They are designed to help people lacking life skills, IT skills, confidence, social skills etc. These projects (food bank, debt advice and life skills) have over the past five years been integrated into Foodbank PLUS.

This concept recently came to the attention of the Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire who helps to support another food bank in the area. She has visited Foodbank PLUS. The project was recommended to her for the award by a local councillor who has an ongoing relationship with Barnabas Church. There is a very rigorous evaluation process involving interviews and forms.

Karen Williams (Project Leader), said: "Someone might use the food bank but might need a job so we will help them get a job, they might need to use the food bank but not know how to cook, we would teach them how to cook. We have an amazing team and we could not do it without the volunteers who give 10,000 hours every year."

The councillor who nomianted the initiative said: “I was pleased to put Foodbank PLUS forward for this award, and am absolutely delighted to learn that they have received it. As a local councillor, I have worked with the Foodbank for seven years, and so know what a real difference the team makes to local people‘s lives, not just immediate help with food, but also through the other projects which help turn lives around. Every client is treated with respect, kindness and empathy by the wonderful team of volunteers. Also, two recent challenges - the floods and the Corona pandemic - have shown how resilient and adaptable the team are, in keeping the service going despite everything. The volunteers really do deserve this recognition."

Foodbank PLUS is the umbrella for the delivery of a range of individual initiatives; Shrewsbury Food Bank, Barnabas Money Advice and 360 Platform for Life, which incorporates a range of services supporting people on their journey back to work and health. Historically food banks have been seen as a short term fix but with these initiatives working together it means the team can help people become more resilient for the longer term. The aim is to help people out of crisis and poverty, whether that’s resources, relational or identity and empower people who access the support. The team want to enable all those accessing support to make confident decisions and responses to future challenges they may face.

"Huge congratulations for receiving this award. It marks the wonderful, ongoing, committed service to our local community demonstrated by the volunteers of Foodbank PLUS. Every blessing to you and the whole team." Terry Hotchkiss - Pastor Barnabas Community Church

"Thrilled for Foodbank PLUS to be getting such recognition for all the amazing help provided for those who really need it. It helps remind us that ALL of the clients are real people with real lives, with real struggles in absolute need of real help.” Helen Hotchkiss - Pastoral Coordinator - Barnabas Community Church

You can find out more about Barnabas Community Projects by visiting their website: 

More information
You can find out more about the award on the official website:

News Reports
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