Blackburn Youth Zone is to receive a coveted ‘Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service’, it has been announced today (Tuesday, 2nd June 2021). The Award is ‘highest award given to local volunteer groups across the UK’, to quote from the official website for the award.
Blackburn Youth Zone (BYZ) a 21st century youth hub located at the heart of the town. Since opening in 2012, BYZ has played a vital role in supporting young people and the community, supporting over 15,000 young people. The charity was established to inspire and enable all young people to realise their potential to be happy, responsible and caring citizens. Supporting young people aged 5 to 19 (up to 21 with disabilities) to succeed in life by providing activities fully accessible for free, 7 days per week, in one central place. Providing activities for 1,000 young people a week, covering art, music, sports, multimedia, emotional health and wellbeing sessions, mentoring, employability support, community outreach, healthy eating and much more, depending and responding to the emerging needs of the young people we support.
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 the 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation. This prestigious honour recognises the exceptional contributions made to local communities by groups voluntarily devoting their time for the benefit of others.
Hannah Allen, Blackburn Youth Zone CEO said:
“Winning such a prestigious award is a huge honour and a testament and recognition of the great work achieved by our team, including many volunteers, supporting our members, children and young people across Blackburn with Darwen. Although the Covid pandemic meant that we had to adapt and deliver in different ways, BYZ remained there for young people; through online activities, welfare calls and outreach activities, launching projects to support some of our most vulnerable families.
Without the support of our incredible volunteers we would not have been able to provide the level of support we have done. Our Volunteers are amazing— so selfless, encouraging, positive and, even after all the difficult Covid set-backs, they rose above it all. I am incredibly proud and thankful to lead the team at Blackburn Youth Zone who continue to inspire me every day; raising aspirations and changing young lives across the town.”
Shru Morris, Chief Executive, Napthens said,
“It was fantastic to volunteer with colleagues and support the team at Blackburn Youth Zone. Napthens have been proud patrons for six years, although 2020 was a challenge we are proud to have remained strong and supported our community. Having the opportunity to volunteer and witness the direct impact of Blackburn Youth Zone is one of the most rewarding ways we can give back.”
Jack Straw, Chairman of Blackburn Youth Zone said,
“The Queen’s Award is simply fantastic news. It’s given everyone a real skip in their stride.
Above all, this Award is for the young people of the Borough, our members. What I have missed more than anything during forced exile of the pandemic is to walk into the Youth Zone and to hear and feel the buzz of our young members, making every use they can of the wonderful opportunities we endeavour to provide. It is also a tribute to the vision of our founder, Andrew Graham MBE, (and CEO of the major local business, Graham & Brown) back in 2007, and who remains very active in the work of the Youth Zone as its Vice-Chair.”
Representatives of Blackburn Youth Zone will receive the award crystal and certificate from The Lord Shuttleworth KG KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of Lancashire later this summer. Furthermore two volunteers from the Youth Zone will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.