A CHARITY originally set up in Barnsley by ex-military volunteers to help homeless veterans has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for voluntary service.
The Help 4 Homeless Veterans charity began in Royston in 2010 after ex-soldier, Tom Wood, wanted to help ex-servicemen and women who happened to find themselves homeless for a variety of reasons.
Two years later, the group became a registered charity in England and Wales, and started to help those who needed it where they could.
The current chief executive, Steve Bentham-Bates, told the Chronicle: “Our aim hasn’t changed from when the group started ten years ago - we just want to help as many homeless veterans as we possibly can.
“In our ten years we’ve been helping on average 50 people every year, but these numbers are on the increase as last year we helped 85 people, and so far this month we’ve managed to help support nine people.
“We help supply them with some rent or a deposit for a flat, and sometimes we even get them the essentials like beds and furniture and things like that.”
Due to the current lockdown restrictions set in place by the government, the charity has struggled to keep their fundraising attempts up - though due to the efforts by Steve and the rest of the volunteers previously, the charity is in good stead to keep helping people despite the ongoing pandemic.
“If I’m being honest I’d have to say that fundraising has virtually ground to a halt at the minute,” he added.
“Fortunately we had quite a good few months around Christmas in regards to grants and fundraising attempts so we’re currently solid for cash - but it doesn’t last forever.
“We’re hoping we get the go-ahead from the Prime Minister regarding lockdown restrictions being lifted so we’re able to get back into the work that we do as soon as possible.”
The charity received the Duke of York community initiative back in 2018, but the Queen’s Award is certainly the pick of the bunch according to Steve.
It’s the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK, equivalent to an MBE, and the charity is one of only two recipients in the whole of South Yorkshire.
Representatives from the Help 4 Homeless Veterans charity will receive the award from Andrew Coombe, Lord Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, later this summer, and two volunteers will also attend garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021.
“This is the best award that any charity can receive and to be one of only two in South Yorkshire is fantastic,” Steve added.
“To be identified for such a prestigious award like this is a real feather in our cap.
“We are a small but highly effective charity specialising in helping homeless ex-service personnel our work has been recognised by other awards but this one makes us all so proud of our work, it pays tribute to all the hard work and commitment of our team of volunteers over a number of years.”