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Mayor welcomes borough volunteers with Royal Honour

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The Mayor of Dudley welcomed two volunteer organisations, which have received Royal commendations, to the Council House Parlour today.

Volunteers from Halesowen and Dudley Yemeni Community Association and Hawbush Community Gardens have received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for their work.

The Mayor of Dudley Councillor Sue Greenaway said:

It’s been a great joy to welcome these outstanding volunteers today and to hear more about the fantastic work they undertake.
Our borough is full of kind-hearted and community focused citizens and it’s great to find out how these two projects are making such a difference to people’s lives.

The Halesowen/Dudley Yemeni Community Association fulfils an important role in supporting the Yemeni community across the Halesowen and Dudley areas. Volunteers offer Arabic-speaking services to Arabic speaking refugees and asylum-seekers from Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

People using the centre are offered advice and guidance and there are good links with services locally to help people gain access to much needed support. The facility also provides cultural activities and educational classes, as well as excursions and acts as a meeting point for groups to socialise.

Marwan Bakaili, Chairman of the association, said:

We have a team of incredibly dedicated and hard-working volunteers and are honoured and humbled to have been selected for the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The association has grown each year, providing a wide area of services and activities covering education, health, employment and recreation to meet the increasing demands of the local community.

The Queen’s award is a recognition and a testament to the incredible hard work of our volunteers who are the solid foundation of our organisation.

Meeting the Mayor today and sharing about the work we undertake was an immense privilege and we look forward to continuing to work with Dudley Council in the future.

The Mayor also met award winners from Hawbush Community Gardens. Based in Brierley Hill, the project has worked with the local community to transform a four-acre piece of overgrown scrub land into a vibrant community hub that is home to many local projects.

Volunteers have made the space a focus for many local regeneration and arts projects and classes in growing fruit and vegetables, horticulture, woodwork, social art and forest crafts are offered to people with mental and anxiety issues.

Dr Ken Smith, Chair of Trustees and Site Manager at Hawbush, said:

I think I speak for all of the volunteers in saying that it has been a privilege and a pleasure to be involved in this beautiful site and the people we support. What started out as a plan to grow fresh fruit and vegetables for the foodbank has become so much more. We now provide social gardening and woodland space for people who need emotional, physical and spiritual support.
The work has been challenging and difficult, at times, so it was a wonderful surprise to be considered for the Queens Award and a real encouragement for us now to receive the award. It is our heartfelt desire, our dream that Hawbush Community Gardens continues to be a wonderful asset for the community many years from now; well after we ourselves have moved on or passed away.

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