A charity which helps to combat homelessness received a royal visit by HRH Princess Alexandra – as its volunteers were presented an award from the Queen.
Hospitality and Hope, based at the former Hampden Street Day Centre, in South Shields, received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service from the Princess yesterday.
The award is the highest which can be given to volunteer groups and Hope and Hospitality – which helps people through its foodbank, soup kitchen and a newly-opened cafe – was the only recipient of the award in Tyne and Wear.
The award aims to honour the charity’s 65 volunteers for their achievement in helping to run the operations across the borough.
David Chapman, patron and trustee of the charity, said it was an honour to receive the award.
He said: “It has been an amazing year for the charity.
“Today is totally about the volunteers, it is fantastic to have Princess Alexandra here to present the award and it really means a lot.
“We have 65 volunteers of all ages and we have had huge support from the community. “Everybody from the supermarkets to Greggs have supplied us with food and we also get donationa from schools, churches and businesses.”
Hospitality and Hope was founded in 2002 and has for the past 15 years relied almost exclusively on its volunteers.
Since January 2016 the charity has had two part time members of staff with a further full time appointments made in March this year.
Recently the charity received a £33,800 grant by the Virgin Money Foundation which helped it purchase a building opposite Chichester Metro station in South Shields to open a cafe called Chai Cafe.
This will allow the charity to generate income and provide training for people it is helping to get back on their feet.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck was delighted the charity had received the award. She said: “I have worked with Hospitality and Hope from inception and I have seen it grow from having just a small room in the community centre to having this place.
“Thank God places like this exist to plug the gap left by the state. There would be a lot of hungry people without it.”
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Olive Punchion, hosted a reception in the Town Hall for the charity’s volunteers last night.