Community groups from Leeds are honoured with The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

A charity in Harehills which works with young people growing up in poverty has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

CATCH is one of four groups in Leeds that have been handed the accolade in a list revealed today.

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 and recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

Community Action To Create Hope (CATCH), was founded in 2010 by passionate volunteers to make the city a healthier, safer and more united place, particularly for young people from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.

Joelson, one of the volunteers at CATCH.

Volunteers are aged between 11 and 74 and the charity has a youth enrichment programme for more than 1,000 members and in addition to the usual sport and creative arts activities, young members enjoy more unusual opportunities offered by the educational farm, food growing, gardening and construction activities. CATCH’s pioneering youth work concepts, which combine youth volunteering with community development provide plenty of opportunities for sport, creativity and learning, alongside social action projects which help improve the neighbourhood and environment.

Ian Short, chair of trustees at CATCH said: “The volunteers at CATCH show an amazing level of commitment to helping others and we are delighted to have had all their hard work recognised at the very highest level.

“Many of the young people who attend CATCH have grown up in poverty and our work is a crucial part of their development. It would not have been possible without the support of local people and businesses, as well as grant giving charities and public sector organisations like Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police - they all help us to make the charity successful.”

CATCH also offers regular extra-curricular activities, education, work experience and training to support young people develop their knowledge, confidence and skills to contribute positively to society and make healthy decisions about their lifestyles and futures.

June Perkin, founder of Growing Rooms, in the community allotment.

During lockdown, volunteers also worked as part of the city’s Covid response to provide daily food parcels to individuals and households who have been shielding, isolating or suffered a loss in income as well as those living in poverty.

Also being recognised is The Growing Zone, a community allotment in the village of Kippax. The project was created from five derelict allotments, supports children and adults, including some with disabilities and learning needs and here they can learn about the land, grow vegetables, flowers and fruit, and enjoy a safe and happy space supported by friendly volunteers.

June Perkin is the founder of the project. She said: "It's difficult to describe what this will mean to everybody," said Ms Perkin. "It will raise the roof when they hear. It's going to put smiles on the faces of so many families."

Representatives of the groups will receive the award crystal and certificate from Ed Anderson, Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire later this year. Furthermore, two volunteers from each group will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time), along with other recipients of this year’s award. There are a total of 19 from West Yorkshire, which is by far the highest for the area and includes two other projects from the city.

The farm at CATCH.

Lord-Lieutenant Ed Anderson commented: “I am delighted that so many West Yorkshire groups have been recognised in this year’s awards. As we carried out our assessments last autumn, we were very impressed by the commitment of all these groups to working tirelessly for their local communities. I look forward to presenting their Awards and I hope to see many more excellent groups nominated for the Award in the future.”

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Some of the flowers grown on the allotment.