An Isleworth cancer charity received Britain’s highest award for voluntary services and special recognition for its work during the pandemic on Monday.
The Mulberry Centre, a charity that provides support to people affected by cancer, received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this week.
The award crystal was engraved specifically to acknowledge the charity’s work during the Covid-19 pandemic, as it adapted and expanded its services to help those in need.
Executive director Raj Athwal, who accepted the award alongside founder patron and trustee Jane Kelly, said: “The challenge was that, as we know, there were a lot of people dying from Covid.
“Families were not able to say goodbyes and there was a lot of support that was needed for this population, this community, that needs bereavement support, needs that kind of hand-holding.”
The charity, which is supported by more than 140 volunteers, also set up a “befriending” service for older people who felt isolated during the pandemic, so they could always talk to someone on the phone.
This service was supported by funding from the National Lottery, which allowed the charity to employ two new part-time members of staff.
Athwal explained that covid was not a “challenge” for the charity, but an opportunity to help as many people as possible.
The charity specialises in support for those affected by cancer, offering counselling and group-support to carers and the bereaved as well as cancer patients.
Athwal added: “Although we are based on the grounds of the hospital, we are definitely not clinical. We’ve got a whole different atmosphere.
“Our volunteers who are welcomers welcome them with tea and coffee, just to make them feel at ease.”
The charity has been running for over 20 years and is one of 241 charities and social enterprises to have received the award this year.
Athwal expressed gratitude to the volunteers who make these services possible, noting how impactful the Queen’s Award recognition is for those who have given their time.