A Wolverhampton community hub that has helped more than 8000 people during the
pandemic has received one of the biggest honours in England today.

Big Venture Centre, which was created by local people in 2017 in response to the Scotlands
Adventure Playground closing, has been named as a Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service
winner.

The accolade marks the amazing efforts of its 10-strong army of volunteers, who have met
the challenges of Covid-19 head-on by transforming the usual coffee shop, hall and gardens
into a distribution centre where food parcels and activities were put together and delivered to
those in need in the WV10 area of Wolverhampton.

Judges were so impressed they gave the organisation an additional Special Award for the
diversity of support it provided during lockdown, with one-to-one telephone befriending and
counselling offered, shopping for those that were isolating, topping up electricity and gas
meters and providing items of bedding through the Winter Warmth programme.

“We are over the moon about winning the Queen’s Award, the highest award a voluntary
group can receive in the UK,” explained Karen Trainer, Volunteer Centre Manager at Big
Venture Centre.

“Our volunteers have given endless hours of their time, so it’s lovely for them to be
recognised for their work in the community that they live in. WV10 is an area of high
deprivation, but we have some fantastic people who are willing to give their skills, time and
knowledge to help us tackle some challenging local issues.

“We’ll definitely use this award to raise our profile and support future funding bids that will
help us deliver more essential services in the Scotlands.”

Big Venture Centre successfully demonstrated the impact of its volunteering activities
through an initial application and interview with the Queen’s Award Assessor – the latter
involving a number of its volunteers to get a feeling of life at the coalface.

The overwhelming passion local people have for this community hub was clear for all to see
and special praise was given for the way local knowledge has been crucial in launching a
host of exciting new programmes.

These include the release of the WV10 Cookbook that shows how to feed your family for
less than £45 per week and the Life After the Food Bank project.

“A lot of our work is about developing programmes that give people the opportunity to gain
confidence, get started in new careers, support with money management and developing
skills that could lead to work,” added Karen.

“It’s not about hand-outs, it’s about creating an environment that delivers an opportunity for
locals to lead a better life.”

She concluded: “We have lots of exciting plans in place for the next twelve months, including
trying to raise more funds to expand the current building and ensure our long-term
sustainability.”

Created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee, the Queen’s Award for Voluntary
Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local
communities.

Representatives of the Big Venture Centre will receive the award crystal and certificate from
John Crabtree, Lord-Lieutenant of the West Midlands later this summer. Furthermore, two
volunteers will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022, restrictions
allowing.

For more information, please visit Big Venture Centre’s Facebook page.