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Balloons Receives The Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service

It is Volunteering Week 2020, and there is so much to celebrate in our communities as neighbourliness becomes our way of being and we all step up to the plate to help others who are vulnerable. If any good comes from the current global pandemic, it will be that our future is rooted in a different type of community, where we care for each other and want to support each other. Volunteering has always shaped who we are in the UK; now it is rooted in our DNA. 

And in this important week, we are delighted to share the news that one of our very own local charities has been honoured with the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. It doesn’t get much better than that!

balloons charity women holding paper with cake

Balloons, the child bereavement charity based in Exeter is being recognised for the incredible work it does to support grieving children and young people, both before an expected death and after the death of a loved one. Balloons supports children when mum or dad dies or brother or sister dies. They work with the child to help them to understand their feelings, articulate their distress and find ways of coping so that the bereavement doesn’t overwhelm them. How fitting then that this award is bestowed on them when the fear of death and actual death is sadly part of our daily conversation. 

Balloons has an incredible team of 50+ volunteers, all of whom undertake training and are supervised as they support grieving children. These volunteers come from diverse backgrounds and have different reasons for wanting o volunteer, but they have one thing in common; their belief that in a civilised society we will stand next to children when they are at their most vulnerable. And that’s what they do, day in, day out.

“We cannot express how much this award means to us. Our volunteers are the beating heart of our charity, working tirelessly to support bereaved children and young people to cope with their loss and to make plans for their future. Without the support of these volunteers, many children and young people would be overwhelmed by their grief. Volunteering in bereavement support is not always easy, but our volunteers have a passionate commitment to helping children and young people in the darkest of times”.

Sara Bennett – Balloons CEO

balloons charity women raising glasses

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. Recipients are announced each year on 2nd June, the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. 

Representatives of Balloons will receive the award from David Fursdon, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, later this summer. Furthermore, two volunteers from Balloons will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021, along with other recipients of this year’s Award. 

We know you will want to join us in congratulating Balloons on this incredible achievement. The Queen’s Award is the highest accolade a charity can receive; the equivalent of the Oscars for charities! The glitzy ceremony might be on hold for a little while, but the honour and glory is not! 

At Grow Exeter, we raise a toast to Balloons and thank them for all they do in our community. Now more than ever, children need specialist support to manage their grief, and it seems fitting to end with the words of the children themselves:

“I had support with Balloons when Mummy died. I was sad and scared and I didn’t want her to be dead. My Balloons lady saw me every week and helped me to remember all the good things about Mummy and to know that being sad was ok. I talked and talked and felt better after every session and I know that just because Mummy is dead it doesn’t mean that I love her less. I liked my Balloons lady because she had a nice face and nice hair and she is very special to me”

Girl, aged 8

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