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Cheetham Hill charity honoured with Queen's Voluntary Award for 30 years of improving wellbeing in North Manchester

A charity has been awarded a Queen's Award for Voluntary Service for 30 years of improving wellbeing in BAME communities of North Manchester.

Hopewell, formerly called North Manchester Black Health Forum, is a user-led charity that works with vulnerable adults, women and families from marginalised communities living with long-term health conditions, poverty and economic pressures. Based at Woodville Sure Start Centre in Cheetham Hill, the charity offers support services and a variety of activities including yoga, exercise classes, socialisation, trips out.

Equivalent to an MBE, the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK. The charity was awarded the accolade in 2020, but the awards presentation was postponed until May 2022 due to the pandemic.

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Last week, Hopewell's Services Manager, Ruqia Allana, attended the Queen's Garden Party with senior volunteer Danny Grant, 83, to celebrate the honour.

Ruqia said: "At Hopewell, we are very proud to receive this accolade. It's a massive achievement for us

"The party at Buckingham Palace was lovely. Danny and I really enjoyed it.

"It's not every day you get to do something like that. It was an honourable experience and definitely something to tell the grandchildren.

The award certificate from the Queen (Hopewell)

"The Duchess of Cambridge was there, along with Prince Edward and Sophie, the Countess of Wessex.

"We received the award in 2020, but we couldn't celebrate it properly due to Covid. So we are going to celebrate the award with all our volunteers and our community members with a big party, and also to mark the Queen's Platinum Jubilee."

Danny said: " The Garden Party was entertaining. I should have taken some ladders with me so I could see all the people in the crowd, because I am not that tall!

"I really enjoyed myself, the weather was lovely, the food was nice and the people were nice.

"I enjoy everything about working with Hopewell- I am the person that does anything that needs doing."

Hopewell senior volunteer Danny Grant at Buckingham Palace (Hopewell)

Also, Ruqia noted that the award would not have been possible without the hard work of all the volunteers who run the services at Hopewell. She was especially full of praise for senior volunteer Danny, who has been volunteering with Hopewell for more than 20 years.

She continued: " Danny is my right hand man. We don't see him as a volunteer, but as a member of staff. From helping us in the kitchen, making our users feel comfortable and running a dominos group, he is so reliable.

"He is an all-rounder. We have a fantastic team of so many volunteers like Danny and they define our charity. We couldn’t survive without them.

"Our services have always been embedded in health and wellbeing. We change our programmes every three months, depending on funding, and whatever the users want.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary services, awarded to Hopewell, a charity in North Manchester (Hopewell)

" A large proportion of our users who use the charity's services are from South Asian and Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, and many of them are living with long-term conditions like hypertension and dementia. We also help people with housing issues, domestic abuse, family matters, anything that we can to help them.

"And if we can’t help, we have a very close-knit community in Crumpsall and Cheetham Hill, s o we work closely with other organisations to ensure what whoever walks through the door, gets the help they need."

Supporting people through the cost of living crisis is high on the agenda for Hopewell.

Ruqia added: "At the moment, we are concerned about the cost of living and energy prices rising, so we are bracing ourselves for that. We are getting ready to provide more information and support for people.

"All this is happening, especially in marginalised communities, and until the crisis hits the door, they might not know it is happening. So our role is to make sure they know the information beforehand.

"That’s what we did when Covid first hit."

SureStart Woodville Children's Centre in Cheetham Hill, where the north Manchester charity Hopewell is based. (Google Maps)

Congratulating Hopewell is Danny's friend John Biggs, BEM, who has been friends with Danny for 40 years. John runs the Whitemoss Youth Club and Community Centre in Blackley, where Danny also volunteers.

John, 74, from Charlestown, said: "A massive congratulations to Danny and the team at Hopewell for this award, from all the volunteers at Whitemoss and all the young people and children that know Danny. It's well deserved.

"Danny does all sorts of volunteering, from making dinners for vulnerable people, to helping out in the Whitemoss community garden. Nothing is too much for him.

Danny Grant and John Biggs (Whitemoss Youth Club and Community Centre)

"He is a large part of the community in North Manchester. We wish him and Hopewell all the very best."

Danny at Whitemoss Youth Club and Community Centre (Whitemoss Youth Club and Community Centre)

To find out more about Hopewell, visit here, and follow Whitemoss Youth Club and Community Centre on Facebook here.