MORE than 80 supporters of Winchester Churches Nightshelter gathered to celebrate the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) 2017, which was awarded to the charity earlier this year and formally presented at the Nightshelter's AGM and Supporters’ Evening.

The event saw the presentation of the QAVS certificate, signed by The Queen, along with an engraved crystal tower, to a selected group of Nightshelter volunteers chosen to represent the more 230 volunteers who regularly give their time and skills to the homelessness charity.

Deputy Lieutenant Joan Ferrer praised the work of the Nightshelter, on Jewry Street, before handing the certificate and glass award to Michele Price, its manager.

Michele said: “The Nightshelter prides itself on being more than just a homeless shelter. We offer hope, support, and a safe home as well as enabling progression into sustainable independent living.

"We could not provide any of this without our small army of volunteers, however, and so we were absolutely thrilled to hear the news that their hard work and dedication has been recognised with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service for 2017. To finally receive the certificate and crystal award is an incredible honour, particularly as this year marks twenty years since the Nightshelter opened its doors on Jewry Street for the first time. We really feel like we have achieved so much over the last two decades, and look forward to supporting even more people out of homelessness in the future."

Other highlights of the Supporters’ Evening included an inspirational talk by the chief executive of The Big Issue Foundation, Stephen Robertson, on the work of the London-based magazine created to help those who are homeless earn an income, as well as an appearance by Kevin Collick, the popular local Big Issue seller, who arrived at the event fresh from switching on this year’s Winchester Christmas lights.

Last year (April 2016 – April 2017) the charity housed 112 people.

Total planned Move On’s - 65 per cent and the average bed occupancy was 97 per cent.