Eastbourne Borough Councillor and former Deputy Mayor Councillor Helen Burton has been honoured with a British Empire Medal in the Queens’ Birthday Honours, and the community interest company she set up, Volunteers Network has also been awarded a Queens’ Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a local voluntary group can receive in the UK and equivalent to an MBE. Helen has been awarded the BEM for services to the community, particularly during Covid-19.
Volunteers Network manage Pevensey Community Library, Langney Community Centre, Grow Eastbourne (encouraging food growing and sharing), Langney Community Cafe (a non-profit cafe supporting the community) and Eastbourne’s first community fridge, Langney Larder. During the first lockdown Helen was amongst the first in the country to establish a telephone befriending service responding to the pandemic and reducing isolation for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Her work was mentioned in much of the National press and inspired many other services to form. You can find out more about her organisation’s work at www.volunteersnetwork.co.uk
Cllr Helen Burton said:
‘The Queens Award for Voluntary Service is testament to the hard work undertaken by my two co-directors and all of the volunteers who have ever supported us. We have dedicated teams at both Pevensey Community Library and Langney Community Centre, and Grow Eastbourne also has its own band of volunteers who meet weekly to garden and grow food. We would be nothing without our volunteers, so a massive thank you to everyone who has given their time to our work over the last six years.
When asked about the BEM, she said ‘so many people gave their time to support the community during the most difficult period of the pandemic. To be awarded for the work I did is astonishing! It’s been a tough couple of years but I’m so grateful for this honour. I believe in living Liberal Democrat values every day, and the BEM reflects our ethos.
Volunteers Network is one of 244 local charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. Their work, along with others from across the UK, reminds us of all the ways in which fantastic volunteers are contributing to their local communities and working to make life better for those around them.
Helen is pictured with Josh Babarinde OBE, Parliamentary Spokesperson for the Eastbourne & Willingdon Liberal Democrats, and Daisy Cooper MP and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats