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Well done to Luton Irish Forum volunteers

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Luton Irish Forum volunteers receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service (QAVS) from the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire after the organisation's recent AGM marked an challenging year.

Luton Irish Forum’s AGM showcased their valuable work and contribution to consistently giving a platform to Irish culture and heritage, and their commitment to improving the quality of life of the Irish community and others in Luton. 

The Embassy of Ireland described the work of Luton Irish Forum over a challenging and testing year, as a testament to the organisation’s adaptability, and the staff and volunteers’ loyalty and understanding of the most vulnerable members of the Irish community.  The Embassy thanked LIF for what they described as, ‘a year of extreme kindness and resilience’. 

The organisation demonstrated an impressive move to remote or online working and services, moving their welfare service case work to over the telephone, by post, or where possible to digital platforms such as Zoom or Teams. 

LIF also put in place covid safe measures to allow for some face-to-face support, where it was absolutely necessary, and clients could not digitally engage. They also adapted their social groups and activities to online or over the telephone, with activities such as calligraphy classes, Irish Language classes, ‘Tea and Chats’, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations still taking place, despite the challenges. 

Touching figures from their telephone survey indicated that 98 percent of LIF’s members felt more supported over the last year, from engaging with their services, and that 91 percent felt it had a direct positive impact on their wellbeing.

LIF staff describe volunteers as the ‘heartbeat’ of their work, helping steer the organisation through the challenging year. 

Volunteers gave an estimated 3,300 hours of their time, which equates to £40,000, though staff stated that their contribution was beyond value.

In June 2020 LIF volunteers were the recipients of the QAVS for their outstanding contributions to volunteering over the past year and all years prior. 

The award has equivalent status for groups as an MBE for individuals! LIF staff said that it could not be more thoroughly deserved and invited all present to give their volunteers a round of applause!

A massive congratulations from Irish in Britain to Luton Irish Forum, on a year of exceptional achievements.