Local charity, Domestic Abuse Volunteer Support Services (DAVSS), has received the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.

Founded in 2011, backed by Town & Country Housing’s Foundation, DAVSS is a community-based charity dedicated to providing emotional support, practical advice and advocacy services to male and female victims of domestic abuse in West Kent.

The Queens Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise exceptional service within their communities.

DAVSS is one of only three Kent-based recipients out of thousands of nominations across the charity and voluntary sector to receive the 2019 Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service in the UK. The awards exist to acknowledge “exceptional volunteer groups across the UK who are making a positive impact on the lives of others.”

DAVSS provides vital support services for anyone experiencing domestic abuse. The charity’s trained volunteers, supported by a professional staff team, answer helpline calls, respond to online messages and meet individuals face-to-face to offer non-judgemental advice and support, as well as preparing individual bespoke safety plans, support clients to court and help them begin to rebuild their lives.

Over the past year, DAVSS and its 60 dedicated volunteers has supported over 750 clients across West Kent and answered more than 1000 calls to its helpline. In total, more than 21,000 volunteer hours have been donated, equivalent to nearly £310,000 (based on the Kent average earnings rate).

“DAVSS would not be able to support victims of domestic abuse across West Kent without the generosity of our wonderful volunteers, our team of professional staff and advisers, our valued trustees and our local partners and funders. It really is a team effort,” said Henu Cummins, CEO at DAVSS.

She added: “We know, because our clients tell us, how the support DAVSS provides makes a real, positive difference to their lives. We also see first-hand how victims of domestic abuse begin to rebuild their broken lives, regain their self-confidence and self-esteem and start to feel free again.”

“It is a real honour to be recognised with the Queens Award. I am incredibly proud to work alongside so many dedicated, committed and professional volunteers who give their time to support others.”

Town & Country Housing’s Head of Community Investment, Jackie Sumner, one of many key partners who worked to establish the charity five years ago, commented: “I want to thank everyone who has contributed to the charity receiving the highest honour that can be bestowed on a voluntary group and I know DAVSS has touched many people’s lives and crucially, saved lives.”

DAVSS previously received local awards including Highly Commended for Excellent Partnership Working within the Voluntary Sector at the Kent Housing Group Innovation, Excellence Awards and Love Where We Live. It is the second Tunbridge Wells-based organisation that has been supported by Town & Country Housing’s Foundation to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, following Pickering Drop-in Centre receiving the honour in 2016.