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QSA wins the Guardian Charity Award

Quaker Social Action has been recognised for its work against funeral poverty. The charity, known as QSA, beat almost 1,000 other entries for the coveted Guardian Charity award, becoming one of five to win the annual prize. The honour is given for QSA's work with bereaved families preventing them from paying over the odds for a funeral and so avoiding ending up deeper in debt and despair.

Down to Earth wins Guardian Charity Award

QSA is a small charity that has been working in east London since 1867. It has created a series of innovative services including the rent guarantee scheme and a financial literacy programme. Its current projects range from life coaching for vulnerable people to working with east end estates to organise street parties so residents can meet their neighbours. 

QSA won the award for the achievement of its community bereavement project. Down to Earth is a mentor-led project that supports people living on a low income, and often already struggling with debt, to arrange an affordable funeral for their dearly departed. 

When the loss of a loved one is made worse by the dread of paying to give them a good send off, the anxiety, grief and guilt is devastating. This project makes meaningful funerals affordable, enabling bereaved relatives to say goodbye without debt or regret. In just two years it has saved its clients over 100,000 in funeral expenses.

Guardian Award WinnersJudith Moran, QSA director, on receiving the award said: "I feel totally overwhelmed and tearful. This is brilliant news. Funeral poverty is a really important subject but gets so little attention. We have found it hard, like many other charities, to raise money for this project, but we know that we make such a big difference for those who are desperately struggling to afford a funeral. 

The Guardian believes in Down to Earth and that is amazing. The judges have honoured our efforts. This is a real boost to the team and the volunteers who have worked so hard."

Caroline Diehl, judge of the awards and chief executive of The Media Trust, said: "This is a wonderful charity which provides an important service that is really needed. Funerals are often a subject which people don't like to talk about and through using clever branding and offering emotional and practical support, Quaker Social Action has had a great impact in their local community."

Gloria Ogunbadejo, volunteer mentor with Down to Earth said: "Down to Earth makes a fantastic difference to people who are already struggling, often with debt, when they come to us. We help them plan a funeral in the way they want, that respects the wishes of their loved one. We work hard so they don't end up in debt."

As well as a cash prize, each of the charities wins a support package from the Foundation for Social Improvement, including advice and training; a media package from Media Trust, and a year's free membership of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).

The Guardian Charity Award honours five small to medium sized charities who are making a significant contribution to improving social wellbeing in the UK. They give a much needed boost to organisations who often get overshadowed by the big players in the voluntary sector and who struggle to get the profile and funding they need to move forward.

The Guardian Charity Awards 2012 were open to UK social welfare charities (any eligible registered charity that helps people in Britain and / or Northern Ireland) that could demonstrate excellence and achievement in what they do. Eligible charities also had to have been registered in the UK for more than two years and have an annual income of between 5,000 and 1.5 million.

Down to Earth helps around 200 people each year save over 1,000 on the average funeral. It plans to use the prize to share its work with other organizations, so those who are already care for people at the end of their life can also help the bereaved family on a low income avoid the debt and despair caused by funeral poverty.

We need your help to close the gap between what a funeral costs and what people can afford.

Please donate to support Down to Earth and help people arrange meaningful funerals.

Watch a short film made by the Guardian about Down to Earth and the difference we make.

And join our campaign and tell Parliament about the plight of those facing extortionate funeral costs.
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