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QSA nominated for Charity Times 2013 financial management award

Quaker Social Action was shortlisted for the Charity Times 2013 financial management award, which demands evidence of excellence in innovation, planning, delivery and communication.

QSA wins Guardian Charity Award 2012

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.

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 honored 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.

QSA runners-up in NCVO governance award

At the end of the NCVO annual conference for Trustees on Monday 31 October 2011, the first annual Winifred Tumim memorial prize for best practice in charity governance was announced. The award was open to application from all charities in England and Quaker Social Action came second to Girlguiding Anglia.

QSA chair of trustees Joycelin Dawes attended on our behalf.

Joycelin at NCVO trustee award

"Our application focused on using the NCVO Code of Good Governance to improve service user engagement, communication and overall governance, leading into ongoing governance development to explore QSA's Quaker identity today. The award highlights transparency, accountability, effectiveness and increasing the public benefit of our work."

Thank you to the support we have received in developing our governance from the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, the Baring Foundation and facilitators Nic Hinrichsen and Cliodhna Mulhern.

Made of Money wins Centre for Social Justice Award

CSJ award winners logo
Judith Moran, Quaker Social Action's director, was at the ceremony to receive the award which was sponsored by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. She said:
"We are deeply appreciative of this award. The selection criteria of the Centre for Social Justice, which saw 400 charities whittled down to the seven winners, were of a charity that exemplified effectiveness, excellence, compassion and innovation - all characteristics that chime with our values. 
We are delighted that our sponsors of this award, giving us 10,000 for Made of Money, are the Barrow Cadbury Trust, who are not just an intelligent grant maker, but an exemplar of an organisation that speaks truth to power."

Homestore wins Tower Hamlets award

In March 2010 Homestore won the Tower Hamlets Third Sector Excellence Award 2010 for 'Improving the Environment'. Our very own Irmina Joseph and volunteer Teresa accepted the award at a glitzy Gala Presentation ceremony at The Troxy on Commercial Road. The certificate and plaque were accompanied by a 500 cheque, which is given in recognition of our contribution to improving the lives and wellbeing of people in the borough. Congratulations to everyone at Homestore and a big thank you to all of its supporters, donors and volunteers!

QSA in top twenty 'recommended charities'

New Philanthropy Capital is an organisation which independently assess the impact of UK charities in order to make recommendations to funders. In 2008, their team of researchers spent around 80 hours assessing QSA and NPC described us as "an innovative charity which answers local need".

Since then, they have decided to streamline their recommendation process, picking one extremely effective charity to demonstrate each of their categories. QSA is delighted to have been picked as the best example of "a creative, flexible approach by a small charity."  You can read about our focus on producing "creative solutions".

Homestore is highly commended

We were delighted when Homestore was announced runner-up in the ArchantEnvironmental Awards Nov 09London Environmental Awards. Homestore were the only project named "Highly Commended" in the category of 'Best Recycling Project'.  Irmina and Anna went to collect the award and enjoyed mingling with environmental projects, schools and businesses from across London. 

QSA named as winners at the Charity Awards 2008.

Charities Award Winner 2008

Quaker Social Action was delighted to win a major national prize at the Charity Awards in the Social Care, Welfare and Religion category for their financial emotional literacy project, Made of Money. The judges recognised the immense value of giving families the time and space to talk, listen and learn about money and the emotional relief that this can provide, particularly in this current climate of economic uncertainty. 

On receiving the good news, QSA chair and clerk Neil Johnson reflected on the innovative nature of the project, saying: 

"This project has pioneered a way of engaging with families on low incomes, helping them to communicate with each other over money management, the challenges of raising a family in a society driven by consumerism and supporting them to build positive parenting strategies to address pervasive advertising." 

Charities Award Winners 2008

At the ceremony, Terry Waite, who presented the prize to QSA Director Judith Moran and Project Manager Kristina Leonnet, commended the project and said he was very pleased QSA had won. 

Reflecting on receiving the award, QSA director Judith Moran said:

"Quaker Social Action has been working to create a more equal society since 1867 and there are so many people, paid and unpaid, who have contributed to our work over the years. This award is for all of them."

The event was designed to highlight the management achievements of charities in order to help spread good practice throughout the sector. Charities were presented with awards for specific initiatives which have improved the delivery of their charitable objectives and which have demonstrated an outstanding example of innovation and best practice from which other charities can learn. 

Reflecting on the accolade, Neil Johnson commented:

"It is the investment of our supporters that enables us to develop innovative projects such as Made of Money. Without the support and encouragement of Friends, we could not test out these approaches and take these risks. This award demonstrates that 'living adventurously', along with aspiring to professional excellence, has proved to be exemplary within the UK charitable sector."

International recognition for excellence

Quaker Social Action is one of the first two British charities to receive the Neighbourhood Builder's award from the Bank of America. The prize, of 110,000 over two years represents an unprecedented injection of funding without strings attached. Our independence is something we value highly and we need to be constantly mindful of the need to take money only where this does not compromise the independence of our values and our action. We are very fortunate in the funding we receive from the Quaker community which, for the most part, comes without restriction, allowing us to pioneer activity where we believe an unfashionable piece of work needs to be done or take on a risky new idea that hasn't yet had the chance to gain credibility with mainstream funders.

Bank of America Award
Jonathan Moulds, President of Bank of America for Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia praised QSA for "The kind of leadership and dedication that Bank of America believes is essential to the health and vitality of our community."

On receiving the award, Judith Moran QSA director said,:
"In collaboration with the community, we have developed unique programmes; including Homestore which helps furnish low-income households whilst avoiding debt and excessive waste, Streetcred, a pioneering microcredit project for women to develop small businesses and Knees Up, a unique approach to community development which begins by creating collaborative street parties and neighbours' events on local estates. All programmes aim to provide practical and sustainable support to those in the local community on a low income. We're delighted to receive the Neighbourhood Builders award because that's exactly what we've been doing for 140 years. It's a slow process but by working day in, day out over the years we feel we have achieved and learned a great deal. By taking the values of respect, equality and social justice which do not date and applying them to a community which is constantly changing, we have remained both relevant and engaged whilst grounded, realistic and practical. This award and investment will help enormously. It allows us to be bold and adventurous in our work, responding to needs as we see them rather than funding fads or trends. We are exploring the issues of housing for care-leavers, and the financial, social and familial problems created by death and bereavement for those living on low incomes and in poverty. We have a unique approach and this money allows us to grow and expand whilst remaining true to those values."
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