A REFUGEE charity has been recognised with the highest honours a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The Harbour Project is one of 230 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

It provides support, advice, practical help and friendships to asylum seekers and refugees in Swindon.

A proud chairman of trustees, David Rowlands said: “Twenty years ago, when the Harbour Project was founded, it was an organisation with very limited assets but with lofty ideals and ambitions.

“But over the last two decades those assets have increased enabling our aspirations to be met.

“This stems from the family atmosphere that we have created bringing together volunteers, staff, visitors and trustees in a common endeavour.”

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities.

David added: “We can all of us, over all those years, rejoice in the granting of this hugely prestigious award and gain inspiration for continuing the work that we do.”

Representatives of the charity will receive the award from Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire Sarah Troughton later this summer.

Mrs Troughton said: “I am so pleased when groups are recognised when for the unique services they provide to their communities.

“The Harbour Project and their volunteers have done so much to ensure that refugees and asylum seekers feel welcomed and supported in Swindon and the award is justly deserved.

“My thanks go to the staff, the volunteers and of course the clients for their resilience, good humour and forbearance at this difficult time as we all deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Two volunteers from the Harbour Project will go to a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May next year, along with other recipients of this year’s award.

Coun Cathy Martyn, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for safer communities, said: “They play a vital role in Swindon and they are one of the council’s key voluntary sector partners.

“I visited the Harbour Project at the end of last year. I met some of the staff and volunteers there and I saw for myself the amazing support they offer to some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

“I hope they are able to continue this for many years to come.”

South Swindon Parish Council chairman Chris Watts added: “Swindon can hold its head up high that we have such a dedicated organisation, showing our town in its best light, giving friendship, hope, advice and a warm welcome to those in need.”