The highest award for voluntary groups in the UK has been awarded to a national charity with its headquarters in north Bristol.
Flamingo Chicks is one of 230 charities throughout the country to have won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
The prestigious award recognises the work of voluntary groups who benefit their local communities and was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
Hosting the majority of classes in Bristol, but with groups in Leeds, Cardiff, London and Bradford, Flamingo Chicks in a charity working to make dance inclusive for all children.
The organisation gives disabled children and those with illnesses such as cancer the opportunity to enjoy dance and explore movement alongside their friends.
It’s also a space for parents and carers to meet, people to volunteer, and for global outreach and advocacy.
Founded in Bristol by Katie Sparkes in 2013 so her daughter, who has cerebral palsy, could dance with her friends, there are now more than 350 volunteers who support the charity.
More than 3,000 children take part in classes each year, and volunteers aged 18 to 80 give their time to helping at sessions, as well as taking part in training, gaining relevant knowledge and learning Makaton.
“Whether assisting our young people to dance in class or providing IT support and fundraising, volunteers are the heartbeat of the Flamingo flock,” says CEO and founder Katie. “It’s thanks to them our charity has been able grow, flourish and create real social change.
“Collectively, our volunteers break down barriers to inclusion and showcase the importance of disabled and non-disabled people interacting together.”
Representatives from the group hope to collect their award from Peaches Golding, lord lieutenant for the city of Bristol later this summer and two volunteers will attend a special garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2021.
All photos: Katie Sparkes