Community Action To Create Hope (CATCH) has been honoured with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

The charity, based in Harehills, Leeds, was founded in 2010 by passionate volunteers to make the city a healthier, safer and more united place, particularly for young people from disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds.

This award recognises the outstanding work conducted by the organisation which benefits the local community. CATCH was awarded the accolade on 2nd June and is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year.

Representatives of CATCH will receive the award crystal and certificate from the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire later this summer.

The charity now has a popular youth enrichment programme for over 1,000 members. As well as the usual sport and creative arts activities, many of their young members enjoy the more unusual opportunities offered by the educational farm, food growing, gardening and construction activities. CATCH’s pioneering youth work concepts, which combine youth volunteering with community development provide plenty of opportunities for sport, creativity and learning, alongside social action projects which help improve the neighbourhood and environment.

Ian Short, chair of trustees said: “The volunteers show an amazing level of commitment to helping others and we are delighted to have had all their hard work recognised at the very highest level.

“Many of the young people who attend CATCH have grown up in poverty and our work is a crucial part of their development. It would not have been possible without the support of local people and businesses, as well as grant giving charities and public sector organisations like Leeds City Council and West Yorkshire Police - they all help us to make the charity successful.”

Run by a dedicated team of volunteers between ages of 11 and 74 years, CATCH offers regular extra-curricular activities, education, work experience and training to support young people develop their knowledge, confidence and skills to contribute positively to society and make healthy decisions about their lifestyles and futures.

Throughout the course of the lockdown, volunteers at CATCH have also worked hard as part of the city’s Covid response to provide food parcels to individuals and households who have been shielding, isolating or suffered a loss in income as well as those living in poverty. This operation has been running daily since the start of the pandemic.

Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire Ed Anderson, representative for the Queen's Award said: “Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse and we are delighted to recognise CATCH as such a worthwhile charity.

“The volunteers have worked incredibly hard to adapt to the challenges of the past year and offer a great deal of support not only to their members but also the families of the children who attend. CATCH is a great addition to the collection of organisations who are recognised by the award.”

CATCH is actively engaged in strategic partnerships with schools, colleges and universities and is part of the Leeds Learning Alliance to support young people into positive pathways such as employment and higher education. Businesses also support the charity through donations which go towards the ongoing development of the site, the volunteers, and expanding the range of activities on offer. Local businesses include digital marketing agency Engage, Morley Glass, Wickes, Northern Containers and WestPoint Farm Vets.

Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police John Robins QPM said: “I cannot praise the efforts of everyone involved in CATCH enough. I have witnessed the growth, development and success of CATCH over the years. This has been achieved through the hard work, persistence and dedication of passionate volunteers who give up countless hours of their own time to help other people.

“CATCH has also presented a real opportunity for some long-term and sustainable solutions to be developed in relation to crime and anti-social behaviour. CATCH has also gone on to inspire young people to take up careers in the public services, such as the police. I have heard first-hand some of the incredible and life changing stories of young people who, with the support of CATCH, have gone on to do some amazing things. This would not have happened without the fantastic efforts of the volunteers at the charity.

CATCH’s volunteers deserve the highest recognition for their commitment to improving community safety, innovation and long-term problem-solving. The volunteers are amazing people and they should be so proud of this award. We are so grateful for their work and West Yorkshire Police are proud to work alongside everyone at CATCH.

Volunteers from CATCH will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 along with other recipients of this year’s Award.