FOR almost 35 years it has helped thousands of young people who felt they had nowhere else to turn.
Now charity Off The Record has received an award recognising its counselling work.
The Queen’s Award, which has only been given to 18 Hampshire organisations, is the equivalent of an MBE for groups of volunteers who work in their community for others.
The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Nigel Atkinson, presented chairman John Simmonds with a commemorative crystal at a celebration at the Langstone Hotel.
There to witness the honour were dozens of volunteers.
World championship swimmer Katy Sexton is patron of the charity, which has branches in Havant, Leigh Park and Portsmouth, where young people aged 11 to 25 can drop in or arrange one-to-one counselling.
She said: ‘This award is just fantastic. It is recognition of a wonderful organisation where so much hard work goes on, from volunteers to admin behind the scenes.
‘One of the hardest things for people is to realise they have a problem and ask for help. But everyone at Off The Record is so welcoming.’
Since 1977, Off The Record’s volunteers have offered free, confidential, counselling and information services to young people living in Portsmouth, Havant and East Hampshire.
Last year 18,500 hours of voluntary support was given.
Mr Simmonds said: ‘This national honour is a tribute to all volunteers past and present who have given their time to help young people. It is particularly encouraging given the difficult times we, along with many other charities are facing given the uncertain future created by budget cuts in the statutory sector.’
To become a volunteer or to donate go to off-the-record.org.uk or call (023) 9278 5999.