Milton Keynes volunteers honoured at this year's Queen's Awards

This community charity in Milton Keynes were recognised in this year's prestigious awards list.

Thursday, 3rd June 2021, 10:09 am

A charity in Milton Keynes has been recognised at this year's Queen's Awards, for its work helping those in need during the pandemic.

DREAMSAI, is ran by volunteers from the local Indian community in Milton Keynes and earned The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

A major project which earned national recognition for the charity was, Food for Sai. Volunteers provided the homeless and those in temporary accommodation with nutritious meals.

Volunteers at Milton Keynes-based charity, DREAMSAI

Another point of emphasis for the registered charity is blood donation camps, the group wants to raise awareness and encourage more people from ethnic communities to donate much-needed blood.

Any award given out in the past year will always tilt towards what organisations did to help others during the pandemic. DREAMSAI volunteers established a Covid outreach programme, to support self-isolating elderly people and families affected by the coronavirus with food parcels, as well as providing protective masks.

The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, is the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK. This national civic honour given by Her Majesty the Queen is a benchmark for excellence and the equivalent of the MBE (Member of British Empire) for volunteer groups. It was created in 2002 to celebrate The Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Recipients are announced each year on June 2, the anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation.

Laxman Kastala, DREAMSAI’s founder and chair said: “It is a true honour to be recognised and to receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service and a testament to the crucial work our volunteers do. Our DREAM of practicing the teachings of Shirdi SAI here in Milton Keynes, has now transpired into a large network of incredible volunteers of all ages and backgrounds who give so much energy and time to help thousands of people in the community every year.

The Queen's Awards winners in action

“There is more to be done, and we are constantly collaborating with diverse communities and amazing partners to expand our charitable, cultural, and spiritual services. A heartfelt thank you to those who nominated DREAMSAI, this national award fills me, our incredible volunteer team and the local community with a huge sense of pride.”

Other work completed by the charity which likely gained the awards panel's attention is a schools outreach scheme. Supporting primary schools with weekly cereal and milk packs for breakfast clubs, as well as food parcels for those who need them during school holidays.

A festive hampers project supported communities, whilst also recognising cultural festivals including Diwali, Eid, Christmas and Easter. Each week the charity runs a guru day to meet the cultural and spiritual needs of the local Indian community. Another charity goal is to build a temple and community centre - to give a place for local Indian people to gather, to feel part of the community and to feel supported.

The charity follows the teachings of Sai Baba of Shirdi, it says it is practising his teachings which includes charity, humanity and a moral code of love.

some of the supplies the charity provides to people and community groups in need

This year 240 other charities also received this recognition. Representatives of DREAMSAI will receive the award crystal and certificate signed by the Queen, from Countess Howe, Lord-Lieutenant of Buckinghamshire later this summer.

Two charity representatives will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 (depending on restrictions at the time).

Further information on the charity is available on its website here, DREAMSAI runs a helpline which can be called on 01908 033541.