The Prime Minister has recognised Beverley Sykes, from St Annes, for tackling loneliness and isolation. Beverley founded ‘Just Good Friends’ in 2012, to combating loneliness.
The group exists for anyone feeling isolated, providing opportunities for friendships to blossom and helping members to fulfil their ambitions – from appearing on local radio, to dancing with a star from BBC’s ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.
Beverley initially set up a group with 12 members to offer companionship and a space to chat. ‘Just Good Friends’ has since grown to support over 200 members, providing community events five days a week in different locations, as well as running regular day-trips and holidays.
Beverley is the latest recipient of the Points of Light award, which recognises outstanding volunteers who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements. Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, presented Beverley with her award.
In a personal letter to Beverley, Prime Minister Theresa May said: “By holding events and activities every week through your group ‘Just Good Friends’, you are transforming the lives of older people facing loneliness and isolation across Lancashire. You should feel enormously proud of helping people to fulfil lifelong wishes while forming new and lasting friendships.”
Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, who is a patron of Just Good Friends, said: “Bev’s work at Just Good Friends has transformed the lives of hundreds of people, and I’m delighted to see the Prime Minister recognise her for her efforts.
“Just Good Friends is getting bigger and better all the time, such is Bev’s dedication to the group, and I’m sure the members will join me in congratulating her.
“Bev’s unstinting efforts have seen the creation of the perfect way to tackle loneliness; an amazing group helping members with a variety of issues in a way which should be replicated across the country.”
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Loneliness, said: “I am thrilled that Beverley Sykes has been recognised by the Prime Minister for her inspirational work tackling loneliness in Lancashire, and thank my colleague Mark Menzies for putting her forward for this award.
“This government is committed to tackling loneliness. As the world’s first Minister for Loneliness, I am leading cross-government work to help the many people in our society who are lonely, including creating the first ever strategy on loneliness for England and a dedicated fund.”
Beverley said: “I’d like to thank the Prime Minister so much for this recognition for Just Good Friends. It is a great honour to be a part of Just Good Friends – it is wonderful to get the recognition for it so we can spread the message even further.
“We just want the group to carry on growing so it can help even more people.”
Just Good Friends director Mike Morris was on hand to see the award being handed to Bev. He said: “This is also recognition that loneliness is an issue in this country, and that Bev has led the way in doing something about it.”
Beverley is the 906th winner of the Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA. Over 6,000 Points of Light have been awarded in the USA, and former Presidents have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK. There is a similar cross-party approach to the UK programme and MPs from different parties often present their constituents with their Points of Light awards.
Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Points of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.