QHA wins Mayor’s Award – and then has new van stolen

Quaker Homeless Action Mobile Library volunteers win Mayor of London award in the category of ‘Improving Life Chances’ shortly before their new van was stolen from Wanstead Meeting House

Quaker Homeless Action Mobile Library volunteers at the Mayor of London Awards. | Photo: Courtesy of QHA.

Quaker Homeless Action (QHA) volunteers who run a mobile library for homeless people have won a Mayor of London Volunteering Award – around a week before their new van was stolen.

Days after the QHA Mobile Library volunteers were lauded as ‘amazing Londoners’ at a ceremony in City Hall on 14 October, their new mobile library van was taken from Wanstead Meeting House. The van was due to have shelves and books installed.

Katie Calvert, project coordinator, told the Friend: ‘The van, a white VW Crafter, registration plate GM66 SDX, was less than a month old. It was purchased as the old van did not comply with the ULEZ charges, which have seen the group paying £10 a week alongside congestion charges of up to £72 a week. The current van’s gearbox has nearly given out and the new vehicle would ensure the books remain on the road and the service continues.’

Ed Kirton-Darling, a QHA trustee and driver for the mobile library, said: ‘We are a small, volunteer-led charity, and a new library van is a huge investment for us. We are all really upset that this has happened, and would be just delighted if we could recover it somehow.’

The Mayor of London’s press team described the group, which was nominated by Londoners for the category of Improving Life Chances, as ‘passionate volunteers [who] have enabled the library to reach thousands of Londoners. Their work has been greatly appreciated by their community’.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said the work of volunteers makes ‘a real difference to our communities at a time when we’ve seen key support services cut back’.

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