Councillor recognised in New Year's Honours List for pandemic work

sue collins

Former mayor and current town councillor in Bungay Sue Collins has been awarded a BEM in the New Year's Honours List. - Credit: Bungay Town Council

A local councillor has been recognised in the New Year's Honours list and awarded a British Empire Medal for her tireless work helping her town and community throughout the pandemic.

Sue Collins, councillor at Bungay Town Council, created BECS in March 2020 initially to provide a collection of shopping and meds service for those unable to do this for themselves.

Since then, the temporary emergency service made up purely of volunteers run from the town council office has transformed into Bungay Community Support (BCS), a permanent provision with an employed coordinator.

Mrs Collins described her shock at receiving the letter from the cabinet office.

She said: "It is a great honour to receive such an award but none of this could have in anyway been achieved without the incredible commitment, selflessness, dedication and unceasing determination of the BECS/BCS team.

"We recognised that there were underlying needs within the community due to loneliness, isolation, social and material deprivation including an increase in stress and anxiety disorders.

"Whilst all these were clearly exacerbated by Covid restrictions, it became clear they would not disappear just by the lifting of lockdown regulations which was how BCS was then born.

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"Furthermore, through the creation of the Hearts and Minds project, the community was able to mitigate against some of the mental anxieties related to isolation and loneliness by creating shops and facilities that actively welcomed those who were feeling anxious and hesitant about venturing out into the high street after so long being advised to stay at home.

"Most recently BCS has initiated the Bungay Warm Rooms scheme.

"This has involved working with charities to tap relevant funding streams and local organisations who are happy to open up their venues to provide warm, friendly and safe environments most days of the week to those who are lonely, or struggling to heat their homes, and/or would benefit from friendly informal social contact over tea and biscuits.

"I just planted the seeds but it is the volunteers, the designated trustees and co-ordinator working with local organisations who have provided the nourishment, warmth, light and energy for our projects to grow and bear fruit in such uncertain times."