A SOUTHEND charity has been given the Charity Commission’s official seal of approval.

Southend Council leader Nigel Holdcroft has presented Southend Association of Voluntary Services, based it its centre, in Alexandra Street, with the commissions’s PQASSO Quality Mark.

The centre had to be assessed by the Charities Evaluation Service to qualify for the award.

Alison Semmence, the volunteer centre’s chief executive, said: “The assessor spent a week here, talking to practically all of our staff, volunteers and trustees.

“It was a pretty tough assessment and looked at everything we do. They found we were particularly strong at working with others, listening to the views of the community and at getting results.”

The resulting report said: “Trustees, staff and volunteers have a clear sense of purpose and demonstrate great commitment and enthusiasm in achieving exceptional results in the very diverse range of projects and activities that the organisation undertakes.”

The centre works behind the scenes to support more than 300 local voluntary and community groups.

It provides advice and information on how to set up and run a charity, the kind of policies which may be needed, how to find funding and how to work with volunteers.

In addition, it has a range of projects, helping the elderly, people with mental health problems and exoffenders.

It also runs the Triple T youth clubs.

Mr Holdcroft said: “As local government finance comes under increasing pressure, it is inevitable we will become ever more dependent on the efforts and contribution of the voluntary sector.

“In Southend we are fortunate to have an organisation which provides very effective direction, support and coordination for our voluntary groups and which continues to make a real and obvious difference for the residents of Southend.’’