‘Visionary leader’ of homeless charity recognised with national award

Emma Ratzer MBE, CEO of the Access Community Trust, has been recognised with a national award for her work in Suffolk and...

Emma Ratzer MBE, CEO of the Access Community Trust, has been recognised with a national award for her work in Suffolk and Norfolk over the last year. Picture: JULIAN CLAXTON - Credit: Archant

The head of a charity which supports people at risk of homelessness in Suffolk and Norfolk has been recognised with a national award for her work.

Emma Ratzer MBE joined the Access Community Trust in 2008 as chief executive officer and has now been chosen as Third Sector’s Charity Chief Executive of 2020 at the TS Excellence Awards.

Mrs Ratzer was recognised for services to the Suffolk community in the 2019 Queen’s Birthday Honours after leading the Thin Ice Project to get a beds, hot meals and showers for vulnerable and homeless people in Lowestoft during winter.

Despite a challenging year during a global pandemic she has remained focused and kept the charity’s core services running, despite the national lockdown and social distancing restrictions.

The CEO also introduced community meals, virtual wellbeing cafes and established PINK Orange – a unique ingredients bag delivery service for Suffolk families suffering from food poverty over the summer school break.

The charity was also listed as one of the best employers to work for this year in the Sunday Times and Best Companies top 100 not-for-profit organisations.

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Judges on the TSE Awards panel called her a “visionary leader” and said she “brought the charity through challenging times by developing a strong focused team ethic”.

Mrs Ratzer was delighted to win the award and said: “Recognition at national level for the work Access provides to our local communities is wonderful.

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“I am just one person amongst a team of 145 people that delivers supportive services daily to those that need it.

“This award really does acknowledge the valuable work we do to support others in need.”

The award recognises Mrs Ratzer as a leader who has made an outstanding contribution to her organisation over the last year.

Looking forward, the trust is deep in preparations for the autumn and winter with new services due to be announced in coming weeks.

PINK Orange might return alongside the launch of Community Circles EAST – the creation of links within local communities by using volunteer facilitators – thanks to £100,00 of funding from the Barclays UK Covid-19 Community Relief Programme.

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