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KAVS celebrations in Cambridgeshire with the Chinese Community in Peterborough

Recipients of the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, the Chinese Community in Peterborough were recognised for their work to improve community cohesion, wellbeing and social harmony.

We caught up with Group Leader and Founder, Faustina Yang to hear about their presentation event and how the group first started.

Tell us about your presentation event?

The King’s Award for Voluntary Service was presented to the volunteers of the Chinese Community in Peterborough in the magnificent surroundings of Peterborough Cathedral on 8 February 2024. The award was presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire, Mrs Julie Spence OBE. Also in attendance was Deputy Lieutenant, Mr Daryl Brown MBE, Deputy Lieutenant, Mrs Sue Freestone OBE and Lord-Lieutenant Cadet James Munday.

Following the presentation of the award, Faustina Yang, Group Leader and Founder of Chinese Community in Peterborough (CCIP), gave a speech thanking the dedicated volunteers at CCIP for their ongoing support, and highlighting CCIP’s vision for a more harmonious society. As well as speeches from notable members of the community and special guests, there was opera singing, a congratulations letter from the Chinese Embassy and a fantastic Tai Chi performance.

Lion dance at Peterborough Cathedral, celebrating CCIP receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service, 10th anniversary of the community and the Chinese New Year.

Benjamyn Damazer, Deputy Lieutenant for Cambridgeshire commented:

“Congratulations on the King’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is not given lightly, but only to a limited number of groups, led and run by volunteers, which make a real difference in their communities. The Association’s work over many years has shown that there is a positive impact. I wish you every success for the future.”

Group Leader of the CCIP, Faustina Yang received the King’s Award for Voluntary Service on behalf of the group, presented by His Majesty The King’s Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Julie Spence OBE CstJ QPM.

What does the group do?

CCIP was founded as one of five charitable organisations by Faustina Yang, emerging from a personal desire to ensure cultural preservation and heritage for her half-English daughter. Initially, in 2013, with 55 attendees, gatherings began at Hampton Vale Community Centre, primarily focusing on facilitating interactions among children from Chinese families in Peterborough and surrounding areas.

Core activities include providing friendship, connection, informal assistance, and skills development opportunities, along with promoting wellbeing and supporting integration through local events and festivals. After a decade of growth, the community expanded significantly, serving not only the Chinese community but also benefiting over 10,000 individuals through Tai Chi online and offline. The community celebrated its 10th anniversary, marking a decade of achievements despite facing challenges such as hate crimes and discrimination.

Tai Chi and Qigong performance at Peterborough Cathedral by participants, led by Master Tary Yip.

What is the role of volunteers?

Volunteers are the heartbeat of CCIP, driving purpose and making a profound difference in every aspect of the organisation. Their involvement spans from meticulous event planning to heartwarming acts of kindness, such as food preparation, feedback gathering, and social media engagement. They lend their talents in photography, leading activities, offering one-on-one support, and ensuring everyone feels included.

Volunteers represent a diverse age range, from 10-78 years of age, exemplifying the inclusivity and intergenerational bonding within the community. Volunteers run special groups focused on health, exercise, education, and family connections. They do everything from making drinks to keeping things tidy, all while spreading warmth and friendship throughout our community.

Chinese Women in Peterborough, UK Chinese Women Connect came to congratulate CCIP on receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

What does being awarded the King’s Award for Voluntary Service mean to the group and its volunteers?

Receiving the King’s Award for Voluntary Service holds profound significance for the group and its volunteers, symbolising the impactful difference we strive to make in our community.

Faustina Yang comments:

“It means a lot for an ethnic minority group to receive an award like this, the only one in Cambridgeshire this year, and the only Chinese community in England to receive a KAVS.” 

“This acknowledgment validates CCIP’s collective efforts, extending beyond mere individual recognition to encompass the dedication of all our volunteers and supporters. The recognition also carries cultural significance, coinciding with the auspicious Year of the Dragon and the 10th anniversary of our community’s establishment. This milestone allows us to showcase our rich cultural heritage and the positive contributions we’ve made to the city of Peterborough. Amidst the challenges faced by the Chinese community, particularly during the pandemic, this acknowledgment serves as a beacon of hope and healing, demonstrating solidarity and resilience in the face of adversity.”

Lord-Lieutenant Mrs Julie Spence OBE CstJ QPM, the Reverend Canon Tim Alban Jones, Vice Dean of Peterborough, Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services CEO Jonathan Jelley MBE JP with Faustina Yang, Group Leader of CCIP.

What are your proudest achievements as an organisation?

Our wellbeing initiative, offering Tai Chi lessons for community health, is a source of immense pride for us. Amidst the challenges brought by Covid, we recognised the urgent need to address stress and other factors which can lead to physical and mental health issues. In response, we organised an online Tai Chi course, free for all, aimed at promoting safe exercise and overall well being, benefiting the people of Peterborough.

This initiative, taught in both English and Chinese, ensured that a wide range of communities could reap the benefits of this ancient practice. Led by world class award-winning Kung Fu Master Tary Yip, our initiative has made a significant impact, with 1015 individuals participating in our online live sessions. We continue to offer lessons on a face-to-face basis, providing a valuable opportunity for diverse communities to come together.

Chinese Community in Peterborough on the streets of Peterborough, in the city centre, promoting Tai Chi and its health benefit to wider communities, to promote self care and safe exercising, led by Master Faye Yip, with CCIP Group Leader, Faustina Yang, and volunteers Li Yang, Ho Law, Wanee and Tai Chi champions.

Do the group have any plans for the next 5 years?

We have ambitious plans for the next five years aimed at expanding our reach and impact. Our vision is to not only grow our current Tai Chi community to 10,000 members but to extend our reach to 50,000 learners globally. We plan to achieve this through various initiatives such as hosting Tai Chi festivals, organising sessions in parks, partnering with medical facilities to introduce Tai Chi in surgeries, and establishing programs in community centres. Our goal is to make Tai Chi accessible to everyone who is interested, regardless of their background or circumstances, and foster international cooperation in promoting this ancient practice.

Our overarching mission is to help people live healthier, happier, and longer lives while also alleviating pressure on healthcare systems, including the NHS. By promoting self-care and the lifelong benefits of Tai Chi, we aim to empower individuals to take control of their health and well-being. Additionally, we intend to expand our network of volunteers, particularly targeting diverse communities, who will serve as Tai Chi champions and advocates.

Volunteers behind the scenes for the King’s Award for Voluntary Service presentation to CCIP and Chinese New Year celebration and our 10th anniversary at Peterborough Cathedral.

Do you have advice and tips for other groups looking to set up similar work?

For groups looking to set up similar work, here are some valuable tips:

Go the extra mile: Beyond day-to-day tasks, focus on establishing robust governance structures. This ensures smooth operations and long-term sustainability.

Value your volunteers: Express gratitude; appreciation goes a long way. Volunteers are the lifeblood of any organisation. Work alongside them, and you’ll achieve remarkable results together.

Address needs: If you notice a gap or a need, take action. Whether it’s creating your own community initiative or joining an existing one as a volunteer, proactive involvement can spark meaningful change.

Embrace feedback and improvement: Continuously gather feedback and strive for improvement. This iterative process is crucial for organisational growth and development. Keep learning and evolving.

By following these principles, you can lay a solid foundation for your initiative and make a lasting impact in your community. 

How can the public get involved? 

We encourage the public to take part in our activities, including Tai Chi, where you can get to know our culture, improve your own health and social harmony. Current Tai Chi lessons: Saturdays term time, 10:30am to 12pm at Peterborough Cathedral.

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