Food bank and charities regulator figures recognised in King’s Birthday Honours

The outgoing and longest-serving chief executive of the charities regulator has described her damehood as recognition of the “essential” role charities play in society.

Helen Stephenson, who is due to step down from her role with the Charity Commission in July, is among those recognised in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Other recognition for charitable service in this year’s honours includes Stephen Hicks, chairman of the Trussell Trust food bank network, who has been made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE).

Dame Helen said she was “thrilled” to be honoured for services to charity and to regulation.

She said: “It is a recognition of the essential role charities have in our society and the fantastic team who work at the Charity Commission.

“Because of the trust and confidence people have in charities, they rightly hold a privileged place in society. Central to that trust and confidence is independent regulation.

“It has been a privilege to serve as CEO (chief executive officer) for the last seven years and I am immensely proud of all that we have achieved in that time.”

Dame Helen joined the commission in July 2017, having previously been director of early years and childcare at the Department for Education and director of the Office for Civil Society, as well as roles with the Big Lottery Fund, the National Childbirth Trust and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Mr Hicks, who has been recognised for services to charity, dedicated the honour to all those who had helped people facing hardship in recent years.

He said: “This honour is for the Trussell Trust and our community of food banks across the UK, and the work we’ve done together to support food banks and people facing hardship over the last few years.

“During the last seven years, I have been truly humbled and privileged every day to work alongside so many talented, determined people at the charity that make my role so much easier.

“I also see the work that volunteers and staff in food banks across the UK do day in, day out and that gives me full confidence that together we will achieve our vision to end the need for food banks.”

Trussell Trust chief executive Emma Revie said Mr Hicks “truly deserves” the honour, having made a “significant contribution” to the organisation over the years.

She added: “Stephen has guided us through some of the most challenging years that our network has faced, including the pandemic and cost-of-living crisis which placed untold pressures on food banks.

“His expertise, guidance and commitment to the cause ensured that we have been able to always prioritise the needs of food banks and the communities they support.”