Culture Central to receive £525,000 in funding to support community volunteering opportunities through UK Government investment

  • Culture Central is among over 160 organisations across arts, culture, sport, civil society, youth, and heritage sectors to benefit from the £4.6 million Volunteering Futures Fund
  • Funding set to increase volunteering opportunities for young people, and people who experience barriers to accessing volunteering, over next two years

Over 160 community organisations, including Culture Central, are set to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities over the next two years, as the Government has confirmed the beneficiaries of a £4.6 million fund that will level up access to the benefits of volunteering across the country.

Culture Central in the West Midlands has been awarded £525,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, delivered by Arts Council England.

Culture Central, in partnership with Birmingham Museums Trust, Creative Black Country, Stoke Creates and Open Theatre will work together to deliver a regional and place-based, volunteering and development programme. This will focus on areas of low engagement and with those who experience barriers, prioritising social interaction, purpose, skills, well-being and building social capital to create change. The programme will also work across the region to support volunteers and organisations to make the most of volunteering opportunities, including working with the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games to build on their inclusive volunteering programme.

The Volunteering Futures Fund was launched last year and will be distributed by Arts Council England. It will break down barriers to volunteering and enable organisations across the arts, culture, sport, civil society, youth and heritage sectors to continue their valuable work within local communities whilst volunteers enjoy the personal benefits of making a difference.

Those set to benefit most from the funding include young people and people with disabilities. Colleges, local councils, schools, health and wellbeing organisations are also among the recipients of the Fund.

Arts Council England have awarded these organisations in order to respond to demand from a wide range of beneficiaries, such as from those who may be experiencing loneliness or social isolation, to young people in the LGBTQ community, people with learning difficulties and complex needs.

A full list of funded projects can be found here.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said:

“As we have seen throughout the pandemic, volunteering offers a wealth of benefits to both the volunteers and the organisations who rely on their help, encouraging acts of generosity, public spirit and neighbourliness.

“The Volunteering Futures Fund will deliver a step-change in connecting those who may be isolated, lonely or experiencing any number of potential barriers to get involved in volunteering.

“I’m delighted that more than 160 organisations will now benefit from £4.6 million in Government funding to enhance collaboration between local councils, the public sector, and civil society.”

The £4.6 million UK Government funding is being awarded and distributed via Arts Council England. Grants of £100,000 or more have been awarded following an Arts Council competitive process launched in November 2021. There are 19 lead organisations that will work with more than 160 partner organisations to deliver volunteering opportunities at a local level across England.

An additional £2.2 million has been distributed by Pears Foundation and NHS Charities Together.

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England said:

“There’s an abundance of evidence to show that volunteering can be a key factor in helping people lead happier lives.

“This new investment will enrich villages, towns and cities across England, increasing health and well-being and decreasing loneliness and isolation.”

Erica Love, Chief Executive of Culture Central said:

“We are so pleased to have received this funding for this important inclusive volunteering programme. It is a significant regional partnership project which responds to the needs of people in their place, creating opportunities to develop new skills, meet and connect with new people and enjoy the significant benefits of taking part in cultural volunteering. During an important year for the region, we are looking forward to working with expert local organisations to deliver this exciting and much-needed programme”

Janine Eason, Director of Engagement at Birmingham Museums Trust, said:

“We know that volunteering has many benefits for individuals and organisations alike, but for a long time we’ve recognised the barriers that many people face to accessing these opportunities. This funding marks a major step towards ensuring that volunteering within the culture sector is more open, inclusive, and representative of Birmingham’s people. Building on the legacy of the Birmingham 2022 Festival volunteering programme, the fund will help us to think differently about the way we approach volunteering and level the playing field so we can reach amazing people in our communities.”

Sajida Carr, Director of Operations and Development, Creative Black Country said:

“Creative Black Country is delighted to work in partnership with Stoke Creates and Culture Central to deliver a new programme of work that supports community volunteering. This investment in the Black Country will enable us to open up more opportunities across the region – helping people to come together and develop new skills through community activities.

Creative Black Country works with communities in Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton to explore and develop new creative projects with local people in the places where they live, and we hope that the support through the Volunteering Futures Fund will help us reach even more people.’’

Nicky Twemlow, Chair – Stoke Creates said:

“Stoke Creates is really happy to be working in partnership with Culture Central and others across the region to deliver the Volunteering Futures Fund. This will be of huge benefit to artists and communities across Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire, working collectively to promote the benefits of volunteering and providing more people with opportunities to get involved with the region’s rich cultural offer.

A key strand of work will be working with children and young people, and as the creative industries are a key economic growth area, providing work-based learning experience in this field will be of huge value to so many.”

Richard Hayhow, Director – Open Theatre said:

“We’re really excited about being involved in this great project and have an opportunity to support the involvement of young people with learning disabilities in volunteer work in arts organisations across the region.”

Nicola Turner, Director of Legacy – Birmingham 2022 said:

“The Birmingham 2022 Games set out to create an inclusive volunteering workforce and we were delighted by the number of applicants who are new to volunteering. One of the tests of legacy is whether you can keep positive opportunities flowing after the last whistle is blown and, as this consortium shows, it can also forge powerful partnerships of like-minded organisations. More volunteers, in more places, for years to come and the Games hasn’t even started yet: what great news for the West Midlands.”

Photograph: Volunteers at Commonwealth Games Handover Ceremony, by Andy Kelsall.