Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk UK City of Culture bid team awarded £250,000 of funding to boost volunteering for local people
London 2012 legacy funder, Spirit of 2012 has today announced the award of a quarter of a million pounds to Great Yarmouth Borough Council and East Suffolk Council for Cultural Connections to develop volunteering in the area, delivering plans set out in its UK City of Culture bid.
Cultural Connections is a two-and-a-half-year project which aims to harness the momentum generated through the City of Culture bid to build on the volunteer offer across Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk.
The project will use arts, culture and heritage volunteering to improve the wellbeing and life chances of its target groups, including young people, those living in deprived areas, disabled people and those experiencing social isolation.
Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk is one of four locations which have been awarded a grant from the Volunteering Cities fund. The other three locations are Bradford, Conwy, and Medway. In May this year, Bradford was confirmed as UK City of Culture 2025.
Building on the success of legacy volunteering programmes such as HEY! Volunteering from Hull UK City of Culture 2017, Spirit of 2012 created the Volunteering Cities Fund to enable more UK cities to reap the benefits of events-driven volunteering, irrespective of whether they've won the designation. The London 2012 legacy funder invited the 20 locations that submitted an expression of interest to become 2025 UK City of Culture to apply for a share of the fund earlier this year.
The funding will be used in Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk to:
- strengthen the existing volunteering infrastructure, with a clear plan for how this will be delivered over the long term;
- identify and engage a cohort of new volunteers who stand to benefit from volunteering with the project, and measure its impact on them;
- generate insights into a number of key areas, including the rural volunteering infrastructure, how to recruit and retain people who are least likely to volunteer, and how an inclusive and diverse volunteering offer can deliver community wellbeing and culture-led regeneration strategies.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council and East Suffolk Council will receive £200,000, with additional funding of £50,000 to cover costs that reduce barriers for people taking part, such as access costs. The project is expected to last between two and two and a half years, finishing by the end of June 2025.
As well as boosting volunteering in the area, Cultural Connections will help Spirit of 2012 and other funders and commissioners of events understand how the momentum of the bid process can be a platform to designing sustainable volunteer programmes, and a catalyst for social connectedness and partnership working. An evaluation of the Volunteering Cities programme will be carried out by Neighbourly Lab.
Great Yarmouth Borough Council leader Cllr Carl Smith said "We have some fantastic community groups around the borough and this funding will help us build on that and support local people to make a difference to where they live. It will also allow us to really understand what inspires people to volunteer, so we can put in place what is needed to make it easier for people to volunteer and help improve the health and wellbeing of our communities."
East Suffolk Council leader Cllr Steve Gallant said: "Huge amounts of work went into our bid for UK City of Culture last year and although unsuccessful, that bid has provided other opportunities, such as this funding. East Suffolk already benefits from a broad network of volunteer organisations working hard to support local people in a myriad of ways. This funding will strengthen that volunteer offer, helping to further improve the lives of all those living and working in the district."
Ruth Hollis, CEO, Spirit of 2012 said: "I'm delighted to announce the grant to Great Yarmouth Borough Council and East Suffolk Council today and congratulate everyone involved in the application. We've known for some time now how volunteering delivers benefits for people, communities and places, benefits which have really come to the fore over the last two years of pandemic and lockdown.
"Big events like the UK City of Culture and the Commonwealth Games have created incredible volunteering legacies for their host cities, but these big-ticket opportunities are few and far between. An incredible amount of work, energy and passion goes into preparing City of Culture bids, and whether successful or not, they have the potential to grow and evolve, and give 'cities' the opportunity to build on existing provision to create a sustainable local volunteering programme."