£400,000 in funding awarded to support community volunteering opportunities at Tyneside cultural venues

13 April 2022

"This funding will help all the Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues to provide opportunities that will enrich the skills, experiences and wellbeing of the volunteers who participate..."

A young woman in overalls standing in front of a large diesel engine at a heritage railway.Image: Volunteer Katie Wright at Stephenson Steam Railway, North Tyneside

A consortium led by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums (TWAM) is one of 19 projects involving over 160 organisations set to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities over the next two years, thanks to a £4.6 million Government fund that will level up access to the benefits of volunteering across the country. 

The funding will support cultural organisations in Newcastle and Gateshead which together form the collective, Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues, to create and deliver volunteering programmes in their individual venues that attract a diverse volunteer base, explore inclusive volunteering practice and deliver digital volunteering opportunities.

Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues (NGCV), includes:

  • Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ nine venues
  • BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art
  • Dance City
  • Life Science Centre
  • Live Theatre
  • Northern Stage
  • Sage Gateshead
  • Seven Stories
  • Theatre Royal
  • Tyneside Cinema

Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums has been awarded £400,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, delivered by Arts Council England.

The Tyneside project will embed volunteering in the partner cultural venues to collectively support the ambitions and wellbeing of North East communities.

Activity will include a 2-year volunteering programme, reaching 650 participants, recruiting volunteers from communities who are underrepresented with a focus on young people, people who are socio-economically diverse and people facing barriers to participation.

The cultural venue partners will also explore how digital technology can be used in volunteering and how virtual roles can be offered.

Keith Merrin, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, said:

“This funding will help all the Newcastle Gateshead Cultural Venues to provide opportunities that will enrich the skills, experiences and wellbeing of the volunteers who participate and also bring more diverse perspectives and ideas into our cultural venues.

“Volunteering is essential to museums, galleries and cultural venues. We currently have many valued volunteers that support TWAM with a wide range of tasks from assisting at events to driving and maintaining our steam trains.

“In turn volunteers get a variety of benefits from the experience, from skills development to increased confidence to meeting new people. This project is particularly about reaching new people – those who don’t traditionally engage with museums, galleries or theatres.”

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: gov.uk/government/news/thousands-of-new-community-volunteering-opportunities-thanks-to-government-investment

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.” 

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