The government has announced a £7m fund to help organisations in the civil society, arts, sports, culture, youth and heritage sectors improve access to volunteering.
The Volunteering Futures Fund has launched in recognition of the barriers many people face to volunteering, and aims to encourage a diverse range of people into the activity. In particular, those experiencing loneliness, those with disabilities and those from minoritised backgrounds.
This news comes following the findings that 60% of people surveyed in a recent report admitted that they never volunteer for charity, as well as British Heart Foundation urgently calling for volunteers after losing 2,500 during the pandemic.
DCMS provided Arts Council England (ACE) with £4.7m of the grants to administer. It has also awarded £550,000 to the Pears Foundation and £600,000 NHS Charities Together, which are both matching the funds meaning over £7m is available in total.
Key to levelling up the country
Minister for civil society Nigel Huddleston, said: “Making volunteering opportunities accessible to all is an important step towards levelling up this country.
“I urge organisations to apply for grants through Arts Council England, to develop and deliver high quality volunteering opportunities.”
Huddleston and DCMS were keen to advertise the benefits of volunteering, such as the building of new skills, opportunities to connect with people and join social networks whilst contributing to society.
Sir Trevor Pears, executive chair at Pears Foundation, said: “For so many civil society organisations, volunteers are the backbone of their work; the extraordinary volunteer response to Covid-19 has only served to emphasise this. Now, as we look forward, it’s crucial that we support these organisations to build on that response, remove remaining barriers to recruitment, and further develop the infrastructure to support and invest in their volunteers.
“We are delighted to be working in partnership again with DCMS to support some of our long-term partners in this work, delivering projects to develop volunteering opportunities for, and for the benefit of, people with disabilities and young people.”
ACE is open to expressions of interest for projects of £100,001 until 7 December. It will be inviting full and applications in January 2022.
Editor's note: 24 November
The name of NHS Charities has been corrected to NHS Charities Together