Spirit of 2012, the London 2012 legacy funder, has today announced the award of a quarter of a million pounds to City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council to develop volunteering in the area, delivering plans set out in its UK City of Culture bid.

Bradford Cultural Volunteering Programme will lay the groundwork for the volunteer programme for UK City of Culture 2025, recruiting 1,750 volunteers in the run-up to the year and creating pathways into cultural volunteering.

The project is managed by City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council in collaboration with Community Action Bradford & District and Bradford Culture Company. The city of Bradford, which won the UK City of Culture 2025 designation in May 2022, is one of four locations that have been awarded a grant from the Volunteering Cities fund along with Conwy, Great Yarmouth & East Suffolk, and Medway.

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 Bradford 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.

‘This funding will allow us to create new opportunities for great volunteers within the cultural sector and strengthen our existing volunteering links with communities. We know that winning the title UK City of Culture 2025 brings with it so many opportunities to the district, and this is just one of them. The programme will be able to engage with people who may have never volunteered before, providing them with vital experience and skills and help to support the running of the events planned for Bradford’s UK City of Culture in 2025.’
Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford City Council

‘Our winning campaign for UK City of Culture 2025 elevated Bradford’s ambitions on every level – and this includes building and delivering a volunteering programme which connects the brilliantly civic-minded community, especially our wealth of young talent, we have here across the district. Bradford’s people and their passion for this place was at the very heart of our winning bid, but the process of bidding also highlighted that we need to do more work to create a pool of multi-skilled volunteers for city-wide volunteering at scale – people who can meet thousands of visitors at a train station one day, then manage an information booth or cultural event the next.’
Shanaz Gulzar, Creative Director, Bradford 2025 UK City of Culture

‘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 UK 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.’
Ruth Hollis, CEO of Spirit of 2012

  • Photo by Karol Wyszynski