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Dec 2, 2021 | by Stewart Martin

The legacy benefits of celebration, events and volunteering

Last week Spirit of 2012 and The National Lottery Community Fund made two important announcements regarding the legacy benefits of celebration, events and volunteering for individuals and communities. 

  • The Spirit of 2012 Trust opened an inquiry to explore the extent to which events help build happy, thriving and more connected communities – with a focus on volunteering
  • The National Lottery Community Fund announced a £3.5m fund for 70 projects to deliver a lasting impact on communities, places and spaces, in celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year

Games Makers and volunteering

Nine years ago Queen Elizabeth II, with a little help from James Bond, famously opened the London 2012 Olympic Games. Over the course of the Games 70,000 volunteers undertook more than 800 different roles across 80 different venues. In the closing ceremony they received a stirring ovation and, for those who didn’t previously know what a ‘Games Maker’ was, by the end of the summer it was a term synonymous with the Olympic Games – if you need a reminder and a nostalgia hit watch this short video thanking them.

Games Makers themselves benefitted from the experience, including through the development of skills and a desire to volunteer more in the future. However, volunteers need not wait every four (or in the case of Tokyo, five) years for an Olympic Games and 80,000 people cheering their efforts to realise such benefits. In 2022 thousands of volunteers will be helping at next year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, Rugby League World Cup, and Women’s European Football Championships, not to mention a wide range of non-sporting events that include celebrations to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

Yet Spirit 2012 have found 40% of those surveyed may be interested in volunteering in future but at present face barriers to doing so. They also report that 22% of those volunteering at sporting events consider volunteering at grassroot sports but don’t go on to do so

We know from the evidence people with lower wellbeing report the biggest increase in their life satisfaction when volunteering but that the benefits can taper off if they don’t continue to volunteer. All this suggests there may be scope for the positive impact of events, not least through their volunteering legacy, to be improved.

Events and the evidence

Our What Works Network partners, the What Works Centre for Economic Growth, have suggested major events ‘may play a significant role in promoting health and wellbeing’ but given their focus on economic impacts we don’t have these quantified. 

We have explored some of the impacts of community-level events with promising evidence that they can improve social relations, community cohesion, community pride and engagement in civic activity.

Our evidence base also includes considerations of the impact of cultural and sporting interventions and the finding that volunteering is associated with enhanced wellbeing. With many people volunteering more or for the first time during the pandemic, whether formally or informally, we have recently seen further evidence of that impact

However, what we don’t necessarily have is an understanding of the wellbeing impact of events as a whole, and especially major events, and this is where Spirit 2012’s Inquiry comes in.

Spirit of 2012’s Inquiry 

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the Games, Spirit of 2012 has launched an inquiry to explore how events can help build happy, thriving and more connected communities.

They would like to hear from individuals and organisations about events they have been involved in in the past, either in a paid capacity or as a volunteer, and the impact events can have on us as individuals and communities. 

Visit the inquiry webpage or go directly to their 12 question survey before Thursday 30 June to make your contribution.

The National Lottery Community Fund: 70 years and 70 projects

The previous time London hosted the Olympic Games in 1948 saw volunteers introduced to the Games for the first time. By the time the Games moved on to Helsinki in 1952 Britain had a new monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. 

Now, almost seventy years later, plans are underway to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and to mark it the National Lottery Community Fund have launched a £3.5m fund for 70 projects to each receive up to £50k each

Importantly, the funding is for three areas of focus, all of which have impacts on wellbeing:

  1. Across Generations – we have seen intergenerational projects improve participants’ wellbeing in the ‘Keep Singing, Keepsake Project’ which formed part of our wider evidence review into what works for music and singing interventions.
  2. Community Renewal – we know the positive impact on wellbeing that community hubs can have.
  3. Our Shared Natural World – we have found people’s connectedness with nature is an important factor in informing people’s sense that life is worthwhile.

As with the Spirit 2012 Inquiry, the focus is on both celebration and legacy benefits – applicants need to deliver projects that create change for communities and they will need to be running by the time of the Jubilee Central Weekend on 5 June 2022. 

Funding is limited and the deadline is whichever comes first: 15 December or when the fund has received 700 applications. To find out how to apply, who can and cannot apply, the funding criteria, and what the money can be spent on visit the Platinum Jubilee Fund website.

2022 – Securing legacies

The Platinum Jubilee Fund is looking to fund projects that improve places and deliver activities that draw individuals and communities to their benefit. Similarly, many of us are drawn to significant sporting and cultural events as participants, spectators, through our work or as volunteers. Each activity or event seeks to have a lasting impact beyond the ‘final whistle’ and as a Centre we are looking forward to seeing what those impacts are and how they affect wellbeing.

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Find out more about the Olympic legacy

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