Become a Medway Logo Alt Champion
Accessibility Options

Medway UK City of Culture team awarded funding

Medway UK City of Culture bid team awarded nearly £250,000 of funding to boost volunteering for local people. London 2012 legacy funder, Spirit of 2012 has today announced the award of just under a quarter of a million pounds to Ideas Test for Medway Change Makers, a programme to develop volunteering in the area, delivering plans set out in its UK City of Culture bid.

Medway Change Makers 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 the region. 36 ‘heroes’ will be recruited from Medway’s areas of greatest deprivation and least cultural engagement, and from communities with barriers to volunteering. The heroes will in turn recruit 540 ‘Medway Change Makers’ from their local area to participate in micro or one-off volunteering offers connected to local cultural and community events, including Medway Light Nights, Electric Medway and Chatham Carnival. The project will be delivered in partnership with Medway Voluntary Action, Medway Place Board, Creative Medway & Medway Council.

Medway is one of four locations which have been awarded a grant from the Volunteering Cities fund. The other three locations are Bradford, Conwy, and Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk. 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 Medway 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.

Ideas Test will receive £199,500, 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, Medway Change Makers 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.

Tracy Brunt, Director, Ideas Test said: “We believe this project will be a game changer for people in Medway.  By starting local, using word of mouth and community networks we will make sure that everyone can benefit from this ambitious programme bringing people together to celebrate and enjoy arts and culture in Medway. This project is all about growing community spirit, pride and sense of place.”

Ruth Hollis, CEO, Spirit of 2012 said: “I’m delighted to announce the grant to Ideas Test 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.”

Cultural Connections. A two-and-a-half-year project which aims to build on the volunteer offer across Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk, using 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.

Medway Change Makers. Delivered by Ideas Test in partnership with Medway Voluntary Action, Medway Place Board, Creative Medway & Medway Council. ‘Medway Change Makers’ seeks to recruit 36 Heroes from Medway’s areas of highest deprivation and lowest cultural engagement. These Heroes will receive support to recruit a total of 540 Medway Change Makers from their local area, from whom they will draw to participate in micro or one-off volunteering offers connected to local cultural and community events, including Medway Light Nights, Electric Medway and Chatham Carnival.

  • Ideas Test is one of Arts Council England’s Creative People And Places.
    Created in 2013, Ideas Test works together with communities in Medway & Swale to co-create projects, programmes, festivals and public events so more people can experience arts and culture.
  • Spirit of 2012 was established as an independent Trust by the National Lottery Community Fund in 2013 to build on the legacy of the London 2012 Games. It does this by funding projects and research that enable people to participate in a wide variety of activities from physical activity to the arts and volunteering, and focusing on evaluation to fully understand why and how taking part can make people feel better and more connected to their communities. More information: