Cumbria Museum Consortium Awarded Nearly A Half Million To Transform Volunteering

Cumbria Museum Consortium has been awarded £490,000 by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport through Volunteering Futures delivered by Arts Council England.

The Consortium, led by Tullie House and including Lakeland Arts and Wordsworth Grasmere, will be delivering Helping Hands, an ambitious 2 year project to transform volunteering in Cumbria and foster inclusivity in the arts and cultural sector.

“The investment that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England are making in Cumbria to support the Helping Hands project is hugely welcomed.” A Cumbria Museum Consortium representatives said.

“Cumbria is the third largest county in England and yet it boasts a very joined up arts and culture network.

“Given the size of the county and the sparsity of population, volunteering plays a crucial role in both community wellbeing and the sustainability of many cultural organisations, this project will combine, strengthen and accelerate the good work that is currently being done in this area.”

Helping Hands will improve community wellbeing, grow capacity and workforce diversity across the Cumbrian culturalsector, address loneliness and isolation, and break down barriers to volunteering that exist across a large, complex, rural county.

It is about improving access to volunteer opportunities, wherever people live.

The project will be delivered through 5 local clusters, which will aim to harnesses countywide partnerships while reaching deep into the county’s villages, towns and cities.

An unprecedented number of organisations have come together as part of this project; they include:

• 7 Arts Council-funded cultural organisations including: Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, Rosehill Theatre in Whitehaven, Barra Culture in Barrow in Furness, Brewery Arts in Kendal and Highlights Rural Touring Scheme based in Penrith. Five organisations will host Inclusive Volunteering Leads. Cumbria CVS & Cumbria County Council (Library Service) will provide expert support in volunteer recruitment and management.

• Over 20 museums, theatres, arts organisations, rural touring village halls will create and host volunteer opportunities. They include English Heritage & National Trust museums. 

• Organisations with expert knowledge of their communities and beneficiary groups, including: Cumbria Youth Alliance,Anti Racist Cumbria, Prism Arts, Multicultural Cumbria,Cumbria Deaf Association, Triple A (Autism) Project and University of Cumbria Institute of the Arts will help to co-design and promote volunteer opportunities to meet participant needs and to train staff in host organisations. 

• Cumbria Arts & Culture Network; Cumbria Museum Directors Group and Carlisle’s Thriving Communities network will share project opportunities and progress.

The project expects to recruit and support around 500 new volunteers and enable nearly 30 Cumbrian museums, theatres and arts organisations to carry on inclusive volunteering in the future.

Helping Hands will start in Spring 2022 with recruitment of project staff and formation of local clusters, with a view to having the first volunteers in place during the Summer.