An ambitious joint project involving the Sussex Archaeological Society working in partnership with Brighton Dome & Festival and the Heads On charity has been awarded more than £200,000 to promote volunteering across the region.

The funding , which has been awarded by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and delivered by Arts Council England, is part of the UK Government’s £4.6 million fund to help level up access to the benefits of volunteering across the country. Over 160 community organisations, are set to support 7,800 new volunteering opportunities over the next two years.

The successful bid saw Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival partner with the Society and the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s charity, Heads On, in an ambitious new project called Culture in Mind. The scheme will provide a wealth of volunteering opportunities to support individuals and organisations across the region, while promoting the wider wellbeing benefits of volunteering in the community.

Culture In Mind will actively target individuals who have traditionally experienced barriers to volunteering and to engagement with arts activity. The positive impact of volunteering, including its ability to combat loneliness, low self-esteem and provide essential skills is also a principal focus.

Andrew Comben, Chief Executive, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival said: We were delighted to receive the news that we had been successful in our application to the Future Volunteers Fund. With our ambitious programme, Culture in Mind, Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival will partner with Heads On and The Sussex Archaeological Society to build a volunteering hub that will encourage and deliver new and inclusive opportunities to volunteer across the creative sector in the South East”.

Andrew Edwards, Chief Executive, The Sussex Archaeological Society, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with two leading organisations to deliver this innovative and important project. COVID-19 continues to have a huge impact on every part of society. As we all adjust and adapt to life post-lockdowns, this project will have a hugely beneficial impact on the lives of hundreds of individuals while supporting our ongoing work to promote and protect the county’s heritage for generations to come.”

Rachael Duke, Head of Charity, Heads On, said: “We are absolutely delighted at Heads On to be working in partnership with Brighton Dome & Brighton Festival and The Sussex Archaeological Society, bridging the gap between the arts, heritage and health worlds and breaking down the barriers and stigma that still persist for people with mental health problems. By providing such unique and high-quality volunteering opportunities we can start to repair some of the damage that the social isolation of the pandemic has brought, whilst testing new and non-clinical routes to recovery. We can’t wait to get started!”

The Volunteering Futures Fund launched last year and aims to break down barriers to volunteering. It enables organisations across the arts, culture, sport, civil society, youth and heritage sectors to continue valuable work within local communities, while volunteers enjoy the personal benefits of making a difference.

Those set to benefit most from the funding include young people and people with disabilities. Colleges, local councils, schools, health and wellbeing organisations are also among the recipients of the Fund.

Arts Council England have awarded these organisations in response to demand from a wide range of beneficiaries, such as from those who may be experiencing loneliness or social isolation, to young people in the LGBTQ community, people with learning difficulties and complex needs.

A full list of funded projects can be found here

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “As we have seen throughout the pandemic, volunteering offers a wealth of benefits to both the volunteers and the organisations who rely on their help, encouraging acts of generosity, public spirit and neighbourliness. The Volunteering Futures Fund will deliver a step-change in connecting those who may be isolated, lonely or experiencing any number of potential barriers to get involved in volunteering. I’m delighted that more than 160 organisations will now benefit from £4.6 million in Government funding to enhance collaboration between local councils, the public sector, and civil society.”

The £4.6 million UK Government funding is being awarded and distributed via Arts Council England. Grants of £100,000 or more have been awarded following an Arts Council competitive process launched in November 2021. There are19 lead organisations that will work with more than 160 partner organisations to deliver volunteering opportunities at a local level across England.

An additional £2.2 million has been distributed by Pears Foundation and NHS Charities Together.

Darren Henley, CEO of Arts Council England said: “There’s an abundance of evidence to show that volunteering can be a key factor in helping people lead happier lives. This new investment will enrich villages, towns and cities across England, increasing health and well-being and decreasing loneliness and isolation.”