City-wide appeal for volunteers to get involved in cultural events

Published: Thursday, 14th June 2018

People with time to spare are being urged to volunteer for a number of exciting opportunities that are happening across the city this year.

The appeal comes ahead of a series of high profile events taking place in Stoke-on-Trent this summer and autumn and looks to build on the success achieved from the city bidding to become UK City of Culture for 2021. The main aim is to increase the number of volunteers – and their associated skills – in the city for the future. 

Venues and projects that new volunteers can support include:

  • Middleport Pottery – events taking place over the summer, including Poppies: Weeping Window.
  • Heritage Open Days at a number of places across the city, including Stoke Town Hall and other heritage venues, in September.
  • Bethesda Chapel.
  • Appetite Big Feast, in August.
  • First World War commemorative events, as part of ‘Stoke-on-Trent Remembers’ activity across the city.

People who register to be involved will receive training to help them in their roles. Those interested are being asked to sign up if they can provide a minimum of six hours’ support. This will cover training requirements and one four-hour session of volunteering support, but ultimately they will be able to participate as regularly or for as long as they want to. Ideally, prospective volunteers should be able to make their own way to events, although they will be paid expenses.

The project is being supported with funding from the city’s Cultural Destinations programme – following a £300k award from the Arts Council England – which aims to enable arts and culture organisations to work in partnership to increase their reach, engagement and resilience through working with the tourism sector.

Councillor Randy Conteh, Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “Across the city, we have a number of tourist and heritage organisations that are all keen to build their volunteer numbers. This is even more important given the number of First World War and heritage activities happening across Stoke-on-Trent this year, for example Heritage Open Days and national profile events taking place at sites like Middleport.

“Not only does volunteering support the organisations and the city, it’s extremely fulfilling for anyone who gets involved. They learn new skills, meet new people and can try different things that they may not do otherwise. For many, volunteering can lead to new employment or open doors for exciting opportunities that would not have been available before.

“In Hull, through UK City of Culture 2017, they developed a hugely successful volunteering programme – the benefits were endless. Not only did destinations gain support when they needed it most, but visitors got a really positive welcome.

“We want to replicate this in Stoke-on-Trent. Our biggest strength is how friendly people are in the city. Recruiting additional volunteers would help us to attract more people to enjoy what’s on offer here.”

In particular, the appeal is being made to employers in the city who encourage their staff to give time back to the community.

Councillor Abi Brown, deputy leader of the city council and chair of the Poppies: Weeping Window steering panel, said: “We have a number of fantastically supportive organisations both inside and outside the city which want to make sure they contribute positively to Stoke-on-Trent. We want to hear from them around how they could get involved.”

Clare Wood, director at Middleport Pottery, said: “We have a number of very dedicated volunteers here at Middleport who always go above and beyond. They help make every visit here extra special. With the growth and success of Middleport and given the number of events happening here across the summer months – including the nationally-acclaimed Poppies: Weeping Window – we’d be absolutely thrilled to have more people involved. This is a once-in-a-generational opportunity and we do need more volunteers.

“Depending on the support they can provide, they can do a number of exciting roles – visitor guides, welcome hosts or activity guides. There’s never been a better time to volunteer in the city.”

John Booth, one of the volunteers at Bethesda Chapel in the city centre, said: “We would love to be able to open more often given the fantastic response we get to the chapel. Unfortunately this isn’t possible with the small pool of volunteers that we have, who provide their time and support. Attracting more people to get involved and give their time would pay off no end.”

Karl Greenwood, project director for Appetite, said: “We have seen a number of volunteers come forward to help Appetite in previous years and they’ve ended up becoming life-long supporters. It’s a great way to enjoy culture in the city, develop some skills and have fun. I would urge anyone who’s interested to get involved.”

Anyone who would like to volunteer is being asked to contact communications@stoke.gov.uk or to telephone 01782 234036 between 8.45am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday, and between 8.45am and 4.30pm on Fridays. People can also attend an all-day drop-in information session at Middleport on Saturday, June 23.

The deadline for expressions of interest is June 30.

 

For all media enquiries please the Communications Department at Stoke-on-Trent City Council on 01782 232265.