Improving Futures: Volunteering for Wellbeing

This ground-breaking project from Imperial War Museum North and Manchester Museum explored how volunteering at heritage venues can improve wellbeing and change lives.

The three year project enabled 225 people from a diverse range of backgrounds to work as volunteers with some of the most prestigious heritage venues in the North West, including the Whitworth Art Gallery and People’s History Museum.

The scheme provided a bespoke training programme for those who were long-term unemployed, socially isolated or had mental wellbeing challenges to help them reintegrate into society.

The project evaluation found that:

  • Over 75% reported a significant increase in wellbeing after a year
  • Almost 60% reported long term sustained wellbeing improvements over two to three years
  • More than 30% of people gained employment or other new opportunities for getting into work

Participants also reported improvements in cognitive ability and an enhanced sense of belonging.

The project’s success has led to talks exploring the possibility of ‘social prescribing’, where patients would be prescribed heritage volunteering opportunities to improve their health.

To find out more, visit the project website.

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