Give: Volunteering for Wellbeing

Give: Volunteering for Wellbeing is a National Lottery Heritage Fund project led by UCL on behalf of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance in collaboration with the Horniman Museum and GardensNatural History Museum, and Valence House Museum. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will make heritage more accessible to people experiencing health inequalities. Working with the three museum partners, our new volunteering programmes will help open up hidden and unused collections to a greater number of people.

Volunteering Survey hands_image

If you are a Volunteer Coordinator or involved in recruiting, managing or scheduling volunteers, and work for the museum, gallery, heritage, arts or other cultural sector, then we would be grateful if you could take part in our Volunteering Survey (more information below). All responses to the survey will be stored securely and made anonymous for the purposes of evaluation. Everyone who has contributed will be invited to have their name and organisation acknowledged in the ‘Volunteering for Wellbeing’ report plus a free copy of the report (end 2019).

We are interested in understanding from this survey, how volunteering programmes contribute to the wellbeing of their volunteers. We are using the word ‘wellbeing’ in its broadest sense; please read our definition below:

DEFINITION OF WELLBEING: Wellbeing is a measure of how well we function day to day and how we feel about ourselves and our lives as a whole. It is generally agreed that wellbeing includes the presence of positive emotions (e.g. contentment, fulfilment, life satisfaction, resilience and self-esteem) and the absence of negative emotions (e.g. anxiety, depression and loneliness). People with high levels of wellbeing are often described as flourishing; these people experience feelings of happiness, contentment and curiosity, engage with what is going on around them, function well in the world, experience positive relationships, and have a sense of purpose and control over their lives.

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We would be very grateful if you could spend around 15 minutes completing the 10 questions of the Volunteering Survey (the average amount of time spent on this so far has been 13 mins).

‘Give: Volunteering for Wellbeing’ project secures National Lottery support

UCL, on behalf of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, has received a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund – thanks to National Lottery players – an exciting  project ‘Give: Volunteering for Wellbeing’, to work in collaboration with the Natural History Museum, Horniman Museum and Gardens, and Valence House. Dr Linda Thomson from UCL will manage the project.

The project will make heritage more accessible to people experiencing health inequality. Working with our three partner organisations, new volunteering programmes will connect people and help open up hidden and unused collections to more people.

This project forms part of the work of the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, a new Arts Council Sector Support Organisation formed by the merger of the National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing. By supporting these museums to pilot sustainable collections-led volunteering for wellbeing provision we will:

  • At community level – use our networks and knowledge of best practice to enable a wider range of people to volunteer with their local museums to support their personal wellbeing and be inspired by the organisation’s collections.
  • Organisational level – through our training and evaluation help museums to understand how they can embed collections-led volunteering for wellbeing and support a wider range of people in the future.
  • National level – undertake sector-wide mapping of volunteering for wellbeing. This will be combined with learning about the role of collections in improving the wellbeing of volunteers and use this learning to inspire and support other museums nation-wide to undertake this work.

Prof. Helen Chatterjee (Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance, Co-Founder and Board Member based at UCL) said ‘We are thrilled to have received this award and very excited to work with three of London’s finest museums. We are very grateful to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery players for supporting this exciting initiative’.

Liz Ellis (Policy Advisor Communities and Diversity, Heritage Lottery Fund) said ‘The National Lottery Heritage Fund recognises the crucial role volunteering has in connecting us with each other and building sustainable wellbeing. This project will demonstrate the significant opportunities ahead for individual volunteers, local communities and heritage organisations to work together to embed improved wellbeing into museum practice’.

For further information contact: Linda Thomson, UCL +44(0)20 7679 2649 email Twitter @CHWAlliance @h_chatterjee

Notes for editors


TNLHLF_Colour_Logo_English_RGB_0_0Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.

UCL Logo

UCL is London’s leading multidisciplinary university, with more than 13,000 staff and 38,000 students from 150 different countries. Founded in 1826 in the heart of London, UCL was the first university in England to welcome students of any religion and the first to welcome women on equal terms with men. The Culture and Health Research team has over the past seven years been investigating the impact of museum encounters in a variety of settings, including museums, hospitals, care homes and community centres.


The National Alliance for Museums, Health and Wellbeing and the National Alliance for Arts, Health and Wellbeing merged to become a new Sector Support Organisation, the Culture, Health and Wellbeing Alliance (CHWA) from 1 April 2018. Funded by Arts Council England as part of the National Portfolio Fund 2018-2022, the new organisation is led by Arts & Health South West.

CHWA combines the complementary strengths of the two sectors and has a strong emphasis on the potential of national strategic developments that can be activated by strong regional and local place-based working. CHWA works with the sector to develop training and advocacy, methods and platforms for sharing evidence, as well as opportunities for networking between cultural and health sectors. It provides the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing, and will be a key partner in delivering the recommendations of the APPG’s two-year enquiry. wwwculturehealthand @CHWAlliance


Horniman Museum 

Horniman_LogoThe Horniman Museum and Gardens opened in 1901 as a gift to the people in perpetuity from tea trader and philanthropist Frederick John Horniman, to bring the world to Forest Hill’. Today the Horniman has a collection of 350,000 objects, specimens and artefacts from around the world. Its galleries include natural history, music and an acclaimed aquarium. A new World Gallery of anthropology opened on 29 June 2018. Indoor exhibits link to the award-winning display gardens – from medicinal and dye gardens to an interactive sound garden, Butterfly House and an animal walk – set among 16 acres of beautiful, green space offering spectacular views across London.

The Horniman Museum and Gardens has a well established and internationally recognised community engagement programme and works with a range of local and national partners supporting marginalised groups including mental health service users and new arrivals to deliver the programme. The Volunteering programme supports the involvement of over 140 adults and young people each year, the majority of whom are from the local area. The Horniman has a wealth of experience of delivering and developing collections-focused health and wellbeing provision, and will be the lead partner on this project. @HornimanMuseum

Natural History Museum 

NHM_LogoThe Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock the answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise, it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing                                                              resource scarcity. The natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK welcoming more that 4.5 million visitors each year and receiving over 500,000 visitors a month to its website.

The Museum has a large and diverse engagement programme  for all including schools, families and adults. It also has a strong history of engaging volunteers in mutually beneficial programmes including the Learning Volunteer Programme which has been running for 13 years with over 70 volunteers involved who enjoy learning more about the natural world and interacting with hundreds of visitors every day in the galleries. @NHM_London

Valence House 

VH_LogoValence House is the local history centre for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, which includes museum, archive and local studies centre. Over 4,500 years of local history is on display in the museum, which is set in a 15th century, timber-framed manor house that is still partially surrounded by a moat. Displays include the Dagenham Idol, one of the earliest Printforms of human representation in Europe; archaeology from Barking Abbey, one of the greatest nunneries in the country prior to the dissolution; and the Fanshawe portrait collection, one of the best collections of gentry portraits in England.

Valence House Archive and Local Studies centre is a unique and fascinating resource, providing information on the people and places of Barking and Dagenham. Highlights include the letters of Sir Richard Fanshawe, a manuscript on Victorian Barking written by William Frogley, the records of Samuel Williams and Sons Ltd, log books on local air-raids compiled by ARP Wardens and the John Gerard herbal book. @ValenceHouse