A big blue wave of positivity in Hull and East Yorkshire

Hull and East Yorkshire aims to become one of Britain’s friendliest destinations, by expanding its iconic City of Culture volunteering programme.

Decked-out in trademark blue uniforms, and offering a friendly welcome and advice to visitors, the volunteers played a huge role in the success of Hull’s year under the spotlight as UK City of Culture 2017.

Because the programme was such a hit, the volunteer scheme continued after City of Culture ended, and has since grown and evolved to offer even more volunteering opportunities.

Dubbed ‘Hull and East Yorkshire’s big blue wave of positivity’ after the colour of its uniform, the volunteer programme, now called HEY! Volunteering, is around 2,500 strong, and so far has completed 91,000 volunteering opportunities.

Now, Visit Hull and East Yorkshire (VHEY) – a tourism partnership between Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council – is expanding the scheme across the region.

Acting as ambassadors, and boosting pride in the region, the programme supports the area’s thriving arts, culture and heritage sector, with volunteers sharing their infectious positivity and enthusiasm at a range of activities, from pop-up art events and installations to outdoor festivals and community projects.

Last year the programme received funding for another three years from the London 2012 Games legacy fund, Spirit of 2012, and moved from being overseen by Hull cultural development organisation Absolutely Cultured, to VHEY.

And following the funding boost, HEY! Volunteering is now taking on new recruits for the first time in two years.

It is being described as a new chapter for the programme, with tourism chiefs believing that as sectors and communities emerge from the pandemic, volunteers will be as important as ever in welcoming people back to shops, theatres, galleries, museums, and outdoor spaces.

The move gives volunteers the opportunity to be involved in a more diverse range of events and activities, and by operating throughout East Yorkshire, rather than being Hull-focused, it is also hoped that more people from the wider region will be able to get involved in the programme

Of the current 2,500 volunteers on HEY! Volunteering’s database around 800 are actively engaging with the programme, and since the programme began, almost 30,000 role training or masterclass places have been filled.

As well as providing a tourism boost, helping visitors feel at home and giving them a warm East Yorkshire welcome, the scheme has brought a big volunteering spinoff across the community.

In a recent survey, almost 61% of volunteers said they had gone on to volunteer for other organisations outside of the programme. Almost half of those surveyed said they would not have considered doing so if it were not for their involvement in the programme.

This first recruitment drive is open for applications until 21 March 2022, with more details at www.heyvolunteering.co.uk

For events and updates on East Yorkshire as a destination, see www.visiteastyorkshire.co.uk

For more details on visiting and staying in Hull, see www.visithull.org

Photos: Leo Francis

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