The government has opened a new £7m fund to help more people access volunteering opportunities across a range of sectors.
The Volunteering Futures Fund will target young people, those experiencing loneliness, those with disabilities and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
The funding pot includes £6m from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and £1.2m from the grantmakers the Pears Foundation and NHS Charities Together.
Organisations that run projects across the arts, heritage, museums, libraries, sport, civil society and youth sectors are encouraged to apply.
These include nationwide projects to create placements for young people, in addition to more regional and local projects, such as those working with a particular football club to provide volunteering opportunities.
Arts Council England will be distributing £4.7m in funding on behalf of the DCMS and applications are open to bids of at least £100,000 to fund the training and support necessary to deliver high quality volunteering projects.
Grantmakers the Pears Foundation and NHS Charities Together will administer the rest of the funding.
Civil society minister, Nigel Huddleston, said: “Making volunteering opportunities accessible to all is an important step towards levelling up this country.
“There are so many benefits to volunteering such as improving mental health, learning new skills and becoming part of a community.”
Huddleston urged organisations to begin applying for the grants through ACE.
Nicholas Serota, chair of the ACE, said: “Volunteers are at the core of the cultural sector, and help to make possible many of the creative and cultural events beloved by people all over the country.
“We know that volunteering can also have huge benefits for physical, mental and emotional health, and so we’re delighted to work with DCMS to administer this fund.”
Following initial expressions of interest, the ACE aims to award all grants by the end of March next year.
For more information visit the ACE website.