London has been named European Volunteering Capital 2016, beating off competition from 10 other cities, including Rome and Edinburgh.
The award is run by the European Volunteer Centre, known as CEV, and promotes volunteering at a local level by giving recognition to places that support and strengthen partnerships with volunteer centres and celebrates the difference made by volunteers. It comes with no funding attached.
The judging panel concluded that "London’s approach to funding and resourcing volunteer organisations and infrastructure organisations is creative and seeks to not only focus on direct support that can be provided through a range of different types and sizes of grants but also in helping volunteer organisations in accessing and activating other funds from alternative sources", according to a statement from the CEV, which is a network of agencies that promotes volunteering in Europe.
Other cities beaten by London to win the title for 2016 were Belfast and Bruges.
The winning bid was led by Team London, the programme set up by Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, to increase volunteering levels in the capital.
Team London had support in developing the bid from local volunteer centres and the partnership body Greater London Volunteering, it said.
Gabriella Civico, director of CEV, said: "The city is an outstanding example of how local government, local people and businesses can strategically harness the benefits of volunteering to improve people's lives and the environment, and contribute to socially cohesive communities."
In a statement, Johnson said: "I’m very proud that London has been recognised as the top volunteering city in Europe. Tens of thousands of Londoners are now giving a hand to others and helping to make London a cleaner, greener and more welcoming place for everyone.
"Team London has created an incredible volunteering legacy for the capital, with people of all ages and backgrounds giving up their time to make the city an even better place to live in."