Bikes & Beans, Absolutely Cultured © Tom Arran


The city-wide volunteering programme emerged from Hull 2017 when more than 2,500 volunteers from Hull and surrounding areas became a driving force in the success of the year, supporting its delivery and participating in every way possible from visitor greeting, to being part of the work itself.

In 2019 over 1,000 different volunteers completed 4,963 shifts supporting 85 different events, initiatives and organisations including Dove House Hospice, The Deep, Hull Pride and many more.

The programme has become recognised as an example of best practice in volunteering, breaking new ground in how volunteering is perceived, the value it can bring to those volunteering and opening new avenues in the role citizens can play. Volunteers are ‘of’ Hull’s communities and those of the surrounding area. They have become trusted for their professional, highly trained and agenda-less approach. As well as opportunities through the programme, many use the programme as a springboard to go on to take action, establish their own initiatives and increasingly volunteer in multiple other ways.

Over the last 3 years, the programme has been transitioning, building on the success but adapting to remain relevant in a post city of culture world and with a move towards greater involvement in the shaping of its direction from volunteers themselves. Through the volunteers, the programme is becoming a movement, continually evolving to realise the potential of people power.

Volunteer COVID-19 response 

During lockdown, volunteers proudly supported the city response providing help to residents such as shopping, dog walking and through a new telephone befriending service Chatty Hull Befrienders. They also provided support to East Riding residents through HEY Smile Foundation’s Caller Collective. In total volunteers completed 1,686 shifts which is equivalent to 4,125 hours of volunteering. As well as through the programme many of the volunteers helped directly within their local communities.

Social action

For Absolutely Cultured, social action is an area of development that is all about finding innovative ways to inspire people to make change happen through creative engagement and shared cultural experiences. Over time, we will pilot multiple ways to expand the role of social action and meaningful cultural engagement to provide opportunities within more of Hull’s neighbourhoods.

Since 2018, volunteers have led on a series of social action pilot projects. Funded by Nesta and DCMS, the projects use creative approaches to respond to what matters to the people within hyper-local communities and particular groups such as children, championing the role creativity and shared events can have in areas such as improving neighbourhoods, strengthening communities, developing skills and knowledge and supporting wellbeing.

Our social action projects are created with people rather than for them in order to encourage people to become true community ambassadors whether part of the volunteering programme or as a member of the community.


We are grateful to Arco who continue to provide our volunteers with their distinctive scandalous blue uniforms.

Meet our volunteers

Meet Margaret

Meet Margaret

Meet Joanne

Meet Joanne

Meet Gary

Meet Gary