Active Kindness – The Story So Far

Our Active Kindness project is now two years old and already making a big difference supporting Charitable Trusts.

Between December 2021 and December 2022 we worked with four pilot Trusts with the aim of building their capacity on volunteer management. 

And from January 2023 we rolled out the programme to ten more of our members.

On this page you can find out about:

The First 12 Months

In Year 1 & 2 Active Kindness was funded by Sport England. It is a project designed to build the Leisure and Culture Trusts’ capacity for volunteer management and re-energise the volunteering experience in the Charitable Trust sector. Over the first 12 months Community Leisure UK, along with partners at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, worked with four pilot Trusts:

  • The Pelican Centre, Greater Manchester
  • Hyndburn Leisure Trust, Lancashire
  • Your Trust, Greater Manchester
  • Active Luton, Bedfordshire.

Active Kindness offers funding, training and support, including;

  • Bespoke workshops delivered by our partner, the National Council for Volunteering (NCVO), to support new thinking around volunteer policies, role descriptions, marketing and promotion.
  • A unique online volunteer toolkit for Charitable Trusts.   
  • Funding to support the recruitment and training of a new cohort of volunteers, particularly from low socio-economic groups and women.

Highlights in 2022

Key Stats

  • 169 volunteers recruited so far by four Trusts in the 2022 pilot.
  • 52% of volunteers were from lower socio-economic groups – smashing the target of 20%.
  • 70% of volunteers in the pilot programme identified as female – target was 60%
  • 740 hours of volunteering completed.

Managers agreed that participation in Active Kindness has increased the profile of volunteering within Trusts and helped to make the approach more structured and strategic. They talked about a “paradigm change” in their volunteer programmes and volunteer management.

Better Understanding

There was also a better understanding of how valuable volunteers can be across the organisation. The pilot Trusts were all considering how to maximise what they had gained from the initial investment to take forward the volunteering agenda. Specific examples of embedding and developing volunteering at Trusts included:

  • Investing in volunteer management software
  • Including volunteering in the Trust’s new strategic plan
  • Awareness raising with other staff and managers about the potential of volunteering
  • Featuring volunteering in annual reports
  • Setting targets around volunteering

New Volunteer Roles

Trusts also created an average of six new roles each through the programme. These included:

  • Local heritage walk leader
  • Gym buddy
  • First aid assistant
  • Soft play assistant
  • Half-term club assistant
  • Food programme volunteer
  • Library volunteer

Read Our Year One Full Report

Active Kindness Year 2 Report


Class of 2023

Following Year 1 we recruited 10 new Trusts to continue this journey with us into 2023. You can find the Full Year 2 Report here.

  • Rossendale Leisure Trust,
  • Halo Leisure,
  • Kirklees Active Leisure,
  • Everybody Health & Leisure,
  • Sandford Parks Lido,
  • LED Community Leisure,
  • Fusion Lifestyle,
  • GLL – Manchester,
  • HalfFish
  • Freedom Leisure.

What Our Members Say

“You can never step into the same river twice. Things are constantly shifting, new water is suddenly swirling around your ankles and the change can almost be imperceptible. It feels a little like this when making changes to the culture of an organisation – there’s no big sign – just little signs.
“At Hyndburn Leisure Trust this is beginning to happen as we become more focussed on welcoming and valuing volunteers. No big numbers, no big shifts but definitely it ‘feels better’ and this is in no small part from the encouragement and expertise given to us by Active Kindness and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. By the end of the programme we’ll have made enough little changes to count as a big one.”

Ian Hodgson, Community Activator at Hyndburn Leisure in Lancashire

What Our Volunteers Say

“I love sport and working with young people, I wanted to try and use this to help me get qualifications, get to college and expand on my experience, in order to give me more choices in the future to work in the sports area that I love.”

AJ Smith, 16, volunteers at Your Trust, Rochdale.

“I like to keep active, going out and meeting people. It gives you a real buzz and keeps you healthy by being out in the fresh air. It gives you a lift when people are saying ‘you’re doing a great job’.”

Ben McElhinney, retired and volunteers at Active Luton on the golf course.

“I really enjoy working with people and youngsters, and building my confidence up to lead sessions and focusing on my specialist sport swimming. Thanks to volunteering I am now a qualified community sports coach and a trained lifeguard.”

Kyle Durand, 16, volunteers at Your Trust, Rochdale.

“It allows me to share my passion for the rich industrial heritage of Hyndburn with people.”

Gary Britland, 48, volunteers as a Walk Leader at Hyndburn Leisure, Lancashire.