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Inquiry 2022

Volunteers, inquiry into the power of events

Inquiry 2022

Can events help build happy, thriving and more connected communities?: A Spirit of 2012 Inquiry

From the earliest times humans have gathered together to mark occasions of significance, perform or compete. Today, events such as the Olympics and Paralympics, Royal Jubilees and Remembrance Day, street parties, music festivals and county shows are occasions that bring people from all walks of life together to take part in moments of importance in national and community life. 

As well as the pleasure this brings, such moments can act as a catalyst that leads to social and economic changes, some of which may be realised years after the event has ended.  The economic legacies of events may include new sporting or cultural facilities, local regeneration, a larger visitor economy, new jobs and increased inward investment.

Events can also have social impacts. Coverage of the London 2012 Paralympic Games raised the profile of disabled people and changed public attitudes. And event volunteering can be a route to more forms of regular volunteering. The long-term social impacts of events may also be less tangible, leading increased social connection and civil pride. Nearly a third of people (29%) still feel that the most important legacy of the London 2012 Games was that it brought us together as a country.

volunteers in hull, inquiry into the power of events, 2022

While cultural, sporting, civic and community events can leave lasting positive impacts, such legacies have not always been achieved. Most sporting, cultural and many community events receive significant public funding: many would argue that it is incumbent on those who organise these events to make sure that they have impacts on individuals and wider society.

Making sure that events have positive, lasting impacts is particularly important at this moment in time. As well as the thousands of regular events, the summer of 2022 will see us celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The following summer sees the 75th anniversaries of the NHS and the arrival of the Empire Windrush. The same period of time will see the UK and Ireland bidding to host the 2030 World Cup. It's because we want to influence the planning and running of these events that Spirit of 2012 has decided to hold an Inquiry about the social and economic impact of events.

The events of 2022 and 2023 will involve hundreds of thousands of volunteers. Without coordinated action however, these events may not leave a lasting volunteering legacy. This is our rationale for our focus on volunteering in this first report of the Inquiry.

The Inquiry will examine how events can help build happy, thriving and connected communities. It will:

  1. Gather evidence to enable a better understanding of the impact of events. Specifically, the Inquiry will look at how events can act as a catalyst to help increase:
  • social, emotional and physical wellbeing
  • financial wellbeing and sustainable local economies
  • social connections between people of different backgrounds and between individuals and institutions.
  1. Develop workable ideas and recommendations to maximise the positive impacts that events can bring to individuals, communities and wider society.
  2. Inform and influence policymakers as well as those involved in the planning and delivery of future events. 


Open Call for Evidence

The Spirit of 2012 Inquiry is holding an open call for evidence. We are asking individuals and organisations to tell us how events can help build happy, thriving and more connected communities.

We are also interested in finding out, from you, how to maximise the positive social and economic impacts of events.

The link below takes you to our survey. You do not have to answer all the questions, only where they are relevant. The deadline for the call for evidence is 18.00 on Thursday 30 June 2022.

Who we are

The Inquiry is chaired by Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett and draws on the expertise of 25 members, with Spirit of 2012 acting as secretariat. Members of the Inquiry come from all parts of the UK and bring a wide range of expertise. They are sharing their expertise in their personal capacities, and their views do not represent those of the organisations that employ them.

Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, inquiry into the power of events 2022

Chair: Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett 

Tom founded the Marshall Institute for Philanthropy and Entrepreneurship at the London School of Economics (LSE). He is also the founder and Chair of Helpforce, a charity championing the greater use of volunteers in health and social care.

Tom sits on the Board of the Westminster Abbey Foundation, and until recently Chair of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, a trustee of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and The King's Fund. Tom has also chaired his village parish council and been the Chief Executive of Marie Curie.

Members of the inquiry

Catherine Anderson

Petra Barran

Peter Bazalgette

Hayley Bennett

Esther Britten

Ajay Chhabra

Angila Chada

Dr Neil Churchill

Chris Creegan

Simon Enright

Kersten England

George Grima

Rev Nicky Gumbel

Professor Donna Hall

Danny Kruger MP

Bill Morris

Mark Pendlington

Nicola Pollock

Susie Rodgers

Jane Robinson

David Sheepshanks

Emma Sims

Geoff Thompson

Professor Patrick Vernon

Jason Wouhra


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