Spirit of 2012 has today announced funding for seven projects across the UK to explore how the major national events and moments of 2023 can connect individuals and communities and build common ground across social divides.

With another busy year of major events including the Coronation, Eurovision and the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the 75th anniversary of the arrival of HMT Windrush, Spirit of 2012 will build on the findings of its recent Inquiry into the Power of Events with a programme that takes a deep dive into the potential of events to connect people from different social, religious and cultural backgrounds, and across generations.

Spirit’s previous research has shown that events of all sizes, from a local street party to the Commonwealth Games do bring people together, but it doesn’t happen by accident. Our Inquiry recommended that more events make the most of the opportunity to bridge divides. From these seven grants, a combination of test-and-learn and research projects, Spirit will find out more about what works and importantly, how future events can capitalise on these opportunities.

Following an open call for applications earlier this year, seven grants totalling £304,960 have been awarded under the Moments to Connect programme. The programme is designed to:

  • explore how events can build social connections between individuals and communities;
  • help us learn about the role that major events can play in bringing people together across social divides; and
  • enable us to share learning with event organisers and others working to increase social cohesion.

Ruth Hollis, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012 said: “2023 will be a year of celebration and commemoration across the UK – from the Coronation to Eurovision, the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and the 75th anniversary of the HMT Windrush – there’s something for everyone. Our recent Inquiry Report highlighted the potential for events to bring people together to promote understanding, connection and empathy and these seven grants give us a fantastic opportunity to explore how we can build on what works and do that more effectively.”


Windrush 75: shared past, shared future
British Future, £30,000

A grant of £30,000 will fund a project by British Future to investigate how the Windrush 75 anniversary can bring people together from different ethnic, social and political backgrounds. It aims to widen the coalition of organisations celebrating Windrush and to support practitioners in designing events. It will do this by national polling and focus groups, then producing a report, a toolkit, and presentations to offer guidance on messaging.

Patrick Vernon, Convenor of the Windrush 75 network, said: “The 75th anniversary of Windrush is an important moment in British history, helping explain why our multi-ethnic society looks as it does today. We want 2023 to be a year of shared celebrations with everybody invited to take part. The Moments to Connect grant means we can bring Windrush 75 to the widest possible audience, helping organisations understand how to use this unique moment to bring people together.”

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The Spirit of Windrush
National Maritime Museum, £47,060

Delivered in partnership with the Caribbean Social Forum, The Spirit of Windrush will explore how this shared history has shaped British society today through the eyes of lived experience and through descendants of the Windrush generation to deliver a large-scale event over two days at the National Maritime Museum. Co-created activities will include an inter-schools choir, schools workshop, reminiscence sessions, and a series of creative, games, and interactive performances.

Sarah Lockwood, Head of Engagement, National Maritime Museum said:” We are honoured by this opportunity working with Spirit of 2012 in partnership with Caribbean Forum to connect and collaborate with the Windrush generation and their descendants for the 75th anniversary year, sharing new research, stories and experiences of the past and present for a hopeful future.”

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Our Lives, Our Legacy
Springboard Opportunities, £60,000

Our Lives, Our Legacy will bring together young people from different backgrounds to co-create an event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. The event will explore the legacy of the conflict through participants’ lived experience, and reflect their hopes for the future.

Angila Chada, Executive Director, Springboard Opportunities said: “Springboard is delighted to be working with Spirit 2012 on their Moments to Connect Fund with our Our Lives, Our Legacy programme. Marking the 25th anniversary year of the Good Friday Agreement, young people will explore the legacy of the conflict and lead the design of the Our Lives, Our Legacy youth event. We are particularly excited to contribute to Spirit’s innovative work on how significant events can be maximised to build social cohesion.”

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Year of the King
Jack Drum Arts, £58,475

Jack Drum Arts will design and deliver an intergenerational community carnival in County Durham to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III. The project will include a series of workshops which will offer a wide range of participatory and voluntary opportunities to schools, day care centres, and community groups, with participants creating work to be showcased at the Community Carnival. In the final phase of the project, two new intergenerational legacy groups will meet weekly, working with artists to create work for exhibition at a local venue.

Helen Ward, Chief Executive, Jack Drum Arts said: “We are thrilled to have been awarded funding from Spirit of 2012 to deliver a large-scale event and legacy project inspired by the King’s Coronation. Our project, Year of the King, will create opportunities for positive, enjoyable interactions bringing younger and older people together to share, collaborate and celebrate.”

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Songs of Endurance and Inclusion
The Young Foundation, £49,500

Using the platform of this year’s Eurovision which is being hosted by the UK on behalf of Ukraine, Songs of Endurance and Inclusion seeks to explore how the most famous song contest in the world can be used to celebrate the contribution of refugees and migrants and bring diverse communities together through local events. The Young Foundation will work with existing music groups and choirs, communities and local services in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets towards a grand finale music event at East London’s famous Toynbee Hall.

Helen Goulden OBE, Chief Executive at The Young Foundation, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to be working with Spirit of 2012, celebrating our national support for refugee communities in the UK through the universal language of music. As Liverpool gears up to host the Eurovision song contest on behalf of Ukraine, this project recognises a broader opportunity for cultural exchange. Across the globe and through the ages, singing has been a vehicle for storytelling, bringing loved ones together and sharing traditions in ways that transcend language barriers. We want to capture the joy of Eurovision, celebrating song, culture and connectedness across countries – and we look forward to sharing our learnings from the process.”

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Creating connected and cohesive communities through festivals and events
University of the West of Scotland (UWS), £29,925

This research project, led by the Centre for Culture, Sport and Events (CCSE) at the University will explore how festivals and events can be used to strengthen Equality, Diversity and Inclusion outcomes. The project will explore the gap between how event-led social change is presumed and expected but not commonly evidenced in tangible outcomes. The findings of the research will be shared to help inform future events, from small community events to large national events.

Professor Gayle McPherson, Chair in Events and Cultural Policy, and Director, CCSE at UWS said: “We’re delighted to be working with Spirit of London 2012 on the Moments to Connect project. We will be working with key partners in Scotland to examine the macro (Scotland, EventScotland), meso (Glasgow’s event strategy and events) and micro (communities) level to better understand how festivals and events can be operationalised to strengthen equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) outcomes. Through this project we hope to demonstrate how festivals and events can produce positive longer-term social benefits extending beyond one-off moments”

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Reimagining Volunteering
Neighbourly Lab, £30,000

Inspired by early work with Volunteering Cities grantees, this project will explore how “small v” volunteering (people in the community who serve/help others but do not see themselves as volunteers but as people happy to help out) can help with social connection during national events. Focusing on the Coronation, Neighbourly Lab will recruit people doing ‘small v’ volunteering for research before co-designing a toolkit for use by organisers of events of different scales.

Marnie Freeman, Director, Neighbourly Lab, said: “We are so excited to be one of the recipients of the Spirit of 2012 Moments to Connect grant. We are delighted to be given the chance to delve into “small v” volunteering opportunities based around the King’s Coronation and beyond. We are exploring this event from the perspective of the people getting involved and helping out in their community, to uncover their motivations and explore the barriers that they might encounter during this journey. Our insights will equip organisers of future events with the evidence to effectively increase their impact and encourage greater participation in future “small v” volunteering opportunities.”

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