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Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society at BACKLIT
Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society at BACKLIT

AHF-supported projects celebrate Volunteers’ Week with ministerial visit

4 June 2021

Two AHF-supported organisations, The Arkwright Society and BACKLIT, this week welcomed a visit from Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society, as part of Volunteers’ Week 2021. Volunteers’ Week is an annual opportunity to mark and celebrate the fantastic efforts and contributions volunteers make to our communities, including to our heritage. Without the time and dedication of volunteers many of the projects the AHF supports would not be possible, including the work of The Arkwright Society and BACKLIT. It was with great delight that these organisations welcomed the Minister, to discuss the central role volunteering plays in furthering their work and the benefits of volunteering for both individuals and the wider community.  

The Arkwright Society cares for and manages UNESCO World Heritage Site Cromford Mills, Derbyshire, a site of pivotal importance in the Industrial Revolution. The AHF has been supporting the Society since 1979, as they have restored and adapted the buildings into a heritage attraction, commercial workspaces, restaurants, shops and galleries. BACKLIT operates an independent art gallery and studios out of Alfred House, Nottingham, a late 19th century former factory. The charity works closely with young emerging artists and the diverse local community. The AHF has been supporting the organisation since 2020.

Cromford Mills has an active volunteering programme, with around 70 regular volunteers involved in conservation, guiding, interpretation, and learning and events support across the site. The Arkwright Society is delivering a long-term Master Plan which will see Cromford Mills develop into a sustainable and multi-use heritage destination, with even greater levels of community participation.

photo: Baroness Barran, the Minister for Civil Society at Cromford Mill

BACKLIT’s latest exhibition explores the resilience of their studio artists during the Covid-19 pandemic and was partly funded through the Culture Recovery Fund, thanks funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).  BACKLIT’s volunteering programme is not only vital for helping to deliver the charity’s core work, but provides opportunities for emerging artists to learn, gain experience and network.

Matthew Mckeague, CEO, joined the visit to BACKLIT and said “It was fantastic to be part of the Minister’s visit today and meet the Backlit team and volunteers. Volunteers are the backbone of so many of the charities and social enterprises we support, and   BACKLIT and Cromford Mills are  compelling examples of the difference volunteers make and the opportunities volunteering can offer.”

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