Cities of Service UK

This report details the impact and insights of the Cities of Service UK programme.

This report details the impact and insights of the Cities of Service UK programme.

Key findings

  • The seven authorities involved in Cities of Service UK mobilised nearly 10,000 volunteers, assisting 18,500 directly.
  • The model has helped elevate the significance and status of volunteering for the councils involved.
  • The role of a senior leader within the council to coordinate and corral volunteering was powerful

Embedding impact volunteering activities into existing local priorities that resonate with residents achieved greatest impact.

This report is designed to be a practical guide for councils across the UK who also want to harness the energy, skill and enthusiasm of volunteers; for those who want to better understand the potential of impact volunteering in a local authority setting or better understand how being part of the global Cities of Service movement can help deliver impact locally.

It summarises the Cities of Service model, the initiatives each council designed and the impact on local people they had.

It also covers lessons other councils could build upon if they were to replicate the approach, including:

  • Have a central convening role to champion volunteering
  • Pick initiatives that meet local authority needs and residents’ preferences
  • Choose partners well
  • Build in opportunities for review, feedback and adaptation
  • Recruit a critical friend and make use of the movement
  • Plan and resource your impact measurement
  • Leverage the Cities of Service and local brands
  • Ensure the volunteering infrastructure is purposeful and easy to use

We hope that it will be used to inspire those seeking to transform public services so they mobilise volunteers alongside skilled public servants to improve outcomes locally.


Lydia Ragoonanan

Lydia Ragoonanan

Lydia Ragoonanan

Senior Programme Manager

Lydia was a Senior Programme Manager within Nesta's Innovation Lab.  She developed and managed a range of practical innovation programmes.She worked on a range of social action funds, …

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