Belong Network becomes first ‘learning partner’ of Spirit of 2012

The Belong Network is to create a best practice guide on how to organise, run and evaluate events that build social cohesion and connection. The guide, which will be available online, will be suitable for organisations across the arts and culture sectors, sports providers and volunteering sectors.

The aim is to help more organisations hold events which celebrate, unite and sustain communities through a shared purpose – at a local neighbourhood, regional or even national level.

The creation of the guide has been made possible through collaboration with Spirit of 2012 – the officially legacy funder of the London 2012 Olympic Games. Belong has been named as the first organisation to continue Spirit of 2012’s legacy in building evidence on what works to improve wellbeing and social cohesion. Spirit was founded by the National Lottery Community Fund in 2013 with a £47 million endowment. With the organisation set to spend out and close in 2026, Belong is one of the chosen partners to continue Spirit’s legacy, integrating and eventually taking ownership of evidence gathered over the past 10 years.

Spirit had sought out partners which aligned with their purpose and impact areas and who would be able to take forward the learning and insight areas. Belong will use this evidence alongside the Network’s own expertise and evidence to create new content including the events guide. The first stage of this two year project will be a review and analysis report using Spirit’s archive. It will gather and analyse the learning about the impact of events on social connection and cohesion. This report is due to be launched in early summer 2024.

Mike Waite, Interim Belong Network CEO, said: “We are absolutely delighted to be working with Spirit of 2012 on this project to ensure that they leave a lasting legacy and a resource that can be drawn on for years to come. This resource will support event organisers to foster and support so many new social connections across the UK and build a legacy for communities of shared resilience and trust. Belong already has a broad cross-sectoral network and membership across business, local government and with civil society. We look forward to working with Spirit of 2012 to significantly increase our reach, ensuring that the knowledge and skills for delivering events that build lasting social connections reach the widest audience possible.”

Ruth Hollis, Chief Executive, Spirit of 2012 said: “It is a pleasure to appoint Belong as our first learning partner as we transition into the final phase of Spirit of 2012’s life cycle. Our impact report shows the marked difference that our funding has made on wellbeing for people and communities. This is an organisation which shares our vision and values, and we look forward to collaborating with them to ensure that our wealth of knowledge can continue to benefit people for years to come.”