Annual Volunteering Award

 This award is designed to celebrate the contribution of volunteerswithin the archive sector and to promote good practice involunteering 

ARA Archive Volunteering Award

This award is designed to celebrate the contribution of volunteers within the archive sector and to promote good practice in volunteering. 

This award is a key strand of the work of ARA’s Volunteering in Archives, Action Plan, bringing to life the recommendations the ARA report Managing Volunteering in Archives.  The award is also supported by The National Archives, the Welsh Government’s Culture and Sport division, and the Scottish Council on Archives.


  • The award recognises work involving volunteers within an institutional archive service in the UK or Ireland
  • Work must have taken place in previous twelve months (but can be part of an ongoing programme of activity)
  • Evaluation must include some feedback from the volunteers involved in the project (i.e. not just view of the organisation)


Assessment will be against the following criteria:

  • Impact on volunteers

For example, the organisation can demonstrate good employer support of the volunteer; that it has supported volunteers in gaining entry into workplace or further training

  • Impact on service

For example, the project/programme has encouraged diversification of volunteers within organisation, or that the organisation can demonstrate that it has robust plans for sustaining and developing its work with volunteers

  • Wider impact

For example, that the input of volunteers has had an impact on local or other communities, or the organisation can demonstrate how it has been able to share the learning from its volunteering activity with others (enabling it to act as a role model).

All nominations to reach This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 7th May 2021.

The 2019 Volunteering Award

ARA Volunteering Award 2019-1

Gloucestershire Archives Wins Prestigious 2019 UK Volunteering Award

Impressive Runner-up: National Science and Media Museum (Bradford)

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) (ARA) were pleased to announce that the ‘Bigger, Better, Stronger: Volunteering Re-Booted’, a project initiated by Gloucestershire Archives at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, was the winner of this year’s prestigious national Archive Volunteering Award. Sponsored by the ARA, the National Archives (UK) and sector partners, this annual award recognises outstanding work involving volunteers in an archive and records service.

’Clear Winner’

Bigger, Better, Stronger began in March 2018 (when “For the Record”, the first part of the new Heritage Hub, opened) and will continue until December 2020. Working with 17 local partners, and in addition to already-established archive service programmes available, the project has made community space to volunteers of all ages interested in (among others):

  • E-preservation
  • Supporting events, including reminiscence activities
  • “Pinning” images to the Know Your Place digital mapping resource
  • Assisting with oral history recordings
  • Extracting information from 19th century mental health records, as part of the Hub’s Never Better partnership project
  • Social Media
  • Gardening

The judges were impressed at the project’s bold ambitions and achievements – doubling the number of volunteers engaged with the archive service, breaking down barriers and diversifying access and participation, and establishing the Hub as a core community asset for social interaction.

The judges said:

Bigger, Better, Stronger was the clear winner this year in a strong field. We were struck by the evidence of new audience and participatory engagement, as well as the positive impact of pro-active engagement on both the archive service and the volunteers themselves. Overall, we saw something inspiring and transformative in the design, management and implementation of this project by the archive service team that sets a new benchmark for the sector. It is great to see often marginalised groups being treated as a core audience for both the archive service and the Hub more broadly.’

The judges also commended the partners involved in Bigger, Better, Stronger (see below for full list). Further details on the project are at:

UK Volunteering Award 2‘Visionary’

The winning volunteers received their award on 15 November at Llanthony Secunda Priory in Gloucester, in the run-up to the launch of the annual, national Explore Your Archive campaign.

Cllr Lynden Stowe, cabinet member finance and change with responsibility for archives, said “Gloucestershire Archives play an important role in gathering, keeping and sharing the documented history of Gloucestershire and beyond. However, the real community impact the Heritage Hub partners are having on local people is awe-inspiring, and this is only made possible by all the hard work of staff and volunteers - we are very proud to have received this national award, and I would like to say a personal thank you to everyone involved in the project.”  

ARA’s Chair, Karl Magee, said:

Like all local authority services, archives have been affected by the period of austerity. It is refreshing to see a Council having the vision to recognise the contribution Record Offices and their collections can make in addressing entrenched community challenges such as social exclusion and marginalisation. Lancashire (last year’s winners) and Gloucestershire this year show what can be achieved by volunteers and supporting groups under the visionary guidance and leadership of professional staff. Congratulations to everyone involved in Bigger, Better, Stronger.’

Said one volunteer on Bigger, Better, Stronger:

“This has been one of the best days of my life.”

Another volunteer who was mentored whilst gaining workplace experience, commented:

“@GlosHeritageHub were incredibly generous with their feedback. Really critical and specific and so useful for my next [job] interview (which I was successful in!).”

“Excellent” Runner-up

The judges also commended the 2019 runners-up for this award, the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford and its Impressions Gallery Archive Cataloguing Project. This excellent project centres on the unique collection of papers and photographic works of one of the UK’s earliest galleries dedicated to photography, Impressions Gallery, which donated its archive to the museum in 2013. The judges were impressed at how, under the supervision of a professional archivist, the volunteers were trained in core tasks such as repackaging and cataloguing the Gallery’s (230-plus) exhibition administration files, then made the catalogue entries available online, via the NSMM’s archive database, etc. with the objective of strengthening the capability of local community archives.

For more details, click here:

Notes for Editors:

For further details on ‘Bigger, Better, Stronger’, contact: Sally Middleton at Gloucestershire Archives via email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or telephone 01452 425295.

Core partners with Gloucestershire Archives on the inning project included:

  •         Gloucestershire Family History Society (GFHS) - formal Hub partner
  •         Gloucestershire Local History Association (formal Hub partner)
  •         Friends of Gloucestershire Archives (formal Hub partner
  •      Gloucestershire Constabulary (formal Hub partner)
  •        Cheltenham Local History Society
  •        Stroudwater Navigation Archive Charity
  •        Chalford Parish History Group
  •        Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology
  •        Roots Community Café
  •        Kingsholm Community Builder
  •        Age UK (formerly Age Concern)
  •        Gloucester City Homes
  •        Gloucester Heritage Forum
  •        Department of Work & Pensions
  •        Never Better partners: Strike a Light Theatre Company, 2gether NHS Trust & GUST


The 2018 Volunteering Award

‘Ancestors at Sea’, Lancashire Archives’ project to engage new volunteers to create a free, online name-rich index of maritime records, has won the prestigious national Archive Volunteering Award for 2018.

Read the full story on our news pages.

 The 2017 Volunteering Award

'Speak Out London - Diversity City', London Metropolitan Archives' project to establish a permanent community sourced LGBTQ Oral History and memorabilia archive that can be accessed by the public via a website as well as via the LMA onsite facilities, won the Archive Volunteering Award for 2017.

Read their application here

Other applicants were

Archive Resource for Knowsley (ARK) - Knowsley Archives

Glamorgan Archives Volunteer Programme - Glamorgan Archives

Heritage Quay Volunteer Project - University of Huddersfield

'Irish in the Archives' Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

RA 250 - Royal Academy of Arts

The 2016 Volunteering Award

‘Helping us to Achieve’, the National Library of Wales’s (NLW) scheme to expand access to Wales’ national archives by developing a cadre of skilled volunteers, has won the prestigious national Archive Volunteering Award for 2016

Read the full story on our news pages.  

Read their submission here

The 2015 Volunteering Award

The winner of the 2015 Archive Volunteering Award is GM1914, which has been running since 2013 and involves a collaborative effort across ten local authority archives, led by Greater Manchester Archives and Local Studies Partnership.

Read the full story on our news pages. 

Read their submission here

The 2014 Volunteering Award 

The winner of the 2014 Archive Volunteering Award is the University of St Mark and St John Plymouth for 'The Connected Catalogue' 

Read the full story on our news pages.

DSC 3065 edited-1 


Read their submission here. 

Read other submissions to the 2014 Archive Volunteering Award: 

Kingston Museum 

Somerset Heritage Service 

Shropshire Archives 

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre 

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance 

Wigan Archives Service 

The 2013 Volunteering Award

The winner of the 2013 Archive Volunteering Award is Hull History Centre for 'Hull's Second World War Records'         










Read the full story on our news pages.

Read the Hull History Centre submission here

Read other submissions for the 2013 Archive Volunteering Award:

National Library of Wales - English

National Library of Wales - Welsh

The Children's Society 

Battersea Arts Centre Archive

East Sussex Record Office

Gloucestershire Archives

Lancashire Archives

University of Edinburgh

Vivacity Peterborough Culture and Leisure

Bristol Record Office


The 2012 Volunteering Award

The winner of the 2012 Archive Volunteering Award is Wolverhampton City Archives for the project TAKING ACCOUNT OF OUR PAST     

The full story is on our news pages.

ara volunteering award 16 august 2012The winning submission from Wolverhampton City Archives is available to read here:

Taking Account of our Past submission

The 2012 Archive Volunteering Award is presented to volunteers and archivists at Wolverhampton City Archives. In the foreground are, l to r, Cataloguing Archivist Kimberley Benoy, City Archivist Heidi McIntosh, Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Christine Mills, President, Caroline Williams, and Chair, Martin Taylor, of the  Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland).

The judges also 'highly commended' a project by WRVS volunteers to sort, catalogue and digitise a vulnerable collection.

Read the WRVS submission here.

There were seven submissions for the 2012 Award, all of which the judges considered to be of a high quality and which together celebrated the depth and breadth of what was happening in archives today

Time Travel Northumberland submission

Paths to Crime (Bedfordshire & Luton Archives and Records Service) submission

Bishopsgate Institute

Harbord of Gunton Archive Project (Norfolk Record Office) submission

Plymouth Local Studies Library Images Digitisation Project


 The 2011 Volunteering Award

Chinese New Year in Chinatown 110The winner of the 2011 Volunteering Award is Manchester Chinese Archive.

Read the press release here.

Read Manchester Chinese Archive's nomination document

Read all 2011 nomination documents here:

Tithe Records Project at Surrey Heritage Centre

Dudley Archives and Local History Service Volunteer Programme

Wolverton Works Cataloguing Project at National Railway Museum

Making Memories at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies

Gloucester Rugby Football Club Community Heritage Project 


The 2010 Volunteering Award

The Volunteering Award was given for the first time in 2010, when it was won by Suffolk Record Office. Suffolk County Council’s Making a Difference Volunteer Cataloguing Backlog Project involved 69 volunteers helping to catalogue 33 collections including a photographic archive of most parishes in Suffolk created by Captain Dunlop RN who was the last Standing Officer of HMS Ganges.

Three other nominations received a Highly Commended Award: Warwickshire County Record Office’s Waller Volunteer Transcription Project; The Black Cultural Archives, The Heart of the Race: Oral Histories of the Black Women’s Movement project; and The National Archives’ Living the Poor Life project.