Innovation In Giving

Gateshead Voluntary Organisations Council (GVOC) is supporting communities to take over the running of local libraries in Gateshead, powered by volunteers.

With support from the Innovation in Giving Fund, GVOC is empowering local volunteers to establish community organisations, recruit other volunteers and take over the running of local libraries.

The centre has established five community-led libraries in Gateshead – which would not exist without the generous giving of time by local people.

Initially volunteers signed up because they were passionate about libraries and the need to save a community resource. However, it soon became clear that the roles would involve much more than just issuing books to library users. The centre has been impressed by volunteers’ commitment and drive to take on new roles, many of which involve a great deal of responsibility.

GVOC’s role has been to support and train volunteers to ensure they have the skills and knowledge needed to run a community organisation, manage other volunteers and carry out the day-to-day library functions.


  • In the first eight months of the project, 105 volunteers gave 18,334 hours to support the project. This has been in a variety of volunteering roles including trustee/committee roles, traditional volunteer librarian roles, fundraising, organising children’s activities and more.
  • Each of the five libraries has operated as a satellite volunteer centre, allowing GVOC to promote volunteering opportunities at a local level.

The award

GVOC was awarded £50,000 through the Volunteer Centre Programme to support the creation of five community-led libraries in Gateshead. GVOC has also hosted a national conference funded by the grant. This was well attended and evidenced the need for further opportunities for community-led libraries to network and share resources.


Rebecca Leary

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