SOUTHAMPTON'S City of Culture bid must capture the 'spirit of London 2012 Olympics', a major new report has said.

A year-long inquiry by Spirit of 2012 has been launched to look at how events can have positive impacts on people’s wellbeing.

The report argues that without a co-ordinated effort, much like the Olympics, the events of 2022 – which also include the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and the Rugby League World Cup – may not leave a volunteering legacy.

Southampton’s bid to be the 2025 City of Culture will be decided in the spring.

Sir Tom Hughes-Hallett, chair of the Spirit of 2012 inquiry, said: "Events such of the Olympics and Paralympics, and major campaigns like the UK City of Culture, bring people from all walks of life together to take part in moments of importance in national and community life.

"As well as the pleasure this brings, such moments can act as a catalyst that leads to social and economic changes, some of which may be realised years after the event has ended.

“Ahead of the tenth anniversary of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this is a moment to reflect on the power of events to transform communities and prepare for the return of mass participation events across the UK in 2022.

“Southampton’s bid to become the next UK City of Culture must be one of those which recaptures the spirit of 2012.

“The new inquiry will create a blueprint for future events so that they deliver happier people and happier places.”

The report draws on an ICM poll which shows that 40 per cent of UK adults had volunteered before or since the start of the pandemic, and nine per cent of adults (4.8 million people) were regular volunteers.

Some 86 per cent of volunteers say that it helps to improve their local community and 85 per cent think it improves people’s own mental health and wellbeing.

Four-fifths of volunteers agreed that it helped improve people’s skills and job prospects.

Sir Tom added: “Volunteering brings many benefits, to the individuals who give their time and to the organisations that receive help.

“It also strengthens social connections and gives people a stronger stake in society.

“But these benefits will not be realised without action to recognise the importance of volunteering, which is why the Spirit of 2012 inquiry has already produced practical ideas for action to help achieve these aims.”