Volunteer Week

What a great week to start writing a blog about the contribution our Volunteers make!

I’ll be honest, there are so many ‘weeks’ attributed to one cause or another that quite often they pass me by. But Volunteer Week is a real chance for all of us who work with Volunteers to showcase and highlight the work they do. It’s not just a hashtag on twitter!

I work with Volunteers at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. A lot of Volunteers. I’d find it difficult to choose just one or two to put in the spotlight – and on the whole, they tend to eschew fame and notoriety. So all I can do, is say an enormous thank-you to them all. That’s the 298 regular Volunteers on our books, the 200+ Corporate Volunteers, and the 100 or so event Volunteers from, for example, the Police Cadets or the ATC, who between them gave 35000 hours in 2013! THANK YOU ALL!

But it has to go further than that I think. The Museums and Heritage Sites in this country wouldn’t be here today without the help of Volunteers. This applies to Heritage Railways, like Talyllyn in Wales, which began in its current form in 1951 solely with the contribution of volunteers. This applies to us at Ironbridge, before we were the Museum Trust we are today – at Blists Hill Open Air Museum in 1967. This applies to countless Industrial Heritage sites across the UK. Volunteers got them up and running, and Volunteers open the doors each day. Saying ‘thank-you’ doesn’t quite seem enough.

So a group of us who treasure the contribution of Heritage Volunteers in our own organisations have started to meet, to work out how we can best say thank you and recognise nationally, the enormous gift given by this band of thousands. And we think we’ve got it. The Heritage Volunteering Charter. This will establish eight key areas of best practice for managing heritage Volunteers, and between us, we’ll work out the best way to roll this information out to every single organisation in Britain working with Volunteers in our sector. From HLF to the tiniest local History Museum, we want to reach you all!

We are called the National Heritage Volunteering Advisory Body, and it’s really important that you join us on the journey, rather than meet us at the destination. We need your input, your advice and of course, your company. Help us say thanks in the best way we can…

 

Richard Gough, Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

Matthew Hick, National Railway Museum

Danielle Garcia, Imperial War Museum North

Alex Nicholson-Evans, Birmingham Museums Trust

 

- The National Heritage Volunteering Advisory Body -

 

Let us know your thoughts…

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