Museum Volunteering

To mark Volunteers Week this guest post from our Curator of Community Exhibitions, Andrea Winn, celebrates the wonderful work of Manchester Museum’s volunteers.

This week is Volunteer Week: an opportunity to say a massive thank you to all our amazing volunteers for the time, enthusiasm, passion and support that they give to the museum.

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During these strange times of lockdown, we have missed our volunteers and their energy, enthusiasm and of course the afternoon socials and the chance to catch up over a cup of coffee. We’ve been keeping in touch through regular news updates and have also flagged up some of the alternative ‘virtual volunteering’ opportunities on offer through the ‘Reading Natures Library’ project. Last month we reached a milestone in this online volunteering project as the label transcription for the first batch of slides from the Botany collection was finally completed (don’t worry though – there’s still plenty more to do and the next batch of slides have already been uploaded)!

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Digital volunteering gives us the chance to connect with volunteers globally as well as locally. For volunteers, there is still a sense of being part of something really big but with the benefit of being able to contribute from the comfort of your own home (ideal for lockdown). You can find out more about Reading Natures Library on the Zooniverse site: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/mzfasdg2/reading-natures-library

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As well as digital volunteering and the varied roles within the museum, we are also helping to support a team of Age-Friendly Culture Champions who, before the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteered their time to develop local activities for older adults. In spite of lockdown limitations, the Champions have still managed to volunteer from home and contribute to an ‘Older Persons Creative Kit’ which will be sent out to 20,000 of the most isolated older adults in Greater Manchester in the near future.

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The Champions have designed all sorts of creative activities and these will feature alongside content from cultural organisations from across Greater Manchester. From mindfulness colouring sheets inspired by our botany collection, to Haiku writing, time capsules and quizzes; this kit will be a great resource and is a really important step to address the challenges of digital poverty that have become increasingly stark in recent months. In the coming weeks we will be sharing some of the activities inspired by our collections so keep an eye on our Manchester Museum in Quarantine site: https://www.mminquarantine.com/resources-for-carers

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Volunteer week is not just about looking back and as well as celebrating the amazing work of our volunteers and their achievements over the past year, it is the perfect opportunity to look forward to the future. There will be many new and exciting opportunities ahead as the museum continues to evolve and grow. Care, inclusivity and imagination have always been at the heart of our volunteer programmes and If volunteering for wellbeing and the more recent Volunteering Together (generously supported by the HLF now NHLF) exemplify this: together, these two initiatives supported around 300 people who were at risk of isolation, to build up confidence and self-esteem. One legacy of this work is the new Volunteering Culture website, bringing all of the opportunities to volunteer with cultural organisations across the city together in a single place: https://www.volunteeringculture.org.uk/

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Moving forward, the new South Asia and Chinese Cultures galleries will open up new opportunities for volunteers to share their knowledge, stories, family histories and collections, as well as supporting programmes and language provision. We will also continue to work with our partner organisations such as Venture Arts, City of Sanctuary and Mustard Tree, to develop bespoke supported volunteering opportunities. Through the more personal approach of supported volunteering, we are able to respond to the needs of individuals and this has opened up access to volunteering opportunities that would otherwise not be possible.

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There is so much that we owe to our dedicated volunteers and we can’t wait to see you again at the museum and continue the amazing work you do: Happy volunteer week and a big thank you to all our volunteers, past present and future!

 

@MMvolunteer is a great source of updates and news about all things volunteering at Manchester Museum. For opportunities across the city, please visit the new website: https://www.volunteeringculture.org.uk/

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