#VolunteersWeek: Volunteering with Kids in Museums

2012 London Volunteer Awards

Jane at the 2012 London Volunteer Awards (back row, fourth from left)

Jane Allnutt is a freelance museum educator based in Essex. Here she shares her experiences of volunteering with Kids in Museums.

Volunteering takes you to places you wouldn’t normally reach….. it has certainly been true for me, in the six years since I began volunteering with Kids in Museums.

This charity has a Director, Trustees and a TV personality amongst its Patrons, but more importantly, it has a large number of valued and committed volunteers who rarely – if ever, meet together. We co-operate, support and keep in touch through the internet and by email. Back in 2009 this was unusual, but it is now ‘normal’ working practise for a lot of organisations. Each of the volunteers has a different role and we have recently appointed our first Volunteer Co-ordinator to ensure everyone who volunteers can contribute to projects which use their skills and ensure they feel valued by the organisation.

So what’s my role? Since I teach most of the time, I tend to volunteer on an irregular basis, but I still feel what I do is valued. I help out with one day events like the Family Fortunes, Teens, and Babies Workshops, usually held in a London museum – although we recently held a workshop in Kensington Palace and we have one in September at London Zoo! I log and monitor the documents downloaded from the website each month, I conduct the volunteer interviews and hopefully select the people with the skills we need. I also help out with Takeover Day in various venues and collect information and write Case Studies. In August I’ll be collecting feedback from the ‘under cover’ family judges who visit the 6 short-listed museums for the Most Family Friendly Museum Award. This involves lots of time spent on the telephone but it’s fascinating to hear how the families score the museums against the Kids in Museums Manifesto – 20 points to encourage museums to become more family friendly, and it’s their judgements which choose the final winner.

Over the years I have undertaken research (paid) for the Family Ticket Watch Report – to find out what museums, and families want from a Family /concessionary ticket. Sometimes the volunteering has led onto paid work for particular projects which is always a bonus!

I’ve attended a report launch at the Houses of Parliament, been to Private Views and Exhibition openings mingling with the rich and famous. I’ve also met some people I hugely admire – Michael Rosen, Judith Kerr and Quentin Blake (who drew the Kids in Museums logo) along with various Minsters, TV personalities, ‘top brass’ in the museum world and other inspiring people who support this unique and influential organisation.

Best of all I’ve met some awesome volunteers with fantastic drive and energy, fully committed to promoting Kids in Museums. Some like me have been volunteering for quite a few years, others volunteer for a short time on a particular project where they have specific skills. Check out the website www.kidsinmuseums.org.uk for more information on Kids in Museums.

Kids in Museums are currently recruiting for new volunteers. If you are interested in giving-back to the sector while broadening your experience for your CV, click here for more information.