Celebrating Volunteers!

Volunteers at Rayleigh Mill

Volunteers at Rayleigh Mill

Monday 1st June is the start of the thirty-first National Volunteers’ Week. This annual celebration of the work volunteers do is very relevant for museums. Most of the museums in Essex are entirely volunteer run, and those that aren’t still rely heavily on the hard work and creativity of volunteers.

Ahead of Volunteers’ Week, I am launching a new Volunteer Management Toolkit, with useful information for anyone managing volunteers and templates for documents including a volunteering policy, volunteer agreements, skills audits etc. There’s also a new Evaluation Toolkit, including a “how to” guide, templates, a glossary and a list of useful websites. These have been created for Essex museums by Pippa Smith from Handling the Past.

During Volunteers’ Week, I am hosting a series of guest posts:

  • Monday – Volunteering and the HLF by Miranda Stearn, Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Tuesday – Young Curators by Francesca Pellegrino, Epping Forest District Museum
  • Wednesday – Accreditation and Volunteer-Run Museums by Joanne Godfrey, Mersea Museum
  • Thursday – Life as a Museum Volunteer by Deke Dudley, Braintree Museum
  • Friday – Volunteering with Kids in Museums by Jane Allnutt
  • Saturday – The vTeam: Partnership Opportunities With the Student Volunteering Team by Anya Visegorodceva, University of Essex Students’ Union
  • Sunday – Students, Graduates and Volunteer-Run Museums by Christine Brewster and Katie Wilkie, The Cater Museum

Thursday 4th June is also the first SHARE Museums East Volunteer Awards, and several Essex-based volunteers have been nominated, so please keep your fingers crossed for them!

~Amy Cotterill

Museum + Heritage Awards

Museum + Heritage Awards 2014

The team from Rayleigh Windill being presented with their award by Sue Perkins

Tonight the national “Museums + Heritage Awards”  are taking place in London. Last year Rayleigh Windmill won the award for Best Customer Service. Sophie Manus, Leisure and Community Safety Assistant at Rochford District Council, talks about the experience:

“When I was asked to put Rayleigh Windmill forward for the Museums + Heritage Awards 2014, we were all very dubious as to how much chance we actually stood in these National awards, up against big names such as The V&A. But it was agreed that entering would be a positive and proactive thing to do, even though the Windmill is just a small museum in Rayleigh.

Volunteers at Rayleigh Windmill

We decided to enter under the Best Customer Service category, and so I went about pulling together information and images that showed the lengths our dedicated volunteers go to, to deliver the very best customer service. This process in itself was very rewarding, taking the time to put into words how hard the volunteers work and how much time they give to the Windmill. I found myself becoming quite passionate about really putting in the best application I could, to do justice to our fantastic volunteers.

Finding out we had been shortlisted was incredibly exciting and being able to pass the news on to the volunteers was wonderful. You can only imagine their reactions when we found out we had won! A small museum in Rayleigh had won a National award for Customer Service – who would have thought it! And what a wonderful way to say thank you to the volunteers. They are so proud of their award, it’s now on display as you enter the Windmill.

Museum + Heritage Award 2014

Of course, the publicity we received was also fantastic and being able to say we have won this award gives so much credibility to the attraction and museum. It has also motivated the volunteers even more to continue to strive to deliver the best customer service and best visitor experience they can.

I would really encourage any museum to enter. I think we are proof that it’s not just the ‘big players’ that win the awards, each application is considered equally and anyone can win!

Please visit our website to find out more about Rayleigh Windmill www.rochford.gov.uk/windmill