written by Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator.
Hello and welcome to my first post. I’m Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator at MERL. I have been working with volunteers for the past four years in various organisations, from community radio stations to museums.
I work with volunteers across UMASCS (University of Reading’s Museums and Special Collections Service) which consists of the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), The Cole Museum of Zoology, The Ure Museum of Greek Archaeology, the Typography department and the Special Collections – so the roles and volunteers are vast and varied.
In these posts I’ll be focussing mainly on volunteering at MERL…Volunteers are the life and soul of our organisation. Without our dedicated team of volunteers we would not be able to deliver half of what we do. Our volunteer profile ranges from students, graduates and volunteers from the local community. Volunteers carry out a range of roles and work on all kinds of projects, including tour guiding, gardening, archiving, collections support and marketing.
In April 2012 we were awarded the Investing in Volunteers Standard by Volunteering England. This is a nationally recognised standard that states we employ good practice within our volunteer programme. We are constantly striving to improve and develop our volunteer programme, provide new opportunities for volunteers and work with partner organisations. I have recently completed an Arts Council England joint skill sharing project with Portsmouth Museums Archives and Visitors Services.
The purpose of this regular feature on the Our Country Lives blog is to share my experiences of working with volunteers at MERL, to highlight the work they do to support our activities and showcase their achievements. The volunteers will be playing a huge part throughout the Our Country Lives project. In the early consultation stages, I will be training as many as possible to help with audience research, so you may meet more of them in the Museum (and further afield!). Their own views will also be important as they are an vital stakeholder group. I may even be able to persuade some of them to contribute to this feature!
I hope you enjoy my posts on the world of volunteering. I welcome your thoughts and feedback so if there is anything you would like me to discuss in future posts please let me know.