Volunteers' Voice #14: Volunteers and Our Country Lives

Written by Rob Davies, Volunteer Coordinator.

As you will know, we have recently been awarded a significant grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund for our redevelopment project Our Country Lives. I do not exaggerate when I say that volunteers made an enormous contribution to this success and they will play a very important role in the delivery of the project as a whole over the course of the next three years.

Volunteers helped with visitor evaluation at last year's Fete.
Volunteers helped with visitor evaluation at last year’s Fete.

Volunteers supported the delivery of round one in many ways; for instance by helping us with the vast undertaking of our visitor research, from collecting through to collating the data. This helped us form a good idea of who our current audiences are and why they visit. Volunteers also attended consultancy and planning meetings, making valuable contributions to our thinking and our plans.

With the delivery of round two of the project our volunteers will again be essential. They will support many elements of delivering the project, from assisting with the care of the objects during this time of major transition to the support of and participation in community projects.

You may ask why we as an organisation felt it was so important for volunteers to play a role in this major grant application and delivery of the project. The truth is, volunteers play a crucial role in the day-to-day running of the University Museums and Special Collections Service. This project will have a major impact upon many areas of our service and we feel it is vital that volunteers are included.

With any major project work it is always necessary to update and talk to your volunteer team regularly. If they begin to feel that everything is happening behind their backs and they are being left behind, a feeling of discontent will grow amongst your team. I will include updates in the volunteer newsletter, send specific updates via email and hold regular team meetings. I will encourage them to read (and hopefully contribute to) the Our Country Lives blog where there will be regular updates.

At this time of great change it is important for everyone involved to go forward as one, ensuring the project will be an even greater success.

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    The Museum is now fully open, following a major redevelopment, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

    Free Admission

    The Museum of English Rural Life

    University of Reading

    Redlands Road


    RG1 5EX

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