Eleanor Moore, Sustainable Volunteering Officer for South West Museum Development, worked with three Devon museums to engage young people as museum volunteers. The museums involved in the project were South Devon Railway Museum, Teign Heritage Centre and The Museum of Dartmoor Life. The project had two core aims:

  • To provide opportunities for young people to gain hands on experience in museums.
  • For museums to successfully engage with young people to diversity their volunteer base in the long term.

The first stage of the project was for us to provide support for the museums with appropriate policies, processes and training. Eleanor guided the creation of welcome packs, role descriptions and recruitment materials tailored for volunteering opportunities for young people. Over 50 existing volunteers in the three museums received safeguarding awareness training.

Sixteen volunteers were recruited from local colleges and schools between 16 and 18 years. At the beginning of the recruitment the young people received training from our Thematic Officers. The topics covered object handling and preventative collections care; social media in museums and understanding and welcoming audiences.

Within the museums the young people took part in activities including developing and running a museum takeover event and running social media accounts. They improved their local history knowledge and developed an awareness of what it takes to run a small business. They increased skills in research, photography, communicating effectively and working as part of a team.

The project gave the museums access to young peoples’ perspectives, skills and aptitudes not currently held within their workforce. The existing volunteers within the museums reported increased confidence and competence in safeguarding and working with young people in the future. As a direct result of the project Teignbridge District Council awarded a small grant to Teign Heritage Centre to facilitate their activities.

Click here to view a video of the project. For more information, visit the South West Museum Development website here.