Small in number but mighty in effect, my volunteers have put in hours of their time, worked really hard and been very patient with me as I have been learning the ropes. Without them I would be no where near ready to open up at the end of next week!
I started my journey with the National Trust by volunteering, and still volunteer today. In an industry where funding is a real struggle, and the situation is only getting worse, volunteers are invaluable. But they are much more than that too.
Volunteers provide a wealth of knowledge from all walks of life, and give us the capacity to do vital work and keep our properties running. They are passionate and dedicated. They are motivating and can provide ideas for wonderful challenges that staff can rise to. They are also such good fun to work with and often become friends along the way.
But enough about what volunteering gives us, what can volunteering give you?
I was in my second year of university when I started volunteering at The Greyfriars House & Gardens. Volunteering here gave me an escape from the drama of housemates and the headache of coursework. It also gave me lots of inspiration for what to base projects on, and the access to do some really through, unique research for those projects. It allowed me to meet people I would have never met usually, and most importantly it showed me what I wanted to do with my life.
After university I took up a voluntary position at Powis Castle for a year. The Trust run two similar schemes, Internships and Full Time Volunteering. There are subtle differences such as the length of time in which you volunteer, whether you live on site, and how many days a week you do, but these schemes aim at providing experience for those looking to work in the Heritage Industry. Since 2011 over 200 people have done a National Trust Internship.
My time at Powis not only meant I got to live in the most amazing location, have some truly unique experiences and get to care for a stunning collection of objects. It also gave me a huge base of conservation knowledge, and as a full time volunteer I had to time and flexibility to learn how other departments worked too, something which gives me a much better understanding of how a property works as a team.
Sometimes I cannot believe the amazing things I have done through volunteering, brilliant, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and so much fun! Finally all this volunteering gave me the tools I needed to get my dream job at Hardwick Hall!
Most employers offer between three and five paid days a year to do voluntary work, and since the Community Life Survey 2014-2015 found that 69% of people asked volunteer at least annually, could be well used. The impact this has on charitable organisations is immense.
The National Trust is increasingly looking at different ways for people to volunteer, making it more flexible and targeting different audiences. You can now volunteer as a family, as a company, every week, once a month or just a few days a year. You can try your hand at several different voluntary roles, or experience life at several properties. The opportunities really are endless and I'm sure your local property would love to have you. So go forth, volunteer and have fun!
Find out more by following this link: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/volunteer
(bonus points if you spot the pic of me!)