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8 Jun 2017

Birmingham Museums celebrates National Volunteers’ Week

As part of National Volunteers Week Birmingham Museums Trust is celebrating the dedication over 900 volunteers who help to keep the city’s heritage alive.

At a summer picnic held at Blakesley Hall on 6th June, volunteers from across Birmingham Museums’ nine sites, including Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Aston Hall and Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, joined together to celebrate National Volunteers’ Week, which recognises the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK.

From April 2016 to March 2017 over 900 volunteers worked across Birmingham Museums Trust, dedicating nearly 27,000 hours of their time to a range of roles including, milling flour at Sarehole Mill, recording archaeological finds, taking part in the Trust’s Young People’s Forum ‘Ignite’, supporting the conservation of Birmingham’s objects and welcoming and engaging visitors. The volunteers include individuals and corporate groups, and are a diverse team with the average age of applicants being 28 years old.

The winner of Birmingham Museums’ Volunteer of the Year was announced at the picnic, chosen by Janine Eason, Director of Engagement. The 2017 winner is Mike Byrne who has supported the Marketing Team for over 10 years.

Volunteers also play a vital role in developing new galleries, including the Faith in Birmingham gallery at BMAG which explores the many faiths that make up Birmingham’s rich and diverse community. The team of 20 volunteers representing six different faith backgrounds were awarded the ‘Working Together’ award at the West Midlands Volunteer Awards last September, giving a total of 100 volunteer hours to the project.

Rebecca Fletcher, Volunteer Development Team Leader, Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “We have a fantastic group of volunteers and each and every one of them helps to ensure we can provide brilliant experiences for visitors and care for Birmingham’s Collection of important objects and buildings.

“Our summer picnic held in Volunteers’ Week is a great time to recognise the hard work and dedication the team put in all year round and I’d like to thank them for every hour they spend with us to keep Birmingham’s vibrant heritage alive. As an independent charitable trust we couldn't do what we do without them.

“We had over 900 people volunteering with us in 2016/17, so it would be great to see over 1000 people working and learning with us in the next year!”

Mariella, who has volunteered as a Curator’s Assistant at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and Heritage Interpreter at Aston Hall, said: “Volunteering builds your character and increases your self-confidence. It is important to know the history of Birmingham when you live here - how important it was in the country and internationally. It is a chance to be a champion for Birmingham and be passionate about where you live.”

Birmingham Museums’ volunteers are offered a range of training opportunities through their work with the Trust, learning about the history of Birmingham and how Birmingham Museums’ nine sites are connected. There are also a range of social events for volunteers including an arts and crafts group and tours.