Volunteering is beneficial to the busy life of a student for a number of reasons; the flexible hours, a much-needed break from studying and the development of those all-important skills needed to impress future employers. Therefore, after finishing my first year of university and with the long summer break looming, I decided to gain as much experience as possible in my spare time.
When the opportunity arose to volunteer on a slightly more unusual Birmingham Museums Trust project, I jumped at the chance. What I wasn’t expecting was to become so immersed in the work that when the project ended I felt incredibly proud to have been part of this unique and rewarding experience.
My official volunteer role was as a Birmingham Heritage Week Assistant and through helping to bring this festival to life, I have learnt about an important celebration of local history. Birmingham Heritage Week usually spans over the course of two weeks in September and celebrates the history of Birmingham through a series of events held by organisations across the region.
My role on the project was to collect the data from event submission forms and process them into a document, which our web designer could use when making the events live on the website. I will admit that the responsibilities that came with the role were daunting at first and I think everyone will be able to relate to the first day jitters and the ever-dreaded self-doubt of whether you are actually the right person for the opportunity. However, as I started to build up the database of events, I developed a huge interest in the diversity of organisations participating in the festival. I found that it wasn’t only my confidence that was growing, but also my fascination with the way that so many different people could come together to support and encourage a week dedicated to local history.
For some, admin might not immediately appear to be the most exciting role compared to some of the more active volunteering opportunities that Birmingham Museums offer. For me however, it was so rewarding to be able to assist in bringing together these individual events to produce something as uniquely relevant as Birmingham Heritage Week.
One of my personal highlights was the launch evening for Birmingham Heritage Week, where I assisted with welcoming all the people who helped make the festival possible. This took place at The Roundhouse and through its abundance of local history, this venue epitomised all that Birmingham Heritage Week stands for. Maybe it was the atmosphere of this wonderful building or the passion of those that attended but, either way, it made for an inspiring evening that really opened my eyes to Birmingham’s unique history that is weaved throughout the heart of the city.
If you are interested in volunteering for Birmingham Museums then take a look at the current volunteering opportunities we have available across all our sites.