My Week: Lucy Andrews-Manion gains a curator, loses a volunteer

The volunteer coordinator at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust recounts her week

Lucy Andrews-Manion
Lucy Andrews-Manion

Monday: After the initial cup of tea and a chat, this week's important stuff begins: a meeting with a local training company about placing two young volunteers who are not in employment, education or training. We have about 400 volunteers, but placing this type can be both tricky and extremely rewarding - get it wrong and they'll never come back, but get them in the right role with the right support and you could change their lives. Volunteering is a two-way skill exchange.

Tuesday: I have a meeting with another museum's volunteer coordinator. Part of my role is helping other organisations recruit and support volunteers. We talk about how the museums she works for could attract different types of people, how to prepare their policies and encourage staff and volunteers to think of new ways of engaging people.

Wednesday: I deal with an unhappy volunteer and a concerned member of staff. One had taken something the other said the wrong way, though it was not meant to offend. The only thing to do in these situations is to get everyone's side of things and strive for a positive outcome. It's sometimes hard to put yourself in the middle, but we get a nice outcome on this one, and the volunteer and the staff member go away happy. Having a strong relationship with paid staff and volunteers is vital. They need to trust you and feel that they can be honest.

Thursday: I meet our new senior curator, who is very positive about volunteers. We hatch exciting plans for volunteer projects in the curatorial department. So many young people are searching for a route into the heritage world. We have to give them a helping hand - they are our future.

Friday: Good news: today we find out that one of our volunteers, who has always wanted to be a conservator, has got a job as an apprentice to a furniture specialist. We're sad that we're going to lose him, but we're happy that we have been able to provide him with training that has improved his prospects.

Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust manages 35 historic sites in the Shropshire world heritage site

Lucy Andrews-Manion is volunteer coordinator at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

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