Lowestoft Rising with Museums is an Arts Council England funded project that works under the umbrella of Lowestoft Rising to improve the resilience and sustainability of three of the most popular museums in Lowestoft: Lowestoft Museum, Lowestoft Maritime Museum and East Anglia Transport Museum.
Although each museum boasts a unique identity and bespoke collections relating to the preservation of Lowestoft heritage, the continuation of all these museums is reliant upon the commitment of volunteers. Therefore, to promote the many volunteering opportunities available at each site, whether with collections, as guides, visitor/café/shop assistants, or as schools and learning volunteers, each museum has been involved in a variety of initiatives and community projects.
To ensure that the museums attract new volunteers with a variety of skills, Lowestoft Rising with Museums has involved working closely with a range of local organisations and attending a variety of events to promote volunteering opportunities, including Lowestoft Sixth Form College’s Careers Event, Lowestoft Vision’s 1940s event and Community Action Suffolk’s Volunteer Development Forums. In addition, the museums have also offered work experience placements in collaboration with Inspire Suffolk and have welcomed volunteers from the Lowestoft Jobcentre.
As Lisa Trevor, Employer Adviser from Lowestoft Jobcentre, comments, the collaborative partnerships developed through Lowestoft Rising with Museums create volunteering opportunities that are of mutual benefit to volunteers, museums and communities alike:
“Work experience is an important part of becoming workplace ready, it builds self-esteem and confidence and makes our customers feel valued in the community. Plus, it gives our customers the chance to gain experience and can help put them on the right career path in the future.
Since meeting with Lowestoft Rising with Museums in March and discussing the benefits to our customers in undertaking volunteering opportunities with the museums, Lowestoft Jobcentre has successfully promoted the museums’ Volunteer Open Events and at least one of our customers has been offered a volunteering position”.
Notable achievements include the development of volunteer resources at each site and the success of the museums’ free Volunteer Open Events in April, which acted as platforms to attract new volunteers. In addition, thanks to extensive promotional activities, together with the hard-work of each museum in organising and attending events, the three museums have so far collectively welcomed 14 new volunteers through their doors. These new volunteers will not only help to improve the sustainability and resilience of each museum in a climate of austerity, but will in turn develop valuable skills and experience that benefit both the individual and the wider community.
Ultimately, the success of Lowestoft Rising with Museums is not simply measured by the recruitment of new volunteers but through the support of existing volunteers, who will continue to foster the community partnerships developed throughout the project even after its culmination in March 2018. As Rodney Duerden from Lowestoft Museum comments:
“Lowestoft Museum has benefitted greatly from being part of the Lowestoft Rising with Museums project and we have been able to take advantage of all the new materials being provided.
At an open day for new volunteers, which had been widely publicised, we were able to attract 10 names, 8 of whom have signed up to help. This extra help has enabled us to open regularly for extra hours and relieve some of the burden on other volunteers.
We would wholeheartedly recommend the project, which has got us out of a bit of a rut and into a more positive frame of mind”.
While the reasons for becoming and remaining a volunteer may differ – whether to improve skills, gain experience, develop a personal interest or meet like-minded people -, Lowestoft museums offer opportunities for all, whatever your interests, age or background. So, the question remains, what are you waiting for?
If you would you like to become part of a thriving volunteer-run museum and play an active role in your community, why not volunteer with Lowestoft Museum, Lowestoft Maritime Museum or East Anglia Transport Museum? To find out more, please visit www.lowestoftrising.co.uk/lowestoft-rising-with-museums or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit the museums in person and discover their amazing collections for yourself!