Volunteering with Staffordshire Archives & Heritage
The volunteering programme at Staffordshire Archives and Heritage had been in place for many years but it wasn’t until May 2021 that the service had a permanent volunteer coordinator to manage the groups and projects. The first part of this role involved getting volunteers back into their building after the pandemic. Then in 2022 the service moved out of Staffordshire Record Office into a temporary location whilst the Staffordshire History Centre is being built. They then settled the volunteers in to a new premises with new procedures around their documents and projects.
Melanie Williamson, Volunteer Coordinator, Staffordshire Archives & Heritage, takes up the tale.
Once we had moved in, as a team we looked at the volunteering programme and how we can adapt it to suit both the needs of our volunteers and the service, updating our policies and creating a survey to get feedback from the volunteers. About half of the volunteers were interested in events and as a team we wanted to make the social side of volunteering more available. Since the pandemic and moving to new shared premises most volunteering was restricted to set sessions across the week, this meant that the groups were only able to interact with those working on the same project.
In Autumn 2022 we launched our events programme by inviting Dr Imogen Peck from the University of Birmingham to speak to volunteers about the Civil War in Staffordshire. She is a historian of memory and communities, with research expertise in local and family history. Some of Imogen’s work had been based around Quarter Sessions records that one of the groups is involved with indexing and transcribing, but volunteers across the service attended. Imogen took questions at the end and it sparked great discussions, they were able to bring together all their knowledge from their volunteer projects past and present, such as information from Consistory Court papers of Lichfield, knowledge from local tithe maps, and research from the Victoria County History group; all of which interwove with the civil war. The way very much a two way conversation as our volunteer’s knowledge was useful to Imogen’s work as well.
Since then, the volunteer programme of events has grown with speakers from our service, a Christmas get together and new skills-based sessions to build volunteers experience and give something back. Volunteers have had an introduction to paper conservation and next will be a career session for volunteers looking to gain employment in the heritage sector.
National Volunteers Week
The most important for us, as a service, are events to say thank you, appreciating our volunteers and the time they give to the service. Last week we celebrated National Volunteers Week with a picnic at Victoria Park in Stafford, we were blessed with gorgeous weather! We are very appreciative of the work that they do with our collections, the connections that they make with each other and the loyalty that they have shown to the service, especially whilst major changes have been going on over the last few years. Our volunteers make our collections more accessible to the people of Staffordshire, they are a major part of our service, and we look forward to welcoming more volunteers over the coming years.
To find out more about volunteering with Staffordshire please click here.