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By Alice Trow on

Celebrating our volunteers during Volunteers Week

For the 40th anniversary of Volunteers’ Week, our Volunteer Manager Alice reflects on the past year of volunteering activity at the museum.

Volunteers’ Week is the national celebration of volunteers and the contributions they make to communities, charities, and society. We’re always grateful for the efforts of our volunteers in supporting the museum—the skills, knowledge and passion of our volunteers make our museum special. But Volunteers’ Week, held annually in the first week of June, is a time when across the country we take a moment to say a special thanks to volunteers and highlight the difference they make.

This month also marks a year since the museum closed its doors temporarily for its transformation through our Sound and Vision project. With the museum being closed, there haven’t been as many volunteering opportunities as we’d like, but some of our volunteers have been able to stay active. Here are some of the successes of our volunteer teams over the last year.

Despite being closed, we held two of our big events in the last year, Widescreen Weekend and Yorkshire Games Festival. Events Volunteers provide invaluable support to busy event staff and some 7,000 visitors across the two events. Their great communication skills and enthusiasm play a huge part in engaging our visitors at some of our busiest times.

A group of people in Science and Media Museum jackets
Events Volunteers getting ready to support Yorkshire Games Festival in The Broadway.

Our volunteers’ involvement in the Communities and Crowds project wrapped up in September. The volunteers researched and selected just over 400 photos from the museum’s Daily Herald Archive to be digitised for transcription and classification on the crowdsourcing platform Zooniverse. Titled ‘How Did We Get Here?’, the Zooniverse content was shaped by the volunteers. Once the site went live, the photos were fully transcribed and classified by online volunteers from around the world in just a week. This work will help preserve an important part of African-Caribbean history in the UK. One of the highlights has been the volunteers’ passion for sharing their findings with our visitors and the community through outreach and visitor engagement.

You might be keeping up with the latest news on how our Sound and Vision project is progressing through our blog or social media pages, but did you know we have a volunteer-led radio show about it? Our Radio Production Volunteers produce, present and edit a monthly programme on community station Bradford Community Broadcasting, gaining hands-on production skills and experience of broadcast journalism. This helps the museum reach some of BCB’s thousands of listeners with updates on how Sound and Vision is progressing.

The museum blog is shared by staff and guest authors, but around a fifth of blogposts over the last few years were written by our Volunteer Bloggers. These volunteers post about topics of their choosing inspired by our museum themes, collections and events. Their unique interests and insights are among the some of the most-read content in the last year. Have a look at the volunteer bloggers’ posts.

We’ve been delighted to offer a new role this year in a project called Collecting People’s Stories. By conducting oral history interviews, these volunteers are helping us capture and preserve local stories of scientific and social historic interest that may otherwise be lost. With their passion for local history and some training provided by the Oral History Society, we look forward to hearing the stories they uncover when they start conducting their interviews later this month.

Two older women sat at a table, with sound recording equipment
Volunteers on their oral histories training day

What does the future hold?

We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors and volunteers back through our doors when we reopen in January. It’s a big year for us and for Bradford with City of Culture celebrations and our new galleries opening later in 2025.

Our Object Handling Volunteer role will return, enabling visitors to learn more from our handling collection. They will be joined by new Learning Volunteers, who will help engage families with our learning activities.

Interested in volunteering?

If you think volunteering with us might be for you, visit our Volunteering webpage to find out more about what’s involved and how you can apply. We only recruit when we have space for new volunteers or we have new opportunities, so we recommend you join our mailing list to be the first to hear when we’re recruiting.

Volunteers Week - 40th anniversary

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