Sustainable Volunteering

Support for volunteering is coordinated by our Sustainable Volunteering Officers (SVO), a role shared by Eleanor Moore and Jan Horrell. They can provide advice and support on matters relating to your museum’s volunteering programme.  Working as a team within the South West Museum Development Programme will enable volunteering to be developed in the specific areas of Conservation and Digital Engagement.

The SVO works closely with Museum Development Officers and county networks to disseminate best practice around volunteering and liaises with the South Western Federation of Museums and Galleries to support the development of volunteering offered through the South West Museum Skills Programme. Eleanor and Jan visit county museum group meetings and provide briefings and training sessions to individual museums in addition to telephone and email support, they can be contacted  here

Information, advice and guidance will be provided regularly through this website via Twitter and our blog. Follow Twitter @swmuseums and sign up for the blog to stay up to date.

The SVO also organises the activities of the South West Museum Volunteer Forum. This forum is a community of interest for volunteering, developing and sharing best practice; further information can be found below. If you have an active interest in supporting museums with volunteers and would like to attend do contact Eleanor or Jan.

Resources to support volunteer management and development can be found in the Resources section of this website.

Offer of Support

Volunteers are integral to museums in the South West.  In 2013/14, South West Museum Development data shows that over 1 million volunteer hours were contributed in south west museum. The value of this volunteer work is immense – over £15 million pounds’ worth of voluntary work contribution (SWMDP annual report 2013/14; the data is based on a survey of 175 accredited museums and on Visit England data). Volunteer involvement makes a huge difference to museums – everything from enhancing the visitor experience to stewarding and documenting the collections.

South West Museum Development Programme is investing in a Sustainable Volunteering Service as part of their programme of support for 2015-18.  This service supports museums to be sustainable, excellent and innovative – and fully engaged with their stakeholders and communities – by facilitating the development of best practice in all aspects of volunteering.

What does the service provide?

Core service:

  • Specialist advice and support on volunteering, including ideas and inspiration
  • Skills development through the South West Museum Skills training days more information here
  • Signposting to resources and information, regularly through the South West Museum Development Programme team blog

Locality service:

  • Communication, and tailored workshops, through existing local networks – including the Museum Development Officer network and county network groups

Enhanced service:

  • Brokerage of partnerships including project funding partnerships
  • Micro-consultancies – support for specific development with individual museums
South West Museum Volunteering Forum

The South West Museum Volunteering Forum is a network for staff and volunteers in museums in the South West who are proactively seeking to develop the way they involve volunteers and the nature of the volunteer experience. It aims to share and develop best practice and new ways of working around volunteer involvement in museums and engages with the wider heritage and volunteering sectors as appropriate to achieve its aims.

Since 2011 the Forum (previously known as the South West Heritage Volunteering Forum) has held themed meetings responding to member priorities and supported accredited training for volunteer managers.

From 2015 a ‘community of interest’, formed of volunteering leads in organisations actively developing volunteering, will play a key part in setting and achieving the forum’s agenda and activities. In this way, practice will be shared more effectively across museums.

Members will be invited to join the network and will have access to funded or part-funded offers, for example funded CPD activities, in recognition of their active participation in the Forum. If the Forum can support your work and you would like to be involved do contact  Eleanor or Jan. Your involvement should be supported by your organisation’s governing bodies or senior managers.

Note: The SW Museum Volunteering Forum and the SVO role will be supported by a steering group that will link the development activities to the Board of the SW Museum Development Programme.