Emma (L) and Melissa (R) Volunteers are an integral part of National Museums Liverpool, and without them, important work would not be able to take place. To celebrate Volunteers Week we are meeting more volunteers as part of a bumper Volunteer Spotlight series so we can really celebrate the different contributions that our amazing volunteers make. National Museums Liverpool is definitely a varied place to work not only do we offer world class collections but we have award winning departments behind the scenes too. It’s probably easy to overlook the work that goes into our museums by a whole range of people from across the organisation, but I’m lucky that on my Spotlight visits I get to meet colleagues from different departments and hear about their projects. One common point that every supervisor has made is that, having a volunteer, placement student or intern helps them to appreciate their own roles more and how fortunate we are to work where we do. I know I certainly do! Melissa is a Hope University student who is currently completing a placement with the House of Memories team whilst studying for her Museums and Heritage MA. As part of the House of Memories team she has been supporting the Happy Older People (HOP) network since March and it has enabled her meet a wide range of people, learn about the varied roles in the organisation and experience the amazing community work that is taking place. Supporting Melissa has been Emma, House of Memories Marketing Officer who explained that the work that Melissa has been doing is invaluable, especially during a busy period with lots of events and the launch of the latest round of HOP Pot small grants. I was curious what Melissa's background would be before we met, would she have a background in marketing, what was her interest in museums and culture? Well, as it turns out, her undergraduate degree was Drama, but it wasn’t until she completed an arts marketing course with the Young Everyman Playhouse programme that she gained an appreciation for all the work that takes place beyond collections and developed an interest in the behind the scenes of arts and culture. Back at university, in preparation for the upcoming placement, the course lecturers offered a choice of areas that could be of interest, including education, marketing and fundraising. It’s clear that Melissa has taken advantage of the varied opportunities that marketing has offered and has been editing the Happy Older People newsletter, updating blogs, scheduling social media posts and attending events and community sessions. She has recently worked at ‘Young at Art’ sharing event, in partnership with FACT and Open Eye gallery at the Museum of Liverpool and a HOP network meeting at Tate Liverpool. Melissa supported with set up, registration and welcoming the guests before writing blogs about the events for the HOP website. Melissa has had the opportunity to meet a range of people, different teams from the organisation and the wider community, something that plays a big part here at National Museums Liverpool. Visiting and taking part in a HOP-funded pottery session with older people at MyClubmoor has been a highlight from Melissa’s placement. Placements are an important part of many Higher Education courses. I asked Melissa why she thinks it is a valuable opportunity to take part in and she feels that you gain different experiences and often the skills that you develop are ones that wouldn’t necessarily link to an arts based course. The experiences that you take part in give you more to talk about in your CV and valuable transferable skills. Emma echoed this by saying that:
"You can read the theory on a course, but you need to see it in practice and experience the realities, and this is something that you can achieve through work experience or volunteering."