Written by Phil Heritage
The first time I visited Bradford Industrial Museum was during its annual Victorian Christmas market in 2011. At seeing all the varied galleries, interesting objects and enthusiastic staff dressed in Victorian attire, I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. On finding out that volunteering opportunities as tour guides had become available; I decided to apply through the Bradford Museums and Galleries website.
I was invited to interview and was then accepted as a volunteer tour guide. During training, I discovered all about the different exhibits and the interesting facts behind them. I learned all about the key skills needed to be a tour guide, such as projecting my voice and encouraging questions from visitors. The first time I led a tour myself I was very nervous, but the friendly and encouraging staff helped me through it.
As time passed, my skills and confidence improved and my nerves disappeared as I got to know both the museum and the staff better. Other volunteering opportunities and projects opened up to me, like the 1975 back to back house project. As part of this, a hand full of other volunteers and I planned and researched how to redesign one of the back to back houses to depict the style and period of 1975.
My volunteer work at Bradford Industrial Museum taught me a great deal and helped me develop a wide variety of skills. From being a tour guide, my communication and time management skills have improved through presenting galleries and exhibits to large groups. From the 1975 project, I have developed further skills in research, team work and organisation. Throughout my time at Bradford Industrial Museum, I have expanded my own knowledge of British industrial and social history, as well as learning about the working mechanisms of a museum from behind the scenes, and the educational importance that museums have.
These experiences have really helped to enhance my CV through the skills I’ve developed and the work ethic I’ve shown. I now hope to go on to be a History teacher, to share with young people all the things I learned about history at university and experienced as a volunteer at Bradford Industrial Museum.
If you would like to find out how to be a volunteer with Bradford Museums and Galleries, please follow this link to our volunteering page to see current opportunities and vacancies: http://www.bradfordmuseums.org/volunteering/index.php