How to volunteer in heritage

 7 September 2011

In the creative and cultural sectors, volunteers are often the very life-blood of organisations. Without volunteers, many organisations simply could not function.

Competition for volunteering places can be tough – around 49,000 people volunteer to work with the National Trust each year.
Competition for volunteering places can be tough – around 49,000 people volunteer to work with the National Trust each year.

If you’re fanatical about history and heritage, then getting a volunteer placement is a great way to turn your interest into an active hobby. It could even be a pathway for a dream career in cultural heritage.

If you want to get out there and donate your time in return for some enriching experiences, here’s some advice:

Do your research

Don’t imagine volunteers are unimportant. Without volunteers, many organisations could not function.

Chances are you will already know the kinds of opportunities you are looking for – and therefore know which organisations you need to approach.

For example, if you love historical places or the countryside, then the National Trust, English Heritage or the Woodland Trust would be good places to contact. Ask them about possible volunteering placements in your local area.

Competition for places can be tough – around 49,000 people volunteer to work with the National Trust each year. It’s a good idea to do your research before contacting the organisation so you can prove to them in your application that you have all the relevant skills they want.

Find volunteering opportunities

If you know the sector in which you’d like to work (arts, heritage etc), but you don’t know which organisations to contact, check out your local volunteer centre. These are great places for information and can help you identify opportunities in your local area:

Also try Do-it – the national database of volunteering opportunities. Simply type in your postcode and the areas of interest, and you're instantly provided with a list of potential opportunities in your local area.

When you’ve found the right opportunity, you will need to complete an application form and have an informal interview. Prepare for it well and ask questions – this is your chance to make sure that volunteering is for you and that you are taking on the right role within the organisation.

By Rachel Clark, Volunteering Adviser, National Trust


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