Museums Partnership Reading (The MERL & Reading Museum)


We heart Volunteering

One of the major aims of the partnership between The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) and Reading Museum, is to offer volunteering opportunities to the local community to improve wellbeing, connect people to their personal histories and identities, and get to know more about Reading's rich cultural heritage.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organisation.

We want you to feel part of the team, to have fun, to meet new people and perhaps to gain experience in the workplace, while developing supplementary skills to enhance a CV.

 

You may wish to apply existing skills and knowledge in an area in which you are already comfortable.

 

Alternatively, you may wish to try something new, and develop new skills or simply give something back to your local community.

 

Whatever your reason for volunteering, we are thrilled you are considering joining our volunteer community who work across The MERL and Reading Museum.

 

Obviously with the Covid pandemic, things are a bit more complicated than they once were. The opportunities we have at the moment vary subject to Covid guidelines, as well as the needs of museums and any associated activities.  


Nevertheless, we’d encourage you to apply to be a volunteer with us so when opportunities do present themselves, you’ll get to know about them before the wider public.  

To apply to be one of our volunteers, get yourself a cuppa and fill in the application form by following the 'I would like to volunteer' link on the right hand side of this page (or if you're on a smaller screen it will be below this message).

 

You can browse a complete list of all roles performed by existing Museums Partnership Reading volunteers. Feel free to tick a few that interest you, so that we can let you know in future if a vacancy arises for that role. 

 

As soon as you are registered, you'll join the waiting list.

When we have a vacancy for a role in future, it will say *Now recruiting* next to the title of the role.

 

When you’re happy with your application, don’t forget to click SUBMIT! If you need any help with the application process, please email VolunteerHQ@reading.ac.uk and we will do our best to help. 

 

Thank you. 

*We are lucky enough to receive a high volume of volunteer applications. We aim to respond to all applications within 30 days.* 

Data collection and processing is in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation 2016, and the Data Protection Act 2018, and in line with our Privacy Policy.

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Ways volunteers get involved - Current Vacancies are highlighted by *Now Recruiting*

Abbey Quarter Heritage Custodian

An outdoor role, helping to keep the Abbey Quarter interpretation signs clean and the area free of litter.

Abbey Quarter Tour Guide

An outdoor role, sharing stories about Reading's great and the good to pre-booked groups. Normally on a Saturday, unless by special arrangement.

Art Collections Research Volunteer (MERL)

Helping the University Art Collections Curatorial team to prepare for forthcoming exhibitions or research.

The MERL

Art Collections Research Volunteer (RM)

Unearthing the stories behind the artists and the works in the Reading Museum art collection, helping the Curator prepare for forthcoming exhibitions.

Community Engagement Volunteer - High Street Heritage Action Zone

Community Engagement Volunteer - High Street Heritage Action Zone

Host Museum: Volunteering for Reading Museum

Why we want you:

Museums Partnership Reading is a partner organisation in the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, a four-year programme funded by Historic England.
Reading was selected as one of 68 areas in England to receive a share of the fund.
As a result, Reading Borough Council has been awarded £806,500 to transform the high streets in three conservation areas in the town centre; the East end of Oxford Road, St Mary’s Butts & Castle Street and Market Place & London Street.

 

The HSHAZ programme has three complementary strands; physical interventions to restore and repair building and improve the public realm, a programme of cultural activities to celebrate the high streets and their importance to local communities, and community engagement which give local people a key role in deciding what work they want to see happening on their high streets.

 

We are looking for a team of six volunteers who can help us with this community engagement strand.

More information about the project is available at www.reading.gov.uk/hshaz

 

What you will be doing:

Starting in March the first part of the project, volunteers will be involved with the evaluation stage of our Cultural Pilot Project ‘Re-imaging the high street through your stories’. This will include:

  • Working with Sarah Goad (the Community Engagement & Cultural Officer) and the University of Reading research team to plan methods for and then deliver the collection of contributor and general public feedback on the pilot project
  • Training will be provided by the UoR team, with opportunities to work alongside the research team before working independently. (All location work will be done in pairs)
  • Depending on pandemic restrictions, this could involve in-person survey and collecting feedback along the Oxford Road, or virtual engagement via video calls or phone calls. You may also be asked to send emails on behalf of the project, to collect feedback and circulate online surveys
  • There will also be online meetings with the evaluation teams to feedback about the process and exchange ideas, as well as report back on feedback
  • The work that you do to support the evaluation stages will help to inform the end of project report that we will send to our funders, Historic England

After this pilot stage, further roles will include:

    • Working alongside the Community Engagement & Cultural Officer and the Conservation Officer, to support engagement work for the physical improvement strand of the programme
    • Helping to establish links with commercial/cultural and community groups to help foster engagement and build new relationships
    • Supporting community research, including: face to face interviews, survey collecting, evaluation, delivery of communications and online engagement support
    • Helping to empower local residents within the communities to take an active role in their town’s development
    • Assisting with the delivery of consultation sessions/workshops with the community
    • Social media planning and digital engagement support

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Interested in local history and heritage
  • Enjoy meeting new people
  • Interested in helping give the community a voice
  • Confident approaching and engaging strangers
  • Sympathetic, polite and an interested listener
  • Able to learn and explain clearly project information, aims and objectives
  • Passionate about Reading and it’s communities

*We are particularly interested in recruiting volunteers who live in or work with the communities in the three HSHAZ zones we are working in.

 

What you will gain in return:

  • Training at the beginning and throughout your role
  • Become part of a friendly team
  • Learn more about the history, heritage and communities of Reading
  • Contribute to the development of the HSHAZ project
  • Develop your community engagement and research skills
  • Gain new skills and experiences for your CV

 

How much time will it take up?
Successful community engagement relies on building good relationships and trust in return.


For this reason, we ideally need volunteers who can commit for a significant period of the project over the 3 year period 2021-2024 so that they can establish familiar positions within the communities.

We are ideally looking for volunteers who can commit at least 1-2 hours a week.

 

However, we can adapt the roles to suit commitments and preference, and if you would prefer a less-involved role, you will be able to support with tasks such as survey collecting and communications distribution on a more ad-hoc basis.

 

Who does the role report to? Community Engagement & Cultural Officer - Sarah.Goad@reading.gov.uk

 

To apply

If you do not already volunteer for Museums Partnership Reading:

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Sunday 7th March

The link can be found under https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/volunteer-reading-museum  or follow the link here: http://bttr.im/tqvqp  
*Please ensure you tick ‘Community Engagement Volunteer - HSHAZ’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering.

 

If you already are an Accepted MPR volunteer: Please tick as explained just above, and update your ‘Additional Info’ section to reflect why you wish to be considered for this role by Sunday 7th March.

 

Matching to the role

 

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to a 30-minute informal interview with Sarah Goad and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) via Zoom (Provisional date: Tuesday 16th March), where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.


Once the team has been formed, there will be a kick-off meeting on Monday 22nd March at 11am. The meeting will take between 30 minutes and 1 hour, and we welcome involvement and questions from volunteers.

Collections Cataloguing Volunteer (MERL)

Helping The MERL Curatorial team to catalogue objects in the rural life collections.

The MERL

Collections Cataloguing Volunteer (RM)

Helping the Reading Museum Curatorial team to catalogue a huge variety of objects in store at the off-site collections facility.

Collections Research Volunteer (MERL)

Helping The MERL Curatorial team to research into items in our rural life collection.

The MERL

Collections Research Volunteer (RM)

Helping the Reading Museum Curatorial team to research into items in our collection.

Reading Museum

Costumed Interpreter (RM)

Wearing a replica historic costume and talking to visitors at public events and tours can help people better understand famous Reading residents from various points in its fascinating history.

Digital Content Volunteer

Combine your love of storytelling, interest in history, all love of all new media to help us share those stories far and wide.

Events Volunteer

Event volunteers help us to deliver a programme of fun, friendly and fabulous special events all year, either at the Museums or out and about in the community.

 

Location: Reading Museum and Reading Abbey Quarter; The Museum of English Rural Life on Redlands Road, Reading 

 

For example on 19th June 2021 we are looking for Event Stewards to help at Waterfest

https://www.readingabbeyquarter.org.uk/visit/2021-900th-abbey-anniversary

 

Events Volunteer 

 

  

Why we want you 
You will help our Visitor Welcome team to provide an exceptional welcome during a wide range of public events  

 

What you will be doing 

  • Greeting visitors with a warm welcome 
  • Helping to maintain a high level of presentation in the welcome areas and in the galleries 
  • Assisting with enquiries
  • Ticket checking of arriving visitors for bookable events
  • Assisting with an activity (including preparation, re-stocking and clean-up)
  • Supervising a particular area, explaining how equipment works, and checking it is charged up
  • Supervising the colouring area (tidying colouring sheets) 
  • Object handling (familiarising yourself with the objects and running the activity)
  • Assisting with the gallery trails (handing out the paper trails, explaining the task and collecting them in)

What you will gain in return  

  • Experience of working within a team of museums staff & volunteers 
  • Experience of welcoming visitors of all ages, in engaging environments 
  • Full training and a comprehensive introduction to the Museum, its services and facilities
  • You will have the opportunity to attend outreach events in our local community to spread the word about the Museum and encourage people to visit, chatting about what’s on offer at the Museum  

 

This role will suit you if you are 

  • Someone who enjoys variety – no two events are exactly the same and involve a variety of tasks and activities  
  • Able to work as part of a team 
  • Enthusiastic, outgoing and polite engaging with a friendly and diverse audience
  • Self-motivated and pro-active 
  • Have good communication skills 
  • Looking to apply existing experience in a people-facing role  

 

How much time will it take up? 

 

This role is very flexible and has no regular time commitment, although events are often held at weekends or evenings. The Event programme is planned several months in advance, so we are able to give plenty of notice. 

 

 

https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/sites/default/files/styles/main_image__r/public/images/RMholidayfun.jpg?itok=ulnxNS8c 

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form here on our volunteering platform Better Impact. There is no set deadline for applying, because events take place throughout the year and there are plenty of opportunities to help out at our events.

 

*Please ensure you tick ‘Events Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering. This will alert us to the fact that you are keen to help in this area.

 

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to a 30-minute informal interview with a member of the team and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) via Zoom, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

Friday Fledglings Volunteer (MERL)

Friday Fledglings Volunteer at The MERL

A person spraying water on a group of children

Location: The Museum of English Rural Life, 6 Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX

Volunteer Shift:

Friday mornings during normal term times from 9.15am-12noon

Friday Fledglings does not run during local school holidays.

Why we want you

Our highly popular outdoor toddler sessions ‘Friday Fledglings’ attract an average of 50 children each week (though during the pandemic the numbers may be limited)
Friday Fledglings is led by Charlotte, a local teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader.
Sessions take their inspiration from nature, and the themes and collections of the museum, and focus on outdoor play and exploration of the natural environment. Each session involves story-telling, craft activities and singing.

You will become part of the team to help ensure the smooth running of sessions.

What you will be doing

  • Setting up and tidying away activities
  • Meeting and greeting families
  • Helping with craft activities
  • Keeping the water play topped up
  • Helping new families to settle in and
    discover all the activities on offer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This role will suit you if you are

  • A people person
  • Enjoy the outdoors
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Enthusiastic, outgoing and polite
  • Enjoy working with young children
  • Willing to engage with members of the public
  • Self-motivated and pro-active
  • Have good communication skills

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you will gain in return   

  • Meet new people
  • Work with a team of museum staff & volunteers
  • Experience of working with children
  • Gain knowledge of seasonal observations in nature
  • Gain ideas on how to encourage free play for children under 5s

How much time will it take up?

You will join a team of volunteers on a Friday morning during normal term times from 9.15am-12noon. Friday Fledglings does not run during local school holidays.

This includes set up and take down time. Visitors attend between 10 and 11.30am.

What do I need to wear?

Please note that these sessions take place outside in The MERL garden, and run throughout the year, in all weathers! During the ongoing pandemic, the entire session will remain outdoors, no matter what the weather does! Please bring suitable clothing.

Who will I report to?

The overall supervisor of the role is Danielle Eade (Public Programmes Manager) d.k.eade@reading.ac.uk

The sessions are led by Charlotte and Fong who will allocate tasks and support you on the day.

Group Visit Welcome Host (MERL)

Help us introduce our group visitors to our fascinating collection with an introduction to the galleries, and share personal stories of the objects that mean most to you.

The MERL 

Ladybird Artwork Cataloguing Volunteer (MERL)

Supporting the Curatorial team to catalogue the wonderful collection of artwork that formed the Ladybird books

The MERL 

Learning & Engagement Volunteer (MERL)

Supporting the team to deliver fun and engaging sessions about rural life for all ages and abilities, including reminiscence work with younger or older people with dementia, and with school groups.

The MERL

Library & Special Collections Volunteer (MERL)

Helping to increase the public accessibility of a wide range of books, publications and ephemera held by the University of Reading

The MERL

Museum on Wheels Volunteer

Enthusing members of the public about the museum and collections while we're out and about at community settings and at stalls at large scale events

 

 

Object Handling Volunteer (MERL)

 

If you have always wanted to get your hands on museum objects, why not go beyond the cases and become an object handling volunteer!

 

The MERL

Outreach Talk Volunteer

Help us spread the word about our fantastic museums and collections, delivering pre-prepared Powerpoint presentations to community groups such as the U3A and Probus, at their meetings. 

Outreach volunteers

Photography Volunteer

Using your photography skills to help us share pictures of our fabulous events and activities, and of course the buildings and collections too.

Visitor Experience Researcher

Help us gather vital visitor feedback either on iPads or paper questionnaires

The MERL

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (MERL)

MERL Visitor Welcome Volunteer

Specific roles to support the Front of House team during the ongoing covid-19 pandemic
Location: The Museum of English Rural Life 

Why we want you 

  • You will help our Front of House team to provide an exceptional welcome to reassure visitors returning to us after the Covid-19 lockdown
  • You will help support the smooth operation of the front of house area
  • You will receive full training on our measures to keep you safe and to minimise risks for our visitors

What you will be doing 

  • A person sitting at a tableDescription automatically generatedGreeting all pre-booked museum visitors, and researchers using the library and archives, in a welcoming and friendly manner 
  • Helping to inform visitors of our social distancing measures and the ways in which we plan to keep everybody safe 
  • Encouraging visitors to make a donation  
  • Liaising with the Front of House team to try to accommodate those who drop by and have not pre-booked

You will be based in one of two allocated posts. Locations include courtyard greeter and gallery greeter

Ideally you will stand to greet volunteers, but chairs can be provided if needed.
In milder months you may be asked to welcome visitors in the courtyard, but you will be sheltered from the elements in the courtyard by a gazebo.

A rest break will be arranged mid-shift

What you will gain in return  

  • An opportunity to work in a heritage environment 
  • The opportunity to assist and communicate with a friendly, diverse audience
  • Build on your customer care, service and communication skills
  • Being part of a team and developing new contacts 

A person posing for the cameraDescription automatically generated

This role will suit you if you are

  • A people person  
  • Able to work as part of a team  
  • Confident and able to reassure others
  • Enthusiastic, outgoing and polite  
  • Willing to engage with a variety of people
  • Self-motivated and pro-active  
  • A good communicator  
  • Experienced in a customer-facing role  

 

 

How much time will it take up? 
Shifts will be from 9:30* to 13:00 and from 13:00 to 16:30 on days we are open to the public (Tuesday to Sunday).  

*On Saturdays and Sundays, the museum opens the doors at 10am, so please arrive just before 10am.

This role is available on a rota, and you may like to sign up to volunteer once a week.

This can be flexible, as volunteers will help throughout the month.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form here on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Sunday 17th October 2021

 

*Please ensure you tick ‘MERL Visitor Welcome Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering. 

 

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to a 30-minute informal interview with a member of the team and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) via Zoom, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (RM)

Visitor Welcome Volunteer

Location: Reading Museum

Role description

Why we want you?

You will help our gallery team to provide an exceptional welcome to reassure visitors returning to us after the Covid-19 lockdown. You will support staff in welcoming visitors and generating income for the Museum. You will also be helping to complete regular surveys, interviewing visitors about their trip to the Museum

We are looking for confident and friendly individuals who have the skills and personality to promote the museum whilst providing an excellent welcome experience for our visitors.

You will receive full training on our measures to keep you safe and to minimise risks for our visitors during the ongoing pandemic.

What does a Visitor Welcome volunteer do?

  • Supporting a dedicated and experienced gallery team by welcoming visitors
  • Encouraging visitors to make a donation and explaining how their visitor donations will help the service 
  • Helping to inform visitors of our social distancing measures and the ways in which we plan to keep everybody safe 
  • You will be based either at the museum entrance or in one of the galleries
  • Ideally you will stand to greet volunteers, but chairs can be provided if needed
  • A rest break will be arranged mid-shift

This role will suit you if you are:

  • A people person
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • Confident, outgoing and polite
  • Enthusiastic
  • Willing to engage with members of the public
  • Self-motivated and pro-active
  • Have good communication skills
  • Experience in a customer-facing role (such as fund-raising or sales) would be useful, but not essential as full training and support will be given

  What will you get in return?

  • Meet a wide range of people
  • Develop your communication skills
  • Learn more about museum visitors’ services
  • Being part of a friendly team and make new friends
  • Gain some new skills for your CV

How much time will you need to give?

Shifts will be from 10:00 to 13:00 and from 13:00 to 16:00 on days we are open to the public (Tuesday to Saturday).  This role is available on a rota, and you may like to sign up to volunteer once a week. This can be flexible, as volunteers will help throughout the month.

Who does the role report to?

Visitor Services Officer - Lucy.Griffin@reading.gov.uk

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Wednesday 29th September 2021


*Please ensure you tick ‘Visitor Welcome Volunteer (RM) in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering.

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to a 30-minute informal interview with Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) and a members of the visitor services team via Zoom, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

Wardrobe Assistant to Costumed Interpreters (RM)

Making running and permanent repairs to replica historic costumes, and general support to Costumed Interpreters including helping them to dress in their many layers ready for the public events.

Youth Panel Member

We love to hear regularly from our younger supporters to make sure that we are offering exhibitions and experiences that are of interest across the generations

Volunteer Researcher - Reading People & Institutions Project

Volunteer Researcher - Reading People and Institutions Project

Location: Virtual volunteering for Museums Partnership Reading 

Why we want you 

Do you enjoying finding out about local Reading people and businesses?

Egg boxes from The MERL's collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are looking for a team of six volunteers to research people and institutions from Reading found in the Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum's collections, producing information that can be added to Wikipedia.

What you will be doing

Objects donated to the museums come with some basic information about the donors, but we want to expand on these details to create short biographies.

We particularly hope to find and explore stories that reflect the diversity of race, age, gender, disability, religion and sexual orientation in the community. You can find examples of basic biographies here: https://merl.reading.ac.uk/merl-collections/search-and-browse/persons-institutions/

We will provide you with a list of people and institutions who are connected to the museum collections to research.
We also encourage you to discover other related people for yourselves, and explore your own interests.

We will deliver some training to help you start your research, and provide tips about top research websites.

This role will suit you if you are

  • Able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Interested in local history, persons and institutions
  • Enthusiastic, proactive and curious
  • Able to explain historic information through excellent, clear writing skills

What you will gain in return  

  • Discover more about people and institutions of Reading
  • Develop your research skills, learning how to do online research and use local research facilities
  • Learn how to add content to Wikipedia
  • Gain some new skills for your CV

Who does the role report to?

Maddie Ding, Collections Officer, Museums Partnership Reading madeleine.ding@reading.ac.uk

How much time will it take up? 

We can offer the opportunity to attend an afternoon’s training on selected dates with an official Wikipedian. Alternatively, the basic training and expectations can be outlined through online training with Maddie Ding, our Collections Officer.

Thereafter you would undertake independent research at home, and where possible in library, archive or museum collections, with the aim of the project finishing during the spring of 2021.

We will organise a kick-off meeting and a progress meeting a few weeks into the project, where you can meet fellow volunteers and swap tips on researching during a pandemic.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by Sunday 14th February
The link can be found under https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/volunteer-reading-museum  or follow the link here: http://bttr.im/tqvqp  
*Please ensure you tick ‘Volunteer Researcher - Reading People and Institutions Project’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering.

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to a 30-minute informal interview with Maddie Ding (Collections Officer) and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) via Zoom (Provisional dates: Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th February), where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.


Once the team has been formed, there will be a kick-off meeting on Monday, 22nd February at 11am. The meeting will take between 30 minutes and 1 hour, and we welcome involvement and questions from volunteers.

Welcome to Museum Partnership Reading!

We heart Volunteering

One of the major aims of the partnership between The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) and Reading Museum, is to offer volunteering opportunities to the local community to improve wellbeing, connect people to their personal histories and identities, and get to know more about Reading's rich cultural heritage.