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.

 

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.
When we have a vacancy for a role, it will say *Now recruiting* next to the title of the role.
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.
Please note that if you do not tick any of the interests, we won't contact you, as you won't come up in our search for that vacancy.

 

In your application, please give us as much relevant information as you like, including: how you feel you meet the requirements of the volunteering role, and how you would like to help. The more we know about you and what you are interested in, the easier it is for us to match you 


On some occasions more volunteers apply for the role than we have opportunity for in the rota. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants*. 

Remember to indicate in the Availability section if specific days of the week or time of day work best around your other commitments.

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

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive the form!

As soon as we are recruiting to that role, we will get in touch with our matches and invite them to an informal interview. This can be over Zoom/ Teams, or in person according to your preference.

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 will get in touch as soon as we are actively recruiting to a vacancy that matches the information on your form. Sometimes there may be a wait of some months before we can match you to a role, but please be assured we work as fast as we can to give as many people as possible the opportunity to join our volunteer family. We hope you agree it is worth the wait!* 

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*

*Now Recruiting - Curatorial Volunteer – Uni of Reading Art Collections (MERL)*

Curatorial Volunteer – University of Reading Art Collections

Closing date: midday Thursday 20th June

Location

Volunteering role for University of Reading Art Collections – normally based at The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading RG1 5EX

Why we want you 

You will assist the University Art Collections Team with a range of research, cataloguing and administrative tasks in connection to the management and promotion of the University Art Collection.

We are offering this role as an opportunity for anyone interested in developing a career working in museums and galleries, for a fixed period of 3 months (most likely July to Sept 2024). 

A volunteer is shown a drawing in the University Art Collection

What you will be doing 

  • Collections-based research
  • Helping with the inventory (making a complete list) of specific areas of the collection
  • Contributing to the development of online material, including blogs and social media
  • Basic administrative work, including exhibition admin (if applicable) 

What you will gain in return  

  • Experience of working with an art collection  
  • Experience of collections-based research 
  • Experience within a museum environment as part of a small team

This role will suit you if you have

  • An interest in art collections, both historical and contemporary
  • Good IT skills 
  • Ability to work independently
  • Good time management skills and attention to detail 

How much time will it take up? 

This role best suits someone who can provide about one day a week

Who will I report to?

You will report to Clare Plascow, Collections Officer

How to apply

If you do not already volunteer for Museums Partnership Reading, please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform, Better Impact http://bttr.im/w2yev by midday on Thursday 20th June 2024.

*Please ensure you tick ‘Curatorial Volunteer – Art Collections’ in your ‘Interests’ Section under ‘My Profile’ when registering* 

 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

 

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

Existing volunteers/ applicants on the waiting list

If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Curatorial Volunteer – Art Collections’ by midday on Thursday 20th June 2024.  You may want to update your ‘Additional info’ fields to reflect any experience and skills you have gained since you initially applied or joined the volunteering team.

Matching to the role

 

We are looking for one volunteer for this role. Behind the scenes collections roles are very popular and we a fortunate to find that many more people apply for the role than we have vacancies, so we are unable to accept all applicants. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to an informal interview with Clare Plascow and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator), where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

 

Abbey Quarter Heritage Custodian (RM)

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

Abbey Quarter Tour Guide (RM)

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

Abbey Quarter Tour Sweeper volunteer (RM)

Reading Abbey Quarter Tour Sweeper volunteer

Location: Reading Museum & Abbey Quarter 

Suitable for volunteers aged 18 and over

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Role Description

Why we want you

Reading Museum runs a regular programme of outdoor guided tours for the public and additional tours for pre-booked groups.

Our guided tours are vital in bringing the Abbey Quarter’s rich history to life for our visitors. Our volunteers help to share our enthusiasm for the site where King Henry I was buried, Jane Austen was taught and Oscar Wilde was imprisoned.
We offer an opportunity to inspire visitors to discover the history of the town and its people through its historic buildings and objects.

Tours usually take place weekly on Saturdays from April to September, so shifts are rostered for our volunteers usually 10:30am – 1:00pm, and we offer occasional afternoon tours 1:30 – 4:00pm.

We also take bookings for private tours, by arrangement.

The tour starts at Reading Museum, and participants are led to explore the wider Abbey Quarter, including the Abbey ruins.

What you will be doing 

  • Supporting the Tour Guide to promote the best enjoyment of the tour for the participants e.g.
  • ensure the safety of tour participants by being aware of the environment
  • ensure the group moves at the right pace to keep them together
  • giving any other appropriate assistance as may be reasonably requested

 

  • Becoming familiar with and following Reading Museum’s health and safety policy at all times

  • Attending tour guide training and workshops, contributing feedback to help us improve how we can adapt tours as necessary to meet the needs of different audiences, including any access and inclusion requirements participants may have.

  • Keeping up to date with the visitor programme on offer through Reading Museum to offer tailored suggestions of further activities participants may enjoy.

Along the way you will learn the content of the tour, and may one day apply to lead the tours yourself.

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Enthusiastic, warm and friendly
  • Willing to engage with a wide variety of members of the public and be understanding about a range of needs to meet our inclusive and welcoming outlook
  • Interested in history
  • Confident in talking to a large group of people and being heard in a busy area
  • Have some experience in a public-facing role
  • Have good time management skills
  • Flexible, able to go with the flow
  • Enjoy being outdoors – tours usually go ahead in most weather conditions (unless extreme conditions)

What you will get out of it

  • Learning about the rich history of the Reading Abbey Quarter, the events that have taken place, the people who have lived here and visited the sites
  • Become part of a friendly team and make new friends
  • Meet a wide range of people
  • Develop your communication skills and gain some new skills for your CV
  • Use your existing skill set in a creative and fun way
  • The opportunity to become a tour guide in due course

How much time it will take up?

You will become part of a team of tour guides and sweepers. Our current volunteers donate an average of one shift a fortnight.

You will be sent a list of Guided Tour dates in advance and invited to share your availability, and the role Supervisor will confirm the rota as soon as possible.

The length of a typical shift is 2.5 hours and the tour itself is 1.5hrs long.

What training and support we provide

Reading Museum prides itself on being awarded Investing in Volunteers accreditation in 2023. We will provide full training and ongoing support to all volunteers to help them do well in this role.

We can offer training for this role on the mornings of Wednesday 6th March or Friday 15th March 2024.

Who does the role report to?

Reading Museum’s Learning Officer, Guja Bandini

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform.

 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

 

*Please ensure you tick Reading Abbey Quarter Tour Sweeper volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, by 9am on Monday 19th February

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant  

information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to Reading Abbey Quarter Tour Sweeper volunteer’ by 9am on Monday 19th February.

 

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to an informal interview with Guja Bandini and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator), where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

 

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.

An Afternoon at the Museum: Chat, Craft and Play Volunteer (MERL)

An Afternoon at the Museum: Chat, Craft and Play Volunteer

Location: The MERL on the third Tuesday of the month

 

A woman and a man are looking at photographs as talking points to discuss the past

 

Why we want you:

‘An Afternoon at the Museum: Chat, Craft and Play forms part of The MERL’s health and wellbeing programme. It is an informal, free, drop-in opportunity for adults to visit the museum, have a cup of tea, a chat and reminisce over collections, alongside other opportunities such as board games and craft.

All activities are optional, and the real aim is for attendees to be comfortable, feel valued, connect with others and the museum.

We collect feedback to discover what might tempt attendees back, what themes of reminiscence might appeal to them in the future, and to learn how the experience has impacted on their health and wellbeing. It is also a great chance to signpost other activities which might be of interest in our current What’s On guide.

You can find out more about the impact of The MERL’s health and wellbeing programmes, including Chat, Craft and Play here in this blog

What you will be doing: 

  • help with set up or take down of the activity including setting out activities
  • welcome attendees and be a smiley face
  • raise awareness of opportunities at The MERL and at our partner Reading Museum
  • celebrate the opportunities at both museums
  • check attendees are ok and help them with refreshments
  • support the activities taking place
  • use our collections as a starting point to conversation

Two men playing a board game in The Studio at The MERL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This role will suit you if you are able to:

  • Provide a confident, warm, and friendly welcome
  • Take an interest in the lives, stories and wellbeing of others, with a compassionate and caring nature
  • Become familiar with basic information about the museums
  • Talk to visitors and gather their feedback

What you will gain in return:

  • Develop your knowledge and understanding of health and wellbeing programmes at the museum
  • Develop your people skills
  • Develop your teamwork skills
  • Have a really fun time meeting people!

How much time will it take up?

You will form part of a small team who help with this activity on the third Tuesday of the month from 1.45 – 4.00pm, in all likelihood throughout 2023.

There is no minimum expectation of the amount of time, but many of our attendees are repeat visitors so if you are able to commit to attending monthly, if you are able, that can really add value and bring satisfaction to your volunteering

Who does the role report to?

Phillippa Heath, The MERL’s Learning and Engagement Manager

To apply

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to Afternoon at The MERL - Chat, Craft and Play Engagement Volunteer (MERL) in your ‘Interests’ by 9am on 16th June 2023.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to Afternoon at The MERL - Chat, Craft and Play Engagement Volunteer (MERL) in your ‘Interests’ by 9am on 16th June 2023.

Matching to the Role

To help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application forms of those interested, and we will draw up a shortlist of those who most closely match our ideal requirements.

We will invite a limited number of prospective volunteers to observe a session and have an informal interview to discuss the role. You would be welcome to assist with an aspect of the session to give you an idea of what to expect from the role.

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

Conservation & Preservation Volunteer – Stitch in Time Project (MERL)

Conservation and Preservation Volunteer – Stitch in Time Project

 A close-up of a bookDescription automatically generated A person cleaning a piece of paperDescription automatically generated

Location:
The Conservation Studio at The Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, RG1 5EX.
Please note this role will take place on Mondays mornings from 9.30am to 12:30pm, starting from Monday 29th January 2024 for a period of up to 12 weeks.

Why we want you

This role is to support the activities of the library and archive conservator and the work of conservation at The MERL. At The MERL, we have a number of collections that require cleaning and consolidation before they are rehoused. This is extremely valuable to the stability of the archive and library collections, as dirt causes paper and leather items to degrade more rapidly, can attract pests and mould and makes the items very difficult for researchers to handle. Your role will be a vital contribution to ensuring access to these collections.

These collections include a wide variety of material: bound volumes, single sheet items in paper and parchment, printed ephemera and photographic material. You will be working on the Wellington Estate papers.

What you will be doing

Working in the Conservation studio on Monday mornings, you will undertake basic but important preservation tasks on the selected material. This may include:

  • Cleaning archive material and bound objects with vacuum suction and latex cleaning sponges
  • Tying up damaged bound volumes to secure detached boards and/or spines
  • Undertaking minor binding repairs such as pasting down loose areas of covering material, labels and damaged corners
  • Housing single sheet items in standard, pre-made folders
  • Wrapping bound volumes for storage
  • Rehousing single sheet items in paper folders, four flap folders and Melinex® (a clear polyester material)

Special access/ allergy trigger considerations

This role includes

  • Items that are likely to be dusty
  • Using latex cleaning sponges 
  • Periods of time spent standing and sitting; some of the benches in Conservation are higher than normal, and the chairs we have available are similarly high
  • Lifting moderate weights

As you will be working as part of a small team, we will be able to distribute tasks within the team and adapt your tasks to promote as full participation in this role as possible.

This role will suit you if you are

  • Able to both work independently, but also enjoy being part of a small team
  • Meticulous in your approach with good manual dexterity (good hand skills, for example experience of crafting or a similar task)
  • Able to maintain concentration during repetitive tasks
  • Able to follow instructions and not be afraid to seek help if necessary

What you will gain in return

  • Direct experience of handling heritage materials
  • Gain skills in archive and library preservation techniques and procedures
  • Work as part of a larger project in a team in an archive environment
  • Training in all aspects of the role

Who does the role report to?

Victoria Stevens ACR, Library and Archive Conservator, based at The MERL.

How much time will it take up?

The sessions will be held on a Monday morning from 9.30am to 12:30pm from Monday 29th January 2024.
This cohort will be for up to 12 weeks maximum, and will be dependent on material availability.

You will get the most out of the placement if you are able to attend as many sessions as possible during that time. However, we realize that you may have some prior commitments/ appointments in the 12 week period.

To apply:

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact by midday on Monday January 15th 2024.

Please click on this link to the volunteering platform http://bttr.im/w2yev

Please ensure you tick ‘Conservation and Preservation volunteer – Stitch in Time project’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My Profile, when registering.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Conservation and Preservation volunteer – Stitch in Time project’ by midday on Monday January 15th 2024.

 

Matching to the role

We are fortunate to have perennial interest from prospective volunteers hoping to volunteer with our archives for fascinating projects such as this. We are looking for up to two volunteers to help in our next 12 week cohort.

We will let you know by Wednesday 24th January if we will be inviting you to join this cohort.

The first meeting will take place on Monday 29th January at 9.30am where you will be given more detailed guidance and initial training.

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.

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.
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 local school term times from 9.15am-12noon.

It is not essential to attend every week, you would just sign up for the shifts that suit your world.

The volunteer shift includes set up and take down time.

Visitors attend between 10 and 11.30am.

Friday Fledglings does not run during local school holidays. 


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) 

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

Gardening Volunteer - Wednesday Morning (MERL)

Gardening Volunteer at The MERL

 

Location:

The Museum of English Rural Life on Wednesdays from 10am to 12pm

A person standing in a gardenDescription automatically generated

Why we want you

Garden Volunteers play a welcome part in helping to maintain The MERL garden, ensuring that it remains attractive and accessible for our community gardeners and visitors.


What you will be doing

  • Caring for edible and ornamental areas – planting, weeding, watering, cutting back etc
  • Composting
  • Seed sowing and potting on
  • Leaf sweeping and keeping paths clear of weeds
  • Maintaining hand tools and keeping equipment tidy and clean

This role will suit you if you are

  • Are an “outdoors person” (although there are opportunities for indoor work if the weather is extreme)
  • Enthusiastic about plants and gardening
  • Able to work as part of a team
  • You will get the most from this role if you are able to attend regularly and see the results of your efforts

What you will gain in return  

 

  • Work outdoors in a usually peaceful setting
  • Learn new gardening skills and/or utilise existing ones
  • Support from Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects) and other volunteers in the team
  • Meet new people with a similar interest in gardening
  • A free hot drink at break-time

How much time will it take up?

You will join a team of volunteers on a Wednesday morning from 10:00am-12noon.
Whilst it is not essential to attend every week, we do ask that you let the
Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects) know in advance if you cannot attend. The Garden Volunteers meet all year round. 

What do I need to wear?

Suitable clothing and footwear is required for outside work, throughout the year, in a range of weather. Sturdy trainers, wellies or walking boots are necessary and we request that you bring your own gardening gloves. 

 

Who will I report to?

The sessions are led by Cathy Smith - Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects)
catherine.smith@reading.ac.uk, who will allocate tasks and support you on the day.

 

To apply

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to Gardening Volunteer (MERL) in your ‘Interests’ by Monday 15th Jan at 9am.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to Gardening Volunteer (MERL) in your ‘Interests’ by Monday 15th Jan at 9am.

 

Matching to the Role

When there is a vacancy for this role, to help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application forms of those interested, and we draw up a shortlist of those who most closely match our ideal requirements.

We will invite a limited number of prospective volunteers to attend a trial session to give you an idea of what to expect from the role and have an informal chat to discuss the role. References will be sought prior to commencement of the role.

Garden Volunteer – Seasonal Waterer (MERL)

Garden Volunteer – Seasonal Waterer 
                     

Location: 

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

Volunteer Shift: 

  • Shifts are available on various days during the week (these are weather dependent) 

  • As close to 9am (10am at weekends) or 4pm as possible  

Why we want you 

  • Watering Volunteers play a vital part in helping to maintain The MERL garden, ensuring that the garden survives periods of hot weather and drought.   
    A key part of this role is watering the planting undertaken by our Garden Volunteers and Community Groups, ensuring that they have something to harvest as a result of their efforts! 

 
What you will be doing 

  • Watering the Volunteer and Community areas of the garden – these include raised beds, planted pots and wheelbarrows and vegetable plots 

  • This will involve the use of hoses and/or watering cans and training will be given 

 

This role will suit you if you are 

  • Are an “outdoors person” and are enthusiastic about plants and gardening  

  • Are able to carry watering cans and hoses around the garden 

  • Are committed to using water as sustainably as possible and can attend either at 9am when the building opens (preferred) or at 4pm before the garden and building closes at 5pm 

  • Aware of the need to follow Health and Safety procedures when watering in a public garden 

  • Happy to work independently - the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects) may not be on site during your watering session 

  • Live locally and might be able to cover for other waterers whilst they are away, or do an additional session in periods of exceptionally hot weather 

 

What you will gain in return  

 

  • Work outdoors in a peaceful setting 

  • Learn about the projects taking place with our Volunteers and Community Groups and see them develop! 

  • Learn new gardening skills and/or utilise existing ones 

  • Get to know staff and volunteers from The MERL team 

  • Support from the Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects)  

  • A free tea, coffee or hot chocolate from The MERL café during your shift 
     

How much time will it take up?  

Watering generally takes about 30 minutes to an hour (depending on areas to water and availability of hoses)  

We do ask that you let Cathy, Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects), know in advance if you cannot attend.

What do I need to wear? 

This role involves working outside, sometimes during extremely hot weather.   

Please wear suitable sturdy footwear and ensure you protect yourself from the sun. 

 

Who will I report to? 

Cathy Smith - Assistant Volunteer Coordinator (Garden Projects) 
catherine.smith@reading.ac.uk,  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 9am to 12.45pm.   
In an emergency or for notification of absence outside these times we will ask you to call 0118 378 8661 to ensure a message is passed on. 

To apply 

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to Garden Volunteer – Seasonal Waterer in your ‘Interests’ by 9am on Friday 30th June. 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to Garden Volunteer – Seasonal Waterer in your ‘Interests’ by 9am on Friday 30th June. 

Matching to the Role 

To help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application/ registration forms of those interested, and we draw up a shortlist of those who most closely match our ideal requirements. We will invite a limited number of prospective volunteers to attend a trial session to give you an idea of what to expect from the role and have an informal chat to discuss the role. References will be sought prior to commencement of the role. 

 

Green Explorers (MERL)

MERL Green Explorers Volunteer 

Location:

The Museum of English Rural Life

A person spraying water on a group of childrenDescription automatically generated with low confidence

 

Role Description

 

Volunteer Shift:

Last Sunday morning of each month

9.15am-12.30pm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why we want you


The MERL Green Explorers sessions provide an amazing opportunity for up to 20 children aged 5+ to experience nature and build their outdoor skills, along with their caregivers.

Led by Charlotte, a local environmental education teacher and Level 3 Forest Leader, sessions are themed around the museum collections and our changing seasons. Activities vary each session but will include shelter building, finding out all about the birds, animals and insects, identifying animals from the clues they leave behind, woodcraft tool use, insect discovery and preparing snacks and craft activities linked to the garden using natural materials.

These sessions will allow children and adults to connect and build their confidence, while creating positive relationships with their natural environment, encouraging them to grow up willing and able to protect it.

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
  • Supervising some areas to ensure we are compliant with health and safety measures
  • 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 and exploration for children

How much time will it take up?

You will join a team of volunteers on a monthly Sunday from 9.15am-12.30pm. It is not essential to attend every month, you would just sign up for the shifts that suit your world. The volunteer shift includes set up and take down time. Visitors attend between 10 and 12pm.

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! 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) 

The sessions are led by Charlotte Allchin and Faris Al Ali who will allocate tasks and support you on the day.

To apply

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to ‘Green Explorers’ in your ‘Interests’.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Green Explorers’.

 

Matching to the Role

To help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application/ registration forms of those interested, and we draw up a shortlist of those who most closely match our ideal requirements.

We will invite a limited number of prospective volunteers to an informal interview to discuss the role.


 

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 

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

Museums on Wheels Volunteer

Museums on Wheels Volunteer

 

Location: Volunteering at our Museums on Wheels roadshow at locations in and around Reading such as large scale public festivals and community venues like libraries

 

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Why we want you:

‘Museums on Wheels’ forms part of our museum outreach programme. We take the Museums Partnership Reading roadshow stall out to events in and around Reading, and also smaller scale in libraries and community venues.

We aim to enthuse members of the public about the museum and collections while we're out and about.

We bring items from our handling collection, a themed make and take, and we collect feedback to discover what might tempt visitors back into our free and fascinating venues.

In 2023 our roadshow will be particularly focussing on our environmental impact and responsibility through a creative environmental campaign.

You can find out more about ‘Our Green Stories’ on The MERL and Reading Museum ‘Our Green Stories’ blogs

What you will be doing:

 

  • help with set up or take down of the stall including gazebos and setting out activities
  • raise awareness of The MERL and Reading Museum
  • celebrate the opportunities at both museums
  • answer questions about the museums (e.g. have they visited before?) and hand out information and leaflets
  • ask visitors to the stand questions – in 2023 this will include consultation around environmental responsibility
  • run a themed badgemaking activity or craft activity
  • A picture containing websiteDescription automatically generatedsharing information about our handling collection of historic objects

 

Activity will take place throughout 2023.

 

Community venue dates are TBC, but we will attend the following public festivals:


Saturday 13th May 2023 - Community Festival - Whiteknights campus, University of Reading

Saturday 10th June 2023 WaterFest - Forbury Gardens

Sunday 11th June 2023 - Whitley Parade

Sunday 25th June 2023 - East Reading Festival

Saturday 2nd September 2023 – Love Unites – Reading Pride


This role will suit you if you are able to:

 

  • provide a confident, warm, and friendly welcome
  • become familiar with basic information about the museums and our public programming (e.g. events and one off activities designed to appeal to a broad audience)
  • understand some key messages and summarise them to a small group or individuals
  • talk to visitors and summarise their feedback
  • in 2023 this role will particularly appeal to anyone interested in environmental matters as well as museums, as we will be focusing on the ‘Our Green Stories’ campaign – you can follow the series of The MERL and Reading Museum ‘Our Green Stories’ blogs

 

 

What you will gain in return:

  • Develop your knowledge and understanding of environmental responsibility and our museums
  • Develop your people skills
  • Develop your teamwork skills
  • Have a really fun time meeting hundreds of people!

 

How much time will it take up?

You will form part of a team and as such there is no minimum expectation of the amount of time, but please note the dates of planned events, and activity will begin no earlier than April 2023. Shifts will be available to sign up for on our volunteering platform and on average volunteers attend for up to 5 hours, with breaks.

 

Who does the role report to?

Members of Reading Museum and The MERL take turns in leading the stall.
You will find out in advance who will be running the stall for each event.

 

To apply

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to ‘Museums on Wheels’ in your ‘Interests’ before Friday 24th February 2023.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Museums on Wheels’ in your ‘Interests’ before Friday 24th February 2023.

 

Matching to the Role

To help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application forms of those interested, and we will invite a limited number of those who most closely match our ideal requirements to an informal interview to discuss the role.

Object Encounters Volunteer (MERL)

Object Encounters Volunteer

 

Location: The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL)


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Why we want you:   
    

To enhance the visitor experience, we’re looking for enthusiastic people with an interest in enthusing visitors of all ages in a ‘Mystery Object’ style Object Encounters session.

Along the way you’ll engage with visitors to explain the items’ significance and history. You will give visitors the opportunity to handle genuine items from our collections, under your close supervision. 

 

Object handling activities need to be managed carefully.  Objects might be damaged and visitors possibly injured if instructions are not followed.  Sometimes you may need to keep reminding visitors, particularly younger ones, how objects can be safely touched and handled.


You’ll be willing to engage with a wide variety of members of the public and be understanding about a range of needs in a museum where we are inclusive and want everybody to feel welcomed.

What you will be doing:
You will attend a two hour training session led by our Learning & Engagement Manager to understand how to help visitors handle museum objects correctly. You will learn ways to show visitors what they can learn about our objects by holding them and looking closely.

Once you are trained, you will run Object Encounters sessions at the purpose-built object handling trolley situated in the museum galleries, or in the learning studio during busy school holiday periods.

 

This role will suit you if you are able to:

  • volunteer alongside others to provide a confident and enthusiastic welcome to visitors
  • approach visitors with a short, informal invitation to attract visitors to participate
  • demonstrate an interest in historic objects and the stories they have to tell
  • undertake our in-house training session

 

What you will gain in return:

  • Training in correctly handling historic objects
  • Experience of working with the general public, including families and young people
  • Knowledge of a collection and how to present a collection to a varied audience
  • Experience of handling museum objects
  • Experience of working as part of a team

 

How much time will it take up?

Shifts usually run for 2 hours either in the morning or the afternoon.

 

You can sign up on the volunteering platform for a regular two hour shift, choosing from a Tue, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat, or Sun.

We particularly welcome sessions during our busy school holidays, as this activity always proves popular.

 

Who does the role report to?

 

Training for the role is overseen by Phillippa Heath, Learning & Engagement Manager p.heath2@reading.ac.uk and supported by Volunteer Coordinator sheila.fisher@reading.ac.uk

 

Object handling volunteers in training

 

 

 

 

To apply

New prospective volunteers - If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please register on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to ‘Object Handling Session Volunteer in your ‘Interests’.

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Object Handling Session Volunteer’.

 

Matching to the Role

To help us select our volunteers, we will look through all the application/ registration forms of those interested, and we will invite a limited number of those who most closely match our ideal requirements to a training session.

Object handling volunteers in training

 

 

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.

School Holiday Events & Activities Volunteer BOTH MUSEUMS

School Holiday Events & Activities Volunteer

Locations: 

Family events activities are scheduled throughout the local school holidays at the following partner museums and nearby outdoor spaces: 

  • Reading Museum
  • Reading Abbey Quarter (e.g. Forbury Gardens and Abbey Ruins)
  • The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL) on Redlands Road, Reading
  • The MERL garden

Role Description

  

Why we want you 


Events & Activities 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.

 You will help our Visitor Welcome teams to provide an exceptional welcome, and help with a wide range of family activities.  

To get an idea of the kind of family activities which take place throughout the year, please see our What’s On pages

The Museum of English Rural Life

Reading Museum

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 
  • Ticket checking of arriving visitors for bookable events
  • Assisting with enquiries
  • 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) 
  • [If trained in this] - Object handling (familiarising yourself with the objects and running the activity)
  • Assisting with 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 
  • An 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 activities are exactly the same and involve a variety of tasks and themes  
  • 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  
  • Be aware that some of our events take place outdoors in The MERL garden or in the Forbury Gardens, so be prepared to volunteer in all weathers!

 

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How much time will it take up? 

This role is very flexible and has no regular time commitment, although events are always during local school holidays.

The Event programme is planned in advance, so we are able to give some notice some weeks ahead. 

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To apply

We next plan to recruit volunteers to this role in January ahead of the February half term.

New prospective volunteers

If you are not already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please apply on our volunteering platform, ensuring you tick the box next to ‘School Holiday Events & Activities Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’. 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests. 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants.  

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive the form!

Existing volunteers

If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, ensuring you tick the box next to ‘School Holiday Events & Activities Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’.  

Matching to the Role 

To help us select our volunteers for this role, we will look through all the application/ registration forms of those interested in this role, and we will draw up a shortlist of those who most closely match our ideal requirements, based on what you told us on your application form.

Before the main school holidays in February Half Term, the Easter Holidays, Summer Holidays, and October Half term, we will invite a limited number of prospective volunteers to a group volunteer induction session to help inform you further about what the role involves.



 

 

Untold Histories Research Volunteer - LGBTQ+ Stories in Reading Museum

Untold Histories Research Volunteer - LGBTQ+ Stories in Reading Museum



Location:
Reading Museum, with opportunities to do independent research from home.

What will you be doing?

Although they have often been forgotten or erased from mainstream history, LGBTQ+ people have always existed, and it is important that their stories are told.

This brand new project will help us explore our collections through an LGBTQ+ lens.

We aim to uncover and share untold histories within Reading Museum’s collection to highlight voices and perspectives which have historically been under-represented.

As part of this role you will:

  • Be supervised by a member of the collections team to help choose and research into objects in our collection with LGBTQ+ connections, using our collections management database
  • Your findings will help us update our collections management database to make these stories more accessible to researchers, and to support future projects and learning
  • Where applicable there may be opportunities to handle and photograph objects

We hope to offer a buddy system in which existing research volunteers share their experience in getting started into researching with our local collections


What will you get out of it?

  • The opportunity to use our collections databases, gaining valuable experience working with a museum collection
  • Develop your research skills using online and physical resources
  • Connect with staff members and other volunteers who share your interest and enthusiasm for local history

This role will suit you if:

  • You are interested in LGBTQ+ history and telling diverse stories through museums
  • You are self-motivated, with some experience in research
  • You have good written communication skills
  • You have good IT skills

How much time will it take up?

Our preferred session time for in-person meet ups will be on a Monday afternoon every two weeks from Monday 6th November from 1.30 – 4.30pm (excluding January 1st!)

After the initial introductory sessions there may be opportunities to work remotely whilst carrying out independent research into your chosen objects and writing up your findings.

We expect that this project will run for three months initially.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform by midday on Friday 6th October.

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

*Please ensure you tick ‘Untold Histories Research Volunteer - LGBTQ+ Stories’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering*

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Untold Histories Research Volunteer - LGBTQ+ Stories’.

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 the Collections Assistant and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator) either in person or over Zoom, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us any questions that you have.

We intend to hold the Project Kick Off meeting on Monday 6th November from 1.30pm – 4.30pm.

                                                       

 

Untold Histories Research Volunteer - MERL Object Collection Records (MERL)

Untold Histories Research Volunteer - MERL Object Collection Records - Further Afield project  

Location: The reading room at The Museum of English Rural Life (ground floor) - Monday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm.  We expect that this project will initially run for 7 weeks from 15 January 2024 to 26 February 2024

Why we want you:

Information about our object collection that was held on the object’s original accession file has not always been recorded in our computer database.

This means that certain information is not available to researchers when they are browsing our online catalogue.

Your aim is to search for references in the files that relates to people from underrepresented communities, which can then be added to our online collections catalogue. This will help us uncover previously untold stories.

 

What you will be doing:

You will be searching through our accession files. These files are the paper records kept when items were originally donated to the museum.

The accession files contain information about an object, or group of objects, such as donation information, letters, museum reference cards, photographs, drawings, as well as documentation about history and use.

The files are numbered with accession number and filed in order. The information is the basis for the computer database records, but not all the information has been transferred.

Supervisors will be on hand to help you understand the files, and suggest areas of untold histories or themes to focus on. You can also search shaped by your own interests.

Please be aware that when working on uncatalogued items you may discover some harmful content that you should highlight to the Project Supervisors. An example is an outdated racial term that was commonly used decades ago that would cause offence to modern researchers. As a result of uncovering this content, a ‘harmful content warning’ would then be placed on the file and the online catalogue to warn researchers.

Your findings will help us update our collections management database to make these stories far more accessible to researchers, which will in turn support future projects and learning.

You will be working in a small team of researchers alongside our Archive Re-packaging volunteers who will make new archival folders and re-pack the original accession file papers into the new files to help the files survive longer.

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Interested in museum collections management
  • Interested in researching untold histories and telling diverse stories through museums
  • Self-motivated, with some experience in research
  • Able to both work independently, but also enjoy being part of a team

What you will gain in return  

  • Gain behind-the-scenes museum experience working with museum
  • Learn transferable research skills 
  • Practice team work skills

Who will I report to? 

Madeleine Ding, Collections Officer & Tim Jerrome, Collections Researcher

How much time will it take up? 

Our preferred session time for in person meet ups will be on a Monday afternoon from 1pm to 4pm.  We expect that this project will initially run for 7 weeks from 15 January 2024 to 26 February 2024.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform by midday on Monday 8 January 2024.

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

*Please ensure you tick ‘Untold Histories Research Volunteer - MERL Object Collection Records’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering*

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

We are looking for 3-4 volunteers for the Researcher role. Behind the scenes collections roles are very popular and we a fortunate to find that many more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies, so we are unable to accept all applicants. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Untold Histories Research Volunteer - MERL Object Collection Records’ by midday on Monday 8 January 2024. 

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to first session on 15 January 2024.

Visitor Experience Researcher (MERL)

Volunteer Role: Visitor Experience Researcher 

Location: The Museum of English Rural Life (The MERL), Redlands Road, Reading, RG1 5EX  

 

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Why we want you 
You will help visitors complete 5 minute surveys on behalf of the museum on iPads. 
 
The feedback that you will gather will help the wider team continue to improve the visitor experience, and will be used in reports to key funding bodies, from the University of Reading to Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. 
 
You will receive full training and a comprehensive introduction to the Museum, its services and facilities. 

 

What you will be doing 

  • Greeting all museum visitors and researchers using the library and archives, in a welcoming and friendly manner 

  • Approaching visitors to ask them about their experience at The MERL 

  • Summarise any feedback that requires immediate action and report it to a member of staff to help us continue to improve the visitor experience  

 

This role will suit you if you are 

  • Confident and keen to approach and engage with visitorsof all ages 

  • Enthusiastic and polite  

  • Self-motivated and pro-active  

  • A good communicator  

  • Able to work as part of a team  

 
  • What you will gain in return
  • An opportunity to learn about visitor motivations in a heritage environment 

  • The opportunity to assist and communicate with a friendly, diverse audience  

  • Build your customer care, service and communication skills 

  • Being part of a team and developing new contacts 

 

How much time will it take up? 

You can choose from our suggested shift times of 11am-2pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.


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.

You are welcome to take a break to eat lunch

 

Who does the role report to?

Angela Brown - Retail & Visitor Services Supervisor

angela.brown@reading.ac.uk

 

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form here on our volunteering platform.

 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

 

*Please ensure you tick ‘MERL Visitor Experience Researcher’ 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.

Visual Merchandising and Digi Shop Volunteer - RM

Visual Merchandising and Digi Shop Volunteer - Reading Museum

Role Description

Location: 
Reading Museum

Why we want you:

  • We are looking for an approachable and  creative individual to join our volunteer team and support staff with online and in-person engagement for the Reading Museum shop and online shop
  • You will interact with our customers to find out more about items they might hope to purchase to enhance their visit to Reading Museum and the historic Town Hall building
  • We are looking for someone who enjoys merchandising the shop and preparing it for key busy moments during the year i.e. in the run up to Christmas
  • You will help bring our digital and social media retail portfolio to life by creating vivid and engaging digital content that showcases the key stories in the Museum shop, the history of the Museum, its collections, and the place of Reading itself

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you will be doing: 

You will join our Visitor Services Officer, Deputy Visitor Services Officer and Receptionist on a Monday between 10am and 1pm (and/ or potentially at other points in the week if agreed) to assist with the following tasks aimed at maximising retail sales – the funding from which helps support the museum’s activities:

  • Helping merchandise the shop and prepare displays
  • Taking photos of stock ready for social media/ e-shots/ our online shop
  • Helping prepare and plan content and campaigns for social media
  • Talking to customers and collecting/ analysing data so that we can understand more about our customer and what they are looking for

You will receive full-training and will be supported by the Visitor Services officer and Deputy Visitor Services Officer.

A rest break will be arranged mid-shift.

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Interested in gaining or practising your existing visual merchandising skills
  • Have strong photography skills
  • Able to work as part of a team  
  • Self-motivated and pro-active  
  • A good communicator 
  • Creative, with an eye for detail 

What you will gain in return  

  • An opportunity to work in a heritage environment 
  • The opportunity to learn from experienced museum staff
  • Build on your photography and visual merchandising skills
  • Being part of a team and developing new contacts 

How much time will it take up? 
This volunteering opportunity is for 12 weeks from September until late December on Mondays from 10:00 to 13:00.

You will get the most out of the placement if you are able to attend as many sessions as possible during that time. However, we realise that you may have some prior commitments/ appointments in the 12 week period.  

The museum itself is closed to visitors on Mondays, but the shop and Town Hall reception remains open to customers.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform by midday on Thursday 14th September. *Please ensure you tick ‘Visual Merchandising and Digi Shop Volunteer - RM’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering. 

 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

 

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant  

information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to 'Visual Merchandising and Digi Shop Volunteer - RM’ by midday on Thursday 14th September. 

 

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 Reading Museum team and Sheila Fisher (Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator), ideally in person, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (MERL)

MERL Visitor Welcome Volunteer

Location: The Museum of English Rural Life 

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Supporting the Front of House team in the Visitor Welcome area
*We are particularly looking for volunteers who can help on our busy weekend days.*

MERL Visitor Welcome Volunteer

Role Description

Why we want you 

  • You will help our Front of House team to provide an exceptional welcome to visitors 
  • You will help support the smooth operation of the front of house area
  • You will receive full training in the basics of greeting visitors and frequently asked questions

Suitable for volunteers who are 18 years old and over.

What you will be doing 

  • Greeting all museum visitors, and researchers using the library and archives, in a welcoming, friendly and inclusive manner 
  • Encouraging visitors to make a donation  
  • Liaising with the Front of House team to keep the reception, shop and café area and galleries clear and tidy
  • Topping up activity trails, colouring sheets and materials on the activity trolley
  • Carrying out checks that interactives are working, that gallery hands-on activity areas such as the Model Farm and Shepherd’s Hut in the garden are reset from time to time

You can take a rest break mid-shift

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Willing to engage with a wide variety of members of the public and be understanding about a range of needs in a museum where we are inclusive and want everybody to feel welcomed
  • A good communicator  
  • Able to work as part of a team  
  • Confident, enthusiastic, outgoing
  • Empathetic and polite  
  • Self-motivated and pro-active  
  • Experienced in a customer-facing role  

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 

How much time will it take up? 

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 Sunday).  

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 on our volunteering platform.

 

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

 

*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 an informal interview with a member of the team and the Museum Partnership Reading Volunteer Coordinator, where you can have an opportunity to tell us about your interests and experience, and ask us some questions.

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (RM)

Reading Museum Visitor Welcome Volunteer

Location: Reading Museum

Supporting the Front of House team in the Visitor Welcome area.

Suitable for volunteers who are 18 years old and over.

Role description

Why we want you?

You will help our gallery team to provide an exceptional welcome to visitors. 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.


*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.

Youth Panel (14-18yrs old only)

Youth Panel 

Please note that the next intake will start in April 2024 and the focus of the project will differ from the project described below.

 

Current project: Film making Project Volunteer

Locations:

The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum

Role Description

Why we want you:

We are looking for young people interested in filmmaking, social media, communications and the environment to co-create up to six short form videos with a resident filmmaker using our collections and archives.

What you will be doing: 

You will be inspired by a professional filmmaker who will guide you in how to make a short video inspired by environmental sustainability and climate change.

The Our Green Stories campaign is coming to life through the collections of both The Museum of English Rural Life and Reading Museum. 

This includes objects, photographs, artworks, and ephemera relating to landscape; environment; food; fishing; safeguarding tradition; migration and population change; health and wellbeing; climate; and the post-colonial world.

Your participation in this project will enable audiences to engage with and feel empowered to make a difference to understanding actions that support the Life on Land UN Sustainable Development Goal.

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Interested in filmmaking, social media, communications and the environment
  • Developing skills and knowledge in any of the above areas
  • An enthusiastic and effective communicator
  • Committed to being a change-maker within Reading’s culture and heritage sector by helping to ensure our museums and programmes are relevant to younger visitors 

What you will gain in return  

  • gain behind-the-scenes museum experience working with museum and creative industry professionals
  • learn transferable skills 
  • participate in a fantastic project for your CV, UCAS or job application 
  • meet new people 
  • practice team work skills

How much time will it take up? 

The final meeting schedule is as planned.

There are the standard monthly panel meetings where as a Youth Panel, you will be acting in a producer role. There are also additional dates for filming for those who can make it. 

  • Thursday 21st December (4.30 - 6 pm) The MERL Studio
  • Saturday 6th January (10.30 - 12.00) Reading Farmers Market, Great Knollys Street
  • Thursday 18th January (4.30 - 6 pm) The MERL Studio
  • Thursday 15th February (daytime half term 12.00 - 4.30) The MERL Studio
  • Thursday 15th February (4.30 - 6pm) The MERL Studio
  • Thursday 21st March (4.30 - 6 pm) The MERL Studio

Joining this project will involve attending in person activity, usually at The MERL, attending planning sessions and practical sessions delivered by our professional filmmaker.

You do not have to attend all meetings.

If you choose, you may contribute some of your time from home if you want to work on your film using your own equipment.

There will be a final sharing of co-created films including a screening.

To apply

Please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform .

*Please ensure you tick ‘Youth Panel - Film maker’ in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering.  

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests. 

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant  

information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants.  

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Youth Panel - Film maker’.

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will confirm your place on the Youth Panel and invite you to sign up for the meetings that you can attend, and we will send you details about the location of the meeting and the agenda each month.

Further Information about the Museums Partnership Reading Youth Panel

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.

Our Youth Panel, for young people aged 14 – 18, offers collective work experience opportunities across The MERL and Reading Museum as part of Museums Partnership Reading’s youth programme. We meet monthly to work on a variety of exciting projects which are great for developing a range of transferable skills. Our panel members influence current projects and programming and are change-makers within Reading’s culture and heritage sector. 

Inspired by the conversations we have had with Youth Panel members during the Youth Manifesto project, we listened to feedback about the need for the museums to offer age-appropriate activities and something different for teenage audiences and offered an increased number of workshops as part of our public and learning programmes.

Recent and Past Youth Panel Projects include: 

  • 'Reading Festival is Rubbish' - exploring objects recovered from the 2021 festival to create a pop-up display and/or interactive experience in the museum. Panel members worked alongside learning and collections colleagues to consider the different approaches that can be taken in the interpretation and display of museum collections, and how they can use these approaches to convey messages and stories about the objects collected from the festival 
  • The ‘Digital Dig’ with the Royal Horticultural Society
  • Participating in the Youth Manifesto Project, exploring how the museums in Reading can be inspiring and engaging for and relevant to the young people of Reading. 
  • Working as curators for the Festival 50 exhibition project (2021). Panel members influenced the development of the exhibition marking the 1971 Reading Festival displayed at Reading Museum from August 2021. Panel members learned what is required to put on a public exhibition, researched, selected and interpreted items for display and worked with us in developing an exhibition which is appealing to the young people of Reading. 
  • Designing ‘The Nook at The MERL’, the new social learning space as part of the Our Country Lives redevelopment project. Students worked with museum staff and designers to create a new, relaxing space where students and the public are welcome to study, relax and reflect. 
  • Organising two successful Museums at Night events, the ‘1951 Vintage Night’ and ‘Chalk or Cheese?

“The Youth Panel is a small commitment for such a huge personal gain. Something I love is that the leaders of the panel and the people at the museums that we work with treat me like an adult, they value my opinion and I feel empowered to make changes that will engage youth in our local history.” (Youth Panel member)

For more information about the Youth Panel, please contact merlevents@reading.ac.uk

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.

Archive Re-packaging Volunteer - Further Afield project (MERL)

Archive Re-packaging Volunteer - Further Afield project 

 

Please note:
This role is reserved for people looking for a supported volunteer role for a fixed term from 15 January until 26 February.


Location: 
The reading room at The Museum of English Rural Life (ground floor) - Monday afternoons from 1pm to 4pm.  We expect that this project will initially run for 7 weeks from 15 January 2024 to 26 February 2024

 

Why we want you:

We are looking for volunteers to make a large quantity of archive quality card files to re-package object accession file paperwork.

What you will be doing: 

Creating conservation grade card files to store archive papers.

This part of the Further Afield project will re-package object accession file archive paperwork into folders made with new conservation grade materials.

You will be making bespoke card folders using a template and sharp knives.

The object accession files contain information about an object, or group of objects, such as donation information, letters, museum reference cards, photographs, drawings, as well as documentation about history and use. The contents of these files are essential to the Museum, and require long-term protection.

You will be working alongside a small team of researchers who will be searching for references in the accession files that relate to people from underrepresented communities not previously added to our online catalogue.

So along the way you will gain an insight into the breadth of our object collection.

Please be aware that when working on uncatalogued items you may discover some harmful content that you should highlight to the Project Supervisors. An example is an outdated racial term that was commonly used decades ago that would cause offence to modern researchers. As a result of uncovering this content, a ‘harmful content warning’ would then be placed on the file and the online catalogue to warn researchers.

This role will suit you if you are:

  • Able to both work independently, but also enjoy being part of a team
  • Meticulous in your approach with good dexterity
  • Maintain concentration during repetitive tasks
  • Able to follow instructions and willing to seek help if necessary

What you will gain in return  

  • Direct experience of handling heritage materials
  • Gain skills in creating bespoke archive resources
  • Work as part of a larger project in a team in an archive environment
  • Training in all aspects of the role

Who will I report to? 

  • Madeleine Ding, Collections Officer
  • Tim Jerrome, Collections Researcher

How much time will it take up? 

Our preferred session time for in person meet ups will be on a Monday afternoon from 1pm to 4pm.  We expect that this project will initially run for 7 weeks from 15 January 2024 to 26 February 2024.

To apply

Please note: This role is reserved for people looking for a supported volunteer role for a fixed term from 15 January until 26 February. We will primarily be reaching out within our existing partner organisations to find 1-3 volunteers to this role, but we will consider new applicants if you apply by the closing date.

 

If you, and/ or the person you helping to apply, are able to use a computer or mobile device, please complete your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform by midday on Monday 8 January 2024.

A hard copy application form is available for those who are not confident in using computers or have limited digital access. Please email VolunteeringHQ@reading.ac.uk and we can send you a Word application form which can be completed digitally, or printed and handed in.

If you are using a mobile or tablet, once you click ‘Fill in an Application’, look out for the suggestion ‘It looks like you are on a mobile device. For a better experience on smart phones, go to Mobile Application Form’ and click on the link it suggests.

*Please ensure you tick ‘Archive Re-packaging Volunteer - Further Afield project’  in your ‘Interests’ section under My profile, when registering*

When you are happy with your application, please don’t forget to click SUBMIT – otherwise we will never receive your form! 

We sometimes find that more volunteers apply for the role than we have vacancies. You are welcome to attach your CV if you wish, but please include key relevant information when answering the application form questions, as this may be used if we need to shortlist from a larger group of applicants. 

Existing volunteers - If you are already registered to volunteer with Museums Partnership Reading, please log in to the volunteering platform, click on My Profile, select the ‘Interests’ section, and ensure you tick the box next to ‘Archive Re-packaging Volunteer - Further Afield project’ by midday on Monday 8 January 2024

Matching to the role

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to first session on 15 January 2024.

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.