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. But there will still be opportunities to get involved and be part of our volunteer family. And it doesn't mean that when the world is a little less strange, we won't welcome you back with open arms.

 

To apply to become one of our volunteers, grab yourself a cup of tea, 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). 

 

Roles we are actively recruiting to will say *Now recruiting* next to the title.

 

Should you need support in filling in the form, give us an email, and we'll do what we can to help.

I would like to volunteer

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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.

Admin volunteer

Lovers of admin help our staff to analyse information for our many and varied reporting purposes!

The MERL

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.

Better Impact Ambassador

You will share your IT experience and skills to help other volunteers who are less confident online to get the most from our volunteering platform.

Code Club Facilitator (MERL)

 

Be part of The MERL's Code Club, a nationwide network of volunteer-led clubs, inspiring young people to learn about coding in a fun and interactive way.

 

The MERL

 

Community Engagement Volunteer - High Street Heritage Action Zone *Now Recruiting*

Community Engagement Volunteer - High Street Heritage Action Zone *Now Recruiting*

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

 

Find out more about being part of our Events Team, delivering a dynamic programme of fun, friendly and fabulous special events all year.

 

 

Friday Fledglings Volunteer (MERL)

                                                 

Volunteers help at our popular outdoor toddler sessions ‘Friday Fledglings’ .

 

The MERL 

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

MERL Players

Performing pre-rehearsed pieces to pre-booked groups, acting out stories based on individuals and incidents from rural history., e.g. the Captain Swing Riots

Museum on Wheels Volunteer (RM)

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

Oxford Road Research Volunteer

Oxford Road Research Volunteer

Host museum: Virtual Volunteering for Reading Museum

Why we want you 
Reading Museum has provided visitors with opportunities for learning, inspiration and enjoyment since 1883. Today, we have almost 500,000 accessioned objects of archaeology, art, natural history, social history and world cultures.

The museum runs a well-established learning programme that actively engages with local young people, schools and groups. Our sessions include how children were taught in a Victorian schoolroom, local history talks related to the national curriculum and loaning out object-handling boxes.

Oxford RoadAs part of the ‘High Street Heritage Action Zone’ Reading Borough Council has been awarded £806,500 of funding from Historic England to transform the high streets in three conservation areas in the town centre, including the Oxford Road. To support this project in schools, Reading Museum is developing new resources based around the history and development of the Oxford Road.

 

https://www.reading.gov.uk/planning/reading-high-streets-heritage-action-zone/

What you will be doing 

As an Oxford Road Research Volunteer, you will be involved in independent research to compile information on different aspects connected to Oxford Road in Reading.

The topics could include but are not limited to: Architecture, Local Geography, imagery of the site, past and present photos, as well as changes in the community over time.

This short research project will take place over a five to six week period and be used to provide tailored local information for our Oxford Road School’s Project to use in resources and future learning sessions.

A house next to a ChurchDescription automatically generated

This role will suit you if you are

  • Able to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Interested in local history
  • Enthusiastic, proactive and curious
  • Able to explain historic information through excellent, clear writing skills
  • Passionate about Reading’s heritage!

What you will gain in return  

  • Become part of a friendly team
  • Learn some interesting facts about Oxford Road
  • Contribute to the museum’s development
  • Develop your research skills
  • Gain some new skills for your CV

How much time will it take up? 
There will be an initial online meeting at 10am on Friday 20th November, on Zoom, to explain in detail what we require. Thereafter you would undertake independent research at home, on the Oxford Road, and in places like libraries, archives or museums over a period of five to six weeks, with the aim of the project finishing around the end of January.

We will organise a progress meeting two weeks into the project and then a final meeting at the end of the project, at the beginning of January, where you will provide a written report of your findings.

To apply

If you do not already volunteer for Museums Partnership Reading, please ensure you have completed your volunteer registration form on our volunteering platform Better Impact
by the 15th of November
(the link can be found under https://www.readingmuseum.org.uk/explore/volunteer-reading-museum  or follow the link here: http://bttr.im/w2yev

*Please ensure you tick ‘Oxford Road Research Volunteer’ in your ‘Interests’ Section under My Profile*

If we think you are a match for this role, we will invite you to the Kick-off Meeting at 10am on Friday 20th November so you can hear more about the project.

The meeting would take between 30 minutes and 1 hour, and we welcome involvement and questions from volunteers.

Buildings on Oxford RoadDescription automatically generated

 

 

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.

Virtual Reality Headset Facilitator (MERL)

A family enjoying the VR headset

Help visitors understand rural life in a lively and interesting way!

The MERL

Visitor Counter (RM)

An outdoor role, working in a pair to count the number of people who enter the Abbey ruins during a given period

Visitor Experience Researcher

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

The MERL

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (MERL) *Now Recruiting*

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.

Visitor Welcome Volunteer (RM)

Help us enthuse visitors of all ages and encourage donations by becoming part of our welcome team!

Reading Museum

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.