Volunteer Case Study


Manchester Art Gallery Volunteer

Brian screengrab_smallBrian worked from the age of 15 for 32 years until he lost his job and became dependant on alcohol. He volunteered at the Creative Living Centre in Prestwich where he was told about the volunteering for wellbeing programme at IWM North. He completed the training programme and embarked on a placement at Manchester Art Gallery. Follow this link to watch Brian’s short film.

 ‘I dreamed about working there as a child. I had always done manual jobs, it seemed wasted as I had a really good brain on me. I’d always used my hands and my body but not my brain, my brain was always racing and that’s where the alcohol came in. I’d drink to go to sleep.’

(On placement at Manchester Art Gallery) I set up studios for children and adult workshops and when my confidence grew I got into helping out with the sessions like Mindful Marks and playing classical music and drawing. I started setting up, but then helping kids with drawing techniques, it’s brought something out in me as well as the kids. It’s a magical place to work.

I’ve gained more confidence, had none before, it all came from alcohol and now the confidence comes from socialising and mixing. I’ve got some self-esteem for the first time……I’d been unhappy for 48 years, I’ve earned good money but never happiness and the joke is I’m working for nothing and found happiness. Giving something back, it just makes a difference.

Brian continued volunteering for a further six months until he found part time employment at a local council. Over the last few months Brian has also secured some casual employment at Manchester Art Gallery as an artist’s assistant.

 Family and friends have noticed the change. Mother and Father are proud of me for the first time, they’re 70 odd. The kids have got respect for me. I think this is it, I’ve found happiness, this could be my future. I’ve just to maintain sobriety. I’ve got to keep my head right and keep off the booze.

 I got something out of it as soon as I started doing it. It’s not get your money and run like work where you got no self-worth. I used to think working for nothing was mad. My attitude was just give it a try [volunteering] I was never happy anyway, so why not give it a go. It’s like karma, its instant you do a good deed and get something back.