Before Linda participated in if: Volunteering for wellbeing, she was feeling isolated and lonely. She had been unemployed for a number of years after bringing up seven children on her own after her husband died. Linda heard about the programme through Manchester Volunteer Centre. The project really resonated with her, as she had always loved history and art.
At first Linda was a little overwhelmed, but when she gained her place on the programme she was elated, happy and excited.
“It felt like the beginning of a new journey in my life. The activities on the course were very engaging and stimulating. We learnt about object handling, conservation, visited different galleries and went behind the scenes. I felt very incredibly privileged and it was an amazing opportunity to learn from Museum staff as we learned from each other. I felt a sense of belonging and included in all aspects of Museum life.
Our tutor from The Manchester College taught us skills that will last for life. She gave us more self-awareness and greater understanding of others and different cultures. We learnt about customer service, how to interact with the public, health and safety and teamwork. Many of these key skills and knowledge are important for my role as a volunteer and will be transferable for future employment. They will greatly enhance my chances of getting jobs in the future.”
Linda started her role as an object handling volunteer at Manchester Museum in the New Year (2014), greeting and speaking to visitors, sharing knowledge about the objects and inspiring people by giving them the opportunity to handle real Museum objects.
“I am enthused by the experience and it spills over to them, our role triggers a positive interaction which creates a happy memory for them and encourages learning. I feel like have purpose and am part of a team while making a valuable contribution to my local community.”
Through this project, Linda also met some great people and made friends that she hopes to have for many years to come. The experience has been socially and culturally enriching. The programme increased Linda’s knowledge of history, the arts and science and an insight into how accessible all the Museums and galleries are in the Manchester area. Linda now regularly encourages family and friends to visit.
“All these activities increase my sense of belonging and feeling of being valued, which increased my happiness and wellbeing immensely.
My experience has inspired my children and family, they realise it is never too late to learn, they are very proud of me. The programme has given me so much confidence, inspired my desire to learn and renewed my enthusiasm for life as a result.”
Linda has now gained casual employment with the visitor services team at Manchester Museum.