How long have you been volunteering with MERL and what do you do for them?
I took early retirement in May 2018. My husband volunteers here at MERL as well, it all started with him telling me about a knitter’s group and encouraging me to go along. I went along to the Mewes Knitter’s and it all spiralled from there.
From September onwards I was fully into volunteering with Mewes Knitters, the craft drop-in session run on the second Sunday every month, Friday Fledglings run during term time for pre-school children and front of house every Saturday. This involves welcoming people to the museum, making sure they know what we are and how we run.
What made you start volunteering?
When I took early retirement, I didn’t want to sit around and do nothing. I wanted to keep active. Volunteering here for the MERL keeps my mind active and keeps me fit and I thoroughly enjoy it.
What difference do you feel your volunteering makes?
It’s on different levels for the different parts that I volunteer for. For the Friday Fledglings, it’s ensuring that the preschool children come here, and they get as much fun out of the outdoors and they learn as much as they can with the class and the activities that we do.
When I’m doing front of house it is ensuring that anybody that comes to the museum has an enjoyable visit, experiences what the museum can offer and goes away with more knowledge than when they came.
Craft on the second Sunday would be making sure that the children go home with more of a knowledge of how to do things, even though we encourage the parents to do it with them.
What do you feel you get out of volunteering?
Satisfaction knowing that I am helping others.
Passing on my knowledge of the museum.
Within Friday Fledglings, it’s knowing that I’m helping the children to learn and grow.
Zoe: would you say you’ve learnt a lot by volunteering at the museum?
Yes absolutely! My grandchildren love to come here they always have, but being on the other side, not being a visitor but a front of house staff you learn so much more about the exhibits. It’s really broadened my horizons.
What word or phrase best describes your feelings about volunteering?
Enjoyable and empowering. Volunteers are invaluable. There are so many things that couldn’t be done without a volunteer, and so many places couldn’t cope without a volunteer. I think volunteering is essential.
You meet a whole new group of people when you volunteer then you do when you work and in your personal life. So, it’s a whole new group of friends as well and the volunteers here at MERL are amazing.