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Inclusive volunteering in volunteer-run museums

Inclusive volunteering in volunteer-run museums

Spirit of 2012 has awarded a grant of £30,000 to fund a project working with Dorset museums and heritage organisations to remove barriers to volunteering for disabled people. The aim of the project is to develop guidance that will help museums across the UK recruit and retain more disabled volunteers.

The project is being delivered by Volunteer Centre Dorset, led by Chloe Hixson, a graduate in Ancient History and disability access consultant. Chloe has spent the last five years volunteering and working with a range of heritage organisations in the South-West. Her past experiences also include playing Boccia for Great Britain and she continues to be involved in the National Paralympic Heritage Trust.

Nearly half of the UK’s accredited museums and heritage organisation depend on volunteers to run their day-to-day operations. In the South-West, 33% of museums are entirely run by volunteers, with some of these organisations struggling to stay open because they cannot recruit enough volunteers. At the same time, fewer than 5% of volunteers in museums state that they have a disability, which much less than their representation in the overall UK population.

The project will work with museums and other heritage organisations across Dorset to identify barriers to volunteering for disabled people, then work with these organisations to overcome these barriers. A second phase of the project involves recruiting a group disabled and non- disabled volunteers who undertake placements in partner museums.

Their experiences will be tracked over a six-month period and will inform the production of guidance that will help other museums work with disabled volunteers.

Chloe Hixson said:

“I think the project is going to be fantastic for Dorset, as we have so many incredible museums that are eager for more volunteers. Unfortunately, the heritage sector is still falling short at being truly inclusive, and as an appreciator of museums I am excited to see the change this project brings about, not just for Dorset but for museums and heritage organisations across the country.”

£30,000

Project spend

20 Months

Project duration