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Volunteers’ Week 2016: A Big Thank You!

Volunteers' Week 2016, 1 – 12 June; a chance for institutions to thank their volunteers for all of their hard work. Many different types of organisations rely on volunteers to run smoothly, and here at Bethlem Museum of the Mind we are no exception. The museum has approximately 30 volunteers who help out in a number of different roles, from Research and Learning to Front of House. If you have visited the museum, you have most likely been greeted by one of our fantastic volunteers, who do their utmost to make sure every guest feels welcome. Without them, the museum would not be able to function, and we are very grateful to every single one of them who has given up their own time to come and help out. So thank you to all of our wonderful volunteers; we couldn’t do it without you!

To showcase some of their work, we have asked them to write a few sentences about their experience at Bethlem Museum. Here’s Marina, Nick and Charlotte to tell you more:

I’m proud to tell people that I volunteer for a small museum with a big purpose; Bethlem Museum. As a Learning Volunteer, I love meeting so many different groups and am amazed at how quickly their perceptions about mental health change when they see the collections and delve into Bethlem’s rich history. The history of mental health was what first interested me in the museum, but volunteering has helped me to understand current issues and gain confidence. The staff are so welcoming, the collections are fascinating, the archives are so rich and, overall, it’s a fantastic ongoing experience!

– Marina Spiteri, Learning volunteer

I have been a volunteer at the Museum since it opened in March 2015. I am also Chair of the Museum’s Trustee group, and being a volunteer gives me a wonderful opportunity to talk to visitors, be they service users, NHS staff, or members of the public. This allows me to find out at first-hand what they love about the Museum, and what impact it has had on them. I am constantly struck by how engaged people are with the collection, and many of those I’ve met have their own stories to tell about the experience of mental illness/distress. I really enjoy working with the museum staff and other volunteers. My favourite painting in the collection is Kim Noble’s ‘Comin or Going Man,’ but I also love the intricate designs in Elise Warriner’s work, and Olivia Gillow’s, ‘Cradle Soap 1,’ and, ‘Insistent Rub,’ which beautifully capture the agony of living with OCD.

– Nick Hervey, Front of House volunteer

Volunteering at the Bethlem Museum of the Mind has been a fascinating experience. I have always been interested in museums and it has been great to get behind the scenes and see how they work. The staff have been friendly and welcoming and it is good to feel that I am contributing something useful. I have also become much more aware of the issues surrounding mental health. One of the things I do is transcribe comments from the visitors’ book and it is really heartening to see what a profound and positive effect the museum can have on people.

– Charlotte Gapper, Research and Archive volunteer