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Volunteering support for regional museums

SEWS volunteering action learning set at the London Bus Museum

SEWS volunteering action learning set at the London Bus Museum

As volunteering continues to make such a key contribution to museums in the South East, we have been keen to establish a sustainable way of providing support to individuals managing and developing volunteering in Surrey & Sussex museums. Following our Sustainable Volunteering Project in 2011 and our 2-day Volunteer Management course in 2013 the established Volunteering Action Learning Groups are growing.

These 2 groups of up to 10 people, one based in the East and one in the West, meet approximately 4 times a year, and members take it in turns to host meetings where they discuss confidential volunteer management issues in their museums.
The groups are giving the participants an opportunity to meet regularly with their peers, to share experiences and to help each other problem-solve and identify actions that they can implement in their museum. At this stage the groups are being externally facilitated by specialists from the 3rd sector, but in the longer term the groups will become self managing.

The overall aim for creating the groups is to provide support for those leading volunteering by developing their own capacity to manage the changes needed to achieve objectives, and in the process enable sharing of knowledge and expertise specifically around involving volunteers.

The learning groups will draw on action learning principles. Action Learning is a technique used primarily in leadership and management development. It was developed by Professor Reg Revans and he himself emphasised that it was a very simple idea – that leaders and managers learn best by working together in a group (called an Action Learning Set) to help each other to find solutions to real work problems by discussion. They go off to attempt to make progress on their problems (by taking action, hence the name) and then meet again to discuss and review the outcomes of their actions. This is not intended to be like a committee tackling each problem, but to help each individual to acquire a wider range of skills, understanding and models for action that can then be used and refined when dealing with future problems.

If you are still looking for advice & support around volunteering in your museum and you would be interested in joining the group in the future, please get in touch with Helen Derbyshire, SEWS MDO.