Kolja began volunteering at the Mills Archive after ill-health forced him to abandon a high flying career in finance. Being unwell made Kolja realise “how important it is to spend your time doing something you love and are interested in.” He found working at the Mills Archive gave him “a new-found purpose in life”. Nigel, a retired pesticides researcher, found that his role as a volunteer helped keep “the grey cells working” and inspired a new fascination with mills. For Pru, volunteering enabled her to pursue her interest in history and she looked forward to her weekly task of researching the lives of millers from the past.
We are so lucky to have such talented and enthusiastic people volunteering for us. The benefits are two-way, as our volunteers are the first to point out. They gain a lot from working with us; they learn new skills; they make new friends; their confidence grows; they feel valued. Their work, cataloguing and digitising collections, translating foreign language books, writing blogs and conducting specialist research, helps to make the wonderful stories within our archives accessible to you and other mill enthusiasts. We all benefit.
Our work with volunteers has been praised by the National Archives and recognised by the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.
Our volunteers are not paid, but providing facilities and professional training and mentoring for them is expensive. Amazingly in a good year, we commit nearly £30,000 a year to managing and developing our team of volunteers.
Any help you can provide towards funding our volunteer programme will help us to help them. Our volunteers are essential to the archive’s future and we believe that we are essential to their future too.
Our volunteers have missed us almost as much as we have missed them; it is time to welcome them back so they can re-establish contacts and learn valuable skills. Below are some ideas of how you could help: