It’s Volunteers’ Week in the UK this week and we wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate our fantastic Digitisation Volunteers. Every day this week we will be sharing their stories and thoughts in our Meet our volunteers series – we hope you enjoy meeting them!
Why I volunteer…
Muny: Having worked in a stressful office environment in architecture for all of my professional career, in London and internationally, after starting a family I decided not to go back to that industry on a full-time basis.
Once both my children started school I decided to volunteer as a way of building my self-confidence and doing something for myself that I enjoy which would fit around school hours so I can bring up my children.
Shawn: I volunteer to gain experience working in the archival library, as well as to familiarise and better myself at data entry. I often volunteer on the accession task, typing up the names of photographers from each photograph.
What I enjoy most about volunteering…
Muny: The Digital Media department’s enthusiasm for the project and making each volunteer valued is a strength to this project. I really enjoy the different aspects of the roles, every shift is unique depending on the tasks that are carried out each week. I also really enjoy meeting and working with different volunteers every week who all have enriching diverse backgrounds and I’m fascinated to hear how they came about volunteering too.
Shawn: I enjoy making new friends, and discovering place names of unheard landmarks locally or internationally. Most importantly of all, I enjoy trying new skills in whichever task provided by the digitisation team.
A favourite photo or moment?
Muny: Hands down, Italy, especially Ravello and various images of Tomar in Portugal and Leptis Magna in Libya.
Shawn: I enjoy everything at the Courtauld, but what I loved most was the Italian architecture dating back to the early twentieth centuries. I’ve never been to Italy, but seeing those photos got me interested in Italian culture and heritage.
What do you do when not volunteering?
Muny: Alongside my background in architecture, I have always had an interest in heritage, arts and photography and this led me to volunteer on the digitisation project at the Courtauld. The volunteer programme has been very well organised and there is a degree of flexibility in the hours and shifts which works perfectly around my busy family life with my children.
Shawn: I’ve been spending time trying to find other volunteer positions similar to Courtauld, but most of the time I do fun stuff such as baking, knitting or fixing up statues for the nativity scene at the local church in Warlingham where I live.
What would you say to someone who wasn’t sure whether volunteering is for them?
Muny: For me personally, I’m hoping that working hard as a volunteer will open new avenues and roles where there’s more flexibility in terms of hours. I am gaining confidence in myself slowly and learning so many new skills. I’m also gaining an invaluable and niche insight into the collection. I would highly recommend volunteering to others, to gain personal confidence or learning new skills. You have nothing to lose and it’s a welcoming environment in such a beautiful setting! Win-win situation!
Shawn: You don’t need prior experience to volunteer at the Courtauld because you’re here to learn, gain a new set of knowledge and skills, and to make friends.