Life as a volunteer at Mr Straw's House
Isobel has volunteered at Mr Straw's House for five years now, and is involved in many different aspects of the property, from the property newsletter, to front facing as a welcome guide and a room guide. She shares her thoughts of volunteering with us.
Volunteering for the National Trust was an obvious choice - a real no-brainer - for me. Having been a member for years I support its work - in conservation of buildings and the countryside and coast. I started - and continue- to volunteer one day a week, most weeks when the house is open to the public. At first I chose to be a Welcome Guide. This involves working in our reception at Warwick Villa, greeting and welcoming visitors, taking bookings, managing shop sales and food and drink sales, to supporting visitors to become members of the National Trust. Nowadays, on occasion, I also act as a Room Guide at Endcliffe Villa, where the Straw family lived, sharing their story with our visitors.
I went to some training and I shadowed more experienced volunteers too, learning things at my own pace until I was confident to take on the role fully and even start mentoring other newer volunteers - and making new good friends as I went along. This was ideal for me. I learnt new skills, met and conversed with loads of interesting visitors from all over the World and worked alongside other volunteers, all bringing our different experiences together. You can learn a lot this way.
It is really good to work with people from different generations - something I've always enjoyed. One word describes it all - fun.
I know I'm not alone in liking a challenge and fairly soon I learnt there is always scope to get further involved if you want. I've been a member of the North Nottinghamshire Volunteer Steering Group with Clumber Park and Mr Straw's House, and from that became a founder member of the Mr Straw's House Volunteer Forum. This group consists of both staff and volunteers to support volunteering at our property. I also currently edit our newsletter, The Final Straw, something way outside of my comfort zone but you never know what you may achieve until you give it a try, and there are plenty of opportunities to do that at Mr Straw's House.
I love volunteering - sometimes I think it keeps me sane, and I like to think it keeps me young - but I know for sure it keeps me happily busy for a very good cause.