Post | February 2024 | News Stories | 3 min read

Short-term volunteering at Wimpole

Written by GoVol Herts
Claire Edwards Volunteer for Wimpole outside the house on a sunny day with a view over the garden

Last year we experimented with short-term volunteering at Wimpole to bring in enough people to keep the House open over the Christmas holidays, one of our busiest periods. We created the new role of Christmas Experience Volunteer, which was similar to our standard House Experience Volunteer role, but limited to the five-week period between 25th November and 1st January.

While all volunteers are of course free to stop volunteering if they decide it is not for them, we wanted to see if explicitly stating that it was a short-term role would encourage people to try it, even if they were not sure how much time they wanted to commit. We also worked hard to reassure people that they did not need to be historians in order to enjoy the role and that the focus during the Christmas period was more on giving visitors a warm welcome to the House.  If the new recruits found that they loved what they were doing, and chose to stay on with us, there would be plenty of opportunities to learn all about our fascinating history later on.

Our new approach was very successful. We had 30 applications with 17 people going forward with the role after the group interview, which also doubled up as the first stage of the “fast-track” induction process –a more condensed version of the standard House Experience induction. Again, those volunteers who decided to stay on with us after the Christmas period would then be given a more in-depth induction.

Most importantly, offering the short-term role provided us with enough volunteers to open the House to our visitors and avoid disappointment over the festive period.

Of the 17 people recruited to help us over Christmas, 7 have said they would consider coming back to support us with similar pop-up roles in the future, while 8 have decided to stay on as long-term volunteers. One of the latter is Claire Edwards who says: “I saw the volunteer open day in October advertised on Facebook & decided to go & see what was on offer as I retired in May. I was very interested in the Christmas experience house volunteer role as it was for a short period & I thought it would be a taster to see if volunteering in the house would suit me. The online application process was very simple & the induction was informative about which areas of the house we would be working in. I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far & have met some lovely friendly volunteers who are all very willing to pass on snippets of information about the house. The visitors have also been very friendly & have been understanding if I didn’t know answers to their questions especially when I explained I was a volunteer for Christmas & still had a lot to learn!

“I feel the Christmas volunteer system is a great idea for people like me who aren’t sure if it’s for them although I guess we are “thrown in at the deep end” a little but that’s the only way for it to be as time is too short for any in depth knowledge to be gained. Having said that I felt that visitors really didn’t mind & there is always someone about who has more knowledge.

“The whole experience has been very enjoyable, so much so that I am going to stay on as a volunteer in the house & am looking forward to learning much more about it.”

We are hopeful that many of the short-term volunteers will return this year for more festive fun, or come back to take up another short-term role over the Easter holidays, which are even busier than Christmas!

If you are interested in being an Easter Experience Volunteer in the House at Wimpole from 23rd March to 14th April 2024 …..

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