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Home / Support / Volunteer

Volunteer

Join our vibrant volunteering community at the museum! Whether you prefer working with collections, outdoors on our estate, engaging visitors, or contributing remotely, there’s a role for you. With flexible hours and commitments and remote opportunities available, you can make a meaningful impact no matter your schedule.

We welcome passionate individuals of all ages, offering work experience and Duke of Edinburgh placements for young volunteers. Benefits include:

  • Hands-on experience to boost your CV
  • Social opportunities to meet new friends
  • Learning heritage skills and crafts
  • Enjoying the Suffolk countryside
  • Contributing to your community and personal fulfillment
  • Free year-round museum entry for regular volunteers

Explore our current opportunities below.

Please contact volunteering@foodmuseum.org.uk or call 01449 612229 to learn more and get involved.

 

I’ve been volunteering at the food museum for over a year now. I’ve enjoyed working with the team learning how to look after the animals. I only do a few hours a week but it’s been great to get outside come rain or shine! It’s nice to meet new people and learn new skills.

Estate Volunteer

 

Opportunities

Collections Information and Research Volunteer

The Food Museum has a collection of over 40,000 objects. As an Accredited Museum, we have a responsibility to develop and care for our collections using the resources available to us. As such, we are undertaking a review and audit of our collection and its accompanying documentation. We have been working towards this project for several years through our Search for the Stars project that has helped to digitise many of the paper records for our collection. However, this is the first time that the collection has been reviewed as a whole and will enable us to build a better understanding of our objects and the ways that we can use them. Whilst this is an ongoing task for many museums, external funding has enabled us to accelerate the work – we are grateful for support from the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund delivered by the Museums Association, the Headley Trust and SHARE Museums East Museum Development Programme, supported using public funding by Arts Council England.

You will work closely with the Collections & Interpretation Manager and Curator to solve collections queries, undertake research and due diligence to contribute to our collections information systems and input into a variety of projects that help us achieve a more sustainable and rigorous approach to collections management.

What’s involved: 

  • Helping improve data management systems.
  • Helping ensure that records are stored in line with GDPR guidelines.
  • Inputting data into our database.
  • Helping to achieve a sustainable approach to collections management.
  • Working across paper based and digital systems.
  • Carrying out research to support understanding of our collections.

This role will suit:  

  • People who enjoy administrative and process-based tasks.
  • People who are keen to get more experience in the museums sector, particularly in the areas of collections management, research, and collections reviews.
  • Adaptable, organised, and curious individuals who like to solve problems.
  • People who are open to learning new skills and are happy to engage in tasks which require patience and accuracy.
  • Team players.
  • Good communicators.

What’s in it for you: 

  • Contribute to significant projects that help to shape the future of our museum.
  • Gain a variety of transferable and museum-specific skills, including using collections management systems, research and documentation.
  • Meet new people and become part of an enthusiastic and friendly team.
  • Make a difference to the accessibility, understanding and documentation of our collection.
  • Through engaging with the objects in our collection you will develop your understanding of the history of food and farming in East Anglia and beyond

Collections Digitisation Volunteer

Search for the Stars Collections Digitisation Volunteer

This exciting role to help us digitise our collections can be done remotely from anywhere in the world!

What do we want to achieve?

With the support of the Esmée Fairbairn Collections Fund and the Headley Trust, we are digitising our collections catalogue. Our innovative Search for the Stars project creates a free, public, online catalogue of all our objects. The project is providing an invaluable community resource and improve our collections management.

What is a Collections Digitisation Volunteer?

We have records with varying degrees of information and accuracy. Your role will involve checking and updating these; ensuring the record complies with GDPR regulations, is clear and readable, whilst allocating the most relevant tags to the object to help the public search and find records. You are also encouraged to identify any objects that you think are of relevance or interest as ‘star objects’ and these will go onto be researched further.

What kind of person are we looking for?

We’re looking for someone with an interest in social history, has basic IT skills, works accurately, and thinks outside of the box. This could suit a student or someone looking to pursue a career in history or heritage, alternatively, it would suit anyone looking for a meaningful and flexible volunteer opportunity that provides transferable skills and fits around other commitments.What will be involved?

  • You will gain practical collections management experience on a live project at an Arts Council England accredited museum
  • You will receive training on our cloud based, collections management system, eHive
  • You will check online entries against record cards ensuring all information is transferred over correctly and clearly
  • You will improve the searchability of our collection records by specifying key words and using eHive’s tagging function
  • You will also be encouraged to identify ‘star objects’ from among the records you encounter, using your own knowledge, interests and imagination

Collections Champion

Role

As a Collections Champion, you’ll help photograph, catalogue, and move our large objects. You will have the unique opportunity to see behind the scenes of the Food Museum and get hands-on with our objects.

The Food Museum is one of over 70 recipients of funding awarded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England. Amongst other vital improvements, this grant will allow us to repair the roof on our Large Object Store. For this work to go ahead it’s necessary to relocate all of the objects currently held in our Large Object Store to temporary storage locations around our site. With hundreds of objects to move, we are looking for reliable, detail-oriented individuals to play an important role in this project.

What’s involved?

  • Photographing objects using a digital camera and lighting equipment.
  • Working as an integral part of a small team to move objects from our Large Object Store to temporary storage locations. This may involve the use of lifting equipment. You will be fully trained and supervised at all times.
  • Cleaning and carefully packing objects for storage.
  • Measuring and inputting basic information about our objects on our web-based cataloguing system.
  • Optional: editing photos using Lightroom.

What’s in it for you?

  • Participate in shaping the future of our museum.
  • Gain a variety of transferable and museum-specific skills, including how to handle, document and photograph museum objects.
  • Meet new people and become part of an enthusiastic and friendly team.
  • Make an active difference in the accessibility, care and organisation of our museum collection.
  • Participate in a project that is described as a ‘once in a generation opportunity’ for the Food Museum.
  • Through engaging with the objects in our collection you will develop your understanding of the history of food and farming in East Anglia and beyond.

The role will suit…

  • Students or someone looking to pursue a career in history or heritage.
  • Adaptable, organised and curious individuals.
  • People who are open to learning new skills and happy to engage in tasks which require patience and accuracy.
  • Team-players.
  • Individuals who are comfortable being on their feet most of the day.

Food Learning Assistant

Role

Help to deliver our exciting and engaging food-focused learning programme at the museum. Being part of the Learning Team is a varied role. Depending on your preferences, you will gain experience using the wood-fired oven, assist with a diverse range of public workshops and assist with our schools learning programme. The aim of Food Learning at the museum is to encourage people to nurture their curiosity regarding food production, preparation, and consumption.

What’s in it for you?

  • Tool and equipment training depending on your need
  • Learn how to use our wood-fired bread oven
  • Gain knowledge and understanding from the learning team
  • Enjoying new experiences and learning something new every day
  • Improving your communication skills
  • Becoming part of a friendly and dedicated team
  • Meeting people from all walks of life and making new friends
  • Contributing to real improvements to the museum visitor experience

What’s involved?

  • You will be part of the learning team and help with food tastings and demonstrations, including local and heritage food, cooking workshops, and schools workshops.
  • Be helpful and courteous to all visitors as the public face of the Food Museum.
  • Becoming familiar with and then always following the Food Museum’s Health and Safety Policy, and to be familiar with and comply with all other relevant Museum policies and procedures, and to attend training as and when required.
  • Answer questions providing information where possible. Refer tough questions or complaints to the appropriate member of staff.
  • There will also be opportunities to get involved with other aspects of the museum e.g. the museum’s events programme.

This role will suit… 

Someone with an enthusiasm for food production (crops and veg), cooking, and the stories that can be told through food. We are looking for someone who likes being outdoors and getting their hands dirty. This is a public facing role so you will need to have an outgoing, friendly and patient demeanour. Experience working with the public, young people and/or children would be preferred. You do not need any experience – just to be keen to learn and to get stuck in alongside others!

Walled Garden Volunteer

Role

Help to develop and maintain our beautiful kitchen walled garden, supplying the museum café and taster kitchen with fresh produce whilst creating an inspiring environment for visitors.

Skills to be gained

  • Becoming part of a friendly and dedicated team
  • Working outdoors in a beautiful environment
  • Learn or improve your growing and gardening skills
  • Improve your communication skills, working with your team and museum visitors
  • Opportunities to get involved with a range of museum activities beyond the garden

What kind of person are we looking for?

We’re looking for someone with an interest in gardening, with a can-do attitude, initiative and a desire to get involved. This could suit a student or someone looking to pursue a career in gardening or heritage. Alternatively, it would suit anyone looking for a meaningful and flexible volunteer opportunity that provides transferable skills and fits around other commitments.

Estate and Animals Volunteer

Role

Estate care

Enhance the visitor experience by ensuring the museum’s estate is well kept and attractive, getting hands-on with tasks around the site.

Livestock Care

Work with our range of animals from horses to chickens, ensuring their highest welfare and care whilst enhancing the visitor experience.

What kind of person are we looking for?

We’re looking for someone with an interest in nature, animals, who likes working alone and/or working in a team. This could suit a student or someone looking to pursue a career in agriculture or animal care. Alternatively, it would suit anyone looking for a meaningful and flexible volunteer opportunity that provides transferable skills and fits around other commitments.

Miller in Alton Watermill

Role

We’re looking to recruit a team of Millers to help bring our 18th-century watermill to life.

You will provide a friendly welcome to visitors of all ages, inspiring curiosity and answering questions as you demonstrate the historic machinery and produce wholemeal flour.

The Miller is an active role that requires a can-do approach, good observational and listening skills, a commitment to the requirements of both health and safety, and food safety, along with practical know-how or willingness to learn about this traditional craft. Training will be provided.

What’s involved?

  • Helping visitors to experience and understand the inner workings of a watermill, and to recognise the role of milling in the process of bread making.
  • Working as part of a team to operate the electric milling stones.
  • Following food safety and operational procedures to produce good quality 100% wholemeal flour for human consumption whilst ensuring the safety of volunteers and visitors.
  • Assisting in the running of the waterwheel, hoist and other machinery.
  • Answering questions about the mill, its history, restoration and operation.
  • Being aware of the quirks of working with old machinery and preventing unnecessary damage to the building or its contents as well as keeping the building clean.
  • Assisting in the packaging of flour for sale in line with food requirements.
  • Completing necessary training as required.

What we’re looking for:

  • You will enjoy speaking with and engaging people of a range of ages and backgrounds.
  • You will have a passion for learning new skills and information, which you will enjoy sharing with others.
  • You could be looking for a challenge and relish the opportunity to be part of a new team or might be looking to gain experience in the fields of heritage and conservation.
  • Our demo’s and guided tours currently take place on Fridays, however we are keen to expand capacity and run more demonstrations and tours throughout the week in the future.

What will you gain:

  • You will become an experienced and knowledgeable miller.
  • Make new friends and become part of an enthusiastic and friendly team.
  • Develop your communication and people skills within a fun, supportive environment.
  • Make an active difference by supporting the Food Museum’s mission and providing a fun, engaging yet challenging experience for visitors.

Visitor Services Volunteer

Role

With the support of the volunteers we aim to enhance our visitors experience. Our visitor services team will greet the visitors with a warm, friendly welcome, give the visitors information about the site and events and help the visitors have an excellent day at the Food Museum.

What kind of person are we looking for?

We’re looking for someone with an interest in social history, with good communication skills, confident, outgoing and like helping others. This could suit a student or someone looking to pursue a career in history or heritage, alternatively, it would suit anyone looking for a meaningful and flexible volunteer opportunity that provides transferable skills and fits around other commitments.

FAQs

What age do you have to be to volunteer? Am I too old?

You have to be at least 14 years old to volunteer. Other than that, age is no barrier. We all have something to offer no matter what our age.

How much time do I need to volunteer for?

How much time do you have to give? You can spend as much or as little time as you wish volunteering.

How do I sign up?

In the first instance you should contact the museum, on 01449 612229 or email volunteering@foodmuseum.org.uk. We will send you a list of all our available roles and put you in contact with the member of staff most suited to your area of interest who will arrange for you to visit and have an informal chat about the role you may be interested in. If you join us you will attend an induction which will cover things such as health and safety, signing in procedures and who your supervisor will be, as well as practical things like where all the facilities are and introducing you to other staff and volunteers.

Roles which require more responsibility, such as being a trustee, will involve a more formal interview.

Can I be paid to cover my expenses?

Unfortunately we are unable to reimburse travelling and other expenses

Can I claim benefits while volunteering?

Yes. Volunteering does not affect your benefits, although you may have to let the Job Centre know.

I’m working full time, can I still volunteer?

Yes. There are activities that are suitable outside of normal working hours such as at the weekend or when you are on annual leave, or that you can do from home in the evenings.

Do I need any skills or qualifications?

Most volunteer roles don’t require special skills or qualifications and you will be given any training you need. Some roles require certain skills but this will be stated clearly in the role description.

Can I get a qualification?

Occasionally we can help volunteers obtain qualifications such as an NVQ. If this is your goal, please mention this when you contact us and we will do our best to support you. Even if you can’t get a qualification, volunteering can help you gain valuable experience, skills and a referee for future employment.

What support will I get?

We will make sure that you have what you need to perform your role, you are insured, and you know who to go to if you have a question or a problem.