I started at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House as a placement student whilst at Manchester Metropolitan University, and was really pleased I was placed in such a warm and welcoming place to be. The team of staff and volunteers are extremely welcoming and supportive and are always more than happy to offer their extensive knowledge and advice, I spent many an hour picking the brains of various people.
I worked with the House to attract more schools and give a direction to the school offer. However, I also worked Wednesdays and Thursdays as a room steward and on the front desk. The experience was one I will never forget, the feel of the house is extremely friendly and relaxed and feels like a little family, even with the relatively short time I worked at the House.
I also got involved with the House’s mission to gain museum status by assisting with the cataloguing of the books in William’s study and also the textiles in Elizabeth’s bedroom. This invitation to get involved is the perfect example of how warm and welcoming the team are; after only a short time with them they got me involved in such an important task.
I learnt so much about not just Elizabeth but also William, who is also an impressive figure himself. The volunteers are incredibly knowledgeable about everything to do with the Manchester writer. My favourite room is either William’s study as there as so many interesting books and he led a very interesting life of his own. My other favourite room is the Dining Room as this was where Elizabeth wrote many of her most famous novels.
I would highly recommend volunteering at this wonderful place, you are highly trained by the other volunteers until you feel comfortable being a room steward on your own. There are many opportunities to get involved with different projects if you would like to while volunteering, although there is never any pressure. There is something for everyone, you can do one role or many, and there is even an Under-25s Group that run projects for the House, as well as opportunities for volunteers to host talks for the public and also their fellow volunteers.
Sophie Thornhill, Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House
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