I knew that I was interested in volunteering during my time at the University of Manchester, so during my first week I went to the volunteering fair to meet representatives from organisations across the city.
When I heard about Elizabeth Gaskell’s House I was instantly intrigued as I have an interest in history and am an avid book lover (and I must admit, the fact it was just a fifteen minute walk from the university and my hall of residence was a draw as well!). A couple of weeks later my friend Adelaide and I visited the house to have a look around and I think we both fell in love with the beautiful building and warm, friendly atmosphere created by the team.
We signed up to start the next Thursday morning, and now it’s a highlight of my week. Mostly my role as a volunteer is to be at the front desk or to show visitors the various rooms in the house, as well as work in the tea room. I now have lots of stories about Elizabeth and her family, as well as her famous acquaintances such as Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Charles Hallé and John Ruskin, who is the focus of the current house exhibition.
I have also got the chance to dress up as Elizabeth’s maid (see above), and watch a chilling reading of her ghost story, The Old Nurse’s Tale, by several other volunteers. The staff and other volunteers have been so welcoming and I feel more a part of the local community in Manchester, as well as gaining experiences outside of my studies. I cannot recommend the house enough as a place to volunteer!
Juliette, University of Manchester Student and Volunteer at Elizabeth Gaskell’s House