Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive Service has been presented with a regional award for its innovative visitor volunteer project.
A team of representatives, including some of the volunteers themselves, travelled to the British Museum in London to receive the award for the North West Regional winners of the Marsh Volunteers for Learning Award.
The Visitor Volunteer programme was set up in 2008 and offers young people with a learning disability the unique chance to do voluntary work at the museum.
Working with Mencap and Bolton V Volunteering scheme, the museum trains the volunteers to run the object handling trolley on a Saturday afternoon. Young people studying health and social care are also recruited and trained to act as volunteer supporters.
The two groups are brought together and trained in customer service and provided with knowledge about the museum’s core collections so they can enhance the visitors’ experience to the galleries.
The museum’s project beat off 18 other applicants to win the North West prize and was one of 12 regional winners competing for the national title.
Bolton Council’s Executive Member for Adult Services, Councillor Elaine Sherrington, said: “This is an excellent achievement for the museum staff and the volunteers who take part in the scheme. The project is relatively new and the rate at which it has developed and become successful is to be commended.
“Bolton Museum, Aquarium and Archive is a fantastic resource in the town and anything we can do to make visitors’ experiences more worthwhile is to be encouraged. The volunteers also benefit from increased confidence and the chance to develop a variety of skills.”
This is the first year the British Museum and the Marsh Christian Trust have rewarded the work done by volunteers to engage museum audiences with collections and Bolton narrowly missed out on winning the national prize.