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Volunteer Stories - Peter Stammers

20 June 2020

We are back with another of our Volunteer stories. This time DofE Co-ordinator Peter Stammers has written about the Museum’s Duke of Edinburgh Award Programme.

'You may have seen them around the museum – what was a growing number of young people volunteering as stewards. They were part of the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme volunteering their services to the community. The community they chose was Brooklands Museum. The aims of the Award is that it should be, voluntary, achievable by all, non-competitive, personalized, progressive and enjoyable; it is supposed to develop self-belief, self-confidence, a sense of identity, independence, respect, a sense of responsibility and the ability to lead and work as a team.

The way we help young people achieve these aims is by integrating them into our Volunteer Stewards’ Team and this means that all DofE Volunteers attend for a minimum of 3 hours per session. The basic idea is that they are available to relieve Adult Stewards for comfort & tea breaks & lunch breaks and undertake other duties that the Daily Volunteer Co-ordinator sees fit. All DofE Volunteers undertake a 3-hour tour of the site – not as a visitor, but as a potential member of staff. This is an orientation tour involving not only a knowledge of the facilities (toilets, etc.) but also the main “areas”. Training involves a 3-hour session covering an awareness of “stewarding” at Brooklands, including public interaction and “front of house” mindset, an awareness of Security & H&S and a sound awareness of action to be taken when these are compromised, as well as knowing who in each “area” has the radio, when to contact Reception and action to be taken during visitor illness. All DofE Volunteers must take and pass a written test of 20 questions whilst on-site; the pass mark is 20.

Since April 2014 there have been over 200 DofE Volunteers coming from a variety of schools, scouts & air cadets in Surrey & elsewhere; several DofE Volunteers have stayed on and became Volunteer Stewards. The programme has been very successful particularly because of the encouragement of Sue Lewin, Volunteer Services Manager who capably facilitated the project and the support for the young people on site. Sue & I had started a programme of meeting DofE Leaders in schools and Air Cadet Squadrons and we were discussing with the local DofE Manager at Windsor DofE HQ some exciting developments to what Brooklands could offer; unfortunately “Lockdown” has put a stop to that – hopefully temporarily.

I have to say that in my experience the Adult Stewards have been very supportive of the DofE Volunteers and do what they can to help and train - all of which enhances the Museum’s reputation in schools and in the Community. In particular, the Museum and Stewards are especially welcoming and supportive of DofE Volunteers with special needs; the Museum is seen as a very “safe” place for them. At the end of her son’s volunteering, one mother wrote a fulsome appreciation of the museum & stewards. She said that her son had severe personality and confidence issues and that, to her amazement and joy, after just two sessions at the museum “…he left the car enthusiastically and keen to go in the museum. The transformation was amazing. Thank you so much”