What Volunteers Think

"Until I became a volunteer at the Heritage Centre, I never appreciated what a treasure trove we had on our own doorstep."

"I really enjoy the time I spend at the Heritage Centre - it's a great way to learn something new, meet visitors and help the local community."

"I volunteered when I retired and I find that I am using my typing and computing skills again for benefit of the Centre. I feel so useful again."

"Being a volunteer means that I feel part of a great bunch of people who are looking after our heritage and ensuring that it's not forgotten."

"I was never really into history that much, but it’s not stopped me from helping out and feeling valued."

"Family commitments mean I can’t come on a regular basis, but when there’s a big project on I’m always happy to help out when I can."

"I just get such enjoyment helping visitors get the most form their visit. It’s that glow when they leave with a smile."

One Volunteer's Story

"I have a background in IT and first approached the Heritage Centre after seeing the fantastic family history database and historic images available in the Centre. I saw an opportunity to get involved and help make these available to a wider audience with my IT skills and my interest in family history. I have not looked back and have been on a very exciting journey that has immersed me further in the world of the Heritage Centre.

Volunteers offer a wide and diverse set of life experiences, skills and interests. Volunteers can bring these to bear to help us continue to develop the museum and all its services. We have many opportunities to offer you (link to list of potential volunteer roles) from a few minutes a month to much more,

Personally, I have worked in a variety of areas – newsletter editor, meeting secretary, maintenance, membership secretary and museum acquisitions and accessioning (the terms for taking in new objects to our collection). I have been encouraged to extend and develop my personal skills through mentoring and interesting training in all these areas.

I was so enthused by the work of the Heritage Centre that I quickly joined its management committee and now work as Chairman with a very supportive and experienced team and a large number of volunteers. It is a great experience.

The Heritage Centre is inclusive and we welcome volunteers regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, disability, ethnicity, religious beliefs or social background. We are very proud of the part all of our volunteers are able to play and without them we would be a far poorer organisation.

I would recommend volunteering to anyone. Come and share the fun and friendship because volunteering will definitely enhance your life. The added bonus is that you can enhance your knowledge of the area and its heritage and become as involved as you wish."

Steve Gibbon

Volunteer and Chairman

Volunteering

Volunteering can create the sense of belonging, purpose, proof of impact and wellbeing that is essential to so many

Whether you take a ‘back office’ role or welcome the Centre’s visitors and help them to discover the people and places of our part of Northumberland and explore its amazing culture, history and heritage, please don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can benefit from your enthusiasm.

You may prefer a ‘back office’ role or like to be ‘front of house’ to offer a friendly smile and warm welcome for which the Heritage Centre is famous. In either case, you will be helping our visitors to discover the people and places of this part of Northumberland and explore our amazing culture, history and heritage. So please don’t hesitate to contact us to see how we can benefit from your enthusiasm.

Here are some of the opportunities available:

Volunteer Roles

Front Desk/Welcome Host – This is a fun and engaging role; it gives you opportunities to speak to people from all over the world who come into the shop and Heritage Centre. 

You will be given initial and continuous training on the Electronic Point of Sale till (EPOS) and there is opportunity for other training, which is paid for by the Centre.

There is also the option of expanding your repertoire into other aspects of our operations. Time required: At the Centre, one or more three-hour sessions per month.

Guiding/Hosting – Many of our volunteers enjoy greeting and chatting to visitors. You don’t need vast local knowledge or a degree in history to do that – just a wide smile and a willingness to learn and share. Ideal if you would like to learn more or share your knowledge of the local area and heritage. There are a number of people who come to the museum from all different walks of life. Some are quite happy wandering around on their own, but others may wish a more in-depth guided tour. Some training will be provided, and you will be given the opportunity to see and shadow an experienced guide, which will give you ideas as how to structure your own tour, as different people have different points of interest and styles. This is a area of development for the Centre which we are looking to enhance and you have the opportunity to help develop our guiding approach and the stories used in the tours. Time Required: At the Centre, once a month or more, for a designated guiding time of an hour or less, plus any help in development of the role you can spare.

Website and social media – We have Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts. We need a small team of volunteers who are able to take from 20-30 mins (or more) out of their month occasionally and add something to our social media presences. You could post comments visitors have left in our visitors book or talk about a new exhibition that is running or forthcoming. You may post ‘stories’ of our heritage or profiles of our volunteers.  You may schedule future posts. Some training could be provided, but we are asking that you have a basic working understanding of social media to start with. Occasional contribution to articles on our website would also be welcome. Time Required: Ad hoc any time from home with occasional visits to the Centre for information gathering and meeting people.

Social Media and Story Telling training will be provided if required.

Photography – In support of our Social Media and Internet presences, as well as our online shop, marketing and advertising, we would welcome anyone with a good eye for an image to help us build a small stock of quality images and associated information. Time required: Ad hoc, what you can spare, requires visits to the Centre.

Visitor surveys – Can you help at the Centre once a month or more for an hour or so to help us collect visitor feedback. We have prepared survey forms and post code collection mechanisms. This helps us understand our audiences better and direct our marketing and advertising in a more effective manner. It also helps us with grant applications. You can also assist (from home) in entering some visitor feedback into the online data collection service afterwards.

Curation – we have a small growing team to help us record our acquisitions and our collections database and then to store, label and appropriately care for our acquisitions. Full training will be provided, and you would work in the Centre for whatever small amounts of time you can spare on an ad hoc basis either individually or with the rest of the team on a social basis.

Maintenance – helping us keep the centre inside and out in good condition. If you are a handyperson who has time to spare, or if you know of someone like this who would benefit from getting out of the house and joining like-minded people, our historic carriages always need some TLC. If you/they also like fixing things, screwing things together, painting things and tinkering, that’s even better. You would work on an ad hoc basis to suit your time and to an agreed jobs list. Materials and tools provided. 

Other Skills – perhaps you have other skills or experience you can bring to help us. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you think you can help and we can provide you with a fulfilling volunteer role.

Trustee/Committee Member Roles

Our group of trustees may be small, but we are big in ambition and commitment. Can you help us take the Heritage Centre forward and maintain our high standards of presentation and customer care?

We meet once a month to plan our activities.

The Heritage Centre at Bellingham is seeking new Trustees/Committee members to help us build on our excellent foundations and outstanding reputation and take us forward into our next 25 years. Do you have skills and experience you can offer us for a few hours or more a month? By seeking new Trustees and Committee members we are also looking to ‘spread the load’ over more volunteers so that we can achieve more without overloading individuals.

Ideally, we have a number of opportunities where relevant experience and expertise, and sector specific knowledge would be of great benefit but if you have other skills or sector experience elsewhere to offer you should not hesitate to approach us. All posts are voluntary with no remuneration other than legitimate expenses. Where training and mentoring is required, we will endeavour to provide what is required.

Marketing and Advertising. We are looking for someone with relevant experience and expertise to help refine our branding, marketing and advertising with objective and measurable outcomes aligned to our goals for growth and sustainability. Sector specific experience would be advantageous but is not a requirement. We also need to take advantage of social media to help us with our marketing. Our simplified goals are to increase footfall, expand some key visitor segments, and attract coach tours and groups to the Centre in partnership with the Carriages Tea Rooms next door to the Centre. This post could also involve developing and leading a small team of volunteers to manage our Social Media presences and advise on our website content and messages.

Exhibition display, review, development and management. If you have sector specific experience in the display, development and interpretation of exhibitions we would welcome your help to move us forward in a constructive, affordable and relevant manner to help us with revisits, great first experiences of the Centre and the interpretation of our local heritage. You may also have skills in collection curation and care which would benefit us further. We are particularly keen to reach different audiences with digital enhancement of our collections and require help and advice to do so. We commissioned a significant study resulting in a new Interpretation Plan in 20201 and we are now looking at how we can deliver the exciting opportunities and refreshment to the Centre that this raises.

Grant sourcing and application. As a volunteer led Centre our main source of income is admissions and shop sales plus a modest lease income from our two railway carriages which are currently utilised as a very successful Tea Rooms. This helps us ‘keep the lights on’. To do more we are dependent upon grant funding. If you have experience of sourcing and applying for grant funding, we would be very interested in talking to you.

Charity Secretary. Responsible for our formal meetings agendas and minutes plus correspondence and returns to the Charity Commissioners.

Governance If you have experience of Charity or Company Governance, we are striving to reach high standards in everything we do and throughout our policies and procedures. Can you help?

Friends Membership. Help manage our growing group of Friends of the Centre as membership secretary or communications/newsletter editor.  Friends’ income and donations are very important to us as is our communications with them. All volunteers at the Centre are automatically enrolled as Friends.

Additional skills. If you have knowledge or experience of Charitable Governance or Museum Accreditation you could be of invaluable help to us. You may also have skills you think we could benefit from but are not mentioned here. Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Background and Vision

About the Heritage Centre: The Heritage Centre tells the stories of the people of the North Tyne and Rede valleys through text, imagery, sound and, of course, objects. Our displays present the social, agricultural and industrial history of the area as well as a small section about the earlier Border Reivers.

We are a Visit England Quality Assured Visitor Attraction and scored 84% in our 2019 assessment (an increase on the previous assessment).

The Centre celebrated its 25th year during 2019, with the museum always having been at the centre of Bellingham village life, and it continues to receive many donations and loans of heritage materials.

The Centre is a significant attraction for tourists in the locality and is also benefiting from 'Dark Sky' visitors to the North Tyne valley who in turn are spending money locally.

Mission: To maintain and preserve the history of North Tynedale and Redesdale Valleys and to provide an educational and tourist resource. Local residents very much see the Heritage Centre as "theirs" and taking part in events and activities as well as volunteering at the Centre is an important part of local life.

Key aims: The Bellingham Heritage Centre presents a unique collection of North Tynedale and Redesdale Valley’s rich social history and heritage to its 8,000+ visitors per year. This museum is a great asset to the area attracting many tourists including those who come to research their family history and also to find out more about the North British Railway which used to run through the area.

Our vision incorporates the museum’s key aims, which are

  1. To maintain Accredited Museum status which includes caring for the collections and providing a quality visitor experience.
  2. To attract more visitors and local residents through both educational and tourist opportunities and to help sustain the local economy.
  3. To attract increased income through commercial activities, grants, sponsorship and online trading.
  4. Continually to improve the collection and presentation.
  5. To have a well-trained, confident, volunteer base, increasing volunteer numbers year on year.
  6. To liaise with local schools and provide puils with opportunities to learn about their geography, history and heritage.

If you are interested then in the first instance you should contact the Chairman, Steve Gibbon on 01434 344383 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Steve will be happy to have an informal talk with you and meet you for refreshments in the Carriages Tea Rooms adjoining the Centre (Covid guidelines permitting), where you can then receive a tour from Steve to show you what we have to offer.

Thank you for your interest and taking time to consider this.

Making a difference

You don’t need to commit to coming to the Heritage Centre every week. There are many other ways you can help us without such regular commitment or even having to leave home. It’s your skills and brainpower that will really help.

Just giving an hour or two a week or month you really can make a difference by:

  • Assisting with the occasional school group
  • Organising one or two small events over the year
  • Supporting our newsletter editor
  • Giving a hand with some clerical work
  • Helping to publicise the Heritage Centre
  • Printing and despatching photographic orders
  • Popping in now and again to do some careful object cleaning (training and dusters will be provided)
  • Sharing our collections with people who are unable to visit us.

Contact

In person: The Heritage Centre, Station Yard, Woodburn Road, Bellingham, Northumberland. NE48 2DG

Tel: 01434 220050 (when open, a volunteer may not always be available to answer your call, so please leave a message.) or Steve on 01434 344383 any other time.

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.