"When I began the role of Regional Mentor, representing the Thackray Medical Museum, I did not expect it to be so fun, challenging and, most importantly, rewarding...."
Emily Coulthard, gives us the low-down on what it means to be a Regional Mentor...
I work full-time at the Thackray Museum as a Collections Access Assistant, in an incredibly varied role, helping with any and all collections related jobs. Coming from a collections background, I have spent many years in and out of various volunteer roles, but this was the first time I have been on the other side of volunteering – managing a group of volunteers.
The fun aspect of being a Regional Mentor mainly stems from working with the volunteers. Not only are the Thackray research volunteers polite and easy to work with, they are incredibly enthusiastic about the research and take their roles as heralds of the past very seriously. I love hearing the latest interesting detail about an inmate or learning that there has been a research breakthrough; a new record found, and information about an inmate can now be uncovered.
Nonetheless, the role, however fun, is still challenging at times. As we have a large group of volunteers it can be quite difficult to gather the whole team together or find times to meet that are suitable for everyone. It has also sometimes been quite tough to correctly juggle my job role and the mentor role, especially as the Thackray is in the middle of a major re-development at the moment.
Yet, however challenging the role can be, it is still so rewarding. As a Regional Mentor, I have seen volunteers with no previous family history research experience or with limited knowledge about nineteenth century British history, grow in confidence and skill throughout the project until they are producing some of the most detailed biographies. Viewing this growth in individuals, their flourishing due to the support from myself, other regional mentors and from other volunteers, has been such a fantastic and rewarding experience.
I am incredibly glad to have accepted the role of Regional Mentor for the project, it has been fulfilling for me personally, as I have learned many new skills, and for the Thackray Museum, as we have gained so much more knowledge about the people who lived and died in the walls of our building. I cannot thank the volunteers enough for their commitment and effort in this project. They are the best aspect of being a Regional Mentor.