If it wasn’t for our volunteers…

Where would we be…? This month’s blog celebrates the much-appreciated contribution to the work of Living Memory Association and the Wee Museum of Memory by our volunteers, some of whom have been part of the team for many years.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes, ages and experience. They can come along for a couple of hours a week or for a couple of days. Some of our volunteers are retired but they bring to our organisation their life stories and skills. In our current location that can mean a connection with Leith or Newhaven. Whatever their background, they bring their family history or knowledge, as well experiences from their working lives to share with us and our visitors.

Stan and Maureen have been with us since we moved to Ocean Terminal. Both are born and bred in Leith, and they are a source of local knowledge, history and stories. They have contributed to reminiscence sessions and their photos have been donated to our archive and have featured in a number of displays and other projects. But, very importantly, they welcome visitors to the museum and encourage sharing of other people’s memories and reminiscences. Covid, associated restrictions and health issues have meant that neither has been able to help recently, but we hope they will both be back in some capacity soon – even if it is just to visit.

1st Leith Boys’ Brigade camp, 1948 with Stan.
Maureen aged 5.

John is another local volunteer who started with us when we moved into Ocean Terminal. As we are open seven days a week, we do need help to cover weekend days and John comes along on Sundays as our welcomer and guide. His stories and photos have also featured in our reminiscence work, in particular his love of cars and motorbikes.

John on his Lambretta, 1964.

Volunteering tasks can vary depending on personal taste and skills and Mark’s previous work experience with Edinburgh City Libraries means he is a whizz with indexing and cross indexing (by title and artist) and keeping our record index catalogue neat and tidy.

Mark, with Louise and Delphine.

Caroline is a relative newcomer to our team. Her first task was to tidy up the storage of the ever-increasing record collection. This meant she hid out in the dedicated record cupboard with boxes and labels and organised them neatly, sensibly using an A-Z system! Her current task is helping co-ordinate potential users and space in the empty Debenhams. She can be found enthusistically sticking post-it notes onto A1 floor plans and, hopefully, we will see some of these start up properly next month. Look out for model trains, painted giraffes, fencing, Newhaven history, and many others. She is also one of a group of staff and volunteers who are starting inputting data onto our online collections catalogue.

Caroline helping with collections database.

Over the years we have had a number of other volunteers. Donald brought his years of administrative experience and helped organise our filing systems. Jean, who had worked in banking until she retired, helped with the photographic archive and also used her artistic and design skills to produce booklets and displays, as well as the miniature models of the tenement flats, the 1940s house and the pub. These models continue to attract a lot of interest and are regularly tidied up by some of our younger visitors. Stefan and Darren who were in S4, also came in on Fridays and Saturdays for a couple of years. They took on small projects: photographing some of the collection or doing a bit of research. They also did some work in our recording studio.

Evelyn cutting labels for vistor feedback.

However the LMA/Wee Museum of Memory team would not be complete without Evelyn. She has volunteered since we were based in the south side of Edinburgh and has stuck with us, from then until now. She is the epitome of volunteering and helps out with any part of our work: reminiscing with groups of older visitors or school children (she was a teacher), interviewing, proof reading booklets (she is a harsh marker when it comes to commas), making tea, cutting up paper, collating feedback and anything that needs done. Since Covid she has posted photos from our archive on our FB page on a daily basis: the comments these generate have been used in our themed newsletters which have been going out to carehomes.

For everyone who works or volunteers at the Wee Museum, a cheery face to welcome and engage visitors, flexibility, and a very good sense of humour, are crucial to working at the Wee Museum of Memory. If you think you might fit in then do get in touch.

Some of our staff and volunteers making music with bits and pieces.