Rob has been volunteering with us for nearly 10 months and plans to continue while he takes on his internship.

How Volunteering at The Coffin Works can help you

Group photo of coffin works staff and volunteers in the reception areaOur volunteers join our team at Newman Brothers at the Coffin Works for a number of reasons. Some have recently retired, others are students wanting to gain more experience of the working world, while others simply want to build their confidence, meet new people or be a part of something special. The last point is, of course, subjective, but we all feel we’re part of something unique.

There are many reasons why volunteering appeals to people, but volunteering with us at Newman Brothers really can help progress your career, particular those wishing to work in the heritage and tourism sectors. That should come as no surprise, because we do after all have a very experienced and diverse team with broad skill sets. The biggest factor in helping our volunteers progress, though, is that we’re small enough to help them, even if that’s sitting down to have a chat about career options or offering new and dedicated training on and off-site. Our volunteers help us every day and we simply wouldn’t open without them, which is why it’s only fair that we return the favour in this way.

smiling volunteer in green coffin works overall hold a brown tea pot in one hand an a white teacup on a saucer in another
Vicki has been volunteering with us for nearly a year and even obliges when we ask her to do the occasional spot of modelling!

Take a look below at a few members of our team and how volunteering with us over the last year has helped them progress in their careers.

Vicki is an experienced secondary school teacher, but decided on a career change just last year, and felt that volunteering with us could help her, or at least give some direction while she was looking for something permanent.

It’s fair to say that Vicki has given ‘her all’ at Newman Brothers, regularly volunteering two days a week as a tour guide since September last year, and getting involved in other events and activities here to broaden her knowledge and experience of the heritage sector. All of this paid off, when just three weeks ago she was offered a job as a Membership Officer working for Association of Preservation Trusts, which promotes and supports the rescue and sustainable use of historic buildings. Incidentally, their West Midlands’ office is now at The Coffin Works and Vicki to a large degree, credits this appointment to her time volunteering with us.

volunteer in brown overall stands in courtyard hold an a4 sized sign showing the letter r in black on a green background
Martin enjoyed his placement with us so much that he completed his 100 hours two months before the deadline! And he’s still volunteering with us.

Martin undertook a placement with us as part of his Newman University degree course and once again got stuck in (there’s a theme here!) as a tour guide, but also like Vicki, worked front of house too.

As a direct result he gained the experience necessary to get his first paid museum job at Birmingham Museums Trust working at Aston Hall in April this year. He’s since moved to Thinktank as an enabler and feels as though his placement here has given him a career direction.

Volunteer in brown overall holds a sign that reads "why i love to volunteer"
Rob has been volunteering with us for nearly 10 months and plans to continue when his internship begins.

Rob has been volunteering with us since October last year and was keen to secure a career in the heritage world and just two weeks ago he was offered two positions – a paid front of house position at Wightwick Manor and a traineeship with the Barber Institute.

Not bad! Again, Rob was able to draw on his experience here to make the most of those opportunities and it clearly paid off.

volunteer sits on a purple chair surrounded by protective sheeting and plastic crates holding a piece of paper with one hand and writing with the other
Dawn is one of our longest-serving volunteers and continues to help with our various research projects.


Last but not least, Dawn, an ex-funeral director whose knowledge has helped us develop our resources around the collection, has been volunteering on the project for over two years.

She secured her first heritage job working for Birmingham Museums Trust at Blakesley Hall last Easter, again thanks to the skills she developed working with the collection at Newman Brothers. Now, she has been fortunate enough to gain a permanent part-time position there.

I owe my career progression to my first opportunity working as a tour guide over 10 years ago now. Having started during my time at university, this early start really did allow me to ‘get ahead’, but Newman Brothers really can offer that same opportunity regardless of age. So, if you’re thinking of a career in the heritage or cultural sector, or simply want to try something new, why not consider volunteering with us. You can find out more about volunteering here.

Sarah Hayes, Collections & Exhibitions Manager

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