My volunteering journey at the Coffin Works began on the 11th of November 2022 as a part of my placement at my college course at UCB where I study Travel and Tourism. With my interest in the tourism industry, I was eager to learn more about visitor attractions such as the Coffin Works. Since volunteering here I have gained a greater knowledge on Birmingham’s history, and why so many people visit Birmingham to see the amazing heritage and history we have to offer.
Currently, I volunteer every Friday, when I work in the café and occasionally accompany other volunteers on their tours. This has allowed me to interact with the customers whilst also learning more about the history of the Coffin Works, and about skills that used to be taught, such as ones demonstrated in the Stamp Room. I also got to hear some of the incredible stories from other volunteers that they have gained through meeting people that had previously worked for the Newman Brothers. These stories are what I feel help to keep the Coffin Works so alive and interesting as there is so much to learn. Volunteering at the Coffin Works I have had many great opportunities, such as being involved in parts of their marketing, and witnessing their seasonal events, and how with such a great team they are able to keep the history of the Newman Brothers business thriving.
When I started I was greeted by a great team of people who made me feel so welcomed and comfortable and also taught me to be more confident and helped me learn all the tips and tricks I need to provide customers with a full experience. This has all really increased my confidence and the responsibility of running the café has helped me whilst applying for university’s and provided me with great skills.
Overall, my experience at the Coffin Works has been nothing but positive, all the other volunteers there are so kind and welcoming to new members. It is great to see such a unique part of history being preserved and so many people’s stories being shared with many generations and more that are to come. To see important topics also brought up, such as the wage gap women were faced with in that era, is also a great way for us to see how far we have come as a society since that time. I think the Coffin Works is a place everyone should visit at least once if they are looking to see an important piece of Birmingham’s hidden history!