Denbighshire Archive Service has embarked on an exciting new project designed to modernise its service delivery. Part of this modernisation process includes the development and launch of a brand new website. The website will include facilities for browsing an online catalogue of holdings, ordering items, links to social media outlets and creating wish-lists.
The need to develop an online catalogue meant that the service had to look at ways of transferring paper-based catalogues into a database ready for publishing online. The archive service did not have the capacity to undertake such a huge task and began to look at its volunteer model to see if volunteers could help . The archive service is often approached by people looking for volunteer opportunities but the hours of work and difficulty travelling to the office often prevents new volunteers engaging with the service.
An innovative idea based around a ‘virtual volunteers’ model was created. This involved providing opportunities for individuals to support the work of the Archive Service from the comfort of their own home, using their own equipment with project work being sent to them electronically.
An initial advert for virtual volunteers attracted almost 40 interested individuals from various locations across the UK, including: Glasgow, London, Leeds and even Belgium.
After speaking to the interested volunteers, they signed up for a variety of reasons including:
- Wanting to support the archive service - to give something back;
- Development of skills to help with future employment;
- Preparing for re-entering the workforce after leaving to start a family;
- Physical or mental disability which meant they could not visit an office to volunteer in person.
Denbighshire Archive Service's virtual volunteer scheme has now been running for almost 12 months and has helped the service enormously with addressing the cataloguing work.
During times when resources are at a premium, utilising volunteers can provide local government services with additional human resources to help address work challenges and at the same time provide individuals with valuable work experience, confidence and new skills.