Digital volunteers set to make big impact for Barnsley Museums thanks to National Lottery funding

Barnsley Museums has been awarded £32,000 of National Lottery funding to launch a digital volunteering initiative and break down barriers to heritage.

The funding is part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, which aims to raise digital skills and confidence across the whole UK heritage sector.

Seventeen projects have been awarded funding to create digital volunteering opportunities, supporting volunteers to develop and contribute their digital skills. Some opportunities will be offered online – removing barriers such as place, mobility, time commitments and confidence in returning to in-person activities due to the pandemic.

In turn, heritage organisations will gain the perspectives and skills of ‘at distance’ and on-site digital volunteers including many who may not have had the chance to volunteer before. The impact of the new volunteering opportunities and ways of working will be shared across the heritage sector.

Ros Kerslake, CEO at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Volunteers play a crucial role in supporting and sharing the UK’s heritage. Thanks to National Lottery players we are delighted to support these trailblazing projects, including ‘Remotely Digital’ as they create exciting new digital volunteering opportunities, helping to break down barriers and inspire the sector to get even more people involved in the heritage they love.”

Volunteers will be trained and upskilled using remote digital technology, to understand, interpret and transcribe our sound and film collections. Supported by our team they will undertake this necessary work and create detailed information about our sound and film holdings. Volunteers will gain significant digital skills through working with digital files that exist in different formats and adding metadata to those files. They will develop accessible online content, which might include uploading material to sites such as Youtube and Soundcloud. Ultimately, they will help us to preserve and make accessible our sound and film collections long term.

Cllr Tim Cheetham, Cabinet Spokesperson for Place (Regeneration and Culture) said: “Our volunteers are vital to the work of Barnsley Museums and in return we offer interesting and career enhancing skills development opportunities.  We are delighted to have received this funding that will allow people to volunteer with our archives service in new and exciting ways from the comfort of their home.  It makes volunteering more accessible and is open to everyone.