School half term is a great British institution, and as we all know no half term holiday is complete without a visit to London Transport Museum. So half term always produces a spike in visitor numbers, and the museum’s volunteers put their shoulders to the wheel to help maximise the activities on offer.
So on Thursday 1st October 2012 in the galleries of the museum I found Ash Ketchum preparing the object handling stall in anticipation of the rush, and she was soon joined by Ken Richards. The stall had a bus theme and was designed around bus ticketing through the ages. Ash has been fanatical about London buses since she was a young child, and has a family history around public transport in South East London. She has only been a volunteer with the museum since August 2012, so very much a new recruit. On the other hand, Ken has been a volunteer since 1998, originally joining up when he saw an appeal for volunteer guides in ‘On the Move’, the Underground staff magazine at the time; Ken was a Booking Clerk prior to retirement. Since then he has been involved in a range of activities, most recently delivering the ‘Finding the way’ object handling theme.
Later in the day came the rush – inevitably youngsters can’t resist the opportunity to produce a ticket for themselves and try on a hat. Ash and Ken were kept very busy – all I can say is that I hope that the museum has a very large cache of old tickets for future use.
Two young visitors fascinated by the stall were Tatyana De Freitas (above) and Frankie Newman Smith (below), both shown here getting stuck in. Frankie has London Transport history in her family, so perhaps a volunteer in the making..?
On Saturday 7th January the Young Consultants took a trip to the London Transport Museum Depot.
We had the amazing opportunity to work with curator Claire Dobbin, and we were luckily granted the chance to help select the pocket maps to appear in the upcoming exhibition “Mind the Map”.
The Depot, based in Acton Town holds the history of London Transport from pocket maps & posters to the last buses and trains of their kind, which eventually receive funding for repair and gets used as exhibits in places like the LTM.
During my action packed day at the Depot I learnt a lot of information on the history of transport which gave me the answers to many unanswered questions.; such as how the underground map we use today was created.
I explored the different types of pockets maps from the past 200 years, looking at various different designers and how and why they have changed.
Being a Young Consultant at London Transport Museum is a great way to gain new skills in a working environment. Since April 2011 I’ve been a part of the Young Consultants at LTM, and already I feel like I’ve gained a wide range of skills.
One of the projects I did as a Young Consultant was at Coram’s Fields Youth Centre, where I was able to speak to other young people about work experience. This was to help them understand that there are different ways to gain as well as improve their skills. It was a great way to share a personal testimony on the skills I’ve gained, and how I became a Young Consultant at LTM.
As I am about to leave LTM and move on to study at Coventry University, I want to take this opportunity to let other young people know that the journey they take will not be easy but when they look back at what they have achieved, they can be proud of themselves. If there is an opportunity grab it, because you’ll never know when the next one will come.
During the induction week young volunteers were given the opportunity to become familiar with the Museum. Over a period of four days the young people took part in a variety of different activities and met with different members of staff to help build up their knowledge of the Museum and better understand how it operates.
In particular they spent time developing their own map of the Museum, choosing significant objects from the collection to help navigate their way around each gallery. They had an opportunity to speak with Nadia Adira (Visitor Services Manager) and find out how the Museum runs from an operations perspective; as well as spend a day with Community Curator Michelle Brown, who delivered a creative activity that helped the young volunteers explore their own personal connections to the Museum’s collections.
On Saturday 2nd July the museum held an open day for young people aged 16-19 who were interested in joining our Journeys Youth Project.*
The day was a great success, bringing together a fabulous mix of young people from diverse communities, all with a variety of motivations for getting involved. Much fun was had throughout the day as the young people explored the museum, taking part in activities which challenged their perceptions of the museum as well as drew on their creativity and problem solving skills.
Whilst I head up the project from a logistical perspective, the actual delivery is led by one of our amazing freelance educators Sarita Mamseri, who in turn is being helped by our Peer Mentors.
Our Peer Mentors this year are Izara, Emira and Antoine. All three of whom were volunteers themselves during the last Journeys project in February. They have all been selected for their dedication, commitment and enthusiasm and each take responsibility for leading sessions and collaborating with Sarita to plan and resource workshops.
As previous participants, the role of Peer Mentor is to offer support and guidance to the volunteers by drawing on their past experiences. The role is also a great opportunity for these young people to develop their own skills further and to take on more and more responsibilities – boosting their CV’s!!
* Journeys is a youth volunteering scheme that aims to support young people to develop their skills in variety of areas, including project management and delivery of public events.
Since November 2009 we have been working with an amazing group of young people, known to the Museum as the Young Consultants.
Over the last 18 months these five young people have helped to shape our policies and ways of working with young people across the Museum. They have been involved collectively and individually in innumerable projects, from developing tools for reinterpretation to interviewing freelance educators for our community art project Bus Shelters. They have represented the Museum at a regional and national level and are, in their own words, “the bridge between this museum and the young people of today … and tomorrow”.
Since May of this year the Young Consultants have been working on a strategy to take their involvement in the Museum to the next level. I have had the enormous pleasure of working alongside them, and together we have now outlined a series of aims and objectives that support both the skills development of the Young Consultants themselves, as well as working towards embedding more opportunities for other young people throughout the Museum.
Over the coming months the Young Consultants will be working on multiple projects which aim to;
Increase their ‘professional experience’ through networking events, running meetings and speaking at conferences.
Work with other museums and young people around London.
Work across the Museum’s departments, emphasising the indispensable role young people can play through their skills and creativity.
Become involved in core development projects for exhibitions such as Journeys in 2012 and LU150 in 2013.
Public transport in London provides millions of connections to millions of people every day. For some it is purely a means of travel; getting to work, school, an appointment or as a link to another mode of transport. For others public transport is a means by which they gain a sense of independence, social freedom or even offers them the possibility of exploration. Why do we journey, what journeys do we make and how do we make these journeys are all questions which I explored with young people during ‘Bus Shelters’; a youth engagement project, part of the national Cultural Olympiad programme Stories of the World.
Between February 2010 and March 2011 I worked with five varied and amazing groups of young people from across London. Each group worked with an artist to develop a creative outcome that reflected their interests, opinions and ideals regarding journeys. Each outcome was then displayed in a bus shelter local to the community of each group. (You can have a look at their work at http://www.ltmuseum.co.uk/storiesoftheworld)
One of the most amazing outcomes of the project was to see the vastly different ways that each group of young people interpreted the same theme. Some groups explored their own physical and everyday journeys, looking at the ways they travel and the places and people they encounter along the way. Others undertook a more symbolic approach, seeing journeys as metaphor for their growth as young people, exploring the notion of the many and different pathways they must travel in order to reach adulthood.
Working on the project has given me a great insight into London’s dynamic youth culture – and particularly, by virtue of representing being the London Transport Museum(!), a unique and important glimpse into the way young people perceive travel and the journeys they make in what is arguably undoubtedly one of the greatest cities in the world!
Whilst I am sad that the Bus Shelters project has come to an end I am excited about taking my experiences forward into a brand new programme of activities. Over the coming year I will be working with more young people to develop new methods and ways of working that incorporate their interests, opinions, insights and creativity into the museum’s everyday working practices. (If this was twitter and I could hash tag here I think it would be appropriate to say #toomuchfun).