Volunteering opportunities at St Mary Redcliffe Church

Chatterton 250 Volunteer Role Profile

Background
2020 marks the 250th anniversary of the death of Bristol-born poet Thomas Chatterton. Chatterton died penniless in London at the age of seventeen, but subsequently became one of the most famous cultural figures of the 19th century. St Mary Redcliffe is taking part in A Poetic City: The legacy of Thomas Chatterton in shaping Bristol’s poetic heritage and culture, a citywide project run by Bristol Cultural Development Partnership – in connection with the Festival of Ideas – which will bring to light Bristol’s links with this important, yet largely forgotten, literary figure. Partner organisations in this National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project include Bristol Museums and Art Galleries, Bristol Libraries, Destination Bristol, University of Bristol, University of the West of England, Royal West of England Academy, LYRA: Bristol Bristol Poetry Festival and Literature Works.

About the role
St Mary Redcliffe Church provided the primary inspiration for Thomas Chatterton, from its magnificent Gothic architecture to its memorials to Bristol’s dignitaries. He wrote about the church in his quasi-medieval poems and prose – inspired by medieval manuscripts that he found in the muniment above the main entrance to the church – and also composed modern poems, satires and social sketches. The muniment room, now known as the Chatterton Room, is currently inaccessible to the public, other than once a year during Bristol Open Doors Day. One of St Mary Redcliffe’s key aspirations is to open this room to the public so that the many visitors to the church can experience history where it happened and visit the places that shaped the poetic imagination of Thomas Chatterton. However, in order to open the room to the public, we need the support of volunteers who can help manage access to and from the room and help to tell Chatterton’s story to visitors.

Could you offer as few as two hours per week to play an important part in bringing the story of Thomas Chatterton to life?
You will need to be 18+ and the type of person who enjoys meeting and engaging with people. You might have or wish to develop an interest in history, a career in culture, heritage and the arts or perhaps want to play a part in your local community.
As a Chatterton 250 Guide you will play a central role in helping people engage with, enjoy and be inspired by St Mary Redcliffe and the life of Thomas Chatterton.

The kind of activities you may be involved in include:
• Welcoming the public and engaging them in the stories of Thomas Chatterton and St Mary Redcliffe • Leading small groups on scripted tours • Managing groups and ensuring they safely enjoy their visit • Talking to visitors about the Festival of Ideas • Recording numbers of visitors • Reporting any serious issues, concerns, accidents and emergencies promptly • Taking part in training sessions
The support you’ll give us as a Chatterton 250 volunteer is of huge benefit to the project, and in turn we aim to make sure that you enjoy a valuable and memorable experience.

What we can offer you
• The chance to volunteer in a heritage role in one of England’s finest churches • The chance to help re-establish the reputation of one of Bristol’s most important cultural figures • Experience of working as part of a team • A chance to meet new people and make professional contacts • On the job training in public engagement, access and heritage interpretation • The chance to engage with visitors of all ages, from all over the world • New experiences and an opportunity to share your skills and expertise • Formal recognition of skills development to aid CV or job applications • An opportunity to work in a beautiful and historic environment • Reimbursement of travel costs and refreshments

What we’re looking for
• Polite and friendly people over the age of 18 • People with a welcoming approach to working alongside the public • People who are enthusiastic about developing knowledge of Thomas Chatterton and St Mary Redcliffe and sharing this in a positive and lively way • People with an interest in working with the public and communicating heritage stories in an accessible and engaging manner • People who enjoy working as part of a small, dedicated team
It would be great if you have some of the following qualities, skills and experience
• An interest in history and/or literature • Confidence in and enthusiasm for talking with members of the public • The ability to work as part of a team and be flexible

Training
You will be part of a small and dedicated team for the Chatterton 250 project and we will ensure that you receive appropriate training and support to enable you to carry out your role. You will receive training in the life of and significance of Thomas Chatterton, and training in how to deliver public tours. We will also ensure that you are familiar with and abide by our Safeguarding Policy and Guidelines.
We are also interested in recruiting volunteers who would like to take on an enhanced role that will involve helping to train and manage other volunteers.
Commitment
To make scheduling as manageable as possible, we ask you to commit to at least ten shifts over the course of the Festival of Ideas. We are aiming to open the Chatterton Room to the public from early April to late October 2020.

Future opportunities – Project 450
St Mary Redcliffe is currently planning for a major redevelopment of its facilities that will create a more welcoming and engaging visitor experience by developing new modes of interpretation within the church and new spaces for exhibitions and displays in the spaces surrounding the historic building.
Entitled Project 450 (the target project completion date is 2024, 450 years since Queen Elizabeth’s visit to Bristol, during which she is rumoured to have called St Mary Redcliffe, “the fairest, goodliest and most famous parish church in England.”), the project will seek to tell the story of the church, its history and cultural connections more effectively.
During the next seven years, the church hopes to increase its annual visitors from 45,000 to 140,000. This will be achieved by improving our offer to visitors, opening currently hidden areas within the building and developing a series of guided tours to the tower and roof.
In order to facilitate this expansion in the scale and breadth of its activity, the church will seek to significantly expand its volunteer team, creating opportunities for volunteers who are interested in practical engagement with the history and heritage of the church and those who visit the building.

How to apply
To apply, or if you would like further information, please send an email to rhys.williams@stmaryredcliffe.co.uk, titled ‘Chatterton 250 Volunteer