In Touch was an innovative Cultural Heritage volunteering programme delivered by Manchester Museum and Imperial War Museum North (IWM North) in partnership with Trafford College and Salford City College and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The model focused on personal and skills development for a specific group of socially-excluded people who are significantly under-represented in the museum volunteer workforce. The study examined who volunteered and why, the transformative achievements of the volunteers – including personal learning, confidence, social skills and employability. It also explored the legacies of the programme and impacts on the two museums.
In Touch intended to provide a blueprint for volunteering in the museums and heritage sector and it has already begun to achieve this.
The range of strong outcomes for volunteers illustrates the impact of In Touch on a range of agendas, including employability and worklessness, health and well-being, social inclusion, social cohesion and citizenship. This means the programme has been of significant interest to a range of cross-sector agencies, particularly those focused on employability such as the Future Jobs Fund and Connexions. For most of the agencies who directed participants to the programme, the key benefit of In Touch is its multi-dimensional nature. They effectively saw the programme as a ‘one-stop-shop’, which helped participants’ personal and social development as much as their museum, literacy and employment skills.