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Volunteer James shares his experiences as part of the Locomotion team and reveals what he's learned.

Although it feels like I have been a volunteer at Locomotion for years, in reality I only joined in February 2020. While this hasn’t exactly been a normal first year at the museum, I have had an amazing time and I have thoroughly enjoyed every element of it.

I was kickstarted into getting involved with Locomotion as part of my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. From a very young age, I have had a passion for all things transport and I have been visiting the museum regularly from the moment it opened. In fact, when I was just five years old, I became the youngest exhibitor ever at Locomotion when I displayed my model railway as part of the Model Mania event. I also love learning about local history and I want to go into a career in engineering, so it seemed like the perfect match.

It was daunting to learn that I would be among the first youth volunteers at the museum but I was excited for the challenge. From the moment I started, I have felt welcomed into the team. It has been an amazing experience, as I have not only got to work with other volunteers and staff but also the general public. I have gained so many valuable skills around how to work with visitors and how to approach people and engage with them. I have also learnt a lot about how the museum operates and its place both within the community and the wider Science Museum Group.

Just weeks after becoming a volunteer, the first event came around to coincide with the half-term holidays, which is always a busy time for the museum. The event was Future Engineers and it was the first time it had been held at Locomotion. It was great to be able to interact with the public in a variety of ways during the week, from being a cab guide to demonstrating our model maglev and helping out with the interactive exhibits.

Although I had only been a volunteer for six weeks when the COVID-19 lockdown hit, I have had the opportunity to be involved with volunteering from home which I might otherwise not have had. This has been a wonderful experience and a great focus for me during lockdown. It has also given me the space to develop a new set of skills such as writing professional emails and researching and recording effectively.

From being a youth volunteer at Locomotion I have learnt a plethora of valuable skills that I will be able to take with me into adulthood and into the workplace. I am very much looking forward to continuing volunteering at Locomotion and being part of the museum’s evolution.

I highly recommend taking the opportunity to volunteer at Locomotion no matter what your age—if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or want to learn more you can go to the museum website for more details. You definitely won’t regret it.

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