Island Railway Voices Project Volunteer

This is one-year project, funded by Arts Council England, with the aim of capturing personal memories and testimony connected to Isle of Wight railways and the creation of the IOWSR. Lisa Kerley is co-ordinating the project on behalf of the IOWSR. We are looking for volunteers to help us with the project in a variety of ways. Without volunteer help we will not be as effective in achieving our project aims. We hope that by being involved you will hopefully learn new skills, meet new people and enjoy sharing in the capturing of the personal memories and life stories of others.


As part of the project we will be engaging local people in reminiscence sessions on the theme of the railway. Reminiscence is all about the ‘recollection of one’s own life experiences’. Museums are very well placed to offer opportunities for reminiscence because the wonderful collections and objects they hold are vehicles to evoke memories of the past. Lisa will be working with the collections team to develop a dedicated handling collection of museum objects suitable for use outside the museum for remininscence. We plan to deliver 8 community reminiscence sessions. Two of these sessions will be hosted with the local nursing home in Havenstreet, Northbrooke House. We may also offer the opportunity for some local community groups supporting older people to come to the railway for a visit to evoke memories. You might like to get involved with this aspect if you like the thought of helping others to recall their memories of the past related to the topic and helping them to explore objects to evoke memories. The reminiscence sessions will be group sessions (12-20 participants) and be very informal in their nature. Lisa will lead each session and will need volunteers to help with setting up the room for the session, carrying boxes, packing and unpacking objects, interacting with participants, sharing objects to spark memories, recording some of the participants memories informally (making notes) and taking photographs or video of the sessions. 

In addition to the reminiscence sessions we will be conducting (at least) 10 in depth oral history interviews with individuals who would like to have their memories formally recorded. These interviewees could be people who have worked on the Island’s railway or have memories of the days of steam, or who have been involved with the work of the IOWSR. The interviews will be recorded for posterity, archived in the Museum collections, used in Museum displays and on the IOWSR website. There will be opportunities for volunteers to be involved with interviewing – either to support Lisa during an interview or to conduct an interview themselves (with guidance and training in oral history interviewing which Lisa will provide). The interviews will most likely take place in the interviewee’s home. They will be between 1-3 hours in length (possibly over 2 sessions). They will be recorded using a digital audio recorder. The interviewee and interviewer are required to sign a recording agreement so that the interview is legal and ethical. At the time of the interview we will also scan any personal photos which interviewees might like to share which are relevant to the topics covered within their interview.  Each interview will need some planning and preparation in terms of questions and prompts for the interviewee. 

There will also be opportunities to be involved with the documentation of the interviews once they have been conducted – this may include transcribing and summarising interviews, scanning and cataloguing interviewees photographs related to their memories and digitising recording agreements. There may also be opportunities to be involved in helping share the content of the interviews with visitors and the local community in terms of the creation of new museum displays and inclusion onto the IOWSR website.

We hope that the project will provide some wonderful opportunities for engagement and we are very grateful for your interest and hopefully time and energy if you decide to volunteer.

Lisa will be the main contact for all activities during the course of the project. Please contact Lisa for any further information.



Good listening skills

Interest in social history

Documenting & cataloguing


  • Training provided
  • Volunteer induction
  • Volunteer Policy
  • Volunteers covered by insurance

When can I volunteer?

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
Morning No No No No No No No
Afternoon No No No No No No No
Evening No No No No No No No


The Railway Station
Main Road
Isle of Wight
PO33 4DS

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