Did you know that Student Volunteering Week is currently taking place from 7 to 13 February 2022? Each year, thousands of students across the country volunteer with a variety of charities and organisations to help learn new skills, gain valuable work experience and meet new people.

As our Visitor Engagement Officer, Owen Towndrow, is responsible for welcoming groups and visitors to the cathedral as well as overseeing our amazing team of volunteers. Owen, also volunteered as a student to help prepare for a career in the Heritage sector.

Below, Owen explains how his experiences of volunteering helped him to secure his new role as Visitor Engagement Officer here at Hereford Cathedral earlier in the year:

"Volunteering, regardless of the industry and/or sector can be fundamental in the way we build skills that will help us during our education or employment. For me, being aware of the competitive nature of finding a job in the heritage sector motivated me into volunteering from the age of 15. I think that volunteering can open so many doors for people looking for a job in a variety of different sectors.

My volunteering journey started in the National Museum of Wales working in their archives and doing conservation. This led me to create valuable relations with curators and conservators who I have been able to use as references for job applications. In 2018 I began a bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Winchester. During my studies I began volunteering at Winchester Cathedral working as a steward in their new exhibition. Volunteering there gave me an insight into how a cathedral, both a place of worship and tourist attraction, is managed and organised.

Volunteering at the National Museum of Wales and at Winchester Cathedral have given me the understanding of how different parts of the heritage sector are managed. Being a Visitor Engagement Officer at Hereford Cathedral now gives me the opportunity to use the skills I have gained since I was 15. Having these transferable skills from volunteering have given me more experience for jobs applications and interviews, key job references and a wider awareness of how the sector I now work is managed."

We are always on the look out for new volunteers here at Hereford Cathedral and would love to hear from any students currently looking for volunteering experience. We offer a range of opportunities from visitor facing placements to educational visit guides and also more behind the scenes administrative roles.

If you, or any students you work with, are interested in finding out more please get in touch with Owen for an informal discussion via [email protected] or call 01432 374 202.