In a special ceremony held on 4 November 2016, volunteers at The National Library of Wales were awarded for their work.
‘Helping us to Achieve’, the National Library of Wales’s scheme to expand access to Wales’ national archives by developing a cadre of skilled volunteers, has won the prestigious national Archive Volunteering Award for 2016. Sponsored by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) and sector partners, this annual award recognises outstanding work involving volunteers within an institutional archive service.
The judges said: ‘”Helping us to Achieve” was the stand-out nomination in a very strong field. In 2015-16 alone, 65 project volunteers took part in the scheme, volunteering the equivalent of over 1,000 days of their time. They completed 10 projects and tasks; another 10 are still in progress. 769 online volunteers also participated in “Cynefin”, a ground-breaking project to geo-reference Wales’s Tithe Maps. “Helping us to Achieve” has involved wide community collaboration and support, a diverse range of volunteers, and benefitted from professional archive staff support at the National Library, as well as top-management backing. The scheme has also delivered at an individual level: around 20% of the volunteers have moved on to paid employment.’
Said one volunteer on ‘Helping us to Achieve’: ‘Through the experience I have made friends with some lovely and like-minded people. This has given me a lot of confidence – I don’t feel intimidated by the workplace – I feel I belong.’
Said another: ‘I have completed nearly 3½ years of volunteering. During that time I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I like the general atmosphere of quiet and calmness. This is important to me because my epilepsy is mostly stress related. I am not sure if my new-found confidence is helping my epilepsy (but) my slight improvement in health is increasing my confidence.’
Linda Tomos, National Librarian of Wales added: ‘We are thrilled and honoured to receive this prestigious award. I am delighted that the strong partnership between our volunteers, staff and our supporting partners to make our national archives more accessible has been recognised as an exemplar. NLW is committed to developing this innovative approach which is actively helping people to improve their quality of life and obtain workplace skills as well as learning more about our culture and heritage.’