Visitors benefit from museum and Seetec partnership
A community project which has benefited the long term unemployed and enhanced a museum is continuing for a second winter season.
The Museum of East Anglia Life is based in Stowmarket, Suffolk. It specialises in presenting the agricultural history of East Anglia through a mixture of exhibits and living history demonstrations. It has over 50 years’ experience working with partner organisations, local communications and volunteers, including providing workplace experience and training for a range of people including those who are unemployed.
Seetec and the Museum of East Anglian Life have previously worked together, and in 2015 they agreed to work together again to provide a project to enhance the prospects for the long term unemployed. The Meal project was born and it began to receive its first customers in September 2015. The aim was to enhance people’s prospects of gaining employment and to get ‘fit for work’. For the museum, it was to enhance the visitor experience.
Seetec customers worked in small teams and undertook work in repairing, decorating, tidying up, maintenance, landscaping of green areas, conservation work, setting up a wood workshop and making wooden garden furniture. Earlier this year, the MEAL Project helped the museum to open its doors for their first ‘discovery day’ of the season with positive feedback from the public;
“It’s the best I’ve seen the museum in many years!”
“The site looks amazing, a great example of working together.”
“Praise has to be passed to all at Seetec for their time, hard work and diligences in making the site look so good”.
To date, the project has provided work experience for over 98 customers. Feedback from customers has resulted in 80% feeling that they are much more active, 80% feel better about themselves, 75% have enjoyed working as part of a team and 75% have benefited from connecting with other people.
Nigel Hodges, customer on Work Programme had been unemployed since 2014 and was having trouble finding work as he lacked work experience and a reference. Nigel joined a small ‘Paint and restore team’ undertaking jobs such as cleaning, painting and conservation.
Nigel thoroughly enjoyed his time on the project and said “The project involved working in a team so I have met some new people, and enjoyed my time with them and also lost some weight”.
Richard Couldridge, Seetec’s Project Supervisor said “This project is a fantastic example of the museum staff, Seetec staff and volunteers working together to make an impact on the long term unemployed and at the same time enhancing the museum visitor experience. I’ve chosen the name MEAL for the Project as it has a synergy with the museum. For the Project, it means; Motivating, Employability, Activity and Lifestyle”.