Telling Tales and Talking Trails

‘Digital volunteers’ for Preston Manor

Update 17 May 2022: we have received lots of interest in this opportunity and have now closed to applicants. However, we will be running another digital volunteering project this autumn at Brighton Museum.

If you would like to make an early expression of interest for this, please email kevin.bacon@rpmt.org.uk.

What is Telling Tails and Talking Trails all about?

Telling Tales and Talking Trails (TTTT) is a new project that will bring the voices and experiences of ‘digital volunteers’ into our museums, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Over the course of 2022 we’ll be inviting people aged 16+ to help us create a new digital guides for Preston Manor and Brighton Museum. TTTT will be chance to learn new skills, meet new people and shake up the visitor experience in our museums.

What’s happening at Preston Manor?

For this strand of TTTT we’re looking for people to help us create the content for a new digital audio guide for Preston Manor.

Front (north) side of Preston Manor. CREDIT: Royal Pavilion & Museums, Brighton & Hove

Preston Manor is an Edwardian country house jam-packed with intriguing stories, from the family and guests living upstairs to the servants who ran the house and gardens. It also has an uncanny reputation as a haunted house, with mysterious phenomena reported from the 1890s to the present day.

At present, most visitors to the house don’t get to hear these stories. So we’re following the model of the successful Royal Pavilion audio guide and building a new tour for Preston Manor. By simply loading up a web app on their mobile phone, visitors will be able to explore the house and listen in to its history.

But we don’t want to make a traditional audio guide, where we tell you what we think is important about the manor. We want to bring new perspectives to the guide, by inviting you to tap into our knowledge and help us create a unique and innovative way of telling stories in an historic house.

What will taking part in the TTTT project involve?

As a TTTT volunteer you will be part of a team of around 10 people creating the guide. Roles will include:

  • Story design
  • Scriptwriting
  • Interviewing staff
  • Audio recording and editing

You’ll be trained and supported in learning these skills by professional experts led by Dr Craig Jordan-Baker, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Brighton.

Volunteers may choose to specialise in one or more of the roles, while others may wish to explore several different aspects of the project. TTTT is an opportunity for you to learn as well as help us create something new, so we will do our best to accommodate your needs and interests.

What are the questions you always want museums to answer but they never do? This is your chance to change that.

Where will TTTT take place?

Most of this strand of TTTT will take place at Preston Manor. It is possible that some  things can done at home, college or elsewhere. We will loan computer and recording equipment to support this where necessary.

How much of my time will TTTT take?

This is a short-term project running from late May to September 2022. How much time you spend on the project will depend on your own needs and interests. It could be just a couple of hours per week, or you may really want to get your teeth into a topic or activity.

We certainly don’t expect you to commit to TTTT through the whole duration of the project – you could simply try your hand at something for a few weeks.

We also recognise that as TTTT is running over the summer, you may already have holiday commitments. We’ll schedule the activities around these breaks.

Who is managing TTTT?

TTTT will be managed by staff from the Royal Pavilion & Museums Trust. Although external specialists will lead many of the training and creative sessions, a member of RPMT staff will be responsible for supporting and looking after our volunteers.

Our Volunteer Manager [pending outcome of an organisational restructure] will also be available to discuss any issues that may arise on a one-to-one basis. We will ensure that all volunteering environments and practices meet health and safety requirements.

What will you get from TTTT?

You will have a chance to try your hand at something new and meet new people. This will be a fun project that will only take a few weeks to complete but will enable you to make a long-lasting contribution to the history of Brighton.

We will provide training on all aspects of the activities. If you wish to use this experience to improve your employment prospects or career ambitions, we will happily supply a reference for future job applications.

We will also reimburse you for the cost of travel for those living within ten miles of Preston Manor (an area roughly stretching from Worthing to Lewes, and north to Burgess Hill). We will provide refreshments while you are on site, and a light lunch for anyone who may be with us for more than half a day.

Do I need to know a lot about technology to become a ‘digital volunteer’?

Confidence in using digital technology will be useful, but a keen interest in history and the ability to spot a good story are more important. We’ll train you in the skills you need, but some things can be completed without using a computer.

While experience is not essential, if you have existing skills with digital software or hardware that you think may be useful, please let us know.

How do I get involved?

If you would like to apply to be a TTTT volunteer, please send an expression of interest to Kevin Bacon, Digital Manager, at kevin.bacon@rpmt.org.uk. All we initially need is a short paragraph explaining why you would be interested in contributing to this project.

You can also get in touch with Kevin if you would simply like to find out more.