The New Room in Broadmead has launched a campaign to let people know about new opportunities for volunteers at its new visitor centre.
The visitor centre is proving a real magnet for tourists. This means the current team have their hands full coping with people wanting to see both the ancient chapel and the new facilities.
One of Bristol’s most historically important sites
The building, which was built in 1739, is the oldest Methodist chapel in the world. It is also known as John Wesley’s Chapel, after the man who built it.
It was used by early Methodists as a meeting place for education and prayer, as well as providing food and medical care to the poorer members of the community. The Chapel was the starting point for the Methodist Church which now has over 75 million members across the globe.
The new state-of-the-art heritage museum and historically important archive centre was officially opened by HRH The Duke of Gloucester on 13 July 2017. It was partly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and took 18 months to build.
Husband and wife team Mike and Pam Blackwell signed up to join the New Room’s volunteers in the spring. They now enjoy supporting visitors in a variety of ways.
The couple, who have been based together in Yatton since 1985, decided they would like a volunteering opportunity they could do together.
They can now be found at the New Room every Thursday morning. Mike often welcomes visitors to the Chapel itself while Pam works in the café and bookshop.
Mike says: “Although we’ve not been volunteering at the New Room for long, we already feel like valued members of the team and we’re really enjoying the variety our roles offer.”
Pam adds: “I’ve worked as a volunteer in cafés before, so am very happy to work in the New Room’s lovely new café and also behind the till in the bookshop.
“It’s a really exciting time to be involved because of the newly-opened facilities here. We’re very much enjoying meeting visitors of all nationalities and faiths. They are always so impressed by what they see here.”
Can you help?
Community engagement officer Louise Wratten co-ordinates the volunteers.
She says: “We’re still keen to recruit more people so we can make sure a proper welcome is always available in all areas of the New Room. We’re especially eager to encourage more young people to become involved.
“Volunteers do not need to be Methodist, Christian or any faith to volunteer. They’ll find the New Room provides a very interesting volunteer environment. All we want is people who are friendly, welcoming and keen to learn new information and skills.”
There are opportunities for involvement at various levels with the degree of commitment up to the individual.