THIS week we are bringing our web readers attention to the volunteering side of the Wharf and the opportunities available whether you are a retiree looking to fill in some empty hours or someone younger looking for work experience.

There are a number of roles that periodically need filling plus of course you get to see bands live for free and other such performances! Ellie Hudson spoke to long term volunteer Wendy Cronin to ask her about her own experience of volunteering…

How long have you been volunteering at the Wharf and what attracted you to the role??I have been volunteering at the Wharf since January 2004. I had gone along with my husband to see a film and our first impressions were great. To have such a venue in a relatively small market town was phenomenal and quite unusual. On chatting to the duty manager that evening, they mentioned that they were looking for volunteers and as we were reasonably new to the area, I said I would be more than happy to get involved.

Not many people realise how much volunteering goes on. What sort of jobs do you do?

I think a lot of our regular customers realise that some of the staff are volunteers and we like to think we are a pretty vital part of the jigsaw that makes up the Wharf.

I personally started in the box office. I am fairly literate with computers and although the job isn’t too complex, a good basic knowledge is required.

The job also involves sales and therefore handling cash and using a card machine so I would say a certain degree of common sense is definitely required and anyone not used to handling a computer may find it a bit more of a challenge!

Volunteering at an arts centre is sometimes seen as an older person’s ‘thing’.Is it a mixed age range that volunteers there??In the time I’ve been helping out at the Wharf I think the age range has been fairly varied although maybe leaning to the retirement age because many younger people are already in employment or want to do a paying job.

In the box office I think it certainly helps to be a bit chatty to the customers and willing to answer all their questions. ?A lot of our volunteers only do box office, some do only stewarding and a lot do both.

Like myself, some are on the Friends of The Wharf (FOTW) Committee. I am the membership secretary and send out renewal reminders and then process and print new membership cards. Membership to FOTW offers good benefits including discount cinema tickets, some discounted gigs and live broadcasts, a discount in the coffee shop and of course discounted ticket prices at our ever popular Monday afternoon talks.

We have a fantastic chair of the FOTW committee in Dr Anne Pulsford and I would like to think we have all been instrumental into helping make day to day improvements within the building such as decorating, maintenance, etc with the help of the Friends subscriptions. 

How many hours a week do you do and is there a minimum amount you are expected to put yourself up for??Most of our box office and stewarding volunteers will do regular slots and some are available for fill ins. I don’t think we are expected to work a minimum number of hours but then again if you want to be involved it would be pointless to only come in once in a blue moon! ?Can you pick and choose the roles that you volunteer for or is it more of a blanket coverage where everyone chips in to what needs doing?

As far as deciding what a volunteer wants to do, it is of course helpful to know a bit about every job because there are times, holidays for example, when we could always do with an extra pair of hands.

What do you enjoy most??I love working at the Wharf and I love to do the box office. Most customers are very agreeable and enjoy a chat. We do get a lot of visitors as well and they too are very impressed with our set up. Angela Court (the proprietor) and all the permanent staff are very friendly and efficient and at every shift there will be a duty manager in attendance so help is always at hand!

What attributes would you say someone wanting to volunteer would need to be in possession of? ?Anyone wanting to volunteer would I am sure be most welcome. The training is good but as I said before a good solid knowledge of using a computer is nigh on essential for the box office. As far as stewarding, a volunteer would need to be fairly mobile especially as they will probably be up and down the auditorium stairs a few times and be able to deal with situations as they occur like helping to evacuate the building in the event of the fire alarm going off. Most importantly of all they must have a good rapport with the public.

Are you interested in volunteering? Just send an email to angelacourt@tavistockwharf with VOLUNTEERING in the subject box. Or if you don’t have access to a computer pop in and ask to speak to the duty manager.