Volunteering helps to change the lives of Wales & West Housing residents

Colin Wilcock and Richard Allum at Holywell Museum

A community museum is helping to change the lives of its team of volunteers.

Holywell Area Community Museum opened in 2019, bringing the former King’s Head and Wales & West Housing office building on Holywell High Street, Flintshire, back into use.

It was created out of a local interest group’s passion for creating a community cafe and exhibition space where local history could be documented. however, it was setback when the pandemic forced it to close temporarily.

Since reopening, volunteers Colin Wilcock and Richard Allum, both Wales & West Housing residents, have become familiar faces to visitors to the museum.

“I feel good that I’m working here. Volunteering gives me a reason to leave the house and has made my life much more interesting.”

Colin Wilcock, Volunteer

The experience they’ve gained serving customers in the cafe and providing support to museum staff has boosted their skills and confidence.

Richard said: “Volunteering at the museum gets me out of the house and talking to people and has helped me with my mental health.

“I’ve learnt some interesting things about the history of Holywell too just from being here and talking to people who come into the museum.”

Colin said: “I feel good that I’m working here. Volunteering gives me a reason to leave the house and has made my life much more interesting. If I wasn’t here, I’d be bored at home. It’s good to get up and out and doing things.”

Holywell Area Community Museum was formed through a partnership between Wales & West Housing, which owns the building, Holywell Town Council and the King’s Head Community Interest Company.

Exhibitions focus on local history

It is home to five rooms showcasing different aspects of the history of Holywell and the surrounding area.

These include an exhibition about the Point of Ayr Colliery in Talacre, a ‘living room’ containing household items from past decades, a community room and a school room which documents the history of education in Holywell.

It also has a chapel room which contains items from the former Hebron Chapel, which was located in nearby Mostyn.

Members of the old congregation at the church have been to visit and the space has been blessed by local church leaders.

The museum has become a focal point for the community, hosting bingo, craft groups, friendship group, knit and natter and Welsh classes.

Manager Jodie Bennett said: “Like in many areas of the country after Covid it took time for some people in Holywell to feel confident about getting out and about again and for a few of our customers, the museum was the first place they visited. It’s been really important for the community.

“Wales & West Housing have been absolutely fantastic. They own the building and help to maintain it and are so supportive of the museum and what we are doing here.

“Colin and Richard have been a massive help, and we have helped them too. Being here, working with us and speaking to customers has given them a lot of confidence.
Jodie Bennett, Holywell Area Community Museum Manager

“Seeing how much the museum has grown, seeing how we are helping the community and seeing the positive impact which it has had on Colin and Richard, I think it’s fantastic. It makes me proud to work here.”

Volunteer helps with day-to-day running of the museum

Sue Johnson retired 10 years ago and moved to live near Holywell with her husband.

Not yet feeling ready to give up work completely, she started volunteering in her spare time and now supports manager Jodie with the day-to-day running of the museum.

“I came into the museum one day and was quite taken in by it,” said Sue. “And I’ve been here ever since. The whole experience of working here has been really exciting, it’s a real joy and pleasure to be here. It’s definitely a challenge but when things come together and happen it’s amazing.

“The museum is crucial for Holywell, it gives a focus for the community.”

• Holywell Area Community Museum is open Monday to Friday 10am-3pm and Saturday 10am to 1pm

Andrew Price 07881 379 098 Andrew is our PR & Marketing Officer for North Wales