Saturday, 26 May 2018

Tea And Cake Anyone?

What We're Doing For National Volunteers' Week

National Volunteers Week is an annual occasion where people who give up their time for free to organisations all over the UK are recognised for their efforts and the richness they add to their local communities.

Many organisations simply wouldn’t be able to run if it weren’t for the generosity of time and labour that the volunteering minded give. When we think of the voluntary sector we immediately think of people who work in charity shops and animal shelters, but there are a staggering number of ongoing projects which would be impossible to maintain without volunteers. From reading to people who have sight problems to the WRVS who help elderly people enjoy a productive and valuable social life.

Brighton Toy Museum, volunteers, language skills, ESOL, Travel, tourism
Learning Handy Rhyming Slang
Another sector that relies heavily on volunteers for its survival is the heritage sector. Many museums and galleries are independently run on incredibly narrow margins and wouldn’t be able to operate at all if it weren’t for the contribution that volunteers make. And Brighton Toy and Model Museum is no exception. Each year we take on volunteers and work experience candidates from the local area, and all over Europe. Our international volunteers work here as part of their tertiary education, getting real life experience working in a tourist venue, speaking English (and helping out immeasurably when our visitors share the same first language), making friends and making a valuable contribution to the running of the museum.

Give Your Time, Gain Valuable Skills

Our British volunteers add their many skills to the mix too, selling tickets, offering free tourist information, assisting in the archiving and cataloguing of the museum’s many thousands of exhibits, and getting involved with events such as Museums at Night, Brighton Festival Fringe, The Brighton Science Festival and the Sussex Rail Community Partnership. Even if it were possible to stay open without the help of our volunteers, it would be impossible for it to engage with the community and offer a fraction as much as it does. And National Volunteers’ Week is an opportunity to show our appreciation to the people whose work makes our work possible.

During National Volunteers’ Week every day will be tea and cake day for all of our helpers. Because most volunteers only come in on the same day every week, it’s quite possible for people who have been working here for ages to never meet other volunteers because they always work different days.  So we’re offering tea and cake to all of our volunteers every day. Drop in, enjoy some of Brighton’s finest pastry confections and finally get to meet a few of the other people who do so much to keep the heritage of play and childhood memories alive. How cool is that?

National Volunteers’ Week Goes from June 1st to June 7th. If you’ve got free time and you’d like to become a hero of the local community, why not see what volunteering can do for you?

Blog by Dan Cash, all opinions author's own.

Saturday, 19 May 2018

Why A Rainy Day Is A Great Reason To Do Indoor Things In Brighton

Summer means fun, summer means barbecues on the beach, shorts and bikini tops, sunbathing in the garden or park and long bike rides with friends.

Summer also means wet bank holidays, grey, windy weekends where the kids are stuck indoors and long summer holidays where you’re in charge of a houseful of people who are all looking at you for something to entertain them. Over the past few years we’ve all felt a little cheated; the weather in late spring has been fine so we’ve got ourselves all geared up for a great summer, only to find it wet and blustery.

We’re used to seeing front page headlines in the papers with their fanfares of scorching record summer temperatures accompanied by pictures of the Brighton seafront so crowded that it’s near impossible to move, but what about the legendary ‘miserable bank holiday weekend’ where the sun can barely push its face past the gloom and grey?

If you’ve got kids you’ll know how frustrating it is to have to keep them in when they’re busting to get out and do something, so why not think about some of the great things to do on a wet weekend in Brighton? If you’re coming from outside of town, hoping for sunshine and lollipops only to find it’s a day for hot soup and pacamacs, or you’re local but you’ve just stumped for thigs to do, why not take a look at some of these “off the beaten track” indoorsy things to do on a rainy day in Brighton?

First of all there’s the Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Located directly under the train station it’s easy to find without scampering about in the wet. The museum is home to thousands of individual exhibits which will bring back all kinds of memories of childhood and play. There are often many different things going on, such as running days where many rare model trains can be seen racing about the tracks. Activity packs are available to inspire children to explore and get much more out of the exhibits. It also has a tourist information point in the foyer so you can ask for tips on where to go and plan what to do next.

Brighton also has dozens of galleries. Just down the street from Brighton Toy and model Museum you will find Dynamite Gallery where you can see superb work by some of the best contemporary local artist. “Best contemporary local artists” might not mean much in many places, but in Brighton where there is such a vibrant artistic community, fed by universities and colleges with excellent art programmes, you can be sure they will be very good indeed. Just around the corner is Onca, a gallery dedicated to work that highlights environmental issues by featuring exhibits and events produced by people who are dedicated to bringing about progressive change. Then there are BozBoz Gallery which again is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary modern art and Phoenix Gallery which not only exhibits art by local artists, but provides more than 100 studio spaces where they can work, meaning that there is never any shortage of the finest painting, sculpture, design and textile work on display.
If you’re in Brighton with the kids, they might not be so interested in looking at art, so why not take them to the trampoline park or for an afternoon’s lasertag?

Located just outside Brighton is Sussex’s Skyhigh trampoline park which a variety of different packages for adults and children depending on the size and ages of the groups. They also offer fitness and toning classes as well as quieter sessions for children who prefer to bounce without whistles and music.

Brighton’s Laserzone is at the bottom of the street straight down from the train station and just across the road from the beach. Themed on a crashed spaceship which is surrounded by a hostile environment and even more hostile enemies, the venue caters for individuals, small or large groups, even corporate events. 

If you’re the kind of person who’s more interested in making friends with creatures from another world, how about the Sealife Centre? There are many beautiful creatures bobbing about, including phenomenally huge spider crabs, massive sharks, and black pacu. There are also little rays and starfish who will shake your hand and octopus who are said to be as clever as your pet dog. (But they never come when you whistle.)

Regency Town House is a fascinating restoration of a terraced house which has been brought back to its original grandeur. It’s a peek behind the doors of history, celebrating not only the experiences of the wealthy and powerful, but the realities of lives lived by the more humble members of society. Part of what they do is ‘Period Cooking’ using recipes and ingredients which would have been available to Brightonians in the time of the Prince Regent.

If you’re down in Brighton during the Brighton Festival and Brighton Festival Fringe you’ll find many of the parks and open spaces have theatres, stalls and all kinds of events set up for your entertainment. As well as this, there are many shows in theatres, bars, streets and then there’s the Artists’ Open Houses. A great opportunity to see art and sculpture that artists have created displayed in homes, cafes, and galleries throughout the city. Also a great opportunity to snoop around people’s homes, if you like that kind of thing. You’ll need to go online or pick up a listings paper to find out what’s going on as there are so many events it’s impossible to keep track.