Becky Cund: Museums Change Lives

Transformers case study
The Transformers programme has transformed not only a significant aspect of my museum but also me personally.

As someone who at the point of applying for Transformers had been in the sector just 18 months, I was looking for a personal development course that firstly let me do it (many ask for 3-5 years sector experience) but one that was about something different and could be applied to any area of the charity.

My project was connected access. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) reopened its doors to Shakespeare’s last home, New Place, in August 2016. This was the first SBT property that was fully accessible to the physically disabled, which is a monumental change for the trust.

My Transformers project took this a step further and has worked towards making the site fully accessible to people with special educational needs and also those with dementia.

The project has piloted various changes in the visitor offer to really welcome people living with special educational needs or dementia and make their experience equal to that of an individual without a disability.

The project has delivered above and beyond my own and the trust’s expectations with simple but really impactful changes that we now have a plan to roll out across our four other properties.

We have put in two funding bids for this work and are just waiting on their outcome before we plan our project timeline.

Since embarking on my Transformers journey we have set up an access panel, hosted our first ever Disabled Access Day, and launched our memory box scheme.

We have created access leaflets for Anne Hathaway's Cottage and for New Place, and partnered with Widgit the leading symbol supported provider to provide symbol supported visitor information and also provide the same on our website.

Our wonderful volunteers have designed and delivered a number of "welcome for all" training sessions for over 60 people and five more sessions are already booked in.

This has been hugely popular. We have three dementia champions trained and they in turn have trained over 80 staff and volunteers as dementia friends.

This has led to the Dementia Friends organisation saying that we can call New Place a Dementia Friendly Venue on the literature, and we secured sponsorship for a "quiet space" in the New Place garden, which was built for us by volunteers from a local company.

All in all, I cannot recommend the Transformers programme enough.

A lot of the work I have described was inspired by my colleagues on the programme, contacts at their museums, and visits to their sites. I now have my own large network of people who I can call on, work with and learn from. I know it would not have happened without the MA Transformers programme.

Becky Cund is the director of human resources and administration at The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon