Celebrating our volunteers during National Volunteering Week (1 to 7 June 2023)

It’s National Volunteer Week and we wanted to give a big shout out and thanks to our amazing cohort of volunteers, without whom so much of our work just would not take place.

CIfA volunteers 

In 2022, over 230 people volunteered with CIfA by contributing their time and expertise through our 21 Area and Special Interest Groups, our Advisory Council, our Board of Directors, the Validation committee, the Registrations committee, consultation advisors and our CPD workshops. Our volunteers extend the reach and scope of our work, they ensure CIfA activities take place throughout the UK, and they help us make the right decisions as to the future direction of the Institute. 

Volunteering at CIfA allows industry professionals to be at the forefront of the latest discussion and participate in key decision making, actions that ultimately change the profession for the better. Whilst volunteering members can benefit from valuable CPD, networking opportunities and a powerful chance to contribute to the sector meaningfully.

Archaeologist Lucy Parker gives a fascinating and candid insight into what it’s like to volunteer with CIfA in the Archaeologist Magazine. With extensive survey and project management experience, Lucy has been active within the archaeological and geophysical sectors for over 15 years, and in 2016 joined CIfA’s Geophysics Special Interest Group committee. "I have been very fortunate to make so many new connections through the varied opportunities available to volunteers on CIfA Groups and Advisory Council, and am proud to now call many of those people my colleagues and friends," remarked Lucy.

Driven by feedback, Staff work behind the scenes to enhance CIfA's volunteering offer, which includes addressing the barriers to volunteering (like travel and care expenses, working hours and other commitments) and promoting more widely volunteer vacancies. As a membership organisation, CIfA is lead by member contributions and ideas and therefore widening access remains a key priority. 

Interested in getting involved but not sure where to start? Find inspiration on our Get Involved page or email us directly: Admin@archaeologists.net.

Benefits of volunteering within the Institute

Why get involved with volunteering with CIfA? Hear what some of our past and present volunteers have to say.




Community heritage volunteering 

There are huge benefits to volunteering – you get to meet new people, develop new skills and knowledge, you get to try something out for the first time. Heritage and archaeology attracts huge numbers of volunteers and many of us have either volunteered on a heritage project or worked with heritage volunteerson community projects. The impact that volunteers have on the heritage sector is significant – as highlighted in this study by Volunteer Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland. 

We have two great case studies in the Summer 2018 edition of the ‘The Archaeologist’ – The Tay Landscape Partnership (based in Perth and Kinross) and The Jigsaw Project (in Cambridgeshire). Sophie Nichol highlights the huge contribution volunteers made to the Tay Landscape Partnership, calling it ‘the power of people’ which resulted in previously unknown sites and 900 new artefacts being discovered and recorded through one aspect of the project. The same can be seen in Cambridgeshire – over 500 people volunteered with the Jigsaw Project over a five year period, which resulted in a new network of like-minded people who (through peer to peer support) share their skills and knowledge with old and new members of the network.  As the project co-ordinator says, the Jigsaw project “resulted in a huge number of people learning about and feeling empowered to participate in their own local heritage.” The Heritage Volunteering Group also have lots of case studies on their website – from how volunteers help drive inclusion and diversity at St Fagans to the Volunteering and Wellbeing Initiative ran by the Imperial War Museum North in Greater Manchester.  

When we create volunteering opportunities, we need to be mindful of the factors which could act as barriers for volunteers. These can include skill gaps, economic barriers (like travel expense, lack of access to equipment or appropriate clothing), caring responsibilities and self-confidence. Working with Volunteer Scotland, Dr James Davies completed an illuminating PhD on the barriers to Youth Volunteering in Deprived Areas. While it doesn’t look at heritage volunteering specifically, it can still help inform the development of opportunities for youth heritage volunteering and is well worth a read. 

Going further

There are plenty of ways volunteers can make a difference with archaeology organisations and projects.

If you are interested in creating space for volunteers in your work, the National Lottery Heritage Fund has guidance on their website for developing volunteer opportunities for your project.

If you are interested in volunteering within archaeology and based in the UK, there are many places to look:

  • The Council for British Archaeology have a list of ways you can get involved with them and local community archaeology, available on their website here.
  • If you are based in Scotland, Archaeology Scotland have a dedicated page to signpost community heritage projects across the country.
  • If you are based in Wales, CADW have a page about ways you can get involved with the organisation, which you can find here.
  • Many of our Registered Organisations also have volunteering roles. Availability and types of roles do vary, but enthusiasm will always be appreciated. You can find a Registered Organisation near you through our RO Map, found here.

Don’t forget – if you are interested in volunteering with CIfA – we would love to hear from you! Check out our page for different ways you can get involved, or email us directly: admin@archaeologists.net.