National Trust is struggling to attract a new generation of volunteers to its stately homes

    national trust, volunteers
    Volunteer room guide in the Drawing Room at Cragside, Northumberland.
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    The National Trust is re-imagining how it uses its 60,000 army of volunteers – which could include leaving some rooms in its stately homes unmanned.

    The trust’s volunteers are traditionally drawn from the retired population but it is becoming more difficult to recruit helpers because today’s older people are too busy travelling or babysitting, said Dame Helen Ghosh, the director-general of the trust.

    The conservation charity is powered by 7,000 permanent staff and 60,000 volunteers. Many of them handle maintenance or keep an eye on rare paintings and furniture on display to the public, and as tour guides. They often have extensive knowledge about the properties they work in.

    Volunteers for the trust have declined from 70,500 three years ago to 62,000 last year.

    It said it hoped a new generation would come on board as volunteers but, in reality, expected the situation to get worse. The trust said it was developing “more flexible” models for how it uses its volunteers, including more flexible working patterns to fit around people’s packed lives.

    Photo Credit: National Trust Images/Arnhel de Serra

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