As the title and Bon Jovi so nicely put it I am now half way (and a bit) through my Collection Management Traineeship here at Gressenhall. You’ll be pleased to know at this point the Bon Jovi references stop as there doesn’t seem fitting lyrics to describe how much of a mad, but strangely pleasant trip it has been. It started with an opportunity and that’s kind of what this blog post is going to be about. Opportunities: mine and those of the people in the workhouse since way back when. How opportunities change lives.
Let’s start with mine. Before I joined the Gressenhall team I was unemployed and nearly house bound with mental health issues. My first opportunity came in the form of an email. The second was getting the job itself. This gave me a sense of belonging. I became a valued member of a team and a museum professional, something I never thought I’d be. The opportunity to go to countless conferences and meet inspiring, talented and challenging people. The chance to find out what I wanted to be in the museum world.
Opportunities for people in the workhouse came in much simpler forms. A new set of workhouse clothes that made them feel like they belonged somewhere. Lessons in sewing and domestic service that girls received. Training in trades like hat making and tailoring that boys received. Apprenticeships to enable them to earn a wage for the rest of their days. Or even the opportunity to knit scarves and socks for the armed forces at Christmas. This task was given to the old and infirm of the workhouse.
These simple, probably small things changed lives. Like that small email changed mine, all for the better. This doesn’t really have a point to it but I think what I’m trying to say is we should not dismiss or bat aside the small opportunities that come along in life, but like those inmates in the workhouse we should grab and hold onto each small chance with both hands.