MacMillan oral histories volunteer

Role title:  Oral History Volunteer


What does the oral history service do?

The oral history service gives people affected by a life threatening illness the chance to make a life history recording – talking about things that have happened during their life and their thoughts and memories.  Remembering in this way can help people think about their identities at a time when their lives are changing rapidly. Recordings are made in an interview session involving a trained oral history interviewer and an interviewee. The interviewer guides the session, listening and asking questions to prompt memory. A CD copy of the recording is made after the interview and given to the interviewee. Recordings are stored securely copies are available for family and friends with the patient’s permission.


What would I do as a volunteer?

Following recruitment (including a criminal records check) and training volunteers can be involved in all aspects of the oral history process:

  • talking to patients and their families about the oral history service
  • arranging and conducting interviews with someone affected by cancer
  • using digital recording equipment
  • managing digital data and records
  • transcribing and summarising recordings

What skills and abilities do I need?

All volunteers need some existing skills:

  • good communication/social skills
  • reliable, sensitive and tactful
  • able to work independently without constant supervision
  • able to use a computer

How much time should I offer?

This role requires a flexible time commitment depending on the requirements of the people we support although most interviews take place during weekday office hours. Ideally volunteers should be able to offer a 12 month commitment of at least half a day per fortnight.


What will I learn?

Volunteers will learn more about:

  • oral history methods
  • interviewing techniques
  • communication
  • using digital equipment
  • data storage and ethics

What training and support is available?

We provide:

  • an induction session
  • oral history training
  • ongoing support
  • opportunities to attend oral history events (i.e. organised by the Oral History Society)
  • access to emotional support

What else should I know?

  • You will be based at the project office, Northmoor Community Centre, 95-97 Northmoor Road, Longsight, Manchester. M12 5RT
  • For interviews in the community you will need to be able to travel using either your own vehicle or public transport.
  • Volunteers’ out-of-pocket expenses will be reimbursed within agreed guidelines
  • As you will be in contact with vulnerable adults, this role requires an enhanced DBS disclosure (police check).
  • As the role involves dealing with memories and emotions most volunteers will be at least 1 year post cancer diagnosis or bereavement.
  • The role involves significant amounts of administration and behind the scenes work – please make sure that this is going to meet your expectations from a volunteer role.

Job Title – Volunteer Oral Historian

Responsible to Project Lead Volunteer


Main Duties and Responsibilities-

  1. Recruiting interviewees and publicising the service in relevant places such as hospitals, hospices, day care centres
  2. Making initial contact with interested interviewees, providing them with information about the project and arranging interview dates for recording
  3. Conducting high quality oral history interviews following established procedures
  4. Ensuring all the necessary paperwork related to making recordings are completed correctly, handled sensitively  and stored safely
  5. Ensure interviewees are dealt with in a tactful manner and their recordings are  handled sensitively complying with the Data Protection Act and in accordance with Oral History Society legal and ethical advice:
  6. Maintaining and using  the recording equipment appropriately
  7. Assisting with the downloading and copying of the recordings on CDs when needed
  8. Attending relevant training
  9. Attending the monthly team meeting


Job Title – Volunteer Administrator

Responsible to Project Lead Volunteer


Main Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Downloading and copying recordings on CDs
  2. Ensuring the recordings’ CDs and paperwork are filed appropriately and safely
  3. Transcribing recordings
  4. Ensuring recordings’ transcription data are filed appropriately and safely
  5. Ensuring recordings’ data are handled sensitively complying with the Data Protection Act
  6. Setting up and maintaining an efficient filing system and ensure an active archiving system is set up and maintained
  7. Undertaking routine admin duties such as photocopying and filing
  8. Maintaining and ordering stationery stock
  9. Attending relevant training
  10. Attending the monthly team meeting






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