Real Happiness


Volunteering at the Museum of East
Volunteering at the Museum of East
Anglian Life – driving a steam engine

Volunteers play an important role at the Museum of East Anglian Life. The museum has over 170 volunteers; they run the steam engines, look after the museum grounds, help with events and much more. Museum volunteers put in 39,000 volunteer hours every year.

In 2000 the Suffolk Association of Voluntary Organisations (SAVO) conducted an impact assessment of the Voluntary Sector in Suffolk. The survey covered 2,700 organisations.


The key findings of the survey were:

  • Almost all voluntary organisations have been established for more than six years, and over 70% for 15 years or more.
  • The highest proportion of voluntary organisations work in the areas of Community Care, Education, and Sport and Leisure. Almost half work with children, young people and families.
  • Volunteers in Suffolk work equivalent to 7,000 full time workers at a value of at least £60 million per annum.
  • Three quarters of volunteers are over 36 years of age, and almost three quarters work part-time. The voluntary workforce is equivalent to the number of people employed in manufacturing in Suffolk.

This information was published as part of the State of Suffolk Profile available at

Volunteering at the Museum of East
Volunteering at the Museum of East
Anglian Life – planting hanging baskets
From the SAVO survey it is clear that there are many organisations and individuals across Suffolk that are working towards a more socially sustainable community. Some of those volunteers work in Polstead Village Shop, the first community shop in Suffolk and the fourth in England. The shop is owned and run on a not for profit basis by a team of two to three dozen volunteers from the village.

This exhibition is part of a wider sustainability project delivered through the Rural Museums East Partnership. It is funded by Renaissance East of England.

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