Working at the Discovery Museum: Michael’s Case Study

Michael has been working at the Discovery Museum since March 2023 and has been loving it. See what he does there and how Tyne and Wear Archives and Museum's have helped along the way.

Above photo: Michael litter picking outside the Discovery Museum  


Supporting young people with SEND into work experience can require a little more effort to ensure both the student and employer are comfortable and understand how they can overcome any challenges they may face, which is why Hedleys Beyond team are delighted to be working with Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) at the Discovery Museum.  From our initial contact with TWAM in December 2022 it was clear to see how keen they were to improve their knowledge of the challenges people with disabilities face, and to work with the Percy Hedley Foundation to offer work experience and volunteer opportunities.

The Beyond team delivered a Disability Awareness session for TWAM staff where several Hedleys College students spoke of their own experiences of living with a disability and what small changes can be made to better support them in their day to day lives.  As a result of this session a small group of students and Horizon members were invited to take part in a group volunteering project which saw four young adults take on the role of welcome host, meeting and greeting participants in an event hosted by the museum.  This was an excellent opportunity for our young people to show TWAM exactly what they were capable of and shone a spotlight on the often-overlooked skills of disabled people.

Above photo: Michael in the army exhibit, wearing an army hat.


In January 2023, we met with Jacob an Administrative Assistant at the Discovery Museum to discuss an opportunity for work experience within their team.  The role was to assist with housekeeping duties, primarily the laundering of the dressing up clothes and litter picking.  From this meeting a job advert was put together, highlighting the skills and qualities needed for the role; they were looking for someone who could follow instructions and be part of a team, interested in cleaning and keen to work both indoors and outdoors.  The role was advertised across all the Percy Hedley sites and post-16 students and members were encouraged to apply if they were interested in the role.  An application was received from Michael, a Hedleys College student, who had shown a keen interest in the role.  An informal interview was arranged for Michael, to visit the museum and meet Jacob and Volunteers Coordinator Jenny.  Jacob was extremely impressed with Michael, saying he was ‘absolutely fantastic’ during his interview.

Part of the recruitment process involved a visit to the Discovery Museum to conduct a Health & Safety risk assessment to ensure a safe working environment, a personal risk assessment for Michael considering his needs as a young deaf man, as well as a Three-Way Contract which sets out in writing what each party commits to, to ensure a successful placement.  This was signed by Michael, Jenny from the Volunteer Coordinators team at the Discovery Museum and a member of the Hedleys Beyond team.

Michael has been in post since March 2023 and is doing fantastic work for the museum; as well as his laundry and litter picking duties, he has been involved in visitor counts, clearing out a back-office storage space and making judgements as to what resources to keep and what can be recycled.  When asked if they would like to keep Michael on in the new academic year, Jacob said ‘We’d be absolutely delighted to have Michael back in September. He’s been fantastic in the role and a really big help.’  Dave, Michael’s support worker, commented that ‘Michael loves his work experience at the Discovery Museum. It really feels like he’s becoming one of the crew now.’

Views on his position

See what both Michael and Jacob have to say about Michael's work at the Discovery Museum

You can see more of Michael’s adventures at the Discovery Museum both below and on social media.

Thanks again to Jacob, the Discovery Museum, and Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums for their support, as well as Michael’s support worker Dave for supporting Michael as he does such a fantastic job.