A Year as a Community Engagement Trainee

5th September 2019

Our latest blog features a round up by Charley Murfitt of her year as a Community Engagement Trainee at Palace House.

For the past year I’ve been a Community Engagement trainee here at Palace House as part of the Suffolk Museums’ ‘Transforming People to Transform Museums’ programme which is funded through the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s ‘Skills for the Future’ initiative. As my traineeship is coming to a close I wanted to reflect on my time here; what I’ve learnt and the experiences it has given me.

After coming out of full time education straight into a 9 to 5, it was a big change. I spent a week or so getting to grips with the vast site, and the wonderful people who help to run it. Then I hit the ground running.


My first project was a twitter campaign. If anyone can remember back to our skating exhibition, the Palace House Marketing Manager, Emily Davey, and I created a series of tweets promoting the exhibition from November through until February. Whilst the campaign was running I was busy learning about learning; here at Palace House we run workshops for schools and I’ve been lucky enough to be able to help with quite a few over the last ten months including ‘Under Starters Orders’, an education project with industry linked stakeholders which lasted the whole of June.   As we rotate our workshops and will do the same one multiple times throughout the year or the day this allows for a lot of self-evaluation and reflection as you can change and improve how you deliver the workshop each time. This was really helpful for me as a trainee as it allowed me to be constantly improving and reflecting on my work.

Throughout the year, I have worked on activities for our younger visitors in the half term and the holidays. We started off with a winter theme of skating with youngsters colouring in winter attire and older visitors creating their own ice rink and skaters. We then moved on to Easter themed activities; this was my first time working directly with volunteers which was a hugely valuable experience for me. Since these activities, I have worked with Gabrielle Bell, our Education Officer, to create permanent activities for our younger visitors which involved sourcing materials, referring to our budget and time frame. I found was good practice in working within time constraints towards a goal that would benefit our visitors’ experience.

frankel-headcollar Charley with Frankel's head collar

Around February, I started to help with work on our new permanent exhibition about breeding champion racehorses. This was a change of pace and a change of daily work for me; it was challenging but exciting to be working on a large project with our curatorial team. It involved a large amount of organisation and ‘savvy’ in order to complete it on time. Although hard work, it was a worthwhile and rewarding experience from start to finish.

My last project was the Summer of Science which ran from 20 July until 1 September. I helped various members of the curatorial team with the putting together of our ‘studio lab’, activities room and with the workshops. Much like the breeder’s gallery, while a challenge at times, it was rewarding to see it come together.

We are delighted to be part of a programme which aims to support local people to learn on the job in a museum environment while developing transferable skills. We have benefited enormously from having a fresh perspective from a young person just setting out on their career.’ said Hazel Courtley, Community Engagement Manager.

Furthermore, the ‘Transforming People to Transform Museums’ programme continues until 2021. We have already recruited two new trainees to start in October and will be offering two more one-year traineeships to start in autumn 2020.


Blog by Charley Murfitt, Community Engagement Trainee.


If you enjoyed this blog and would like to learn more about the fascinating history of horse racing, why not visit Palace House, Newmarket. Tickets here