At the London Museum of Water & Steam we have four values which we try to live out in everything we do. Helpful, Knowledgeable, Inclusive and Fun.
But how do you live those values in the middle of a global pandemic which has closed your Museum? For us it started with asking the question “who needs our help?” and the reply came from our local community and our local community groups.
For years, the Museum has been building relationships with community groups who work with children, young people, and adults with learning difficulties, in particular Autism. But during 2020 those relationship have grown and created new opportunities. Our Museum is a large, well ventilated space, making it the perfect place to meet for groups who need consistency, being able to get together whatever the weather.
With funding to open the building for community groups from the local authority, we were able to welcome back All Aboard Club, who support families with Autism. This wonderful group meet in spaces across London, but the Museum holds a special place for them, what could be better than building a train set, surrounded by our massive static steam engines!
Speak Out in Hounslow took advantage of the outdoor spaces for their adults, with volunteering in the gardening, crafts and even line dancing classes taking place every week. Through these groups contact was made with others, and soon Beyond Autism, who support families with early years children were also using both the inside spaces and outdoor spaces.
The ending of our café contract also gave us an opportunity to think about doing things differently. Instead of giving the space to another for profit company we have instead formed a partnership with Our Barn, a local charity who work with young people with learning difficulties, who will be delivering our café offer, using the café as a supported work placement for their young people.
As we head into 2021 we want to do more, with funding bids in for supported volunteering and more community work. We are working with the groups to still be able to host them now that we will be open.
So why have we developed such an interest in working with groups who support people with Autism? It’s partly our subject, which pulls visitors with Autism and special interests in trains and engines to the Museum, it’s the enthusiasm of us as a team being helpful where we can, and it’s our willingness to listen, learn, and share the Museum with those that need it and love it as much as we do.
Liz Power, Director, London Museum of Water & Steam
You can find out more about the London Museum of Water & Steam here – https://waterandsteam.org.uk/
You can find out more about the All Aboard Club here – https://www.allaboardclub.com/
You can find out more about Speak Out in Hounslow here – https://www.speakoutinhounslow.org/
You can find out more about Beyond Autism here – https://www.beyondautism.org.uk/
You can find out more about Our Barn here – https://www.ourbarn.org.uk/
Due to the Government announcement of 31st October 2020, the London Museum of Water & Steam are now required to close until 5th December at the earliest. Please check their website for updates.