Exploitation From the Heritage Sector Hits New Low

Posted on July 8, 2014


My heart goes out to everyone working in the Heritage Sector i.e. museums, art galleries, archaeology, etc. Projects are underfunded, there is never enough money, and pay can be poor for some. I have worked for, and with, dozens of heritage organizations on countless projects and I know how much everyone depends on volunteers and volunteer work. The sector could not run with out the support of volunteers and people volunteering their time. We truly could not function without the good will of others.

The Dark Side

Unfortunately, as with anything, people can be taken advantage of when volunteering. Many Museums, Heritage sites, Archaeology Organizations, etc.  do everything in their power to make volunteering both fun and productive e.g. you get skills out of the work. However, there is always a minority who use volunteering, and things like internships, to exploit free labor. Sam Hardy has done an excellent job cataloging and exposing some of the worst offenders at (un)free archaeology.

The really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really,  Dark Side

I still believe that 99% of volunteering is a good thing. However, today my faith in heritage organizations to ensure they are not exploiting people’s good will was shaken. Today I saw that The National Trust,  who ‘care(s) for historic houses, gardens, mills, forests, castles, miles of coastline, islands, 61 pubs and inns, whole villages and even a goldmine’ had put up a ‘internship advert’ for a “Cider and Apple Intern“.

What would your hours be?

’24 hours per week for 3 months from September to December 2014.’

Yes- your internship would take up more than a part-time job. What would your working pattern be?

‘The work pattern can be flexible with days and hours to suit the harvesting programme with a 30minute break for lunch.  Some occasional weekend work will be required.’

What would you do? Here are some of your duties-


  • Supporting at events, promoting and selling apple juice and cider
  • Harvesting the crop
  • Planning the movement of apples to be pressed and bottled for juice
  • Assisting with the processing and pressing of apples for cider
  • Working across South Somerset’s orchards with volunteers and staff
  • Assisting with stock control and distribution to property outlets
  • Participating in volunteer training and if requested, in the training of other volunteers.
  • Giving any other appropriate assistance in relation to the project/role as may be reasonably requested

Yes- you are readying that correctly. You would pick and process apples as an intern. What skills would you pick up in this job?

‘This year we need someone to work with the Pommelier to assist with the 2014 harvest of apples and subsequent production of apple juice and cider from the crop to enable you to gain the knowledge to organise the October event. So, not only are you having an apple intensive 3 months, you will also have the opportunity to coordinate and manage a specific event and demonstrate organisational skills to future employers.”

You get to organize Apple Day. Which in defense of The National Trust is an internship opportunity. I can see great skills coming out of the chance to run such an event. BUT that occurs in October which means you spend 3 months picking fruit, most of it after the event, with no skills training or pay, to get the chance to again work for free and to host a one day event. Who does the National Trust think this role would be suitable for?

(Those that) ‘have a long term interest in the work of the National Trust and heritage sector”

So just to recap, if you are interested in Heritage you should pick apples for 3 days (8.5 hours) a week for three months (possibly on weekends as that is required) to get the chance to host Apple Day which occurs at the beginning of the internship. All while donating your time for free.

I don’t think there is anything else I can add to this topic………………



Posted in: Uncategorized