Scottish Working People's History Trust

Scottish Working People's History Trust     Volunteer Policy 


Founded in 1991, the Scottish Working People’s History Trust finds and encourages the depositing in libraries and archives of all surviving documentary sources of working people’s history north of the Border. Its Research Workers  have recorded the recollections of the lives of working men and women throughout Scotland. They have interviewed hundreds of veteran workers about their recollections of their work, their schooling, their housing and their recreational activities and interests. The Trust  has published edited collections of these interviews and is in the process of making the full interviews available to a wider audience.  It has also collaborated in the publication of documentary sources of working people’s history. 


The Trust, a registered  charity whose Trustees give of their time freely,  relies on donations to continue with its work and the support in kind of the organisations from whom Trustees are drawn. 


Since  2012 the  Trust  has been unable to fund  a  dedicated Research Worker to co-ordinate and undertake the programme of oral history recordings.  In order to continue to capture the memory of an ageing workforce the Trust is now increasingly  reliant upon volunteers. 


Becoming a volunteer. 


Individuals who express an interest in volunteering will be matched where possible with an interest they may have.   


Volunteers would be assigned, in discussion with the Trust Secretary, a  programme of interviews. This would involve meeting with respondents  and asking them  questions about their lives and their experience of work.   That interview would be recorded on a digital memory card. The volunteer might subsequently   undertake  to create a  verbatim transcript of that interview.   


Volunteers may come forward with a proposal to record  a group of respondents that they have already identified, or may  have a  desire to record:    a particular trade, industrial  concern or local business  with whom they have connections. 


The Trust will offer support in getting started on any recording project, by scoping out the theme or industry to be covered,  agreeing a proposed number of interviews, setting the criteria and the need  for the project eg by determining if the chosen  industry  has already been the subject of an oral history project in the past and  may already be well represented  in Scotland's audio archives – or if it will be filling a gap in our oral record. 


Volunteers may wish to discuss with the Secretary the questions they propose to ask and may wish the Secretary to assist in drawing up a schema for the questions. 


The Trust will assist  the volunteer in publicising an appeal for contributors, through the Trust website and newsletter, and may  pay for the costs of fliers, local newspaper adverts or other local publicity initiatives as agreed with the Secretary and Treasurer. 


Relationship with the Trust 


The Trust will require to assess the proposed  volunteer's experience in oral history gathering, through evidence of previous activity or a proven track record .    If required the Trust will support  the volunteer's training in oral history recording, for example attendance at the  one day training course at the Centre for Oral  History in Glasgow. 


The Trust may arrange to lend to the volunteer for an agreed period of time the digital audio recorder. 


The Trust will meet  appropriate expenses incurred in the recording project  such as  travel to a contributor's home, to any materials required such as digital memory cards, batteries for recorder etc.  The volunteer would be asked to make the most cost effective travel arrangements  possible. 


The Trust would not be in a position to pay a mileage rate for private car use, but would cover  actual petrol costs. 


Volunteers will be protected by the Trust's  liability insurance. 



Guiding principles for the volunteer. 


The Trust will require the volunteer to abide by the ethical and legal best practice as set out in full in  the  Oral History Society's  published Guidelines 


In summary: 


Ethical considerations apply throughout the course of the  volunteering project from the first contact with an interviewee to preserving, sharing and disseminating the results of interviews. The  following principles or ‘duties’ have been identified 


  • a duty of confidentiality (though not necessarily anonymity) towards informants and  participants 
  • a duty to protect participants from harm, by not disclosing sensitive information 
  • a duty to treat participants as intelligent beings, able to make their own decisions on how the information they provide can be used, shared and made public  (through informed consent). 
  • a duty to inform participants how information and data obtained will be used, processed, shared, disposed of, prior to obtaining consent 

charity number