Focus on Husnara Bibi - Trainee, Back to Backs

Published : Mon 21st Nov Author : National Trust

“I’ve been a trainee in Care of Collections and Wallpaper Conservation for three months now. I can safely say that so far, the training has definitely lived up to my expectations.

My daily duties at Back to Backs have given me a wider insight into the running of National Trust properties, and how they are maintained. As well as getting the houses ready for opening and making sure they are safe and secure at closing time, I take care of housekeeping and care for the historic collection. When new housekeeping and guide work experience volunteers start at Back to Backs, I’m the one responsible for training them. In the office I do a little bit of everything, like dealing with enquiries on the phone, booking people onto tours, taking group bookings and handling the many other visitor or office related issues that arise.

But it’s the conservation work that I love the most. I’ve started the process of conserving and cataloguing the large collection of historic wallpaper at Back to Backs. I’m responsible for all areas of this project from conservation to marketing, and I hope to create an exhibition to showcase my work at the end of my traineeship. To do this, I’m working with specialists and external groups – it’s a lot of responsibility but I love masterminding the whole process. It gives me an opportunity to be creative and to work with lots of interesting people.

Obviously I wouldn’t have been able to do all this when I first started, but my training in housekeeping, cataloguing and paper conservation has been so helpful. I’ve already learnt so many skills: I can now handle and take care of historic collections, plan, problem solve and network, and I’m also now confident working on my own or collaborating with a variety of people and organisations.

The training scheme’s unique approach to on-the-job learning and potential for development has allowed me to consider a career in conservation. Not having any experience in this area before meant this simply wasn’t an option. Three months in, I can safely say that it’s a brilliant scheme, and I’m so glad I applied.”