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The Whitaker relies on the dedication and passion of our volunteers who tirelessly work to keep The Whitaker operating for its community.  

To celebrate our wonderful volunteers, each month we will hold a volunteer spotlight, so you get to find out more about them and why they do what they do. 

We couldn’t do what we do without our volunteers, and we wouldn’t want to either! 

This month, we sat down with Benyamin. 

Tell us a little bit about yourself 

I’m Benyamin, I’m 39 and I’m from Iran. I came to the UK around eleven months ago and I have lived in Rawtenstall for about six months. 

I am a fashion photographer – mostly the editorial type of photography. 

I’m also a sports trainer – a personal trainer – teaching mainly swimming, and kickboxing as well! 

Back in Iran I enjoyed hobbies such as cooking or baking.  

I’m married and I have three fantastic children. 

Why did you start volunteering at The Whitaker? 

I know volunteering is very important to everyone, because if you want to create a good society you have to try and help each other.  

I went to Haslingden community centre, and I spoke to Mr. Muhannad Karzoun who was already volunteering here, and he introduced me to The Whitaker. 

Museums are a very important place for any community, in any area, in any country – it’s important to introduce culture and history to other people, and to new people. It’s especially important for children – if children know about the arts and the background about their country, or any country, then it creates a good future for them. They can create a better future for everyone. 

That’s why I try to find a few places to volunteer, and when I found out about The Whitaker I decided to help.  

What do you enjoy most about The Whitaker 

The enjoy the background and history of the community… 

Did you know that over 1000 years ago there was a big forest here, and wealthy people used to hunt animals – there were enormous animals here, but now they have vanished!   

Then we moved onto the industrial side of the valley – the mills, the factories and the train [East Lancashire Railway]. This area has a lot of history.  

Also, as an editorial photographer, I know The Whitaker supports artists, and this is very interesting to me. Back in my country we have a lot of museums, but not many museums and galleries care about new artists – it was just for those who were famous. But here, they introduce new artists and support new artists which I really value.  

What would you say to anyone considering becoming a volunteer? 

Volunteering gives you a sense of purpose and makes you feel good about what you do.  

Volunteering is one of the things you can do to learn about the culture of your environment – about the people, their lives and how they live. 

Also, most importantly, you can find new friends. In the six months I have been here, I am made so many friends and this is really good for me so I’m not on my own; I have people around me who care.