Vicky Clifton – Learning and Outreach Manager & Co-Chair, Bradford Cultural Voice Forum

Learning and Outreach Manager, Bradford Museums and Galleries


Co-Chair, Bradford Cultural Voice Forum

I was born and raised in Bradford from a proud working-class family. We didn’t have much money but then no one around us did either.

My dad was and still is a great storyteller and as a child he would sit with me at bedtime telling me tales of Jason and the Argonauts or King Arthur and I think it’s from him I developed a love of history and understood the power of story telling.

As an older child, family holidays were always with my aunty who lived near Brighton. She is a florist and took me with her when she did shows in beautiful country houses and once even in the chapel at Windsor Castle. I wasn’t that interested in the flowers but loved being able to get behind the scenes to parts of the houses where the public weren’t allowed, and I still love this in my work in museums.

aI dropped out of A levels at 17 and didn’t go back into education until I was 21. As a mature student I was able to complete and access course to secure a place at the University of Bradford on a course called Interdisciplinary Human Studies.  While at University my mum rented out my room so she could cover all her bills which meant that for 3 years I slept on a roll out sofa bed in the lounge.  But I grasped every opportunity possible:

In the summer of year one I secured funding from the Princes’ Trust to enable me to spend a summer doing Camp America.  In year two summer I moved to Holland for a few months and during in year three I undertook an extra part time job and used the funds to spend the summer travelling around Borneo.

After I finished my studies, I realised I had a passion for travelling and a passion for education but had no idea how to direct that. I moved to London and worked for a year at Guildhall University and from there worked for Slough Council supporting social workers to move from paper based to IT working. I used the time off from work to travel as much as possible in Europe and America, exploring museums and heritage as much as possible.

I returned to Bradford just before I was 30 and after a few jobs with the council and helping my dad set up his new company, I secured a post with Bradford Council setting up the Family Learning Team. I had an incredible manager called Jan Hill who was also a wonderful mentor. She encouraged me to do more and with her support I was able to work and qualify as a teacher with level 7 subject specialism. I became the Qualifications and Curriculum Manager and supported thousands of women in Bradford to complete their English and Maths qualifications.

As I was getting older, I was also becoming more socially aware. Aware that not everyone grew up the way I had and that there was social injustice. I undertook a research fellowship with Sunderland University to explore whether social inclusion could be weaved into the delivery of ESOL and English for adults. This enabled adults to explore Museums, cultural sites and other places in the district often for the first time. The research was a resounding success and as a result the Council secured additional funding to begin a programme around social inclusion and increasing access.

I started my first role in a Museum at the National Science and Media Museum as the Head of Learning and Inclusion. Here I established exciting new programmes which enable the Museum to work with a much wider range of people from Bradford. During my time there, I was lucky to work twice in Rio di Janerio in Brazil to support the newly built Museum of Tomorrow to develop community relationships with people living in the neighbouring Favelas.

I moved to Bradford Museums and Galleries two years ago. While I loved NSMM , history rather than science is my real passion. Since I started, I have set up a monthly radio show called Behind the Scenes at the Museum, I have established a Heritage Hub with all 20 local heritage organisations and am co-chair of Bradford’s Cultural Voice Forum, which brings together cultural organisations across Bradford as well as the freelance community.

About me – I love dressing up and any excuse to try on a silly hat or play a character at work, I love it! I love Christmas and always put my Christmas tree up before everyone else.

What I would like to get involved in

Inspirational talk

Visits to my place of work

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