National Trust drawing up plans to leave rooms in historic properties empty as they run out of older volunteers

'Older people are travelling around the world, they are doing the babysitting'

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The National Trust is drawing up plans to leave rooms in its historic properties unstaffed because modern retirees are too busy to volunteer as unpaid tour guides.

“Older people are travelling around the world, they are doing the babysitting,” Dame Helen Ghosh, the director-general of the trust trust told The Independent. “In an ideal world, we would be bringing in more of the next generation but they are not necessarily in the same mould as their parents.”

The conservation charity is powered by 7,000 permanent staff and 60,000 volunteers. Many of them handle maintenance or keep an eye on rare paintings and furniture  on display to the public.

The director-general said the trust was developing “more flexible models” for how it uses volunteers, including leaving some rooms in its 300 stately homes unmanned.

“Perhaps you have some volunteers welcome you at the door, saying you might want to do this tour or here is some material depending on what kind of experience you want and then you are just left to wander. You can use CCTV to do the security stuff or we can rearrange the room a bit so that the very precious stuff is out of reach of tiny hands.

“In 10 years’ time will we have that same pool of willing volunteers? The demography may not be with us. We are just trying to think of flexible ways to give our visitors the same experience of our houses.”