“Bigger, better, stronger” council service wins national volunteering award
Gloucestershire Archives, part of Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, has been recognised nationally for outstanding work involving volunteers.
The annual award, sponsored by the National Archives and the Archives and Records Association (ARA), was given to Gloucestershire Archives for their work on the ‘Bigger Better Stronger: Archive Volunteering Re-Booted’ project. The panel were impressed by the vision and creativity of the project, the range of community partners involved and the level of audience engagement and development that was achieved.
One of the aims of the archives service is to build a network of local people and organisations with a shared interest in our historic county’s documented history, who can benefit from onsite and online facilities and support each other in gathering, keeping and sharing personal and community archives.
Volunteering plays a key part in building this network, and matching individuals to volunteer roles that help fulfil their personal goals and motivations. The number of volunteers involved at the Hub has doubled as the project has helped to break down barriers and diversify those accessing and taking part in the archives service.
The volunteering opportunities on offer have helped people from a variety of backgrounds; from retirees tackling loneliness, to members of the local community wanting to improve their language skills. The Hub has even helped young people gain the confidence and skills they need to find employment.
The ‘Bigger Better Stronger: Archive Volunteering Re-Booted’ project began in March 2018 when the first part of the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, ‘For the Record’, was launched. The project will continue until December 2020, although volunteering opportunities will continue indefinitely.
The judges considered the community impact of the ‘Bigger Better Stronger: Archive Volunteering Re-Booted’ project to be particularly important. It made community space available to volunteers of all ages with a variety of interests, who took part in activities including E-preservation, assisting with oral history recordings, “pinning” images to the ‘Know Your Place’ digital mapping resource and extracting information from 19th century mental health records as part of the ‘Never Better’ project.
The judges said: “Overall, we saw something inspiring and transformative in the design, management and implementation of this project by the archive service team that sets a new benchmark for the sector. Congratulations to everyone involved in Bigger, Better, Stronger.”
Cllr Lynden Stowe, cabinet member responsible for Gloucestershire Archives, said, “Gloucestershire Archives play an important role in gathering, keeping and sharing the documented history of Gloucestershire and beyond. However, the real community impact the Heritage Hub partners are having on local people is awe-inspiring, and this is only made possible by all the hard work of staff and volunteers - we are very proud to have received this national award, and I would like to say a personal thank you to everyone involved in the project.”
For more information on volunteering at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, visit https://www.heritagehub.org.uk/volunteer-the-heritage-hub/volunteering/.