The H Factor
From the buildings around us and the paths we walk to the food we eat, the crafts we practise and the stories we share, heritage is an intrinsic part of our lives. It may be all about the past but it is also at the heart of our present and can help direct our future. This autumn a trio of insightful reports have been published exploring this - showing how heritage helps us relax and smile whilst inspiring us to grow as individuals and as communities. Welcome to The H Factor!
Heritage & Inclusive Growth
Hannah Webster, Senior Researcher, The RSA
Heritage is an important part of our communities, from our built environment to local events and traditions. But as we understand the role heritage can take in supporting our communities in crisis, and playing a role in building back better, we need to ask ourselves how we do this with inclusivity, sustainability and resilience in mind.
The RSA’s recent report written in partnership with the British Council, uses the framing of inclusive growth to explore these questions. In it, we draw links between domains of heritage, inclusive growth, our attachment to places and the key organisations and institutions that can play a leading role in taking forward an inclusive growth agenda for the heritage sector. We also explore places and initiatives where this has come to life, like the Don’t Settle project in Birmingham and the Black Country; a programme supporting young people of colour to shape the stories we tell in our heritage through research and curation.
The Heritage Index
All local areas will have heritage assets that provide the opportunity to work more inclusively. This might be an opportunity to reflect on whose heritage is represented, how citizens engage with heritage, to create sustainable heritage for future generations or to promote diversity and inclusion within the sector. The RSA’s Heritage Index helps us to understand what opportunities local areas have. Created in partnership with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Heritage Index pulls together data from over 100 open data sources to quantify local heritage pictures. We hope the data can be used to identify areas of heritage potential, and also to exemplify how heritage can be an inclusive asset. We include, for example, data on Heritage Open Days to understand how heritage is being made accessible for all.
Heritage, Health & Wellbeing
Lizzie Glithero-West, Chief Executive, The Heritage Alliance
The Heritage Alliance, England’s largest coalition of heritage interests, recently published a new report into the positive impact heritage spaces and organisations have on the wellbeing of individuals and communities. The Heritage, Health and Wellbeing report showcases over 30 case studies covering the breadth of the heritage sector – including Heritage Open Days. The final report, inspired by the Alliance’s 2017 Debate ‘Is Heritage Good for your Health?’, represented 3 years of conversations and research to understand the needs of both the health and heritage sectors, and to gather best practice. It demonstrates how heritage spaces have provided a backdrop for community-building, an opportunity for local communities to connect with their local area alongside a range of projects aiding physical and mental health outcomes. From yoga in a historic house to a group of disabled adults empowered to put on a club night at Alexandra Palace, Heritage Alliance members are improving the nation’s health and wellness, both inadvertently and increasingly as part of their organisational and activity strategies. The report considers these case studies, and the sector’s experiences more widely, to make recommendations to the heritage sector, the health sector, and to government.