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Preserving Place

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Understanding local history and heritage is, and always has been, important to communities. The aim of Preserving Place is to investigate how community groups undertake heritage research – and help them do just that.

The project team is collaboration between the University of East Anglia, Community Action Norfolk and the University of Southampton. How did we get involved? We’re recognised as experts on community engagement and development, we have a good working relationship with UEA through earlier, related projects, and Preserving Place is very much about working with the community, which underpins so much of our work at local, regional and national level.

The focus is on how to develop practical ways forward and overcome obstacles to conducting community-based heritage research.

  • How many people are there involved, what motivates them?
  • What are they trying to achieve?
  • How is the project to be managed and what specialist skills might be required?
  • What practical assistance is needed, and is it even available?
  • Does the community project require finance to move ahead?

Community Action Norfolk’s focus is on working with communities interested in developing heritage projects. However, we also know that helping a community understand where it’s come from often makes it think about where it wants to go – and that can be a catalyst for all sorts of community activity. Our role is that of building relationships and understanding community groups and heritage professionals from UEA and Cambridge University. A key outcome will be a practical toolkit that community heritage groups can use to further their efforts. This is familiar territory for our development officers, who have pioneered work on Norfolk’s historic Poor’s Lands, advising on how land can be considered for affordable housing – a twenty-first century reality in accord with their historic original purpose.

The detailed responses so far will inform experienced practitioners, as well as groups taking their first tentative steps towards investigating their valuable local history and heritage.

Examples of what can be achieved came through the earlier All Our Stories projects, which included Castle Rising History Group’s exploration of the rich history of their village, culminating in a database of real people from centuries past; Martham Local History Group’s partnership with Flegg High School and Media Projects East in producing a DVD of their community and its history; and Reymerston Village Hall’s review of local history, now permanently displayed in the village’s redundant telephone box!

More information www.preservingplace.wordpress.com/people/all-our-stories-projects/