Cultural Wellbeing Grants Support Heritage Hunters Project

As part of York’s Culture Strategy, Make It York, York CVS and City of York Council have come together to award funding of more than £60,000 to nineteen social and cultural initiatives across the city – with the aim of easing loneliness, isolation and mental ill-health across the city. 

The grants, which were made available via the Better Care Fund and Ways to Wellbeing, were set up in recognition of the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on people’s wellbeing – through shielding, self-isolation and social distancing. This series of case studies profiles each of the 2021 recipients: 

One of the projects which has been supported by the grants is Heritage Hunters – which saw 10 Hull Road residents join with York Museums Trust to look back and learn more about the history of the people who used to live in their area. This was not only a research project, but also a way to unite the community and encourage neighbours to learn more about each other.  

Through the use of five workshops running from January to April, the Heritage Hunters worked closely with both York Castle Museum and York Explore to uncover maps, council minutes, photographs, diaries and a whole variety of artefacts that would help them find out more about their local community. 

From the discussions, activities and responses of those involved, a pop-up exhibition has been created which will be loaned to local schools and community centres across the city, allowing them to learn about the newly uncovered history of their local area. Four banners have been created, highlighting all the information collated by the group, as well as booklets which will be distributed to local schools and community centres in May 2022. 

There has also been a 16-page toolkit which has been sent to interested parties living on Hull Road. To date, this has included 50 households and is currently downloadable from the York Musuem Trust website. 

Philip Newton, Communities Engagement Researcher who led the Heritage Hunters Project, says: 

“Honestly, Hull Road Heritage Hunters has been one of the most uplifting and enjoyable projects I have been involved with. Not only have we discovered interesting and personal stories linked to Hull Road but it has brought together neighbours who had never met and now share an interest in their local heritage. The Cultural Commissioning grant award has allowed us to test new ways of working with local communities and will now be able to continue this project annually with other areas in the city; expanding our knowledge of the city and sharing it with local residents.” 

Other comments from participants include:  

The most enjoyable part of the project was ‘meeting other people with interests in local history, and discussing ideas with them. Working in a group of new researchers, and presenting the work together in the community was the highlight. revealing the facts. I also loved scouring the archives.’ 

Participants were pleased at the opportunity of ‘getting the brain cells going, meeting other people and working out how to continue when the project has finished. i.e. attending Tang Hall History groups and the connections made at these places.’ 

‘We’ve loved working on this project & the opportunity to meet our neighbours. I’m sure we’ll all keep in touch. We’re not stopping now – I’m determined to find out when the Bees Wing was built!’ 

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