Change Minds, l-r Laura Drysdale, Director The Restoration Trust and Gary Tuson, County Archivist, Norfolk Record Office, looking at a Case Book from St Andrew’s Hospital Archive
Today, The Restoration Trust has received £89,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Change Minds, a partnership with Norfolk Record Office and Together for Mental Wellbeing. North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb is Change Minds’ patron.
Based in Norfolk Record Office, Change Minds engages people living in North Norfolk on low incomes and with mental health conditions in an investigation of 19th Century case records from Norfolk County Asylum, which survived as St Andrew’s Hospital until closure in 1998. The project begins in June and ends in December 2017 with exhibitions in Norfolk and a celebration reception at the House of Commons. A parallel research project with Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust will examine Change Minds’ cost- and clinical-effectiveness as a way of improving wellbeing for people with mental health conditions.
The project will enable 50 disadvantaged people in rural Norfolk, carers and volunteers to research someone encountered in the Case Books, which will be digitised so that they are available for everyone online. Creative workshops at Belfry Arts Centre ln Overstrand led by local writer Martin Figura explore history and identity in a meeting of minds across the centuries. Trained by Norfolk Sound Archive, the group make oral histories and a web archive of their research for deposit in Norfolk Record Office so that the stories uncovered are preserved for the future. Change Minds ends with publication of a book and exhibitions in North Norfolk libraries, at the Belfry Arts Centre in Overstrand, at The Forum Norwich, in Norfolk Record Office and online before our final celebration at the House of Commons
St Andrew’s Hospital’s archives are part of the Designated Collection held at Norfolk Record Office, with over 800 items providing a unique record of mental health in Norfolk, shedding light on the lives of local people in the late 19th century. The meticulous Case Books describe patients on admission, noting their address and occupation, their height, weight and medical history. They then detail observations, treatment and, frequently, recovery and discharge. Many records have patient admission and discharge photographs, powerfully evoking the connection with people in the past at the heart of Change Minds.
The partnership between The Restoration Trust, Norfolk Record Office and Together makes Change Minds possible. The Restoration Trust oversees the project, Norfolk Record Office hosts the Project Coordinator and enables access to the archives, Together supports clients with complex needs to participate.
Participants gain historical research and exhibition skills, boosting confidence and deepening insight. Some people will progress to be Peer Volunteers, supporting a new group joining Change Minds’ second year. Volunteers from HLF’s Skills for the Future programme at Norfolk Record Office will gain skills in working with community partners.
The people of Norfolk and beyond will discover the untold stories of ‘pauper lunatics’, as the project contributes to knowledge about the history of mental health.
Commenting on the award, Laura Drysdale, Director of The Restoration Trust, said: “We are thrilled that the Heritage Lottery Fund has supported Change Minds, a brilliant opportunity for people living with mental health conditions right now to lead research into the past and record their experiences for the future. Norfolk Record Office is an incredible resource for everyone in Norfolk, so it’s great that Change Minds helps Together clients in North Norfolk overcome barriers to access and share that adventure with the wider public.’
Explaining the importance of the HLF support, the head of the HLF in the East of England, Robyn Llewellyn, said: “we are very excited that lottery players have been able to support this innovative partnership between heritage and mental health groups. It is great to see how these organisations are working together to make an important contribution to improving wellbeing for local communities in Norfolk, as well as enabling more people to access these fascinating historic archives in the future.”
Notes to editors
About The Restoration Trust
We are a pioneering new charity that creates excellent cultural experiences to help marginalised people, and in particular those who suffer or are at risk of mental ill health, by therapeutic engagement with the arts, culture and heritage. We call this culture therapy. http://www.restorationtrust.org.uk
About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported over 36,000 projects with more than £5.9bn across the UK, including over £403million to 3,499 projects in the East of England. www.hlf.org.uk.
About Norfolk Record Office
The Norfolk Record Office (NRO) collects and preserves unique archives relating to the history of Norfolk and makes them accessible to people in Norfolk and across the world. It includes the Norfolk Sound Archive. The NRO is a joint service of the County and District Councils of Norfolk. http://www.archives.norfolk.gov.uk
About Together for Mental Wellbeing
Together for Mental Wellbeing is a national mental health charity working alongside people on their journey to leading independent, fulfilling lives. Together provides accommodation based support, support in the community, criminal justice services and advocacy services, supporting around 5,000 individuals every month in total. See www.together-uk.org
For further information, images and interviews, please contact
Laura Drysdale, Director at The Restoration Trust on 07740 844883 and email address email@example.com