£47,400 Cultural Recovery Fund grant for the Restoration Trust

Human Henge gathering December 2019

PRESS RELEASE: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

HELP FOR HERITAGE AS THE RESTORATION TRUST RECEIVES LIFELINE FROM GOVERNMENT’S CULTURE RECOVERY FUND

  • More help for heritage in need with £14 million investment in England’s historic sites
  • The Restoration Trust is among 162 organisations receiving lifeline grant from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund
  • Culture across the country benefits as 70per cent of latest Culture Recovery funding awarded outside London

Lifeline grants from the latest round of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund will protect a further 162 heritage sites and engagement activities to ensure that jobs and access to arts, culture and heritage in local communities are protected in the months ahead, the Culture Secretary announced today.

More than £9 million has been allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which builds on £103 million awarded to more significant historic places last month. Grants between £10,000 and £1 million have been awarded to stabilise 77 organisations.

In addition, £5 million will go to construction and maintenance projects that have been paused due to the pandemic.

Historic England has allocated £3,971,513 in awards from the Heritage Stimulus Fund, part of a £120 million capital investment from the Culture Recovery Fund, to restart construction and maintenance projects facing delays or increased costs as a result of the pandemic and save specialist livelihoods in the sector.

The Restoration Trust has been awarded £47,400 to ensure that we are in good heart to deliver our exceptional heritage projects with people with mental health challenges now and in the future. The grant includes funding for Human Henge Hybrid, a blended online and by post experience of Stonehenge’s ancient landscape in partnership with English Heritage and Richmond Fellowship that builds on our successful Human Henge project in the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. This will engage 12 local people who experience social exclusion because of their mental health.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities.

From St Paul’s and Ronnie Scott’s to The Lowry and Durham Cathedral, we’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it can bounce back strongly.”

Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust said: ‘This is a lifeline to sustain our use of heritage and creativity to improve people’s mental health without relying on services.  The Human Henge Hybrid project is a unique opportunity to trial a way of working that can connect people with heritage despite Covid-19 and help tackle digital exclusion.’

The Restoration Trust works with people with mental health challenges to widen participation in heritage. Our innovative partnership projects exploring the compelling histories of patients in 19th century lunatic asylums, or sensory immersion in mysterious ancient landscapes, reignite people’s curiosity and love of life. Refocussing early intervention and prevention away from institutions and into communities overcomes systematic exclusion from amazing cultural assets that belong to us all. Weaving partnerships and groups into new communities has long term impacts on people and places. Participants are equal partners, so we highlight their interest and skills through meaningful involvement. We call this Culture Therapy, and we want it to be everyday good practice by 2027.John Durrant, a member of our Burgh Castle Almanac project, captures our vision: ‘In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back…’’

74 organisations are also receiving grants of up to £25,000 from the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, launched by Historic England and almost quadrupled thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund, to cover maintenance and repairs urgently needed on historic buildings and sites up and down the country.

Duncan Wilson, Historic England Chief Executive said:

“Historic places across the country, from Durham Cathedral embodying more than a thousand years of history to the Crystal Palace dinosaurs, much loved by children and grownups alike, are being supported by the Government’s latest round of grants awarded under the Culture Recovery Fund. This funding is a lifeline which is kickstarting essential repairs and maintenance at many of our most precious historic sites, so they can begin to recover from the damaging effects of Covid-19. It is also providing employment for skilled craft workers who help to keep historic places alive and the wheels of the heritage sector turning. Our shared heritage is an anchor for us all in these challenging times and this funding will help to ensure it remains part of our collective future.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“The Government’s £1.57bn package for culture is unprecedented and it’s important to acknowledge how valuable this has been for our heritage organisations and visitor attractions.  Although we are not able to support everyone facing difficulties, today’s funding package helps a diverse range of heritage organisations from across the country survive, adapt and plan for a brighter future through the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage.

“By the end of this financial year we will have distributed almost £600m of Government and National Lottery Funding to heritage organisations. Investing in heritage remains vitally important, creating jobs and economic prosperity, driving tourism, supporting our wellbeing and making our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  There is a lot more work to do to address the ongoing challenges, but this funding has provided a future for much of our heritage and the organisations that care for it, when it might otherwise have been permanently lost.”

All four nations are benefiting from the UK Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with £188 million barnetted to the Devolved Administrations to run their own process – £97 million for Scotland, £59 million for Wales and £33 million for Northern Ireland. This funding will enable them to increase the support already available to the arts and cultural sectors in each nation.

Over £18 million in funding will go to 8 arts and cultural organisations around the country in the second round of grants between £1 million and £3 million awarded by Arts Council England on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, it has also been announced today. This funding builds on £75 million in grants over £1 million for iconic venues like Shakespeare’s Globe and the Sheffield Crucible last month.

Notes to editors

A full list of organisations receiving funding is available from Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Strategic Plan 2020 – 2026

Thanks to support from City Bridge Trust’s Grants Plus programme, we have created a new Strategic Plan 2020 – 2026 with Locality consultant Lin Gillians. Mentoring from Cranfield Trust consultant Mike Meldrum has also been part of the process.

This is the Executive Summary.

RESTORATION TRUST STRATEGIC PLAN 2020 – 2026

 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

WHY WE EXIST

There is a catastrophic gap between what people with serious mental health challenges need, and what is on offer, so we use heritage and creativity to improve people mental health without relying on services.

Exploring the compelling histories of patients in 19th century lunatic asylums, or sensory immersion in mysterious ancient landscapes reignites people’s curiosity and their desire for living.

We are recasting early intervention and prevention away from institutions and into communities, overcoming systematic exclusion from amazing cultural assets that belong to us all. Our groupwork ethos creates new communities that sustain people in the future.

Participants are equal partners in developing projects and shaping their outputs, so we highlight their interest and skills through long-term, meaningful engagement with heritage and creativity.

John Durrant, a member of our Burgh Castle Almanac project, captures our vision: ‘In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back….Now I’m connected to the world again I want to take this experience as far as I can and I want to give back to the project and people what they have given to me.’

We call this Culture Therapy.

WHAT WE DO

Partners say that we come up with good ideas, and then glue everything together to deliver high quality experiences.  One member described our projects as the Day Hospitals of the Future. These co-created projects have three sets of partners, each contributing to and benefitting from their relationship with us:

  • Participants are people over 18 with serious mental health issues who fall through the gaps between primary and secondary care. University research shows that most participants feel healthier because of joining our projects, including longer term. 
  • Heritage partners provide the sites, collections and online resources where projects happen, as well as experts to work with participants. Heritage partners learn new ways to use their resources for wellbeing and gain insight in reaching a wider and more diverse range of people. 
  • Mental health providers contribute experience of creating relationships with people with serious mental health challenges, as well as offering practical expertise and support. Mental health providersgain access to projects that are outside their usual offer.

Founded in 2015, we are proud that we have:

  • worked with 27 partners, 206 participants and 38 professionals over 498 sessions, raising £411,400;
  • featured on ‘Stonehenge and Mental Health’, a Radio 4 programme heard by 1.27 million people;
  • catalyzed the national Archives for Wellbeing Network funded by the National Archives;
  • been identified as exemplifying Best Practice by the Heritage Fund – see Mental Health Awareness Week blog May 2020.

HOW WE WORK

As an inclusion charity, we try to reflect what we do in how we work. In terms of governance, four trustees, including our Chair, are service users or carers, as are ten Expert Advisory Board (EAB) members. We systematically address barriers like travel, anxiety or digital exclusion – so our Covid-born Digital Offer enables people to join online meetings through equipment loans, data packages, training and support.

We encourage people to pursue their own path. For example Richard Johnson was a Change Minds participant in 2018 and is now Research Coordinator for Dr Hills’ Casebook, and Mark Marshall set up the Trowbridge Service Users Group after finding some real support and friendship from our Human Henge project.

Evaluation is core to our mission.  Recovery oriented wellbeing measures such as the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale are combined with qualitative evaluation through focus groups and interviews.

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS

We are a small charity that wants to grow in impact rather than size, to prove that excellent heritage projects transform peoples’ lives.

Working with partners whose networks penetrate heritage, health, community, creativity and academia, we will shift understanding of how cross-sectoral collaboration supports health and equality. Our vision is that by 2027 Culture Therapy will be everyday good practice.

Over the next five years we will diversify income and raise enough funds to deliver future programmes and cover core costs by the end of 2025.

We will  develop and run five major programmes, rolling out one existing programme and starting a new one each year. These will be in archives, historic landscapes, automotive and conservation. Future programmes will use our hybrid digital plus approach, incorporating outcomes research. Programmes will be developed on the basis of ongoing sustainability, to extend the impact of funding.

Restoration Trust tools and templates will be published, and we will set up a Culture Therapy training programme. We will stimulate wider change by sharing knowledge and networking with key organisations such as the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance, the National Academy for Social Prescribing Academy and the Heritage Alliance.

Core funding will cover running costs and pay the Director and Administrator 2 days a week. Governance training for trustees and expert advisors will make us more robust and inclusive. We will plan the Director’s succession, and support participants to become volunteers, trustees and staff. 

Photo credits: Yvette Staelens, Jeremy Webb, Change Minds, Amander Wellings, Rob Fairclough, Burgh Castle Almanac, Sue Tyler

The Return of Happy Times

In September we premiered the Burgh Castle Almanac’s film ‘The Return of Happy Times’, at the Seagull Theatre in Lowestoft. This lovely, safe event was a celebration that included project members, their friends and families, as well as Burgh Castle Almanac partners and contributors.

Recorded over the past year, the film – the title is taken from a saying on a Roman coin found by Adrian Charlton at the Fort – illustrates the kind of activities the BCA have been involved in, with members also explaining how the group has benefited them.

The film is directed by Lowestoft-based photographer and filmmaker Julian Claxton, together with members of the group. Julian was interviewed at the premiere by Robert Fairclough.

Please watch it, and share it. It’s hoped that other parts of the country will take up the BCA model, and the film is seen as a major contributing factor towards achieving that aim.

Living With Mental Health blog by John Durrant

https://www.peterlovatt.com/

Doctor Dance brings joy

Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all well and good today. I’m going to talk to you today about my first visit back to the Burgh Castle Almanac Gathering, where our guest was Doctor Peter Lovatt, a.k.a. Doctor Dance. As you’ll see,I think he needs to be prescribed on the National Health Service.

I’d been 50/50 whether I’d attend at all, as I’m not one for dancing, although I do love watching all style of dance on the TV and internet. I had visions of a person coming along who took his dance seriously but would have a laugh with us, or get involved with what we were doing, but perhaps that’s me over-thinking things, my anxiety taking over and telling me I wouldn’t be any good at joining in.

But when Doctor Lovatt started speaking, he made me feel at ease immediately: I could see that his body language was positive, and when he spoke he smiled from ear to ear. To begin with, he got us marching up and down on the spot, then took us for a march in circle around the field we were in. His passion for what he was doing was infectious.

With Doctor Dance guiding us, we took 3 steps forwards, clapped, then took 3 steps back and clapped again. We all did this a couple of times, then stepped to the right, clapped and repeated the moves to the left. Peter then asked us “do our own thing”, then it was spin, clap and back again. It was a little confusing, but because I felt relaxed I didn’t feel stupid or self conscious. This was a small victory for me, and I felt good about that. We then had to perform the moves to music. Well, I’ve got no rhythm or timing, so it was hard, but, once again, I kept at it and really enjoyed myself.

The group then went for are a walk around the ruins of the Roman fort, where we caught up on what had been happening to everybody during lockdown, and took our fixed-point photographs. I think being able to meet in person – rather than through a screen – lifted us all. I feel that we’re a really tight-knit community; you could even say we’re a family.

Once we got to the Roman fort, Peter got us doing the haka, the dance the New Zealand rugby team perform before a match. I’m a big sports fan, so this was one of my favourite moments of the day. Thanks to Doctor Dance making a dream come true, I was buzzing afterwards. We then got a chance to make something with streamers supplied by our resident artist Ian Brownlie, which the wind blew through, making a lovely sound that made me feel even more relaxed and grounded.

This is us just after we did the HAKA photograph taking by Julian Claxtom

While having lunch in the field next to Burgh Castle village hall, I had a chat with Doctor Lovatt and his wife Lindsey. I told him about the podcasts I’ve been doing and was delighted when he agreed to be interviewed on one in the future. Then, there was more dancing, with the last one performed in bare feet so we really felt in tune with nature.

I can’t wait to see all my friends again soon. I hope you all found this a good and positive read. Wishing you all good mental health and a great week.

Dr Hills’ Casebook recruiting now

Calling mental health service users, mental health providers, social prescriber and community connectors in South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth, Waveney and Norwich!

If you live with mental health challenges, or are supporting anyone in South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth and Waveney or Norwich who is interested in history and creativity, here’s a great new project for participation, community connection and mental wellbeing.

We are enrolling people now, and the project kicks off properly on 22nd July.

It’s well set up for social distancing, and is completely free for participants.

Dr Hills’ Casebook is a Change Minds project, run by the Restoration Trust in partnership with Norfolk Record Office, South Norfolk Council and UpShoot Theatre Company.

There is a film about it and a leaflet below.

Contact our Coordinator Darren France for information:

darrenfrance@talktalk.net. or on mobile 07905517906

More conservation links

Restoration Trust trustee Frances Halahan ACR has produced a list of online conservation resources that meet her high standards! No flannel, no dodgy techniques, no overblown claims. Mostly not for DIY, except for managing moth top tips from English Heritage.

Tate website www.tate.org.uk

Audrey and Her goats – Tate Conservation

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/audrey-and-her-goats-tate-conservation

Time-based Media Conservation

https://www.tate.org.uk/about-us/projects/pericles/things-change-conservation-and-display-time-based-media-art

The Artist Rooms

https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms has a Learning resource section with information on a number of artists. Some of the info includes video which are quite interesting and also suggestions of things to do. It is generally free of artspeak and, in some cases, discusses the artist’s mental health.

https://www.tate.org.uk/artist-rooms/learning

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/louise-bourgeois-2351/art-louise-bourgeois

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/edward-ruscha-1882/ed-ruscha-and-art-everyday

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/jeff-koons-2368/jeff-koons-banality-decadence-and-easyfun

V&A  Conservation Stories

https://www.vam.ac.uk/info/conservation#conservation-stories

Short films about particular conservation projects. They include miniatures, paintings, textiles, sculpture, well done and should be something of interest.

National Gallery

Art restoration of one of our largest paintings: Relining Van Dyck’s ‘Charles I’

National Maritime Museum

Conserving the H3 Timekeeper parts 1 -5

Getty Conservation Institute

https://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/video.html

Kasbah Taourirt: Conserving Earthen Heritage in Morocco

Project Videos (20 videos)

Modern & Contemporary Art (31 videos)

English Heritage

Wrest Park Stores – not a video but interesting pictures etc.

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/conservation/

Painting conservation in general

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/conservation/paintings-conservation/

A day in the life of Audley End House and Gardens

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/a-day-in-the-life-of-audley-end-house-and-gardens/NQGL1HOVXn–CA

Uncovering Paintings and maps at Eltham Palace

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/eltham-palace-map-room/twE7sS2PCjd99w

Preserving graffiti on walls

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/richmond-castle-conserving-the-cell-block-graffiti/hQETBUzBbUaYtg

J.W. Evans, Silver Factory, Birmingham

Not conservation but how silver was made and the production of dies and stamps interesting for anyone interested in how things were made.

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/j-w-evans-silver-factory-birmingham/6gF3wBh7XlXJNA

Conservation behind the scenes  at Rievaulx Abbey

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/rievaulx-abbey-conservation-behind-the-scenes/0AHtvpONyXcW1g

Spring cleaning the guns at Pendennis Castle

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/spring-cleaning-the-guns-at-pendennis-castle/xAFC72aEKgfCdA

Conservation: Bringing the Light Back to Brodsworth Hall

https://artsandculture.google.com/u/0/asset/conservation-bringing-the-light-back-to-brodsworth-hall/JAHTyWeCUFPHWw

Understanding clothes moths

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/conservation/clothes-moth-research/understanding-clothes-moths/

How to protect against clothes moths

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/learn/conservation/clothes-moth-research/

British Museum

Exploring the Mayan world. New technology to learn about Mayan architecture etc

Hands on with Sutton Hoo

Not conservation, but interesting talk about a sword and what you can learn

National Archives

The National Archives webinars and podcasts are a bit dry – mainly for someone with a specific interest

Laura’s interview with the National Lottery Heritage Fund

‘A feeling of belonging’: heritage and mental health

We discover how exploring the history and landscapes of Burgh Castle in Great Yarmouth is helping people’s mental health.Sketch over windmillJeanette Wilmer sketch over photo20/05/2020

“Heritage is about that feeling of belonging, knowing that this is your place and understanding how your history fits within wider history. It is a part of being human.”

Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust

Exploring Burgh Castle 

The Restoration Trust uses heritage, arts and culture to support people who experience mental illness.

As part of the National Lottery-funded Water Mills and Marshes Landscape Partnership project, a Restoration Trust group are exploring the history and landscapes of Burgh Castle Roman Fort in Great Yarmouth.

Fort and people
At Burgh Castle Fort. Credit: Laura Drysdale

Before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the group enjoyed mindfulness walks, talks with experts and creating artwork inspired by what they saw

We asked the Restoration Trust’s director, Laura Drysdale, why they use heritage in their work – and how they are continuing to support people during lockdown.

A feeling of belonging

“Heritage is about that feeling of belonging, knowing that this is your place and understanding how your history fits within wider history,” Laura says. “It is a part of being human.

Four people on bridge
Having fun at Burgh Castle. Credit: Robert Fairclough

“We are often in unbeautiful environments, particularly those who live with mental illness who regularly have to visit places like health centres and benefits offices. Access to heritage gives people a chance to be somewhere beautiful, forge connections with other people and explore their own creativity.

“It can be a hard shell to crack and even harder for some members of the group to gain that feeling of entitlement – the feeling that yes this heritage does belong to us. For many it would be much easier to hide away. It takes a lot of courage, but once people do get that feeling, the benefits can be extraordinary.”

“I’ve lived nearby Burgh Castle for so many years and had never been. Now I don’t think I will ever stop going.” 

Burgh Castle Almanac participant John Durrant – read about his experience on the project.

Breaking down barriers

How does the Restoration Trust create that sense of belonging?

“Crucially we listen,” Laura explains. “Mental illness attacks ordinary human experiences and pushes people to the margins. As a result, we work with very excluded people.

“We talk and find out what will help – it might be access to the site via minibus or the language used to promote events.

Two men walking
Walking across the fort. Credit: Robert Fairclough

“Listening has to become action. You don’t want people to feel that their time and thought has been wasted. When people are listened to they feel more confident to tell you things, so it is a virtuous circle.

“We involve people with lived experience of mental illness in planning the project, for example through running trial sessions. We have scheduled opportunities for listening, and people with lived experience sit on the Project Board to monitor progress.

“Listening helps us to tackle our own organisational attitudes. Ultimately, we, our partners and the participants are in it together. Everyone is learning, it’s always an experiment, things are always changing. It can be demanding, but it offers the best outcomes.”

Staying connected during lockdown

Of course, coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way the project can operate. Laura tells us how they have been managing: “Our IT team have been working hard to get laptops set up for participants who want to stay in touch in our weekly Zoom meetings and Facebook group.”

“While that digital connection is very important, we are still maintaining contact with those who it doesn’t suit by sending creative activities to them.”

“Not being able to be in the heritage landscape is certainly being felt. Having lost that connection has made the group realise how important it is to them and their mental wellbeing.”

Kindness is the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week this year and it is fundamental to the group’s activities. “Kindness is a big one for us,” says Laura, “especially during this time of high risk.

“The group have been really supportive of each other, even dropping food off for each other. People will remember those acts of kindness.”

Valuing the heritage landscape

The group are looking forward to getting back together when they can. “Not being able to be in the heritage landscape is certainly being felt. Having lost that connection has made the group realise how important it is to them and their mental wellbeing.

Sculpture
The World as Nature Intended sculpture. Credit: Robert Fairclough

“During the pandemic, The National Lottery Heritage Fund has been fantastic in helping us reshape the project and be flexible on its timescale. The group is most definitely hoping to meet up again once we can, to continue the project – maybe not quite as we planned but it is going to be great!”

More information

We also heard from Burgh Castle Almanac participant, John Durrant, who told us how the project had supported his mental health.  

Burgh Castle Almanac is a partnership between the Restoration Trust, Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Access Community Trust and Norfolk Museums Service. Find out more about the Restoration Trust’s “culture therapy” on their website

For Creativity and Wellbeing Week Liz Ellis, Policy Project Manager at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, discussed the role of kindness in the Burgh Castle Almanac project with Victoria Hume, Director of the Culture Health and Wellbeing Alliance.

Every project The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports must achieve our inclusion outcome: a wider range of people will be involved with heritage. Read our inclusion advice to find out more.

John Durrant’s interview with the National Lottery Heritage Fund

How heritage helped John reconnect to the world

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, we hear from a participant of a National Lottery-funded project that uses heritage to help people living with mental illness – even during lockdown.Man lying with artworkJohn Durrant20/05/2020

“I’ve lived nearby Burgh Castle for so many years and had never been. Now I don’t think I will ever stop going.” 

John Durrant 

Through the Restoration Trust’s Burgh Castle Almanac project, John Durrant has been exploring the history and landscapes of Burgh Castle Roman Fort in Great Yarmouth. 

For Mental Health Awareness Week, we asked John about his experiences with the project before and during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  

Listening to talk
Stories in stone talk. Credit: Laura Drysdale

How did you become part of the Burgh Castle Almanac project? 

I began hearing voices from the age of 12 and as a teenager tried to take my own life. I was diagnosed with a mild form of schizophrenia, but it wasn’t until 11 years later following a psychotic episode that I discovered I had been misdiagnosed and I actually have emotional unstable personality disorder. 

Since then I have been trying to understand my illness. 

“I don’t drive, so the fact I was offered transport to get to the castle was a big factor in my decision to join.” 

A facilitator of the Burgh Castle Almanac project contacted me to see if I wanted to take part. I don’t drive, so the fact I was offered transport to get to the castle was a big factor in my decision to join. 

Blackberry picking
Blackberry picking

The first time I went I really didn’t feel like it was for me and didn’t think I would be going again, but my partner persuaded me to give it another go. Now I am part of the furniture! The group is so non-judgemental, you aren’t judged if you miss a week, but they also care and see if you are OK if you do. 

Before lockdown, what did you do? 

So many things! We met every fortnight, sometimes small groups and sometimes more of us – it was really flexible. 

We had different professionals visit to help us relate to Burgh Castle including a writer, a geologist and a butterfly man.  

“In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back.”

Another time, we visited the Thames Foreshore project in London – walking right along the riverbed was phenomenal. That same trip we went to the British Museum. One of the other members of the group actually has a Saxon find on display there. He also found a Roman coin in a molehill near Burgh Castle when we were on one of our walks. 

Walking group in nature
Walking at Burgh Castle. Credit: Robert Fairclough

Mindfulness walks were another thing. I was sceptical at first but walking and paying real attention to the sounds of birds, the wind blowing and taking in the smells really did help me reconnect with nature. 

I’ve lived nearby the castle for so many years and had never been, now I don’t think I will ever stop going. 

Has the project impacted your mental health? 

Big time!  

In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back. I looked forward to going on a Tuesday and being laughed at (good naturedly!) for getting stressed about art projects. 

The group is like a big family, if we see each other struggling we take notice and offer support. I’ve made friends I never would have met if I hadn’t joined. 

Group through pinhole camera
Burgh Castle Almanac group

Now I’m connected to the world again I want to take this experience as far as I can and I want to give back to the project and people what they have given to me. 

“Heritage is about that feeling of belonging, knowing that this is your place and understanding how your history fits within wider history. It is a part of being human.”

Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust – find out how they use heritage to support mental health.

How has coronavirus (COVID-19) and the lockdown changed things for you? 

I work to manage my mental health by trying not to get weighed down by too much news or social media. Each day I say something new and positive to myself including the fact that this situation will not beat me – I will beat it. 

In terms of the project, we have definitely not stopped. 

We meet on Zoom every week where we talk and complete challenges such as mindfulness maps to stay in touch with each other and heritage. 

Zoom screenshot
Meeting on Zoom

We also have a closed Facebook group with more than 50 members where we post creative challenges. In fact, lockdown has meant the group is more active than ever and remains a way we can pick up on if someone is having a down day. 

“The group is like a big family, if we see each other struggling we take notice and offer support. I’ve made friends I never would have met if I hadn’t joined.”

I’ll admit, the situation was disheartening at first, but the communication and support is still there and so helpful. 

When lockdown ends, we will meet up again and there are so many positive things to plan and do for the project. I’m excited and so thankful we will have the opportunity.  

More information

See our interview with the Restoration Trust’s Director, Laura Drysdale. The Restoration Trust’s ‘culture therapy’ model uses heritage, arts and culture to support people who experience mental illness.

The Burgh Castle Almanac is a partnership between the Restoration Trust, Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Access Community Trust and Norfolk Museums Services. It is part of the wider National Lottery-funded Water Mills and Marshes Landscape Partnership project

Every project The National Lottery Heritage Fund supports must achieve our inclusion outcome: a wider range of people will be involved with heritage. Read our inclusion advice to find out more.