Community Archive & Heritage Award 2017- Winners Announced

Qisetna: Talking Syria overall 2017 winner
The Apna Heritage Archive Winner of the ‘Best New Group
Lodsworth Heritage Society Winner of the Best Website
Morecambe Bay Partnership (Oral History Volunteers winner of the Most Inspiring Community Archive

Qisetna: Talking Syria, an inspiring project giving a platform to Syrians and people with a connection to the country to share their stories, have been announced as the Community Archive and Heritage Group of the Year.

Winners of the Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG)  awards  were announced at the groups annual conference in London.

Overall Winner

The overall 2017 winner, Talking Syria , also won the ‘Most Innovative’ category in this year’s awards. In reaching their decision, the judges commented:

“Talking Syria is an extra-ordinary example of an archive both preserving the voices of displaced and fractured communities for the future and acting as an engine of community resilience in the present. This is an archive at its best: raw emotion, portraying real life and its impact on individuals and families, community leadership and involvement, a focus on tomorrow – the younger generation – and an excellent website for outreach and advocacy. This archive will become an outstanding research tool for the future. But it is also – evidently – succeeding in its principal short-term goal of community building. We also commend the Talking Syria website and encourage everyone to take a look. The use of large apps gives a wonderful simplicity and clarity. From the first click, we all felt compelled to keep reading.”

Talking Syria began in 2013, aiming to be a voice for Syrians displaced around the world, including in the UK. The project encourages Syrians of all denominations and perspectives to write stories containing memories or special moments that enable them to reconnect with their human side and their heritage. The focus is storytelling, art and culture as the building blocks for longer-term community resilience. Talking Syria also runs an informative blog which is also non-political and non-religious.

Impressive Runners-up

There are three close overall runners-up this year that take the honours in the other three award categories.

Winner of the ‘Best New Group’

This is Black Country Visual Arts (Wolverhampton) for its Apna Heritage Archive. The judges commented:

“The Apna Heritage Archive run by Black Country Visual Arts (BCVA) is an outstanding example of collaboration capturing vitally important local heritage, in this case photographs and memorabilia on the migration of South Asian Punjabis to Wolverhampton from the 1960s to 1980s. The project has a strong educational element, including local schools (and the teaching of photography) and Wolverhampton University. We noted the involvement of a Gurdwara, the city council and others, as well as the supportive role of the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). It is great to see HLF becoming more involved in community archives, and we hope that this presages a more strategic approach to the sector.”

Winner of the ‘Best Website’ for 2017

This award was won in 2017 by Lodsworth Heritage Society (West Sussex).

The judges commented:

“The Lodsworth website stood out for its all-round design, accessibility and quality. It is evident that a lot of thought has gone in to using easily-available templates and functionality, with clear links to the society’s research into local history and encouraging local residents to take an interest. Events pages are kept well up to date and the whole site contains a real community feel. While some websites focus on visual impact alone, the Lodsworth just seemed rooted in offering a quality experience.”

Winner of the ‘Most Inspiring Community Archive’

This is Morecambe Bay Partnership (Oral History Volunteers). The judges commented:

“This is a model community partnership aimed at recording the distinctive economic and social history of Morecambe Bay, its unique inshore fishing communities, dialects and environment. An excellent team of twenty volunteers have been trained to collect oral history from interviewing local people using evident best professional practice and building local interest. We were delighted to see that project has plans to deposit its material in the Cumbria and Lancashire Archives services, to ensure its wider dissemination and preservation.”

Enter your own archive in 2018

The awards are sponsored by Dr Nick Barrett and Sticks Research and will run again in 2018. The awards celebrate the importance of community archives and heritage and past winners, not just overall but of categories too, say that winning encouraged the group to carry on and generated new ideas and new members.

Nominations will open later in the year and are open to community groups in the UK and Ireland who are CAHG members (i.e. community archives, community heritage groups, community museums and community archaeology groups). If your group is not already a member of CAHG it is free to join.

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