Living Links is a Heritage Lottery funded project which seeks to collect and record local history from communities across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. It aims to help communities understand and embrace their changing histories, making connections between the past and the present. It is an innovative programme to support diverse communities with their heritage activity, and to make stronger bridges between record offices and the communities they serve. A key method of building these connections is through the Archives Ambassadors.
An Archives Ambassador acts as a link between their community group and the local record offices. They act as “champions of local history” by passing on the skills learnt from archives professionals – this helps community groups develop and learn to safeguard their heritage collections. Ambassadors also help their community group to make discoveries with archival materials, and they assist the record office to keep in contact with their local communities. Anyone from a community group can become an Archive Ambassador.
Training is given to Ambassadors by archives professionals – including such topics as how to digitise archives, how to create an Oral History, and what the recommended preservation techniques are. Information is also given on funding and publishing, as well as advice on creating an exhibition, and ideas for group activities. Training courses are free and are run two or three times a year. Sessions are held at the Hampshire Record Office and are delivered in a relaxed, informal manner with no more than fifteen people in each group. There are plenty of opportunities for participants to talk to archives professionals directly about any queries or concerns that they may have.
Archives Ambassadors take the skills they have learnt and share them – not only with people in their community groups, but with others. It is hoped that this will encourage new people to get involved with their local heritage, and will help new groups set up their own collections. Living Links hopes that new partnerships will provide an opportunity to bring new material and new generations of members to existing heritage organisations in the future.
In addition to the free training, Archives Ambassadors receive one year’s free membership to Hampshire Archives Trust, and the opportunity to meet other community groups through a programme of events and activities. Currently, there are over 50 Ambassadors throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
For more information, please contact:
Hampshire Record Office
Sussex Street, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 8TH