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.
The focus of the project is on community groups – they are any group of people based in Hampshire or the Isle of Wight who are interested in the history or heritage of their community, family, organisation or activity. They may be long established or just starting as a new group. Living Links can provide support and advice to these groups in many forms, as well as giving assistance in collecting and recording community archives.
Community archives are collections of material that tell the story of a community’s history. They may consist of photographs, documents, sound recordings, printed material, digital media, film and, or objects – a community’s very own ‘memory box’. Community archives are created and owned by the community. They are a great way of bringing people together as anyone can get involved.
Living Links helps to train Archives Ambassadors to support community groups by acting as a representative between their group and the record offices. They are members of a community group who has received free training and advice from archives professionals. Living Links has also created a website with information on the project’s ongoing work, including advice on heritage work and community archives. The project also provides assistance with a number of creative projects within community groups such as exhibitions, audio trails, and workshops. An exhibition has been created which aims to increase awareness and knowledge of Living Links. The illustrated exhibition celebrates the work of local community groups, highlights archives and their links to the past, and explains the work of Hampshire Record Office and the Isle of Wight Record Office. Who do we think we are? is currently on tour throughout Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
The project runs until the end of 2010 and is supported by Hampshire Archives Trust, the Museum, Libraries and Archives Council, Hampshire Archives and Local Studies, and the Isle of Wight Record Office. More than 156 local groups have been involved together with a network of over 100 volunteers.