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PROJECT TARGETS AND ACTIVITIES 2: Descriptive

 

4.0 Publicity and Public Involvements

 

Alongside the wide range of formal project Activities, including newsletters, website, conference and so on, there was another range of publicity and public involvements which were not project Activities as such, and are therefore not reflected in the Table above or in the Activities numbering system (1.00 = Archive "Weekends", 2.00 = ATA Events, 3.00 = Oral History Recording and Transcription, and so on), but which contributed to meeting the general obligation that HLF grant-recipients take on to engage with a wider public, and to let people know about the project and about HLF's co-funding of it. This positive challenge to reach out and find ways of engaging with others prompted the Trust to do a number of things it had never done before, or to do them in new ways. It was a positive encouragement to experimentation and growth.

 

4.0.1 Advertisements for project staff

One of the best forms of early publicity for the project proved to be the advertisements for the oral historian and archivist positions, which appeared in Guardian Online, on the Oral History Society's website, on the project website, on various email lists, and in the Society of Archivists' employment bulletin in February 2010. Designed to generate interest and enthusiasm, the advertisements certainly brought applicants and ensured a high quality project team, but they also generated a number of other emails and phone calls, from which emerged two oral history volunteers, a new member of the Advisory Panel, an ATA Event participant, and an M.A. student who later took part in an Archive Weekend, and during the period of the project was awarded an ESRC Ph.D. Fellowship which will draw on the work of the project.

 

4.0.2 Outside Reportage

The Trust had previously had little experience of working with the local press, and in setting out at the beginning of the project were considerably helped by Chris Campbell, a young journalist then working at the Gloucestershire Echo, as well as by the HLF's press officer, Phillip Cooper. The official HLF Press release on the award of the project was issued on January 18, 2010, and was followed by articles in the Gloucestershire Echo on January 21st, in the Wetherby (Yorkshire) News on January 22nd, and in the Hereford Journal on January 29th. The latter did not appear in Internet searches, but were brought to the project team's attention by local people who already knew about the project, suggesting that further articles might have been published in local newspapers in other parts of the country.

 

A second article, with a photograph, appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo on January 28th, 2010, and the local village column in the 'Communities' section of the Gloucestershire Echo on May 6th carried a note on the impending Open Day. Following the end-of-project celebrations on September 30th, 2011, the October 1st edition of the Gloucestershire Echo carried a strong article by Political Editor Max Wilkinson entitled "Celebrations for care project end", describing the project and HLF's role in it, and including a photograph of those who were at the celebration.

 

A full description of the project appeared in the Current British News section of the Oral History Society's Journal in 2010 (Vol. 38 No. 2, p. 19), with an update in 2011 (Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 20-21).

 

Notes on "Therapeutic Living" appeared in the Child Care History Network Newsletters 4 (8 February 2010), 6 (10 December 2010), 7 (13 April 2011), and 8 (26.8.2011).

 

Farther afield, the St. George's School (Rhode Island) e-news carried a report of the project on April 9th, 2010.

 

4.0.3 Outside publications

September 2011. BOP Consulting: "Assessment of the social impact of volunteering in HLF-funded projects: Yr 3, HLF, Final Report"

In the Autumn of 2010 volunteers in the still-new project took part in BOP Consulting's survey of the social impact of volunteering, conducted on behalf of the HLF. 134 projects were enlisted, of which 80 returned usable completed questionnaires. Of these 80 projects, "Therapeutic Living" was in the top seven in terms of the percentage of returns in the final sample. "Therapeutic Living" volunteers were quoted three times in the final published report.

 

October 2011. Anne Pirrie, Ewelina Rydzewska & Gale Macleod (2011): "Caught in the net? Interdisciplinary perspectives on a longitudinal view of emotional and behavioural difficulties", Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 16:4, 339-350

"We aim to explore not only the young women’s individual ‘developmental trajectories’, but also the intricacies and complexities of their social networks, both actual and virtual, and the impact that these have had and continue to have on their lives.2"

 

"2. The study will be informed by the pioneering work undertaken by the Therapeutic Living with Other People’s Children Project, an oral history centred project relating to life and work in residential therapeutic environments for young people between about 1930 and 1980."

 

4.0.4 External Websites, Email Groups, and Social Networking Sites

The Trust joined both the Community Archives and Heritage Group website and the Culture24 website, creating Trust webpages with descriptions and links to the project itself. The Care Leavers Association, Child Care History Network, Children Webmag, Oral History Society, East Midlands Oral History Archive and other websites also held information about the project. The Red Hill School website created and maintained by Terry Wilson uploaded a substantial collection of photographs and documents scanned by Terry during the Red Hill Archive "Weekend", with connections and information about the project and the project website.

 

A variety of email lists were used throughout the project, to circulate the original positions-vacant advertisements; to announce and raise awareness of upcoming events; to circulate the newsletters; to discuss issues, and to give project updates. Email groups included This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for archives; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for oral history; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for history; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for therapeutic environments; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for alternative education; and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for child and youth care.

 

The project team used external social networking sites only very tentatively, joining and commenting in the 'Red Hill School closed in 1992' Facebook page and Friends Re-United for 'Shotton Hall School for Boys'.

 

4.0.5 Open Day, May 8, 2010: A step-change for the Trust

Forty-eight people came from as near as the village and as far as Nottingham and London to share in the Trust's Open Afternoon on May 8th, organised to help launch the project. Participants included teenagers and nonagenarians, former children, former staff, professionals, Trustees, neighbours, academics, and two volunteers who came separately from London. In his first official public act as the new Chair of the Trust, Richard Rollinson gave the welcome and described the 'step-change' taking place in the Trust's approach to its work:

 

"the Open Day on this occasion is an occasion where we are bringing people from outside in, but it is also an Open Day where we're really signaling that the Trust is taking a big step from within to without." The Project "is going to take the Trust itself and in particular the Archive in a much more active way out, in, with, and amongst other people…"

 

Speakers included Executive Director of the Trust John Cross, former children and former staff, as well as HLF Regional Committee member Sam Hunt, who helped to unveil a plaque celebrating the Trust's partnership with HLF, and congratulated the Trust on the success of the application, emphasising that it was won in competition with others at a very tight time in the HLF's finances. "What you've got here" he said, "is great, it is very exciting, it deserves to be better known...You have deserved this grant...And you've earned it."

 

4.0.6 Volunteers, Researchers and Other Visitors

A major source of engagement and publicity was the face-to-face involvement of people with the project. There were 991 overall "participant events" during the course of the project - days or parts of days when volunteers, visitors, researchers, archive donors, Archive "Weekend" and ATA Event participants, and conference delegates entered the project logbook. Some of these were briefer encounters - such as conference delegates or meetings held on the site for non-project purposes but with tours given of the Archive and the project: 253 instances of these kinds were accounted for by 175 individuals. Others were more extended: 16 researchers accounted for 40, or 2 1/2 instances per person, for example. Volunteers - who ranged in age from 15 to 96 - tended to have more extensive involvement still: 168 volunteers accounted for 698 Events, for an average of a little over four volunteering instances per person.

 

4.0.7 Publication and Presentations

a. Published Papers

The first published paper to come out of the project was a well-received article by Project Administrative Support/Transcriptionist Chris Long entitled "It's not just typing - reflections of a transcriptionist", which appeared in the Spring 2011 edition of the Oral History Society e-Newsletter, and re-published on the project website.

 

 b. Conferences

October 2010. "Community cohesion in a new landscape", Specialist Schools and Academies Trust National Community Cohesion Conference, Manchester

Project Management Group member Stephen Steinhaus, in his new role as Assistant Principal of Trinity Catholic School in Leamington Spa, where the project's performance troupe is based, took part in the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust National Community Cohesion conference in Manchester. He presented the Alcester Grammar School video of their "Other People's Children" performance, and discussed the "Therapeutic Living" project as an exemplar of "how to use arts in the community to both treat kids as artists and give voice to the 'hidden' groups within a community at large."

 

November 2010. "From Coalface to Facebook? Using new social media and technology to record, remember and share child care experience", Child Care History Network Annual Conference, P.E.T.T., Toddington, Gloucestershire

In helping to devise and organise the Annual CCHN Conference in November 2010, the project director was able to help develop its potential as an unofficial intercalated ATA Event for members of the project team and volunteers. Held at the Trust premises in Toddington, all the members of the project team and several volunteers were able to take part. The theme - "using new social media and technology to record, remember and share child care experience" reflected and fed into the project's concern with exploring the Internet as a means of recording and sharing the heritage of residential therapeutic child care. Gudrun Limbrick of the HLF-supported Birmingham Children's Homes oral history project, and Jim Goddard, Secretary of the Care Leavers' Association, were invited by the project director to present their experiences with the use of the Internet as part of the afternoon session, with a project team group itself giving the third presentation. The project team consisted of a former Bodenham Manor student and project volunteer, project director Craig Fees, and project oral historian Gemma Geldart. Although the afternoon session went well past the conference closing time of 4 o'clock, and the Project presentation spilled well over its allotted 30 minutes, it still felt too short. CCHN Chair David Lane particularly remarked afterwards that "I would have liked to hear more from [the former Bodenham student], who, I thought, was raising a serious and meaty issue, just as we were running out of time."

 

References to "Therapeutic Living" as part of reports on the project itself were published in the online Goodenough Caring Journal, the online Children Webmag, the Child Care History Network website, and the Shirley Ayres Consulting 'Aspire Knowledge' website.

 

September 2011, "The Struggle of Memory Against Forgetting: Telling the story and sharing the experiences of residential child care'; Project Conference, University of Birmingham

Discussed in more detail below (4.12), the conference gave each member of the project team, as well as volunteers and students, a unique opportunity to present their work and experiences in a university setting to a wider public.

 

c. Presentations

February 2011. Charterhouse Group, Birmingham

The project director gave a presentation on the project and the Archive and Study Centre to a group of twelve directors and managers of therapeutic environments at a meeting of the Charterhouse Group of therapeutic communities for children and young people on February 3rd in Birmingham. There was a lively discussion, and an agreement, subsequently realised, to hold future meetings of the Charterhouse Group at the Trust premises in Toddington, in part to take advantage of the resources generated by the project and those already held in the Archive and Study Centre.

 

September 2011. "Building for the Future", The Council of Therapeutic Communities (TCTC) First Annual Conference, Selly Oak

Project oral historian Gemma Geldart and project consultant Patrick Webb OBE used a break-out session of the inaugural conference of the new TCTC organisation to test-run an audio-visual PowerPoint presentation about the project. The presentation had been prepared by Gemma Geldart for general use, drawing on preparatory work by project archivist Frances Meredith earlier in the year. The conference itself explored and celebrated the joining of the Association of Therapeutic Communities with the Charterhouse Group of Therapeutic Communities to create The Council of Therapeutic Communities (TCTC), an auspicious time to present a project linking past and future; and several expressions of interest were made on the possibilities of Archive "Weekends" in prisons and other situations.

 

4.0.8 Involvements and Participations

2010-2011. Birmingham Children's Home Oral History Project

During the course of the project "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" formed a close working relationship with Birmingham Central Library's "Birmingham Children's Home Oral History Project", which had begun work in November 2009 to put together a history of children’s homes in Birmingham based on archive sources and oral history. Birmingham's project director, Sîan Roberts, was also a member of the "Therapeutic Living" Project Management Group; and in March 2010 the "Therapeutic Living" project director was invited to join the Birmingham project's Advisory Group, which was chaired by "Therapeutic Living" Advisory Panel member Prof. Ian Grosvenor of the University of Birmingham. Both projects were funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and worked together on a number of occasions and at different levels: For example, a Data Protection Act training for the project team organised by Sîan Roberts (see 4.5.1), and the Oral History Assessment, Training and Advisory Event in November 2010, where Birmingham's oral historian Gudrun Limbrick presented issues raised by the project (see 4.2.2). As a member of the Child Care History Network conference organising group, the project director invited both Gudrun Limbrick and the Birmingham project's archivist Sarah Pymer to present their work at CCHN's June 2010 "Child Care Records: Use and Access" conference at Warwick University, and Gudrun to expand on that work at CCHN's November 2010 conference, "From Coalface to Facebook?" (see 4.0.7.b). She and Sîan Roberts both presented papers at the project conference in 2011 (see 4.12), and a paper by Sarah Pymer in the Society of Archivists' journal (in press) references the dialogue with the project.

 

September 2010, September 2011. Wennington School AGM,

Project oral historian Gemma Geldart travelled to Yorkshire for the Wennington Old Scholars Association AGM in September 2010, combining it with fieldwork in which she travelled across Yorkshire recording 6 interviews over 5 days. She and the project director took part in the 2011 AGM as well, meeting members and officers, reporting on the progress and future of the project, and doing more recording. On both occasions there were trips to Ingmanthorpe Hall, the site of the school, with tours through the building thanks to the kindness of current residents. Project brochures were left during the 2011 visit.

 

February 2010. University of Gloucestershire

Project director Craig Fees was invited to conduct a two hour session on oral history with 21 history students in Dr. Iain Robertson's HS240 'Methods of Historical Enquiry' module at the University of Gloucestershire, a second-year historical methods training module aimed at preparing students for dissertation work. Dr. Robertson subsequently reported that the students were "all very positive" about the session, "with one group saying you were inspirational and all agreeing that you should be invited back next year." In the students' own formal qualitative group evaluation they commented "Oral historian guest speaker took a very active approach to our learning and left us feeling very motivated towards using oral history in our dissertation work."

 

May 2011. Caldecott Community 100th anniversary celebration:

Project director Craig Fees was invited by the Caldecott Association to take part in the Caldecott Community's 100th anniversary celebrations at Canterbury Cathedral on May 13th. Presided over by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the service drew on the many traditions of the Community. Over tea and cakes afterwards, a number of new connections were made with former Caldecott children, several of whom then came to the third Caldecott "Weekend"in August.

 

June 2011. Community Archives and Heritage Group conference

The project director took part in the annual conference in London of the Community Archives and Heritage Group, and distributed project newsletters. It was his first CAHG conference, and his first meeting with Elaine Davis, Administrator of the Community Archives Website, who later joined the ATA Event on Archives and Archiving (see 4.2.7). It was also his first meeting with Janet Nixon, Senior Heritage Projects Officer for Surrey Heritage, and a member of the Oral History Society's Regional Network, who was speaking at the conference, and agreed to be a discussant at the project conference.

 

July 2011. Cotswold Community

The project director was invited to attend and recorded the final celebration of former staff, children, family and friends upon the closure of the pioneering Cotswold Community, a former Approved School transformed into a therapeutic community in the late 1960s under the leadership of the late Richard Balbernie. Talks by former Director John Whitwell and Governor David Randolph were recorded and uploaded to the project website, with photographs; the project director took 629 photographs, several of which were used in Young Minds Magazine in an article on the closure (see John Whitwell, "A Lost Community", Young Minds Magazine, Issue 113, August/September 2011, pp. 36-37).

 

September 2011. Mulberry Bush Old Pupils Day

P.E.T.T. Executive Director and former Director of the Mulberry Bush School, Richard Rollinson, was accompanied by the project's oral historian to the community's annual students' reunion day in September, 2011. With former children and their families/carers revisiting the school, the day was relaxed and informal with a barbecue and bright sunshine providing ideal conditions for a game of rounders. With copies of school photographs and artefacts on display, the event had echoes of an Archive "Weekend", and the question of a P.E.T.T.-based event was raised. One gentleman who was a child there in the 1940s/50s took great interest in the project and has since visited Toddington to look at photographs and other material in the Archive, and for a preliminary discussion towards doing an oral history recording.

 

During the day, project oral historian Gemma Geldart discussed with Mulberry Bush staff the research being done by the school into former children and their experiences. An online survey, which many attendees completed on the day, is being conducted to help assess the 'success' and outcomes the school has had, and they discussed oral history as a way of supplementing the research with more qualitative information. The relationship between the Trust and the Mulberry Bush has grown closer over the course of the project, with growing links and overlapping objectives, and there are potentially several exciting avenues to explore beyond the project.

 

October 2011. Voluntary Action History Society: Voluntary Sector Archives Meeting

On behalf of the project team, project oral historian Gemma Geldart attended a meeting convened by the Voluntary Action History Society and hosted at the British Library on October 16, centred on discussions around the archives of voluntary/third sector/charity archives and how to promote better practice. In its final month, the project was looking ahead and engaging with the wider field in order to share, contribute, and learn from others.