Seventeen heritage projects across the UK have been awarded a share of £1m from the National Lottery to support volunteers to develop and contribute their digital skills, both remotely and in person.
The capital comes from The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative, and will include projects such as Museum and Heritage Access 2022, led by charity for blind and partially sighted people Vocal Eyes.
The project will recruit digital volunteers primarily from the deaf, disabled and neurodivergent communities to help increase inclusion at heritage sites across the UK. It will see volunteers co-design and carry out an audit of how disability access information is shared on museum and heritage websites and how accessible the website itself is.
They will then play a part in improving this by delivering workshops for heritage staff.
Another project, CollabArchive, will be led by Northern Irish creative media arts centre The Nerve Centre, in collaboration with the Public Records Office of Northern Ireland.
Using podcasts, virtual reality tours and other digital techniques, volunteers will tag and archive material relating to the topics of Gender & Women, LGBTQ+, Disability, Citizenship & Social Rights and Migration.
The project will offer volunteer opportunities to LGBTQ+ consortiums, disability action groups, young people and people from minority ethnic backgrounds to add new perspectives to the archives.
The projects are hoped to provide heritage organisations with the perspectives and skills of ‘at distance’ and on-site digital volunteers, including those who may not have had the chance to volunteer before.
The impact of the new volunteering opportunities and ways of working will be shared across the heritage sector.
Ros Kerslake, CEO at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said the initiative would help to “break down barriers and inspire the sector to get even more people involved in the heritage they love.”
Full list of the projects awarded funding
Capture and storage of WW2 British Resistance Operational Bases, Observation Posts and Training sites – The Coleshill Auxiliary Research Team
CollabArchive – Nerve Centre
Crowd Cymru: A Crowdsourcing Platform for Archives in Wales – Torfaen County Borough Council
Digital Heritage Skills: Telling Inverclyde’s Story on Wikipedia – Inverclyde Community Development Trust
Digital Heroes – Heritage Trust Network
Digitising multilingual heritage – Manchester Museum
Diving into the digital archives of the ‘Earl of Abergavenny’ – Portland Museum Trust £59,014
Museum and Heritage Access 2022 – Vocal Eyes
Remote and Digital Heritage Volunteering – Glasgow Women’s Library
Remotely Digital – Barnsley Council
Ripon 1350 – Ripon Cathedral
Saving and sharing our digital plant heritage – Plant Heritage
Telling tales and talking trails: empowering our volunteers – Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust
The Digital Dig: Uncovering Britain’s Lost Plant Nurseries – Royal Horticultural Society
Torre Abbey Digital Volunteers – Torbay Council
Unlocking Landscapes – University of Exeter
Vibrant Volunteering Virtually Everywhere – Plantlife