New Initiative Connects Heritage and Health
A new initiative promoting the health and well-being benefits of engaging with heritage has been launched in Frome. The innovative project is called ‘Heritage Connectors’ and it sits within Frome Medical Practice's social prescribing and health coaching team, Health Connections Frome, with funding and support from Historic England. The initiative offers free training as Heritage Connectors to members of the wider public, who then signpost people in their communities to local organisations delivering heritage and wellbeing activities. These activities can include physical exercise gained through historic walks, social interaction from volunteering with a heritage organisation, or a greater connection with a place or community by participating in local history groups.
The project delivers directly to some of the main aims of Historic England’s Heritage and Wellbeing Strategy, published in 2022, which not only aims to encourage more heritage professionals to put wellbeing at the core of their work, but also wants to ensure that everyone can benefit from engaging with heritage.
Desi Gradinarova, Historic Environment lead at the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP) and Senior Policy Adviser on Wellbeing at Historic England, said, “Heritage is our common story – and it belongs to all of us. Its legacy is not only visible through old historic buildings, but through our shared memories and experiences in the place we live in. Heritage Connectors can help people rediscover their connection with Frome, with their communities and with themselves”.
Frome was chosen for this Historic England pilot as a result of Frome Medical Practice's hugely successful ‘Community Connections’ programme, which is part of the internationally recognised Frome Model. Jenny Hartnoll from Frome Medical Practice said, “We are really pleased to be partnering with Historic England to expand our connector work to include Heritage Connectors. The National Academy of Social Prescribing's strategy is for all communities to have 'connectors' by 2026. Frome is leading the way in this exciting work."
The Heritage Connectors Training sessions are free, last 45 minutes and no previous knowledge of heritage is required for signing up. The sessions will take place either in local venues or online. The Heritage Connectors will then be encouraged to signpost family, friends, neighbours and other members of their communities to the points of information about available local heritage wellbeing activities. At present, these access points are an online directory and a telephone line, hosted by Frome Town Council’s Discover Frome, as well as a new monthly Heritage Cafe, run by Frome Heritage CIC.
The Heritage Connectors’ training is facilitated by the Project Coordinator, local author and historian David Lassman, who said, “The enormous benefits experienced through engagement in heritage activities are well documented and it is now a case of getting that across to as many people as possible. I am very pleased to be part of something that aims to improve everyone’s future health and well-being through the town’s rich and illustrious past.”
This is a pilot scheme, which aims to test the potential of local heritage to improve individual and community wellbeing in a place. If it proves successful it will be offered for wider scaling up across the country with the support of Historic England.
For details of our heritage connector information sessions, which anyone is welcome to come along to, click below.
Published: Apr 13, 2023
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