Just over a year ago we were lucky enough to be awarded a Sharing Heritage grant of £10,000 by the Heritage Lottery Fund. The grant has enabled us to explore, share and offer an understanding of modern society in Weston-super-Mare. The Sharing Heritage project has been completely volunteer led under the supervision of the Community Liaison Officer. Volunteers have helped to explore the cultural heritage of the varied communities in town, offering the opportunity to share traditions, religions and cultural differences with visitors to Weston Museum.

We have organised training for volunteers in oral history recording and the technical skills to produce a Touch Screen interactive. The end result has been a series of exhibitions in the community gallery. The volunteers have benefitted from gaining new skills and have had fun in the process.

So far volunteers Chris and Jamie have spoken about the benefits of working with the Greek community and also with the Alzheimer’s Society at Sandford memory café. We have also worked closely with the Black and Ethnic Minority network, collecting oral histories by people from Guatemala and Venezuela and displaying their cultural artefacts. Our next exhibition from October onwards will be about the Uphill Village Society. The exhibition will showcase photographs from the archives of the society contrasting with new photographs taken by the A1 Camera Club. Much of the content will be to remember the First World War and those villagers who bravely fought in it, as well as lighter themes such as the annual scarecrow festival.

The community exhibition space has been so popular that we are fully booked until the end of 2019! Forthcoming exhibitions will include: The Spanish Civil War and the Link to the West Country, Pride and the Citizens Advice Bureau. All of the photographs and oral histories will eventually be deposited at the South West Heritage Trust, Taunton, where they can be accessed by future researchers.

The Sharing Heritage grant has also enabled us to start putting together a cultural resource box for schools’ use. We will be developing and evaluating this with schools later on this year.

I’d like to say a really big thank you to all the community groups we have worked with over the last year, the volunteers who have worked so hard and finally to the Heritage Lottery Fund who helped to make it happen.