Digital heroes coming to the rescue

Heritage Trust Network trustee Minder Athwal and member Brian Holmshaw get to grips with digital

We are very excited to have been awarded funding from the The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Digital Skills for Heritage initiative for a one-year Digital Heroes project. This project will launch a new stream of digital volunteering by linking young people with small and medium-sized heritage organisations in need of hands-on digital support. We are one of seventeen projects to be awarded funding to create digital volunteering opportunities, supporting volunteers to develop and contribute their digital skills.

50 Heritage Trust Network members will be given an opportunity during 2022 to host a ‘Digital Hero’ who will work with them, in-person and online, to help them adopt digital technology. This could be something as basic as establishing a website or getting on social media or more complex challenges such as producing videos and posting them online, making a podcast or digitising an archive and making it accessible. The heroes, who will all receive training before their assignments, will not just work on the technical aspects of digital but help with the crucial task of developing relevant and accessible content. We see embracing digital technology, with lively and attractive content, as key to our members engaging wider groups of people as visitors, customers, volunteers and trustees.

David Tittle, Network Chief Executive, said “We are really pleased to have our project selected by the Heritage Fund, it will help many of our members to reach out to new groups of people in their communities, and it will enable a diverse group of 50 young people to engage with the heritage sector and feel valued for the skills and knowledge they bring. We would like to thank all those people who buy lottery tickets week after week for making this possible.”

Many Network members have already expressed an interest in benefitting from the project. Carolyn Powell, Town Centre Manager with Huntly Development Trust said “We would really value support from a digital volunteer. It would help us reach people in our community who are on the periphery of any active involvement.” Darren Bridgman of Peter Ashley Activity Centres said: “Help from a digital volunteer will us to communicate our message to a wider audience as well as engage with our local community.” Sandra Deans, Project Manager working with the John Rae Society said: “Having an experienced independent volunteer undertake a review of the digital content to identify areas of improvement would be invaluable. As a small charity, we recognise this needs to be addressed to ensure the Society and the Hall of Clestrain project is well placed to move forward in this digital age. However, we often find we don’t have the skills, the time nor the money to do so. Having this kind of one-to-one support will make a huge difference to the professionalism of our digital output.”

The Network’s partners in the project, helping with recruitment and training, will be Beatfreeks, who have a proven track record of youth engagement in heritage and the Audience Agency a leading not for profit consultancy specialising in public engagement and audience development.

Any Network members interested in hosting a digital hero during 2022, or anyone with digital skills who wants to become a hero,  should email the team to express their interest.

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