South Western Federation of Museums and Art Galleries

Gloucestershire Archives wins Archive Volunteering Award

The Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) (ARA) have announced that the ‘Bigger, Better, Stronger: Volunteering Re-Booted’, a project initiated by Gloucestershire Archives at Gloucestershire Heritage Hub, was the winner of the 2019 national Archive Volunteering Award. Sponsored by the ARA, the National Archives (UK) and sector partners, this annual award recognises outstanding work involving volunteers in an archive and records service.

Bigger, Better, Stronger began in March 2018 (when “For the Record”, the first part of the new Heritage Hub, opened) and will continue until December 2020. Working with 17 local partners, and in addition to already-established archive service programmes available, the project has made community space to volunteers of all ages interested in (among others):

  • E-preservation
  • Supporting events, including reminiscence activities
  • “Pinning” images to the Know Your Place digital mapping resource
  • Assisting with oral history recordings
  • Extracting information from 19th century mental health records, as part of the Hub’s Never Better partnership project
  • Social Media
  • Gardening

The judges said:

"Bigger, Better, Stronger was the clear winner this year in a strong field. We were struck by the evidence of new audience and participatory engagement, as well as the positive impact of pro-active engagement on both the archive service and the volunteers themselves. Overall, we saw something inspiring and transformative in the design, management and implementation of this project by the archive service team that sets a new benchmark for the sector. It is great to see often marginalised groups being treated as a core audience for both the archive service and the Hub more broadly."

The judges also commended the partners involved in Bigger, Better, Stronger (see below for full list).

Gloucestershire County Council's Cabinet Member for Finance and Change, Cllr Lynden Stowe (with responsibility for archives), said “Gloucestershire Archives play an important role in gathering, keeping and sharing the documented history of Gloucestershire and beyond. However, the real community impact the Heritage Hub partners are having on local people is awe-inspiring, and this is only made possible by all the hard work of staff and volunteers - we are very proud to have received this national award, and I would like to say a personal thank you to everyone involved in the project.”

ARA’s Chair, Karl Magee, said:

Like all local authority services, archives have been affected by the period of austerity. It is refreshing to see a Council having the vision to recognise the contribution Record Offices and their collections can make in addressing entrenched community challenges such as social exclusion and marginalisation. Lancashire (last year’s winners) and Gloucestershire this year show what can be achieved by volunteers and supporting groups under the visionary guidance and leadership of professional staff. Congratulations to everyone involved in Bigger, Better, Stronger.’

Further details on the project are at: