The Local Heritage Engagement Network (LHEN) is a project which aims to provide advice and guidance to local people who wish to champion archaeology and heritage in their local areas and make sure that all stakeholders understand the importance of historic environment issues on their doorsteps.
Archaeology is currently under threat across the country from the effects of budget cuts to local authorities. Many authorities are cutting archaeology, heritage and museum services in an attempt to meet these financial targets. Whilst we recognise that local authorities face significant financial challenges, we perceive that there may be a lack of recognition of the public value of heritage and archaeology and the important contribution to the local economy and regeneration, to tourism and to creating communities in local authority work.
We know that people are passionate about these issues, however, we also observe that many people do not know how to get involved or do not feel well enough informed to speak up. The LHEN project aims to build this local capacity to engage in advocacy and campaigning for heritage issues on the ground where local people can make a difference.
Our team supports local groups interested in their historic environment to protect and advocate for their local archaeology, history and heritage, through the provision of practical advice, platforms for discussion and information-sharing, assistance and training.
The LHEN project is about uncovering support, informing people on the importance of the issues and the severity of current threats in their area, and making sure they can communicate their concerns to decision-makers at a local and national level.
We aim to develop a Local Heritage Network of groups sharing issues, lessons learned and best practice. The involvement of local people in debates over these cuts, and how their local historic environment is protected, is more important now than ever if we are to safeguard our heritage assets for future generations. Our project covers England, Scotland and Wales, and is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
Working with local groups and national and local partners, we aim to:
- Develop the Local Heritage Engagement Network as a powerful voice for local communities involved in heritage issues
- Provide a toolkit of information and best practice guidance to support groups who want to get more involved in speaking up for heritage and archaeology services in their local area
- Facilitate effective communication between different groups and organisations who are working to protect the historic environment in a variety of ways across the country to maximise impact
- Raise public awareness of local Historic Environment Records (HERs) and their vital role in ensuring that the historic environment is properly considered and protected as part of the planning process
- Raise public awareness of the impact of ongoing funding cuts to local authority heritage services for the historic environment, and provide support for groups who want to get more involved in debates about heritage services in their local areas
Communicate to local government the vast public interest in archaeology, history, and heritage, and the impact of cuts, and to help advise on models for sustainable delivery of services.
Get your voice heard
Your historic environment and heritage are currently under threat from government cuts and local authority attitudes which do not recognise the importance of the roles it fulfils at the heart of local communities.
The LHEN project wants to get people to join in with advocacy and campaigning to make sure that decision-makers take note. We want people to:
- Write to their local MPs and Councillors telling them that they value heritage
- Make sure that all archaeological projects or activities contribute to advocacy aims by communicating effectively with the media and with local authorities
- Join a local group which is active in campaigning in their local area
The LHEN toolkit provides practical resources and guidance for communities who need support with their campaigns and advocacy work. This toolkit provides information on everything from how to get in touch with your local councillors and Heritage Champions to understanding the planning process, contacting your local media and advice and guidance on effective letter-writing. The toolkit is an evolving series of documents, and is updated regularly working with stakeholders and local people on the ground, so you can be assured the advice is accurate, current and relevant.
The LHEN team members are Rob Lennox and Lorna Richardson. You can email then at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up for the LHEN bulletin by emailing the team.
You can follow the project on Twitter @lhen_cba and follow the LHEN Facebook Page too.
If you are involved in promoting, protecting and looking after archaeological sites in your local areas, and want to be informed of any immediate issues affecting historic environment service provision, or feed into our case studies and good practice to help other groups, please get in touch!
The project is working with a number of key partners, including the Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME), the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers UK (ALGAO), the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and Civic Voice.