A project using archaeology to support mental health and wellbeing has just received a major boost from the Government, with the awarding of £119,000 through the Community Renewal Fund to run Archaeology on Prescription in York from December 2021 to June 2022.
Archaeology on Prescription is a new project from The JORVIK Group and York Archaeology, in which members of community with no previous engagement in archaeology or heritage, join an archaeological dig in the shadow of the city walls at the former care home, Willow House. The funding will enable Phase II of the initiative to go ahead, following the completion of an initial programme this week.
“As our initial pilot project ends, it is absolutely fantastic to know that we will be able to continue into 2022 thanks to this government funding,” comments Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for The JORVIK Group. “We have completed a nine-week programme, welcoming participants introduced by our partners at Changing Lives, and Converge, and feedback so far has been absolutely fantastic – we’re making a real different to the mental health of our participants. The dig offers a perfect blend of meeting people, building confidence and building new skills and interests, with the added benefit of unearthing items that tell us a story about this site dating back hundreds or thousands of years.”
The site is owned by City of York Council, and with future of the site currently under review, it provides the ideal venue for the archaeological dig – with a colourful history of this part of York including factories and manufacturing, and a church known to have stood in this location. The initial pilot scheme was supported by the Ed De Nunzio Charitable Trust, Guildhall Ward Funding , The Assura Community Fund, City of York Council and Make It York’s Culture & Wellbeing fund, and Arnold Clark Community Fund.
The Community Renewal Fund has to be used by 30 June 2022, so it is planned that two nine-week programmes will run in 2022 as well as a period of evaluation and planning. The project to be funded by the CRF will enable more people to join the project through referral by their own GPs as well as through established organisations. “Our initial work has enabled us to test ideas for the project with partners that we have worked with previously and trial activities exploring the site through excavation, creative arts and research in and around Walmgate,” adds Sarah. “This work will all feed into this new programme funded by the Community Renewal Fund, using the learning that we have gained and involving additional partners that have now been inspired to join us, such as The Hut, SASH, Tang Hall Smart, Door 84 and hopefully more.”
Within this new programme will also be opportunities for individuals to move onto further funded training creating new pathways for employment.
The team are inviting any groups or individuals who would like to join the next phase of this exciting project to contact Kat Gargett, YAT’s Community Engagement Officer on [email protected]
Archaeology on Prescription was put forward by City of York Council for a Community Renewal Fund grant in the summer. Full details of the terms of the grant are expected to be confirmed by the government in the next few days.
Cllr Darryl Smalley, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Communities at City of York Council, said:
“I’m delighted that the Archaeology on Prescription project has been selected alongside an incredible range of national projects and programmes. This funding is recognition of the brilliant work the pilot project has already achieved in the city.
“With the funding secured, this project will support local residents in their mental health and wellbeing by connecting them with others across the city, allowing them to build new skills and their confidence in the process.”