Local History Cafes

| Anna Eaton

We’ve recently come across a great community project called Local History Café. The project seeks to tackle loneliness and isolation amongst older residents in the East Midlands and beyond.

Local History Cafés are community based heritage and wellbeing ‘get-togethers’ for local residents aged 50 and over. We love that this project draws on the knowledge and great locations many heritage organisations have, and combines it with passion about the local area’s history from residents.

The project is supported by Museum Development East Midlands and was developed by Beauty and Utility Arts, a social enterprise that works with older people. They work in partnership with heritage sites, supporting them to draw on their collections, knowledge and spaces to positively contribute towards the growing issue of loneliness amongst older community members. In return, organisations open their doors to more visitors and a wealth of stories, adding layers of interest to their own work.

Each month the Local History Café groups meet for a couple of hours for a heritage themed presentation and an activity with tea and cake. There are meetings at Erewash Museum in Derbyshire and Charnwood Museum in Loughborough. There is also a group at Sir John Moore Foundation in Appleby Magna starting next month and an existing group in Lutterworth. Each session costs £3, payable on the day, and support towards transport can be available.

We learnt that places book up fast! When the Lutterworth group was set up they were oversubscribed after just one week and had to start a waiting list. Brilliantly, the Lutterworth group have now become self-run with participants taking care of transport, finance and speakers.

What next?

Beauty and Utility Arts is exploring a big ‘get together’ with existing Local History Cafes, interested organisations and others to exchange ideas. Furthermore, there are plans for lots more Local History Cafes. Museum Development East Midlands are funding a rollout for a total of six groups at heritage sites between now until 2020. There are several other sites in the pipeline and Katherine has big plans for Local History Cafes across the UK.

You can find out more about Local History Cafes on their website and follow them on Twitter @LocalHistoryCaf

Photo by Nathan Dumlao

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