Over the past two years the Burgh Castle Almanac project, led by the Restoration Trust, has been supporting people who experience mental illness through a creative approach to exploring the history and landscapes of the Roman Fort. Before the coronavirus outbreak this involved monthly visits to the site for mindfulness walks, talks with experts and the creation of art in response to what the group experienced. These visits had to stop during lock-down, but the group have found ways of staying in touch, through Zoom meetings, their Facebook group and phone calls. They have continued to share and participate in creative challenges and to chat and support each other.
The group’s imaginative response to Covid-19 was highlighted by the National Heritage Lottery Fund during Mental Health Awareness Week at the end of May. In her article, Laura Drysdale, Director of the Restoration Trust, explains the thinking behind using heritage to support people with mental health. She says ‘Heritage is about that feeling of belonging, knowing that this is your place and understanding how your history fits within wider history. It is a part of being human’. John Durrant, a participant in the project, describes how the project has affected his life: ‘In my life I went through a long time not feeling connected to anything. The project gave me that connection back.’ The two articles make uplifting reading in difficult times:
Burgh Castle Almanac is a partnership between the Restoration Trust, Norfolk Archaeological Trust, Access Community Trust and Norfolk Museums Service. It is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund through the Broads Authority’s Water Mills and Marshes Landscape Partnership.
Photo credit: Laura Drysdale