University aims to connect locals with their heritage

Wed 22 December, 2021
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The University of Bedfordshire’s Heritage Enterprise Hub has launched a series of events this winter in order to connect people in the community with both local and personal history.

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and overseen by Bedfordshire’s Arts & Culture Projects team, the Heritage Enterprise Hub provides a programme of needs-driven training sessions and events for the region.

Heritage Enterprise HubRae Leaver, Heritage Projects & Partnerships Officer at the University, commented: “Questions around our national stories, our local histories and the heritage we are at risk of losing are so important, especially as we navigate through the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is crucial that everybody feels like those questions are answered by the communities they affect. The more people involved, the more we can capture.”

For these events, the Hub has worked in partnership with participants of the University’s Heritage Impact Accelerator (HIA) programme – a coinciding scheme which also received funding from the National Lottery. The HIA is a 10-month long programme consisting of two cohorts of diverse, cultural practitioners, helping them to develop community-based heritage projects. The first of these cohorts was announced in July 2021.

The first Heritage Enterprise Hub event took place at the end of November via Zoom and featured HIA participants Carly Smith and Aimee Gomez, who spoke about their interest in working with younger people to help them better understand their history and heritage.

Aimee said: “Young people and heritage are not two words that you would automatically put together and this is the exact reason that changing the public's perception of heritage is needed. Young people are our future and it’s vital that we understand and learn new ways of engaging them with heritage by capturing their lives and stories.”

Carly SmithCarly – who has also been an active member of Luton Heritage Forum since it reformed in 2018 – added: “Scoping out need in the local community is a crucial first step in the development of any project, and attendees can take away an understanding of how this has been achieved by Heritage Impact Accelerator participants, as well as practical advice on how they can ignite their own project ideas.”

The next event is taking place on Tuesday 11th January 2022, where HIA participants Lizzy Fretwell and Paul Vitty will discuss how people can apply their specific skillset to enhance heritage projects.

The final event will take place on Tuesday 18th January 2022 and will feature HIA participants Paul Jolly and Perry Louis, who will hold a conversation about their individual heritage projects and will look into the history of the 33 Arts Centre and the Jazz Funk dance form.

Free tickets for these events can be registered for via the Creative Bedfordshire platform.

Applications for the second cohort of Heritage Impact Accelerator participants will open in January and the Heritage Enterprise Hub will be running application workshops on Zoom on the 12th, 19th and 23rd of January between 1:30–3pm and 5:30–7pm, to give support and advice to those looking to apply. For more information, contact

Image Credits: Rachel Cherry


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