Wenningtonian Roger Dingley's camera captured more of the 15th of May's celebration of peace, resilience and new growth, with the Class 2 children of Willersey Primary School taking a central role in planting the kaki tree - a descendent of a Japanese persimmon tree which survived the atomic bomb blast over Nagasaki, Japan, on August 9th, 1945. Planting, praying, singing, dancing, painting, poetry....
Thanks again to everyone who took part, and thanks to Roger for sending his photographs, a selection of which are given below.
The Planned Environment Therapy Trust will be fifty years old in 2016. It is the oldest charity of its kind devoted to therapeutic communities and environments in Britain, and probably in the world. It is almost certainly the only one with a dedicated Archive and Study Centre!
Three years ago, following substantial investment in new conference facilities and expanded archive storage, the Trust embarked on an ambitious programme of activities and development designed to ensure its sustainability, fit-for-purpose, and continuing creativity and productivity over the next fifty years.
Having won a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant in 2010 for the award-winning "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project, which demonstrated the rich potential locked within the Archive and Study Centre's resources, the Trust carried out a root-and-branch examination of its structures and governance, and its approach to funding and finance.
Historically self-funding, the expansion of the Trust's work and the global financial downturn - which destabilised and undermined the previously reliable investments the Trust had depended on - encouraged P.E.T.T. to step into a brave new world of grant applications and of actively sought donations. At the same time, the role of Trustee was separated from that of Executive Director, with the appointment of the Trust's first paid Executive Director in Richard Rollinson; and there was a carefully planned and successful hand-over of responsibility from the longstanding Director, John Cross.
Progress and Achievements
With all of these changes coming together during the first 18 months of the last three years, over the past 18 months the Trust has been using its resources to consolidate, to experiment, and to explore. Among many other firsts:
An all-new website was born from the bedlam of sites and formats which had gone before;
PETTATHON, the Trust's first ever online fundraising campaign, was a wonderful success, bringing in over ￡6,500 from a standing start, generating significant new and well-received content on the website, and building confidence in the team;
An exciting new relationship was forged with the Mulberry Bush School, through which the Trust was able to extend the tenure of assistant archivist Matt Naylor - to catalogue past records and to help with exhibitions and displays; and which will enable the Archive to actively respond to future queries from former children and staff while servicing the School's needs for ongoing access to past files;
Through an additional grant from Richard Crocket's family we were able to hold onto Matt Naylor even longer, adding value to the Trust's work in innumerable ways while allowing him to bring an expanding Crocket Collection under control;
We hosted a series of Archive Weekends, of course, but with new friends as well as old; and on the basis of those experiences have been able to work far more closely with volunteers throughout the year in what are effectively mini-Archive Weekends;
We have created a new series of P.E.T.T. seminars, drawing particularly on Executive Director Richard Rollinson's extensive experience and expertise; and breaking new ground in our own thinking about what we can and can not do with the resources we have here;
Team members Chris Long and Gemma Geldart have taken the lead in discovering and bringing new trainings in art and creative writing to Toddington, paving the way for a more actively event-generating Trust and opening doors on publicity and local networking which have come as a revelation.
Indeed, it has been a year and six months of revelations in these and many other ways, a period which was framed by the Community Archives and Heritage Group's "Most Impactful Archive of the Year" award at the beginning, and the welcome surprise of the equally prestigious "Archive of the Year" award from Your Family History Magazine at the end. We have successfully navigated a series of major transitions, against a difficult world financial background; we have strengthened our organisational foundations, and consolidated gains and achievements of the past decade (and more!). We have prepared the ground; and with the help of friends and the creativity and commitment of our team and community, will continue to build the new model of organisation and engagement which every indication tells us is both right and welcome.
“The State of Play”
When Gemma Geldart and Chris Long joined the Trust in 2010 as members of the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project team, we had no idea what a find they were. We quickly learned; and as the project neared its end in 2011, 18 months later, the Trustees asked if they would stay a while longer to help us to cement the achievements of the project, and support the Trust in its ongoing transition. At first it was six months. Then it was twelve. Looking closely at the Trust's finances, and what they had helped us to achieve, the Trust then asked if they would stay a full 18 months. They did, setting in train developments which are already bearing fruit. At the same time, when the Trust established the Archive and Study Centre in 1989, it set a ceiling on its financial reserves, sufficient to ensure the long-term security and maintenance of the Archive's holdings, a level below which it could not and would not allow the reserves to fall. With outgoings exceeding incomings, Trustees have seen that ceiling approaching; and during February took the difficult decision, coming to the end of their second 18 months, to let Gemma and Chris go, to halve archivist Craig Fees's hours and to reduce Richard's time commitment. Chris and Gemma have become such a close part of our wider community that it is almost inconceivable that they will no longer be here.
Fortunately, support from the community, some of it directly in response their imminent leaving, means that both Chris and Gemma will remain part of the life and work of the Trust, Gemma on a one day a month consultancy basis, available for more extended contributions and special occasions; and Chris helping with the administration and management of a number of events organised by or through the Trust: with the aim of building on the foundations which have already been laid to bring them both (if they wish!) more fully back into the daily work of a uniquely exciting and challenging (in a good way!) charity.
What does that "new building" entail?
Grant applications, of course, and the major range of projects which follow; Recruiting new Trustees; A new Members Scheme, which will enable individuals, organisations, and therapeutic communities to actively support and help to guide the work of the Trust, while developing new benefits for members;
Continuing to forge mutually supportive links with current, active therapeutic communities and other planned environments;
Continuing to develop income-generating events and trainings for the Trust;
And continuing to build on the adventure initiated in the "Therapeutic Living With Other People's Children" project, among other things.
We are almost fifty. We are in a period of new adventures, grounded in thoughtfulness, and continuing to open up the Trust to the creative and challenging involvement of the wider community. The goal? A stronger sector for the care and treatment of children, young people, and adults in need. A healthier Society, and a deeper understanding of what is possible and necessary when things go wrong for people; grounded in the immense experience of the Past, brought together with the unique life of the Present, to produce the powerful, positive changes of direction which we know are possible for the Future. We've seen it - countless times. If you've been a member of a therapeutic community or environment, or know someone who has, you've seen it too. Together we can spread the practice, and the word. Please keep close to us, and join with us in this 'very big adventure'.
A big thankyou to Users and Researchers in the Archive and Study Centre!
Thanks to their nominations, and thanks to the support of 'Your Family History' magazine readers, the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre has been named as Your Family History's "Archive of the Year".
On Saturday, February 23rd, at the "Who Do You Think You Are? Live" exhibition in London ('the biggest family history event in the world'), well-known BBC broadcaster, historian, and Editor-in-Chief of Your Family History magazine Dr. Nick Barratt presented the Archive and Study Centre with the prestigious Your Family History national "Archive of the Year" award. Past winners have included the Surrey County Council History Centre, and Medway Council's Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre in Kent.
In presenting the award, Dr. Barratt quoted from one of the many nominations:
"Not only do they collect and curate a range of small yet important archival material and collections, including oral histories, but they also provide a space for people to share memories and experiences relating to environment therapy – so continue to undertake therapeutic work today. All this is done on a small budget, showing that you don’t need millions of pounds to make a difference to people’s lives."
This is a wonderful endorsement of the work we have been able to do, especially with the help of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant during our "Therapeutic Living With Other Peoples' Children: An oral history of residential therapeutic child care" project in 2010-2011. As well as students and young people, we have been able to work closely with a number of people who were children in care, their families, and friends; and to discover and demonstrate how remarkably 'therapeutic' archives can be in practice.
Receiving the award for the Archive and Study Centre were archivist Craig Fees and team members Gemma Geldart and Chris Long, who were core team members of the award-winning "Other Peoples' Children" project. PETT was so impressed with their work and with the very real difference it made to people's lives that when the funding for the project came to an end, the Trust asked them to stay on, and to continue to develop their work with former children, staff and families from residential therapeutic communities, many of which are now closed.
In hearing of the award, Darren Coyne of the Care Leavers' Association noted the many difficulties facing care leavers in attempting to discover their histories, with some growing up living between care placements and their own families, and others exclusively in care for specific periods. "In all these cases there are questions to be answered, and it is often once one reaches adulthood, has a family of one’s own and life is somewhat settled that one begins to reflect on the past." At this point they often find their paths blocked. "The CLA's It's Our History, It's Our Right: Reclaiming the Past campaign aims to promote awareness of care leavers' rights to access their files; of the importance of these personal records to care leavers; and to promote best practice on accessing these vital documents amongst archivists and other professionals working in this area."
"Curiosity; fragmented memories; photos to show your own children; reminiscing; making sense of difficult memories and life events; seeking answers about why one went into care, as families often have disparate explanations; trying to trace family and even seeking medical information in reference to hereditary illness/disease are all reasons why care leavers need and want to access their files."
Richard Rollinson, Executive Director of PETT notes: "The Planned Environment Therapy Trust is proud to be able to provide a real 'Home Base' for former children in care, staff members, and their families, and we are over the moon at this award for the Archive team. The irony is, however, that unless we find significant financial support immediately, our remarkable team will be broken up. Gemma and Chris will be leaving us at the end of March, and Craig Fees will become part-time. This award underlines the unique and important work we have been able to do, and will continue to do to the best of our ability. But while it doesn't take millions, and love and commitment can achieve a great deal, it clearly takes something. In difficult financial times, the Trust has ensured that the archives themselves will remain safe; but archives need people. To continue to make such a powerful difference to people’s lives, we need help."
Online donations to support the work of the Archive and Study Centre can be made on our MyDonate page
The Your Family History Magazine "Archive of the Year" Award
Your Family History Magazine instituted its "Archive of the Year Award" in 2010 to help raise awareness of the plight of our local archive services and to recognise and celebrate excellence in archives. Readers of the magazine and members of the public are invited to nominate their Archive of the Year, telling the judging panel about the service provided by the staff; the facilities in the search rooms; the accessibility and quality of the catalogue and finding aids; the range of services provided online, including access to digitised records; the range of documents available for consultation; connections with the local community; and facilities for disabled people.
Every UK national, county or municipal record office; local study centre; specialist and regional archive; and university or library manuscript collection is eligible for nomination. The standards are high, and the Archive fortunate enough to win has been judged outstanding. Past winners of the Award have included the Surrey County Council History Centre, and Kent County Council's Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre. Those judged "Highly Commended" have included Birmingham Archives, Darlington Library’s Centre for Local Studies, and Wolverhampton Archives.
Your Family History Magazine
Your Family History magazine is a unique genealogy magazine which has assembled a team of leading experts, researchers and historians to show readers not only how to discover who their ancestors were, but also guide them into the rich local and social history that brings context to their lives.
Nick Barratt, a former genealogy consultant to the BBC's 'Who Do You Think You Are?' series, is the Editor-in-Chief and is joined by a number of genealogy experts on the editorial team.
Your Family History magazine features a range of topics in each issue, linking individuals' personal research with local and national heritage themes through the magazine's connections with English Heritage, National Trust and the world of archives. For further information, see http://www.your-familyhistory.com .
Dr Nick Barratt
Dr. Nick Barratt is head of the judging panel and Editor-in-Chief of Your Family History magazine. Nick obtained his PhD in Medieval History from King’s College London in 1996, and worked at the Public Record Office – now The National Archives – until 2000, when he joined the BBC as a specialist researcher (2000-2002) and founded Sticks Research Agency (SRA). Having worked on projects such as House Detectives, Invasion, One Foot in the Past and the BAFTA nominated Seven Wonders of the Industrial World, he teamed up with Wall to Wall as the genealogical consultant and lead researcher on Who Do You Think You Are, also presenting the ‘how to’ section at the end of each episode for series 1 as well as ten short films for BBC Interactive.
Since then he has lectured on all aspects of genealogy, personal heritage and local history, as well as written numerous books on the subject – ‘Tracing the History of Your House’ (TNA), ‘The Who Do You Think You Are Encyclopedia of Genealogy’ (Harper Collins), ‘Researching Your Family History Online for Dummies’ (Wileys) and the recently published and critically acclaimed ‘Guide to Tracing Your Ancestors’ Lives’ (Pen & Sword). Other television presenting roles have included ‘So You Think You’re Royal’ (Sky), ‘History Mysteries’ (BBC2), ‘Hidden House History’ (History Channel), ‘Secrets from the Attic’ (ITV) and ‘Live the Dream: As Seen on Screen’ (ITV), whilst he is the studio genealogist for BBC Radio 4’s ‘Tracing Your Roots’.
The Care Leavers Association
The CLA is a user-led charity run by care leavers for care leavers, the aim of which is to bring together the voices of care leavers of all ages so that we improve the current care system, improve the quality of life of care leavers throughout their life, and change for the better society’s perception of people who have been in care: http://www.careleavers.com . The Care Leavers’ Association, through the campaign work of ‘It’s our History, It’s Our right; Reclaiming Our Past’, seeks to:
Promote awareness of care leavers' rights to access their files
Promote awareness of the importance of these personal records to care leavers
Promote best practice on accessing these vital documents amongst professionals working in this area.
Gemma and I headed off to Cardiff Bay last weekend, for a two day workshop with Graham Hartill on the theme of 'Working as a Writer in Therapeutic Community Settings'.
The course introduced the skills needed to be a facilitator of creative writing in community settings which have a therapeutic or care aspect, so it tied in very nicely with the creative writing courses taking place at the Barns Centre during March and April. There were 9 of us in the group, of differing ages and all from different backgrounds, but with common bonds of working with therapeutic/care communities, and of course with a love of writing. Over the course of the weekend the group worked really well together on writing exercises (including a collaborative poetry as grand finalé on Sunday afternoon!), in addition to which a good deal of spirited, interesting and intelligent debate took place.
During the weekend we touched on workshop techniques, the principles of both reflective practice and how to do evaluations of others’ work and of your own. We were given details regarding further possible training, and areas such as mental health, older people, and working in prisons were considered, along with individuals' ideas about their own prospective projects. Graham had brought with him a host of reading material, included his own books, and we were each given a copy of an anthology of writing from HMP Parc, Bridgend.
Before we said goodbye to one another we arranged to put together an email list of the group, and to let each other know how our various projects were progressing. This was a really worthwhile, productive writing weekend, and our thanks go to Graham, who steered, directed and informed us wonderfully throughout.
Graham Hartill is a poet, workshop facilitator and lecturer, with twenty years’ experience of facilitating workshops in the field of health and social care. He co-founded Lapidus, the national organisation for the field, worked for 9 years with older people for the Ledbury Poetry Festival and is now a writer in residence at HMP Parc. He teaches on the Metanoia Institute’s MSc programme and runs annual retreats at Tŷ Newydd, the writers’ centre for Wales.