Students from the University of Essex have been part of an exciting new project to showcase the value of volunteers in Colchester.
Community360 who turned 50 years old in 2018 made five pledges, one of which was to raise the profile of the legacy of the voluntary and community sector by establishing a history archive.
A special event was held at The One Colchester Hub on 30thJuly where the students created a display of their findings to promote the importance of volunteers to the local community.
Thomas Bacon and Elish Peters, MA Students from the History Department at the University of Essex have been working with Community360 for the past ten weeks to achieve this aim.
Louise Willsher, Head of Projects at Community360 said: “We were delighted to have had Thomas and Elish working with us on this project. They have been conducting oral history interviews with our volunteers across the Borough, recording their experiences which will then be in a publicly accessible archive.
We have really enjoyed working closely with the students, utilising their research and academic expertise to help develop an evolve this project and look forward to working collaboratively with the University on further projects.”
Alix Green from the University of Essex said: “The History Department has a long-standing commitment to local history, so I’m delighted we have been able to add MA student placements to our work with the Colchester community. I grew up in Colchester myself, so it’s been a particular pleasure for me to get our placements programme going.
Placements give students the chance to get involved in live history projects that matter to local people. It’s an opportunity for our postgraduates to put existing skills to use, develop new ones and gain invaluable experience for future careers.
Last summer, students and staff helped our local NHS Trust mark the closure of Essex County Hospital at a Heritage Open Day. So, when Louise Willsher, an Essex History Graduate herself approached me about working together on the 50th anniversary of Community360 I could see it was another fantastic project for our students.
Essex is a global university and we talk of it being the ‘world in one place’. But it also has deep local roots and we are always looking to explore those connections, whether it’s collaborating with the Castle museum on a new public history module, giving the amazing Colchester Recalled oral history collections a home on campus or creating work placements for students with our community partners.”
Thomas Bacon, one of the MA History students also did his Undergraduate Degree. at the University of Essex. “I was delighted to be selected for the placement with Community360 and take part in the oral history archive project. Instead of doing a conventional dissertation for my master’s degree, I decided to apply for a work placement instead, which I thought would be much more interesting and hands on and help with my future career prospects.”
He added: “Having volunteered for most of my life in both museums and charity shops I felt personally very invested in this project and I hope that my first-hand knowledge and experience will be helpful in this project. I also hope that this placement will allow me to develop my existing skills and experiences.”
Elish Peters a fellow student is also currently studying for a MA in History at the University of Essex. “I really wanted to do the placement with Community360, because of my interest in social policy and my interest in analysing its impact on the charity/voluntary sector.
The placement with Community360 has fuelled my passion for a career in social research and I want to go on to analyse the impact of different government policies in an effort to help improve the lives of others.”
Photos Show: Left to Right
Brian Tansley, Gill Tansley, Dr Alix Green, Christine Leverett, Janis Lamb, Dave Pyne
Front centre: Elish Peters and Thomas Bacon