Heritage opportunities on the horizon

Friends of Historic Kilbride founder and tour guide Liam Griffin - he gives tours of the site to hundreds of visitors a year. He is shown here with visitors of all ages at the MacDougall Memorial Aisle, where the clan chiefs and notables are buried. Photograph credit Imagine Alba.

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Funding worth £65,000 is on the horizon for a new project in Argyll delivering training and job opportunities for young people in museums and other heritage venues.

CHARTS (The Culture Heritage and Culture Assembly for Argyll and the Isles) in partnership with Argyll and Bute Museums and Heritage Forum (ABMHF) has been chosen as one of the 16 charities for a grant from the Scottish Power Foundation.

The funding means the organisations can deliver a project called Heritage Horizons with the aim of getting more young people involved in the Heritage sector.

Argyll and its Isles are rich in history from mesolithic caves, early Christianity, the Wars of Independence, the Jacobite risings to clearance, depopulation, emigration, empire and the emergence of the Scottish diaspora.

Attracting enough young people to volunteer time or take on jobs in the heritage sector has been a struggle in recent times, says Seymour Adams who is a CHARTS trustee.

‘Our rich heritage has a potentially vital part to play in the post-Covid economy of the West Highlands. However, the pandemic has taken a heavy toll on community heritage organisations in Argyll and the Isles, which are typically volunteer-led and highly dependent upon income from visitors.

‘The sector – and this is by no means unique to Argyll – has also struggled in recent times to attract young entrants in sufficient numbers, either to volunteer or professional roles,’ he added.

But thanks to Heritage Horizons, exciting opportunities within that sector will be opened up for young people such as creative placements contributing to educational, archive and visitor services.

The idea is that those opportunities will lead to recognised accreditation and qualifications as well as reduce inequalities and address current challenges presented by an ageing workforce, through building employability.

Anne Cleave, chairperson of Argyll and Bute Museums and Heritage Forum said the project will make a big impact and with ‘the far-sightedness’ of Scottish Power Foundation’s grant will be of ‘huge benefit to young people in our area, whose aspirations are limited by the constraints of currently available work-place opportunities.’

She said: ‘It is essential that horizons are widened, and aspirations elevated in order to attract the best of our younger generation, giving them a broader view of the significance of their heritage from every aspect.

‘The forum is confident that the infectious enthusiasm of our older, experienced membership will be conveyed to the young people placed under their guidance and mentorship. A wide and varied range of opportunities will be made available leading to accreditation, qualification, employment and we believe, a long-term passion for our culture, past, present and future.’