Alt text: A group of people clearing scrub from around a prehistoric stone setting.
Volunteers from the ‘Monumental Improvement’ project clearing scrub around an archaeological monument at Kynance Gate, Cornwall. © Jacob Parry, Cornwall AONB.
Volunteers from the ‘Monumental Improvement’ project clearing scrub around an archaeological monument at Kynance Gate, Cornwall. © Jacob Parry, Cornwall AONB.

Introduction to Issue 20: the Wellbeing Edition

Linda Monckton, Head of Wellbeing Strategy at Historic England introduces this special edition focusing on wellbeing and the historic environment.

Health and wellbeing are more prominent than ever in politics and the media. This is partly a result of the pandemic, but also the long-term work of the voluntary and charities sectors and shifts in how primary care is developing in the UK.

How the historic environment can and does support health and wellbeing is the topic of the first article on developing Historic England’s wellbeing and heritage strategy. The remainder of the volume focuses firstly on new research; then on case studies. We hope these will move forward the debate on the potential of the historic environment and provide shared learning on good practice.

In order to address unequal engagement with heritage and historic places, we need to understand the geographical landscape of this inequality, as discussed by the University of Glasgow.

Visiting heritage sites and parks as restorative activities during and after lockdown is the subject of Sofaer and Gallou’s contribution on heritage during lockdown and Jenifer White’s on the value of public parks to wellbeing.

Active participation through volunteering is the subject of research by Carenza Lewis, examining Heritage at Risk’s specific wellbeing benefits; and our Enriching the List team report on positive benefits of adding to the National Heritage List for England.

Desi Gradinarova shows us exemplars of how heritage and social prescribing are working together in practice, building on her contribution to an earlier volume.

Chatterjee and Shearn show us how a place-based approach is integrating health and wellbeing with heritage in Kirkham in partnership with the NHS.

The important role of digital resources is the subject of Woodhouse and Chalmers work on the co-curated exhibition Lost and Found, and Natasha Lord’s explanation of Worcester Life Stories, which, with the NHS, develops local archives to support people living with dementia.

Jonathan Last examines the interrelationship between heritage, landscape and wellbeing in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

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Dr Linda Monckton FSA

Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy, Historic England

Linda is an architectural historian with a special interest in the social impact and potential of the historic environment. She has worked in the heritage profession for 25 years as a researcher, analyst and strategist and is leading on Historic England’s strategic approach to delivering health and wellbeing outcomes through its work.