We are committed to including people on our projects who have either never experienced, or have been unable to engage with archaeology before. Not only does our ‘inclusive’ approach help develop disadvantaged people and introduce them to heritage, additionally it allows the opposite to happen, i.e. heritage professionals see the capabilities of people they may not come across in the normal course of their working lives. During the planning phase of our recent Roman project, we were connected with a Social Worker, who immediately understood our aims. Luckily for us, he had studied Archaeology at university and his progressive and positive attitude was infectious! Through him, we were able to provide experience, on what proved to be an extraordinary project in Wales, to two child refugees from Syria and to a young British youngster in care. We are hoping to build on this relationship and work with Nick again to provide more opportunities for more young people who are really struggling to find their place in life, often having been exposed to traumatic childhoods. So, we were thrilled to receive this report from Nick on our work :
“The Soldier On! project has allowed vulnerable young people from diverse backgrounds to develop skills from a recent top level archaeology heritage project, skills which will be highly valued whilst seeking future educational and training placements and in the world of work. The project has provided opportunities to build self-confidence, self-esteem and therefore wellbeing whilst promoting a high level of personal development in young people.
The Soldier On! project has provided opportunities for young people to meet others from outside of their normal, and sometimes limited, friendship groups and has allowed for the development of new diverse friendships from the wider community whilst promoting positive peer support and learning.
Nicholas Harrison and Diarmaid Walshe had a “hands on” approach and were welcoming, caring and nurturing, and clearly believed in the abilities of the young people and adults that they supported. Apart from the practical archaeology on offer there was also an opportunity for class room based learning that provided a platform for useful self-reflection, and group learning to further promote self-development and life skills.
I look forward to working in partnership with the Soldier On! project in the future as it clearly benefits vulnerable individuals through the advancement of personal development and positive self-esteem whilst bringing people together from diverse communities to nurture friendship and community cohesion. These holistic factors that are important to happiness and wellbeing.
Nick A. (Children and Young Person’s Social Worker).