Services Archaeology and Heritage Association

Having already demonstrated the positive change brought about by archaeology projects amongst disengaged youngsters when he was a teacher, in 2011, Diarmaid Walshe, now serving in The Royal Army Medical Corps, developed the concept of using archaeology and heritage-based projects to help with the recovery of medically downgraded armed forces personnel.

Both the technical and social aspects of field archaeology proved to aid the recovery and skills development of the soldiers, particularly those who were disinterested in more popular sporting challenges to aid their recovery.

By mid-2012, the initiative began to demonstrate its rehabilitative benefit to veterans, many of whom were suffering from complex and often long-term poor mental health, substance abuse, social exclusion, and unemployment. The project was awarded a special award by the Council for British Archaeology as an example of best practice in community heritage.

However, such problems are not the preserve of the veteran community and it was Diarmaid’s wish that what had proved itself to be so successful within the military and veteran space, should widen its scope to include individuals within the civilian world.

Previous projects Diarmaid has worked with include, a Roman Town, various excavations of military aircraft, works with the National Trust, Time Team, the BBC and the History Channel to name but a few.  They have involved excavations, surveys and delivery of management plans to ensure artefacts are properly catalogued and preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from.

SAHA projects are delivered collaboratively with leading archaeology organisations and universities, ensuring our work is ‘best practice’ and rigorously adheres to the highest levels of standards.

SAHA uses local archaeology and heritage projects to build community cohesion by bringing together diverse groups of people under a common vision and mission.  Working groups include serving and former members of the armed forces and uniformed services, working alongside disadvantaged individuals from the local community and archaeology undergraduates, whose work is overseen by qualified and expert archaeologists and heritage professionals.

We use the archaeological and heritage projects to enhance the employability of our members and showcase their abilities.  We also assist individuals who wish to secure volunteering roles or pursue further education and or training, particularly within the heritage world.

Every beneficiary is offered the opportunity to enrol on a personal development programme, running alongside the archaeological or heritage project.  This ensures that participants identify the skills they have developed through archaeology as well as their innate abilities and formulate an action plan so that when they leave the site, they do so without their happiness being dependent on others.  Our main interest is in helping people to find happiness through self-sufficiency.