This blog post was written by Nicholas Harrison for the Soldier On! website. 

Could the group dynamic of heritage-oriented community projects benefit participants’ well-being?

Following publication of ‘The Art of Being’, within a heritage setting, I relished the opportunity to be asked to further investigate evidence of an existential psychology within an heritage setting. Given the current difficulties we are all exposed to, it is far from melodrama to believe that failure to react appropriately to government building policy, climate change, social-cultural movements, and the current pandemic, could well see the genesis of a much altered, under-resourced, and possibly far smaller sector.

Without question, heritage organisations create a better understanding of our past and contribute to the preservation and management of our nation’s history. They also add to the enormous economic benefit generated through the wider heritage sector. In 2015, the UK heritage sector contributed £20.2 million to GDP and maintained some 360,000 jobs. Outside of London, areas that contributed the most included the North East, Wales and Scotland, geographic locations whose local economies simply cannot afford to be hit any further. (Oxford Economics, 2015).

However, in addition to the financial gains and effect on the UK’s global brand recognition, there is another aspect to heritage activities whose voice is far quieter than its academically researched credibility warrants; The health benefits, especially of the youngest and most vulnerable and disadvantaged within our society. Archaeological activities, as a source of discovering meaning for an individual was discussed in my last article from Erich Fromm’s perspective, but what of an individual among individuals?

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