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Black Environment Network

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The HHA and the Black Environment Network - a unique organisation working for ethnic participation within the built and natural environment - worked together to link historic houses and their local BAME communities. In a series of groundbreaking pilot schemes, BEN and the HHA partnered houses and their nearby BAME communities in order to encourage wider enjoyment and understanding of these special places, many of which are not equally accessible to all communities in Britain. The 'People and Historic Places' project:
  • identified new audiences for the historic environment by encouraging ethnic communities to become more involved with their nearby historic places;
  • opened up understanding of what historic houses, gardens, collections and estates have to offer and to gain; 
  • laid down the basis for active involvement and participation of ethnic communities in historic places.
Eight houses - three in Scotland, two in Wales and three in England - explored opportunities for community involvement and have facilitated visits and events. As part of the project, the HHA and BEN organised a number of workshops around the country to discuss the issues surrounding ethnic community involvement and participation with historic places.

The project challenged perceptions and strengthened understanding on both sides, helping to identify and remove barriers - either real or perceived - to visiting historic places. A key consideration was how places could be presented in culturally relevant ways and participants have been involved in managing and designing new activities.

Glasgow’s Scottish Ethnic Minorities Sports Association at Kelburn Castle, Ayrshire: a pioneering outreach programme between the Black Environment Network and the Historic Houses Association funded by HLF’s Heritage Education Access Project

Children from the Minority Ethnic Women's Network at Margam Park, Neath Port Talbot, as part of the HHA's and BEN's groundbreaking People and Historic Places project