For the last few years, History students from the University of Gloucestershire have been contributing to the yearly Gloucester History Festival by producing exhibitions on local history as part of the Cotswold Centre for History and Heritage. They have conducted research on various aspects of Gloucestershire’s rich, varied and complex past. This past year, our collaboration has become more tied to Voices Gloucester, a “community led programme offers funding, mentoring and support to individuals or organisations that want to tell their story about Gloucester’s history.” In 2022, Voices Gloucester formed a Community Panel to aid the work of supporting community projects. Two of our students became members of the panel and share their experiences for this post.
Kelly Burriss (BA History & Religious Studies)
I wanted to join the community panel as my love of history arose from living in Gloucester and being able to experience first-hand its rich and diverse social history and heritage. Studying religion alongside history, particularly the diasporas, helped me to appreciate the importance and value of helping underrepresented communities to share and discover theirs. As a mother to two young children, we thoroughly enjoy Gloucester’s history museums, festivals, and events. I am passionate about children receiving an enriched education in this regard and therefore really supported the values of Voices Gloucester in enabling people to engage with history and heritage in an enjoyable and exciting way.
Reviewing the community grant applications was an interesting and enlightening experience. I was able to see first-hand the importance of social heritage within the community and was able to look at places and people that were incredibly familiar in a whole new light.
A significant highlight for me was the experience I gained looking holistically at aspects that need to be considered when putting together a project, such as cost-effectiveness and deliverability as well as the need to have a clear focus and aim to achieve. This was an invaluable learning experience for me and one that I can utilize both in my university studies and in a future career environment.
Tom Gullick (BA History)
When presented with the opportunity to join Voices Gloucester, I jumped at the chance. Despite being born in the Gloucestershire area and living here for most of my life I felt something was missing from my understanding of the region. Voices Gloucester filled that gap and allowed me to discover a different aspects of the area. This was shown to me by the many grant applications I was required to read, rank and score. These applications were truly a window into the heart of the various communities in Gloucester, such as the LGBTQ, Muslim, and Irish communities to name a few. One project into the aviation community provided me with a great local fact I won’t forget. It involves vaccine pioneer (and Gloucestershire resident) Edward Jenner and the air balloon pub. Apparently, Jenner had a keen interest in aviation and would regularly launch air balloons, testing the limits of flight in its early days. His most successful experiment, however, landed on the current site of the pub, hence its name! However, the projects were not just about local facts (as great as they are). Voices Gloucester, as its name suggests, provides a space for those who go unheard in Gloucestershire despite having so many amazing stories to tell. To me, this is the importance of the project as it allows people to share their heritage, experiences, and stories with one another ultimately bringing Gloucester closer together.
On top of providing Gloucester with a voice and me with an understanding of the region, City Coices provided me with valuable skills. Voices did this through the experience it gave me in a professional, grant-giving body. Whether I was having to communicate my ideas to a panel or critically analyse a document in private, I was learning an essential skill that will undoubtedly help me in my future employment.