Joint Report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council)
The Committee considered a joint report of the Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Families and Communities (Staffordshire County Council) and Director of Housing and Community Services (Stoke-on-Trent City Council) informing them of the outcome of the 2021 review of the Service’s Forward Plan “Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive and Heritage Service Vision” (Schedule 1 to the signed minutes). A copy of the proposed revised Forward Plan was appended to the report for Members’ information.
The Forward Plan 2015 – 2025 had been approved by the Committee at their meeting on 26 March 2015. Whilst the Archive service had previously worked to a three year planning cycle, the scope of the current plan had been extended to cover ten years having regard to the time needed to deliver some of the changes required and its role in achieving the transformation of the service. However, following a review undertaken at their meeting on 3 April 2018 the Plan was revised to include:- (i) updated context headlines; (ii) an updated list of Partners; (ii) an additional section on the project vision, aims and objectives for the Staffordshire History Centre (SHC) and; (iv) information on collections, buildings, outreach, volunteers, partnerships and resources.
Members learned that a further review of the Plan had recently been undertaken resulting in the following proposed changes:-
• Background, Partners and Context Headlines – expand the list of key partners to include:- Staffordshire, Liverpool and Nottingham Universities; (ii) Stafford College (to reflect planned activity in respect of the Staffordshire History Centre Project (SHCP)); (iii) various ceramic collector groups (to reflect their help in the conservation and repairs of collections) and; (iv) The Hub at St Mary’s Lichfield (to reflect their involvement in the History Access Point in Lichfield. In addition, mention had been made of the various Friends and volunteer groups who had continued to support the service through the Covid-19 pandemic together with the effect of the outbreak on their numbers and working arrangements.
Expand the Context Headlines to include the vision, aims and objectives of the Staffordshire History Centres.
Amend the Service Point graphic to include the Lichfield History Access Point which had opened in December 2018.
Update the information on collections, buildings, outreach, volunteers, partnerships and resources with current statistics and key achievements including increased on-line access to resources such as Find My Past.
• Developing an Active Partnership Approach – Amend the text to emphasise work necessary for the delivery of Phase 2 of the Staffordshire History Centre project. Plans were in place to train 102 volunteers to support implementation of the Activity Plan amounting to 4,803 days with a value of £721,050 over the four-year life of the project.
• Reaching and Engaging New Audiences – Revise and simplify the text and include details of the SHCP Activity and Interpretation Plans.
During the discussion which ensued Members queried whether volunteer numbers were expected to recover post the Covid-19 pandemic. In response the Deputy Chief Executive and Director referred to the age profile of former volunteers which had placed them in the most vulnerable category for contracting the disease. As a result, many had stopped volunteering during the pandemic citing the loss of face to face contact as the cause. However, the service would make efforts to boost recruitment and it was hoped that the decline of the pandemic and lifting of the social distancing rules might encourage people to come forward. Also, the progress of the SHCP could attract new unpaid help.
The Board paid tribute to the work of the volunteers to date without whom the significant progress in the various projects and initiatives undertaken by the service in recent years could not have been achieved.
RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.
(b) That the revised Forward Plan, “Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive and Heritage Service Vision” as set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be approved.