Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business

National Library of Wales Wins Prestigious ARA Archive Volunteering Award


‘Helping us to Achieve’, the National Library of Wales’ (NLW) scheme to expand access to Wales’ national archives by developing a cadre of skilled volunteers, has won the prestigious national Archive Volunteering Award for 2016.

Sponsored by the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland) and sector partners, this annual award recognises outstanding work involving volunteers within an institutional archive service.

The judges voted ‘Helping us to Achieve’ the clear winner. The scheme has been engaging with volunteers since 2012, including all ages and backgrounds, in the belief that taking part in cultural activity can boost skills, engagement, self-esteem and aspiration.

The scheme also enhances participants’ workplace and social skills and helps make NLW’s national collections more accessible to a wider audience. The scheme has targeted specific groups – the young and economically inactive and older people – and the roles filled by the volunteers have included transcribing text, creating databases, digitising, research, conservation tasks and public presentations.

The judges said:

“’Helping us to Achieve’ was the stand-out nomination in a very strong field. In 2015-‘16 alone, 65 project volunteers took part in the scheme, volunteering the equivalent of over 1,000 days of their time.

“They completed 10 projects and tasks, another 10 are still in progress and 769 online volunteers also participated in ‘Cynefin’, a ground-breaking project to geo-reference Wales’s Tithe Maps.

“‘Helping us to Achieve’ has involved wide community collaboration and support, a diverse range of volunteers and benefitted from professional archive staff support at the National Library, as well as top-management backing. The scheme has also delivered at an individual level: around 20% of the volunteers have moved on to paid employment.”

The judges also commended the many partners involved in the winning scheme, which included Jobcentre Plus, The Shaw Trust, Ceredigion Community Mental Health Team, Ceredigion Association of Voluntary Organisations, Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, Aberystwyth University, Ceredigion County Council social services department, NLW’s Friends Association, The ‘Cynefin’ Project (a collaboration between the Archives and Records Council Wales and NLW) and People’s Collection Wales.

The winning volunteers will receive their award on November 4 in Aberystwyth in the run-up to the launch of the annual, national Explore Your Archive campaign.

Archives and Records Association’s chair, Geoff Pick, said: 

“Archives contain the raw material of our past, individually and collectively. They are hugely diverse, comprising thousands of deposits across the public, private and voluntary sectors, from big corporations and government bodies to community holdings.

“They depend on skilled and dedicated professional staff as well as the many volunteers for their upkeep, transcription, cataloguing and accessibility. When we see inspiring projects like ‘Helping us to Achieve’, we are also reminded how our archives and the skills needed to manage them, can stimulate and motivate people in the wider community to open up new opportunities in their own lives.”

One volunteer on ‘Helping us to Achieve’ said:

“Through the experience I have made friends with some lovely and like-minded people. This has given me a lot of confidence – I don’t feel intimidated by the workplace – I feel I belong.”

Another commented:

“I have completed nearly three-and-a-half years of volunteering. During that time, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I like the general atmosphere of quiet and calmness. This is important to me because my epilepsy is mostly stress related.

“I am not sure if my new-found confidence is helping my epilepsy, but my slight improvement in health is increasing my confidence.”

Linda Tomos, national librarian of Wales, said:

“We are thrilled and honoured to receive this prestigious award. I am delighted that the strong partnership between our volunteers, staff and our supporting partners to make our national archives more accessible has been recognised as an exemplar.

“NLW is committed to developing this innovative approach which is actively helping people to improve their quality of life and obtain workplace skills as well as learning more about our culture and heritage.”


Posted by:

Duncan Foulkes Public Relations Limited is a well established communications consultancy based in beautiful Mid Wales.

Incorporating public and media relations, the consultancy provides a range of services to businesses and organisations throughout Wales and the Marches.

A former newspaper journalist for 24 years, Duncan moved into PR in 1999 after editing the County Times & Express & Gazette newspapers – the main weekly titles in Mid Wales – for five years.

His main reason for leaving the newspaper industry was a desire for a new career challenge. His successful PR business predominantly focuses on companies based in Wales and Shropshire.

His motto is to keep things as simple as possible to avoid over-complicating what is a straightforward goal – to achieve media coverage for a client.

Duncan’s wide-ranging work entails media campaigns, researching and drafting press releases, media liaison, political lobbying, event management, organising photocalls, website content advice, social media and newsletters.

He has extensive PR experience of the food and drink, education and training, catering and hospitality, insurance and financial services, manufacturing, tourism, farming, property, fine art, lubricants and telematics sectors.

His contacts extend from local newspapers in Wales to the national print and broadcast media, trade publications and digital media.

Duncan Foulkes PR uses only the most creative photographers, ensuring that photography to support his work is of the highest quality.

He is passionate about issues relating to the countryside and enjoys fly fishing, watching sport and spending time with his family in his spare time.

Services provided:

Public Relations
Media Relations
Public Affairs
Crisis Communications
Event management

Related Articles