Doncaster museum staff reach out to help people overcome social isolation

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People are learning about their local heritage thanks to a project which has been set up to help residents overcome the social isolation that many are feeling during lockdown.

People who have become socially isolated – including stay-at-home mothers, older people and minority groups – suffer more physical and mental health conditions.

The History, Health and Happiness project run by Heritage Doncaster and funded by Arts Council England began last autumn.

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Museum collections were used to tackle isolation and improve well-being in four key parts of Doncaster, making participants more connected to others in their community and giving them pride in the place they live.

Having a laugh at a Herstory sessionHaving a laugh at a Herstory session
Having a laugh at a Herstory session

Heritage Doncaster’s team and volunteers spent 300 hours to chat with people over 2,500 cups of tea, bringing to life more than 400 objects from the museum collection.

Participants from young mums to those living with dementia have recreated Roman recipes, designed fashion accessories, set up social clubs, written stories, curated exhibitions and shared their amazing histories, from the joy of sex to rock metal stardom.

“We’d originally set out to help those most at risk of mental health problems in the community, and we’d been really excited about progress made during the pilot projects in the latter half of 2019, said project leader Victoria Reeves.

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“It was wonderful to see so many people come out of their shells, their confidence improving so much that they’d gone from barely speaking a word to giving us the history lessons! It’s given them a thirst for life and learning.”

A fun look at Doncaster's Roman heritageA fun look at Doncaster's Roman heritage
A fun look at Doncaster's Roman heritage

Over lockdown, Heritage Doncaster has been encouraging people to create living room museums, rallying people to become tomorrow’s historians by sharing experiences of the crisis and making up care home packages of activities and treats.

To find out more, visit or on social @DoncasterMuseum.