Take a five-minute trip back in Doncaster's history
Bite-sized audio plays inspired by real-life Yorkshire people have been launched by Doncaster historians to bring heart-warming drama and entertainment to our lives.
The new Five Minute Histories are already proving such a hit that the production team are on the hunt for more people to join the cast and crew – and it could be you.
“From witchcraft and wartime romance, to the Del Boy of Roman Doncaster, you’ll be transported right back in time in these Five Minute Histories,” said Victoria Ryves from Heritage Doncaster.
She and her team created the podcasts as part of their pioneering History, Health & Happiness campaign, which is supported by Arts Council England.
“They’re uplifting and life-affirming - exactly what we need to raise our spirits at the moment – and they’re astonishingly ‘real’ thanks to the brilliant writers and producers who’ve stepped in to help us make them, including some very convincing sound effects by Gary Hammond from the band Beautiful South.
"We’ve even managed to track down descendants of a few people featured in the Histories, from as far afield as Canada and the USA, and they’ve helped to voice some of the parts.”
The podcasts were designed as five-minute mindfulness breaks, with the support of mental health organisations in Doncaster, to help people cope with isolation or struggling with mental health, including those feeling the strain of lockdown and its after-effects.
“History and storytelling can really help our mental wellbeing,” said Victoria.
“Social isolation and loneliness are estimated to increase mortality rates by 26%, with strong links to depression, dementia and heart disease.
" We wanted to make a difference. History has the ability to unite people through a sense of shared past; it helps us make connections, sparks conversations and creativity. It makes us feel as though we belong.
"For the past year, we’ve had such promising results from projects like Five Minute Histories, with participants experiencing a 23% rise in confidence, 11% increase in happiness levels, and 20% increase in optimism about the future. This has got to give us hope.”
She continued: “Sadly, people struggling with loneliness and poor mental health are so hidden within our neighbourhoods and families, all too easy to ignore or recognise.
"I think Covid-19 has changed that, giving us all a taste of what some people experience every day.
"Even though restrictions are easing, many of us are still struggling to connect and engage as we once did, coping with situations that are putting a real strain on our mental well-being.
"That’s why we created Five Minute Histories – a shared smile, a sense of belonging, these are worth their weight in gold.”
With more Five Minute Histories in production, Heritage Doncaster are on the hunt for anyone who’d like a starring role, whether to voice the parts, or to suggest a real-life local story for a future show.
To get involved or to find out more, visit www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk or look for @DoncasterMuseum on social media.
Find the downloads at www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk/happyhistory, where you can also go behind the scenes to find out more about the people featured in the stories.
CD versions also feature in special activity packs that Heritage Doncaster has developed for the borough’s care homes, social prescribing schemes and food banks.
Why do kids get to have all the fun over summer?
Well, that’s set to change in Doncaster from this week, as three free virtual clubs open their digital doors with a warm welcome to anyone who needs a helping hand to make new friends, whilst getting creative at home - including the many people still home-bound and alone because of Covid-19.
Weird Wonder Clubs, inventive Museum Make-A-Longs and inspiring History Book Clubs aim to bring people in Doncaster together whilst bringing local history to life.
They explore thrilling true tales of the unexpected in Doncaster’s museum and library collections through scavenger hunts and sharing, knitting and nattering, crafting and gaming and much more.
“It’s going to be exciting, creative and lots of fun as we’ll be getting hands-on with history in each of the live, hourly online sessions,” said Victoria.
“It’s a brilliant way of making new friends and doing something inspiring and unusual with your day – so if you’re feeling lonely, come and join us.
"There’s no need to worry, either, if you’re not online – we can help you with all of that!”
She added: “Over the past few months, I think we’ve all experienced the impact of loneliness and isolation on our mental health.
"It’s all too easy forget that, while many of us busy reuniting with family and friends and making plans to get out and about, a huge number of people are still isolated and alone at home.
"Within your neighbourhood, perhaps even within your own family, there will be people hidden away in their homes, experiencing loneliness as their everyday. Maybe that’s you.
"That’s why virtual meet-ups are proving so useful - whatever your age, whatever’s happening in your life, this is a chance to escape into a hugely entertaining world of history, enjoying yourself while sharing a great big smile with some new friends.”
The Wonder Clubs, Museum Make-A-Longs and History Book Clubs are free to join, and people can sign up by emailing [email protected] or by calling 01302 737399.
To find out more about any of History, Health & Happiness activities and events, visit www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk or on social media as @DoncasterMuseum.
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