A group of you children with high visibility vests on visit Edinburgh Castle

This week we’ll be headed to Glasgow for our very first time exhibiting at The Gathering.

What’s The Gathering? It’s Scotland’s largest annual event for charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. It’s free to attend and more than 3,000 visitors will be headed there on Wednesday and Thursday.

For us, The Gathering is an exciting opportunity to share our Heritage for All vision with a new audience. We’re looking forward to talking with people about how the historic environment can make a real difference to lives. We’re also keen to tell you about some of the things we offer that could help your charity.

Role in strengthening communities

We know that many third sector organisations are anchors within their communities. They respond to the needs and views of local people and make things happen. We’re keen to work with these organisations to help communities understand their heritage. This can unlock loads of benefits.

Many local organisations are involved in developing locality plans and local place plans. These provide an ideal opportunity to discuss and capture local history. What aspects of heritage are important to you and your community? How can they be protected, recorded and used for the future? By asking these questions, local organisations can help stimulate interest in and grow understanding of the historic environment.

Getting to grips with your heritage can improve the local economy, increase tourism and more. For instance, Gorebridge Community Trust has been instrumental in transforming their town centre through a successful conservation and regeneration scheme funded through Historic Environment Scotland.

Supporting Wellbeing

The third sector plays a huge part in delivering services that make a real difference to people’s wellbeing, and our historic environment can also play a part in improving people’s lives. Transforming historic spaces into attractive, healthy and sustainable places opens up spaces for communities to learn, create and enjoy. This type of regeneration can also provide places to work and volunteer.

We care for over 300 historic places in Scotland. Did you know you can organise free visits through our Learning Team? We welcome groups of all ages and all backgrounds to visit our sites and connect with Scotland’s history.

These visits can be helpful to organisations working to alleviate social isolation or those providing care and support to more vulnerable groups. It’s also a great opportunity to find creative inspiration and develop interests!

You could explore Holyrood Park, visit castles and monuments, learn about conservation at the Engine Shed or volunteer at our sites.

Managing a historic asset

We also know there are a number of organisations based in traditional buildings. Some of these may even be listed or in a conservation area. We understand that maintaining these old buildings can pose a bit of a challenge, but there are also opportunities to give these wonderful old places a new lease of life.

Our Managing Change in the Historic Environment guidance is a good place to go if you’re thinking of re-purposing an old building. We also have wide range of grants and funding available to support projects that share our aims.

One charity we’ve worked with to help regenerate traditional spaces is is WASPS. WASPS provides affordable studios to support artists, arts organisations, and creative businesses. In Inverness, they have taken on two B-listed former school buildings as part of the Inverness Creative Academy. In February 2020, we awarded funding of £500,000 to repair and revitalise the original 1895 Academy building. The completed project will deliver a vibrant creative destination to serve the whole of the Highlands.

Say “Hi!”

We’d love to meet you at The Gathering this week. If you’ve got a passion for uncovering local history, an old building that needs a bit of TLC or a great idea for a project to help communities to tap into their heritage, we’d love to chat! We’ll be at stand 25 on Wednesday 19 and Thursday 20 February at the SECC.

delegates chat at an exhibition stand

About the author

Photo portrait of HeatherHeather Macnaughton is the Partnership Manager within the Development & Partnership Directorate. Along with development officers, Amy and Martin, the team identify, develop and support organisations to achieve effective partnerships, project delivery and community engagement at a local, regional, national and international level. Through meaningful connections they promote Heritage for All that makes a real difference for people who live, work and visit Scotland’s historic environment.


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Guest Blog

From time to time we have guest posts from partners, visitors and friends of Historic Environment Scotland.