We’ve now had four of our Citizen Volunteer training days on the Remembering Resistance project, and it’s been quite a whirlwind. The training days began in Lancaster in November with seven volunteers from around Lancashire and Yorkshire coming to hear more about the project, learning how to undertake oral histories effectively and finding out how to search for protest-based material on databases and in archives. In January, we repeated our training day in Lancaster with four, new volunteers from around Cumbria and Lancashire; this was followed by a training day in Leeds with four volunteers from Yorkshire, and another day in Durham with seven volunteers from County Durham, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Yorkshire and Liverpool. One word that sums up the collective experience: amazing!
First, a word about the volunteers: the people we have had the pleasure to meet are such an eclectic bunch of women (and two men!) with a whole host of life and protest-based experiences. Their stories of activism and of fighting for causes they believe in, whether locally or abroad, are so varied and so inspiring. We have already learned a lot from what they have done, and have very much valued their input into making training days and beyond incredible.
Second, a word about venues: in Leeds and Durham in particular, we have been met with the most gracious, friendly and accommodating people who have met and easily exceeded our training day needs. Whether it was in providing us with stunning rooms, fantastic and ample food or extra spaces when we needed to spread out, we can’t say enough positive things about being hosted in fabulous community spaces. Where possible, we plan to continue carrying out our project in these smaller venues, as they feel like exactly the kind of places where activism lives and breathes. So if you’re in Leeds, please check out the Chapel FM Arts Centre, and if you happen to visit Durham, please go to Alington House.
Finally, a word about keeping this energy up: from our many conversations with the volunteers, we definitely found that there is an appetite and, indeed, a desire to capture, record and make visible the stories of women’s involvement in protest over the last 100 years in the North of England. Sometimes this can sound daunting, as there is so much ground to cover, novel technologies to learn and new relationships to broker. Meeting the volunteers over the past few months, though, has filled us with complete confidence and joy that, together, we can smash this and co-develop a project that is greater than the sum of its parts. In short, we will make something amazing!