Events, News

Stewards of history? The Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives launches today

A new Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives launches at the House of Lords

The Campaign has grown out of concern for the neglect of archives and records across the voluntary sector. Unlike public records produced by government which will end up in the National Archives at Kew, there is little legal protection for charity archives. Yet it will not be possible to write the history of modern Britain without using the records of voluntary organisations.

On 15 October Tristram Hunt, historian and MP, helped launch the Campaign to an audience of charity chief executives, archivists and historians. The Campaign aims to convince charity leaders and trustees that archives have relevance for an organisation’s current work. WRVS Chief Executive David McCullough will make the business case for charities’ investing time and money in preserving their history. David McCullough said:

“The historical records contained in charity archives are just as vital today as they were when they were first produced. Preserving and sharing our archives means we are able to use past successes and failures to inform decisions made today. WRVS celebrates its 75th anniversary next year and we are incredibly proud of our archive which contains historical images and narrative reports detailing the contribution of millions of women during periods of enormous social change.”

Archives are also important as part of the charity sector’s wider public benefit responsibility. Such archives contain what may be otherwise unrecorded histories of people and communities.

There can be little change without the support of the Trusts and Foundations which help fund the sector’s work. Three funding bodies that share a commitment to voluntary sector archives and history will present at the launch – The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Andrew Cooper said:

“At The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, we have a commitment to sharing learning from our work in tackling challenging social issues. Trusts and foundations are important stewards of social history, and we are therefore placing our records in a publicly accessible archive, and are strong supporters of this important campaign to raise awareness of the importance and relevance of archives in society today.”

Youth Service Bulletin by kind permission of International Voluntary Service. The IVS archive is deposited at Hull History CentreThe Campaign hopes to encourage all charities, voluntary organisations, trusts and foundations to take responsibility for their archives by providing for their management, preservation, use and promotion. The Campaign is led by a steering group of researchers, custodians, creators of records and others which meets quarterly at the British Library.

The Campaign Launch is sponsored by Baroness Pitkeathley and funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Chaired by Professor Virginia Berridge, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine’s History Centre, the full list of speakers was as follows:


  • Ruth Bond, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes
  • Judy Burg, University Archivist, Hull History Centre
  • Matthew Hilton, Professor of Social History, University of Birmingham
  • Tristram Hunt MP
  • Diana Leat, Board Member, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund
  • David McCullough, Chief Executive, WRVS
  • Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper of the National Archives
  • Carole Souter, Chief Executive, Heritage Lottery Fund
  • Anna Southall, Trustee, Barrow Cadbury Trust


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