Project Description

Volunteer Paula Holohan at Lancashire Archives
Volunteers Amy Ashcroft & Alex Hurst with Carole Hunt, Whittingham Lives Board Member at the Hidden Histories, Alternative Futures Exhibition
Volunteer Liz Lewis Wearing Her Own Replica of a Crocheted Collar
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Over 25 volunteers joined us on the Whittingham Lives project and we extend a huge thank you to each and every one of them for their support and dedication in ensuring that the programme was a huge success.

Lancashire Archives

A team of 13 highly committed volunteers gave 580 hours of their time over three months to make more than 20,000 Whittingham staff records more accessible through an indexing project. Whittingham patient records had been indexed previously but the team at Lancashire Archives had no index of the staff that worked there. This meticulous piece of work has enabled Lancashire Archives staff to answer enquiries more effectively and the information has been uploaded onto their online catalogue, LANCAT.

The volunteers reported unanimously that “they enjoyed their experience of volunteering” and that they got a “sense of personal satisfaction and achievement from seeing the final results”.

The project gave the volunteers an insight into the care and management of the Whittingham Archive, insight into the history of mental ill health and that working with the archive made them consider mental health and mental healthcare today.

A shelf of Whittingham records before conservation and repackaging
Reports of the Commissioners in Lunacy (HRW/24)
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A Volunteer’s Perspective

by Sophia Boeer

I volunteered on the Whittingham Lives project whilst completing my Master in Photography at the University of Central Lancashire. While doing a Socially Engaged Art Project at The Harbour Hospital in Blackpool I researched about other mental health hospitals in the area and discovered the history of Whittingham Hospital. I was fascinated by the stories and the place itself where the hospital once stood. I wanted to base my master dissertation on Whittingham and further research led me to the Whittingham Lives project.

The project enabled me to learn more about how these sorts of projects work on a large scale. I was able to develop new skills such as facilitating workshops and engaging with members of the public. I met many new interesting people and enjoyed working together towards a common goal. The project also allowed me to take part in my first exhibition at a museum and I learned about how exhibitions are planned and all the work that goes into it.

I was able to experiment with archival material and photographs which helped me enhance my skills as a photographer. I had never worked with archival material before and learning how to find materials relating to Whittingham at the archives is something I will be able to use again in the future when I want to find other subjects.

What I enjoyed the most was making new friends and being able to attend all the different events that were offered and learning new things about a subject that caught my interest. I am very thankful that I was able to take part in the Whittingham Lives project and hope I will still be part of this journey if it continues further.