Local social enterprise Curiosity Creative has announced a new project in collaboration with Tyneside Women’s Health, called “Wor Women on the Home Front – exploring North East women’s role in WW1”. The project has received funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) through its First World War: then and now programme. The project will focus on supporting service users of Tyneside Women’s Health to explore the impact of the First World War on women and their families in the North East of England.
Culture Secretary Maria Miller who is leading the Government’s First World War programme said: “Women rose to the challenge during the First World War, often defying cultural and social barriers to achieve quite incredible things at the front and back at home. With the First World War generation all but gone, it is vital that we capture the memories of local people so their stories are not lost. This project is a fitting way to pay tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of the North East’s women in this centenary year.”
Participants will access local archives with heritage experts and be shown how to conduct their own research in order to build a valuable record of previously unheard stories of life on the Home Front for local women. Participants will collect personal stories from older people within the local community whose parents and other family members lived and served during the First World War. Participants will be trained in oral history so they can collect and record these untold personal stories. Inspired by their research, participants will then unlock and capture their own personal stories through researching their family history and taking part in a series of facilitated storytelling sessions and creative workshops. Using digital technology such as tablets and smart phones participants will be empowered to record their untold stories in various formats.
The aim of the project is to raise awareness of the role of women in the North East during the First World War. The lives of many North East women changed during this time as they had to adapt to living without men of fighting age, taking on work opportunities previously held by men. The project will explore how family life in the North East changed as women went to work and were left to bring up families on their own while men were away fighting or if they were killed in action.
Regular blogs by service users will mean that the wider public can be kept up to date with developments and join in with the research. All research and stories that are uncovered will be digitally archived as a permanent record of the project, as well as forming part of an exhibition at the end of the project to coincide with International Women’s Day in 2015.
Elaine Slater, Project Manager at Tyneside Women’s Health said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity for service users to learn about local history and what other cultural facilities are available in the North East. Our aim is to help women improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing and this project enables this by helping women learn new skills, visit new places and introduce them to digital technology, all of which will help reduce isolation. We are very excited to be working in partnership with Curiosity Creative and thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for enabling this’.