In the bleak winter days, we need more than hope to maintain our strength, perseverance and humanity. We need inspiration.
The historic environment is all around us and plays a big role in our individual and community wellbeing – even if we don’t realise it. The street and neighbourhood we live in, the local church or temple we go to, the nearby park we jog through, the high street where we meet friends or shop, the old cinema which we pass by every day, the war memorial on the village green, the historic house with the lovely Christmas market and even our local pub. They are all part of our heritage and make our cities, towns and villages what they are.
Heritage is about the people who live in those places– their memories and their lives, their communities and values, their needs and their aspirations. It was people who shaped the historic environment around us over the centuries and will continue to do so in future.
Whether we realise it or not, our health and wellbeing have always been deeply connected with our heritage. Not only does it offer us places to go and be active, explore and learn about our past, but it actually brings us together, allows us to connect with memories, reminisce with others.
It provides an opportunity to connect with neighbours and friends, learn more about each other and strengthen our feelings of belonging and identity.
Next time you go out, take notice of what is around you and how it makes you feel. Next time you are bored, browsing on your phone, search for information about your local heritage sites or the history of your local pub. Next time you chat to the neighbour over the fence, ask them what they like most about this place.
Today, more than ever, we need the historic environment to help us make sense of who we are, why we are here and how we can come back together stronger.
Find out more on Historic England’s website – Heritage & Wellbeing.
Dr Desi Gradinarova is the Senior Policy Adviser for Wellbeing and Inclusion at Historic England and Head of Historic Environment at National Academy for Social Prescribing