Doncaster Museum launches online history ‘social clubs’
If you are one of the thousands of people who find that being home alone during the darkest days of winter is a lonely reality, not a fun Christmas movie, then a rather unusual lifeline can be found in an innovative – and free - winter programme of virtual social clubs, specially designed by Doncaster Museum to find happiness in history.
Heritage Doncaster’s History, Health and Happiness programme aims to tackle isolation and improve well-being in four key areas of Doncaster, using museum collections as the basis for outreach and community engagement activities. The online ‘social clubs’ aim to make participants feel more connected to others in their community and have a greater understanding and pride in the place they live.
The activities aim to respond to community insight and the needs of the communities in which they take place.
Victoria Ryves, from Heritage Doncaster’s History, Health and Happiness project said:
“History can make you happy. That might come as a surprise if you didn’t enjoy history at school, but it’s proven to have a positive impact on people’s well-being .
“History has this amazing ability to take us away from our modern lives and worries; it can be inspirational and encourage us to be mindful; it sparks creativity and conversations; it connects people and helps us feel a sense of belonging.
“Our social clubs harness history’s ‘happiness superpower’ – they’re fun, sometimes messy, and brilliant company, perfect for anyone who’d love to make friends and do something different, but perhaps are still anxious about meeting others in person or need to be at home to work or care for others.”
There are new free spaces available on two online social clubs this winter:
The History Book Club, where bookworms get to explore the real-life history behind best-selling novels, by digging deeper into the museum’s rare collections and archives (meets bi-weekly on Wednesdays, 2pm – 3.30pm.
The Museum Make-A-Long, where everyone gets crafty, turning back the clock to recreate a moment or object from the past through art of all shapes and sizes (meets on the third Tuesday of every month).
Victoria added: “It doesn’t matter if you’re not confident with the Internet, we can help you get online.
"All you need to do is get in touch, and we’ll get you started. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t live near the museum in Doncaster.
“As the social clubs take place online, we welcome people from right across South Yorkshire.
“There are an estimated 55,000 people experiencing mental health challenges in Doncaster alone, with loneliness being a major contributor.
“If this is you, or if you know anybody within your family or neighbourhood who needs a smile and some company, then come and join in. Let us, and history, be your friend.”
A study of last year’s social clubs showed a hugely positive response from participants – most struggling with long-term social isolation or recent bereavement. 100 per cent of social club participants met someone new and spoke to people outside their age group, with 91 per cent sharing their skills, memories or experiences and 83 per cent becoming interested in trying new activities.
To find out more about History, Health & Happiness, visit www.heritagedoncaster.org.uk, call on 01302 737339, or follow social media @DanumGLAM.