Then and Now – exploring what the First World War means to us today

Then and Now – exploring what the First World War means to us today

Lucy Footer HLF First World War Centenary and Anniversaries Adviser
In an important year for First World War anniversaries and commemorations, Lucy Footer shares news of a milestone HLF has reached and talks about Centenary events in 2016.

I am thrilled to have joined HLF as First World War Centenary and Anniversaries Adviser at this crucial moment - as we announce that 1,000 projects have received funding under our First World War: Then and Now grants programme.

Projects are led by all sorts of organisations: youth groups, residents’ associations, disability and faith groups and local history societies, as well as museums and archives.

[quote]“We would like to see at least another 1,000 projects funded under our First World War: Then and Now grants programme before the end of the Centenary.”[/quote]

HLF has supported projects that focus not just on the events of 1914–1918 but also on how the War shaped the world we live in today. We’ve helped people examine the experiences of soldiers, the role of women, places affected by the War and the way it has been commemorated since – all of these are important parts of our heritage and all of these projects aim to make a lasting difference to the people and communities involved.

With exactly four months to go until the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, I have picked three projects to inspire you: 

1. Women in Work

Army wives and children at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow are working with Bounce Theatre to investigate the changing role of women during the War. They will look at how this affected the community at the time and share their findings by creating a book and learning resource for schools.

Sue Bazan, Community Development Worker at the Barracks, said: “The hesitant group of army wives who initially joined the project have now developed into enthusiastic researchers. They’re also excited about displaying their findings in a mid-programme exhibition.”

2. Shot: Then and Now

The Lower Kersal Young People's Group are bringing together schools and youth groups – including youngsters the same age as those who went to the Front – to examine the impact the First World War had on their community. Working with Salford Museum among others, they will create two short films to help them to share the stories they have discovered, while they develop new skills such as acting and film, sound and editing techniques.

The group held their first event only a few weeks into the project. The local church hall was packed as the community sampled First World War-style food and reflected on films which brought to life stories of local lads sent to the Western Front 100 years ago. 

3. Who Do I Think I Was

Supported by staff at Gwent and Glamorgan Archives, this project will enable participants to combine research with creative activities that will allow them to draw comparisons between their lives and the lives of those who experienced the War. Archive visits will be followed by arts workshops where participants will respond creatively to what they have discovered. Head4Arts, the community organisation leading the project, plans to draw participants from across the South East Wales region and from a range of different groups – youth groups, the Women’s Institute and local choirs to name just a few.

More to come

The 2016 anniversaries mark some of the defining moments of the First World War including the introduction of conscription, the Easter Rising in Ireland, the Battle of Jutland and the Battle of the Somme. Many HLF projects are looking at the experiences of people involved in these momentous events at home and abroad.

It may seem like an ambitious goal but we would like to see at least another 1,000 projects funded under First World War: Then and Now before the end of the Centenary. The programme remains open until 2019 and provides grants of between £3,000 and £10,000 for projects focusing on any aspect of the War and its legacy.

HLF is keen to support projects that will:

  • Encourage a greater understanding of the War and its impacts
  • Explore a wide range of perspectives and interpretations of the War
  • Highlight previously untold stories

And if your group has already received a grant, that doesn’t mean you can’t apply again for another project; this is exactly what Bounce Theatre have successfully done. We can also fund First World War-related projects which need more than £10,000 under our open programmes.

Find out more about First World War: Then and Now and all our other programmes on Our Grant Programmes page.