Wellbeing and Heritage Working Group

The Wellbeing & Heritage Working Group was set up by the Council for British Archaeology and Historic England to create an opportunity to share knowledge and experience from across the heritage and archaeology sector in the area of wellbeing.



historic england.PNG


Working group mission and aims

Our mission is to raise awareness for the wellbeing value of heritage by working collaboratively to gather evidence and share best practice.

The Wellbeing & Heritage Working Group group aims to:

  • Create a wellbeing & heritage community of practice, facilitating discussion, networking and collaboration in the area
  • To work towards an agreed framework for incorporating heritage & wellbeing into activity across the sector, including developing the necessary tools (evaluation framework, guidance, training etc)
  • To share the groups learning on heritage & wellbeing with others
  • To encourage collaborative working
  • Where appropriate to make position statements and lobby for the wellbeing benefits of heritage and the historic environment

The Wellbeing and Heritage Working Group is jointly facilitated by Historic England and the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) and is open to any heritage organisation and / or professional interested to learn and collaborate.


How to join the group

To express your interest in joining the group please get in touch with:

Communities of practice within the group

There are two communities of practice currently under the Wellbeing & Heritage Working Group:

  • Evaluation & Research Gaps Community of Practice, which focuses on priority areas within wellbeing and heritage that are in particular need of further research, evidence and evaluation. Read the Wellbeing & Heritage Group’s Research Agenda.
  • Heritage & Social Prescribing Community of Practice brings together organisations and practitioners interested in learning and sharing practice in social prescribing, as well as co-producing resources and guidance for the sector.

Wellbeing and Heritage Group: Research Gaps Working Group Research Agenda

Aims of this agenda

  • This agenda sets out a series of research gaps related to wellbeing and heritage, as identified by the Research Gaps Group, which forms part of the wider Wellbeing and Heritage Working Group
  • A series of key themes have been identified, each with a set of research questions. The themes and questions set out here are by no means exhaustive, but aim to highlight some of the key issues that would benefit from additional research in the area oh heritage and wellbeing
  • These questions are also referred to in the Wellbeing and Heritage evaluation framework.

Research area: unique and added value of heritage

  • What is heritage? What does it mean to different people - perceptions and understanding about what heritage is and how it adds to the overall wellbeing and value of people’s experiences?
  • Where does heritage have unique or added wellbeing value (for example, when experiencing the benefits of connecting with nature, sport, art, etc.)?
  • What is the added value of heritage as part of nature and culture? Is it the glue that helps us understand the links between all of these and appreciate the place humans have in that interaction? Bringing the cultural “zing” of heritage to the fore.
  • The role of heritage in addressing big issues such as sustainability, climate crisis, decolonisation, etc. How does this impact on wellbeing both positively and negatively?
  • What is the role of heritage in strengthening community wellbeing and resilience (sense of belonging, identity and community cohesion)?

Research area: heritage and place

  • Heritage as a key ingredient to identity – personal, local, national. How does heritage contribute to strengthening feelings of belonging, identity and community connection?
  • How does the heritage aspect of a place add to people’s sense of wellbeing? How does heritage help people feel better connected to that place?
  • How does having a sense of pride in a place impact on individual and community wellbeing?

Research area: health and heritage

  • How can people benefit from engaging with heritage to improve their mental health (e.g. ways to engage, types of interventions and areas where it can have a positive effect)?
  • What are the possibilities to use psychosocial interventions e.g. for memory/heritage in post-conflict, post-trauma situations?
  • How can heritage help address issues of loneliness and isolation?
  • Social prescribing pathways for utilising heritage as an effective tool for addressing health inequalities, supporting individual and community wellbeing. How do we demonstrate the impact heritage based social prescribing projects have and contribution to the health sector?

Research area: active/passive participation

  • How do we define active/passive participation? How does active/passive participation impact individuals wellbeing? How do we encourage people to move from passive to active participation?
  • How can we demonstrate the wellbeing impact from engagement with heritage via digital platforms? How can we best use digital tools to engage local communities?
  • Going beyond participation, how can communities better self-determine, govern, co-create in order to maximise wellbeing benefits?

Research area: inclusion and inequalities

  • How do we make heritage accessible, identify and reduce barriers (e.g. access, language, cost)?
  • How do we capture the wide range of wellbeing impact on individuals depending on their personal circumstances?
  • Who is and who isn’t taking part in a wellbeing and heritage activity? What is the impact of exclusion from heritage sites on individual wellbeing?
  • How can we address issues around contested heritage to support wellbeing and resilience for individuals and communities?
  • What is the role of heritage as a tool for dialogue and reconciliation e.g. post-conflict?
  • Is language a barrier when engaging with heritage?

Research area: heritage capital and methodology

  • How do we demonstrate the benefits of using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and/or other scales as part of the evaluation process?
  • How do we diversify the tools we use to capture a wider range of empirical metrics (e.g. income and employment)?
  • How do we develop longitudinal studies with more granularity and capturing data on wider demographics and social groups?
  • How do we develop and co-produce guidance and training on heritage and wellbeing and social impact evaluation that is accessible to all? How do we get sector buy in and work towards co-producing and sharing consistent data?
  • How do we capture less formal activity which often is only recorded at a very local level (e.g. activity of local groups)?
  •  Encourage collaborative UKRI (United Kingdom Research and Innovation) work?
  • How do we ensure our data capture is compatible and feeds into DCMS led research such as Cultural Heritage Capital?
  • How do we develop projects that capture control group data?
  • How do we capture the impact of digital assets on wellbeing?
  • How do we measure heritage wellbeing contribution to the Health sector – reduced
  • pressure on the NHS, cost savings, reduced number of GP appointments and visits to A&E, less clinical interventions and less medication prescribed, etc.?
  • How do we demonstrate and raise awareness of the wider impact of heritage on health (e.g. social contentedness and loneliness) including both negative and positive effects?
  • How do we measure engagement with heritage assets through time (e.g. changes in character or state of the asset)?

Wellbeing and Heritage Conference

Conference Poster-People.jpg


The 2024 Wellbeing and Heritage Conference was organised and supported by Historic England, the Council for British Archaeology, Southampton Institute for Arts and Humanities (SIAH) and Delapre Abbey, with the participation and help of the sector-wide Wellbeing and Heritage Working Group.