We (Kate Faccia and Sadie Watson) have had many conversations with colleagues in the heritage, archaeology and construction sectors over the last couple of years as our research into value-led archaeology continues.

Kate’s survey in 2021 consulted with the public over what they might want to hear from us, and how they might want to benefit from archaeological work done as part of development.  So we invited people who live close to MOLA’s offices in London to give their opinions and help shape our future work.

Why workshops?

MOLA’s engagement strategy includes a focus on individuals and community-based groups who live within a 1km walk of our offices and physical bases. Our London offices are in the far south of the borough of Hackney, and we are located in the middle of one the most multi-cultural areas of the UK, with at least 89 languages spoken in the borough. These are our neighbours, who are often largely unaware that our office is adjacent to their homes, workplaces and other significant spaces.

Our developer-led archaeological projects often take place within marginalised communities, with our tacit participation in negative impacts rarely considered. Therefore, the workshops with these communities will play a central role in developing co-created ideas for new outcomes from our work.

Asking communities to contribute to the design and outcomes from projects remains rare for our sector but we are taking on board new opinions, ideas and proposals of how to make our work more meaningful for a broader section of society.

How we used the funding

To achieve these aims, we received some extra funding, courtesy of the UKRI team who run the Future Leader Fellowships that Sadie holds. This ‘Plus Funds’ money meant we could host workshops with our neighbours, providing crucial costs like travel, childcare and food to enable them to attend. We were also able to reimburse them for their time, as we fundamentally believe that people shouldn’t be asked to give their views to us for free.

Kate has made some great contacts in the local area and over the Summer we used creative methods to uncover participants’ perceptions of archaeology, including:

  • their levels of interest in engaging with our work
  • how they might like to engage with us, or reasons they choose not to
  • what public benefits, or social value outcomes, they want from the archaeological process.

We are also funding external EDI (Ethnicity, Diversity and Inclusion) advice during this process from our fabulous friends at EMBED, to ensure we behave responsibly and can learn from the exercise. We also hired interpreters and translators, to help key language community members engage in the focus group sessions and associated outputs. We have worked closely with VC Hackney running our workshops at their coffee mornings hosted in GP surgeries across the borough and these sessions have been great! See a few pics by a VC coordinator on Twitter.  

As part of the award Sadie has committed to delivering a ‘sandpit style’ event to Future Leader Fellow colleagues. This will focus on building expertise and knowledge around engaging underrepresented communities, recruiting community participants, co-designing projects and community building.

We are committed to ensuring that insights gained from these focus groups will contribute to new perspectives of the impact and role that archaeology can play in lives of communities currently underserved by our work.

Research Social value