General view of monument to Queen Victoria. View shows the other side of the monument "The figure of 'Maternity' at the back of the throne - a symbol of 'the Mother of her People'". In the foreground are people using the gardens, reading, relaxing and chatting.
Monument to Queen Victoria, completed in 1901 as a centrepiece to Piccadilly Gardens, Greater Manchester © Historic England DP220619
Monument to Queen Victoria, completed in 1901 as a centrepiece to Piccadilly Gardens, Greater Manchester © Historic England DP220619

Heritage and Society

Historic places convey a sense of uniqueness and awe and are strong emotional pillars connecting communities across England. Heritage can also improve personal wellbeing, by helping us understand our past, our individual and communal identity and help us connect with the places where we live.

Heritage and Society 2020 presents evidence about the value of heritage to society, individuals and community groups across England. The evidence is gathered from a wide range of reliable sources including major household panel surveys, systematic literature reviews, bespoke evaluation studies and public opinion surveys. This year, exceptionally, the report includes a section presenting evidence about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our social lives including our access to and engagement with our precious heritage.

Key findings:

  • Like most parts of society and the economy, the heritage sector suffered a heavy blow as a result of lockdown due to COVID-19
  • Outdoor heritage sites are places people feel most comfortable visiting
  • Virtual visits and digital engagement with heritage has helped people cope during lockdown
  • Our local neighbourhoods have demonstrated their value during lockdown by helping us to cope
  • Heritage volunteering, an important source of community resilience, was challenged during lockdown
  • Volunteering to support COVID-19 related causes has seen an increase which supports a spirit of collective care for our communities and places
  • The heritage sector has an important role to play in our individual mental wellbeing in the future
  • Visiting heritage can ease the challenges associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Online heritage resources support more equal access to digital learning for children

Heritage Counts

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