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A future for all our pasts

Helping our members save the UK’s heritage assets.

The Network in a Nutshell

Who are we?

Heritage Trust Network is the UK’s umbrella organisation for not-for-profits that are rescuing, restoring and managing historic buildings, structures and places.

Our rapidly growing, vibrant Network connects people so they can share experiences, learn from each other and provide mutual support. Conferences, site visits, meetings, webinars and our online community provide opportunities for members to network, support each other and meet experts and funders. You can watch recordings of the majority of our recent events on our Youtube channel.

Since 2020 our National Lottery funded project Unlocking the Power of Communities has enabled us to become more resilient, start to implement new systems and helped our rapidly growing membership to connect in new ways, but it has also highlighted many gaps in provision that we can only fill with further investment and resource.

We have a small team of 6 paid staff and governance, oversight and strategic direction is provided by our trustees. Our Board members all work in the heritage sector and have a passion for, and extensive knowledge of, community-led heritage regeneration.

Video: Joining the Heritage Trust Network

Find out more about our staff and trustees

Who are our members?

Our members include organisations specifically set up to save heritage sites, as well as individuals, businesses and local authorities that support local heritage action. We have seen a very steep rise in the number of groups and organisations that are coming to us for support in the last few years – particularly since the pandemic.

Since 2016 our membership has grown by 300%. Thanks to players of the National Lottery, 2020 saw the launch of our Unlocking the Power of Communities project which has helped us and our members build capacity, become more resilient and to build partnerships – three things that became increasingly important during the Covid 19 pandemic. However during the project we learned many lessons, identified gaps in provision and started to consider and test new ways of operating. We found that the Network needs further significant investment for the work to be done to enable us to become the infrastructure organisation that the community heritage regeneration sector needs.

We have recently seen an influx of members who are not ‘typical’ heritage organisations but deliver other types of services and have found an ideal place to operate in a historic building or space such as Refugee Education UK, Banana Enterprise Network, Circus Eruption, Mind Your Mate and Yourself and Enbarr Foundation.

In the future we want to develop more ‘clusters’ of members that go much further than just bringing them together geographically, but also bring them together on themes such as sites that offer office space, holiday accommodation or wellbeing and social prescribing activities. One cluster could even be formed from a group of members that are not focused on heritage but simply operate a HQ or ‘hub’ from a building that happens to be historic.


560 organisations


136 students


23 individuals

multi project trusts. A graphic with a green background depicting white map markers

71 multi-project Trusts

What we do

Peer-to-peer networking is at the heart of everything we do. When someone approaches us with a query we know at least one of our members will have been through a similar issue and will have the advice they need. In the last 12 months we have dealt with over 200 ‘cases’ submitted by community heritage organisations and if the number of members continues to rise at the current rate we will struggle to have the staff capacity to deal with them.

We know that funders offer as much support as possible, but they cannot offer the on-the-ground support that we can through our project-funded Development Officers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, our ten nation and area branches, Network Natters, online community, annual conference and workshops/webinars. Network membership gives funders the assurance that ​​funding applicants know the road ahead and have support in place. Successes in Scotland and Northern Ireland have demonstrated that a sustainable Development Officer model is required in all four nations.

Thanks to the funding received for our Unlocking the Power of Communities project we have been able to record the majority of recent events and now have over 100 videos and case studies available to members and non-members. We have been able to run a full programme of training events thanks to this funding, however feedback has shown that structured learning is also required. If funding was secured, we would be able to develop cohorts that would follow a structured learning programme that would be supported by mentoring, community grants and our other events.

Video: Open High Streets: Community Spaces in High Street Buildings

Youtube channel

Video: Heritage: A Risky Business

Video: What I Wish I’d Known When I Started My First Project

Video: Rising Costs: A Nasty Surprise

Video: Working with and Engaging Young Adults in Heritage

Our vision for the future

The Unlocking the Power of Communities project has demonstrated that there is a need for an infrastructure organisation that provides significantly enhanced support to grassroots community heritage organisations.

Our work complements statutory bodies’ and funders’ strategic initiatives for Regeneration, Place and Inclusion which in turn enables our members to secure the best outcomes for community heritage. But in order to continue to do this while providing high quality and meaningful support to a rapidly growing number of members, significant investment and expansion is required.

This can only be achieved through an increase in the number of staff and volunteers, and transformation of our peer-learning, networking and knowledge recycling to enable us to:

  • Produce accessible, enhanced digital resources, up-to-date guidance and information, training and networking events and expert advice on-tap
  • Develop a new, fully accessible website
  • Undertake ‘health-checks’, strategic reviews and mentoring leading to action plans featuring wider engagement, delivered via an expert panel of experienced members
  • Offer community grants to provide resources to members to implement resilience and engagement plans
  • Deliver training (structured and unstructured) focused on resilience, engagement skills, sustainability and diversity
  • Undertake partnership projects with diverse communities
  • Deliver outreach campaigns on behalf of external organisations, for example researching community organisations that run community centres in listed buildings in the Midlands and East
  • Boost membership growth and retention
  • Improve capacity to fund complementary services in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England
  • Support community heritage organisations to become more resilient as a result of enhanced support services
  • Enable staff, trustees and volunteers of organisations that participate in training, mentoring and peer visits to develop skills in engagement; Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; communications; digital; strategy and business planning
  • Commission a full communications and marketing review

The Network has great potential to do more of what it does as there are gaps in support for Heritage projects which the Network fills extremely well.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

I cannot thank you enough for the amount of care, thought and attention you've given me... I am so grateful and really appreciate this help.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

I don't know what I would do if we didn't have Heritage Trust Network behind us.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

Our experience of the Heritage Trust Network has been nothing short of brilliant! We couldn't imagine life without them to be honest, and goodness knows who we would have turned to for advice had the Network not been in existence.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

The Network have been so supportive for our project and any questions we have had have been answered quickly and thoroughly.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

We have learned a lot from the various workshops/online sessions to help us make progress on our journey to save our building.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

We have benefitted from the wealth of knowledge of the Network staff and members and their advice and guidance has been second to none, especially around some of the complications associated with writing such massive funding bids like ours.

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022

The content at the event was super, very well orchestrated. The case studies and learnings reported were so very insightful. I touch-typed 9 pages of notes!

Heritage Trust Network Member 2022


During our National Lottery funded Unlocking the Power of Communities project we have started to develop and build mutually beneficial partnerships with a wide range of organisations. The modest grant enabled our reputation amongst partner, statutory bodies and wider community groups to grow but has highlighted the gaps in provision that we would be able to fill through a new, more ambitious project.

We are increasingly being called upon by Historic England, Cadw, Historic Environment Scotland, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Department for Communities Northern Ireland to provide expertise and knowledge and to undertake research because of our unique connection to grassroots heritage organisations across the UK. This has demonstrated that the heritage sector needs a flexible and responsive infrastructure organisation like Heritage Trust Network but we can only meet this increased demand for the Network’s expertise by increasing our staffing levels and volunteer opportunities, investing in the overhaul and expansion of Toolkit, development of our CRM system and improving the quality of the data we collect from members.

We have developed 34 partnerships in total so far, including:

Volunteer Scotland (Make your Mark)The Audience Agency (Digital Heroes)Beatfreeks (Digital Heroes)
Locality (Open High Streets programme)Stir to Action (Open High Streets programme)Ulster Architectural Heritage
Churches Conservation Trust (Bridging the Gap)Historic Churches Scotland (Bridging the Gap)Wales Co-op Centre
Heritage LincolnshireDisability Collaborative NetworkWest of Scotland Regional Equality Council
Fit for the FuturePlunkett FoundationDevelopment Trusts Association Scotland

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Heritage Trust Network is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Our Unlocking the Power of Communities project has enabled us to work towards becoming more accessible to a wider group of people and we have started to embed DEI in everything we do, overseen by a staff member as a DEI Champion.

We have not only improved the accessibility of our digital platforms and communications through our partnership with the Disability Collaborative Network, we have also undertaken inclusive recruitment of board, staff members and volunteers, organised webinars on addressing racism, inequality and LGBTQ+ issues and also how to work with and engage young adults in Heritage. We ensure that all of our in-person events are accessible and have live Welsh/English translation where required while our online events feature a live speech to text transcript. Our website has a UserWay accessibility widget that enables the user to instantly hear the text, change contrast, enlarge text and much more.

The introduction of free membership for students and apprentices has led to over 100 student members joining in the last 2 years. This, along with the employment of a young person in a Graduate Trainee role, paved the way for the formation of our exciting new Network Youth Forum. The Youth Forum is led by our former Graduate Trainee who has now been employed as our Project Co-ordinator and the young people have been co-developing the Forum’s goals. The Youth Forum is currently organising a workshop for our conference, and a speed mentoring event. They have also produced a video that will be included in Historic Environment Scotland’s Community Heritage Conversations event.

Further funding will enable us to address the issues that were highlighted during our recent digital accessibility and communications audit, and to expand our Youth Forum enabling us to be more inclusive, engage wider audiences and to be a DEI examplar to the community heritage sector.

A compilation of pictures of 8 youth forum members

Video: The Network’s Youth Forum

Webinar: Addressing Inequality in Heritage

Webinar: Addressing Racism in Heritage

Webinar: Rendered Invisible – Telling LGBTQ+ Stories from the UK’s Built Heritage

Video: Digital Heroes Project

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