The Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre at home
Already two weeks have gone by since the HSFA acted on the advice of the University of Huddersfield and Public Health England to close the Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre to staff and visitors for the foreseeable future.
It’s been the strangest two weeks many of us can remember. We have a new, albeit temporary, way of life. We have a new vocabulary, with terms like ‘self-isolation’ and ‘social distancing’ now in everyday use. And sadly, some of us will be fearful for the health of loved ones and may even have lost people close to us. I hope you and your families are in good health. I want to update you on what the HSFA is doing during these strangest of times.
The HSFA is a membership organisation, and our first concern in the current pandemic situation is for the health and wellbeing of our survivor community. I’m pleased to report that all the survivors we work with are safe and well. Our support worker, Tracy, is out in the community supporting the survivors, providing practical assistance and a friendly face while observing the social distancing guidelines. Our Chair of Trustees, Lilian Black, is in close contact with our partner organisations, particularly The Association of Jewish Refugees, the Leeds Jewish Welfare Board and the Leeds Jewish Housing Association, to co-ordinate this work and ensure that all our survivor members get the practical and emotional support that they need. We will do our utmost to support the survivor community through this crisis and beyond.
The Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre
I’m immensely proud of how the small staff team at the Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre have adapted in the fortnight since we temporarily closed our office at the University of Huddersfield. We’ve all transitioned to home working – complete with Zoom meetings, office pets and home education challenges – and we’re planning the next few months of activity to make the most of our changed circumstances. In particular we are developing plans to share more of our collection online to support home education and continue our mission to bring high quality Holocaust education, based on authentic evidence and survivor testimony, to a wider audience. Take a look at our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook feeds, share the content that’s inspiring you, and do let us know if there’s anything you want us to cover. Over the next few weeks we’ll be commemorating the liberation of Bergen-Belsen and Buchenwald concentration camps, where several of our members were incarcerated, and putting more of our archival collections online. Watch this space!
We’re also continuing with work on our funded projects – we are fortunate to have support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund through its Resilience programme, and from the Association of Jewish Refugees for audience development and engagement work. We’re continuing to work on our offer to audiences, developing new school and community learning programmes so that when we re-open on site in the hopefully not-too-distant future we will have an even better offer for school groups and visitors. We’re also working on some exciting new partnerships with the Imperial War Museum and the Wiener Holocaust Library – there’ll be more news on those programmes over the next few months.
So, the times may be strange, but there’s plenty of work going on in the background to keep us all busy! We hope all our visitors, supporters and friends are staying safe and well, and hope to ‘see’ you on our social media channels very soon.
Director, Holocaust Exhibition & Learning Centre