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Heritage Funding awarded for oral history project on 50 years of the Rape Crisis movement

Rape Crisis England & Wales is delighted to announce that we have been awarded a project grant of just under £225,000 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to undertake an exciting 22 month oral history project on Rape Crisis heritage across England & Wales. The project, called ‘Rape Crisis – exploring the herstories and futures of the movement’, will gather stories to be deposited in the British Library Sound Archive and is in partnership with the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University.

The project, made possible thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, will offer current and previous staff, volunteers and activists of the Rape Crisis movement in England & Wales an opportunity to share their stories and have them stored for future generations. The collation of oral histories will focus on women’s individual journeys into centres, and it will also cast light on how people’s personal lives impact the activism steps they take and how the creation and maintenance of Rape Crisis centres came to be. We have chosen oral histories as a radical methodology to listen to and record the voices and lives of individuals that have often been lost in wider archives and research.

The project team, hosted at Rape Crisis England & Wales and the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies at Oxford University, will work closely with the UK’s leading oral history fieldwork charity, National Life Stories, at the British Library.

Mary Stewart, Director of National Life Stories, commented:

“This is an important partnership for the British Library which will add thirty in-depth interviews to the oral history collection, providing unparalleled insights into the heritage of the Rape Crisis centre movement across England & Wales. Researchers now and in the future will be able to understand the vital contribution of Rape Crisis centres and its context within the Women's Liberation Movement.”

In addition to producing a sound archive, the project team will offer training opportunities for staff and volunteers within the Rape Crisis network so they can collate their own centre’s local heritage. Insights gathered will also be shared via other mediums, such as a publication to mark 50 years of the Rape Crisis movement in England & Wales at the end of 2024, and the creation of a downloadable play script and a podcast to reach audiences more widely.

Sara Kilner, Rape Crisis England & Wales, commented:

“It’s so important for us to recognise and acknowledge the voices and stories that have shaped Rape Crisis. This project affirms the cultural significance of the Rape Crisis movement and will honour the women who have provided vital support to so many victims and survivors.”

Rape Crisis England & Wales and The Centre for Socio-Legal Studies are delighted to be partners on this project, which will give much-needed recognition to the rich heritage of the Rape Crisis movement. The oral history interviews will begin in earnest from early 2024. Any queries in the meantime please contact sara@rapecrisis.org.uk.