With further funding secured, plans for a Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre for the north of England have been reinforced.
The Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre for the north of England will now go ahead, thanks to a further boost of £604,000 in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which is partly due to the support of National Lottery players. The funds will go towards the founding of a northern memorial centre that will archive and offer educational insights into the horrific events of the Holocaust.
Lilian Black, chair of the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association (HSFA), said: “The legacy of the Holocaust survivors in Yorkshire is now secure and will be made available to pupils, students and the wider community for teaching and learning.”
Run by the Leeds-based HSFA, the centre will be located at Heritage Quay in the University of Huddersfield, and the plans have been 18 months in the making.
Many survivors and their families now live or have lived in Yorkshire. These include people who were refugees during the Second World War, in hiding, in ghettos, or in concentration camps, as well as those who escaped on the Kindertransport. Their stories and accounts at present have no permanent home. The new centre will serve as a record of stories, documents and artefacts for future generations.
This project hopes to attract around 20,000 visitors annually, with tours, school and community seminars, and educational elements that give people the chance to learn more. The guided tours will be given by trained volunteers, while school children will have the opportunity to use creative and performing arts to interpret the stories at the centre.
A New Home
With the latest funding confirmed this summer, new revised plans were drawn up to give an early impression of what the centre may look like at its proposed location in Huddersfield.
“We are delighted to be partners with HSFA in this vitally important project,” said professor Bob Cryan, the vice-chancellor of the University of Huddersfield, “We look forward to the development of the learning centre here at the university to the benefit of children, young people and communities across the north of England, ensuring learning about the Holocaust for generations to come.”
As the plans indicate, the physical heritage of the survivors – testimonies, literature, artefacts and evidence of Nazi persecution – will be secured, explained and interpreted through new displays and exhibitions at the museum by the quayside.
The HLF’s funding, along with the Pears Foundation’s pledge of £100,000 and £50,000 from the Association of Jewish Refugees, means that the goal to open the centre to the public by October 2017 is looking increasingly likely. The HSFA’s own goal to raise £50,000 to support the centre once it opens is ongoing, and individual donations can be made at the Virgin Money Giving online page.
The latest go-ahead for the centre also comes as the HSFA announces it is looking to recruit the first ever centre director for the new Holocaust Heritage and Learning Centre before the end of this year.
The centre director will oversee the build of the new centre, and fully develop its potential to appeal to a wide range of audiences from across the north of England. They will report to the HSFA’s chair of trustees and a steering group composed of Holocaust survivors and key stakeholders.
Lilian Black is delighted with the progress so far, but emphasises: “There has never been a more important time for us all to work together to combat all forms of persecution.”
Now that the centre is on track for completion, the HSFA, which first launched in 1996, cannot thank generous benefactors enough: “The breadth of support we have received has been amazing, ranging from individuals, companies, charitable trusts, and of course, our partners at the University of Huddersfield,” added Lilian, “Thank you everybody for making this a reality – it is an expression of our faith in humanity and that good will prevail.”
To make a donation to the centre, visit Uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/holocaustlearningcentre.