Northumberland County Council has received a £103,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to execute a project aimed at involving local youth in preserving the region's heritage.

The initiative dubbed 'Digitally Disrupting the Archives' will involve youth groups from Wooler and the Tyne Valley, including Scout groups and youth clubs.

They will be guided by a project officer and archive staff to explore the council's archives centres at Berwick and Woodhorn. Existing archive materials will serve as inspiration for creating an array of visual content. This will range from making films, TikToks, and YouTube videos, to designing an escape room.

The concepts for these pursuits were devised by the young participants themselves, indicating a keen interest in engaging with their local heritage. The approach hopes to make the archive material relatable to a younger generation, enabling them to understand the role history plays in shaping their region's future.

The project is set to conclude with a series of events promoting the youths' achievements, such as a film 'premiere' and a touring escape room. The end goal is to stimulate wider community interest in Northumberland's archives, prompting more youth involvement.

Participation in 'Digitally Disrupting the Archives' will also equip the youngsters with vital digital and communication skills.

The hands-on experience can be used on their CVs and may inspire them to consider a career in heritage or related fields.

The Northumberland Archives' substantial records, the oldest dating back to 1156, has influenced over 2,000 students through school activities last year.

Councillor Jeff Watson, cabinet member for culture, heritage and libraries, said: “We are thrilled to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players and are confident the project will inspire young people to actively engage with their heritage.

“We see this as a pilot scheme and after this initial project will aim to expand it to other areas of Northumberland.

“It will benefit our staff too, who will no doubt learn a thing or two from the ‘born digital’ generation they will be working alongside.

“This is a generous grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund which will benefit young people in our rural communities, and I look forward to seeing the film footage and following the clues to escape!”