What makes communities so difficult to reach for digital inclusion and local history projects? In our new blog post, we take a dive into the obstacles we faced when working with a housing association to put together a digital community history project in Oldham.


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The aims of the project were to create a digital space that tells the story of two towers (which stood from 1975 to 2021), their residents, and the close surrounding area, and also to involve local residents in the project in ways which would increase and develop their own digital skills.

We found that data protection legislation made it very difficult to engage with participants! While data existed on people who had been living in the towers, the appropriate permissions weren't gathered at the time, and GDPR restrictions meant weren't allowed to use this contact information to reach former residents.

The most successful outreach was on-the-ground events in the community, and word-of-mouth about the project from the housing association we partnered with. We did manage to engage some key storytellers, but there were many more potential participants we could identify but just weren't allowed to contact — like those on local history Facebook groups.

It's interesting to consider how differently this project might have unfolded if archival and community history interests were considered from the start. An attitude which considered this kind of storytelling important for the community, might have seen better records kept along the way, and pre-emptive consent gathered from residents of the towers.

To read the full blog post, head here: If you'd like to support us in delivering community history projects in future, we'd really appreciate your contributions on Ko-fi!

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Geeks for Social Change are working towards a fairer society using activism, technology, and research. We welcome friends and acquaintances of the studio to join our server.