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  • INTO reminiscing (Weekly blog, 29 October 2017)

    Posted on October 30, 2017
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    This week I have been reminiscing.  We’re gearing up for INTO’s 10th anniversary on 3 December, I have been scouring the archives.   I’m also writing two short articles about INTO.   One for the National Trust here for the Member & Visitor Care Manual, whilst the second is a case study for The Heritage Alliance.  THA is the umbrella body for the heritage sector in England.  It has been gathering information about its members’ international activity …

    Early days

    My involvement in INTO actually began well before 2007.  However my contribution was really from a National Trust (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) perspective.   My NTEWNI job was very much as a champion of all things international!   Indeed a paper I wrote in 2003 identifies international activity as a vital part of the Trust’s outward facing core work.   It also mentions the new ‘International National Trust [sic!] Organisation’, alongside benefits (to the NTEWNI) of more strategic international engagement:

    8 benefits from working internationally

    • Sharing experience – As the ‘mother’ Trust we have a moral responsibility to share experience with the children of the movement.
    • Opportunities for learning – Learning from others on an international level brings tangible benefits for the Trust, its staff and volunteers.
    • Reputation – Overseas engagement nurtures and promotes our reputation.   It could also be an excellent source of good news stories.
    • Policy – The National Trust concept is one of Britain’s most potent cultural exports. It also has a powerful social and economic strength, beginning to be echoed in countries around the world. We have a duty to protect the Trust’s interests from unfavourable legislation. And equaly to influence overseas policy development to the best interests of our purposes.  Particularly on issues such as World Heritage Sites, CAP and the European Landscape Convention.
    • Funding – We are currently failing to draw maximum benefit from EU funding or international grants. This is an area we could build on.
    • Commercial benefits – There is potential for income growth through international partnerships, enhanced brand awareness overseas and membership services.
    • Training and involving young people – Using overseas contacts to expand our work with young people.  This could be through international volunteering and offering training or work placements.
    • Developing an informal network of ‘international consultants’ – There are valuable opportunities to interact with our partners around the world.  For volunteers and staff alike.

      Our first Secretariat meeting in 2008 in the French Alps! (Oliver Maurice, me holding our son Monty – now nearly 11 – and Geoffrey Read)

    Has INTO delivered?

    Many of these still hold true within the INTO context.  Indeed some are new priorities for the Secretariat team, like the commercial benefits.

    It was also interesting to look back at the outcomes of our first face-to-face INTO Executive Committee meeting.  This took place in Bratislava in 2008, hosted by the National Trust for Slovakia.  We held a visioning exercise which imagined a future for INTO in 2015 which included a bigger membership (tick), sustainable finances (tick), more regional cooperation (tick), strong partnerships (tick).  There is still room for improvement on the brand side (we talked about INTO membership being a badge of success alongside greater public recognition).  And diversity (we wanted our leadership to be a lot younger and a lot less white!).   Nonetheless we have made some great progress over the past ten years.

    INTO’s achievements since 2007

    I’m still working on a list of achievements: Five ICNTs (International Conferences of National Trusts) held in four continents; over 700 delegates involved from 70 countries; membership growth from 22 (2008) to 72; a part-time volunteer Secretariat of nine; new Trusts established in Portugal, Czech Republic and Georgia; 7 COPs attended … But it’s not all about the numbers.   I am going to ask the rest of the Secretariat team to chip in more statistics when we meet next week.  But for me it’s almost more about the people and stories.   So I’ve also been collecting quotes.  Here are some of my favourites so far.

    INTO Quotes

    “The global economic crisis is a crisis of vision and values. Honour, integrity, trust, vision, the feeling of history and perspective of where we have come from have been lost. But the National Trusts of the world are helping ordinary people to reassert these values – and to make their own connections across the globe.” Lord Frank Judd, former Director of Oxfam and Voluntary Service Overseas, former UK Minister for Overseas Development

    “Working together through INTO, we can identify common problems and tackle these as a sector making our arguments more robust and our voice stronger.” Muhammed Mugheiry, Chairman, Zanzibar Stone Town Heritage Society

    “By joining the INTO, you are effectively employing a new team member, one with a wide range of experience and expertise to help your organisation grow and flourish.” Martin Scicluna, Din l’Art Helwa, National Trust of Malta

    “INTO provides an opportunity to exchange information, ideas and best practice with National Trusts and similar heritage organisations around the world, and there’s a great sense of comradeship and common purpose too.” Simon Murray, Chief Operating Officer, National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland

    “INTO serves as an indispensable resource for sharing information, best practices, inspiration and encouragement among National Trusts and like-minded non-governmental organisations. It takes the aspirations, visions and missions of the individual Trusts and leverages those on the global stage.” David Brown, Executive Vice President and Chief Preservation Officer, National Trust for Historic Preservation (USA)

    Next ten years of INTO

    INTO’s achievements really are the results of the combined efforts of every individual and I thank you all – my past, present and future colleagues and friends.  (Incidentally, here’s our son – and his sister – ten years on! Doesn’t time fly?)   There is still much to do of course, and I look forward to working with you all on the next ten years of INTO.

    Thanks for reading!

    Last week was also half-term.  We went fishing with the children’s granddad and caught a lobster.  (We released him after this photo call!)


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