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  • Family gatherings (Weekly blog, 12 November 2017)

    Posted on November 12, 2017
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    I spent this afternoon preparing for a discussion tomorrow about the INTO family with National Trust staff in Swindon.  In the process, I took a look back at the presentation I made at our conference in September.

    Wisdom of crowds

    Firstly, I said how much I enjoyed being INTO’s Secretary-General, helping our 73 member organisations do their best work.  I then talked about the learning from Cambridge and the importance of meeting up in person.   As a global network we run lots of webinars and virtual meetings.  But in the end nothing quite beats getting together, shaking hands and breaking bread.   The wisdom of crowds, the power of random encounters; call it what you like there is something really beneficial about National Trust folks getting together.

    I call it therapy.    We can sometimes feel very alone and participating in the ICNT, meeting peers and sharing common issues is very powerful.  Moreover it helps us feel part of a tribe.  A family.

    Fabulous open-air workshops in Bali

    Learning from Cambridge

    A quick survey of participants in Cambridge demonstrated the value of meeting in person.  Charles Alluto of Jersey spoke about the interesting and transformative experience of looking in a hole at Wimpole Farm!   Natalie Bull of Canada mentioned the inspiration gained in talking to colleagues about retail.    Nicolae Raitu’s Romanian National Trust went on to develop their working holiday programme.  This resulted in three very successful holidays this summer bringing some extra income.   But the holidays also demonstrated to the local community the possibilities of international tourism.   (Perhaps more importantly?)

    Darren Peacock took confidence in what he’d seen at Wimpole to put together a proposal for the National Trust of South Australia to save Martindale Hall from being privately developed. Ian McCathie from the National Trust of Guernsey stole the idea of ‘stealing with pride’!

    Staff from the NTEWNI visiting colleagues of La Pedrera Foundation


    Next I spoke about our new strategy arranged around the three themes: Family , Growth and Voice.

    The conference is one of the main strands of family – for all the reasons I outlined above.  An opportunity to meet your peers, touch base and pick up new ideas.  Other activities which come under this strand include exchanges.  Like this one between the National Trust in Wales and the La Pedrera Foundation in Spain.  The Trusts of Australia and Canada also arranged a successful project this year.  We want to do more of these.

    In addition we launched our new mentoring pilot and grew our working holidays programme.  (The 2018 Holidays are now available on our and the NTEWNI websites!)

    We also wrote a new INTO Handbook for heritage trusts and celebrated the successes of all our family members.


    Growth is about growing the capacity of existing Trusts, helping establish Trusts in countries where they don’t currently exist and growing the capability and resilience of INTO itself.   Examples under growth include meetings in London and consequently Oliver’s visit to Thailand to advise the group thinking of establishing a National Trust.   The establishment of the latest National Trust, in Georgia – now complete with website, logo and first property!   Discussions with a group considering establishing a Trust in Taiwan.

    Our Small Grants Programme goes from strength to strength and we announced the latest award in Bali.   (To the Saint Lucia National Trust for a project investigating sustainable funding mechanisms for managing an offshore island.)  Furthermore the SGP has become an important way of supporting knowledge transfer, which we are planning to build on, along with more online resources, like webinars and forums.   Why not apply for the current round which closes on 30 November?

    Lastly, a lot of the growth and strength of INTO this year has focussed on reviewing our governance and developing our new business plan.  More about that very soon!


    Last year, our State of Global Heritage Report highlighted five threats to heritage.   War and conflict, climate change, insufficient funding, poor planning – and the greatest (arguably closely connected to all the others) is apathy.  Lack of interest; a lack of understanding of heritage amongst people and governments all around the world.   A failure to stand up to bad planning decisions; a low position in government priorities and consequently lower levels of funding and support.

    Meanwhile, voice moments in 2017 included our second annual World Heritage Day lecture.  This year the theme was young people and intangible heritage.  We took the opportunity to launch our accompanying ‘Trust Kids’ resource.

    Even when we can’t be there in person, we are speaking out on behalf of our members, like Fiona’s video message for the Taiwan National Trust.  Or our letters and encouragement to the Saint Lucia National Trust regarding their recent challenges with government.

    Once again, we have sent a small delegation to the UN climate change talks in Bonn.    (You can get fresh updates from the field here!) Our members’ experience across a range of issues can make a positive contribution.  We can also highlight what is unique and special about the National Trust approach and influence decision-makers in all aspects of policy making.

    Working together

    We continue to work with others (like ICOMOS, UNESCO, INTBAU) to get our voice heard.   And at times like these we need good networks and partnerships more than ever.   Despite what some people think, heritage is about the future, not the past.  It’s about people as much as place and by working together, with the right objectives and the right people, we can have the best of all worlds.

    INTO delegates in Bali, September 2017

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