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Project summary

Taking part in heritage projects, like archaeology, has become a really popular way to improve mental health and wellbeing and they really can help people. But there can be times when projects might not have the right set up to make sure that the participants and the historic remains are well looked after. By bringing together a panel of 44 stakeholders – including people with experience of living with mental health issues and also those with expertise in mental health and heritage – in a Delphi Consultation, we were able to build a set of best practice guidelines to help make sure that people are safe and looked after when they take part, and that we look after the things and places that mean something to us.

The guidelines are called AMPHORA - Authentic and Meaningful Participation in Heritage or Related Activities – and they focus on projects that offer active participation to help improve the mental health of individuals who live with complex mental health challenges. 

Amphora logoThere are three sets of guidelines or ‘toolkits’, which have been written for project providers, social prescribers, and potential participants. The toolkit for project providers helps them to better understand and address their responsibilities. The toolkit for social prescribers and link workers helps them to gauge the quality of support that should be offered to individuals they might be considering referring to heritage-based therapeutic services. The toolkit for potential participants helps empower them to ask questions about a project and the types of support they can expect. We have also produced a checklist for project providers to support their decision making.

It is hoped that these guidelines can assist all organisations, big or small, funded or unfunded, in the delivery of safe projects that support the mental health of those involved, as well as enhancing and protecting the historic environment that provides the setting for these interventions.

This research was supported by the UKRI-funded MARCH Network. Production of the toolkits was funded by a HEIF award from the University of Winchester.

Discover more about the project:

Watch the recent talk about Amphora, given by Dr Karen Burnell and Dr Paul Everill, as part of Solent's professorial and public lecture series.

The toolkits

The toolkits present the guidelines in an accessible form, alongside explanatory comments offered by the panel throughout the process. The checklist presents the guidelines in the form of precise statements that achieved panel consensus and should be used to support the planning and delivery of an AMPHORA project.

Meet the project team

karen-burnell-200Dr Karen Burnell, Solent University: Principal Investigator
Karen specialises in applied psychology, with a particular focus on veteran studies, psychogerontology, mental health and wellbeing, and research methodologies. Over the years, Karen has explored the role of social support in mental health and wellbeing and, more specifically, peer support, and has evaluated community-based interventions for veterans. At the heart of all of Karen’s research is the exploration of informal support networks and psychosocial interventions.

louise-baxter-200Dr Lou Baxter: Co-Investigator
At the time of study, Lou was a lecturer in the sociology of health and illness at Bournemouth University, and co-investigator on the NIHR Common Health Assets project, which is evaluating how community led organisations impact the health and wellbeing of people living in deprived areas. Prior to this she was a Research Associate in Mental Health at the UKRI MARCH Mental Health Research Network, exploring the role of community assets in mental health. Lou is now a Senior Evidence Specialist at the National Academy for Social Prescribing.

Dr Kathryn Watson, Co-Researcher
Kathryn is a research assistant at Kings Improvement Science (KIS), Kings College London. She is passionate about applied health research, mental health and the value of lived experience. She has a background in clinical medicine and worked as a GP specialist trainee. She holds a BSc in Immunity and Infection, and a PhD in microbiology from Imperial College London. Prior to joining KIS, Kathryn worked as a researcher at Solent University on a mental health and heritage project, in research communications at the McPin Foundation and as a peer support tutor at City and Hackney Recovery College. She also successfully self-published ‘my illustrated mind: cards for honest conversations about feelings’ via Kickstarter in 2021. This is an illustrated card deck that can be used as an educational, communication and therapeutic aid.

paul-everill-200Dr Paul Everill, University of Winchester: Co-Investigator
Paul has been involved in archaeology since his first experience of an excavation at the age of 16. Since discovering a passion for the subject he has studied and worked in the discipline in a wide variety of roles, before heading down an academic career path in 2008. Paul has co-directed the Anglo-Georgian Expedition to Nokalakevi, in collaboration with colleagues from the Georgian National Museum and National Agency for Cultural Heritage Preservation of Georgia, since 2002.

eva-makri-200Eva Makri, Solent University: Reseach Associate
Eva has a background in social research. She has experience analysing results relating to visitor experience for heritage organisations such as the National Trust. She was also involved in NHS projects analysing view seeking and consultation results and offering recommendations on how to improve local mental health services.

The research was supported by Dr Linda Monckton and Dr Desi Gradinarova of Historic England.

Dr Linda Monckton FSA is Head of Wellbeing and Inclusion Strategy at Historic England. Linda is an architectural historian with a special interest in the social impact and potential of the historic environment. She has worked in the heritage profession for 25 years as a researcher, analyst and strategist and is leading on Historic England’s strategic approach to delivering health and wellbeing outcomes through its work.

Dr Desi Gradinarova is a Senior Policy Adviser (Wellbeing) at Historic England and Historic Environment Lead at the National Academy for Social Prescribing (NASP). Dr Gradinarova has been working in heritage, research, education and policy for many years and is a passionate believer in the potential of heritage to bring people together and its crucial role in maintaining a vibrant and healthy society.

Get involved

Share your views on the guidelines

To help us understand how these guidelines are being used, and to learn from their application in a range of different settings, it’s really important for us to have your feedback. This is a voluntary but really helpful element of the ongoing evaluation of these guidelines. Learn more about the survey by clicking on the image below.

Take our survey

AMPHORA network

The AMPHORA network is an online space bringing together a range of professionals and experts, including those with lived experience. This space is to share ideas, make contacts and, together as a community, drive forward understanding of this developing area. To join the network or find out more, click the link below.

Join the AMPHORA Network

Read the technical reports

To read more about the research process and detailed findings, please download the Technical Report.


Download the technical report


Take a look at the previous Delphi questionnaires that helped form the basis of the guidelines:

Delphi questionnaire - Round 1

Delphi questionnaire - Round 2

Delphi questionnaire - Round 3

project partners and funders

We thank our expert panel for their time and contribution to this work.

  • Becky Aldridge, CEO Dorset Mental Health Forum
  • Dickie Bennett, Director of Services, Breaking Ground Heritage
  • Katie Buckley, Chief Operating Officer, Waterloo Uncovered
  • Dr Stephen Calver
  • Dr Karina Croucher
  • Sarah Dhanjal, Museum Learning Facilitator, Hampshire Cultural Trust
  • Laura Drysdale, Director, the Restoration Trust
  • Liz Ellis, Policy Project Manager, National Lottery Heritage Fund
  • Mark Evans, CEO, Waterloo Uncovered
  • Dr Kathryn Fielden CPsychol
  • Joe Flatman, Consultancy Manager, The National Trust
  • Hollie French, Policy Manager at Test Valley Borough Council
  • Jan Hawkins-Kitson, Social Prescriber Help & Care
  • Stephen Humphreys PhD RPA, CEO, American Veterans Archaeological Recovery
  • Mrs Naiomi Kempton, National Heritage Policy Advisor, Canal & River Trust
  • Briony Lalor, Operation Nightingale and Breaking Ground Heritage
  • Janice Lobban, Senior Art Psychotherapist, Combat Stress
  • James Moody, Head of Strategy and Innovation at Test Valley Borough Council
  • Professor Dominic Murphy, Head of Research at Combat Stress and President of the UK Psychological Trauma Society
  • Rev’d Barbara Jane O’Sullivan, Church of the Guardian Angel, Baltimore MD, USA
  • Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist DIO (MOD) –Lead Archaeologist, Operation Nightingale
  • Tony Pollard, Professor of Conflict History and Archaeology, University of Glasgow, and Academic Lead, Waterloo Uncovered
  • Will Rathouse PhD, Senior Community Archaeologist, Thames Discovery Programme, MOLA
  • Lt Col Michelle Richardson, Defence Archaeology Group (DAG)
  • Jenny Shepherd, Research and Impact Manager, Canal & River Trust
  • Dr Linda JM Thomson, Senior Research Fellow, University College London
  • David Ulke, Honorary Visiting Fellow (University of Leicester School of Archaeology & Ancient History)and Wellbeing Support Team lead for Waterloo Uncovered
  • Zoë Umpleby BA (Hons) MA, Museum Professional, PhD researcher at the University of Winchester
  • Associate Professor Ben Wadham, Director Open Door Veteran Transition Integration Wellbeing Research Initiative, Flinders University SA
  • Giles Woodhouse, Chief Strategy Officer, Wessex Archaeology and doctoral student at the Institute of Policy Research, University of Bath
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