This tool’s purpose

The aim of this risk assessment tool is not to encourage risk aversion nor recklessness, but to encourage a moment to reflect on the potential risks, prepare for them if you can or re-design your communication plan to limit the impact of any potential risks. Its intended purpose is specific to public engagement and communication.

This resource is designed to support you – not to measure, judge or act as a checklist. Rather, it is designed to aid reflection and empathy, while acting as a springboard for your intentions, providing practical support to help you build your own risk assessment. It should be used as a tool for maximising archival engagement in the public realm, both online and in person, while recognising a distinction between public and private communication. Your experience, advocacy and values bring this tool to life. The contribution you make is valued and benefits the wider archival sector. Change in any form is ongoing and is not a job we will ‘finish’ – instead its smaller steps towards an inclusive future.

The listed risks, impacts and mitigations were created to provide a starting point. These risks use the Equalities Act (2010) and the Public Sector Equalities Duty (2011) and apply the values within our strategic vision for the archive sector, Archives Unlocked. The order in which it is written does not necessarily signify importance, or the order in which to address tasks. Each judgement you make will be on a case-by-case basis. Some of your examples may not fit in any of our listed categories, therefore please do develop and share your own.

Key definitions

  • Risk is described as potential harm or detriment in relation to institutional reputation, staff wellbeing, and trust both within organisations and from audiences and colleagues.
  • Staff is a term referring to professionals working within archives in any capacity that connect to collections, including any team member, volunteer, freelancer, temporary worker or trustee connected to an archival service.
  • Participants are those who engage with any archival service, product or collection, through events or projects, but who is not deemed an archival professional.
  • Service users is a wide term for those who access archive provision more generally in person and online. Service users refers not just to collections, but those who use buildings, access associated programs in your service, or are linked to engaged local or online communities.
  • Stakeholders refer to all of the above as well as funders and business partners.

Other useful definitions can be found in Appendix A of this risk assessment tool.

Creating and testing this tool

This tool was created in collaboration with Jon Sleigh, an inclusive arts practitioner. It was tested with staff at The National Archives and through a series of workshops, with representation from services across the UK archives sector. We will keep developing and refining this tool and we will annually review and update the links to external resources. We will also support the use of this tool through ongoing workshops with the sector.

Please feel free to get in touch with Rachael Minott and Clarissa Angus, our joint heads of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, if you have any comments, suggestions or additions: