What is the Records at Risk Fund?
The objective of the Records at Risk Fund is to provide support for urgent, short-notice interventions to secure the acquisition of vulnerable historical records, in both physical and digital formats, that face immediate peril across the United Kingdom. The fund focuses on categories of records unprotected by legislation such as the archives of businesses, charities and private individuals, acknowledging that archive services and custodians may have limited resources to respond to collections at immediate risk.
How is the fund financed and managed?
The Records at Risk Fund is financed by contributions from The National Archives, the Archives and Records Association and the British Records Association. The fund is held by the British Records Association and is managed in partnership with The National Archives. The Business Archives Council is an associate partner to the fund and is represented on the panel of representatives, drawn from the archives, heritage and research communities, that supports the assessment of applications to the fund. The Business Archives Council has its own limited funds which may be available to support business records that have been identified by the fund as being at risk.
What do we mean by archives at risk?
These are records of historical value whose future preservation, accessibility and security is made uncertain by urgent reasons. These can include:
- the impact of physical threats such as environmental issues or damage from flood, fire, pests or sudden loss of storage
- the closure of an organisation or an individual’s death. This especially relates to records held outside a recognised heritage organisation or service
- any other circumstance where the organisation or current custodian does not have the capacity to sustainably preserve records for the future, especially if exacerbated by the immediate or long-term (e.g. economic) effects of COVID-19
What will the fund pay for?
The fund can pay for urgent activities to enable the acquisition of the records by an appropriate collecting heritage organisation or service. This can involve securing additional expertise, resources and time to successfully transfer the vulnerable material to safe custody, including:
- onsite appraisal and survey of records at risk
- transport costs
- temporary storage costs
- conservation and packaging materials
- emergency conservation work, such as decontamination of damaged records
- freelance consultant fees
How long should my project be?
Funding decisions will be made in February 2022 and all projects will start from 1 March 2022. Projects can last for up to one year. We will ask you to provide a short, interim update in September 2022, and a fuller project report within one month of your project finishing, detailing your activities, expenditure and impact.
How will I receive funding?
We must sign all grant agreements by the end of March 2022. All funding will be disbursed upfront (i.e. you will receive the full grant amount upon signature of the contract). However, the funding remains restricted, and the Records at Risk Fund reserves the right to request the return of funds if a project is not completed, or if funding is used for purposes outside the terms of the grant. This would only be used in very exceptional circumstances, and after extensive discussion with grant holders. Within the aims and scope of your project, you will have broad permission to use the funds as you wish.