I’ve recently joined Holocaust Centre North in the role of Development Co-Ordinator, and I’m thrilled to become part of the centre’s ambitious and creative team at such an exciting time in its growth.
I learnt about the Holocaust in secondary school, but it was in a relatively cursory way, as is perhaps typical for many people who traverse the British education system. It was a trip to the memorial at the former site of the Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg concentration camp on the outskirts of Berlin, taken when I was 16, that first opened my eyes to the real extent of the destruction. I followed this a few years later with a visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum in Poland, which I still consider one of the most affecting afternoons of my life.
These experiences revealed to me the depth of my ignorance, and I started to become aware of the ease with which, as a society, we might lose sight of – or even forget entirely — the enormity and terror of the Holocaust. As we approach a time when living eyewitnesses are disappearing rapidly, it’s imperative we find a way to continue to spread awareness of the catastrophes of the past and find new ways to ensure we don’t forget the warnings and lessons it offers us. Holocaust Centre North’s programme of artistic responses, and the encouragement of creative engagement with the materials in its archive and collections, are a hugely exciting direction for Holocaust education and memorialisation to take.
As Development Co-Ordinator, I’ll be spending much of my time working on establishing a greater presence for Holocaust Centre North among communities in the North of England, as well as within the broader Holocaust Education sector, both in the UK and internationally. I’ll be strengthening and growing our membership scheme, The Northern Line, with a view to building deeper connections with the friends, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of Holocaust survivors who emigrated to the North. And I’ll be exploring ways to help secure the future of the centre in a period when heritage fundraising is increasingly challenging, especially for small organisations.
In my last job, I fundraised for and built community engagement at a charity that works to support people in Sheffield and South Yorkshire who had been made destitute by the asylum system; I see a straight line connecting the challenges faced by those who have recently arrived on our shores seeking sanctuary with the histories of people displaced by the horrors of the Holocaust, particularly in terms of the challenges faced by refugees after their arrival in a new country.
Before this, I spent time in a number of different roles, including working in front-line mental healthcare and in scholarly publishing. I studied Literature and Critical Theory as an undergraduate and postgraduate, including starting a long-since-abandoned PhD, during which I specialised in post-war British and European writing, cinema and philosophy, meaning that the shadow of the Holocaust and its aftermath almost always loomed over my work. Outside of work, I’m a novelist and film critic – my writing has appeared in various publications, in print and online, and my first book was released last year – and I aim to put storytelling at the heart of my fundraising and development work for Holocaust Centre North.