Royal Voluntary Service – Archive collection review and development of rehousing options

Royal Voluntary Service (RVS) worked with Janice to explore future options for getting the best from – and rehousing – their collections.
For over 80 years, volunteers from RVS (previously known as WVS and WRVS) have provided practical help and emotional support to people across Britain who are struggling to cope. Its Heritage Collection tells the story of the organisation’s history.

RVS was considering plans to rehouse the collection. To inform this process, they wanted to understand the future needs of the service, including the conservation and storage of the archives themselves, as well as the potential for more public access and engagement.

Janice started by developing an appraisal and disposal strategy that would help the organisation decide what would move to the new location. She then developed a vision for the future of the service, leading discussions with trustees and stakeholders as well as reviewing existing plans. This work included looking at the role of the collections service within RVS and its ambitions for the future.
With a clear appraisal and disposal strategy and a vision in place, Janice could then review the current service provision and buildings, drawing on the National Archives’ UK Archive Service Standard and best practice as a basis for her approach.

From this, Janice produced an analysis of the current situation, an assessment of how the service could be developed, and a set of priorities to inform the next steps for rehousing.

Finally, Janice produced a set of recommendations and options covering the overall requirements for housing the collection (including both the building and its collection storage spaces), collection access requirements (internal, public, online and onsite) and principles for future partnerships.

By the end of their work together, RVS had an agreed clear direction for progressing the rehousing and future of its collection, with a firm basis for future funding decisions to support that vision. It has also digitised key records about the organisation’s activities during the Second World War, which reflects RVS’s ambitions to increase engagement with the archives in the future.

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