Resistance isn’t Futile! Telling our stories of the Labour Movement

The Aspire Trust is one of the first groups in the UK to receive a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) All Our Stories Grant for its challenging and inspiring new project “Resistance Isn’t Futile: Combination, Mutuality, Solidarity and Aspiration”: an exploration of the history of labour movements and trade union activity in the North West between 1830 and 1950..

The project will access the collection of Keith Hackett, who has amassed a significant archive of labour related artefacts from the region. This currently private collection will be made into a public resource through a process of researching, cataloguing, digitising and a series of community-focused research and story telling events.

All Our Stories – a brand new small grant programme launched earlier this year in support of BBC Two’s The Great British Story – has been designed as an opportunity for everyone to get involved in their heritage. With HLF funding and support, community groups will carry out activities that help people explore, share and celebrate their local heritage.

The popular series presented by historian Michael Wood and supported by a programme of BBC Learning activities and events got thousands of us asking questions about our history and inspired us to look at our history in a different way through the eyes of ordinary people.

The programme and HLF All Our Stories has proved a real hit and Resistance Isn’t Futile is one of hundreds of successful projects around the UK to receive a grant. The project will begin with the digitising and cataloguing of more than 400 items from trade unions, mutual benefit societies, friendly societies etc which will be made available online. 12 key pieces will be identified for further research and each of these will provide the focus for a community-led research project. The Aspire Trust will work alongside each community group to examine the stories and histories related to each artefact.

TV presenter and historian Michael Wood, said: “We British love our history, and no wonder: few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it accessible to all of us. It is really tremendous that the people of the North West have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their own past. It’s brilliant that so many people are being given the chance to get involved through the All Our Stories grants. Having travelled the length and breadth of the British Isles this last year filming The Great British Story, I am certain that fascinating and moving stories will be uncovered which will not only bring to life the excitement of local history, but will illuminate and enrich every community’s connection with the national narrative.”

Keith Hackett said: “I have collected and kept these items safe – some for almost forty years – because for me they give testament to the efforts of extraordinary ordinary people to improve their worlds – and make them better for their own generation and for generations to come. Every items has a story to tell, and most name the people whose efforts they valour-ate. Whilst the objects themselves are in their own ways stunning, beautiful and inspiring …. behind each one lies the efforts, beliefs and achievements of real people …. and it is their stories that will truly bring these objects back to life and relevance in today’s world.”

We were delighted to be approached by Keith to play our part in telling the stories of the labour movement’s history in the North West. The notion of public service is taking a hammering in these days of cut backs and recession, and we hope that our “Resistance Isn’t Futile” project will rebalance many of the stories that are being told in Britain right now about the role the labour movement and working people can play in making this a great country to live in.

For further information please visit

Author: drnicko

Awarded an MBE for services to arts-based businesses, I am passionate about generating inspiring, socially engaging, creative practice within educational contexts both nationally and internationally.

5 thoughts on “Resistance isn’t Futile! Telling our stories of the Labour Movement”

  1. Great stuff. There’s some very interesting material at the Liverpool Maritime Museum about the 1912 Transport Strike (and other actions, I guess). Well worth a gander.

    1. Also some great recorded interviews on the same topic care of the North West Sound Archive. (I studied the 1911 Transport strike when directing Rob Johnston’s great socialist play ‘Rid the World’, based in turn on an unproduced Trevor Griffith’s screenplay ‘Such Impossibilities’.).

      *I meant the 1911 Transport Strike in the post above – though I believe there was a 1912 strike in London . . .

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