Monday, 1 August, 2016
This blog was written for HMDT by Jessica Benham, an Outreach Officer at HMDT, and two of our Regional Support Workers.
There is a Support Worker in every region and nation of the UK ensuring that we are able to support Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) activities in local communities. Support Workers promote and support HMD and encourage people to hold activities to commemorate the Holocaust, Nazi persecution and subsequent genocides. They have a wealth of knowledge and often specialise in particular groups or sectors. Our fantastic team of Support Workers can give you advice, put you in touch with other activity organisers and provide you with free resources. The Support Workers will also be at regional and national workshops taking place from September to November, offering guidance and support to help you to hold an activity for HMD 2017.
In June 2017, we recruited five new Support Workers and continued to work with seven Support Workers. Julian is a new Support Worker who works with a variety of community groups in and around the East Midlands. Mandy has been a Support Worker since we first piloted the Support Worker programme and has continually been inspired by the quality of activities and events taking place in the North West.
Julian Harrison – East Midlands Regional Support Worker
Though I’m new to HMDT, my involvement with Holocaust education and remembrance has been long as well as strong. For nine years, I arranged HMD events at my former place of work, writing addresses that would later be used as a basis for chapters in a recently published book entitled ‘Suspended Disbelief: Reflections on the Holocaust’.
I fervently believe that what we need to learn from the Holocaust and subsequent genocides is pivotal to the direction and the manner in which we develop a society that heeds lessons, addresses discrimination and moves forward compassionately and collectively. It’s important therefore that we not only remember, but that we also use what we learn from the past in a proactive sense to address the seeds of genocide that still permeate the world in which we live.
As a Regional Support Worker, I am very keen to support HMD activity in the East Midlands area (which comprises Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire (except North and North East Lincolnshire), Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland). Not only can I help by signposting you to free resources, but I can offer suggestions, ideas, advice, guidance and possible contacts to help you shape whatever it is you have in mind.
HMD remembrance can take many forms – indeed, the more imaginative the better – and it doesn’t have to take any particular shape or follow tried and trusted patterns. It can be what you want it to be. We have developed some fantastic material around our annual themes. The 2017 theme is How can life go on? and reading our theme vision can be a great introduction to start the thinking and planning process.
If you’re in the East Midlands, please get in touch with me. I’d love to help. It would also be great to be kept up to date what the activities which take place in our area. I look forward to hearing from you.
Mandy Penellum – North West Regional Support Worker 
I've been HMDT's North West Regional Support Worker since 2011, and since then I've had the privilege of working with, and supporting, many wonderful organisers who have held a hugely varied and diverse range of activities and events in many sectors throughout the region. Before working as a Regional Support Worker, I had organised several HMD events in my local area, and I first became involved in commemorating HMD as a result of my commitment to promoting equality, celebrating diversity and challenging prejudice and discrimination in all their forms.
Through organising HMD events myself, and during my time working as a Regional Support Worker, I have experienced first-hand the tremendously powerful impact that HMD activities have on organisers, participants and audience members. Existing activity organisers and people who are thinking about holding an activity or event for the first time often wonder what kind of support we can offer, and this really depends on what each individual organiser needs.
It includes acting as a sounding board for people and chatting through their ideas; making sure people have the free resources we produce, including an activity pack and 'About HMD' booklets; suggesting resources from the HMDT website which might be particularly useful for their activity, such as life stories, films, and educational resources; assisting with queries about promoting and evaluating HMD activities; attending HMD planning meetings and steering groups; offering suggestions about how a particular sector, organisation or group might commemorate HMD. The list really is endless! So whatever query or request for support an organiser or potential organiser has, I will do my best to assist, so please just ask!
And even if organisers don’t need any help or support, it’s always great to hear about their plans for HMD, as this helps to give a picture of how HMD was marked in the region, and it also means I can help promote HMD activities when people contact me to find out what’s being held in their area.
The HMDT blog highlights topics relevant to our work in Holocaust and genocide education and commemoration. We hear from a variety of guest contributors who provide a range of personal perspectives on issues relevant to them, including those who have experienced state-sponsored persecution and genocide. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of HMDT.