A recent development has prompted me to inform as many people as I can about the changes to the Young Archaeologists' Club. For those who are unaware, 'YAC' is a Nationwide club with over 65 branches. The organisation is part of the CBA and has been extremely successful in making archaeology accessible to young people and their families.
In 2012 the CBA faced budget cuts and the YAC branch network were left without their major funding source. English Heritage later provided a grant for half of the costs, however this will end in 2016. This has left YAC in a desperate situation for some time and it has fallen on many of the volunteers to fundraise in order to make the shortfall. It has now come to our attention that the National Club will no longer provide membership opportunities and the club will be run as a branch network alone. This is alarming as the branches will now have to fundraise a minimum amount each year in order to cover costs at head office, as well as recruit members and fundraise for our own needs.
My aim is not to tarnish the name of the CBA or YAC but to ask people to support groups such as these. Our branch has been running since 1995 and has approximately 40 members at any one time. We are one of the branches who will be unable to fundraise as we have never had a permanent home. Many organisations such as the National Museum of Wales, University of Wales, SWCHIR, CADW, Chepstow Archaeological Society and GGAT have supported us over the years and we are eternally grateful for their support. We certainly could not have survived without them. The tides of change are upon us however and many of these organisations are no longer here or have been changed beyond recognition. What will happen to us now? Where will we go? Will we remain relevant? These are all questions we are currently seeking answers to.
I ask of you one thing, please please support your local groups, your organisations, your museums. This is important because when they are gone there is no way of getting them back. The many hours you work will all be for nothing if someone in the future decides its not important. Unfortunately for these YAC groups there is little recognition because they are children. This is wrong, many of these children go to university fully trained in the field and will do the jobs that you do. At the very least they will have a background in Archaeology which will allow them to make educated decisions about planning and development and all manner of things which affect our heritage.
We are extremely saddened by this however we are determined to carry on, so please do find a way of supporting us.