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We asked, You said, We did

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We asked

From 22 September to 15 December 2020, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) sought views on new draft guidance ‘Talking About Heritage’.


This document is part of an ongoing review of historic environment policy guidance, following on from the What's Your Heritage? campaign and the launch of the Historic Environment Policy for Scotland (HEPS) in May 2019.

What's Your Heritage? asked people from all over the country how Scotland’s places, buildings and monuments should be recognised and celebrated. Feedback from over 2,000 responses to the campaign told us that people wanted to achieve recognition for the heritage that matters to them.

Talking About Heritage is part of the HES response to this.


What is the guidance about?

Talking About Heritage is intended to be used as a tool by anyone with an interest in exploring and talking about heritage. The guidance aims to equip people to have new – sometimes difficult – conversations about our places, people and traditions.

We wanted to find out if the Talking About Heritage guidance would help you to investigate, to share and celebrate, and to achieve recognition for the heritage that matters to you.

You said

We had 34 replies to the survey as well as written feedback which we received from a range of interested individuals, organisations, public bodies, charities and local authorities.

The draft Talking About Heritage guidance was generally well received. It was felt to be a useful and comprehensive resource. Comments included suggestions about what additional content could be included, improved signposting, accessibility - particularly around language and aims - and the need for the final product to be easy to navigate and use.

We were told that we should:

  • ensure simple and clear language throughout
  • be clearer about the purpose of the guidance
  • be clearer who the guidance is for and manage expectations of what it will help to achieve
  • publish the guidance as an interactive web-based resource
  • make sure the guidance is accessible for deaf users
  • keep the content and the links up to date

We did

After considering the all of the comments and suggestions received, we have updated the guidance with:

  • clear and simple language
  • clearer information about who the guidance is for and how it might be used
  • increased signposting and more information about other relevant organisations and resources

Based on your feedback, we have also:

  • explored how best to publish Talking About Heritage as an online and interactive resource
  • looked at how we can produce the guidance with British Sign Language (BSL) content
  • agreed a regular review period to keep the guidance up to date

Next steps:

We are currently working on updating the draft guidance and incorporating your feedback. The final guidance, an online resource, is planned for publication this summer.

We asked

During October and November 2020, we hosted a public consultation to test and trial our existing outcomes in terms of ambition and relevance.

Our purpose in carrying out the survey was to test people's views on our existing outcomes as well as provide feedback on what equality focus our work should take for the next four years.

To support the survey, collaborative discussions were held with external agencies, such as Forth Valley Sensory Centre and Young Scot, as well as internal sessions with our Youth Forum and LGBT+ employee network.


You said

We received 58 responses with 51 responding as individuals.

Organisations who responded included: Deaf Scotland; Hidaya; Heritage Trust Network; Empower Women for Change, National Trust for Scotland; and Stonewall.

There was positive feedback on Historic Environment Scotland (HES) activities to date. Most respondents:

  • agreed that the activities highlighted in the survey did make a difference to the lives of people with protected characteristics.
  • were satisfied with the number of activities HES was engaged in although the levels of satisfaction were lowest in activities on race and D/deaf.
  • agreed that HES was delivering a broad range of activities showing broad support as well as room for improvement.

Recurring themes in the responses received related to:

  • concerns over the growth in hate crime in wider society
  • comments on how the pandemic is disproportionally impacting people with protected characteristics including their socio-economic status and access to services
  • encouragement for HES to keep working with others, learning, and improving
  • a lot of interest in our staff networks and external partnerships and call for more information and updates
  • desire for HES to lead in sectoral change, seeking out, initiating and pursuing debate
  • desire for HES to set equality recruitment and training targets and work towards them.

We did

In analysing the responses, three categories emerged in thinking about equalities and HES:

  • Our Society
  • Our services
  • Our people.

Using these three categories we extracted the following key learnings:

Our Society:

Emphasis on ensuring that equality is integral to understanding our contribution to Scotland’s economic, social, environmental, and cultural wellbeing.

Identification of a need and expectation that HES lead sectoral change.

Recognition of the value of collaboration and partnership with communities and other organisations, including academic partnership for research and evidence base.

Our Services: 

Focus on access, diversity, and inclusion. 

The impact of COVID–19 restrictions on access has been raised as a significant concern and calls to maintain and improve access as we enter the recovery phase and reimagine our work following the pandemic.

The need to draw out untold or hidden histories considered as important issues to be addressed, specifically building on our successful initiatives, and sharing learning wider across HES and the sector. 

Our People:

Our Board, employees and volunteers are committed to do and learn more about how their role can support our equality practice.

The consultation highlighted calls to improve the diversity of our workforce by, for example, setting recruitment targets, targeting the recruitment of interns and apprenticeships, and harnessing the interest and influence of our people through our employee networks. It also highlighted the importance of diversity in our leadership team and Board.

There were calls for more visible and clearer internal leadership on equality issues with some comments still resonating with concerns raised in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It is important to embed equality within our decision making, planning, and resourcing processes. HES should lead sectoral change and empower and enable our employees in this.

These responses have helped to shape the HES Equalities Outcomes 2021-25 which is available on our website:

We asked

From 8 August to 28 August 2020, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) sought views on our proposal to designate the former Langside Synagogue in the Crosshill area of Glasgow, as a category C listed building.

The building is rare surviving example of a purpose-built synagogue in Scotland and was found to meet our criteria for designation. The use of traditional Eastern European folk-art style elements is particularly rare and reflects the synagogue’s early 20th century congregation. It is of significant historical interest for what it can tell us about the development of the Jewish community in Glasgow in the early 20th century.

Download our assessment on the reasons for listing on the Historic Environment Portal.

You said

We had an overwhelming response, with over 840 individuals and groups from all over the world contacting us in support of listing. The level of interest shown both locally and internationally for this building and Scotland’s Jewish heritage was unprecedented. It was especially important to hear your thoughts about the special architectural and historic interest of the building and we took this into account in our decision making.

A large number of the responses showed concerns about the future of the building and the possibility that it might be demolished or privately developed.

We did

After considering the comments received during the consultation, we have now listed the former Langside Synagogue at category C.

The listed building record can be accessed on our Historic Environment Portal.


More Information

You can find out more about listing in our booklet, Scotland’s Listed Buildings or find out more on our website: 

Our website also has more detail about the Listed Building Consent (LBC) and Conservation Area Consent (CAC) processes, as well as information on how to apply. There is additional guidance in our Managing Change series of publications.