Keeping Holocaust Stories Alive: How Partnerships can have Impact

Last year we caught up with the 2020 Impact through Partnership Gold winners, CORE Education Trust’s CEO, Adrian Packer and student rep Faiza.

Thinking of entering our Impact Through Partnership award? For this category we are looking for schools, trusts or partnerships that are driven by their collaboration with other schools and colleges. Be inspired by this Gold winner’s story. Read about the impact winning the award had on CORE Education Trust’s project, and how they continue to make a difference beyond their own institution.

The Trust won the award in 2020 after creating the Echo Eternal project commissioned by the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation. The Foundation interviewed 112 Holocaust survivors with the purpose of educating young people about genocide, racial hatred, homophobia, and other forms of persecution.  A national survey commissioned last year found 52% of adult respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust as well as gay people, those with disabilities and people from other ethnic minorities.

“The survivors’ testimony is incredibly difficult to listen to. We wanted students to have a response. It’s important to us to bring different communities together to learn about the world and be inspired to become civic activists and make change happen.”


The Impact of Winning the Award

Adrian and Faiza were bursting with pride as they described their feelings when they learned they’d won Gold.

“We knew that different winners were being announced on the One Show. We were tuning in every night thinking ‘is it going to be our night?’ it was all very exciting. We’d already won the Silver, so we were delighted with that achievement. But the feeling of elation was massive.”

They contacted partners and set up Zoom calls with some of the survivors to share the news. The sense of pride among the students and in the community was immense.

“We found out we’d won on the Thursday and by the Friday the schools were filled with balloons and confetti. We got into gear very quickly. We were keen to celebrate with everyone.”

The trophy is currently touring around the partner schools, so everyone involved gets to see it. Faiza got her photo taken with it and spoke to the press about the pride she felt at receiving the award.

“It’s such an amazing trophy. It’s so prestigious. It’s a very popular piece of metal!”

And winning the award has shone an even brighter spotlight on all the good work of the Echo Eternal project. School leaders from all over the country have been in touch, eager to get involved. Initially the project was designed for four schools in Birmingham, but soon enough, other schools across the city wanted to be involved. And then it extended to schools in Coventry, London, and Liverpool.

And now, thanks to the Gold win, there are plans to reach every school in the country and even abroad.

What is Echo Eternal?

It’s a commemorative arts, media, and civic engagement project for primary and secondary schools. Schools create their own projects to help foster understanding and tolerance. Faiza is among a group of students called ‘Eternal Flames’. These student ambassadors talk about how society can be a better place through learning lessons from the past. They organise events to promote understanding and tolerance, such as cultural appreciation days to encourage conversations about diversity and learning through difference.

The CORE trust has partnered with arts establishments across the region such as Birmingham Conservatoire. They have also brought in experts from UCL to support with specialist aspects of Holocaust education.


Never Again

The project began by focussing on the Holocaust, but then students were horrified to discover that there had been subsequent genocides. It was hard for them to come to terms with this after learning about the ‘Never Again’ philosophy. But it made them even more determined to get the message out.

Adrian said: “I’ve been astounded by the tenacity of the students, even during the lockdowns, to get involved in initiatives.”

Winning this award is such great recognition for the efforts of these young people.


Beyond the award?

Since winning the award, Adrian and his colleagues have been inundated with phone calls from school leaders across the country, keen to get involved. The CORE Trust think hearing survivor testimony should be a right. So, they are now working to send resources, free of charge, to every school in the UK.

Winning the award has unlocked all sorts of possibilities for the reach of the project. Word has spread even beyond the UK. Adrian has recently been approached by an organisation in Europe to discuss how this model could translate into other European countries.


How can I nominate?

Feeling inspired by the fantastic work being done by the Echo Eternal project?

Is your school or trust making an impact beyond its walls? Are they building partnerships for positive impact? Find out how to nominate them for the Award for Impact through Partnership.

Want to learn more about the project? Listen to the podcast episode in full.