An Archive Journey

Yellow file boxes

The Social Workers Benevolent Trust archive position was highlighted following three events, the implementation of GDPR legislation in May 2018, computerisation of SWBT in July 2018, and the Trust’s 50th Anniversary 2021.

Since the establishment of SWBT in 1971, paper records have been located at the Modern Record Centre, University of Warwick for historical purposes and research. The picture was that all paper records including Board Meeting Documents, Annual Reports, Financial Reports, Events materials, and Application Forms were taken after three years, for storage at The Modern Record Centre.

And so, the recent journey for SWBT began—- phrases that come to mind ‘you learn something new every day’, ‘entering into another’s world’, and ‘a learning curve’ all came to mind.

The event of GDPR lead to the need for legal advice; and a ‘Privacy & Retention Policy’ to comply with GDPR requirements. The SWBT catalogue was then reviewed with the archivists at the Modern Record Centre and a close working relationship was established.

From reviewing the papers records, it became clear that the SWBT application forms, additional paperwork from applicants and correspondence with applicants, no longer met GDPR requirements, so the thought of destroying all those records was of concern. The archivist confirmed their position that destruction was not necessary and those papers held can be placed in ‘closed storage category’ for 100 years to meet GDPR legislation. This has been done. All other paper records could remain in the open storage category for historical and research purposes.

‘You learn something new every day’

In July 2018, the next event for archiving happened with the SWBT computerisation of our systems, with the Digital Records being held on SWBT Microsoft 365 Teams in a discrete area on BASW computer system. From 1st October 2018 all our records were GDPR compliant.

Since then, discussions took place internally and concluded that we would store digital records in a restricted archive section on the SWBT Teams system; and paper copies would be archived at the Modern Record Centre, University of Warwick. However, in 2022, further contact with the archivist helped us understand that they have the facility for digital archives and explained final records should only be stored in one system; and the Trust needed to make a decision whether to continue paper records or go fully digital. There was general apprehension on moving only to digital archiving amongst trustees, with particular concern about future changes to IT programmes not being compatible, with the records, and thus making them unreadable. The patient archivist explained their digital system; and their responsibilities to transfer records to any future programmes whatever changes were made to systems. We therefore have an agreement with Modern Record Centre to hold digital records only from now on, for historical purposes & research in accordance with SWBT Privacy & Retention Policy; and to comply with GDPR requirements demonstrating due diligence completed.

‘Entering into another’s world’

The final event was the SWBT 50th Anniversary in 2021, and the gathering of the SWBT history by going to Modern Record Centre ourselves to look at the archives for changes over the years, speaking to ex-trustees; and requests for publicity, marketing & campaign material to all current trustees. It became evident not all materials were archived. Materials that had been gathered in paper format would now be sent to the Modern Record Centre or any digital papers from October 2018 will be digitally archived. In the future, all our material will be gathered digitally every year. We will be having further discussions on any information on the website, and whether any of that information will need to be kept in the digital archives.

‘A learning curve’

And so, the journey continues.

Liz Williams 21/11/2022