Re-imagining: The Workhouse and Firbeck House

Peeling wallpaper in the old workhouse infirmary

A Partnership between Wellcome Trust and the National Trust “We want our work to reach as many people as possible, especially people we don’t talk to yet. We prioritise projects for audiences who have few opportunities to engage with research” Wellcome Trust

The Workhouse is a site of care where the powerful themes and effects of poverty, health & welfare, population movement and incarceration are evident in its history.  The Re-imagining project and the dedicated and specialised staff team delivering it, see Re-imagining as more than this. 

Firbeck House 1871
Firbeck House 1871
Firbeck House 1871


“Re-imaging is a perfect fit for the Wellcome Trust and an opportunity for Wellcome to work in a new and accessible way in the region. Supported by expert academics, community leaders and emerging policy advisory panels The Workhouse team know that we can deliver this bold, ambitious and creative project.” Sara Blair-Manning, General Manager at The Workhouse


Creative and Community Engagement


The Creative and Community programme aims to engage the visitor creatively, emotionally and intellectually with the debate that The Workhouse and Firbeck House evoke and people have opportunities to express and contribute to its evolving story. 


The Re-imagining process conveys the depth and range of the potential that The Workhouse and Firbeck House site offers; its dark history, the message of hope it brings and its continuity with present day support for vulnerable people.


We ran a two day Creative Retreat, hosted at The Workhouse over a long weekend in March 2017. Our aim was to introduce our new Creative Fellows for 2017, Bare Project to The Workhouse staff, volunteers, creative and academic partners.


The Bare Project is a Sheffield based theatre and interactive arts company. 

Creative Retreat
Creative Retreat
Creative Retreat

Some of the themes and ideas that came out of the Creative Retreat are already informing the exhibitions we are producing. We invited a manager from Minster View, our neighbour, a learning disabled home care provider on The Workhouse site; to talk to us about what home means to the children that they care for. From this conversation the theme of “What is Home” emerged and this will inform and permeate our thinking and creative programme going forward this year.


The Workhouse staff and volunteers are developing strategies that ensure we communicate the multiple levels of the stories, experiences and outcomes for people who have been involved in the site and the people who are presently affected by changes in government policy in the UK and internationally.