About Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT)

memorial

Port Sunlight was declared a conservation area in 1978. It contains more than 900 Grade II listed buildings in 130 acres of parkland and gardens. It is also home to a thriving community and welcomes more than 300,000 visitors a year. It is important to strike a balance between the past and the present, which is where Port Sunlight Village Trust comes in.

Port Sunlight Village Trust (PSVT) is an independent charitable trust responsible for preserving and promoting the village. Set up by Unilever in 1999, the Trust works with Port Sunlight’s residents to create a self-sustaining village for all who live, visit and work here.

All of the village’s parks, gardens, monuments and memorials are cared for by PSVT, as well as the majority of public buildings and nearly a third of the houses. The entire village is a Designated Conservation Area and nearly every building is Grade II Listed.

PSVT also runs Port Sunlight Museum (including SoapWorks and the Edwardian Worker’s Cottage) which celebrates the unique heritage of the village – its development, architecture, people and landscapes – through special exhibitions, events, learning programmes, and volunteering opportunities, all underpinned by our historical collection and archive.

Every year, PSVT spends more than £3 million on cyclical building work, conservation projects, landscape maintenance, and lifelong learning programmes through the museum. We rely on grants, charitable donations, and the income received from property rental, museum admissions, and shop sales to carry out this essential work. Every penny is reinvested back into the village.

Our commitment to being anti-racist

Updated 11th June 2021

 

Port Sunlight Village Trust is custodian of an incredibly special heritage site. Our role is to care for Port Sunlight’s heritage and to use it to inspire, educate and entertain. Our vision is clear, ‘to make Port Sunlight an inspiring place to live, work and visit’. Respect is one of our core charitable values; we value diversity and aspire to treat everyone fairly. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought this into sharp focus.

The problem

We know that we do not currently explore the more difficult and challenging aspects of William Lever’s business practices in our museum and public spaces.

We now commit to telling a full and balanced story

  • We will talk about the negative impact of William Lever’s colonialist enterprises in Central Africa and elsewhere.
  • We will explore the impact of these business practices on African and other communities, both near and far.
  • We will highlight racism, in all forms, in telling this story.

We want to meet the challenge of telling William Lever’s full story with our partners, our community, and our visitors. We will help bring new meaning to Port Sunlight’s heritage, to encourage fresh perspectives and conversation. We want to reflect a true picture of events.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

We are sharing this history to acknowledge our past but, more importantly, to signal that as an organisation we are on a journey towards openness, transparency and the creation of an inclusive culture for all.

Our progress

There is a high level of commitment to achieving our vision and in the last 12 months we have made the following progress:

  • Established the Promoting Equality steering group to provide strategic over-sight, challenge our thinking, and advocate externally on our behalf.
  • Commissioned EMBED and the Disability Collaborative Network to undertake an independent and robust review of our current policies, practices, procedures and communications in relation to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Developed a joint funding application with the Institute of Cultural Practices at the University of Manchester for an 18-month project that will enable communities to explore more fully the difficult and challenging aspects of William Lever’s business practices in our museum and public spaces.
  • Established a partnership approach to understanding Port Sunlight’s full history with Unilever and National Museums Liverpool.

What next?

Our work will continue in 2021/22 with the same level of energy. We will:

  • Make progress towards embedding a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity at PSVT by implementing an organisational improvement plan.
  • Publish a booklet sharing what we currently know about William Lever’s business operations in the Belgian Congo during the early 20th century for visitors to Port Sunlight Museum.
  • Work with our partners to develop a long-term research programme and establish an independent research panel to provide oversight.
  • Begin to work with the PSVT workforce, local communities, village visitors and other external stakeholders to update interpretation on Port Sunlight’s history in our museum, public realm, and on-line.
  • Review the museum collection and our heritage assets within Port Sunlight village to identify past and present associations with racism and colonialism.