CITIZENS THEATRE DELIVERS LIFELINE COMMUNITY PROJECT FOR ISOLATED WOMEN DURING PANDEMIC

Over the last five months, the Citizens Theatre’s Through My Window project has supported women across Glasgow experiencing homelessness and isolation. The project was developed during the Coronavirus pandemic in response to lockdown restrictions and being unable to run weekly workshop sessions in person.

The project explores the experience of lockdown for the women, utilising windows, outdoor spaces and socially distanced visits, to offer a vital link in supporting positive mental health and well-being. Over the next few weeks, the creative outputs from the women engaged with the project will be shared including audio and video recordings, photography and written work.

The Citizens Theatre has a long history of working with women’s groups in the community including delivering creative residences in the homeless sector and within the criminal justice system. Many of the women involved in the project are digitally excluded and were especially isolated during lockdown due to poor health, poverty and loneliness. Covid-19 restrictions on social interactions stripped many of the women of their coping mechanisms and support networks.

Key aspects of the project to date include:

  • Visits to residential centres for women experiencing homelessness – The Chara Centre and Elder Street Project run by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.
  • Visits to individual women in the Gorbals and across Glasgow.
  • Socially distanced visits to reignite creative connections and support positive mental health.
  • Each visit yielded a fascinating insight, not only as a view from windows but also poignant responses to the plight of homelessness, regrets, achievements, dreams, making plans and achieving goals.
  • Over 60 women have engaged with Through My Window, contributing to a series of recordings, photos and written work.

Speaking about the project, Elly Goodman, Community Drama Artist, commented:The project grew out of an urgent need to remain connected to our community groups that we work with. We were acutely aware that many of the women don’t have much stability or security and couldn’t connect with us or others online. We started by informally visiting some of the women to keep in touch and delivering food. However, this changed when one day we were thrown a homemade gift from a window. This got us thinking about how meaningful the exchanging of gifts is and this became the catalyst for Through My Window.”

Carly McCaig, Community Drama Worker, added: “We developed creative care packages which included things like notebooks, pens, a disposable camera, craft materials, prompt sheets - things that allowed for creative interactions of the women’s choosing. We would return each week to discuss what the women had made and suggest other activities or things they could do. It quickly evolved into the women writing to each other and sharing gifts, becoming a source of encouragement and support. Although the women weren’t able to be together, they were part of a shared experience and a new socially distanced community had been created.”

For many of the participants, Through My Window has filled a void and contributed to positive changes in their lives with one participant commenting, “weekly visits from the Citz are the highlight of my week, especially since I’ve been shielding, they’ve provided a much needed life line during lockdown”.

You can meet the women of Through My Window in this blog and photo album:

More creative outputs will be shared in the coming weeks.

The Citizens Theatre remains committed to keeping connected with the many communities it serves across Glasgow. As Government guidelines change, the Through My Window project will continue to evolve until face-to-face workshops can resume.

This project is supported by Comic Relief and Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership.

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