Through My Window: The journey so far

Throughout lockdown, Elly and Carly from our Learning Team have been supporting women across Glasgow experiencing homelessness and isolation. Through My Window explores the experience of lockdown for the women, through windows, utilising outdoor spaces and socially distanced visits, offering a vital link to support positive mental health and well-being. Here they tell us all about the project so far.

Over lockdown, it was important to remain connected with our Citizens Theatre community. Many of the people we work with are isolated and experience poor physical and mental health, and loneliness. The current pandemic brought this into sharp focus and challenged many of their existing coping mechanisms.

We have a long history of working with women's groups in the community, including our regular creative workshops at residential centres for women experiencing homelessness. During lockdown we have continued to meet individuals and visit the centres, encouraging the women to continue to feel part of our theatre family. Socially distanced visits have helped reignite moments of creative connection and supported positive mental health.

The project started with visits to various neighbourhoods to see women who were isolated or shielding due to health reasons. Each visit began with conversations through windows and socially distanced doorways. Photographs and short films were made to document the visits. Images were collated which explored our different experiences of lockdown. 

We visited many women living in Glasgow tenements, housing schemes, flats, maisonettes and the high rise flats of the Gorbals. We introduced the creative care box, which contained thought-provoking questions to ponder about the current landscape. The box offered ideas that encouraged creative responses through writing and artwork. We started a letter writing scheme entitled ‘Dear Sister’ where recipients of the box could share pearls of wisdom and offer supportive affirmations to other women whilst we navigated our way and made sense of lockdown.

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 post COVID and achieving goals. 

Each week would produce more writing, photography, imagery and art. As we gathered the materials together, we began to record the voices of some of the text that charted this journey. Women reading other women’s words that in some way moved them, chosen from an anonymous pen pal. 

As the weeks moved on, we left plants and food supplies in gardens, set up impromptu pop up coffee shops on landings and doorsteps, held English conversational classes for women who were improving their language skills and encouraged women to remain creative.

We don’t know when this project will come to a close as lockdown restrictions begin to relax a little. Nor do we know when we can resume our weekly sessions, or when we can move towards a semblance of normality.  What we do know is, that creative connectivity has played an essential role in helping the people we work with feel less invisible and overlooked as we continue on our Through My Window journey. 

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

Over the coming weeks, we will be sharing the creative outputs produced by the women and highlighting the vital work Citizens Learning does in communities through Glasgow. Find out more about Through My Window