Light Up at the Chara Centre

Since 2013 the Citizens Learning Team have delivered a creative residency at the Chara Centre, a residential service supporting women who are experiencing homelessness. A team of artists lead multi-art form sessions for women every week which include creative writing, performance skills, song writing and costume making. In 2019 the team expanded this work to also be in residency at the Elder Street project, a respite shelter for women experiencing homelessness based in Govan.

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, much of the Citz Learning work had to stop and new ways to remain connected found. This included socially distanced visits to some of our participants, talking through open windows and meeting in gardens with our Through My Window project and developing online digital work such as Just Imagine, a song writing project encouraging women to imagine what life might be like post Covid-19. You can listen to the song here and learn more about the 'making of it' here.

Through My Window

The Spoken Word Club was also created, exploring different styles of spoken word, including rap and grime and beat poetry. Led in partnership with much loved comedian and actor Karen Dunbar, the online workshops were a huge success.

“Working with the Citz has opened up a whole new world for me, in introducing me to their community groups I’m finding a real connection to others and myself. Creating rap music with these folk is a joy and the Citz make these sessions so easy to organise and so much fun to do. I can actually see the healing take place in people’s eyes and that’s a real privilege” Karen Dunbar 

Since Autumn, Karen has also been working with the Citz Learning team to deliver workshops to the women of the Chara Centre and Elder Street. Building on the success of The Spoken Word Club, these workshops explore issues that impact the women's lives and are designed to generate positive change and personal development.

“It has been very satisfying to be back in the room working with our inspiring women in the community. The power of laughter within a group is joyful and will never be taken for granted again. It has been a pleasure to continue to collaborate with Karen whose unassuming style of delivery has kept the women focussed, determined to achieve, and entertained.” Elly Goodman, Citizens Theatre

Since August, women in both groups have been working across different art forms, creating textiles, visual art and writing their own songs and raps. A celebration event was held in the Chara Garden on Friday 17th December for the women to share their achievements.

Photographer, Karen Gordon, captured some of the brilliant moments from the day.

“Thank you so much, I was feeling a bit broken, but you added laughter back that's been gone a long time THANK YOU!!” Elder Street Service user

“It’s been a long time since things felt normal and we have a bit to go. Having Elly and the team from the Citizens and our guest Karen Dunbar on board is uplifting, welcoming, great fun and brings a real sense of camaraderie – a positive mindset brings positive things! Thank you” Marian Miller, Women’s Services Manager/Depute Manager, Homelessness Services

This project is supported by Comic Relief and Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership. Find out more about our Projects for Women.