-Showcasing the resilience of former mining communities during the Covid-19 pandemic-
The Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) has been working with former mining communities across Scotland to capture their stories and produce films about life during lockdown.
So far, 13 films have been produced showcasing the resilience of coalfields communities in adapting to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resilience of people living in these areas across the country.
Before the pandemic, CRT had planned a film project with coalfields villages in the west of Fife to explore the heritage of these communities and let individuals share their personal experiences. Films were to be screened in a collaboration with the Edinburgh-based Folk Film Gathering in May this year.
But Covid-19 and lockdown led to the project team having to adapt to the new environment and physical restrictions. The team decided to reach out to coalfields communities across the country to showcase how they were managing during this time of adversity. It provided an opportunity for people to share their common experiences on responding to Covid-19 and tell their stories.
Filmmaker Anne Milne and curator Shona Thomson worked with CRT to reach out to its contacts, including projects supported through CRT’s Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund. Organisations responded from every local authority in Scotland which is home to one or more coalfields community. Following further remote meetings and discussions, it was decided that people and organisations could tell their stories in different ways through the project, rather than just through film.
It was agreed that the project would capture as many stories as possible for inclusion on the CRT Connect platform within its “short stories of action” section. People are participating and contributing in various ways, including film-making workshops, self-made videos, photographs and slide show. Telephone interviews have also been carried out with members of communities, including those who were shielding and receiving support.
Nicky Wilson, chair of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust (CRT) in Scotland, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it an opportunity to shine a spotlight on coalfields communities and demonstrate how resilient they are, and how they are able to find solutions to their own challenges and quickly self-organise to support residents who are vulnerable or in need.
“As discussions on the film project advanced, it became clear that there were many different perspectives of Covid-19 that could be documented. We were hearing from people who organised, developed and delivered services at short notice for their communities, as well as individuals on the receiving end of those services.
“We realised, for example, that we could explore the impact of lockdown on older people, people living alone, single parents with young children, people looking after children with additional needs, young people, women, those who had lost work as a result of Covid, and those directly impacted by coronavirus.”
Caron Hughes, development manager, said: “As someone who is from mining stock, having spent most of my life living and being educated in coalfields areas, and latterly working as a community development professional across Scotland, including in former mining villages, I am continually frustrated by the image that is portrayed of our communities and the negative adjectives sometimes used to describe them.
“I am passionate about giving coalfields communities the opportunity to create a different narrative about life there to change perspectives. Coalfields communities have much to celebrate. However they very rarely get the opportunity to showcase such qualities as their resilience, creativity, determination, strong sense of identity, rich heritage and culture and stunning natural environments.
“I believe that this ‘pilot’ project has demonstrated the ability that such an initiative has to empower people and give them a voice to tell their stories and, in doing so, show a wider audience a different side to our amazing coalfields communities”.
So far, 13 films have been produced and launched and can be viewed on the platforms below. And once restrictions are lifted these films will be screened in local communities.