NHS Lothian staff tell their stories of Coronavirus in a series of short films

NHS Lothian staff tell their stories of Coronavirus in a series of short films
October 13, 2020

Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation’s Tonic Arts team has launched a series of documentary style short films featuring NHS Lothian staff telling their stories of what life was like for them during the early stages of Coronavirus.

The project, entitled ‘Common Thread; NHS Voices in a Time of Crisis’, gave staff the opportunity to tell their stories of what the Coronavirus crisis was like for them, both personally and professionally.

A series of 11 short films have been created by 25 NHS Lothian staff, including a pharmacist involved in the C-19 vaccine trials, a BSL interpreter, the Hospitals at Night team, a GP and the ICU team from the Western General Hospital, many of whom had little or no experience in creative storytelling and filmmaking. Due to the limitations of social distancing, the workshops and filming were done remotely, working with filmmaker, Tomás Sheridan, to discuss stories and ideas and find creative solutions to help them tell their stories in the most impactful way.

Angela Gray, Arts, Participation and Engagement Manager for the Tonic Arts Programme, said:

“Tonic Arts is all about enhancing the wellbeing of patients and staff across the whole of NHS Lothian, and doing this through the transformative power of the arts. Whether that be though large-scale art and therapeutic design, a dynamic participatory arts programme, creative writing, drama or filmmaking.

“The Common Thread project was a great way to give NHS Lothian staff the opportunity to tell their stories from a whole range of perspectives.

“These short films are our way of celebrating the skills, dedication and creativity of the amazing staff across NHS Lothian and the fantastic work that they do every day.

“The stories told are all really different; some are funny, some are sad, and some are truly inspirational. They give you a real, personal insight into how staff were feeling as they dealt with one of the biggest global health crises of our lifetime.

“It was such a pleasure to work with all the participants, as well as our Director and Editor, Tomás. The level of commitment and involvement from everyone throughout the whole process has been remarkable – and the results are incredible. I hope you enjoy watching the films as much as we have enjoyed putting them all together.”

Rita Rigg, a General Practitioner working in the COVID Triage Hub, filmed an abridged version of the diary she kept during her COVID-19 convalescence. She said:

“Being involved in the Common Thread project and working alongside Tomás Sheridan was a refreshing, revealing experience, something I had never done before. It was also hard at times, triggering fresh memories that I had not realised were so close to the surface. It did not take much reflection to feel transported back to the days spent in bed where it seemed like life hung on a thread, where every breath seemed a gift to be treasured, and so precarious.

“I used a ‘diary’ I had kept during my illness to record regularly how things were for me, as I saw, felt, and thought them to be. It was elements and moments in time from this story that I then used for the film. Tomás cleverly gleaned the salient moments, matched the mood with scenes to be photographed and recorded, that would capture the experience as a whole. I trust and believe that he has done this well, with gentleness, understanding and truth.”

“It has been an honour, and quite scary to share my story, hopefully people will be interested or learn from it and take away the positives.”

The short films will be distributed through Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation’s social media channels between October and December 2020.