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Creative tenants work displayed across Renfrewshire

An innovative arts project is enabling the stories of Renfrewshire’s sheltered housing tenants to be seen across Renfrewshire.

The We’re Still Here project, delivered by H-Arts and funded by Creative Scotland, aimed to enable those shielding in Renfrewshire to reach out to the wider community through creative writing.

Led by the H-Arts team, tenants participated in a variety of workshops and performance projects through video technology, telephone calls and paper activity packs, and are now seeing their work featured on billboards and bus stops across Renfrewshire.

Tenants Angie and Anne are two of the tenants who took part.

Angie, who wrote poetry and took part in live and pre-recorded showcases said: “I can’t believe the things I’ve been able to do”.

Anne added: “I can’t believe something I’ve written is on a billboard!”

For many tenants, one of the main benefits of the project has been learning how to use digital messaging and video call technology and they are now using those skills to keep in touch with their families.

The writing produced through We’re Still Here has also been developed into a book and showcased through an online event on Facebook.

Sally Logan, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator for Renfrewshire Council said: “The ‘We’re still Here’ project was so worthwhile, it gave a purpose to many of our tenants living isolated from friends and families and for some it helped them through the grieving process of loved ones they have lost.

“Writing down their thoughts and feelings created a coping mechanism, so not only did the project give them something to focus on it also helped to improve their mental health and wellbeing. It has left a long-lasting legacy for these tenants and their families.”

Karen Herbison, Director of H-arts said: “Working with Renfrewshire Sheltered Housing was vital to the project and it has been a true team effort. Together we’ve managed to find some new writing talent – engaging those who hadn’t engaged with similar activities previously and introducing new technology. I’ve been so privileged to receive their creative work and stories. It’s been a true joy.”

The next phase of the project will see the work printed on postcards and posters for local shops and other Renfrewshire venues.

Councillor Marie McGurk, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Communities, Housing and Planning Policy Board, said: “The past year has been incredibly challenging and this project has given our tenants an opportunity to engage with the community in new ways and provided the tools and resources to help them stay in touch with family and friends.

“Taking part in cultural activities has a positive effect on health and wellbeing and I’m glad our tenants were able to have a creative outlet during the lockdown period. Well done to everyone involved.”