18 May 2022

Supporting Staff Wellbeing Through Creative Filmmaking

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Our Tonic Arts team 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 in a creative and engaging way.

A series of nine short films were created by 25 NHS Lothian staff, including a pharmacist involved in the C-19 vaccine trials, a BSL interpreter, a GP, and a staff nurse 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 from Polifilm Media, to discuss stories and ideas and find creative solutions to help them tell their stories in the most impactful way.

A selection of films were then showcased at an online screening event on 15 January 2021.

One poignant story was by Rita Rigg, a General Practitioner working in the COVID Triage Hub, who filmed an abridged version of the diary she kept during her COVID-19 convalescence. This is what she had to say about the project:

“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.”

Stanley’s Story                                                

I love your edited version and you have done Thistle proud. My 2 sons are proud of my involvement and liked the video very much.”


As well as an amazing film, I’ve learned loads, had the opportunity to reflect and really enjoyed the process.”


This has had the most amazing feedback and warm comments from people near and far afield. Thank you for facilitating this and for being encouraging, supportive, gentle and kind”


With your continued support, we can do even more to support NHS Lothian staff, now and in the future