Our project, Communities Driving Change (CDC) enables residents of three local housing estates to get involved in local health matters. This is done by finding out what is important to people living locally and working together with local organisations. The aim of CDC is to help bring about meaningful change in the community.

As part of a desire from local residents to learn new skills, the CDC team planned some collaborative film-making. The current pandemic meant that the programme had to be taken online, but this gave the project the opportunity to address issues of loneliness and bring people together during the UK lock down.

The CDC team devised a series of film-making workshops that would help people to connect to others, themselves and the unusual circumstances in which we found ourselves.  

Local people from a diversity of cultures, ages and experiences were engaged and recruited through social media, Covid-19 Mutual Aid groups and the Bromley by Bow Centre Social Prescribing service.  

Over five days, participants worked with collaborative film-makers, Yarrow Films to run film-making workshops for families and individuals in Tower Hamlets. The aim was to teach participants how to make short films using their phones so that they could document the unusual circumstances we are living through during the UK lock down. We also wanted these films to help people to connect with the community in a playful way, while unable to engage with neighbours in real life.

Participants learnt the basics of film-making through presentations, discussions and exercises that enabled them to make a film in six shots. They then worked as a group to plan, agree and film footage for a six-minute film that documented 24 hours of their collective lives.

The result is a tender film about the realities of social distancing during and a global pandemic.  

Watch the heartwarming film here

More about the project

Participants find that working collaboratively with others who are undergoing similar experiences has therapeutic benefits, as does the experience of creative self-reflection and exploration.

The sessions were designed to be fun, informative and bond the group as they planned and created a personal documentary film. 

‘The course journey has been a great learning curve for me. I liked the way Dieter (filmmaker) taught us how to make a film. He started from the basics, which was helpful for someone like me. I have learned how to take a shot, edit small scenes and add voice over them. It has been fun and a great learning process. It is just what I needed during these difficult times we have been going through.”

Carla Strudwick – participant

It’s been wonderful to see participants grow in confidence as they improved their skills and had fun together, while documenting a moment of historic importance. Inspired by the course, one of the participants, Alison, made another short film with her daughter, Sasha.

Watch Alison’s film here

What’s next?

Burdett Estate’s online film-making project will begin in July 2020. If you are from the Burdett Estate area and around, you can sign up for the next course by emailing communitiesdrivingchange@bbbc.org.uk.

When it’s possible, there will be an outdoor screening of the films. This will be an opportunity for participants to meet each other in person for the first time and celebrate their achievements.

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 “Thank you for this opportunity. I learned a lot and I really loved to make new friends as well”.

Alison Formosa – participant

A huge thank you to our participants and their families:

Chaneen Saliee
Jin Yang
Carla Strudwick
Alison Formosa
Minying Chowdhury

And the Yarrow Films team:
Dieter Deswarte
Rose Fraser

Communities Driving Change is a Tower Hamlets Public Health project.