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Customers from our supported housing feature in exhibition at National Memorial Arboretum

Customers living in our Gateway and Frank Walsh House accommodation in Coventry have worked with artists to feature in an exhibition hosted at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire this summer.

The exhibition, called Lockdown Landscapes, highlights the effect the Covid 19 pandemic had on people around the UK as well as inspiring remembrance of those who have been lost.

A section of this exhibition is called Citizens of Coventry and it explores how people without housing were impacted by the pandemic.

Artist Sebbie Mudhai and videographer Tom Chimiak held sessions with residents based at the Gateway and Frank Walsh House. A poem and film were created, inspired by stories of our residents’ experiences during the pandemic.

One of our residents Steve Witten took part in the sessions. He said it was a good project to be involved with.

He said: “People came from the National Memorial Arboretum and asked us how we’d been affected by the Covid pandemic mentally, physically and spiritually. We spoke about our experiences verbally and did a little bit of writing, but it gave us all a sense of unity.

“It was very isolating during Covid. I was out of work at the time because I used to work on a building site and they had shut down, and initially it felt fearful going into lockdown.

“I enjoyed taking part in the sessions and it was good that the artists saw value in our input and our experiences are appreciated. The National Memorial Arboretum is quite famous and so I’m proud to be part of a project that is being shown there.”

This is the second event residents from Gateway have been involved in at the National Memorial Arboretum after they helped to create art for VE Day in 2020.

Our housing support manager at Gateway, Gail Cooper, said people living at the Gateway and Frank Walsh House had lots of different experiences to share about lockdown.

She said: “Sharing their experiences took some of our residents back in time. Some people had traumatic experiences which were too difficult to share but others felt it was cathartic to talk about what had happened to them.

“We all felt really emotional hearing their experiences and we were very proud of all the different voices who took part.

“Our residents helped inspire the poem and they have been filmed reading the lines out loud and we think this will be so impactful.”

Aaron Rossi, heritage project manager at the National Memorial Arboretum said: “The Lockdown Landscapes exhibition at the arboretum features four installations reflecting the experiences of diverse communities from across UK, focusing on those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Citizens of Coventry is an incredibly moving component of the exhibition; through the mediums of poetry and film, it has captured how members of this community bonded during these difficult times, showing resilience and support for one another, even when faced with greater hardship because of the pandemic.”

The exhibition Lockdown Landscapes runs until October 1 at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. It is part of the Lockdown Landscapes initiative, a nationwide community engagement programme led by the National Memorial Arboretum   in partnership with the National Forest Company, Sampad South Asian Arts and Heritage and Westminster Abbey, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Image ©National Memorial Arboretum.

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National Memorial Arboretum Visit