Celebrating the Citizen Winter Warmer

It’s already been three weeks since our action-packed Citizen Winter Warmer. Over the course of the week, across venues, schools and outdoor locations in North Edinburgh and Musselburgh, we reached over 600 people. Here we look back on the activities, workshops and events that took place.

Story Wagon

To start our Winter Warmer celebrations, we welcomed Luke Winter and his Story Wagon to both of our partner venues, The Brunton Theatre and North Edinburgh Arts. The Story Wagon is all about providing a beautiful, safe and cosy space for people to write and share their stories. Fitted out with bespoke furniture and vintage typewriters, several passers-by explored the wagon over the course of both days. Luke was joined by Eleanor Thom, our Citizen Writer in Residence, who brought along her recording equipment to capture people’s stories and their reflections. Luke also brought his typewriter into our Winter Warmer events and created ‘Stories While You Wait’ for seventeen young creatives, using only three words of their choice as prompts.


Luke Winter talking to a parent and child

Schools Workshops

Over the course of the week, three workshops brought the magic of books, stories and creativity into local schools. At St Thomas of Aquin’s in Tollcross, Citizen Writer in Residence Ryan Van Winkle was joined by artist, musician and maker Hailey Beavis for some creative collage sessions, where nearly 200 young people used collage techniques to create index cards and political statement badges.

Meanwhile, in North Edinburgh, we worked with Forth View Primary and Craigroyston Primary to bring authors Elle McNicoll, Maisie Chan and Christopher Lloyd into classrooms to discuss their writing with the P4-P7 classes. Each student was given a book as a gift to take home, and since then several of the students have written letters to thank the authors for visiting them.


Classroom workshop with visiting authors

The Great Big Story Show

At our Great Big Story Show events at The Brunton and North Edinburgh Arts, Macastory wowed us with their all-signing, all-dancing storytelling sessions, which got everyone in the audience smiling. Christopher Lloyd inspired the young audiences at The Brunton with a talk about It’s Up To Us, his beautifully illustrated book which is all about climate change and what we can do to help. At North Edinburgh Arts, Eilidh Muldoon led an interactive illustration workshop which got both kids and adults alike drawing their favourite things about the local area.

We were delighted to welcome Elle McNicoll and Maisie Chan at both venues to talk about their spine-tingling short stories from The Very Merry Murder Club. The book leads the reader on a snow-covered wintery journey of Christmassy crimes, festive foul play and murderously magnificent mysteries, and brings together thirteen of the bestselling, award-winning and exciting debut authors.


Macastory performing in costume on stage

Stories & Scran

For our evening Stories & Scran events, which took place at both The Brunton and North Edinburgh Arts, people came together over tasty food and stories by local writers and professional authors and poets. Artist Shona Hardie documented both events with live illustrations that provided an evolving visual snapshot of the readings and conversations that were shared throughout the night. We were delighted to work with The Scran Academy who designed, cooked and served us a warming three-course feast, including their legendary sticky toffee pudding. As one guest reflected “The food was fantastic! Never heard of the Scran Academy before. Shame on me!” Click here if you would like to find out more about Scran Academy’s work with young people.


Scran Academy team plating up pudding


At the Book Festival, we believe that sharing stories and embracing creativity can increase our wellbeing, make us more connected to others by reducing isolation and open up a dialogue about what being a Citizen means in the world today. We were delighted to hear from the Writing the Times group in North Edinburgh, and are especially grateful to Stephanie for working with the writers throughout lockdown and helping each of them to prepare their work for performance. Our young writers group The Citizen Collective shared some of their most recent work from the last term’s series of workshops, led by Leyla Josephine. We also welcomed Courtney Stoddart, Ryan Hay and Andrew O’Hagan who read poems and extracts of writing that were by turns moving, heart-warming and funny.


Citizen participant reading on stage with projected illustration behind


At The Brunton Theatre, the Citizen Writers Group, who have been meeting with Eleanor Thom over the course of the last two years, performed their stories and poems alongside special illustrated responses. These were created especially for the event by illustration students at Edinburgh College of Art, and it was wonderful to see word and images form a meaningful dialogue. Specially-commissioned pieces by Sara Sheridan, J L Williams and Andres Ordorica all touched on the themes of community and celebration, and the whole event was a timely reminder of the importance of coming together, creativity and collaboration.


Shona Hardie live illustrating

Thank You

The Citizen Winter Warmer was part of Book Week Scotland, in partnership with The Brunton Theatre and North Edinburgh Arts. It would not have been possible without the help of our the dedicated teams who helped plan and deliver the events across both of these venues.

We are very grateful to all the participants, the facilitators, the event hosts and everyone who came along to enjoy the events.

Citizen is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery and funded through the PLACE Programme, a partnership between the Scottish Government- through Creative Scotland - the City of Edinburgh Council and the Edinburgh Festivals.


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