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‘Drawing Breath’: reflections on resilience during COVID-19 lockdown  (April-June 2020)


                        A PhotoVoice Project with members of Eastbourne BreatheEasy

Drawing Breath is a PhotoVoice Project carried out by a student from the University of Brighton and this is her story.........


My name is Toni Slater and I’m a student of the University of Brighton, studying for an MA in Digital Media, Culture and Society. The final module of my second, part-time, year was called, ‘Participatory Media Production for Social Change’. I completed the module in June and for it I chose to work with Eastbourne BreatheEasy on a collaborative PhotoVoice project.


PhotoVoice is a process by which people can identify, represent, and enhance their community through photography. It’s a creative method focusing on a particular issue and facilitates access to tools and skills via which participants can find strength in their own voice and expression. We also used Digital Storytelling methods which is a simple process of creating a short personal story in digital media.


I’m extremely grateful to Kimberlee Cole and to Dr Hazel Horobin, Senior Lecturer in Physiotherapy at University of Brighton, who guided me through the complex - and all too often unmet - health needs of people with a CRD.


My initial aim was to work alongside a large group of members during face-to-face workshops to explore their experiences of living with a chronic respiratory disease (CRD), breathlessness and unmet health needs. However, as COVID-19 took hold this became impossible and instead it continued ‘online’ with a small group of members.


During April to June, as well as working together via Zoom, members of the group participated in a WhatsApp group. The WhatsApp group was used for sharing digital photographs and captions, as well as supportive messages for dealing with ‘lockdown’.


Because of the sensitivities and anxieties of ‘lockdown’, I guided participants towards exploring the theme of ‘resilience’. We agreed to break the theme down into four constituent parts: physical, spiritual, social and emotional - taking each in turn for a week or so of reflection and creative response.


Heartfelt thanks to Jill, Louisa, Heather and Eileen for working together with me on this project. I know that at times it wasn’t easy. Although I shared some experience of home confinement during ‘lockdown’, mine did not match yours in terms of vulnerability. And yet you all remained open, committed and caring. It was always a pleasure to work with you and I am proud of what we were able to achieve.


I hope everyone enjoys watching and listening to these PhotoVoice Digital Stories and appreciates the challenges the participants face as well as their strengths. You may also wish to reflect on your own resilience skills, perhaps adding to your own ‘toolkit’ for dealing with adversity.


Ultimately, it is also my hope that anyone able to affect change will continue to work to meet the holistic needs of people with a CRD.


Best wishes


Toni x


Please click on the buttons below to access the stories on YouTube

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