University of Glasgow contributes to award winning film on impact of deindustrialisation

A University of Glasgow historian has contributed to a powerful new award winning film about the dramatic effect deindustrialisation has had on the health and wellbeing of communities in the west of Scotland.

’Closures and Beginnings’ draws upon testimonies from people in Lanarkshire to illustrate the impact the loss of heavy industry had on health, community facilities, employment and access to transport and other services.

It was awarded an honourable mentioned award at the Filmmakers United International Film Festival 2024.

The animated film was produced as part of CommonHealth Catalyst, the Glasgow Caledonian University-led research project that Dr Ewan Gibbs - a historian of energy, industry, work and protest at the University of Glasgow’s School of Social and Political Sciences - is part of.

Focusing on Lanarkshire, academics have been studying the profound impact that deindustrialisation has had on health and wellbeing as part of the £200,000 project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

The project has been researching how local groups could work together more effectively with key decision-makers in the public sector to determine how future research funding to address health inequalities could be allocated.

GCU’s Professor Michael Roy, who led the CommonHealth Catalyst project, said: "I’m delighted with the film and the amazing reaction to it.

"While the film feels like a very familiar story of west central Scotland, the deindustrialisation that many of us have lived through, we also wanted to stress the positive power of community and acknowledge the powerful work of ordinary people doing extraordinary things to make their communities better.

"We believe that the film does that poignantly and powerfully."

The animation, created by the award-winning agency media co-op, was screened for the first time this week at a meeting with academics, policymakers, third-sector activists, elected officials, and members of the public.

Working with GCU historians, Dr Gibbs conducted interviews with individuals and groups affected. This included a group of miners’ daughters who discussed the impact of colliery closures, the loss of greenspace and the impact of council house sales and subsequent private housebuilding in their local area.

The research team also collaborated with NHS Lanarkshire, Dr David Walsh, Dr Jen McLean and Mohasin Ahmed, of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, the Scottish Community Development Centre, and Councillor Ayeshah Khan, of North Lanarkshire Council, on the project.

Dr Gibbs said: "We are very grateful to the people who spoke to us and whose words and reflections inform the animation. The award is recognition of the power of their storytelling as well as the skill shown by the filmmakers, the Media Co-op in dramatising them."