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Humans Not Heroes

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How do healthcare workers reflect on their experiences of working through the Covid-19 pandemic?

The research project

Humans not Heroes began in the midst of the first wave of the pandemic, funded by Coventry Creates 2020. The aim of the pilot project (known as Boats on an Ocean in 2020) was to provide a space for healthcare workers to reflect on their experiences of working through Covid-19. This involved using an online arts workshop approach, whereby healthcare workers could instantiate their experiences using the arts.

Following the pilot project's success, Humans not Heroes will scale up to allow up to 80 healthcare workers to reflect on their experiences of working through the pandemic, with the creation of new audio art pieces. The research team will also be collating impact stories in relation to the Humans not Heroes project and is taking an appreciative enquiry approach to evaluate how it may benefit others in future.

The project is led by Dr Sally Pezaro (School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health and Research Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities at Coventry University) and Kerry Wykes (Emergency Nurse, Researcher and Lecturer).

The artist

Dr Pezaro and Kerry Wykes will work with China Plate Theatre - a contemporary theatre production company, whose adventurous and imaginative works with a social purpose has led to its popular appeal in the Midlands.

With a portfolio that crosses making, touring and programming shows, artist development and theatre participation, China Plate Theatre showcases UK talent, reaching new audiences and supporting the development of theatre-makers.

Lead artist on 'Humans Not Heroes', Nick Walker is a writer, producer and director. He founded the theatre company Talking Birds, and has worked with some of the country’s leading new work theatre companies. His plays and short stories are regularly featured on BBC Radio 4. He will be responsible for training and supporting other artists working on the project including award-winning artists Caroline Horton and Rochi Rampal.

Based on feedback from the 2020 pilot programme, the design of the Humans Not Heroes workshop sessions will be improved to increase the involvement and agency of the participants. Researchers will develop an audio script, in consultation with the project participants and China Plate Theatre.

“In line with our co-creative approach, information from the script and directorial workshop will inform the direction of the audio artwork and the cast to perform it (a Coventry actor will be engaged). We hope to host a live event in December 2021 at Warwick Arts Centre to allow dissemination of our work to a wider group of healthcare workers and the public.”

Dr Sally Pezaro