About Citizen

We’re delighted to be part of Citizen,  a new long-term  creative programme working in partnership with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and other organisations across the city. The project aims to give a voice to communities, offering local residents an opportunity to explore their connection to each other and their relationship to their local area, looking at how local conversations are heard or echoed on a national or global level.

Eleanor Thom has been appointed as the Citizen Community Writer-in-Residence, and will be working through North Edinburgh Arts with people living and working in the North of the city as well as in partnership with WHALE Arts Agency (Wester Hailes) and Goodtrees Neighbourhood Centre (Moredun).

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year.  For more news and updates about the project, please visit

Citizen Workshops Winter 2020-page-001

Meet Eleanor Thom

Eleanor, a novelist (The Tin-Kin) and short form fiction writer, will be meeting regularly with local people at North Edinburgh Arts to share stories and experiences about what being a citizen today means. Eleanor will work with writers, musicians, illustrators and other artists to inspire local residents to tell their stories of life in Muirhouse and surrounding areas, and share their views on community, home and their relationship to the wider world.


“I am a community writer-in-residence, and if you have been at North Edinburgh Arts recently you may have seen me there. But perhaps you don’t know that I am looking for people to work with, anyone who likes telling their own stories, or reading and writing. I’ll be working primarily with adults.

Since December I’ve been gardening and knitting, and talking to people, and for the next month or two I want to meet more of the people who use North Edinburgh Arts or live nearby. So I’ll be reaching out in search of anyone with a story to share.

You may wonder why a writer would go to a knit and natter group, especially because I admit I’m not a skilled knitter. The last time I picked up a pair of needles I was pregnant with my daughter, now nearly five. Suddenly there I was, flustering with a very tangled hank of yarn. But I’ve already met people at the group who like to chat and tell stories, even if they don’t consider themselves writers or storytellers (yet). This writing residency will be entirely about people telling their own stories. I will ask questions, provide prompts, suggest themes, and work alongside everyone who wants to take part, but the stories will belong to the storytellers, not me.”


Click here to read a full blog post about Eleanor’s initial experiences at North Edinburgh Arts and how to get involved in the project.

Citizen is part of Edinburgh International Book Festival On The Road, a series of events and activities around Scotland throughout the year.  For more news and updates about the project, please visit

What has happened so far

In May 2019, North Edinburgh Arts and the Edinburgh International Book Festival held two days of events for school pupils and the north Edinburgh community, as part of our ongoing Citizen collaboration.

On Thursday 9 May, pupils from three participating high schools – Liberton, Broughton and Craigroyston Community High schools – took part in creative sessions and discussions exploring their sense of personal and social identity, community and belonging, with our Schools Writer in Residence Claire Askew mixing pupils from different schools to create new connections and spark new ideas.

Then on Saturday 11 May we welcomed hundreds of members of the local community in for a free day of fun, interactive, discussion-starting activities, as well as an event sharing the stories and voices of local people taking part in our Citizen residency, led by author Eleanor Thom. A free community meal capped the day, bringing neighbours together to eat and talk about what they’d done throughout the day and how they felt about their community. Citizen continues into 2020 – look out for information on how you can get involved or speak to a member of staff. We’re planning another Citizen celebration for May 2020 – details coming soon!

Eleanor shares her experiences of the first year of the project in a blog post. Click here to read it.

Shelf Life by Eleanor Thom

After spending some time with Paul, our Sharing Shelf coordintator, and a few people who use the shelf, Eleanor wrote  a short story about it, weaving in the themes of recent elections and Christmas. Click on the link to read it: Shelf Life

Shoes - Sharing Shelf  Tins - Sharing Shelf

Diving gear - Sharing Shelf  Baby clothes - Sharing Shelf

If you would like to share your own stories or would like to know more about the project, please contact Eleanor by emailing

Look out for more  information about workshops, events, and a Citizen project box where writing ideas can be picked up and posted.

Image 1  Eleanor Thom ©Chris Dooks

Image 2 Knitwork courtesy of Eleanor Thom

Image 3, 4, 5, & 6 Items at the Sharing Shelf courtesy of Eleanor Thom