Edinburgh Local

Collaboration in action: Tollcross residents and Edinburgh Book Festival

An exciting new project has emerged from the Tollcross Community Action Network.


Funded by The University of Edinburgh's Community Grant Scheme, this summer, the Tollcross Community Action Network will work with the Edinburgh International Book Festival and a writer-in-residence on project ‘Citizen’.

The creative work that emerges will underpin events at the Book Festival (August 2021) and help community members – from pupils to pensioners – grow in confidence, feel less isolated and engage in our neighbourhood.

The people TCAN supports will be invited to take part in the Book Festival’s ‘Citizen’ project. They will be encouraged to share their stories of the local area, working with the Book Festival’s Communities Writer-in-Residence.

The project aims to increase the number of people from Edinburgh’s most deprived households in the Book Festival’s overall audience.

The expectation is that people who attend some of the Book Festival will experience an improvement in their wellbeing, based on the fact that University College London’s Covid-19 social study found that:

People who have spent 30 minutes or more each day during the pandemic on arts activities like reading for pleasure, listening to music, or engaging in a creative hobby have lower reported rates of depression and anxiety and greater life satisfaction.


Established in late 2016, TCAN addresses local needs, with support for homeless people, queer people, and access to affordable housing among some of the key issues identified in an investigation they conducted when they started. Their investigation ultimately led to the creation of the Community Hub, which has been in operation since Spring 2017 offering tea, coffee, social support, signposting, and guidance to those who generally first become aware of the Hub when accessing support around food poverty.

TCAN is based out of Central Hall in Tollcross and, this year, the Book Festival is taking place just up the road at the College of Art. So this is about building relationships between neighbours.

A series of walking trails of the Tollcross area will also be created, allowing TCAN and the Book Festival to showcase the neighbourhood through the eyes of those sharing their stories.