Life Through Laundry – Barrow-in-Furness

We commissioned Ruth Mary Johnson to work in her home town of Barrow-in-Furness as part of our Life Through Laundry project. Together we produced a poetry zine and audio piece with stories surrounding the local laundrettes shared by staff, customers and the local community highlighting the role of the laundrette and laundry in people's lives.

What we did

We connected Ruth with staff at three local laundrettes and Women’s Community Matters, a charity providing 1-2-1 and peer support, a clothes bank and more. We supported Ruth to open conversations around care, invisible labour and social roles in and outside the home. Ruth also left leaflets and post-boxes in laundrettes, libraries and the community centre for people to share their stories.


This zine brings together all the words shared by the amazing people of Barrow and crafted by Ruth into a collection of poems. You will see the zine also includes wonderful illustrations by Els Christensen.

Audio recording

Listen to Ruth's beautiful audio recording of the poems - it brings the poems to life.

Living Archive

Learn more about Life Through Laundry in Barrow-in Furness and look through all Ruth’s research.

The results

Over 50 stories shared

We gathered personal written and oral testimonies.

Created limited edition laundry badges

Celebrating laundry and community spirit

Distributed 300 zines

Including words and poetry gifted by local people.

How we engaged with people

It has been much more of a personal project than I ever thought it could be… I feel that I have also discovered a new voice.""

Ruth Mary Johnson

It’s kind of started something. We (the other laundrettes) talk to each other now. It was very unexpected and it’s quite a significant thing.""

John, Easy Clean Laundrette

Who was involved?

This project was commissioned by BarrowFull, as part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places National Portfolio in Barrow-in-Furness and was overseen by a Consortium of Barrow-based organisations led by Women’s Community Matters.


  • Esther Springett

  • Emily Atkinson

Image gallery

  • John and Ruth in Easy Clean laundrette