Step by Step

Our creative arts and crafts studio supports members to rebuild trust and regain their ability to learn, while designing and making beautiful items. With the emphasis on purposeful activity, we promote a positive attitude to mental health and well-being, a ‘can-do’ culture, refocusing minds and hands.

A typical member will join ‘new referrals’ where a structured 6 month programme, led by the studio manager, introduces a range of skills and techniques, to equip individuals with the confidence to use the studio equipment, make artistic decisions, complete tasks to a high standard. Skills learnt and practised include: wet and dry felting; ceramics; string work; embroidery and applique; mosaic; fused glass; wood carving; screen printing. For most new referrals these skills will be completely new.

Alongside these activities, members become motivated to work in the group, and with staff and peer-support, build confidence and self-esteem, make friends and form a social network. People who come into the group highly anxious and socially phobic can, through concentrating on a creative task, slowly open up and become part of a community.

After the initial 6 months the studio manager and member discuss options. Usually, members move on to a Tuesday or Thursday, gradually building up to stay all day, some coming both days. A few opt to repeat the programme or a part of it, if they are not ready. Occasionally a member may leave from this group having regained enough confidence to pick up on their life before this episode of mental illness.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays members work individually and together, cooperatively and collaboratively, on projects. Each commissioned project involves: interpreting the brief; planning the process; designing the content; experimenting with different materials; developing skills; learning new techniques; liaising with the client; working to a budget; following a timetable; working to agreed designs; making the product; assembling and installing the piece; celebrating the finished work. In addition, retail work involves: pricing; packaging; display; advertising; selling to the public; recording sales.

Individual development happens at very different rates. The sense of achievement and of self-worth (essential for recovery) is demonstrated daily. When a level of confidence has been achieved, typically within 2 to 4 years, a member can consider moving to volunteer status with us, and/or re-engaging with wider society. For members of working age, this can mean a move on to further education, employment or other opportunities. Those who cannot sustain paid work, and those beyond working age, are encouraged to take a fuller, more active part in society, meeting with friends, joining community groups, leading happy and fulfilled lives.