Clay Workshops with Headway Surrey

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Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability (RHN) Clay Workshops Report

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Chloe Bunce, Services Coordinator

In May 2021 Headway Surrey joined forces with the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability (RHN), Art Therapy Department in Putney, which provided free materials to run online clay sessions with Headway Surrey clients. This was a part of their ‘Preserving and Sharing the Historic Archives of the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability’ funded by the National Lottery Heritage Project.

Their aim of the sessions was to “build connections with Headway charity, to provide a new exciting opportunity and art medium for the art members, to create a virtual class that will be a positive and memorable experience.” During the sessions, the RHN showcased to Headway Surrey their fascinating project by sharing the history of the hospital and recently restored archives. It was interesting to hear how the hospital had developed to become a neuro specialist hospital and how the services for neurological disorders have evolved. The RHN was also planning to showcase the pottery at an exhibition however this was not possible due to Covid restrictions.

The Art Therapy Department at the RHN delivered online sessions over 4 weeks to 8 Headway Surrey’s art group members. The RHN kindly supplied free pottery kits which were delivered to clients by the Guildford Lions. During the sessions, Headway Surrey clients were taught different techniques using clay, including coiling, making clips, and connecting clay and design. The clients then designed and created their vases.

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Outcomes and benefits from taking part in these sessions

The following responses were received from the clients’ final session questionnaires:

  • Attendees felt more relaxed
  • They enjoyed learning a new skill e.g., how to make a pinch pot using clay
  • The social element was important and clients enjoyed the peer support from taking part as a group as well as meeting new people (from RHN)
  • Did clients enjoy having an external organisation take the session?

    All clients responded with “yes”. Clients enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people from ‘outside’, especially as it was during Covid restrictions when there was greater isolation. They commented that the RHN artists were professional, they knew what they were doing and it added variety to the sessions on offer at Headway Surrey. The clients appreciated their time and effort and would like to see them again.

    Would clients like to take part in a similar project again?

    A unanimous “yes” and also they would be interested in using a different medium and possibly visiting the RHN art studio.

    What were the benefits for Headway Surrey?

    Working with another neurological organisation has been a beneficial connection for Headway Surrey to enable both organisations to improve relationships, share ideas and resources, and strengthen the services for those with acquired brain injury in the local area.


    The feedback from Headway Surrey’s clients suggested that it had a positive impact on their mental health as it allowed them to relax and gain peer support. This reduced isolation could have contributed to a low mood without meaningful activity to engage in.

    The clients enjoyed meeting external persons and they enjoyed learning new skills with a different medium.

    Headway Surrey’s future plans are to:

  • Organise future sessions with RHN using a different medium
  • Use external artists in our own art group to increase variety in sessions and skills learned
  • Headway Surrey would like to thank the Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability for their time and expertise in delivering the sessions and also in donating the materials. We would also like to thank the Guildford Lions for their efforts to safely deliver the materials to clients.

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