Pottery for social impact and mental health

Posted: 10 May 2021, in News

Leith Community Pottery, like so many other small businesses, has largely  been in “shut down” since December 2020. A major part of our mission is to offer tuition in the craft of working with clay, through workshops, 10 week courses, 1-2-1 teaching and taster sessions.

We’ve received funding from a variety of sources over the past 18 months, which, through the summer, allowed us to offer afternoon workshops to small groups of those who are living with poor mental health. These have been free to participants, who attended via self-referral. To date, we have engaged with 75 people.

During summer 2020, we were able to work with small, controlled group numbers, with appropriate hygiene and physical distancing in place, although operations were forced to cease towards the back end of the year.

Looking forward to the summer of 2021, we hope to get the wheels turning again in May. The first block of 10 week courses is booked up, with students patiently waiting since January to get a start date.

Come June, we hope to be able to advertise a further series of free afternoon workshops, open to self-referral for those with mental health conditions. We also hope to start marketing our reduction-fired stoneware once again.

The impact of lockdown and the pandemic itself on mental health cannot be underestimated. For those with pre-existing conditions, it has thrown up a range of challenges, including disconnection from face to face services and increased isolation.

For many others, it has created anxiety, sleep disturbance, depression and angst. Front line workers in a wide range of occupations have felt at risk whilst serving their communities and many business owners have simply had to fold.

The future potentially holds a mental (and physical) health backlash of worrying proportions and services will need to brace themselves to cope; it must be hoped that the government is prepared to meet the resourcing challenges that will surely come.

Leith Community Pottery has been awarded NHS funding through Thrive to run two free weekend workshops on 22 and 23 May 2021 as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. There will be a maximum of 8 people per workshop and you can get in touch to book a free place (Contact Andy at potterofleith@yahoo.com or on 07505 113 836).

While we will continue to seek funding to support our free workshops, the hope is that, as the Pottery’s income streams recover, we will be able to sustain at least part of the offer independently.

Later in 2021, Leith Community Pottery CIC will be seeking to recruit further Volunteer Directors with suitable skills and backgrounds to assist us in navigating what may be some challenging times ahead. Let’s hope for steady and sustained recovery and better times ahead!

Andy Lang, Founder, The Potter of Leith and Leith Community Pottery