27 June 2024

Prototype pottery project to provide new support to people with cancer

People undergoing treatment for cancer in Eastbourne will soon be able to access a new form of support in a new and exciting collaboration between the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust’s cancer services, the cancer charity Macmillan, Eastbourne Pottery studio and East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) Public Health team.

Prototype Pottery Project to provide new support to people with cancer

The new “Prototype Pottery Project” uses creativity, peer support and the arts – specifically pottery and ceramics – to improve the lives people being treated for cancer.

The project is the idea of Issy O’Donnell, a Cancer Support Project Worker at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. Issy worked with the ESCC Public Health team who run the county’s East Sussex Creative Health Programme, to set up the project as part of the trust’s goal to provide new ways to support people with cancer, their families and their carers. ESCC Public Health have collaborated on the design of the Prototype Pottery Project and will be evaluating it to see how this “creative health” offer can support people with cancer.

In the project, people with cancer undertake a short, specialised course at the studio in crafting ceramics, with peer support in a relaxed and gently creative atmosphere alongside other people who are being treated for cancer. The Prototype Pottery Project will be an additional support offer alongside existing counselling and complimentary therapies available through the Trust and Macmillan.

Any patient with cancer who would like to take part in the project should speak to their team providing their cancer care, who can arrange for a referral.

Eastbourne Pottery Studio have a strong track record of supporting people with a range of health conditions and wellbeing challenges to explore through the medium of pottery their creative side and produce something beautiful and tangible from their experience.

The Prototype Pottery Project will run from June 2024 with ongoing evaluation to help develop a mainstream support offer.

Teresa Salami-Oru, Consultant in Public Health at ESCC Public Health said: “We are really delighted to be able to work with the trust’s oncology services and Macmillan to develop Issy’s idea into a prototype for a support offer as part of our work on Creative Health.

“Cancer patients often face long and difficult journeys from diagnosis to recovery or, in some cases, end of life care.  A creative health therapeutic support offer such as this project can help them work through this journey in a way that is enjoyable, and the provides support and measurable health improvement. It is wonderful to see collaboration between ourselves, the trust, Macmillan and Eastbourne Pottery Studio to see this project take shape”.

Issy O’Donnel said: “The Prototype Pottery Project offers us a promising avenue for supporting the mental and physical health of cancer patients. We hope to boost their emotional resilience and enhance their overall quality of life for all cancer patients, including those with terminal disease. Through participating in the pottery sessions, patients may experience not mental and emotional benefits bur also tangible physical benefits, including pain management and reduced fatigue levels which are common concerns for individuals undergoing treatment.”

Claire Shoosmith from Eastbourne Pottery Studio said: “We are a professional ceramics studio in the heart of Eastbourne with fantastic equipment and expert technical support and are dedicated to providing opportunities for all members of the community to explore their creativity, share our facilities and experiment with clay.

“We offer classes for all abilities and ages led by our team of dedicated artist-teachers plus a range of taster sessions and talks. We also design bespoke specialist workshops, including those to support well-being through the practice of craft and we are excited to be partnering with East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to offer this new series of workshops.”

Dr Joel Newman, Chief of Medicine at East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust said:

‘The Medical Division are really excited by this project, and know that it will be well received by our local population.  Patient health is so much more than just medicines and medical treatments, and this holistic approach to patient health will benefit many.’