Volunteers Week 2022: Carolyn's story

June 2022

Carolyn runs a weekly pottery session for our service users as part of our social activities programme. She tells us why she volunteered with West Sussex Mind and what the mindful activity of creating a piece of pottery can offer those who get support with us

I’ve been a volunteer with West Sussex Mind for three months. I used to teach ceramics to adults and children. I’m retired now, but I had some time on my hands and it feels good to be able to contribute.

There are so many people with mental health issues, and there are a lot of people who need support. So I wanted to help in any way I could. As one lady who attend the pottery group said to me: “I’m done with talking about my mental health. I just want to do something.” So if that something is enjoyable to the person and involves a learning process, then it has to be worthwhile.

Pottery can give people a lot of satisfaction. For example, one of the men in the group suffers from anxiety. He hadn’t made anything before. He simply rolled out some clay and wrapped it carefully around a bowl and we fired it in the kiln. He was really amazed that he was able to make something on his first visit and it gave him a lot of satisfaction. My aim is to simplify ceramics to make it satisfying and accessible for people.

I volunteer for two hours once a week as part of West Sussex Mind’s social activities programme. It’s early days and we are still working out the most rewarding ways for people to get the best out of the sessions.

For me, being a volunteer keeps me involved with ceramics and keeps me working with clay, which has got harder as I now have arthritis in my hands. But it’s what I love doing and it always throws up new ideas.

I get a lot of pleasure from seeing other people enjoy the activity – from seeing how they can transform something base, like clay, into something beautiful and useful.