Husband and wife potters, Martin and Siobhan Miles-Moore, are supporting our work with young people.

Siobhan explains how using clay helps to build resilience and the inspiration behind their work with Brathay.

Siobhan with some of the raw materials used to make their pots. Credit Phil Rigby

"Earlier this year my sister died in her sleep, of pneumonia. Her eating disorder was too deeply established for her mind or body to fight any longer. We had also lost Matt Campbell, a brilliant young chef whom we were just getting to know through our core business, making great plates for great chefs. And we were becoming more aware of the work Brathay does with young people.

After an initial meeting, we could see that the physical and mental benefits of working with clay could be a useful tool for Brathay. We then learned about the 3.7 Resilience Programme, funded by Matt’s amazing financial legacy, and it became apparent that we could help deliver a key part of this.

The programme, for secondary school aged pupils, has a focus on creativity, conservation and the natural environment as a way to build resilience. Which is where our expertise comes in. 

Clay tile inspired by the river in spate at Brathay

Clay is a pliable, beautiful material, which responds instantly to pressure. Focussing on this can take you away from everyday stresses.

Experimentation and playfulness pay huge dividends when working with clay, you learn about its limits and sometimes these are only in the mind of the maker. The very act of creating a three dimensional object is affirming. You can see and feel the impact of your own activity on something outside of yourself.

We have now run two 3.7 Resilience Programme pilot sessions with 25 young people and we’ve been completely overwhelmed by their response. They have shown incredible imagination and creativity.

We have:

  • Watched those struggling to engage with mainstream education create something amazing, from jewellery and dioramas to coasters, paint pots, candle holders and much more.
  • Chatted about the texture of ferns on clay with someone who struggles to speak or engage with others.
  • Observed a young man who cannot sit still for 10 minutes spend two hours riveted by clay.
  • Heard a girl crippled by anxiety talk about how liberating clay has felt.
  • Seen boys who fight in class create detailed, clever, painstaking work, inspired by the texture of stones and water.

Our job often engages us with acts of mindfulness, celebration and joy, but rarely as powerfully or directly as through this work with Brathay. We look forward to building on these pilot sessions and rolling the programme out more widely. We are also very grateful to the Stoke-based, Potclays Ltd who have given us 250kg of clay for the sessions."