Volunteering as an Art Therapist for Shaw Trust Scotland

3 July 2017

At the beginning of this year, Edinburgh based artist and Shaw Trust volunteer Carol Le Lievre ran an eight week art workshop for Shaw Trust customers in Edinburgh.

Vol CarolCarol, a practicing artist specialising in painting, drawing and photography wanted to volunteer for Shaw Trust to both help build and improve her teaching skills and give something back to her community by helping their clients to understand how to use art as a form of self-expression.

Carol’s weekly workshops were a place where our clients could try new things in a non-judgmental setting. Initially clients found it difficult to adjust to the idea of spending time doing something just for them, without a definite outcome, but soon they were learning to trust the creative process and simply enjoy it.

Carol explained that "By learning to play with materials, and just enjoy the freedom of creating art, we are able to truly touch a part of ourselves that is longing to come out. With every little bit of art we create we take a step somewhere much bigger, but it takes time and patience to get the results we want.”

Carol also commented that as the weeks progressed she saw everyone’s confidence grow as they became more open to experimentation. They started to recognise their own talent. She noted that the secondary benefit of doing something creative was that the clients, as they started to relax, would feel more comfortable about opening up and talking about their lives and experiences.

She said, “Seeing how the participants of the class were able to move outside of their comfort zone made the whole experience extremely rewarding for me and I loved every minute of it”

On volunteering with Shaw Trust, Carol said,

“Helping clients to nurture their own unique abilities gave me a lot of confidence in my own teaching abilities and most importantly I hope I gave them an opportunity to enjoy their lives a little more. I found it easy to fit my volunteering around my other work commitments as Shaw Trust was very accommodating. For those thinking of volunteering with Shaw Trust, I would fully recommend it.”

Her advice to other volunteers who were thinking of running art classes was to, “Listen, encourage and don’t make a big deal out of any work produced. The important thing is to enable clients to play with the materials and push to one side any form of self-criticism as this will prevent them from truly engaging with their creativity and will hinder feelings of simple happiness!”

For more information about volunteering with Shaw Trust and to complete an online application form, please visit our website here