06 March 2024

Sculpting strength: Using art to enhance recovery

A woman with blonde hair, wearing a black blouse with red and white floral patterns, smiles gently. The background shows sunlit greenery.
I know that without Recast, I probably wouldn’t be here today.

Tracy, Stoke-on-Trent

Tracy's story

Where did it all start?

“I didn’t drink till later in life. When I was 28, I left the father of my oldest children. I made some new friends and started going out drinking. After another relationship broke down, and because I had no boundaries, I started having a drink every night. Then I started having a drink earlier and earlier on in the day, and before I knew it, I was alcohol-dependent.

“My youngest daughter was placed into care when she was 12 years old. I knew I had to get myself sorted – I wanted to go into a detox and stay sober so I could change everything about my life. But it wasn’t easy. I went through seven detoxes – even though I knew I needed and wanted to get sober for my daughter, I couldn’t get engaged with the service because it wasn’t the right one for me."

What support did you seek?

“After completing my eighth detox, I came to the Stoke Recovery Service. For the first time, I felt really engaged - I attended all the support groups, joined the Recast project, and made some lovely friends who I class as my second family now. 

“I found using the clay very therapeutic. When you’re in recovery, you try and distract yourself, especially if you’re having a bad day. Television or reading doesn’t work for me, but I found that being creative and using the clay took me to somewhere else – like the seaside."

“The seaside means a lot to me. It’s mine and my daughter’s favourite place, and I promised her that when she came home to me after being in care, I’d take her there on holiday. With the clay, I created a beach house to remind myself of what our life could be like together. Each time I saw her, I told her about the progress I was making – not just with my artwork, but with my recovery too. She was so excited, and each time we spoke she’d say ‘Mum, when are we going to go on holiday?’"

What is life like now?

“My daughter is now back home with me. We’ve been saving up, and we’re really looking forward to going on our holiday together - we’ll be visiting a real beach house!

“Stoke Recovery Service has given me so many opportunities. Everyone has been amazing and I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to take part. It’s made a huge difference to me and everyone else, and I know that without Recast, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”

About the Recast project

WithYou clients living in the Stoke-On-Trent area had the chance to take part in Recast, a collaborative project with British Ceramics Biennial that combines clay and creativity with drug and alcohol recovery.

Through the weekly clay workshops and four-day residency, the project aims to deliver several therapeutic benefits, including increasing confidence and self-worth, making social connections, and using hands-on creative activities to enhance wellbeing and recovery.

Tracy is one of the recovery artists who took part in the 2023 project and experienced first-hand how the clay transformed her recovery journey. 



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