Spiritual England

Mental Health & Well-being

Breakthrough Art


Art in mental health - showcasing people's creative talents.Breakthrough Art is a user led organisation  that promotes positive mental health through the creative arts. The pictures on their website and the accompanying Reflections Magazine showcase the creative talents and art of people who have suffered mental distress. http://breakthroughmhart.com 


Quiet Room Provides Solace for Infirm

 Marie Curie Hospice 17E6AA 2.jpg

Ailing patients and their families treasure the time they have together - but there is often not a supportive space for those who are ill to sit in peace, to reflect on their lives or to grieve with their relatives. Whatever facility exists usually fails to meet the needs of diverse faith groups or those who have no religion.   Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle wanted, instead, to provide a sanctuary for people faced with the stress of family illness, recognising the needs of spiritual care are as great as those for physical nursing. So they turned to Quiet Room Designs to help create a place of tranquillity for people faced with the stress of family illness, somewhere that respects all faiths and none.   "As Newcastle has a diverse community, the existing provision was not meeting the needs of all minority groups," explains Helen Sanderson, founder of Quiet Room Designs. "Marie Curie asked me to create a room with the wow factor - a room that could offer a calm, soothing and uplifting atmosphere for people to pray or to just sit and reflect in peace."  


After consultation with users, Marie Curie came up with a list of features it thought would make its Reflection Room a special place to help patients and their families, cope with a difficult time in their lives.  When it realised available funds were not sufficient to provide the kind of space they wanted, Marie Curie Hospice applied to the government for funding and was rewarded with a grant from the Department of Health's Capital Grants Scheme.

The room design is based on a 'water' theme, carried through by all of the elements in the room, including a central water feature, specially commissioned wall sculpture and stained glass window and discreet design of the glass door panels, which creates privacy for those inside. The stained glass window continues the theme by using coloured bubbles within a wave, while the wall piece features a number of glass discs that take on the appearance of jewels in different colours, each of which reflects the light streaming through.

Two high-backed chairs curve around sitters, creating a cocoon that provides privacy and support, while a two-seater sofa allows couples and families to sit together.  Natural materials were used wherever possible, to add to the reflective nature of the room.  White tinted with green covers the walls, white ceilings and natural wood floors help to create a calming but uplifting atmosphere, while Holy Scriptures of the main faiths are available for reading and prayer. Visitors to the room may listen to relaxing music if they wish.

"The whole point of the Reflection Room is to give relatives a space to grieve or to reflect on life," Sanderson emphasises. "Whole families can make use of the room, if they wish."   "We are very pleased with the changes to the room.  The combination of water, light and glass is very effective and contributes to a very peaceful and contemplative space," says Gill White, Acting Facilities Manager at the Hospice.

"Most prayer or quiet rooms are cold, uninviting and austere, like hospital waiting rooms," Sanderson points out. "These do not really foster a feeling of inspiration or reverence. If you look at churches, mosques or synagogues, they are often architecturally innovative and impressive buildings, designed with that explicit purpose in mind.   "I bring a knowledge, understanding and appreciation of each faith and its traditions, gained through my study at The Interfaith Foundation, as well as a natural empathy with people.  When combined with my artistic ability, this creates an oasis of calm and inspiration, somewhere peaceful for them to pray, to reflect, to contemplate and to grieve."

Quiet Room Designs was founded in 2005 by Helen Sanderson and is believed to be the only company dedicated to designing bespoke quiet and faith rooms. It also offers a consultancy and trouble-shooting service for companies of all sizes. All quiet rooms are sensitively designed with the needs of each company and its staff in mind.  In addition to Marie Curie Cancer Care, Quiet Room Designs has worked as a consultant on quiet room projects for The Guardian News and Media, the NHS, the Ministry of Justice, South Tyneside College and the Employers Forum on Belief.

Sanderson also collaborated with St. Ethelburga's, the Employers Forum for Belief and other organisations to produce Recovering the Calm: a Best Practice Guide to Prayer Space at Work.For high-resolution photographs or further information, please contact Helen Sanderson, 07989 230244, or email helensanderson@quietrooms.co.uk.