Morningside Mirror Special Edition

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the morningside mirror

special edition

The Morningside Mirror was a magazine published by patients and staff at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital between 1845 and 1974 and was reintroduced by Artlink during the hospital wide bi-centenary commemoration in 2013 and 2014.

The Glasshouses The Gla

The Royal Edinburgh Hospital has one of the best-connected communities we know – a community knitted together by patients, NHS staff, volunteers, and a host of voluntary organisations who each weave their own thread to make a cohesive whole. This spirit of togetherness came to the fore when the Covid pandemic hit, as everyone pulled together and made sure that in lockdown no one would be left behind.

When we emerged from the pandemic and its restrictions in early 2022, we created the Spring Fling extravaganza to celebrate the collaborative spirit we gained over the past two years, encouraging this amazing community to develop events and projects that contributed to the wider programme. We chose spring as the overarching theme to celebrate the optimism and regeneration that this season brings, emerging from the grey colours of winter into the bright colours of the abundant nature found in the grounds of the REH.

This special edition celebrates what was achieved and gives you an insight into those who contributed to make it a success.

John from A Fine Pair performs in the Courtyard for Music in Hospitals
The Spring Fling Worm

The Worm Walk

If you came across a 20 metre long inflatable worm parading through the grounds of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, what would you do?

If you answered: feed it giant carrots and apples, offer it compost and flowers, and accompany it on its promenade with drumming, music, dancing and chanting, then perhaps you were one of the many people who enjoyed the Worm Walk at the beginning of June.

The festival atmosphere of the Worm Walk was the culmination of months of activity that took place during the Spring Fling at the Royal Edinburgh and was a chance for the hospital community to celebrate together.

During Spring Fling, organisations based at the hospital, collaborated to create a programme of events including lunchtime concerts, art workshops, bird identification sessions, and a reading from acclaimed local writer Alexander McCall Smith. The events took place over several weeks and celebrated the

optimism and regeneration of Spring, with many events themed around nature.

The worm itself was conceived by Artlink artists Nadia Rossi and Morven Mulgrew and constructed and decorated by patients and volunteers in workshops at the Creative Hub, Glasshouses as well as workshops on the wards.

Prepping the critters for screenprinting onto the Worm

The design of the pink and blue worm was based on a drawing by a workshop participant, and it was constructed from fabric which was printed in sections, with different groups taking responsibility for each section. Morven Mulgrew visited various wards and groups and led workshops where participants were invited to design any sort of ‘critter’ (bug, insect or minibeast) and make these out of clay. These were then laser cut into block prints, which were used to print the fabric in subsequent workshops. This meant when the worm took its walk, participants in the workshops could identify their own section of the worm.

Artlink Volunteers Joan, Maggie and Fiona were among those who helped craft the worm, as well as some of the ‘critters’ which accompanied it on its tour. Fiona explains, “There was a lot of craft and art went into the project before we actually had the spring fling on the day.”

Joan described the production line of a worm printing session: “We did it all together, we were like a team, so somebody did one row and then somebody else went onto the next row.” Joan also

repurposed some bee and ladybird costumes which had been made for a previous event into giant critters which accompanied the worm on its walk.

Maggie, meanwhile, made a giant apple using willow weaving skills which she had honed during previous Artlink workshops. A slit was cut in the netting so that during the Worm Walk participants could climb through the apple, just as if the worm was chomping its way through a juicy piece of fruit!

Artist Laura Lees led workshops where people were encouraged to design and make headdresses to wear on the day, ensuring that the Worm Walk was a real visual spectacle. Fiona wore her headdress as well as carrying a large lollipop stick saying ‘Stop! Worm Approaching’ at the front of the parade, alerting passers by. The Worm Walk was also accompanied by staff in hi vis vests, guiding the walk and ensuring that everyone stayed safe.

During the Worm Walk, the worm toured the outdoor areas of the hospital.

Kathryn Bailey from the Cyrenians, who manages the Royal Edinburgh Community Garden describes the impact of the visit from the worm: “It was just so energetic and joyful!  It was wonderful. I loved it. I lost one of our volunteers. He joined the worm walk and started carrying the worm, and I just thought that was great great fun. And he said he had a fabulous time”.

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The Community Garden had been invited to present the Worm with an ‘offering’, and because worms are so valuable to gardeners in the process of composting, Kathryn’s first thought was “Compost!”. The team made up a gift designed to make worms happy: “Anything they would like to eat and or just to bring them joy. So, there were flowers and calendulas, nasturtiums and I think lettuce leaves.”

Chloe Brain and Katie Smith from Volunteer Edinburgh were active participants on the Worm Walk. As well as helping to find volunteers to carry and accompany the worm on the day, they both took part in the parade. For Chloe, “It was the best day at work ever!”, while Katie describes it as “The weirdest thing that’s happened in my decade and a half at the Royal Ed but in a really good way. It was something for

everyone to talk about!”

Katie had a bee in a wheelbarrow and Chloe wore a flower headdress and joined in with the impromptu and unchoreographed flower dance which took place on one of the hospital lawns.

In another wheelbarrow was a giant carrot, which was made by one of the participants in a workshop run by Artlink’s Anne Elliot, who is based at the Glass Houses Creative Hub. Anne describes it as “A beautiful piece of artwork”, and is proud of its creator, who also chose to participate on the walk. The carrot was fed to the worm during one of its stops, with the crowd encouraged to chant, “Feed the worm! Feed the worm!”

Feeding the worm in the Glasshouses garden.

Maggie, who pushed the carrot in a wheelbarrow, says, “It was really great making all that noise going through Mackinnon House”, and other participants expressed their enjoyment of being encouraged to be ‘loud’ in this environment. Morven Mulgrew took on the role of conductor and led the crowd in chanting and encouraging the worm’s progress, as it circulated the grounds being fed offerings, leaving birds, bees, and flowers in its wake.

The party atmosphere of the walk was greatly helped by the many musicians who took part in the day. Omar and Mo led the Worm Walk procession, while Music in Hospitals provided musicians for the gatherings before and after the walk. Hospital chaplain Anthony Kramers

led a group of volunteers in singing Wild Mountainside by the Trashcan Sinatras as their offering to the worm. He explains, “To make it easier to include each person, the invite to sing the folk song was styled as ‘for everyone who’s a member of the Really Terrible Singing Group - and if you feel that doesn’t apply to you for any reason, then it’s fine to opt out...’”

There truly was a place, a task and a role for everyone during the Worm Walk!

Clockwise from top left: Morven Mulgrew directing the Worm Walkers; Chaplain Anthony Kramers; bees and worms on the walk.

Sam, the Activities Co-ordinator on Eden Ward, supported worm printing sessions run by Anne and Laura which took place on the ward, and she also supported patients to attend the Worm Walk festivities. She describes the impact of the event: “On the day they could find the little section that they contributed to. We were able to take a couple of our ladies up to the Glasshouses for the music before it started. And for those that wanted to be a part of the parade we were able to support that. One of our patients helped carry the worm, which was really nice. She had a fab time, and for those that wanted to just stay at the Glasshouses we had a member of staff stay with them and they were there for the return of the worm. And for the refreshments at the end of course! It was great to see the project come together and be able to identify the parts we had made.”

At the end of the Worm Walk, participants gathered at the Glasshouses for tea and cake, and more music in the sunshine. All in all, an ambitious event which was a great success due to everyone’s input, with even the weather co-operating.

Just a few of the things made to accompany the worm Outside The Hive with a carrot, later to be fed to the worm

The hospital community shared a joyfully surreal experience, with many established hierarchies being irrelevant in the face of a giant inflatable worm accompanied by a chanting crowd pushing enormous vegetables and insects in wheelbarrows. As Sam put it: “You’re the audience, together. And you’re going along, together, in this state of not really knowing what to expect. Maybe a little bit of apprehension, but those feelings are shared and you experience that, together, so it’s a mutual experience. It’s something that you do together.”

And the last word goes to Maggie:

“You weren’t only putting a smile on other people’s faces, you were putting a smile on yours.”

L-R: Laura Lees, Morven Mulgrew and Anne Elliot at the Worm Walk Maggie helping to hold the worm aloft

Focus on 3rd Sector Organisations

With lots of things opened up again and new activities on offer, we’re highlighting each of the organisations that took part in the Spring Fling and what they currently offer to the hospital community. Programmes of activity change so it’s best to contact each organisation if you are interested in any of the workshops and sessions.

The Volunteer Hub at the Royal Edinburgh

During the Spring Fling, Volunteer Edinburgh ran “Wild Birds, Free Minds”, a series of workshops offering participants the chance to learn to identify birds by sight and song. The workshops were run by Kat, an ornithologist who volunteered her time. Kat’s special skill is identifying birds by their song, and over the course of six sessions she shared her knowledge and skill with participants. The events were exceptionally popular. One enthusiastic participant said: “It was brilliant! I really enjoyed it. I especially liked looking through the binoculars at the birds.”

Volunteer Edinburgh has worked closely with hospital patients since the 1990s and were invited to join the hospital community on site in 2008. We recruit and support volunteers from both the patient community and the public, creating roles around individuals to be of greatest benefit to themselves and the hospital. We support people to build their skills and confidence and to move on in their recovery, volunteering, or career.

“Wild Birds, Free Minds” workshop

Volunteer Edinburgh Programme

Board Games Group in the library on a Thursday 11.00am – 12.00pm – come and play!

Library books, magazines, CDs and DVDs – drop in for a quiet browse Monday to Thursday

Library of Things – we have a wide array of useful and entertaining ‘things’ in our library (picnic set, foot spa, painting kit etc.) Get in touch to see if we have what you need.

You can reach us on 0131 537 6175 or Alternatively, we can be found in the Mackinnon House conservatory or library, Monday to Thursday.

VD Photography on Unsplash

The Volunteer Hub at the Royal Edinburgh

Mike Avern and Otto the therapet

How do you like to spend your time generally?

In retirement since 2019, lazy mornings! My time is taken up by renovating and working on my old house and I do a lot of dog walking, walking in the hills and so forth. One of my passions is the collecting of vinyl, of records. Also, I’m into photography, it’s kinda gone by the wayside, walking 3 dogs in the countryside with a bag full of lenses etc, difficult to concentrate on that. But it’s amazing what you can do with a good quality phone camera sometimes.

So have you got a broad taste in music?

It’s fairly broad. If I like it, I’ll listen to it, but my main interest is in the collecting of the folk revival, let’s say through the Greenwich Village folk revival in America up to the 70s and the same in the UK. As well as of course urban blues, electric blues, I’m very interested in blues music.

What kind of decks do you have?

Turntable? It’s a Linn Sondek, a good Glasgow make, a good Scottish make. I

Mike and Otto

used to have a Dunlop Systemdek, that was made in Ayrshire I believe, with a plate glass turntable. They are still in existence I believe, but they call themselves Systemdek now.

Are you a cat or a dog person?

Haha! (laughs) I’m a dog person now! I do have a cat; at one point we had 5 cats and 2 dogs, or was it 1 dog and 5 cats! Strays moved in, and the neighbour’s cat moved in! All my life I’ve been a cat person, I was brought up with cats. But yeah, we now have 3 dogs and 1 cat so erm I’m definitely a dog person now.

What did you do before you retired?

Well, I left school in 1971 and, eh, I bummed about a little bit, a couple of dead end jobs and I did a bit of travelling in America.

I worked here, in MacKinnon House, as a nursing assistant, so I could gain an insight as to what it would be like to work in a psychiatric hospital, and I did that for maybe a year. Then I spent 28 years with Northern Light, stage and theatre technology, rigging everything from Scottish Opera, Scottish Ballet, T in The Park, military Tattoo. After a lifetime of working with staging and heavy lighting and 3 spinal operations because of working with all that heavy stuff, I retrained within the company as a draftsman, using autoCAD and worked on theatre projects all over the world doing the technical drawings on projects.

Mike Otto
Otto has magic therapeutic qualities about him, those eyes and his gentle nature, his love for people.
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How did you get into volunteering and therapets?

Well, I think it was one day, Fiona my wife, she just mentioned that Otto would make a great therapy dog. I’d read about therapets, but I hadn’t thought about it much. We talked about what an amazing nature he’s got; he has magic therapeutic qualities about him, those eyes and his gentle nature, his love for people. Especially considering the background, the violent background he’s had as a street dog.

Tell us how Otto came into your life.

He came into our life because we have another dog, who’s an unwanted farm dog from down in Norfolk, and we thought she needs a companion. Our other old dog Tinker had died. And we didn’t want to get a pure-bred dog, we wanted to rescue a dog - there’s too many dogs needing rescued. We went to Paws2Rescue. They rescue dogs from Romania; you will find that a lot of rescue dogs in this country come from Romania! It has the world’s worst street dog problem. We saw Otto on their website. He had been hit by a truck and the driver

Otto at work!

was witnessed throwing him down a ravine into a river. Some children heard whining at some point. He had been lying half in and half out of the water for several days. Worms had attached themselves to him and so forth. The vets sorted him out and put him back together again but he has a paralysed, unfeeling, nerve-damaged rear leg and his left side is held together with metal plates and pins. Eventually he came over in one of the several happy vans that come over every month.

We’ve had him since 2019 and they reckon he is about 5 years old.

What do you do with Otto here at the hospital?

Personally, I don’t do much! I sit back and I chat with the patients and with the nurses, and there is no lack of that going on, because everyone is fascinated by Otto when they come across him. He will sit beside the patient, he will sit on their lap, lie on their lap, they stroke him, and he will not leave their side. They talk to him, and sometimes me! The OT will sit with us as well. Of course, there is no end of other patients coming and going along the corridor, past the seating area, and staff members, who all stop to say hello and stroke Otto as well.

When we come in, the patient could be a bit low, a bit down that day, not wanting to do much. But when they are encouraged to come out and meet Otto, you can see them glowing. That short period of time can really bring people out of their shell.

It’s about him looking up at you, allowing himself to be stroked, sitting next to you.

What do you get out of doing therapets?

As I said I’ve now turned into a dog freak. I love the way that Otto - who has been through a lot of trauma in his early life - can, in turn, bring comfort and a bit of peace of mind, even if it is for a short period of time, to someone else. I just love to see the effect that he has on a human being. I just love the way that an animal can help us humans with our mental health through just being there. To be talked to, to be stroked and just looking into each other’s eyes, it’s amazing how that works.

Alexander McCall Smith

Community Gardens, Cyrenians

Acclaimed local writer Alexander McCall Smith visited the Community Gardens as part of Spring Fling, entertaining staff, patients, volunteers, and members of the local Morningside Community with a reading from one of his books. He very generously gifted a copy of his book to everyone who attended, as well as writing a poem for the occasion. The poem ‘In A Garden’ is going to be turned into an artwork which be on show in sections around the garden, allowing visitors to follow the route of the words at their own pace.

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Alexander McCall Smith at the Cyrenians Community Gardens

Community Gardens, Cyrenians

The garden offers hospital patients, staff, and visitors, as well as people and groups from the local community, the chance to take part in a range of activities. These include gardening, landscaping, producing food to share, increasing the bio-diversity of the garden, therapeutic learning programmes and social events. We are a garden that grows food, builds a sense of community, and supports people to improve their health and wellbeing.

The gardens are open every day to members of the public with volunteer and groupwork activities taking place on weekdays.

We work in partnership with the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and accept referrals from agencies including local GPs & Occupational Therapists, ensuring that people suffering from poor mental health will benefit from the gardens. We also work with Volunteer Edinburgh and the local community to encourage volunteers to come and join us.

Community Gardens Programme

Volunteering sessions run on a Tuesday and Wednesday.

Patient Engagement sessions run on a Thursday and Friday.

Together Outdoors (green prescribing sessions) run on a Monday and Wednesday.

Get in touch

We welcome enquiries from anyone interested in using the Community Gardens.

Everyone is welcome so if you’d like to find out more, or get in touch with us about working together, you can contact us by emailing

Royal Edinburgh Community Hospital Garden

Pip Lyons

Community Gardens, Cyrenians

Pip started out by volunteering and is now the Cyrenians Green Activity Co-ordinator at the Community Gardens

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I do a lot of walking; I’m also studying for an MSc, so I feel that a lot of my free time is study time as well. I have a garden at home, which doesn’t get as much attention as I’d like to give it at the moment, plus yoga and reading.

Sometimes I sew, I quite enjoy that, and baking.

What activity energises you?

Yoga. There is something about slowing down, being in the present moment and stretching. I’d love to do yoga in the garden here one day.

Are you learning or have learnt anything new recently?

I feel that I learn something new every time I come to the gardens; it’s not just the gardening it’s also the participants that I work with on a daily basis, I feel like I learn infinitely from them.

If you are having a bad day, what would you do to try and turn things around?

If I’m having a hard day, if I’m stressed, if I just touch a pine tree

(laughs) just touch the bark, it really has such an instant effect of connecting you back to your body and the ground and the present moment. I learned that from the people I work with here.

I believe you started off here by volunteering..

When Covid happened, I ended up in Edinburgh. I felt I didn’t have any community here and with it being lockdown it was hard to meet people. Somebody who volunteered in the garden suggested to me to come along to the garden to see how it was, what happened here. So, I came along and yeah, I loved it instantly. It was funny ‘cos it wasn’t necessarily the gardening I was interested in, it was meeting people, and I definitely met people, but also, I loved working in the garden. Planting, touching, seeing things grow. I’d always had an interest but not a passion for it. So that was fantastic.

I’d been looking for jobs at that time as well, thinking about academia or policy, but after about a year of volunteering in the garden I just thought I don’t know if I want to go back to being in an office. I actually really enjoy working with people one to one, and I love the person-centred approach.

Working here ignited another passion?

I’d done a couple of degrees before in psychology, but I wanted to move into

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work which used a person-centred approach because it’s about the relationship between two people, because it’s what I’d found I had benefited from in volunteering at the garden. It wasn’t something that my previous career or experience had given me, it was never about one to one relationships. And I thought this is something that I really enjoy, something that I seem to be good at, and that I’m really interested in.

Is there a typical day?

There is a structure but within that structure what I do varies dramatically day to day, on the weather, on the people who come to the groups, on the activity we are doing in the group on that day. Yeah, it’s usually wonderful, what we actually do, and that’s one of the joys of the job that it varies so much day to day. On Monday I was picking apples from the Orchard to be identified by the RHS and that’s a job I’ve never done before, and never thought I’d be doing, and I thought how lovely to do that with lots of other lovely people.

What do you take away from the work?

I think, person centred means to benefit the person that you are working with. The more I work with different people the more I can see an adaptive, evolutionary approach is what is required, it’s got so many metaphorical

similarities with the garden and one thing I’d love to do is have a connection, for the long term, with therapy and horticulture. Though of course what we do in the community gardens is not therapy.

Some days I come here, and like everybody I have better or worse days. And what I found is that sometimes you think this is a bit hard, the weather is bad, or this is a challenging situation, but I keep coming back and it always somehow gets better. It’s almost like, as long as I keep coming and I’m present, things change and improve.

So sometimes when I come to the group session or working with somebody, and I’m maybe not feeling the best that day, I think to myself I have to be on good form because this is for the other person. I found that if I’m honest and say that I’m not having the best day, actually other people in the group can really surprise me with something they say, or something they have learnt or their attitude, or some characteristic they bring. Yeah, it does me a great deal of good. It’s like sometimes my job is to uplift other people but at other times they do that for me!

Pip convening with nature


The Spring Fling made the most of the REH greenspaces. In 2021 The Royal Edinburgh Hospital became the first NHS site in Scotland to be awarded the Green Flag Award. This award recognises the importance of parks and green spaces to the mental and physical health of communities. Outdoor spaces are used for valuable rest and respite for patients, staff, and visitors, as well as providing volunteering opportunities.

Becky Brazil is the Arts & Greenspace Manager at the REH. She works part time with the NHS Lothian Charity’s Tonic Arts team & the REH community - patients, staff, Third Sector, Arts Therapies & Project Teams - to input to the arts enhancement and green health programme on site. Projects include the renovating and opening up of courtyards on site, working to gain the Green Flag Award, the various REH map projects, Colour For the Corridor Project and the many hospital community art installations. All of the REH Arts & Green Health projects are run in collaboration with the hospital community and Third Sector partners.

To get in touch, email Becky on

The courtyard space at the REH Fairfield Real Estate helping to transform a courtyard space


Sue Hoole of Fairfield Real Estate volunteered at the REH through the Arts and Green Space programme.

How do you like to spend your time outside of work?

I’ve got three kids, so life is quite busy, family life. I do try and exercise when I can, I do a lot of swimming, I do Master swimming actually. So, I quite often go very early in the morning to the Commonwealth Pool for a swim, usually around 5am!

During lockdown I did some loch and sea swimming, it was nice to do it in the summer, but I prefer indoor swimming, I much prefer seeing the tiles at the bottom of the pool! (laughs)

What kind of things energise you?

Gosh, good question! I like sports, I like exercise, I like getting involved in the community. I help my local swimming club on that front and that fits in quite nicely with the kids as two of them swim. And also, the local rugby club, my husband is the coach at Boroughmuir Rugby Club. Yeah, sport does tend to dominate the weekends.

Oh yeah, I also run the recorder club at the school! (laughs)

Are you learning anything new at the moment?

Learning new things is really within my work and professional environment. We are a very small company; there are 11 of us and we started just over 6 years ago. We are growing and developing and adding more people to the team, so I’m building my experience as we go.

If you were having a bad day, what would you do to try and turn the day around?

Going for a walk is quite a nice way to turn the day around. Stand up from the

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Sue Hoole

desk, particularly in lockdown when you were in the house, was quite an important thing to do, go for a walk, change your environment, get some fresh air.

Tell me a bit about Fairfield.

We are a lender, and we lend money to companies to buy and develop different types of real estate, across all the different sectors. So that could be something like an existing office block in the centre of Edinburgh, a building with financial services tenants and a café at the bottom. Or it could be we might fund the development of, say, the building of a hotel in Dublin, or the building of lots of residential homes in Cornwall. Half of our business tends to be in Ireland, mainly Dublin but we have things in Cork and are looking at things in Galway.

Tell us a bit about the team at work.

Gradually the team grew from 2 people to 11 today. 10 out of the 11 of us live in or around Edinburgh, but we are originally from quite far afield. There are a couple of us from Yorkshire, 1 from Manchester, Chris is from Northern Ireland, our Office Manager is from France and our CEO is from Connecticut in America.  I think 3 or us are from the west. So yeah, it’s a good group.

Can you describe what you are doing here today?

The bigger picture I guess is that we are a small company, and we are really busy doing what we do, but we very much wanted to, at least once a year, help a local community. As most of us live in and around Edinburgh, and a couple of us live close by to the hospital, we put a few suggestions to the vote, and this particular option was really popular. We had a day to give our time and efforts and try and achieve something that was really worthwhile, and this seemed a great way to channel our energy.

We had a budget which bought some nice plants for the space, bark chippings for the ground, and weed-proof sheeting. The aim was just to try and turn a small area of the hospital - which is probably not used very much at the moment - into a nice little haven.

Becky has been able to get hold of a couple of benches so ultimately it will be a place where patients and staff can sit and have a moment, enjoying a different space and the fresh air during their busy and stressful day.

I think people underestimate the environment they are in, how that impacts on mood and mindset and sense of wellbeing.

What do you as a team get out of it and what impact do you think this will have?

I think the benefits go hand in hand.

Being here as a team, we all get on well, so having a day when you are doing something completely different where you can bond over what you are doing and just have a bit of fun with it is great.

The main benefits though are for people here at the REH - the patients, the people that work here, folk walking by - having an environment that is cared for, that feels looked after, is important. Hopefully it will feel calming, a nice place to be. I hope it makes a difference to people’s outlook.

Artlink Glasshouses Creative Hub


Glasshouses staff and volunteers at the Plant Sale

Artlink Glasshouses Creative Hub

In addition to the many creative workshops on the wards and at the glasshouses and the hours and hours of organising and coordinating, we also held our annual Plant Sale, raising an amazing £682 to contribute to the planting and ground maintenance fund! Janet, a Glasshouses gardening volunteer, and a plant sale rookie, describes the weeks and weeks of planting seeds and repotting plants that led up to the sale. “It’s very labourintensive but you have to do it for the plant sale because then you want everything to look really good.”

Artlink has supported creative and growing activity at the Royal Edinburgh hospital since 1986 and we have had a base at the hospital since 1995. In 2010 we were invited to base ourselves at the Glasshouses and over the years we have developed them and the surrounding areas as a Creative Hub with focus on visual art, woodworking, growing and outdoor activity.

The Artlink Glasshouses Creative Hub is a focus for experimentation, collaboration and relaxation, where patients, artists, volunteers and voluntary organisations come together to be imaginative and productive in a friendly atmosphere with often a cup of tea on the go. The Creative Hub is a base for all the creative work that Anne Elliot and artists do on the wards throughout the hospital and as a creative drop in for studio based arts making and experimentation. On a Thursday a group of volunteers help support and maintain the hub so that it is always a lovely welcoming space.

Artlink Glasshouses Creative Hub


Sewing with Laura Lees at the Glasshouses

Mixed media group at the Glasshouses with Laura and Anne*

Mixed media Art with Anne+

Art with Anne in the Andrew Duncan Clinic

Art room supported by the OT team=

Art group at The Glasshouses with Anne Elliot•

Explore ceramics with Nick Evans for Admissions Wards supported by the OT team. Takes place in the New Building at the REH.

Woodwork with Anne at The Glasshouses◊

Woodwork with Neil at The Glasshouses◊

Gardening volunteering with Vanessa and Anne at the Glasshouses

* Closed session for people on Craiglea Ward

+ Closed session for people on Merchiston Ward

= Closed session for people on Northwing Ward

• Open session

◊ Closed session

2.30pm – 4.00pm Morning Afternoon


Anne Elliot is the lead artist from Artlink who can be found at The Glasshouses on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. Drop her a line: or call 07395 352025.

Wednesday Thursday
Programme Tuesday
11.00am – 12.00pm 11.00am – 12.00pm 1.30pm – 2.30pm
– 3.00pm

Artlink Glasshouses Creative Hub

How do you like to spend your time outside of volunteering?

I’m a grandfather now. My granddaughter lives in Aberdeen unfortunately, she’s just 18 months, so we are spending quite a bit of time travelling.

I’m a golfer so I spend a fair bit of time at that and apart from that I’m retired. I also have my own garden to work on. Every day is different, I’m absolutely not bored! There is always plenty to do.

Have you got any other hobbies?

I’ve just built myself a little greenhouse this year. One thing I’m interested in is loofahs, which I’ve just realised you can grow in a greenhouse on a vine, and then you dry them out and you can give them as presents!

What kind of activities energise you?

Sharing my interests and working with patients or other volunteers.

Are you a dog or a cat person?

(laughs) Silly question! DOGS, definitely a big dog person. I’ve only had two dogs and I’ve had them both from pups. So a lot of things I learnt with Skye, in terms of training him, I’ve been able to continue with Selkie. Therapet training is not so much about training them to do certain things; it’s more about their temperament, their friendliness, and things that they don’t do, like jumping up on people, licking faces, barking etc, those kinds of things.

Some dogs are naturals, and I think Selkie is

one of them. (Callum’s previous dog Skye was a therapet, and he hopes Selkie will become one too). It’s also a good excuse to get out of the house to exercise and walk and all the rest of it. And meeting other people, other dog owners, they are a little community amongst themselves.

Have you recently learned any new skill or activity?

Willow weaving! That’s something new to me (laughs). There is loads of willow here. I’m very much at the bottom of that learning curve, but I’ve managed to build a few things that have stood the test of time.

If you are having a bad day, what might you do to turn things around?

Getting outdoors, fresh air, nature, bit of exercise, that usually does the trick for me.

Can you describe a typical day here at the Glasshouses?

Here on a Wednesday afternoon, myself and Allan report to Anne to see if she has anything specific that’s she’s noticed or something that she wants attended to.

I always bring along my strimmer. I have a very good, very powerful strimmer that can cut through most things. I did the paths through the Orchard at the side of the Greenhouses. So that’s a good example; the apples were starting to fall, and it was just a mass of nettles, so you couldn’t pick up the windfalls. I strimmed paths through that, so you could see where the apples had fallen and you could pick them up without getting stung!

A garden this size, it’s like the Forth Rail Bridge; once you’ve finished one patch it’s time to move onto another. It’s an endless cycle but it’s good. We always get a nice cup of tea or coffee made for us, sometimes

Calum Cowan - Gardening Volunteer

if we’re lucky we get a biscuit and a cake (laughs) and obviously get a chin wag with whoever is about, the patients or other volunteers as well. It’s a social occasion as well as an active project.

What attracts you to volunteering?

I was forced into early retirement because I had my own mental health issues with work, the constant targets and the pressure led to a lot of stress.

I guess I’ve some skills I can share with other people. I do like being productive, I like doing certain things that reward me and reward others. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of doing that.

Can you talk about what you did before you retired and what skills you transfer over from that?

I worked for two big American multinationals,

medical surgery companies, both in sales and in the marketing departments. I guess I had to be very organised, as well as create and deliver the plan for the marketing side. [Whilst] the corporate life was not for me, the soft skills I learnt stand me in good stead for working with patients.

What do you get out of volunteering?

I guess the reward of giving something back, I’d like to think it’s helpful. During lockdown as well, when there wasn’t much happening, the Volunteer Hub was a godsend to me. Patients were stuck on wards and couldn’t get their usual things from the shops, so we did that for them; I guess in a way that was also a godsend for them as well. With gardening you are learning all the time and there are some very knowledgeable people working here at the Glasshouses and at the Community Gardens, so it takes you into different sides of things.

Calum and Selkie

The Hive

The Hive was an important staging post for the Spring Fling Worm Walk, providing an opportunity to rest and be entertained. The Hive provides activities for in-patients of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The service is open Tuesday to Saturday with a social event every Tuesday evening. Activities include art, jewellery making, outings, computer tutoring, DJ workshops and music groups.

The Hive is an activity centre for in-patients situated within the grounds of Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The Hive has a relaxed atmosphere with a coffee bar, pool tables, music playing and our team of friendly staff who are always available for a chat or a game of pool. The coffee bar has a wide range of snacks and drinks to select from, and they have recently reintroduced toasties that have so far been a huge hit!

No booking is required for most activities so just show up and join in! We also have computers with internet access; just ask and we’ll be happy to accommodate you.


Walking group: 11.00am – 12.00pm



Thursday Friday Saturday

Creative writing: 1:30pm – 2:30pm

Social evening: 6.30pm – 8.00pm - includes activities such as karaoke, bingo and discos

Pilates: 11.00am – 12.00pm

Christmas decorations craft group: 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Juggling group: 11.00am – 12.00pm

Clay modelling: 2.00pm – 4.00pm

Music jam: 2.00pm – 3.00pm

Jewellery making: 3.30pm – 5.00pm

Pool competition: 2.00pm

The Worm Walk stops outside The Hive

The Hive Interview

Interviewed together as there are three new members of the team.

Are you dog or cat people?


Neither! I am mostly allergic to things that have fur so there’s no point.


I’m a dog person; I adopted a dog and brought it back from Greece. I stayed in Greece for a little while; I used to go in and help out at the weekends at a dog centre.


I’m a very, very big dog person. My parents have 2 whippets. When I was staying back home I helped look after them when they were puppies. I was sitting in Starbucks yesterday and there was a dog sitting on the chair beside me and it was super fluffy, aww.


I don’t have any pets at the moment. My grandparents on our farm in Ireland used to have a pet dog. [So my] preference is

Nicola Cole, Julie McPherson, Rachael Bias, Martainn Ramsay, Gary McGirr The Hive team. L-R: Julie, Rachael, Martainn, Nicky and Gary

probably towards dogs.


Both actually. I’ve had lots of cats ‘cos that’s just easier in flats. I’ve only had a couple of dogs in my life, but I’d really really like a dog now.

Rachael (when prompted by the others)

I’ve got a fish who is very very grumpy and about 100 stick insects (everyone laughs). That’s a long story. I started with 4 stick insects, then 3 of them died. Then the surviving one had a lot of eggs. There are now a good 100 or so. The grumpy gold fish is watching them from his tank on the other side of the room (laughs).

So who is new on the team?


I started just a bit before Rachael, around the end of August - about 3 months - so I’m now service manager here at the Hive and Redhall walled garden.


I started in December 2017 but then I went down to England around summer 2019 and was there for two years. Then I came back up to Edinburgh and I came back to the Hive in December 2021. My job is café assistant and activities worker.


I’ve been here 2 months. Same as Martainn, it’s activity and café worker. I’m usually

Continues over
The Hive

in when its quite busy, so a lot of time it is setting up activities, playing pool with people, that sort of thing.


I think officially I’ve been here 16½ years! I’ve been an activities worker since then. Every day is different in here. It’s usually a mix of jumping on the coffee bar, delivering activities from clay modelling, to music jam.


I’ve been here 6 weeks as an activity worker. I just love the fact that every day when you come in it’s something different. No two days are the same.

What attracted you to working in this kind of work?


I started as a self-employed gardener, and I started doing sessional work and absolutely loved it. I’d spent so much time on my own as a gardener that working with other people

Julie in 2022, and on her first day at The Hive!

was just lovely. I never thought I would end up working in mental health, it just wasn’t on my radar, but I just loved it and still do.


I’d done a lot of voluntary work, and I’ve worked in Saughton Prison, I’ve also worked for a charity working with people with Autism. I’ve worked for my churches foodbank.


I’d previously worked in support work for mental health, and I’ve worked on a dementia ward of a care home. It’s always been something I’ve been interested in. Because of the different environments I’ve worked in before, I think I’m good at speaking with people.


A long time ago I used to work in IT but it bored me to tears. I moved back to Edinburgh, spotted this job, and I came here to do computer lessons with people, and I’ve ended up spending my time in the art room, organising events, all the kinds of things I thought I’d never be able to do.


I’d been a chef for over 30 years but during lockdown I did a lot of mental health stuff, advocacy, did stuff at the foodbank and I found I got a lot more enjoyment out of that so decided to take that a wee bit further. I also love the fact that each day is different as well.


It really surprised me how many other 3rd sector organisations are here; I just think it’s a really nice supportive community. It’s about creating a really relaxed place away from the wards where they can be themselves, they can do what they want. A bit of abnormal normality!


Music in Hospitals and Care supported the Spring Fling through a lovely programme of live outdoor music. Look forward to their programme of live music coming soon to a ward near you!

Wendy from A Fine Pair Banners sewn in workshops at the Glasshouses Creative Hub People enjoying an al fresco lunch with music
“I think we can underestimate those moments of calm and respite. We all just need breaks and different experiences and opportunities to express something.”
Glasshouses Creative Hub regular Maggie Keppie after the Worm Walk

More information about Artlink Creative Hub at the Glasshouses projects

Anne Elliot: 07395 352025

@ArtlinkEdin ArtlinkEdinburgh artlinkedin
Worm Walk participants in the Glasshouses garden

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