Website of the Deacon Centre, Caterham - a creative space for Service Users with Physical, Mental, Learning and Communicative Disabilities, inspired by the life and work of Joey Deacon.

What we do

We were set up to provide 'creative spaces' where Service Users with Physical, Learning and Communication Disabilities (and their carers/support workers!) can participate in creative activities including Creative Writing, Art, Music and Drama.

Art Class (thumbnail)

Some workshops may combine more than one activity, with users encouraged to explore the areas that interest them and bring along projects they have been working on.

There are also opportunities to try something completely new - e.g. to play a musical instrument for the first time, or learn new drawing techniques from an experienced art teacher.

Most importantly, it's about having fun and exploring your creative side.

Who are we for?

We cater to adult Service Users with a wide range of conditions, including, but not limited to:

We had fun learning about musical instruments from all over the world.

I got to play on a didgeridoo even though I'm not very good! We even did some wheelchair dancing.

N, Service User
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Learning Disability
  • Down Syndrome
  • Williams Syndrome
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • Brain Injury
  • Early-onset Alzheimer's/Dementia
  • PTSD
  • Para/Quadroplegia

We are also fully inclusive of all carers and support workers who attend our sessions - everyone is encouraged to participate and collaborate with one another.

We generally have Service Users attend in groups of 4-6 from different care facilities and residential homes in the local area, but individuals and their carers are very welcome to attend. We encourage mingling and collaboration between Service Users from different places - let's get creative together!

What makes the Deacon Centre unique?

Jamming! (thumbnail)
  • We meet a need - The Deacon Centre was set up as a result of lots of qualitative research and deep conversations with Service Users and Support Workers in the local area. We listened and learned, and that's why we're here.
  • A focus on experience, not 'education' - we know that a lot of our Service Users have struggled with some aspects of formalised education and have reservations about letting more teachers and teaching into their lives. We don't do 'courses' and it's not about 'studying' here!
  • Understanding of - and respect for - the individual requirements of our Service Users - many day centres and their associated activities run in the mornings. We know that this isn't usually a good thing. Many Service Users - whether because of medication or their underlying conditions - are not 'Morning people' and will not get the most out of a session they have to get to for a 9 AM start! Our activities will typically run during afternoons and early evening. We also make sure our premises are fully wheelchair-accessible and have a separate 'quiet room' where attendees can go at any time to have space away from the main group.
  • The Creativi-tree - our unique approach to individual expression. Start with a few thoughts, turn them into a few lines and then take whichever branches of the tree you choose: A poem, a song, a painting, a play...

Our activities

Just a tiny taster of some of the stuff we do...

Interactive Storytelling

We all contributed our own ideas to make the story.

'Colin the Banana' is such a fun character - I don't know how did we come up with him?!

L, Service User

One of our most popular regular workshops - each session begins with a simple theme, and participants are encouraged to chip in ideas, concepts and characters, in order to shape a story as we go along.

As everybody joins in, the storytelling takes a unique direction and provides a platform for building a Creativi-tree. Users might then choose to take characters or events from the story to write a new story, or produce artwork or even short-form drama.

For Service Users who have not attended before, we always recommend starting with interactive storytelling as it's a great way to get to know people and have a laugh as well as coming up with some creative ideas.

Prop Shop Improv

You get to be a shopkeeper, or a customer who went out to buy a trumpet and came back with a banana, or an angry regional manager who doesn't like the fact that the shop is full of penguins wearing woolly hats!

We play out wacky scenarios with different everyday items and see where it takes us - a really fun way to build confidence through spontaneous drama.

Friends Favourites

This is a fun memory game we sometimes play - it also helps build confidence and create social interaction - and you may find out something about your neighbour that you never knew!

Palette Pals

This is a really fun collaborative art game where you get to be really, really creative - but the twist is you can only use one colour!

Everyone in the group picks out their colour pen/pencil/crayon/paint or whatever we are using, and we all start making works of art - then we swap, and swap and swap over as many times as we like. But you can only use the colour you picked, so if you've drawn a blue sea and want a red fish to swim in it - ask the person in charge of red to give you the fish you need!

By the end of the session we've created several colourful pictures, all with input from everyone. It's an enjoyable workshop that promotes creativity, sharing and working together as a team!

Musical instruments from around the world

Ever wanted to play a didgeridoo? A chopo-choor? A stylophone, shamisen or saz? We'll show you lots of weird and wonderful instruments from all over the world - and, yes, you get to have a go on them yourself!

We do singing, dancing, portrait drawing, educational (but fun!) presentations on topics from wild animals to coin-collecting to the history of art. For more information, please download our 2022 prospectus.