Pilot Projects


Based on our success working with young people with hemiplegia on ‘The Breathe Magic Intensive Therapy Programme’, in 2013 Breathe collaborated with the Thackray Medical Museum and Stroke Association in Leeds to pilot a programme of magical therapy to help adults who have suffered a stroke. Building on the success of the programme a longer pilot was also delivered in London in 2015.

The pilot included delivering weekly clubs teaching therapeutic exercises – in the form of magic tricks – to develop hand and arm skills for adult stroke survivors. Improving the use of their affected hand allowed participants to become more independent and having a go at magic performance techniques helped with rebuilding confidence and self-esteem.

Watch the video to hear what some of the participants said about their experience.

Doing therapy was all about making cups of tea, making toast.... Whereas with magic you feel you’re developing yourself.

Donal, 43


In 2013, in partnership with GO Create! at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust (GOSH), we ran a pilot scheme offering young people at the Mildred Creak Unit (a specialist mental health unit) the chance to participate in a series of bespoke Breathe Magic workshops.

Following its success, we were invited to design and deliver a further bespoke 8-week programme. We did this in collaboration with Magic Circle magicians, clinical staff working within the inpatient mental health unit and young mental health service-users. The response from staff and patients was overwhelmingly positive.

Watch the video to find out more about the Breathe Magic for Mental Health programme.


The programme used specially selected magic tricks and performance skills as creative tools to enable the young people with mental health problems to engage with their health and wellbeing in a fun and playful way. At the same time, social and communication skills were developed by helping the young people understand the science of communication which is often a key problem for those struggling with mental health difficulties.

Magic requires an understanding of human behaviour and the ability to communicate effectively, verbally and non-verbally. When presented with the subject of communication from an unexpected angle, the young people were far more intrigued, engaged and willing to learn.


The programme helped participants to understand not just how they themselves communicate, but also how to better interpret other people’s communication styles. Achieving this understanding is very empowering and when paired with the exhilaration from learning a new skill the result for people with mental health problems was the most profound emotion of all: pride in oneself.

The young people loved the sessions. Seeing the excitement and level of participation was quite amazing.

Sharon Phillips, Ward Sister at Mildred Creak Unit, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Neither of these pilot projects are currently running but we are always happy to answer questions about any of our projects. To get in touch please email us at info@breatheahr.org or phone the office on 020 3290 2013.