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Year Ahead Crucial to Teapot Trust’s Success, Says Founder

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After a busy and productive year for the Teapot Trust, the charity’s founder Laura Young MBE considers what can be done to improve the charity’s offering in 2017 

After a busy and productive year for the Teapot Trust, the charity’s founder Laura Young MBE considers what can be done to improve the charity’s offering in 2017 and ensure that it reaches and helps more chronically ill children than ever before.

The Teapot Trust, based in East Lothian, Scotland, provides art therapists for chronically ill children in hospital, with a particular focus on children suffering from rheumatological conditions. Art therapy can give children an alternative way to communicate their emotions, a distraction from their conditions, or even just a chance to have fun while waiting for appointments and medication.

The charity was founded by Laura and Dr John Young in 2010 after seeing the gaps in the care of their daughter Verity, who suffered from Lupus (Systemic Lupus Erythematosus) and also cancer before her tragic death at the age of eight, in 2009.

The Teapot Trust is Scotland’s largest employer of art therapists with 17 art therapists, running 22 projects in 11 towns and cities, from Inverness to the Borders. It has also expanded into England, with two projects running for children at hospitals in London.

Laura Young MBE said, “The Teapot Trust is dedicated to providing art therapy to children with long-term medical conditions.

“One of the most difficult things for many children is expressing themselves verbally. The great thing about art therapy is that it provides an alternative, yet profound, medium of communication.

“This builds confidence, which helps children cope with their conditions. If children are worried about being in hospital, art therapy is used to help them to relax.

“I am so pleased that, even in uncertain economic times, the Teapot Trust is continuing to grow to provide more one-to-one art therapy, and that we are able to help more children each year.

“We’re looking forward to 2017 and trying to find ways to expand our services and help more chronically ill children. We’ve started a pilot scheme at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals in London and hope to make that permanent – funding dependant, next year.

“For the Teapot Trust, 2016 was a successful year. Most importantly, we provided 5885 art therapy interactions (i.e. number of children attending an art therapy session either individually or in a group) across Scotland and in London. However, we also welcomed Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer (CMO), to our Open Group project in Edinburgh in November, and she was extremely impressed. 

“We then had the pleasure of co-hosting an awareness-raising event at the Scottish Parliament with Iain Gray MSP, spreading the word that art therapy is worth every penny to sick kids and we need all the funding we can get.

“For just the cost of a cup of tea, you can contribute to the support that we give to children suffering with chronic illnesses and their families across the UK.”

When Scotland’s CMO Dr Catherine Calderwood visited Teapot Trust projects in Edinburgh, she said, “Art therapy has been shown to make a real difference for children and their families. It allows a young person to be in charge of what they are doing at a time when they might feel – as someone with a long-term medical condition – that they have very little say, or control, over what is going on. The Teapot Trust art therapists always give a warm welcome to children, parents and carers.”

Support from the children’s parents

Hannah, the mother of Annabelle, said, “It makes a huge difference to my children’s visits. There’s a wide variety of art materials suitable for all ages and it’s a very welcome distraction for the children here. It takes the children’s minds of things that are going to happen and calms them when our heads are full of worries. The children really enjoy it. I think it’s a wonderful service and it’s well-used at the hospital. It’s a simple charity that can make a huge difference.”

Another mother of a child helped by the Teapot Trust said, “It was amazing. Matthew’s self-esteem was really low and he was really struggling, and the rheumatology team suggested that he might benefit from a weekly therapy session with the Teapot Trust.

“Thank you to the Teapot Trust – they make a huge difference to these children’s lives.”

The Teapot Trust receives no funding from the NHS but offers its services to 12 different NHS Trusts. Jim Crombie, Acting Chair of NHS Lothian, commented that NHS Lothian was very lucky to have the Teapot Trust’s flagship projects running within the CAMHS unit at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, augmenting the psychological services on offer. 

The Teapot Trust is expanding its services in the forthcoming year and as a result of this increase it has moved to a new, larger capacity, office in Eskmills Park, Musselburgh. 

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