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On Tuesday 20th November, Martin Whitfield MP hosted a drop-in event at the UK Parliament for Scottish charity Teapot Trust. Held at Portcullis House, the drop-in, Do Art Daily, gave MPs a chance to learn about the charity and produce their own artwork with Teapot Trust art therapist Flisan, who works at Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Dozens of MPs attended the drop-in and tweeted their support for Teapot Trust’s work using the hashtag #DoArtDaily. As daily life becomes increasingly fast paced and digital, Teapot Trust wants to encourage incorporating some form of creativity into your daily routine, whether that be painting, sewing, knitting, pottery or even a daily doodle! Teapot Trust believe that in addition to healthy habits such as eating well and getting enough sleep, art and creativity can have a positive affect on mental health and wellbeing and can be an integral part of the ‘5 Steps To Wellbeing’ recommended by the NHS.

A member of Parliament for East Lothian, Martin Whitfield MP was previously a primary school teacher. Martin has a special interest in the value of art in relation to health, which he spoke about, with mention of Teapot Trust, during the Westminster Hall Debate, ‘The Arts: Health Effects’ in October 2017.

Speaking about the parliamentary drop-in, Martin Whitfield MP said “I was delighted to host this drop-in event for Teapot Trust. It provided an opportunity for the charity to chat to MPs and Peers about its work and encourage them to show off their artistic skills by producing some art of their own in support of the Trust’s work.

Many of my colleagues talked about how impressed they were by the services offered by the Trust, and some said they had constituents who had benefited from them.

The event has undoubtedly helped raise awareness and understanding of the charity’s work and the huge difference it makes to the lives of the children with chronic illness who access its services.”

Dr Laura Young MBE, Founder and CEO of Teapot Trust, said “This drop-in event was a fantastic opportunity for us to tell Parliamentarians about our work and the difference art therapy can make to the lives of chronically ill children.

By having more decision-makers supporting and advocating for art therapy, we hope that its beneficial effect will be available to even more children in hospitals throughout the UK.

I want to thank Martin for hosting the event for us and all of the MPs who took time out to join us and help spread our positive ‘do art’ message.”

 

Mental health problems affect approximately one in four of us. World Mental Health Day provides a great opportunity to show support for improving mental health and wellbeing and ignite much needed conversation around this incredibly important topic. Set by the World Federation of Mental Health, the theme of World Mental Health Day this year is young people and mental health in a changing world.

Teapot Trust is a Scottish charity which provides a UK wide programme of art therapy and creative interventions in hospitals, to support the wellbeing of chronically ill children, young people and their families. One of the primary aims of the charity’s open group art therapy service is to promote positive mental health, and they have provided an art therapist every week at the National Child Psychiatric Inpatient Unit to offer one to one art therapy interventions in Glasgow since January 2016. Teapot Trust’s art therapy services work alongside children and young people to understand their lived experience and identify effective techniques to self-manage stress, anxiety and feelings of loss of control related to chronic illness. Art therapy also helps children and young people to explore how having a chronic illness impacts their lives and works towards goals that facilitate increased emotional wellbeing.

Dr Laura N Young MBE and Dr John Young set up the charity in 2010 after seeing the gaps in their daughter Verity’s care, when she suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE Lupus) and cancer before her tragic death at the age of eight in 2009. Verity spent much of her young life coping with her illnesses, daily medicine regime and the effects of her treatment. Art provided a way for Verity to express herself and served as a coping mechanism.

Art therapy can build resilience in children with chronic illness, providing an alternative way to express their emotions and a chance to engage in something different whilst waiting for blood tests, appointments and medication. Laura commented “Teapot Trust provides a friendly and supportive art therapy service to help both children and families cope with long term conditions that are often hidden. Children may be on quite strong daily drugs and have many visits to hospital, feeling life is unfair and ‘why me’?  Teapot Trust art therapists are able to help them with this.”

Today, Teapot Trust is Scotland’s largest employer of art therapists with 21 art therapists running 23 projects in 10 hospitals, from Inverness to London. It has also recently expanded, with art therapists supporting children at hospitals in Liverpool and Isle of Man. A further 7 services (including Newcastle, Cardiff and Cambridge) are in development to begin shortly, many of them involving research to help build evidence based on the impact of art therapy for children in hospitals.

Teapot Trust recently launched fundraising campaign, doART at Bonhams, London. The doART Fund allows the charity flexibility to assign funds where they are most needed at any given time and to move forward with research work. Supporters of the charity and the doART Fund include Teapot Trust Patron, artist and playwright John Byrne and Dr Saleyha Ahsan. Saleyha, from Bear Grylls Celebrity Island 2018 and The One Show commented “I have seen first-hand the anxiety children experience when waiting for tests. It’s fantastic that Teapot Trust are launching the doART Fund so that people can donate to keep these fantastic services running”.

Teapot Trust have also created journals named ‘Inking Out Loud’. The journals can encompass a range of uses, a great outlet for writing down thoughts and feelings and creative expression, as well as a method of tracking symptoms and developing organisational skills. The charity will be launching journaling workshops for children with chronic illness and their siblings throughout Scotland. These sessions are also available for adults, so get in touch with Teapot Trust today to book a journaling workshop for your workplace.