Growing up with a chronic illness can be an isolating experience for many children and young people, and all too often friendships can be a source of stress and worry. In December 2023 we launched our Teapot Trust Friendship Quilt project to create community, provide a safe space to talk about friendships, and create our quilt. Now, in May 2024, we are excited to share that the quilt is complete!  

The quilt is made up of 70 patches made by children, young people, hospital staff, and art therapists. These patches were thoughtfully drawn in response to the prompts “What do you like to do with your friends?” and “What do you value in friendships?” as part of workshops in hospitals and online. Each patch tells a story about friendship – some happy, some sad, some funny, and some hopeful. Many more than 70 patches were created. Most children and young people involved created three patches – one for themselves, one for a friend, and one for the quilt. Others involved opted to share all their patches with friends and family. These patches are just as much a part of the quilt as the 70 that are sewn into it.  

The friendship quilt creates a physical connection between children and young people with experience of chronic illness, their patches joined side by side. It is a visual representation of the community that the children and young people we support are part of, and the comfort of sitting with this symbol of community and friendship over your lap or round your shoulders cannot be overstated.

The making and sewing of the quilt is finished, but this does not mean the project is finished. Over the next two months the friendship quilt will go back to the place's patches were made, including the paediatric oncology department in Ninewells Hospital, and the paediatric sickle cell, rheumatology, and cardiology clinics at Royal Hospital for Children Glasgow. Here, children and young people who made a patch will get to see it in the quilt. To help everyone explore the quilt in different ways there are questions sewn around the edge of the quilt. The questions tap into different themes of the quilt – animals, nature, and helping friends, to name a few.  

I will leave you with a photo of the quilt and a few of these questions. I would be interested to know your responses to these questions – please get in touch with me [email protected]  

  • Animals can often be good friends. What different kinds of animals can you see on the quilt? Do you have any friends that are animals?  

  • Looking after each other is important. How do you look after your friends? How do your friends look after you?  

  • It can be fun playing games with friends. What games can you spot on the quilt? What are your favourite games to play with friends? 

  • All the patches on this quilt are made by people with experience of chronic illness. How does that make you feel?