Hi, I’m Megan. I am an art therapist working for the Teapot Trust at Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle. I started my post in February of this year, and was able to provide one-to-one sessions for the Rheumatology department and for the Bridges school, which is located within the hospital. I also ran an open group in a waiting room for Rheumatology.

Unfortunately the service had to be suspended in March due to COVID-19. During my time away from the hospital I was able to help the brilliant team at Teapot Trust to create some online resources that children could access from home. I also spent some time fundraising by doing a virtual sponsored walk of Hadrian's Wall, so that more children can have access to art therapy.

Today was my first day back at Great North Children’s Hospital. I was able to start working with Bridges School to provide one-to-one ward based art therapy sessions. We are using art packs provided by Teapot Trust, which arrive sealed and are left with the child once they have been used. I was trained by my colleagues at the school in how to properly use the PPE provided. This does makes the process of conducting a session with a child feel rather different from when I was here in March! However, it is probably more strange for me than for the children, who seem to be used to staff wearing PPE. Before each session I disinfect the outside of the art pack, put on gloves and an apron, and we also wear visors over our masks in between seeing children.

Most things feel very much the same and the sessions flow in the same way as they did before. Today I worked with three children, all of whom were keen to engage with art making. They told stories using pictures, shared some of their experiences and used art as a way to express their thoughts and feelings.

I am happy to be back in the hospital. Art therapy, both in person and online, helps children and families to explore their thoughts and feelings, which may otherwise be hard to put into words. It encourages greater motivation, self-esteem and confidence and provides a safe place for exploration and self-expression - something which is increasingly important in these difficult times. I am looking forward to continuing my work with Teapot Trust as we all adapt to new ways of supporting children and families.