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 we launched our Teapot Trust Friendship Quilt project to create community, provide a safe space to talk about friendships, and create our quilt. 

Since December we have held several friendship patch workshops where, in small groups of peers, we have talked about friendships and chronic illness whilst decorating patches. Everyone has been welcomed to decorate their patch however they like – with ‘what do you like to do with your friends?’ and ‘what do you value in friends?’ as starting points. Now, nearing the end of February, we have finished with the patch decoration section of the project, with over 60 children and young people having made patches.  

Patches were made by children and young people aged 2 – 30, and the designs were brilliantly varied in content and style. Amongst this diversity there are several recurring images and patterns – including flowers, animals, and written messages and inspirational quotes. Similarly, in the conversations about friendships there were many shared experiences. The words ‘trustworthy’, ‘kind’, ‘patient’, and ‘fun’ came up frequently when talking about what we value in friendships. 

Worries around telling friends about your health condition and being treated differently, being left out and missing out because of flare ups, and friends not understanding your chronic illness were all common worries. If you worry about some of these things too, you are not alone.  

Looking forward, the next stage of the project is to sew all the patches together into a Teapot Trust Friendship Quilt. The quilt will hold all the conversations, thoughts, and feelings that were present when making them, as well as serving to start new conversations. It will symbolise the connection and community between children and young people living with chronic conditions, those we support and the wider community.  

What is friendship to you? What would you choose to put on your patch?