After her daughter died of cancer, Laura Young set up the Teapot Trust, which provides art therapy for children with chronic illness.
She tells Scottish Field about the charity.
Why did you set up the Teapot Trust?
My daughter, Verity, was diagnosed with lupus, an auto-immune disease, when she was three. She was eight when she died of cancer and so we spent an awful lot of time in and out of hospitals. When a child has lupus, they’re put on drugs that suppress their immune system, so they have to have monthly or even weekly blood tests to make sure the medicine is doing its job. Verity hated needles, so that was our first question – how do we help children who need these tests because they have a chronic illness but can’t get their heads round them?
Why do you offer art therapy in hospital?
We looked for distractions for Verity and so we wrote a wee book called Sandy The Starfish Meets Dr Dolphin to help distract her. When she was in hospital more often, we had a lovely babysitter called Christina, who was studying art in Edinburgh. Verity would go and hide and would bite and kick and scream. She just didn’t want to go to hospital. So we tried to find another reason to visit hospital other than just having tests or meeting doctors and that’s when we hit on the idea of meeting Christina there to do art and be a friendly face at hospital.
What motivated you to set up the trust?
I was sitting in the WRVS cafe at Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow and saw another mother carrying her toddler, who was kicking and screaming and shouting ‘Hate you. No do this.’ I suddenly thought, I’m not alone. That’s when I realised that it wasn’t just me and that we had to do something about it.
How big is the charity now?
We only started in September 2011 and now we work in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen and we’re due to open in Inverness in September. It takes a team of ten people to run the charity. We’re helping about 3,000 children a year. We have great support from people holding tea parties to raise money for us, while others do sponsored cycles or runs. We’re also lucky to receive grants from a number of trusts.
Where did the name come from?
We used role play with Verity to get her to eat and drink. We always used granny’s tea service to make it fun for her. The tea set was a huge part of our daily lives. We came to realise that, when you share a cup of tea with someone, it’s a sign of friendship and respite and support. It all seemed so appropriate for what we were trying to achieve with the Teapot Trust.
How did you become involved in the Queen’s baton relay for the Commonwealth Games?
I have no idea – somebody nominated me. I got an email from the organisers and that was the first I knew about it. I carried it through Longniddy in East Lothian with ten other runners. It was so exciting. The police and the escorts really contributed to the atmosphere.
Find out more at www.teapot-trust.org
This feature was originally published in 2014.