AT The Bus provides the space for art therapy

AT The Bus is a creative therapeutic intervention that supports the mental wellbeing of children and young people aged 5-16. The charity works with small groups once a week, in a calm safe space provided by the school. With support from facilitators, children learn through art, sharing stories, having conversations and food. Together and over time sessions help to develop self-esteem, self-confidence and independence. 

In addition to their five static studios in primary and secondary schools in Oxford and London, AT The Bus also works from its first studio –  a converted double-decker bus parked on school grounds, designed by artist Camille Walala. It also provides a mobile service, called AT The Bus in a BOX, which enables schools to experience ‘pop-up’ sessions onsite, in a temporary space.

The need

AT The Bus is well aware of the crisis in children’s wellbeing in the UK,  exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis. As a result, many students struggle to attend and engage with school. The services that might have helped them in the past are overwhelmed by the current volume of need. AT The Bus removes the need to travel to reach sessions and brings support directly to young people in school – the intervention becomes a part of the student’s weekly routine and part of the school community. 

Through The Beattie Method group intervention, children and young people with complex needs are supported using art as therapy to build self-esteem, confidence, resilience and independence. The Beattie method, developed over four decades by AT The Bus founder and therapeutic educator Dr Juli Beattie, OBE uses art, alongside instilling strong values and principles, to support children and young people with a range of complex needs. They do this by: 

SPACE: creating a welcoming, well-structured, safe environment

GROUPS: building an understanding of self and others, developing social skills

TRANSFORMATION: making everyday objects into individual works of art in order to grow through creativity and self-expression

LEARNING: inspiring students to engage with their education, be curious and ensure all children have the experience of success in school

PARTNERSHIP: working with schools and other professionals in the best interest of students

“AT The Bus goes to the heart of what is needed by schools, in providing a place where young people can take time out, explore issues that are important to them and be heard. ” Marion Stevenson, Deputy Lieutenant of Oxfordshire

Plans for the future

AT The Bus are currently (2022/23) working with 300 children per week in nine schools in West London and Oxford and have plans to scale up to support many more children in the future. They are pleased to be working with us to support children at Barlby Primary School in North Kensington and are looking forward to extending their partnership in the future.

together, every child and young person can flourish.