Edinburgh charity sparks Kate Middleton visit hope

Princess Kate is royal patron of charity The Art Room. Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
Princess Kate is royal patron of charity The Art Room. Picture: Reuters/Suzanne Plunkett
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AN art charity supported by the Duchess of Cambridge is opening a centre in the Capital – sparking hopes of a Royal visit.

Scotland’s first branch of The Art Room, of which Princess Kate is royal patron, will be based at the Wester Hailes Education Centre.

The charity, which helps schoolchildren aged five to 16 boost their self-esteem through art, is expected to open in January.

An on-going fundraising campaign is under way to raise the £135,000 needed to set up and run the facility.

Principal Sheila Paton said she was thrilled to be fronting the national charity, which supported the school’s ethos.

“Our School motto is ‘Together we will succeed’ and working with The Art Room encapsulates our vision,” she said.

“We welcome the opportunity it will bring us to support young people in our community.

“Although in the first instance this will be for young people in the Wester Hailes community, our vision is that The Art Room will develop as an outreach centre, where young people across the city who are at risk of disengaging from education can access nurture and support.”

The charity was set up 11 years ago and has since provided support to more than 10,000 children at its five centres in Oxford and London.

Many of the children are disengaged from mainstream education, disruptive or withdrawn and all have been identified as needing time away from their school. HRH became patron of the charity in 2012, saying she is “a firm believer in the power of art to make a difference”.

Senior practitioners, trained in psychotherapy, art, teaching and social work, use small groups to work with the children.

Colinton/Fairmilehead councillor Jason Rust, who backed The Art Room’s move to Edinburgh, said it would benefit the city’s children at minimal cost to the council.

He said: “There has been a lot of effort put into this and I look forward to seeing similar successful outcomes to those in London and Oxford for our young people.

“I am certain that those in a challenging environment will also benefit from the great work of this project. When you look at the successes it’s had elsewhere, I think it’s really positive that we’re going to have the first one in Scotland. It’s got some excellent backers, like the Duchess of Cambridge, which shows the excellent work it does.”

Juli Beattie, founder director of the charity, said she was delighted to bring its work to Scotland.

She said: “As we continue to grow into a national charity, we want to be able to provide many more children with invaluable support at a time they most need it. Our work is hugely rewarding and has proven results, and we look forward to seeing the positive effects of an Art Room at Wester Hailes.”