Thomas Fund symbol

What we do

Who are we?

Thomas’s Fund is a charity founded in 2007 that provides music therapy in Northamptonshire for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses or a disability which, for medical reasons, means they are too ill to attend school for extended periods. These children desperately need our support, and Thomas’s Fund needs to raise money to pay for a therapist to work across Northamptonshire, providing music therapy.

Thomas: the inspiration

Thomas Smith (pictured) died at the age of 10 from a life-limiting neurodegenerative condition in 2004. He lived a short life, unable to attend school all year round, but thanks to his family, his life was packed with fun – a big part of which came through music. Music therapy had a vital role to play in Thomas’s life. Had this charity existed, he would have benefited from being able to have music therapy at home, when he was too ill to attend school. The Fund was set up in order to provide this crucial service, as many children are too ill to travel far beyond their homes, and most school support is not available once they are no longer able to get to the school itself.

There is no children’s hospice in Northamptonshire, and previously children and young people had to travel out to Oxfordshire or Leicestershire to avail themselves of this valuable therapy. Such children and young people are in need of an emotional outlet and sensory stimulation. Music therapy provides this; it enables them to express themselves and use the medium of music, which can be more accessible than the use of words. Thomas’s young brother Harry has the same condition and benefits from music therapy sessions at school. He received music therapy at home, funded by Jessie’s Fund,when he was very ill and unable to attend school. (Jessie’s Fund have supported us both financially and with advice.)

What is music therapy?

Music Therapy is the creative and spontaneous use of music in the development of a therapeutic relationship between client and therapist. A variety of musical instruments and sounds are available, and clients are encouraged to make use of these and/or their voice during the therapy sessions. The client can express themselves through sound, silence, gesture and words. The role of the therapist is to listen, support, motivate, contain and respond musically or verbally to the client. The interactive music-making process is used in this way in order to promote communication and facilitate emotional expression, creativity and personal growth.

Each therapy session develops according to the individual’s needs and the therapist’s approach. The client’s response determines the direction of the therapy. The aims of the therapy are not musical or educational but therapeutic. The music is not an end in itself, but a mean to an end.

Further benefits may include:

  • Development of intentional communication and interaction
  • Development of receptive and expressive language skills
  • Reduced anxiety and increased relaxation
  • Provision of an alternative outlet for emotion and enhancement of self-expression
  • Increased sensory development, awareness and experiences
  • An increased awareness of self and or others
  • Increase in fine and gross motor skills

Who might benefit from music therapy?

People of varying ages and abilities, living with different needs such as:

  • Sensory impairment
  • Physical disabilities
  • Emotional and behavioural difficulties
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental delay
  • Communication disorders
  • Autistic Spectrum disorders
  • Neurological problems
  • Mental health problems
  • Alzheimer’s or dementia

Music Therapy is a profession registered with the Health Profressions Council (HPC). This assures the public that those who are qualified to practise it are competent to do so, having gained a postgraduate diploma qualification recognised by the Health Professionals Council (formerly the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine).

The origins

Thomas’s Fund was set up by parents of children with life-limiting illnesses and music therapists in the area. It is supported by Northampton School for Girls, which has generously donated specialist instruments and electronic musical equipment to the Fund. The school has also supported us in contacting mainstream and special schools across the county, by which we were able to identify areas of interest and need. Northampton School for Girls were extremely generous in helping to fund initial therapy sessions.

The money

£23,000 will pay a therapist to work 47 weeks a year, one day a week, over two years. This therapist will be responsible for collating and responding to referrals, meeting with and assessing clients, and working with parents, teachers and healthcare professionals. The therapist will be managed by Thomas’s Fund Management Committee.

We need your support to achieve our goals of continued access to therapy for children and young people like Thomas.

Testimonials from parents and carers

HARRY
“Harry comes to life whenever he has music therapy. He loves being able to take charge of the sessions, setting the pace and tone depending on his mood.”

MEGAN
“This is just to say a very big thank you for being able to share in the music therapy at home through Thomas’s Fund. Megan has been able to enjoy the access of a creative outlet to express her communication and physical interaction with the help of Esther and the music.

“She has had ten sessions and over the weeks has benefited so much from the music therapy. She enjoys the music so much and at the start of the session grins and laughs – an indication of her awareness of what is going to happen and her enjoyment of it.

“She is constantly looking and listening and turns her head to find what is going to happen next. Her excitement of the radiant tambourine surpasses itself as she waits and looks in anticipation for more. I have also noticed that she is now opening her hands and extending her fingers to strum the guitar when Esther places it near her.

“Although her movements are very limited her index finger is extended fully and the hand relaxed when normally clenched tight. The emotional outlet and sensory stimulation that Megan has been able to benefit from her therapy is wonderful for her and our thanks go out to you and Esther for enabling her to experience this.”

ALEXANDA

“I just wanted to say ‘thank you’ from Alexanda and I as we were in hospital again last week where he unfortunately spends a lot of time. This time he was much more alert and could enjoy music time so much more. It makes such a huge difference to a child and always puts a smile on his face when he sees you guys. So again, thank you so much for this wonderful gift xx”