A financial crime investigator has followed her passion for art to help improve children’s mental health after the pressure of lockdown.
Laura Brown, 33, who works in the City of London, has founded an illustration company alongside managing her career in finance. Since starting LHB Illustrations, Laura has created a fun activity book for children filled with animal facts and watercolour illustrations – My Emotions Activity Book.
Her work has proved a massive hit with high-profile childcare experts. Among them are specialist play teams at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who now use the Activity Book with their patients’ families within their play therapy sessions.
Laura said: “Being recognised by the team at Great Ormond Street was a real pinch me moment. Their amazing work is world renowned, so for them to be using my work is a real honour and privilege.”
Child and family support workers from the NSPCC and Barnardo’s have also been in touch to offer their support for the book.
Anti-bullying charity Kidscape has produced a bookmark named kindness and friendship from one of Laura’s illustrations.
Women’s Aid has signed up to receive the book and Staffordshire-based charity, The Buddy Bag Foundation, which is helping to print copies, has given Laura an award to recognise her efforts to make a difference in children’s lives.
Laura said: “The book is gaining real traction from people that work with vulnerable children, it makes me so proud to be making a small difference to these people’s lives, mental health and wellbeing is so important especially as we try to live normally again and recover from such hard times.”
Buddy Bag Foundation founder Karen Williams OBE, which helps children fleeing domestic violence, said: “We are so delighted to be helping Laura with such a wonderful initiative, it has already made such a huge difference to so many children lives.”
Laura added: “There have been so many lovely moments for me along my journey and the award from The Buddy Bag Foundation stands out as a highpoint.”
Laura who is from Ely in Cambridgeshire had been interested in art from a young age.
After studying fine art and photography for both her undergraduate and masters’ degrees she had put her passion on hold for nearly a decade for a career in the financial service industry.
She now has a role as a business risk and controls associate at Wells Fargo, an American Bank, where she has worked for the past three years.
After completing mental health at work training during lockdown, she realised a huge number of parents and carers were extremely worried about their children. Many youngsters including her own nephews and nieces had been struggling with anxiety.
She shared her ideas with a colleague who had previously worked in childcare and fostering. With his help, Laura created an initiative for parents and carers within the bank to receive her My Emotions Activity Book. Laura then sent out more than 300 copies to employees who signed up.
Laura said: “Initially I wasn’t expecting the response the activity book received, I was overcome by the professional backing it got and this really helped to drive the project forward into what it is today.
“I have had such positive feedback from my colleagues all over the world, from Germany, Dubai and France.”
Laura then started sending her work outside of the bank.
She added: “For me it was so important that I made my art into a wider project for as many children as possible. I know how hard lockdown has been for so many people. Especially because child poverty is rising, and the digital divide is becoming so much more apparent across the country. I knew I wanted to continue with the project outside of the bank and make it free of charge.”
“For me it’s so rewarding, to be able to see my illustrations brought to life, witnessing the children engaging with the illustrations and the conversations it has brought out is so overwhelming. The stories that have emerged from the kids have been so touching from dealing with small things to helping to overcome bullying.”
“I really feel like we have created a fantastic supportive community with such special networks and connections that can be so hard to form, especially as I come from the banking industry”.
Laura plans to continue to make a difference with her art in the future. She said: “The feedback so far from the charities has been so lovely and this is what drives me to want to continue with my illustrations and do more and make it even bigger.”
To find out more about Laura’s work and order copies of the Activity Book visit https://www.lhbillustrations.co.uk/ or call Laura Brown on 07932 897501