The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies
Royal Dick School of Veterinary Studies Bicentenary

Student led workshops support vulnerable children

‘Be a Vet for the Day’ initiative teaches compassion and empathy.

Group of vet students and volunteers from Fostering Compassion

A group of vet students have developed and delivered workshops to help vulnerable children learn about empathy and compassion.

The ‘Be a Vet for the Day’ workshops were run in partnership with local charity Fostering Compassion. The events gave children, many of whom were living in care, the chance to learn some basic veterinary skills. The children, who attended the events with their carers, used stethoscopes to listen to their own hearts, examined X-rays from different types of animals and learnt how to apply bandages, before practising on their own teddies.

The workshops were developed by Dick Vet undergraduate students Cindy Zhao, Faye Tan and Megan Sawatzky and a team of volunteers and held in the School's Clinical Skills Lab; a teaching space used for undergraduate students to develop their own clinical skills.

To help the children feel the part, they wore clinical scrubs and, at the end of the workshop, were awarded a certificate of achievement.

Building empathy and compassion

Fostering Compassion is an educational initiative that provides workshops and activities to vulnerable children to restore, encourage and nurture compassion and empathy towards all sentient beings, to help break the cycle of abuse.

The vet workshops were run as part of Fostering Compassion’s ‘Creating Compassionate Children’ programme. The events were attended by children from Midlothian and the surrounding areas who had been referred to Fostering Compassion for support.

This is the fourth series of workshops that the School has organised for the charity. Children who have attended previous workshops have shown many positive outcomes, including improved feelings of self-worth, self-confidence and self-esteem and an increased sense of compassion and empathy.

Anniversary year

The ‘Be a Vet for the Day’ workshops are the first in a series of events being held by the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies throughout 2023, to celebrate its bicentenary.

This year is also the 10th anniversary of Fostering Compassion, which has helped over 700 children throughout Scotland since it was established.


Fostering Compassion has enjoyed a wonderful relationship with the students and staff of the Dick Vet for many years. The student-led ‘Be A Vet for the Day’ workshops are an amazing and unique experience for the vulnerable children we work with and we are incredibly grateful for the School’s ongoing support! 

Lesley WintonChief Executive Officer of Fostering Compassion

The Dick Vet is proud that its students continue to support this wonderful local charity. We are delighted to make our facilities available for the ‘Be a Vet for the  Day’ workshops, and to continue our collaborations with Fostering Compassion.

Dr Andrew GardinerSenior Veterinary Clinical Lecturer, R(D)SVS and Fostering Compassion Trustee

As part of the School’s bicentenary celebrations, it will host Fostering Compassion’s ‘Compassion Allways Conference’ on 7-8 October. For further information or to reserve a place, contact Lesley Winton at


Related links

Fostering Compassion website

About the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies is a one-of-a-kind centre of excellence in clinical activity, teaching and research. Our purpose-built campus, set against the backdrop of the beautiful Pentland Hills Regional Park, is home to more than 800 staff and almost 1400 students, all of whom contribute to our exceptional community ethos. 

The School comprises: 

The Roslin Institute 

The Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Systems 

The Roslin Innovation Centre 

The Hospital for Small Animals 

Equine Veterinary Services 

Farm Animal Services 

Easter Bush Pathology 

The Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education 

We represent the largest concentration of animal science-related expertise in Europe, impacting local, regional, national and international communities in terms of economic growth, the provision of clinical services and the advancement of scientific knowledge.