About Us


Our Charitable Purpose is to advance the profession of occupational therapy and support the development of occupational therapists. We do this by commissioning special projects and research and by providing funding for the professional development of occupational therapists.

International Women’s Day 2024

This year for International Women’s Day we’d like to share 2 very different videos in honour of our founder, Dr Elizabeth Casson. A remarkable woman whose legacy not only lives on, but becomes stronger over time.


One video is our trustees and individuals who work for the Trust talking about what the Trust means to them. The other is students from Glasgow Caledonian University who speak about how Elizabeth’s pioneering spirit continues to influence the profession

Interested to know more about this formidable woman who ‘made things happen’? Listen to our podcast on Elizabeth and watch for our biography on Elizabeth coming later this year!

International Women’s Day 2023


2023 is the 75th anniversary of The Elizabeth Casson Trust and we would like to recognise Elizabeth’s passion and commitment to the profession on International Women’s Day. Without the determination of this remarkable woman, we would not be able to support occupational therapists and occupational therapy through our projects. Listen to Dee Christie, our Chair as she tells us about our year ahead honouring Elizabeth and her legacy.


International Women’s Day 2022

Dr Elizabeth Casson, 100 years on.

Dr Claire Hilton, Historian in Residence at the Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCPsych), wrote a wonderful blog on Dr Elizabeth Casson to celebrate International Women’s Day 2022.

Why choose this year to spotlight Elizabeth? It is 100 years since Dr Casson was nominated and selected for membership to the Medico-Psychological Association (MPA), now RCPsych., in 1922. In 1927 she was awarded the MPA’s Gaskell Gold Medal and Prize, “the highest prize given by the Association“.

Read more of Dr Hilton’s blog and why the RCPsych chose to recognise Elizabeth here.

International Women’s Day 2021

A tribute to Elizabeth Casson and all occupational therapists: thank you for your courage during the difficult times of COVID


Furthering the work of Dr Elizabeth Casson

Who was Dr Elizabeth Casson?

Dr Elizabeth Casson was born on April 14th 1881. Not only is she seen as the founder of occupational therapy in England, she was also the first woman to be awarded a medical degree by the University of Bristol. Heavily influenced by the work of the social reformer, Octavia Hill, whom she worked for in her early years, Dr Casson’s passion for the healing power of occupation drove her lifelong work in establishing occupational therapy practice, education and its professional association.

In 1929 Dr Casson borrowed funds to establish the Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy in Bristol; Constance Owens was its first principal. There followed a relocation of the school to Oxford in 1946 and in 1948 Dr Casson established the original Casson Trust to support her developmental work in occupational therapy and the Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy. A wonderful history of the school can be found at the Dorset House archive. When the School merged with Oxford Brookes University in 1993, the Elizabeth Casson Trust was established in its present form.

Dr Casson’s obituary, printed in Occupational Therapy, the journal of the Association of Occupational Therapists in 1955, talked of Dr Casson’s drive and determination:

“It was her faith in our healing work that enlivened and enlightened medical opinion regarding occupational therapy, it was her courage and foresight that first established professional training, and it was her determination and perseverance that carried it forward in the face of opposition and indifference.”  (Occupational Therapy 1955)

What is the Elizabeth Casson Trust?

The Trust is governed by its Memorandum of Association, which sets out the primary purpose of the Trust: to further the profession of Occupational Therapy.

What does the Trust aim to do?

The original Objects are regularly reviewed to ensure that the work of the Trust and the language in which it is written, meet the current needs of occupational therapists within the UK and beyond. Today the Trust’s Strategic Intentions (its Objects) and Operational Framework focus on supporting three main areas of work:

1. The development of occupational therapists, helping to build their professional confidence, capability and wider inclusion to take the profession forward in all settings, including within the Trust 

2. Further development of the evidence base of occupational therapy in order to strengthen the understanding of the efficacy, utility and unique contribution of occupational therapy 

3. Commit to robust governance to ensure legal compliance by the organisation and future development of the profession and our services

The strategic intentions can be read in more detail here, and  the operational framework here. The Trust achieves these Objects by giving grants to occupational therapists who apply for funding. Applications are made online and against sets of criteria which are then used to assess the applications.

A final word from Dr Elizabeth Casson

“When I first qualified as a doctor …I found it very difficult to get used to the atmosphere of bored idleness in the day rooms of the hospital. Then, one Monday morning, when I arrived at the women’s wards, I found the atmosphere had completely changed and realised that preparations for Christmas decorations had begun. The ward sisters had produced coloured tissue paper and bare branches, and all the patients were working happily in groups making flowers and leaves and using all their artistic talents with real interest and pleasure. I knew from that moment that such occupation was an integral part of treatment and must be provided”

Quoted in The story of Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy 1930 – 1986, [Oxford: Dorset House School of Occupational Therapy, 1987], p.1

Our closing thought ……………….

Dr Casson was a pioneer and an opportunist. As Professor Jenny Butler (an Elizabeth Casson Trust associate) quoted in her Casson Memorial lecture 2004, she knew that the ‘ordinary’ can become the ‘extra-ordinary’ by taking opportunities that present themselves, by believing that possibilities are always there, and by being bold. So, in honouring Dr Casson, the Trust extends its invitation to all occupational therapists, especially those in the UK, to take the opportunity to follow in her footsteps and use the Trust’s awards to expand your knowledge and practice so that you too can further occupational therapy.



Elizabeth’s birthdate 2022


On the anniversary of Elizabeth’s birthday, we asked you what you know of her and what you think about her legacy. Here’s what you told us….


Who are we?


2020 – 2025
Trust strategic intentions

The strategic plans for 2020-2025 are:

Explore and develop relationships and actions required by the Trust and trustees to become an inclusive organisation.

  • Equality and diversity from the board table to funding awards and future focus
  • Partnership working across all organisations where OTs have a presence
  • Partnership working with relevant agencies and organisations that can support the Trust with equality, diversity and inclusion
Define outward facing strategies for engagement of OTs (and associated stakeholders) at all stages of their learning and career journey.

  • Visibility as a necessity
  • Share learning in ways that are accessible to all, across the profession and wider
  • Embrace existing flexibility and motivation to stretch thinking about risk taking and funding allocations
  • Create space for inspiring things to happen
Define in detail our processes and procedures in simple and accessible language that can be widely understood and shared.

  • Keep under review the alignment of the work, to our vision, values and strategic intentions
  • Act on feedback and make tough decisions about what the ‘fabric of fairness’ looks and feels like to others
  • Ensure that we are generous across the board in how we share and grow learning through the creation of learning networks

2020 – 2025
Trust operational framework

The following operational framework emerges from our strategic intentions:

Contribute to the development of occupational therapists, helping to build their confidence, capability and wider inclusion to take the profession forward in all settings, including within the Trust.

  • Explore other configurations for the Board of Trustees to ensure inclusion of under-represented groups
  • Explore, develop and implement opportunities with occupational therapists from all areas and relevant organisations that will facilitate confidence building, capability and inclusion
  • Investigate and commission a range of learning and development opportunities to enhance and support professional confidence, growth and the inclusion of OTs from under-represented groups
Further development of the evidence base of occupational therapy in order to strengthen the understanding of the efficacy, utility and unique contribution of occupational therapy.

  • Facilitate the production of evidence about the value of occupation and participation including impact and potential economic value
  • Facilitate the implementation and adoption of evidence in practice
Commit to robust governance to ensure legal compliance by the organisation and nurture development of the profession and our services

  • Maintain strong and transparent governance procedures to ensure the sustainability, relevance and alignment of the work of the Trust with our Articles, our strategic intentions and the needs of the profession and its place in society
  • Develop the practice of occupational therapy by supporting requests for projects, research and learning activities that develop the quality and equality of occupational therapy practice within all settings and to reach diverse communities in both the UK and internationally

Any further questions?



Executive Officer, Company Secretary
Pamela Anderson
Deputy Executive Officer
Alicia Ridout
Suzanne Rowlands
Focus-on-Fairness Observatory Co-ordinator
Laura Rossiter
Case Studies

“This conference has been an excellent opportunity to keep abreast of best practice across the many services that my team are involved with. I have already been able to put some of this new knowledge to use and have plans to do more in the medium and long term. From a strategic perspective the knowledge that I have gained has been influential on my thinking for the future direction of the department and will greatly assist with our goal of knowledge transfer to our community colleagues.”

Elaine Doherty OT, Children’s Occupational Therapy, NHS FT
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