Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust has joined with the charity Spread a Smile to deliver entertainment and activities to critically ill children across its hospitals.
Spread a Smile will work in collaboration with the trust’s official charity CW+, as part of their Arts in Health programme, and hopes to bring comfort and laughter to children undergoing treatment.
Children will be able to enjoy visits from entertainers twice a month across Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital, take part in themed days, alongside a range of virtual activities and entertainment through the charity’s Smile TV service.
Lucy Jackson, CEO of Spread a Smile said: “We are thrilled to be able to name our 10th hospital trust partner, and that they have chosen us.
“A 10th partner is a real milestone for the charity, and we’re delighted it’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.”
As part of Chelsea and Westminster’s Arts in Health programme, Spread a Smile will offer two full-day visits a month at the trust’s sites, taking two entertainers with them, Ellie, a fairy and Paul, a magician.
They will visit long-term patients, from young babies right up to the age of eighteen, spending between ten to fifteen minutes at each bedside and hoping to bring some laughter and smiles to unwell children.
Recently Spread a Smile visited one of their partner hospitals with a therapy dog, who offered canine comfort at the bedsides of children on their wards, and they are also planning to deliver 1200 balloons to children in hospitals for Valentine’s Day.
The charity was founded in 2013 after one of the founders, Josephine Segal saw the benefits of a visit by a magician to her nephew whilst he was being treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Lucy said over the years she has seen the benefits to both patients and their families.
She said: “We know from the nearly nine years that we’ve been doing this, that our visits can really reduce the anxiety of patients in hospital and that we’ve seen treatment improve.
“It’s also really about building confidence for the kids in hospital. A lot of them have lost confidence because they’ve spent so long in hospital.”
The charity works closely with teams of play specialists on the children’s wards to make sure that entertainment is provided to all children who would like to access the service.
Natalie Cummins, Play and Youth Service Team Lead, at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to partner with Spread a Smile, which will provide much enjoyment to our young patients.
“Hospital stays can be particularly difficult for children receiving care as well as their families and we are incredibly grateful to Spread a Smile who will bring fun and entertainment to our children’s wards, which will not only make our young patients smile, but will also be a source of comfort and distraction.
“We are so thankful to be part of this initiative and can’t wait for children, young people and their relatives to reap the rewards”.
For any children or parents of children in hospital who would like to find out more, Lucy recommends reaching out to the team via their website.