Spread a Smile’s partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) dates back to when Josephine Segal and Vanessa Crocker founded Spread a Smile 10 years ago.
In 2013, Josephine’s young nephew, Aaron, was receiving treatment at GOSH. After noticing that Aaron was becoming increasingly withdrawn, she arranged for a magician to visit. It had the most remarkable effect: Aaron’s spirits were lifted and his treatment became more bearable.
As a result, Aaron asked if magicians could also visit friends that he’d met on the ward and Josephine promised Aaron she would find a way to make it happen. Josephine teamed up with friend and former colleague Vanessa Crocker and working closely with GOSH, they founded Spread a Smile.
Since then, the Spread a Smile has continued to work closely with the team at GOSH to spread smiles to their patients, providing regular in person entertainer visits, online sessions, treat drops and much more.
Today we are proud to visit the hospital twice a week providing support across all in patient wards including the three paediatric intensive care units at the hospital: Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU), Paediatric Intensive Care (PICU) and Cardiac Intensive Care (CICU) as well as other wards such as oncology day care, outpatients and pre-op.
We spoke to Jamie Wilcox, Head of Volunteer Services at GOSH about our important work supporting children and young people under the GOSH’s care.
“As the Trust lead for volunteering and visiting organisations, patient parties and other entertainment, the inspirational co-founders of Spread a Smile, Josephine and Vanessa, came to meet me back in the early days of the organisation’s life.
“Over the past 10 years I have watched a small and highly passionate team of volunteers create and grow an idea into a large, fully-staffed, well-governed, slick charity, serving a number of hospitals and providing a much-needed service.
“I can’t tell you how many times GOSH staff have commented on how important it has been to have weekly visits from highly skilled professional entertainers. Not only does it have a direct impact on the patients and families, but having entertainers in the hospital brightens the wards, lifts staff spirits, helps them with anxious patients and gives them an opportunity to smile.
“We have seen how Spread a Smile entertainers can relax a patient, help them feel that little bit better on a tough day, be a wonderful distraction from a procedure or being in pain. The entertainers spend considerable
time with each patient, adapting to their needs and expectations – whether that be a quiet song with some fairies, an upbeat interactive performance from a magician, doing face painting, or delivering a special poem created right there on the spot. This wonderful organisation has such a diverse and varied depth of talent it can accommodate any patient of any age and help take them away from the clinical environment for a moment of their day.
“There is no other organisation in the hospital that provides a service so professionally and regularly. We are proud to have it as one of our key partners.”