Chloe and Therapy Dog

Mental Health Awareness Week

780 400 Susie

Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week, a very important week which aims to educate and raise awareness around mental health.

For the families we support, the pressures of serious illness can be hugely and negatively impactful on mental health. Spread a Smile aims to support our families and their wellbeing, providing positive and happy moments of distraction and helping to reduce stress and feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Our team of entertainers include musicians, magicians, poets, therapy dogs, artists, fairies and more. Each bring their own unique talents and abilities to their work, creating special moments of joy, fun and engagement which enable our families to escape – even if it’s just for a moment – from their day-to-day realities. A visit from one of our team to a child at their hospital bedside can make such a difference to how they feel and manage their hospital experience.

“I have seen the Spread a Smile team interact with my child when he was so ill that he list all interest in play, but they managed to re-engage the magic.” Parent

“Having a singer sing nursery rhymes at her bedside filled us with joy, as it just felt like some normality amongst all of the chaos and heartache.” Parent

Our Therapy Dogs provide a physical comfort and warmth to the patients they meet. Patients enjoy brushing their fur, stroking them, sitting quietly with them and feeding them treats.

“It was during our daily visits to UCLH that we met Spread a Smile. The team were visiting with Buddy, one of their Therapy Dogs. Kaiden was in recovery from general anaesthetic and wasn’t particularly bothered about seeing anyone. However, within a couple of minutes of meeting Buddy, he was sitting up in bed, stroking and playing with Buddy and giving him treats. Kaiden’s recovery from anaesthetic was super quick that day! He just wanted to get up and absolutely loved being with Buddy. It was wonderful for me to see Kaiden happy and enjoying something different. When you spend so long in hospital, anything that breaks the monotony is a treat.” Parent

As part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek we are extremely grateful to our friends at Opticore for sponsoring our Therapy Dog visits to University College London Hospital, St Mary’s Hospital and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Art is important in every child’s development. It encourages children to express their creativity, develop motor skills and heightens their ability to communicate and problem solve. For children in hospital, our art related projects and activities also provide a welcome distraction from treatment and the hospital environment.

“I have seen children express their feelings, fear and hopes through art in a wat they never could with words. Watching these young people, many of whom are going through the toughest times, utterly distracted from their treatment and hospital environment is a joy.” Marina Constantinou, Spread a Smile Head of Art.

We couldn’t do what we do without the generous support of our donors, fundraisers, volunteers and partners. Thank you for all your support and please take a look here for how you enable us to make a difference for incredible children like Chloe and their families.