A record breaking Play in Hospital Week

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Held every October, Play in Hospital Week (PIHW) is a very special week which aims to raise awareness of the benefits and importance of play in healthcare settings.

Play is an essential part of childhood and is at the very heart of mental, social and emotional growth and well-being. It is essential that play continues to be part of a child’s life, even when they are admitted to hospital – a time when they are at their most vulnerable.

This year (9-15 October), Spread a Smile celebrated PIHW in true Spread a Smile style, going all out to do more than ever before to spread smiles and bring joy and happiness to seriously ill children and young people through play. 

A record number of in-person visits…

Last week, we carried out an amazing 19 in-person visits to 17 different NHS hospitals, spreading smiles to over 450 seriously ill children and young people. It’s a huge achievement and our highest number in one week. Our entertainers were out in force supporting Play Specialist teams to celebrate this important week by spreading smiles through singing, music, magic, art and much more.

A special road trip to Leicester and Nottingham…

We were proud to spend two days visiting patients and families at Leicester Children’s Hospital and Nottingham Children’s Hospital. We brought along Fairy Ellie, Marina our incredible face painter, Judge the Spontaneous Poet, and Magic Nick, one of our amazing magicians to visit both hospitals and see patients across all inpatient and outpatient areas. In Nottingham, they hosted a special party with our Spread a Smile entertainers where children could leave their bedspaces and come join in the fun altogether, a brilliant opportunity for patients to connect together and meet others in similar situations. We also brought Lola’s cupcakes to make the party extra special!

Our first family event outside of London…

We were proud to organise our first ever family event for 18 families from two hospitals, taking them to see ‘Peter Pan Goes Wrong’ at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham. It was such a special evening and so much fun was had by everyone who joined us. They were treated to a meet and greet with the cast after the show which involved a Q&A, and every family was able to take photos with their favourite cast members. One of our very own Spread a Smile singers played the role of Tink and Mrs Darling in the show, which made it even more special for everyone involved. 

“I just wanted to message and say a massive thank you for tonight. We all had the best time at Peter Pan Goes Wrong and we appreciate the memories we made tonight so much. I find it overwhelming the kindness shown to our special little warrior. Keep up the hard work as the memories that your charity brings are priceless.” Parent

Saturday smiles for patients at GOSH…

We carried out a special in-person visit to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) on Saturday, bringing the joy of LEGO to patients on the wards during one of the quietest times in hospital. The weekends are a time when there is less to do in hospital and we’re proud to be continuing our weekend visits to support our families at these times.

Play focused Virtual Visits…

We also ran our virtual group sessions this week, focusing on play based activities for patients and siblings of all ages, such as a puppetry workshop, interactive storytelling, improvisation and games.

Spread a Smile Entertainers and staff work closely with and support Play Specialists and Play Workers in 27 Hospitals and three Hospices across the UK, providing a wide variety of entertainment and play activities for seriously and terminally ill children and young people. Our aim is to help distract, relieve fear and stress and create a safe, welcoming environment during treatment and hospital admissions.

We are so proud of our achievements for PIHW 2023 and would like to say a huge thank you to our Spread a Smile Entertainers, the hospital play teams and all of the companies that have helped make it so special. Also, to Mischief and everyone at Peter Pan Goes Wrong for their brilliant support and kindness.

To make a donation to ensure we can continue our vital work, please click here.