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Viv Levene

Marvellous Mask Designs

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Throughout lockdown, children and teenagers have continued to receive radiotherapy treatment however, we have been restricted in our abilities to support them.  We are pleased to share with you that another of our services, designing and personalising radiotherapy masks and moulds, has now resumed and our talented Head of Art, Marina, has been extremely busy catching up with requests.  Radiotherapy treatment can be a very traumatic experience for children and having a personalised mask or mould featuring their favourite characters, football teams or likes can help take away some of the fear and, in many cases, lead to greater acceptance of treatment.  Recognition of the positive difference this service makes is evident in the increasing demand – since restarting this initiative last month, Marina has completed more than 25 masks and moulds and we now receive requests from paediatric radiotherapy teams across our network of hospital partners on an almost daily basis.

Lovely Amber, aged 10, lives in Kent with her family. However, for the duration of her 30-session treatment at UCLH, she and her mum have moved to London to be close to the hospital. Amber loves art and has been busy creating designs to keep herself motivated and remain positive. Using Amber’s rainbow and lemonade designs as inspiration, Marina personalised her two radiotherapy leg moulds.  On seeing the masks for the first time, Amber told her mum, ‘They looked so good.  I’m going to keep them forever!’

 

 

Peachy Playhouse Spreads Smiles

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We’re absolutely delighted to have been appointed the charity partner of Peachy Playhouse, a drive-in family festival being held at Loseley Park, Guildford from 18-31 July.  Peachy will be recording all of its children’s shows for Smile TV plus, on 23 July, stream the shows live and give special shout-outs throughout the day to our children and families watching in hospital or from home.

A Spread a Smile film, highlighting the impact of our work, will also be shown on the big screen throughout the two week festival.  We’d like to thank everyone at Peachy Playhouse for their fantastic support.

 

Spreading Smiles with Wall Art

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These last few months have been hard for us whilst we haven’t been able to make face to face hospital visits, so we’ve been thinking as creatively as possible so that we can keep spreading smiles, which we know are needed more now than ever.

That’s why Marina, our resident artist, has been creating hand drawn window transfers for children in hospital. She takes individual requests from patients so that each design is personalised and these are then sent to children in hospital to stick to their walls and windows to brighten their surroundings. Special requests have included Trolls, Spurs and PJ Masks, which you can see pictured below.

 

Marina has also been busy at St Mary’s Hospital painting magical murals on the walls to brighten the hospital environment. COVID-19 has meant that hospital playrooms are closed and shared toys have been removed from waiting areas, which has meant these spaces are especially bland and boring. Marina has created interactive designs, which really allow kids to use their imaginations. The hospital can be a frightening place, and a welcoming, child-friendly environment is essential to helping them cope with their hospital experience, as well as providing a necessary distraction while waiting for appointments and having treatments.

We are also continuing to spread smiles at this time via our digital services including Smile TV, where families can access our entertainment 24/7, Smile Spaces Zoom sessions with personalised entertainment for children and their families, Smile Parties and Smile Sessions where children who are all on the same ward can be entertained together online.

 

 

Incredible Fundraising by Irwin Mitchell

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Irwin Mitchell’s London Office so kindly chose Spread a Smile as their charity partner in 2019/20. After a year of hard work, total dedication and lots of fun, they raised an astonishing £44,448 to support our vital work with seriously ill children in hospitals. This partnership was the first of its kind for Spread a Smile and is one that will always remain very close to our heart. Their initial fundraising target was £10,000, making their fundraising total even more of a triumph!

As well as raising such vital funds for the charity, the team in London also generously supported Spread a Smile by offering pro bono legal advice throughout the partnership (and beyond). This is invaluable to a small charity like Spread a Smile and has made the world of difference on a number of key projects that we have undertaken. We absolutely loved working with, and getting to know, the team throughout our partnership and are proud to have forged long-lasting relationships within the London Office.

At Spread a Smile we strongly believe that each child, family, hospital staff member, company and partnership is different. It is for this reason that we tailor every aspect of our work so that we are always offering a personal touch – whether that’s a bedside visit personal to the specific needs of a child or a multi-thousand pound charity partnership.

We pride ourselves on taking this approach to our work and would love to hear from you if you are a company looking for a new charity partner. Needless to say – we will work closely with you to create a partnership that works for your team, office and wider company. Get in touch with our Head of Fundraising, Imogen Slazenger, to find out more – imogen@spreadasmile.org

thortful teams up with Spread a Smile

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We are so excited to announce a fabulous new partnership with thortful, the online greetings card marketplace. In the coming weeks, children we entertain in hospital and at home will be creating cards that could be sent to their family, friends and pets who they are missing and can’t see at this time. The children will then be matched with a thortful designer to finalise the design before the cards are available for sale on thortful.com from  20 July. All profits from the sale of the cards will go to Spread a Smile.

Lucy Jackson, CEO of Spread a Smile, said, “We’re big fans of thortful.com at Spread a Smile and we have often thought when on the site, having seen their Send a Smile section, what a great fit our two brands are. Together, we have created a project that can entertain and inspire the young people we support, which is particularly important at the moment where they are more isolated than ever before in hospital and at home. We are excited to be able to introduce some of our young budding artists to the talented creative community at thortful. The partnership will also help to raise much needed awareness of our cause and funds to support our work.”

Andy Pearce, CEO of thortful comments, “Spread a Smile do some amazing work within hospitals delivering fun and entertainment to very poorly children, we are delighted to be able to facilitate a fun interactive activity for them, our brilliant creative community can’t wait to bring the children’s designs to life!” . 

Over the next few weeks, we will be continuing with our regular deliveries of activity packs to our hospital partners but this time they will contain donated blank cards and felt tip pens for the children to use to make their designs. We will be promoting the partnership during Children’s Art Week, which provided the inspiration for the theme of the project, connecting across generations.

This is our first design by Mikayla, age 10, and our second is by Amber, also 10. We can’t wait to share more with you soon.

The new range of Spread a Smile cards will be available to buy on thortful.com from 20 July.

 

Hartley’s House of Fun

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Our lovely friends at Hartley’s are running an eight week campaign called ‘Hartley’s House of Fun’ in partnership with, and in support of, Spread a Smile. Before this campaign Hartley’s had already been spreading thousands of smiles by sending jelly pouches into Spread a Smile’s partner hospitals – both for children and NHS staff to enjoy. Their jelly pouches have been received extremely gratefully and we are so thankful for their generosity.

Now they are spreading even more smiles through their Hartley’s House of Fun campaign across their social media channels. One of our brilliant Spread a Smile entertainers, Kiri, worked with Hartley’s to create fun videos that families can watch at home. The videos are all interactive, giving fresh ideas to children and parents about how they can have some extra moments of fun at home during lockdown. Some of the videos have been step-by-step arts and crafts activities showing how to use an empty jelly pot to create something really colourful and fun. Hartley’s so kindly provided all of the supplies needed for 200 children in hospital to have arts and crafts packs for the step-by-step videos. We have loved seeing the creations so far and are so grateful to Hartley’s for making this possible.  Check out the latest Hartleys videos on Smile TV.

Smiles are more important than ever before for children in hospital and we are so pleased to be able to spread even more, and in such an innovative way, thanks to the Hartley’s House of Fun campaign!

Celebrities Spreading Smiles

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Smile TV is helping us spread smiles to children and teenagers in hospital and isolating at home. Along with a variety of films from our fabulous entertainers, famous faces have been sending young patients lots of lovely messages of support.

We’ve had jokes from Ant and Dec, songs from Alesha Dixon and Louisa Johnson, messages from Phil & Holly, Joe Wicks, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson, films with their dogs from Faye Ripley, Paul O’Grady and Eyal Booker and so much more. The kids have loved them.

Check out Smile TV now.

A Tribute to Paul Sexton

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The whole Spread a Smile team was saddened to learn of the passing of Paul Sexton, Managing Director of Lawsons Timber Merchants, last weekend. Paul was a great friend and mentor of the charity and will be hugely missed.

Josephine Segal, Spread a Smile’s co-founder, pays tribute to Paul:

“Soon after the charity was founded, Paul was introduced to Spread a Smile by Collette Spinner, one of our fabulous entertainers. He attended our first fundraising dinner at which he invited Vanessa, Collette and me to a meeting at the offices of Lawsons. At that meeting he simply asked what he could do to help. His kindness, willingness and sheer desire to help Spread a Smile in any way he could was something that will always be treasured and never forgotten.

“Lawsons has been so generous towards Spread a Smile and sponsored every Spread a Smile Winter Party. Paul also hosted the Lawsons Fundraising Dinner for Spread a Smile which raised over £100,000.

“Paul was an incredible mentor to Spread a Smile; he believed in us and what we were trying to build and encouraged us think bigger and do more. He always had time for us. His personal advice was always spot-on. Paul spoke from the heart at our 2017 fundraising dinner where he captivated the audience with his direct style, personal challenges, passion and wit. He encouraged people to consider how fortunate they were and do whatever they could, large or small, to help others.

“Over the years, Vanessa and I realised that Paul was helping so many other causes alongside Spread a Smile. Paul was so understated, and his ability to include everyone and make sure all around him were a team and together they would all succeed in building dreams and fulfilling goals was a very special talent.

“He was a loyal supporter, a mentor and, above all else, a true friend. The world is a poorer place without Paul. May his dear soul rest in peace and may his wonderful family find comfort in knowing what a respected, admired and loved man he truly was.”

Everyone at Spread a Smile is sending their deepest condolences to Paul’s family.

 

COVID-19 Appeal

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Under normal circumstances, Spread a Smile would be delivering 35 monthly visits to 8 London hospitals, bringing fairies, magicians, face-painters, therapy dogs, singers and lots more to bring smiles to and enhance the wellbeing of seriously and terminally ill children and teenagers. As a result of COVID-19 we have had to suspend all visits and face-to-face contact with patients.

But we know that those smiles are now more important than ever. Young patients in hospital have become more isolated than ever before. This is why we need your help. Because with your help, suspending our hospital visits does not have to mean suspending smiles.

In response to the outbreak, we have created Smile TV – providing children and teenagers access to special video content made exclusively for them, via our website. We can make them smile at any time of the day. Whilst they are able to, our hospital entertainment team are together recording videos: magic, singing, face-painting and lots more. And once they can no longer film together, our plan is that they will keep recording new content from their homes and keep uploading it to Smile TV. But we can only continue to do this with your help.

We have also started sending art and boredom-busting packs and special treats to our hospital partners to distribute to young patients to keep them busy. But, again, we can only keep sending these packs in with your help.

As well as our hospital visits, COVID-19 has also affected our practical ability to fundraise. Like many others, we have had to cancel all of the events that we had planned for the coming months where we would have raised vital funds to support our work.

Below is a list detailing how your donation will make such a profound difference to our work:

  • £5 would help us buy art and crafts materials for art packs
  • £25 would enable us to provide a child with a complete art pack
  • £50 would help us create a personalised message from an entertainer to a child in particular need of a smile
  • £100 would help us organise a treat drop to one of our hospital partners
  • £250 would help us create a unique video from an entertainer on Smile TV
  • £1000 would help us future-proof the running costs of Smile TV

So how can you help?

  1. Please DONATE HERE to help us meet these new and unexpected needs at this unprecedented time
  2. Please share this page with anybody who you think might also be able to help us

As we all know, the situation is changing by the day. We will therefore keep this page updated as our response continues to evolve to meet the evolving needs.

On behalf of all of the children, teenagers, families and hospital staff that we work with – and from all of us at Spread a Smile – thank you so much for your generous support at this uncertain and unsettling time. We are all so grateful for every single smile that you can help us to spread.

To donate to the COVID-19 Appeal, please click here.

Get In Touch!

 

COVID-19 Update

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To donate to Spread a Smile’s COVID-19 Appeal please click here

3 April 2020

To continue spreading smiles. Spread a Smile has now introduced Smile Spaces to our offering. We’re always very proud to deliver a personal touch to all our visits, and that’s now continuing digitally! At a prearranged time, we can bring together a child and their parent in hospital, their family at home and one of our fantastic entertainers in their own home for a bespoke ‘virtual visit’.

To arrange a virtual visit or your own personal message for your child, please email admin@spreadasmile.org 

18 March 2020

Whilst our visits have been suspended, the Spread a Smile team has been working hard to ensure we can continue spreading smiles.

We’re very excited to be launching Smile TV today, bringing entertainment to children and teenagers in hospital. Our wonderful team of entertainers has created some great content for Smile TV, and will continue to add films and clips so please do keep checking back.

To watch Smile TV, please click here.

12 March 2020

Together with our hospital partners, earlier this week we took the decision to temporarily pause our hospital visits, theatre trips and parties. The health and wellbeing of our children, teenagers and their families in hospital is our top priority and we don’t want to place anyone at undue risk during this time.

Suspending visits doesn’t mean suspending spreading smiles, and we’re now looking at ways to continue providing Spread a Smile entertainment to children and teenagers in hospital through virtual means.

Please keep checking this website for updates on our new service, which will be an exciting new way for us to spread smiles.