News

Increasing access to our digital services

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We are absolutely thrilled to announce that thanks to a significant grant from our partners and friends at Bregal Milestone, we have secured 41 iPads to be shared across our NHS hospital partners.  The iPads will be remotely managed by the charity in conjunction with IT provider, Arkphire, and for use by those children and teenagers who do not have access to their own digital devices.  They will be a valuable tool in connecting children with their families and providing access to not only our digital services (virtual bedside visits and Smile TV) but also a host of other age-appropriate apps.

‘The entire team at Bregal Milestone is pleased to have partnered with Spread a Smile and Arkphire to give children in hospital these new tablets during covid-19.  In these times of strict isolation, we hope these tablets will allow children in hospital to stay connected to their loved ones, to enjoy Spread a Smile’s entertainment, and to feel much love and companionship from friends, family and Spread a Smile’.  Jan Bruennler, Philippe Lautenberg & Cyrus Shey, Managing Partners, Bregal Milestone

Photo (taken pre Covid-19) Cyrus Shey and the Bregal Milestone team joined Spread a Smile co-founder, Vanessa Crocker and our entertainers at The Royal Marsden Hospital 

The iPads along with Spread a Smile branded shockproof cases will be delivered to GOSH, UCLH, St Mary’s Hospital, St George’s Hospital, The Royal Brompton, Evelina Children’s Hospital, Kings College Hospital, Royal National Orthopeadic Hospital and Southampton Hospital this month.  They will all be preloaded with games, educational and communications apps that will support children during extended hospital stays distracting them from pain, treatment and the monotony of the hospital environment and, of course, spreading more smiles.  At a time when increasing connectivity and digital access for all families and children, the iPads could never be more welcomed by our hospital partners.

We cannot thank Bregal Milestone enough for making this a reality and increasing connectivity for so many children and families.

 

Marking World Book Day 2021

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World Book Day is the biggest celebration of its kind which aims to celebrate authors, books, illustrators and – of course – reading!  Children in hospital often struggle with their concentration and keeping up with their studies.  Supporting them through initiatives such as World Book Day is therefore imperative.

Every child should feel part of annual celebrations and events and, even in lockdown, we aim to spread smiles with a full programme of activities to bring the outside in.  On World Book Day and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Wonderbly to distribute 200 personalised books to children both in hospital and shielding at home. Daya and her sister, Jasmine, were two of the first to receive their special books, each printed to include their names throughout the story.

In addition, our very own Princess Leia delivered space-themed boxes full of hundreds of books to children and teenagers at Great Ormond Street Hospital and St Mary’s Hospital for all to enjoy and sent them a very special message from the official World Book Day illustrator and friend of Spread a Smile, Rob Biddulph.  CLICK HERE to see Rob’s message and find out his favourite book.

 

After School Club launches

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In February we launched Spread a Smile After School Clubs. The club sessions are virtual and run three afternoons a week, and aim to support children in hospital, those receiving treatment at home, and their siblings by providing a safe space to enjoy shared experiences and benefit from peer support.

The clubs are led by our team of professional entertainers. Each week includes at least one art session. Erin, aged 10, joined the one of the first session – her little brother, Leo, is a long-term patient at Great Ormond Street Hospital and Erin is at home in Wales. Natalie, Erin’s mum, said, “The art session left Erin feeling proud and happy. She has so much worry going on in her mind about her brother. The After School Club took her mind somewhere else. She was so proud of what she achieved and couldn’t wait to ring me and tell me about it.”  More photos include Annabelle’s icecream and a second with her brother, Austin’s showcasing their colourful seascapes.

For March, we’re running a weekly magic session plus, for under 5s, music and singing sessions.  If you would like to receive more information on After School Club and all of our services for seriously ill children and their siblings please CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

Blankets from The Entertainer

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The lovely people from The Entertainer generously donated 1,000 soft and colourful blankets for us to give to children and teenagers in hospital.

Meleka, pictured here, received her blanket while she was receiving radiotherapy treatment at UCLH. Rhonda Alexander, Radiotherapy Play Specialist at UCLH, said “These blankets have been such a lovely item to be able to give to radiotherapy patients. They often have to remove their clothes for treatment and the rooms can be cold and the treatment couch uncomfortable. The blankets help patients to feel cosy and more at ease which enables them to cope more effectively with their treatment. The blankets have also been great for children who have long hospital stays on the wards – they can choose the blanket they want with the design they like best and helps to make their room or space less clinical. Thanks so much for providing these warm and cosy blankets!”

March Fundraising Roundup

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We are always bowled over by your fabulous fundraising ideas and February was no exception.

Budding entrepreneur Danni, (aged 10) has been busy designing, printing and asking for donations for her stickers in aid of Spread a Smile and has already raised £510.  Danni’s dad has also generously offered to double the total raised.

The Year 6 Leadership Club at Hymers Junior School in Hull completed a ten-day challenge that raised over £1,372.

Ollie Wright took part in a two-horse race in Cambridge raising £100.

We also wanted to give a big shout-out to all our fabulous Facebook fundraisers who, over the past few months have been fundraising on our behalf.  A big thank you to Emma Gonnella, Annette Stevens, Sandrine Raining, Joanne Marie, Andy Payne, Rob Farley, Yolly Pasti, Aquil Sayeed, Sarah Dean, Martin Rees and Heidi Pook.

The young footballers at SFC Academy took part in a National Pizza Day competition in support of Spread a Smile – the challenge was to create their own pizza – a super prize of two days at the SFC Easter Camp. The winners were Rafi and Coby with a chocolate football pitch pizza – a worthy winner!

Easter fun on Hot Cross Bun Lane

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This Easter we will be hosting a virtual Easter Egg Challenge on Hot Cross Bun Lane for seriously ill children hospital.  This virtual egg hunt experience will involve groups of children, each using their own digital device and from the comfort of their own beds, working together to solve multiple puzzles to complete the challenge.  Each puzzle will be posed by a different Spread a Smile entertainer in their own virtual room.  The prizes will be Easter eggs for all.   This is about teamwork, peer support and simply having fun – so important for those children, who due to the pandemic, continue to isolate in hospital, are limited to one parent visitor, restricted to their beds and with no opportunity of home respite.   In addition, we aim to deliver chocolate eggs to children in hospital over the Easter holidays across all our NHS hospital partners.

If you would like to purchase an Easter egg for a child in hospital this Easter please CLICK HERE.

Thank you for spreading smiles this Easter.

Exclusively for Teenagers

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The final day of our half term activities was dedicated to our teenagers – many of whom helped to shape the day’s format which included pop art, baking, poetry, yoga, dance and songwriting plus a very special session – a make-up tutorial led by Make-Up by Abi and with the most generous support of our friends Welovesunkissed who sent every participant across all our hospital partners a super make-up set packed full of eyeshadows, blush and brushes so everyone could follow along, learn a few top tips and continue to practice what they’ve learnt in the months ahead.  To receive details of our May Half Term activities please CLICK HERE.

Half Term Activities

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When it’s a cold and windy lockdown half term what better way to while away the hours than to join one of our virtual activity days? Over February half term we’ve been running virtual sessions packed with fun-filled activities for children aged 4-12 and included tutorials in magic, arts & crafts, Wild Science, dance and martial arts.  One mum said, ‘My daughter so loved seeing other the children, especially those she’s met in hospital. It’s lovely to see children who have to deal with so much having fun’. More madcap fun and smiles to enjoy tomorrow.”  To receive details of our May Half Term activities please CLICK HERE.

 

Valentine Smiles

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We’ve been spreading the Valentine’s love this week.  Today (Friday 12 February) we delivered 400 Valentine’s balloons to the children at Great Ormond Street Hospital and we’ve loved seeing just how many smiles they’ve spread.  We also held a virtual Valentine card making session with children across all our hospital partners.  Jessica also chose to feature big red heart balloons.
Laura Walsh, Head of Play Services at GOSH, said, “This year so many of our families are missing hugs, love and support while they’re managing illness and treatment with us. What an amazing surprise the Valentine’s balloons are. Something like this can improve your day with the WOW factor. And patients feel cared for knowing we’ve worked together to think about their experience. We love working with Spread a Smile because you’re always thinking of ways to go over and above for the patients and their families.”
A mum contacted us to say, “Can I just say a massive thank you to you. My son recently had his trip to gosh for an intensive MRI scan prepping for his 3rd heart op. Whilst recovering he was given one of your balloons to give me for valentines. Not only is it well and truly still going, it has bought a smile to me as a single mum, he brightened up so much for receiving the balloon, and his brother was cheered up on our arrival home, in the fact he can share the balloon. So much love and happiness for one simple gift. Thank you.”

Camp Beaumont Partnership

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We’re delighted to announce a new Charity of the Year partnership with Camp Beaumont,  the UK’s most established day camps provider.  As part of our collaboration, we will be working closely with the Camp Beaumont team to raise funds and awareness across their network of camps around Greater London, London and the Home Counties.  And of course, there is much to be shared to enhance the entertainment of children.   It’s an exciting partnership that will not only bring new ideas and intiatives to amuse and delight children in hospital but also increase awareness of the charity’s work to a new family audience.

Camp Beaumont’s fun-packed school holiday adventures take place across London and the Home Counties for 3 to 16 year olds.  While there is no half term camps this year the camps will be back for the Easter holidays.  If you are interested in booking one of their camps please go to their website for a list of sites and activities.

Camp Beaumont has set up a special offer at the time of booking in support of Spread a Smile plus is offering discounts of a full week, day visits, and extended stays.  Use the code SMILE21 to save 5% on a day camp or 10% on a full week of activities.