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Great Ormond Street Hospital

New weekend visits to GOSH

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Weekends often mean much quieter wards and less distraction and activities available for seriously ill children and young people receiving treatment in hospital. Time can go very slowly, particularly for those spending time in isolation in their own room.

Which is why Spread a Smile recently started weekend visits to patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Laura Walter, Director of Services for Spread a Smile said, “We are so excited to now be offering a monthly Saturday visit at GOSH. We know from speaking to families that it can be difficult to pass the time in hospital over the weekends, and the days can seem long and monotonous. Weekends can also be an added challenge for families, who are torn between home and hospital. At Spread a Smile, we want to provide as many play opportunities to children and young people as possible, and we recognise that play doesn’t stop at the weekend.”

For September, Spread a Smile Visit Manager Debbie, along with Sar and her guitar worked closely with the GOSH Play Team to visit some of the long term babies and toddlers on the wards, bringing  music, instruments and song. It was lovely to receive some fantastic feedback after the visit from staff and parents of patients saying how beneficial and much appreciated the interactions were.

Each month, the visit will focus on a different theme, bringing a variety of exciting activities and sessions over the weekends, with a special LEGO play visit following in October.

Thank you to our generous donors and supporters for enabling us to continue our vital work supporting seriously ill children and their families when they need it most.


10 years partnership with GOSH

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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 After noticing that Aaron was becoming increasingly withdrawn, she arranged for a magician to visit.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.

Spread a Smile Sensory Boxes

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.

Spread a Smile Team at GOSH over Christmas

“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.”