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Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and a time to highlight the impact cancer has on children, young people and their families.

Each year, Spread a Smile’s team of therapeutic entertainers support hundreds of children, young people and their families, battling all kinds of serious illnesses. Cancer is one of them.

Around 12 children and young people in the UK will find out the devastating news that they have cancer every day, which marks the beginning of a difficult path navigating hospital admissions, invasive treatments, pain and horrible side effects, and ongoing worry and uncertainty.

Spread a Smile’s mission is to be there for as many young people and their families as possible, bringing joy, fun, laughter, distraction, and friendship during some of the most difficult times. Young people like Hannah who in 2022 was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of soft tissue sarcoma (cancer).

Andrea, Hannah’s Mum said, “We discovered Spread a Smile whilst waiting for proton beam therapy in the hospital playroom. There was a notice on the wall saying that Spread a Smile would be visiting with a therapy dog, so we asked to change Hannah’s treatment time to coincide with their visit. 

“We met Laura from the charity who explained what Spread a Smile does and how they could support Hannah. Laura was so kind, asking Hannah what she was interested in and listening to her and what she had to say. We realised that Hannah really enjoyed art and so she started weekly art classes in hospital with Abi, one of the Spread a Smile artists. Hannah also loved meeting the magicians and therapy dogs – Buddy, Harry, Thomas and Choco!

“It was such a good thing for both of us – throwing balls for the dogs, having cuddles, learning magic tricks and creating something in art. Hannah would become very poorly whilst on chemotherapy, so we weren’t allowed home at weekends and spent six weeks away from home and family in London. Meeting Spread a Smile would break up the week and give Hannah (and me) so many moments of laughter, happiness and enjoyment.  

“Instead of just turning up at the exact time for our appointments, we would arrive at hospital first thing for when Spread a Smile arrived, so we could spend as much time as possible with them. Hannah didn’t want to miss a thing! It gave her a sense of purpose and meant a huge amount to both of us.

“Spread a Smile also invited us on an outing to afternoon tea at Mildreds restaurant in London – which was brilliant. It was a chance for us to have a day out together, in amongst all the treatment and hospital stuff. We were able to relax and breathe for a while.”

“Since coming home, we are so lucky that Hannah has been able to continue her art classes every other week over Zoom. The classes are a way of her being with other people – friends now – who don’t treat her differently because of her illness. She is Hannah the person, not the illness. She looks forward to the sessions as she is listened to and valued. She has choices and independence which is hugely important when your life feels like it’s controlled by something like cancer.

“Spread a Smile has made a huge difference to Hannah, making life just a bit more manageable.”

Thank you to everyone who makes the work we do spreading smiles to young people like Hannah possible. Click here to find out more about our work across the UK.

Please get in touch if you would like to access our services here.

Reaching more patients virtually

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Spread a Smile’s mission is to bring joy to as many seriously ill children and young people across the country. Thanks to a generous donation of 10 iPads and cases from CJC IT we’ll now be able to reach even more of the most vulnerable patients, carrying out virtual visits in hospitals when face-to-face visits aren’t possible.

Some hospitalised patients are not able to meet our team in person due to infection risk, for example, if they are severely immunocompromised and at a greater risk of serious infection. Spread a Smile Visit Managers will take an iPad with them to our NHS hospital partners and safely pass the iPad to a seriously ill patient so they can meet the Spread a Smile entertainers virtually and enjoy the magic and distraction that they bring.

Spread a Smile Director of Services, Laura Walter said, “When a child is seriously ill, sometimes they might spend weeks or even months isolated from the world around them, not able to do things that other children are doing or see many people other than medical staff. Thanks to the generous gift of iPads from CJC IT, Spread a Smile will be able to reach some of the most vulnerable and seriously ill children and young people, providing moments of comfort and joy during one of the most difficult times of their lives.”

Some of the iPads will also be donated to our hospitals so that Play Teams and staff can access our wider virtual visits and group sessions with their patients when we are not there in person.

Paul Gow, Chief Executive Officer and Founder at CJC said, “Seeing the impact of Spread a Smile first-hand last year really touched me, personally and as a company, CJC is committed and strongly supports the welfare and children’s wellbeing.” He adds, “Many of CJC’s staff are actively volunteering and raising money in support of Spread a Smile, for example, Tough Mudder London next month.”

A huge thank you to CJC IT for their wonderful support and for helping us to spread even more smiles when they are needed most.

Please get in touch with us at to find out how you or your company can help spread smiles across the UK.

*As always, Spread a Smile will work with the hospital team to adhere to strict infection control procedures, wiping down and sterilising the iPad in between patients.

Meet Debbie, Spread a Smile Visit Manager

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Spread a Smile Visit Managers play a vital role facilitating the delivery of our services across our hospital and hospice partners. Acting as the point of contact between our partners and the entertainment team, they ensure the smooth running of our visits.

Meet Debbie Tropp who has been a Spread a Smile Visit Manager for seven years and read on to find out more about her work.

Tell us about your role with Spread a Smile and what it involves…

“I started working for Spread a Smile nine years ago, providing monthly art and craft sessions at the Royal London Hospital in their huge playroom. Straight away I loved it. I love working with the amazing children and families, the fabulous medical staff, Spread a Smile’s talented team of entertainers and the incredible team in the office.  

“Since the pandemic, I am mainly based at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), organising the regular weekly visits into the intensive care areas. This involves teaming up with one of our talented singers and visiting all of the babies, children and teenagers in the Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Cardiac Intensive Care Unity (CICU) and also the older babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The singers will sing beautiful songs from nursery rhymes to Disney, show tunes and pop songs. We mostly sing to the patients but also take parent requests too. Anything goes really.

“I also help deliver the Spread a Smile weekly entertainer visits on a Thursday morning to GOSH, where we try and visit as many wards and hospital areas as we can, delivering a whole range of entertainment from music, to magic, to therapy dog and fairy visits.”

What does a day in the life of a Visit Manager look like?

“I meet up with the entertainer(s) before going into the hospital and we walk to the ward, always following infection control procedures. We normally see the nurse in charge or Play Specialist for a quick hand over and then proceed to walk around the ward, being mindful of what is going on for each individual patient.

“We absolutely love it when a staff member specifically tells us that they have someone they want us to see. It’s amazing how beneficial our interactions and singing are for the patient, parent and all medical and non-medical staff. Often, I observe staff singing along, tapping away or doing a fully shimmy as our entertainer sings to the child and family. A few times the medical staff have noticed positive changes in a child’s heart recording. Many times, I have seen children really relax and even fall asleep.

“We receive so many positive comments saying that our visits have helped reduce anxiety and brought out smiles in children who haven’t smiled for a while. I remember Tash, one of our singers once singing to three babies, one after the other, all in a row, sending them all to sleep. The atmosphere completely changed and staff and parents were all talking about the wonderful therapeutic value of soft singing.”

Tell us about your specialist work in the intensive care areas at GOSH

“I feel honoured to be allowed to visit the intensive care areas and help provide some therapeutic input in a very clinical situation. We started regular visits just before the pandemic lockdown and then worked closely with medical staff and Matrons to continue to deliver these sessions. Even during the pandemic, I would have an iPad and use that to deliver the entertainment, with our singers singing virtually. This is something we have continued with some of the most vulnerable children under infection control. It’s important work, providing much needed and wanted distraction, stimulation and entertainment to the patient and everyone in the room with them. Being able to visit these patients in PICU and CICU from outside the room means we can help create some very special moments and memories during a very intense time for the families.”

“We had a baby in PICU recently, who hadn’t slept properly all day and was lying in her Mother’s arm. I approached the Mum, quietly inquiring if they would like us to sing. At first she was a bit hesitant as her child was so exhausted, really struggling to sleep. Mum also said that her baby usually loved to hear singing especially Disney and nursery rhymes as she had an older child. I reassured Mum that we could stop at any time. Our lovely talented fairy Tamara sang very softly, nursery and Disney songs and you could just see the Mother and child relax and connect as Tamara sang. Around us the doctors were listening, the nurses were swaying and the parents in the next bed where smiling as they watched their child sleeping. The whole atmosphere was soothed by the singing. The Mum was so happy that we had visited that we ended up going back again to sing to her older child who came to visit a while later.”

What is the best thing about your role? 

“Seeing the huge difference we make to children and families in the intensive care units is very special. It is also amazing to connect with the lovely caring staff in hospital who work so hard to support their patients.

“When a parent sees and shares the benefit of our visit with us, it’s amazing as we know that what we’re doing is worthwhile and making such a difference. We often support families who have been on the wards for a long time, and we feel part of their journey. When they get to go home, it is a very emotional time and it’s wonderful when they then access our Spread a Smile virtual entertainment, family parties and events. We are on their journey with them for as long as they need us.”

Can you share any poignant experiences with us?

“During lockdown, when infection control procedures allowed, I set up a music group with singing and instruments for a small group of children waiting for a heart and/or lung transplant in a high dependency unit at GOSH. I am a qualified Play Specialist and was allowed to come in once a week to spend time with a wonderful group of children. Only one parent was allowed to visit, so we would Zoom in other family members to join in with the session. It felt so important to be helping to connect families during one of the most difficult times of their lives, when the pandemic and serious illness were keeping them apart.

“Before the Pandemic we visited PICU and CICU once or twice a week. From the end February 2021, all visits stopped, so we made art packs to send in for the children on the wards, along with presents to help cheer them up. I agreed with GOSH and Spread a Smile that I would volunteer at the GOSH, using my volunteer badge and experience as a qualified Hospital Play Specialist. I was given a yellow volunteer top to wear and it felt like such a proud moment.

“I helped out on Bear ward once a week on a Tuesday and it was so strange at first wearing a mask for the whole day. It was hard for the patients and their families as only one parent was allowed to stay with their child on the ward and it had to be the same parent each time, meaning families where separated. I remember some parents didn’t get to see their children on the wards, for four months during the first lockdown.

“Alongside the music group, I also worked with Spread a Smile to deliver entertainment via Zoom on iPads so that the children could enjoy even more of the Spread a Smile ‘magic’. As time went on, we expanded our offering to other wards and I increased the number of days I visited, also being allowed to visit children in PICU. It was a challenging, but special time knowing we were making a difference when it was needed most.

“I love my work and one of the best things is when staff stop us as we walk around the hospital telling us that we do exactly what it says on our t-shirts ‘Spread a Smile’.

Little Learners

Messy play with Little Learners at GOSH

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Last month saw us launch a new support initiative with Little Leaners, the UK’s Leading Educational Messy Play Company, to deliver monthly sensory play sessions for toddlers receiving long-term treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Every month, the team from Little Learners help to create a very special learning experience for young children on the wards, exploring tuff trays full of wet and dry ingredients, mark making to help build strong core muscles and encourage first steps towards writing, plus fun activities such as drawing, sorting, building and much more.

For children spending long periods of time in hospital, the sessions are a welcome respite from the day-to-day worry, pain and struggles of managing serious illness. They are a chance to break out from the monotony of long stays in hospital and a wonderful opportunity for very young children to simply have fun.

Laura Walter, Director of Services for Spread a Smile said, “We believe that play holds an important place in every child’s development, even when they are dealing with serious illness. Children need to find space and time to enjoy themselves, relax and have fun. Play provides amazing opportunities to engage with others, explore, be creative and escape from whatever is worrying them or causing pain. Even if that is just for a short time, it can have incredible benefits on the child and everyone around them.

“We are excited and grateful to have the opportunity to work with Little Learners to deliver these wonderful play sessions for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital who are spending long periods on time in hospital and look forward to seeing many more smiles and messy hands in the months to come.”

We’re so grateful to Little Learners UK for their support and the brilliant Play Team at GOSH for enabling us to help create these special moments.

“We feel incredibly honoured to have the opportunity to deliver our sessions to the children at Great Ormond Street, who may have not usually been given the opportunity. It was AMAZING to see the progress and development of the children during the sessions whilst they explored different materials, learned through play and well and truly made their mark!” Little Learners

Please consider making a donation to help us continue our vital work spreading smiles to seriously ill children and young people across our NHS hospital partners. Thank you.

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.”

10 years of spreading smiles

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10 years ago today, Josephine Segal and Vanessa Crocker co-founded Spread a Smile, and what a 10 years it’s been!

We have grown considerably since we started spreading smiles in our first hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), and today we work in partnership with 25 NHS hospitals and 2 hospices across the UK. We are extremely proud to work alongside and provide important support to the incredible teams who care for seriously ill children and young people on a daily basis.

“Every time we hear a child we are caring for giggle and laugh along with the Spread a Smile entertainers, it is huge. Knowing that for a brief period they can just be children brings a smile to our faces and it makes the tough times that bit easier.” Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists, Miriam Sager and Tenneh Koroma, Northwick Park Hospital

The families we support are at the heart of everything we do. During 2022/23, we visited over 8,500 hospital bedsides and made over 1,800 virtual visits, spreading smiles and laughter to many thousands of patients, their siblings and family members.

“We appreciate you so, so much. In hospital, out of hospital, at home, via zoom, for siblings and through lockdown. I really don’t know what my children would’ve done without you – making cakes, paintings and magic shows. You are a real true blessing. The summer party this year was a first out of hospital and I still talk about it to this day!” Parent

As we head into 2023/24, our aim is to reach even more children in even more hospitals across the country, expanding our reach and spreading smiles where they are needed most. We couldn’t do that without our entertainers, service and support team, fundraisers, trustees and the amazing donors and organisations who make everything we do possible.

“Thank you to everyone who has been there for Spread a Smile and the families we support over the last 10 years, helping us to grow, develop and bring so much joy during some of the darkest times. We couldn’t have done it without our dedicated office team, our wonderfully talented entertainers, our brilliant trustees and of course our generous supporters”.  Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile Chief Executive

Happy Birthday Spread a Smile and here’s to the next 10 years and beyond!

Meet Magic Nick

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Meet Nick, the Magician, aka ‘Magic Nick’ and our newest recruit to the Spread a Smile team of entertainers.

Nick became interested in magic from a young age, sharing his natural talent for all things magic with family and friends at every opportunity. He is now a full-time Magician and we spoke to Nick about why he decided to use his skills to help spread smiles to some of the seriously ill children and young people we support.

“My journey with Spread a Smile started because of a personal connection. I have two nephews, both of whom spend time in and out of hospital, including Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

“It was my youngest nephew’s second birthday during one hospital visit to GOSH and knowing this, one of the nurses arranged for a virtual visit with a Spread a Smile Fairy. The session was like pure magic. For 30 minutes, the clinical hospital room felt like a space in which we could celebrate. The sounds of the machines faded into the background and instead the room was filled with songs, cheer and most importantly, laughter.

“Not long after that Spread a Smile visited my nephew in person, and I was delighted to see it was a magician who came to visit. My nephew absolutely loved it and so did his older brother.

“For the boys’ Mum, it was a welcome change from the medical side of hospital. Seeing your child unwell is difficult for any parent and as their Uncle, I found it extremely challenging. You feel helpless. So when someone like Spread a Smile visits whose only job is to bring joy and laughter, it is incredible. You can escape, even if it’s just for a short time and you’re reminded how to be a child again.

“From that moment I knew I had to get involved with Spread a Smile as a Magician and I am so proud to now have the opportunity to join the team and go into hospitals to help make children laugh when they really need it. It is some of the most rewarding work I have ever done – leaving a visit and hearing the heartfelt thanks from a parent, guardian or the child themselves. There is nothing like it and I feel privileged to be able to help in some way.”

Please help us continue our vital work spreading smiles to children in hospital by donating today. Thank you. 

Our work, our impact

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Spread a Smile currently works with 25 NHS hospital partners and two hospices to support seriously ill children and young people under their care. To understand more about our impact of our work, we spoke to Tina Halton, Play Service Team Lead at St Mary’s Hospital, London who we have been supporting since 2014.

Tina said: “Spread a Smile have a marvellous ability to make the staff smile, without compromising on their total commitment to making each child feel special. For example, the positive calming effect of the therapy dog visits on everyone is clear to see. Thomas and Harry (dogs) stop to ‘say’ hello to everyone from the consultants to the cleaners and you can see the staff continue with their day a little bit happier after a stroke. This sense of calm filters through and the staff love to share stories of their own pets with the families who can often be seen getting out photos of their pets and telling stories. Everyone love the visit days. It makes their day calmer and helps them do the medical/nursing roles whilst the children are entertained.

“Spread a Smile’s impact on the patients cannot be underestimated. Their entertainers are carefully chosen with care and it shows. They are the best of the best at what they do. By that I mean they are abundantly talented but most important are the subtleties of their interactions with each patient. Being able to engage and impress a teenager who’s having a terrible time, for a few quiet moments in a magic trick or capturing the mood on intensive care to sing a calm song to a baby who would otherwise be listening to the beeps on a machine is worth its weight in gold.

“Without Spread a Smile, the wards wouldn’t be quite so bright! Funding in the NHS is stretched so although we still try to make it as fun and nice as we can for the families, in reality, Marina’s window art and hospital murals bring a new life and positivity to an often-overlooked space. 

“On the days Spread a Smile don’t visit the wards, we still create fun for the kids, but it’s not the same as having a new entertainer visit or a surprise delivery of red heart Valentine’s Day balloons. These things remind the families that they haven’t been forgotten and the little moment of attention brings fresh smiles. The kids see us all the time so the novelty wears off! We would all be sad not to see a fresh smiling face. 

“I’ve seen Spread a Smile grow in both size and scope, but it hasn’t lost its heart at the core. The range of entertainment and events continue to be unique to Spread a Smile, but all possess the same personal touch. The hospital programme is expertly planned and delivered by people who understand the healthcare field well and really care. What they do appears effortless but in fact takes a lot of effort and dedication. Love goes into every virtual session, gift drop and visit. This is the magic. Nothing is too much – if they can make it happen, they will! 

“As Spread a Smile implements changes, they have always been focused first and foremost on the child. We know that safeguarding, safety and infection control is always a top priority and never an afterthought. Spread a Smile has confidently risen to the challenges of the last couple of years. Working alongside acute hospital trusts is never an easy task and none of us could plan for the impact this time has had on children in hospital. The adaptability and consistency of Spread a Smile throughout the pandemic and beyond proves that they are versatile and without a doubt one of our most reliable support. We moved fluidly alongside them as we all navigated the crazy hospital world during this time. It is exciting to be a part of what Spread a Smile does next.

“One of my most memorable moments of working with Spread a Smile was during a session with a poorly young girl with additional needs. She was in an isolation room as she had a low immune system so wasn’t allowed visitors. She had begun feeling very unwell and her Mum, who was staying by her bedside, was completely exhausted. The little girl joined a virtual session with Makaton (expertly aimed right at her level) and the Spread a Smile team got her to join in the group session. 

She laughed for the first time in days and her Mum took a video to send to her Dad of her eagerly signing back to the magician. 

“Unfortunately, our hospital Wi-Fi cut out towards the end of one of the tricks and she was in tears for missing it. A quick phone call to Spread a Smile and they arranged for the child to have a 1:1 mini session with some magic just for her. She was delighted, as was her very tired Mum. She guessed the colours in the trick and waved her hand at the screen to make things appear, it was just right!

“Sadly, this little girl was very poorly and passed away not long after this session. I feel confident that the video and memories of the smiles during this precious moment are priceless for the family.”

Please donate to help us continue our vital work supporting hospitals like St Mary’s and their patients. Thank you.

Easter egg-xtravaganza

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Each year, we spread a little joy to children in hospital during the Easter holidays by collecting and sending out Easter eggs to all 27 of our NHS hospital and hospice partners.

The eggs are kindly donated to us by our supporters purchasing eggs from our Amazon wish list and also generous companies either collecting eggs from staff or funding larger quantities of eggs.

Thanks to this support, we’ll send out over 3,000 eggs to be distributed to seriously ill children. It’s a huge task organising, packaging up and distributing so many eggs.

“Easter holidays spent in hospital when other children are out enjoying Springtime can be really challenging for young people on the wards. Receiving an Easter egg from Spread a Smile can make such a difference. It helps make the children feel included and special, bringing Easter fun into hospital so they don’t miss out.”

For a child stuck in hospital or hospice over the Easter weekend, receiving an egg can really help to spread some joy and springtime cheer. We have also planned a brilliant week of virtual Easter themed sessions for the children we support and their siblings. From biscuit decorating, to Easter art and a live session with Zoo2U, we hope to spread as many smiles as possible to families up and down the country.

We’d like to say a huge thank you to all of the individuals who generously bought eggs from our list and the following companies who have helped make our Easter initiatives possible including:

  • Enra who made a generous donation which not only enabled us to buy eggs and also fund additional Easter holiday activities;
  • WUKPG who made a considerable donation;
  • Uncommon and their clients for collecting and sourcing loads of eggs;
  • Also our friends at Downing LLP, TritonExec, BRE Group, ICAB, Koda Staff, Totes, Fitzgerald House, Little Learners, Chancellor’s School and Handyman Ltd for their kind donations.

Happy Easter to you all!

Northwick Park Hospital

Partner Focus – Northwick Park Hospital

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Spread a Smile has been supporting Northwick Park NHS Hospital since August 2021 through our monthly in person visits to children and young people on the ward and oncology clinic. Patients are also welcome to join any of our online services including weekly group sessions and half-term activities and when needed, we organise special, bespoke visits for individual oncology patients.

For Children’s Mental Health Week, we spoke to Oncology Clinical Nurse Specialists Miriam Sager and Tenneh Koroma about the role of Spread a Smile at the hospital and the impact on positive mental health and wellbeing for the children, young people and staff on the ward and clinic.

When did you first find out about Spread a Smile?

“I first found out about Spread a Smile and the great work they do whilst working for Great Ormond Street Hospital many years ago. Forwarding on a few years, following a chance encounter with the Spread a Smile’s CEO Lucy Jackson, a new link and partnership was forged between the charity and Northwick Park Hospital.” (Miriam)

What impact does Spread a Smile have on the hospital staff and patients?

“Spread a Smile makes an impact on everyone they meet on the wards. The families are always so grateful for everything they do. Whether Spread a Smile attends and support in clinic, initiates play on the ward or gives online classes and demonstrations to families at home, the patients and their families are always re-energised and love seeing the happiness and laughter in the children’s faces.

“For staff on the paediatric wards, the impact of Spread a Smile is hugely positive and uplifting in spirit. They bring so much light and happiness with them and we are lifted seeing the excitement from the patients and how at ease the parents and wider families become. I’m pretty sure there are more requests for photos from staff than patients!

“During the most difficult times post Covid, when restrictions on visitors were still in place, the Spread a Smile visits played an even more important role. They filled such a huge gap and enlightened the ward and clinic.”

What would it be like if Spread a Smile wasn’t there?

“The clinics would be far more clinical, boring and less interactive and fun without Spread a Smile. We don’t have dedicated play specialists most of the time with our patients, so Spread a Smile helps fill the gap for us and allows the clinic and clinical treatments such as chemotherapy, infusions and transfusions to be given in a fun, joyous environment, full of silliness, happiness and giggles. 

Welcoming the wonderful Spread a Smile team, especially after Covid has been exactly what we needed.”

Tell us about a memorable Spread a Smile moment.

“There are so many! We initially started involving Spread a Smile to support us and help elaborate the celebrations for children finishing treatment and ringing the ‘End Of Treatment Bell’. The first child was a little 4-year-old girl who was extremely shy. She never spoke to us during treatment, always looking at her mum to speak for her.  

“On this special day Spread a Smile’s Fairy Ellie joined the celebration, singing songs from Frozen. Magician Ian was also there doing wonderful magic tricks and balloon modelling. All of a sudden, this shy little girl came to life! She started engaging with everyone, ringing the bell so loudly and proudly that there wasn’t a dry eye in the clinic. Pure happiness was shared all around.

“Another little boy we look after, was often very unwell after his chemotherapy and spent long periods of time in the hospital. This little boy was at his happiest and most content playing with dolls in his room. His Dad received a call from Spread a Smile to offer him a last-minute cancellation ticket to go and see Frozen in the West End. The Dad didn’t tell him where he was going until they were in the taxi for fear of him being too unwell to go.

“When they returned, the pure joy and excitement on the little boy’s face was incredible. Seeing that and hearing his recollection of his outing, the Frozen cast, the trip to a musical, was truly emotional and heart-warming. It made all of our day.

We also had a beautiful 12-year-old young lady who was towards end of life and had spent a lot of time in hospital. Her mobility and eyesight had deteriorated but, we still wanted to do something special for her. One phone call to Spread a Smile and we were able to welcome two beautiful Spread a Smile entertainers who used touch to gently massage her arms, whilst she sang Disney songs with them. Together they created a special video memory moment that the parents can treasure forever.”

What makes you smile?

“We smile just working with these wonderful, brave children and their families who are going through such tough cancer journeys. Every time we hear a child we are caring for giggle and laugh along with the Spread a Smile entertainers, it is huge. Knowing that for a brief period they can just be children brings a smile to our faces and it makes the tough times that bit easier.”

Please help us continue our vital work spreading smiles to children in hospital by donating today. Thank you. 

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