As 2021 draws to a close, we look forward to a long-awaited festive break with loved ones. However, our thoughts must turn to the many seriously ill children across London who will be spending Christmas in hospital. Being in hospital is difficult enough for any of us, but for children, being in hospital at Christmas, a time that should be happy, full of excitement and spent with family, can be heart-breaking. Restrictions are still firmly in place in hospitals, meaning children are only able to have one parent with them at a time, and are separated from their brothers and sisters. It can be a very lonely time.
However, there is a way to help. Having access to toys and fun things to do in hospital can help a child cope with the anxiety of separation and treatment, reduce the long-term emotional damage of serious illness, and bring joy back into their lives, and that’s exactly what children’s charity Starlight does. However, our research shows that more than half of all UK hospitals are without the budget or resources they need to make play happen for children in their care.
Toys that Starlight provides can make all the difference. They can often go from being scared of tests and procedures, to looking forward to hospital appointments so that they can play with the toys and the wonderful NHS play specialists. The transformation we see can be incredible.
But sadly, this is only happening in some hospitals, when it should be happening in all. This Christmas, we are urging your readers to support the charity’s Time to Play Christmas campaign, so that we can raise vital funds to ensure that all seriously ill children have the sense of escape, distraction, and joy of play in hospital, at the time they need it most.
Starlight is committed to providing essential toys, games and books to an additional 300 hospitals that don’t currently have play resources and are most urgently in need of our support, but we can only do that with your help.
Please visit www.starlight.org.uk/timetoplay to help us bring back joy into the lives of seriously ill children across London this Christmas. Whatever you are able to give will be so appreciated.
Cathy Gilman, CEO, Starlight.