Making hospital a more welcome environment for youngsters in need of treatment.
Keeley Eldrick understands better than most the importance of making a children’s hospital kid-friendly.
At just four-years-old, her tiny daughter Trinity has already been a patient of Sheffield Children’s Hospital countless times.
“Trinity has severe asthma attacks and when she first started coming into hospital, aged one, she was quite scared,” said Keeley, aged 24, of Gleadless.
“Trinity had to stay in hospital last December and we were worried that she might not be able to leave in time for Christmas. Luckily her oxygen levels pushed up and we were able to take her home on Christmas Eve.”
This Christmas, Trinity and her family are backing the hospital charity’s ‘£for£’ campaign, in which businesses, organisations and individuals across the city race to raise the £200,000 the charity needs to complete work on the hospital’s new Play Tower, which is due to open next April.
The tower, part of the hospital’s new £40 million wing - which includes a new outpatients department, wards and private rooms - will provide a beautiful space for play specialists to spend time with children between treatments, distracting them from their illnesses, and allowing them some time to just be children.
And now, generous Sheffield businessman, and longtime supporter of the Children’s Hospital Charity, Graham Royle has laid down a challenge for the city, pledging £100,000 to match people’s donations to finish the Play Tower – and donations have been flooding in since the campaign launched one week ago.
Keeley added: “The changes that could be made to the hospital through this fundraising would mean a lot to children like Trinity. It would prove to them that hospitals don’t need to be scary places.
“Even now if they’re just coming in for check-ups, things like the play rooms or even just a few toys being there while you’re waiting – it makes a real difference.”
Fundraising manager Rebecca Staden said: “Extensive research has shown that using play to distract children from their conditions can be incredibly beneficial to their health, and even reduce the need for other clinicians during some procedures, saving staff time and costs.
“By donating to our campaign, you’ll be helping us to make the experience of coming to hospital less intimidating for children.
“As part of the £for£ campaign, we’re asking schools, businesses, community groups and individuals to either host an event to raise some money, or make a donation to the cause on or before December 16, our National Elf Service Day.
“Everything you send, no matter how big or small, will be match-funded by Graham until we hit our total.”
Sheffield mum Natasha Briggs, whose six-year-old is regularly treated at the city hospital, said: “In hospital, time can drag a bit, but when the kids have activities to focus on it makes the time go much faster.
“My son Alfie loves the playrooms. Play is so important. It stops children from getting bored and means they’ve got a chance to keep learning while they’re being treated.
“This break doesn’t just give children a chance to make friends; it’s also a chance for parents to get to know each other and share their experiences.
“Any time is a time for giving when it comes to a place like Sheffield Children’s Hospital, but especially at this time of year.
“I’ll be telling my friends and family all about National Elf Service – it’s a really nice way to give back.”
Visit The Children’s Hospital Charity to see how you can join in with National Elf Service on December 16, or donate to the £for£ campaign.
Giving patients a sense of normality
Kathryn Braisdell is really looking forward to Christmas.
As a Cystic Fibrosis nurse at Sheffield Children’s Hospital for over six years, she’s busy injecting plenty of festive fun into her ward in preparation for National Elf Service Day.
“Our secretary is Christmas mad and has been crafting giant snowflakes since May,” laughed the 28-year-old.
“I think it’s going to be a bit of a Santa’s Grotto in here by the time we’ve finished decorating.
“Last year our ward raised £281 for the first ever National Elf Service event, by selling cakes and getting sponsored to dress up. When the staff at the hospital dress up it all feels a bit silly but that’s a good thing to bring to the hospital and the children love it – especially the long term patients. They’ve seen us in our uniforms for such a long time and then we turn up one day looking like elves. They think it’s hilarious!
“This year, we’re raising funds for the £for£ campaign, to fund the new Play Tower. It’s so important to have a place to bring a sense of normality to children in hospital. When children go into play areas it’s not about them being ill anymore, it’s about them having fun and it’s about them being able to enjoy their time.
“It helps us too because if they’re happy it helps treatment - they get better quicker and it helps them to feel good about themselves. Everyone should get involved in National Elf Service. It’s for such a good cause and is going to be a lot of fun!”