The festive period is fast approaching, and as we start to decorate our Christmas trees, wrap up gifts and make mince pies, it’s important to remember the many people who will be spending Christmas away from home and loved ones.
This year, children’s charity Starlight estimates that in December there will be more than 1.3 million admissions to hospital for under 18s in England, who are not only poorly but feel anxious and scared.
No child should feel lonely at Christmas, especially when they’re unwell.
Early experiences of hospital can be incredibly traumatising and the psychological damage for a child can be life-long.
Children in hospital need to have fun and play creates a much-needed chance to have a sense of normality and control too.
Play can help prepare a child for frightening treatments, distract them from painful procedures and help make loneliness fade away during lengthy hospital stays.
Creating more positive hospital experiences can be life-changing for a child and their family.
Yet, so many UK hospitals don’t have the money to make play happen.
Starlight research found that 83 per cent of children’s healthcare settings that apply for our services have no money themselves for play.
We’re urging your readers to support Starlight’s Play Loneliness Away campaign.
Please visit www.starlight.org.uk/christmas and whatever you are able to give will help Starlight bring play where there is pain, fun where there is fear, and laughter where there is loneliness.
Please help us to bring the magical power of play to children in hospital this Christmas.
Cathy Gilman, CEO, Starlight.