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Jul 5, 2017

April - June 2017 Project Report

A new Giggle Doctor programme will soon be starting at St George's Hospital!

We are very excited to announce that this year a new Giggle Doctor programme will be starting at St George's Hospital in London. Soon even more sick and disabled children will experience the joy and laughter of magical Giggle Doctor visits.

Two Giggle Doctors will be visiting St George's Hospital every other week, brightening the wards with music, magic, laughter and play.

Dr Bananas and Dr Whoopee arrived for the first time on the wards recently to meet the staff, children and parents, who they will soon be giggling with reguarly. The Wandsworth Guardian captured the moment and you can read all about it on their website here.

We are truly excited to be visiting a new hospital and to be working closely alongside the incredible staff at St George's Hospital. A new hospital means a lot more giggles and we can't wait to share exciting news and stories when our programme begins!

Thank you for all of your support, which has helped us to expand our programme to a new hospital and reach even more sick and disabled children at a time when they need us most.

“My daughter arrived on the ward today very teary eyed and nervous, with her little head full of memories of needles, pain and illness. However, we arrived at the same time as the Giggle Doctors! Within a minute they had completely captured her attention and put her totally at ease. She completely forgot where she was and thoroughly enjoyed her time with them both, as did I! Thank you so much for everything you did for Ava-Grace today, you made a huge difference in a little girl’s world and made the hospital a much brighter place to be"
Hayley, A Parent

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Apr 4, 2017

January - March 2017

Spring/Summer Newsletter 2017
Spring/Summer Newsletter 2017

The weather is getting warmer, the sun is shining and our new Spring/Summer Newsletter is ready to download!

 

Inside you can read about Zoe's experience meeting Dr Teapot during her hospital visit...

 

“She was in the hospital for steroid injections when she met Dr Teapot. We were sat in the waiting room and for 10 minutes we were able to forget where we were. Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine, for the parents as well as the children - we giggled just as much as Zoe!”

 

You can also find out how to take part in our latest event - Little Legs March! To celebrate International Children’s Day on 14th May, we’re asking you to get your children together for a sponsored family walk. You can take part any day in May, simply choose a route and distance that suits your family and their little legs, whether it is a stroll through the forest or climbing a local hill. You can sign up here or email events.uk@theodora.org to speak to a member of our team.

 

We also share our supporter’s incredible efforts to raise money to help our Giggle Doctor programme. This includes an interview with James Lane, who took part in TWO challenges last year - Serpentine Mile Swim and Royal Parks Half Marathon...

 

"It has been a privilege to support Theodora Children’s Charity as part of team Miles for Smiles. As a child in the 70s I spent a week in hospital and I remember a children’s entertainer coming in and brightening up the stay no end, so I hope supporting these events will give others the same enjoyment”

 

You can also read about 2016’s impact and how your support has made a big difference for so many children. Over 33,000 children received a magical Giggle Doctor visit last year and 90% of hospitals believe that the Giggle Doctors increased opportunities for fun inside hospital. Read even more impact results and stories inside our latest issue.

 

Thank you so much to everyone who has supported our Giggle Doctor programme. You can download our latest newsletter here and read how your generous support really does make a huge difference for so many poorly children across the country.  

 

“When you have a child that’s chronically ill and you have to go in to hospital over and over again, it’s just nice to know there are people out there who recognise that and help.”

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Jan 3, 2017

October - December 2016

On behalf of everyone at the Theodora Children's Charity, we wish you a heart-felt Happy New Year and all the best for 2017! We would also like to thank our generous supporters, who made 2016 a year of fun and giggles for so many poorly children in hospitals, hospices and specialist care centres. 

Your support really does make a huge difference to the well-being of so many sick and disabled children during difficult times. A stay in hospital can be an incredibly stressful and upsetting time, especially for children. Away from friends, family and loved ones for long periods of time, they will often feel withdrawn and frightened. This is why the Giggle Doctors are so important. They offer the chance to smile and giggle again for both the children and their families at their bedside. 

"Dr Snug just came to visit Henry. He laughed and smiled and for 10 minutes the world seemed a better place for him." – A Parent

Dr Jammi recently featured in an article written by 'Proud to Work in Healthcare', highlighting his journey as a Giggle Doctor and the wonderful and brave children he encounters on the way...

 

Why am I Proud to Work in Healthcare?

Even after all these years, I still feel nervous the night before going to work. I don’t know who I’m going to meet, what I’m going to do or what I might see. I go into extremely fragile worlds and I don’t want to be clumsy or cause any harm. The only thing I’m certain of is that I will be very moved and learn something new.

I am a Giggle Doctor for the Theodora Children’s Charity. We’re trained performers who visit children in hospital and try to provide them with a little fun and respite from the unpleasantness of being ill and stuck on a ward. Our job is to listen to, encourage and entertain the children and their families, and provide a space for them to explore their imaginative powers.

"I really do work with some extraordinary people and we learn a huge amount from each other."

I graduated from Giggle School in 2006. I had no idea what to expect when I first started, and to be honest I came into it a little arrogantly. Having studied Fine Art and Theatre and had in my mind that I was going to make serious theatre I didn’t really feel that being a Giggle Doctor fitted with my self-image, but in time it blew me away.

The two-year training programme balances practical needs – such as hygiene, infection control and safeguarding – with performance skills, and it starts with observing an experienced Giggle Doctor at work, which I found an incredible thing to witness. I was shocked to see how the doctors could engage and then play with all the children even though they started in such different emotional places. I remember wondering how they could make it look so easy! I really do work with some extraordinary people and we learn a huge amount from each other.

One of my colleagues is a mindfulness instructor and taught me about accepting the child’s emotional state before trying to play with them. I remember going to Great Ormond Street Hospital with another colleague, Dr Bananas, and visiting a girl who was missing her mum. She was really upset and had no interest in playing, so I suggested that she wrote her mum a letter. I got a postcard and she dictated the most beautiful message, in which she told her mum how much she loved her, how she looked forward to her visits and how happy she felt when she saw her mum’s face. Dr Bananas and I were on the verge of tears. When she had finished we asked her what we should do now. “Let’s go on holiday!” she cried, and very shortly we were pretending to swim at a beach in Spain. Writing the letter had acknowledged and dealt with her homesickness and allowed her to move on from it.

Some children who don’t play immediately are simply shy. With them, I start playing on my own, talking to my puppets, playing with their toys or making a tune with my ukulele. The child is an observer, seeing that it is a safe and friendly environment. As soon as they respond in some way, with a smile or a little chuckle, I gently involve them with the game. Usually by the end they are joining in enthusiastically and we can help them create their own imaginative games. Really we are facilitators in play; our job is to open up the possibility of playing, issue an invitation to play and then follow where the child wants to go! Each Giggle Doctor does this differently and part of our training is developing our costume and character. This doesn’t stop when we qualify and we’re constantly tinkering with our ‘act’. In fact, I think about it all the time; I just find it so interesting.

"It’s amazing to see the difference that we make to the children and we hear some wonderful things from their families."

It has changed my stage work. I used to make theatre for the art world, but since becoming a Giggle Doctor I have wanted my productions to be for everyone. Now I try to cross into the audience’s worlds, just how I have to in hospital with patients and their families..

One of the challenges in this is connecting with children of all ages. You just have to work out what the person needs at that time and communicate to them, “It’s all OK. For this moment, I can handle whatever you have for me.” I went into a ward once and met a 16-year-old girl, who was looking very anxious and immediately asked me if I’d ever had an operation. “No,” I replied, “but my mum has.” She asked me if my mum had been any different afterwards – she was worried that having surgery would change her forever in some way. I reassured her and told her about my mum, who had emerged from the operation exactly the same person she had been before (minus the problem), and my new friend seemed a lot more relaxed.

Some of the best interactions come when I can involve a doctor or nurse in the play. I find it really changes the relationship between the family and the staff. They’re generally very happy to join in, or leave us to play and come back to see the child later, although we always offer to make way for them if they do interrupt us. We’re most effective when the staff see us as part of the team for making the kids feel better.

I feel so humbled by the job. It’s amazing to see the difference that we make to the children and we hear some wonderful things from their families. We uncover hidden talents, get children moving and singing for the first time in months, and most importantly we give them some time where people aren’t focusing on their illness.

 

Thank you again for your generous support and for all of the smiles that you have made possible. If you would like to find out more about the work we do, you can visit our website or sign up to receive our e-newsletter

 
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