Since 2011 we’ve been developing the way we make our work accessible to young people in hospital settings. We began by presenting our small-scale shows in hospital, but we soon realised that in order to really engage with children in these unique environments, we were going to need a different approach, so we went back to the drawing board and started off by spending some time on children’s ward…. doing drawings!.
After two workshop based projects on the children’s wards at St Georges Hospital in Tooting, we gained a solid understanding of the hospital’s working environment the methods that were effective for engaging young people. Particularly successful was a gift exchange project, using crafts and storytelling, called Pen Pals. This project reduced feelings of loneliness on the wards, and provided activities for children and their siblings during long waits for appointments or treatments.
In 2013 we began a relationship with Acorn Children’s Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital. We became artists in residence over the Christmas period and worked with over 80 young patients to turn the ward entrance into a winter themed extravaganza with baubles, magic lanterns, and pictures of all the staff and patients spending time on the ward over Christmas.
We knew the young people would enjoy the workshops, but the big surprise was how much the hospital staff and family members benefitted from the project. Staff told us how the project became the talk of the hospital – staff from all across the hospital wanted to get involved! Family members described the activities as ‘fantastic’ and a ‘life-saver’, as they provided something positive to focus on during long waits while children were in surgery.
We knew the young people would enjoy the workshops but the surprise of the project was how much the hospital staff and family members benefitted from the project. As part of the display used photos of the hospital staff inside the baubles, the project soon became the talk of the hospital – everyone wanted to get involved!
Family members also commented how beneficial it was to have an activity to do whilst waiting for children in surgery. Children who were too unwell to go to the playroom, were given ‘take-away’ kits to make in their beds. We feel that major factor in the project’s success was the support of a few key staff members at Whipps Cross.
Through being artists in residence, we discovered just how crucial the staff’s creative input was in making the project successful, so in 2014 we began to explore ways to creatively engage the staff as much as the young patients.
We went back to Acorn Children’s Ward at Whipps Cross Hospital where we were artists in residence for one week. We worked with staff and children to create a flexible mini-show to be presented at the bedside or different locations around the hospital. This pilot was a great success and Bed Knobs and Bed Pans project was born. The storytelling mini-show now belongs to the hospital – every time a new patient arrives it can be used to tell a playful story about life on the Acorn Ward, and help the transition into the hospital environment.
We are currently fundraising to deliver the full project in 2015 and beyond with other hospitals!
These projects have been generously supported by Awards for All, Children in Need, The Toy Trust, and John Lyons Trust.
We’re always keen to hear from new project partners. Please contact Emily@kazzum.org to find out more.