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Bringing the magic of stories to seriously ill children in hospital

Since 2015 BBC Children in Need has helped Read for Good to bring the magic of books and stories to children in hospitals. Thanks to your donations Read for Good have been able to brighten the days of tens of thousands of seriously ill children and their families. The cheery mobile bookcases, packed with carefully chosen brand new books for all ages, plus regular visits from the much-loved storytellers, have been proven to comfort, distract, educate and entertain children and their families and to make a crucial difference at a time of crisis.

Most years Read for Good gives away over 27,000 new books and delivers at least 224 storytelling days, directly reaching  150,000 children aged 0–18 in all 30 major UK children’s hospitals.

Ella’s story

Ella on her hospital bed whilst Read for Good visit

Hi my name’s Ella.

When I was 12 years old I didn’t feel quite right so we saw a Dr who booked me in for some blood tests. Unlike other tests that I had, we had a phone call a couple of hours later saying we needed to go straight back to the surgery because my results weren’t good. The Dr spent time on the phone to another Consultant and then we were sent to Bristol Children’s Hospital for a biopsy on my throat, well my thyroid which also had 3 nodules that were big.

I had a biopsy in Bristol and after an anxious three weeks, we had to go back and they said they needed to remove the nodules and most of my thyroid and they weren’t able to tell us if this was cancer or not so it was a really scary time.

On Tuesday 21st January 2020 we checked in for the ‘big op’. As I’m 12 I was last on the list for the morning surgery as they do them in age order, so we had a long morning of waiting. Just as we finished playing every board game I could find there was a knock on the door and in came a trolley full of brand new books and the lovely team from Read for Good, this was perfect timing as I was beginning to feel really nervous. The team were so lovely and they had me laughing and talking about what books I liked and then helped me to pick one which I could keep. I really didn’t know which one to choose and the story teller helped me and we found one, this really helped to distract me and we spent some time chatting about some of our favourite characters. It was such a lovely surprise and completely distracted us for half an hour and just as they left we were taken to theatre.

I think it’s such a lovely thing to do, anxiety is something we try to control but in situations such as mine, it really was the most welcome distraction and so lovely to be given a brand new book.

I am also able to say that after a very long three weeks we received the all clear and it was benign, the best news EVER – and I really did enjoy the book!

What Read for Good provide to 30 hospitals across the UK

● 120 free, brand new, carefully selected books are sent to each hospital to refill the distinctive Read for Good bookcase every six weeks, totaling over 800 books a year.

● A bespoke and vibrant, mobile bookcase that can reach right up to a child’s bedside.

●  Regular visits from a Read For Good professional storyteller who works with the whole family to offer distraction and entertainment through traditional oral storytelling, making up stories together and help choosing a book from the bookcase

Their services during COVID 19 times

Children in hospitals are superheroes at the best of times but COVID-19 has posed an even greater challenge for children and their families requiring hospital admissions and outpatient appointments. The anxiety, loneliness, distress, and fear that is often felt during ‘normal’ times has only been heightened during the pandemic.

Some of the issues that children have been struggling with are:

● Visitors are restricted to one parent only, and often only for an hour at a time (no siblings or grandparents allowed)

● The children are restricted to bed, and bathroom – no outside play or use of the playroom

● Increased anxiety due to medical procedures, especially the invasive Covid checks

● The extra use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is daunting and hindering routine examinations

● Parents are not allowed to accompany children to theatre.

With few Covid-compliant resources available to children in hospitals, and almost all non-essential services being cancelled or curtailed, the Read for Good has maintained its provision of books, providing an escape from the four walls of the hospital and the long empty days, helping to reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety. Books are even more vital in hospitals during these times, helping children of all ages and their visitors, to readjust to a new and often distressing environment and preventing children from falling behind in their education, which has already been heavily impacted. While Read for Good’s storytellers have been unable to make their usual visits to children in hospital, a digital sevice is running in some hospitals offering storytelling sessions over zoom.

Find out how Read for Good are helping Ezekiel
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