Rays of Sunshine exists to brighten the lives of seriously ill children and their families. We do this by granting children’s individual wishes, however impossible they may seem, by fulfilling Hospital Ward Wishes, which benefits hundreds of children during their time in hospital or a hospice, and by hosting Hospital Activity Days, which bring sunshine to the wards up and down the country.
Today we’re shining a light on our fantastic Hospital Activity Days.
Coordinated by our wonderful Hospital Liaison team; Melissa Vandermolen, Sally Levy and Claire Kelly, the Rays of Sunshine Hospital Activity Day Programme is designed to reduce the feeling of isolation among children and families during their stay in hospital.
Some of the children who benefit from our Hospital Activity Days have spent their entire life in hospital.
“Our Hospital Activity Days really help break up the monotony of being in hospitals for the children and parents alike,” says Claire Kelly, Hospital Liaison Manager for Rays of Sunshine. “There’s no feeling like being able to help seriously ill children in hospital. You’re there to make them smile and laugh and for some children, it’s the first time out of bed in weeks.”
“We are able to give the children sunshine and happiness when it can be a very bleak time,” says Melissa, the Hospital Liaison Executive for the South-East regions.
“Making the children smile and being able to take their mind off their treatment and illness for a short amount of time is a huge help for the families we meet at Hospital Activity Days,” says Sally, the Hospital Liaison Executive for the North-West regions.
Our Hospital Activity Days provide children in hospitals and hospices with access to innovative and fun activities to both stimulate them and brighten their days. These activities range from arts and crafts to virtual reality, storytelling, entertainers, magicians and more.
“I am always looking for the latest arts and crafts and the most engaging entertainers to make sure that we always offer the best service we can and it’s not boring or the same as the last activity day,” says Melissa.
“There’s a lot of work that goes into coordinating our Hospital Activity Days, from coordinating with the hospital staff to managing the volunteer team and buying and organising all the activities,” says Sally.
“The day before any activity day, I always ensure that our boxes of equipment are all packed correctly and that we have enough stock of everything for each child.
On the day, I drive to the hospital and unpack the boxes and make our way to the ward which is always a balancing act, hopefully not knocking any of the hospital staff on the way in with our giant boxes of arts and crafts!
After we make our way to the playroom in the ward, which typically acts as our base, I then chat to the play specialists who I have developed a very good relationship with. They will let me know which children are allowed out of bed and which children we will visit bedside. We will then unpack all the arts and crafts and as the entertainers start to arrive, I will brief them on how the day will run.
We are very lucky to have some amazing volunteers from one of our corporate partners, like Deutsche Bank, who are fantastic with the children. I will explain about the ward and how the day will work to all our volunteers as well. We then run the day for two hours seeing as many children and siblings as possible.
Afterwards, the boxes are packed up and I will go home ready for the next visit!” describes Melissa.
Just like our wishes, we are very conscious of making sure the entire family is involved in any Hospital Activity Day. “I will always go out of my way to ensure that the siblings are involved in all of the activities. I always ask the families if they have their other children visiting, as I will leave arts and crafts and build a bear for them to do while they are visiting siblings,” says Melissa.
Our partnerships with hospitals are incredibly important in enabling us to reach those children who are living with serious and life-limiting illnesses, when they need it most. It also provides us with an opportunity to speak to families first-hand about applying for a wish and becoming a part of the Rays of Sunshine family.
With the support of BBC Children In Need and The Masonic Charitable Foundation, this year we’re aiming to deliver 70 Hospital Activity Days, enabling us to continue to bring even more smiles to the hospitals we work with already, raise our awareness in new areas and create relationships with hospitals that we haven’t visited before. Ultimately, our aim is to have a positive impact on the lives of as many seriously ill children in the UK as possible and welcome them to the Rays of Sunshine family.
“This job has really made me want to be a better person as I’ve met the most inspiring people. I LOVE MY JOB!” says Melissa.
If you would like to find out more about our Hospital Activity Days Programme, or to find out if Rays of Sunshine can visit your ward, please contact Claire Kelly on firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ve already had so much great feedback from the hospitals we’ve visited in 2018. Have a read of some of the highlights below…
Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
“Everyone involved was amazing and got stuck in to making it the best day possible. Inclusive for all ages and abilities, varied activities and entertainers which meant a huge number of interests were covered for families attending.”
St. George’s Hospital
“A fun event that helps children to have fun and forget about being in hospital for an afternoon. A GREAT EVENT. Thank you so much Rays of Sunshine.”
University College Hospital
“The day was full of fun and gave the young people a reason to get out of bed and socialise with others. Gave them a chance to forget about their illness or condition for a little while.”
“It was a fun afternoon of activities and entertainment on the ward. This gives our young people a chance to socialise and interact with others in a fun way which helps to encourage them out of bed so helping to aid recovery!”