12 April 2021

Money raised for play retreats

We are delighted that in February 2021, Southampton Hospitals Charity, Paultons Park, together with our incredible supporters, funded two Retreat rooms for the seriously ill children and young people treated at Southampton Children’s Hospital.

Work will begin on the transformation of these spaces in the late spring, with both rooms being open by 2022.

Joyce Stebbings, Youth and Activity Services Manager has a special message for you all:

“Thank you so much. Play is not a funded NHS provision so we rely on kind donations. We could not have done this without you. These spaces are because of you.

If you could see them in use, if you could see the smiles, you would see that the money is worth it. For them, for their family, it means everything.”

The difference additional support will make

The Play and Activity Team work across the whole of the Children’s Hospital. They help youngsters cope with their hospital journey through play therapy. From admission and through treatment programmes, they help to relieve anxiety and encourage children to develop ways of coping.

Play is the familiar in the unfamiliar. The Retreats are designed to be used by everyone so they can play in whatever way they want. Whatever they need we will try and provide it in those rooms.” Joyce Stebbings – Play & Activity Manager

Ongoing support will fund sensory equipment and interactive technology to help amuse young people during long hospital stays, and distract them during potentially uncomfortable treatments.

Comfortable seating and decoration will make the space inviting and suitable for all age groups.

A projector will allow our teenage patients to play computer games or watch movies. Gaming is particularly important to our teenage patients as it allows them to stay in touch with their friends.

There is limited space to offer access to “big gaming”, but the new Retreat rooms will mean that their ample capacity for multiple youngsters to do this very everyday/normal activity.

The room will have lots of storage to allow the Activity Team to tidy away younger children’s toys at the end of a day to encourage older children and young adults to use the room. These rooms will be more inclusive than those currently used.

Additional space in the rooms will mean that the Retreats will be more easily accessible to those with limited mobility or additional needs. For all of our patients these rooms will provide a space in which they can socialise with family, friends and other young patients.

Without your support it would not have been possible to fund these special spaces. On behalf of the tens of thousands of children and young people, families and staff for whom these rooms will make such a difference thank you for your generous support.

Child With book, Free Wifi streaming at Southampton Hospitals Charity

Why retreats?

In addition to renovating the existing spaces they will also be renamed “Retreats” rather than playrooms. The name was selected through a competition organised by the Play & Activity team. One young patient suggested the name Retreat as it would appeal to all ages and summed up what the room, and the work of Play & Activity Co-ordinators, is all about.

Joyce explains further;

“Retreat means a space that you go to when you need something and that something could be different for every one of our young people.

It could mean therapy, somewhere to have fun or do something sensory. It could be somewhere they can go and feel calm when they are anxious, scared or if they have additional needs. It could just be having somewhere to go to get away from their bed and break up the boredom of their day. Your donations are making a space which can encompass all this.”

The future of play and activity 

“I’m so looking forward to these rooms being open. It means that every ward has a room which is fit for purpose.” Joyce Stebbings, Play & Activity Manager

As the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine continues, staff at Southampton Children’s Hospital are now looking to the future.

The activity team are delighted with the news that in 2021 they will have two new Retreat rooms in which to do their vital work; they are already planning interactive play sessions and thinking of ways to engage with teenage patients.

We will of course keep you updated on the difference that these rooms make.

At Southampton Hospitals Charity we want to continue supporting the Play & Activity Team.

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