12 October 2022

Supporting Southampton Children’s Hospital through play

Imagine being in hospital with a young child. You are both a bit anxious and have been in hospital for days, weeks, or even months. Then a staff member brings in some toys or crafts and suddenly your child is laughing again.

The little things sometimes can make all the difference!

Youth and Play Services Manager, Joyce Stebbings, says: “Southampton Hospitals Charity buys small gifts for our team to give out to our patients during blood tests and other procedures.  These can often be the distraction required to take their focus away from the negative experience to something more fun.

We spend time with each child or young person and choose a gift that is special and unique to their interests. Items can include small toy sets or dolls, themed colouring books, card games, or Lego character sets. For our babies, we use sensory items such as light up products or bubbles.


We had a little boy who needed regular bloods. He was finding them extremely difficult, so we took one of the bigger boxes of Lego and broke it up into smaller chunks.  This was made into a game like an advent calendar. Each time he had a blood test, he opened a door and collected some Lego pieces until he had the whole set. He absolutely loved it and having his bloods taken became much easier.

Another huge resource that we use as team is coloured card and paper, glue, pencils, pens, paints, and stickers. This gives the child the opportunity to just be themselves and to create whatever they are feeling at the time. We buy lots of themed activity packs, so we’ve already started planning activities for Halloween and Christmas!

We make a lot of our own play dough and slime, so the ingredients needed for these are purchased out of charity funding. We use this kind of sensory play a lot to help the child experience messy play as well as providing the chance to work through how they are feeling.  Some of our patients have never made slime before, and to them this is amazing and not expected in hospital at all!!

Support play in hospital here through our Amazon Wishlist: https://www.amazon.co.uk/hz/wishlist/ls/2D139DH0CM8EB

Support one of our children’s hospital appeals here: https://southamptonhospitalscharity.org/current-appeals/

Southampton Children’s Hospital

At Southampton Children’s Hospital, we treat over 120,000 patients every year, and we are one of only four children’s hospitals which provide all specialist services on one site.

We have 14 members of our Play Services Team working across Southampton Children’s Hospital to help bring play and distraction to our patients.

Bringing virtual reality to our patients

We are currently raising money for interactive or virtual reality specialist equipment, such as gaming units, projectors, and multi-touch screens.

These are all moveable to a child’s room and are suitable for all of our patients to help transport them to a faraway world of their imagination, or to bring nature into the hospital.

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