Space for Play Appeal launches with CALM

We are asking for your support to help raise £30,000 to equip and install a bespoke, outdoor play area for children at Great Western Hospital which will turn the courtyard outside the Children’s Unit into a play area specifically designed for young patients, due to open in spring 2017.

Richard Crowley, Chairman of the Cancer and Leukaemia Movement (CALM), a Swindon-based children’s cancer charity, presented a cheque for £5,000 to get the appeal off the ground.

Jennifer Green, Head of Fundraising for Brighter Futures, said: “We want to create an exciting and stimulating outdoor play space for children. The existing area is well positioned, but is very run-down, tired and has limited resources.

Raising £30,000 will allow us to completely refurbish the existing space and install new play equipment so that children can enjoy outside play time just like any other child. We are so delighted to have been chosen to receive £5,000 from CALM to help us reach that goal.

The new play area, aimed at 2-12 year olds, will take on a seaside theme with a large play ship as its centrepiece. Seating and a weatherproof shelter will also be provided for parents, so they can sit back and relax while their children play. All the equipment will be made of eco-friendly, long-lasting and non-toxic material.

Having an outside space where families can play, relax and spend time together is enormously important in retaining a sense of normality at what can be a difficult time in young people’s lives.

The new play area is a continuation of the seaside theme we already have in the Children’s Unit. The equipment will appeal to the senses and be full of colour so that children with any illness will be able to enjoy playtime outdoors.

Helen Hodgkinson’s 10-year-old daughter Isabel was diagnosed with Lymphoblastic Lymphoma in 2014. Isabel is currently in remission but was recently treated on the Children’s Unit.

Helen said: “Being stuck in a room for anything up to 15 days at a time really affected Isabel’s mood but being able to go outside, even if it was for only 20 minutes, really lifted her spirits and helped her recovery.

“When Isabel was in hospital the whole family, including her younger brother and sister, wanted to be close to her. But any parent will know it’s difficult for two young children with so much energy to stay entertained on a hospital ward for an entire day, which is why the playground is so important.

“This new play area will benefit so many people - the patients who just want to feel like normal children, the siblings who want to run around and the parents who just want a quiet space in the fresh air to gather their thoughts.”

To pledge your support to Space for Play visit this link.  You can also donate by text message – just text the word PLAY10 and the amount (either £5 or £10) to 70070.