As people across the country are getting to grips with how to live in this new, temporary ‘normal’, caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (GOSH Charity) is launching a range of free, expert resources, tips and activity ideas to help all children cope with the challenges they may face as a result.

For many patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital, being in isolation for long periods of time is their ‘normal’ every day, as they are treated for rare and complex conditions. Central to helping patients navigate through their treatment is the hospital’s Play team.

The Play team at GOSH is the largest hospital Play team in Europe, and they help hundreds of seriously ill children every week deal with their treatment and recovery through play. Using techniques such as role play, drawing and practising their procedures on toys, they enable children to gain mastery and control over their treatment.

But it’s not just patients in the hospital who can benefit from play. Play is a powerful tool all children have at their fingertips to help them cope with anxiety and build their emotional resilience, which is particularly important right now. For the very first time, the expertise and experience of GOSH’S Play team will be shared to help families across the UK cope with isolation.

From fun games and activities such as pebble painting, creating a fairy house and starting a new band to help keep the little ones busy, there are also expert resources and tips to help support children’s mental health and help them make sense of what’s happening.

Laura Walsh, Head of Therapeutic Play Services at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Play is a fundamental part of childhood and is essential to children’s wellbeing, growth and emotional development. For those in hospital, play helps make sense of what’s happening and helps prepare them for procedures and treatments, as well as making space for some much-needed joy. During these potentially overwhelming times, play can also offer children across the UK a sense of normality, act as a safe distraction and can fire up imagination and support communication. We want to help as many families as we can get through this, which is why we are offering free ideas, tips and advice that parents can trust, to help their children deal with the uncertainties of today.”

The Play team, funded by GOSH Charity, is an essential service. In the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, its work is vitally important for children and young people being treated at GOSH. The hospital needs the support of the charity now more than ever, so it can continue to deliver the best, life-saving care for seriously ill children. You can support the GOSH Charity COVID-19 appeal here, to ensure the hospital’s most urgent needs are funded at this time.

“Play is a fundamental part of childhood and is essential to children’s wellbeing, growth and emotional development.”

Visit gosh.org/powerofplay to find games, tips and resources to help families through this uncertain time.