Health and wellbeing

Funding level: £5,001 to £10,000


At Theodora Children’s Charity we believe that all children deserve laughter. The heart of our mission is to improve the well-being of children in hospitals, hospices and specialist care centres.

For children a stay in hospital can result in feelings of fear, boredom and isolation. They may not fully understand what is wrong with them or why they are undergoing medical procedures. This can also be accompanied with feelings of guilt for being the reason their parents and family are so worried.

Our Giggle Doctors are performers, specially trained to work in the hospital and hospice environment and with children with disabilities. The Giggle Doctors use a mixture of magic, music, play and storytelling to bring laughter to the wards and joy for the children during their hospital visits. The visits are designed to provide whatever the child needs at the time, whether it’s a joke, a song or simply companionship.

During each four hour visit, the Giggle Doctors will see between 22 and 26 children, in addition to parents and siblings who are with the child at their bedside. Every child who wishes to be visited will be and the family will also be involved if they are there. It really gives the child back a little control at a time when they otherwise have very little. The play is child-led and no interaction is the same.

The Giggle Doctors work in a calm and sensitive style and are sensitive to the child’s needs. Their training covers the impact of illness on families, child development, safeguarding and infection control. Giggle Doctors are aslo trained in ‘intensive interaction’, a technique which has been shown to improve communication skills of disabled children who have severe communication difficulties.
We aim to
• Reduce distress and anxiety
• Increase opportunities for play in the healthcare environment
• Improve well-being

Our 25 Giggle Doctors visit 21 hospitals, 3 hospices and 2 specialist care centres throughout England. Last year we visited over 33,000 children, children like Jack.

Only four years old, Jack was in hospital for his second open heart surgery when he met Dr Teapot. His mum, Laura, told us how the visit helped Jack feel like a normal child again:
"It was in July that Jack met Dr Teapot for the first time. Jack had just had drains and cannulas removed plus bloods taken and scans carried out. He was also not eating or drinking, so he was exceptionally lethargic and upset. 
Dr Teapot helped to distract him from the environment he had been living in for over a week. He helped him to feel like a 'normal child' again. Jack's favourite part of the visit was when the Dr Teapot was pretending to pull fluff balls from his favourite blanket and then finding them behind Jack's ears. This made Jack laugh more than I had heard him laugh in weeks. 
The visit has helped Jack to realise that not everything that happens during a hospital stay has to be negative."

A £10,000 grant from Aviva’s Community Foundation would help to fund 8 months of Giggle Doctor visits at Bradford Royal Infirmary, providing magical Giggle Doctor moments for over 900 children.

"You only have to look around the wards when the Giggle Doctors are here, to see how much the children enjoy the visit. Lots of happy, smiling children, which is what you want to see when a child is in hospital. We all know hospitals can be frightening and boring places for children, however, that is not the case when the Giggle Doctors are around. The children are relaxed, happy and excited. Many of the children actually follow the Giggle Doctors around the ward. " Play Co-Ordinator, Bradford Royal Infirmary

Together we can give children in hospital the chance to be children, not patients, through the play and joy of a Giggle Doctor visit.

Project Video

Theodora Children's Charity

The children at Bradford Royal Infirmary come from a diverse range of backgrounds and cultures. But a Giggle Doctor visit overcomes language barriers and ensures that all children, regardless of their background, receive the joy and magic a Giggle Doctor can bring. This makes me very proud of work.

Location: England, United Kingdom