Deck the Wards provides child and adolescent psychiatric wards with games, home comforts, and small luxuries to make Christmas in hospital a little easier.
For lots of us the festive period is usually about spending time with loved ones; playing games; and treating ourselves and each other.
For many children, this Christmas is going to be very different.
Living through a global pandemic, many of us now know how it feels to feel isolated, bored and scared about what the future holds. This can sadly be the experience of children and young people spending the holidays in psychiatric hospitals.
A psychiatric hospital can feel like a scary and unfamiliar place. During a mental health crisis, some young people may be too distressed to understand what is happening to them or why. Some young people choose to stay in hospital voluntarily and others may need to be ‘sectioned’ under the Mental Health Act.
Some children and young people get sent to hospitals far away from home, sometimes hundreds of miles across the country. This can be isolating and makes it harder for them to keep in contact with family and friends, especially during the holidays. Some young people will not be well enough to leave the ward during their admission, and some may even be in hospital for Christmas itself.
We ask children and young people in wards across the country what might make it easier for them to be in hospital - games, toys, treats etc. With your help we buy exactly what they’ve asked for and pack it off to the wards for Christmas. The items then stay on the ward to help brighten the experience of many children and young people to come.
When you’re scared, bored or lonely, it’s these things that can really make a difference.
Katie Bambury, Co-Founder of Deck the Wards, spent holidays on the ward as a teenager:
‘Spending time in hospital over the festive period was really hard. All the education is stopped, in line with school holidays, and that means long empty periods of time stuck on the wards. The extra unoccupied time in the days makes it easier to focus on all the difficult stuff that’s happening and on what you’re going through. It’s hard not to feel left behind when you know your friends and family are getting to spend time together and enjoy the festivities.
When you have a mental health problem it can feel like the world forgets you. With ‘Deck the Wards’ we work to make sure children and young people on psychiatric wards aren’t forgotten. Last Christmas we were able to raise an amazing amount of money, which meant we were able to help 13 wards across the country and deliver them every item the children and young people asked for. We worked with more wards than we’d worked with before, and we can’t wait to deliver Christmas boxes again to make this Christmas a little less hard.’
How it helps
‘Please support this wonderful charity! They have made a massive different to the young people accessing our inpatient units. We are still using the kind gifts donated every week. Thank you to @deckthewards and everyone who has donated time and money.’
‘My daughter was talking about her ward being on the list too. As a parent this fills my heart with happiness as Christmas this year will be so different for her (and us). Thank you.’
‘Can I thank you and your 'little helpers' for the gifts you brought to the unit. The gifts have already been placed on the ward and the art room ready for use over the Christmas holidays and beyond!! It’s really thoughtful of you and your charity to think of the needs of children that find themselves in hospital over the holidays. Thanks for including us on you list, it really means a lot to the children.’
‘The football table has now been built and they love it, and the karaoke machine came yesterday so they are setting it up. The young people are SO pleased. The decorations were also so lovely too.’
‘Had a great time putting all the stockings together and the young people loved them, thank you so much!’
What we need from you
We aim to raise as much money as possible to help as many wards as we can. Last year we were able to provide items such as books, games, Christmas decorations and treats, luxury toiletries and much more. This year we hope we’ll be able to provide all this and anything else we can get our hands on to make this Christmas feel special.
We are extremely grateful for any and all help you are able to give us this Christmas, and we're sure the young people on the ward will be too.
What’s next for ‘Deck the Wards’
This year is the fourth time we’ve ran this Christmas campaign, and each year we’ve reached more and more wards. It is our hope that over time ‘Deck the Wards’ will continue to grow to support more children and young people.
We are currently in the process of registering ‘Deck the Wards’ with the Charities Commission. In the meantime, although we are still an unregistered charity we are dedicated to fundraising responsibly and in line with the principles and guidance of The Code of Fundraising Practice as published by the Institute of Fundraising.
To find out more about 'Deck the Wards' check out our website , our twitter @deckthewards or follow us on Instagram @deck_the_wards.
Fundraising team (2)
This team raised £1,294 from 19 other donations.