Supporting patients and families

Supporting the youth service at King’s

Image: Charlie with Jackie Ambrose, Play and Youth Team Leader (left) and Linda (right)

Teenage patients have many new activities and games to use during their stay at King’s, thanks to a wonderful gift from 14-year-old Charlie Cronin.

Various fundraising activities with her family helped raise the incredible donation of over £1,600 to the Play and Youth Team.

Charlie’s incredible story

Charlie has been a familiar face on the children’s ward at King’s since 2008. She suffers from a rare condition affecting her small intestines and has had two bowel transplants at the hospital as a result, and is currently awaiting a kidney transplant at another London hospital.

Complications due to her condition meant that unfortunately, Charlie also had to have both legs amputated below the knee. Her surgery took place at King’s and whilst going through this ordeal she spent a lot of time with the Play and Youth Team, which aims to help adolescents through the stress and anxiety of hospitalisation through recreation and education.

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Play as therapy

‘Day-to day-escapism from the medical ward really does offer a lot of therapeutic value – the fun factor and forgetting about what they’re really here for,’ says Linda Falzarano, youth worker on the team. ‘Having free space aids the young people’s recovery so it’s not so medically challenging for them. And it’s good for them to be away from the young children sometimes and just be on their own, or with other teenagers.’

Linda has been a youth worker at King’s for over two and a half years and has worked at the hospital for six and a half all together.

Linda and Charlie have built a special relationship over the years, so much so that Charlie requested Linda walk with her to theatre for her amputation.

‘Charlie said she’d like to get some things for the service because she knew how much fun we had together and what that did for her during her stay,’ says Linda. ‘Having her and her family donate to the service has given such a boost.’

The importance of your donations

Linda has created the service around the teenage patients’ needs by asking for guidance from them on what they enjoy and would like to have. Resources such as a pool table, board games and an Xbox provide a more normalised environment, and Linda is always there to talk and listen to the young people as they wish.

On busy days there can be up to 21 young people who might want to use the service and a high turnover of patients means lots of activities are given out, so replacing them is often necessary. Unfortunately though, without extra funding this isn’t always possible and the service can suffer as a result.

Thanks to Charlie’s donation, Linda has now been able to buy lots of new games, arts and crafts materials, Xbox games and even a Kindle.

‘We are so grateful to Charlie for her selfless donation,’ says Linda. ‘It’s been an amazing journey - what she’s been through and how she’s dealt with things. She truly is an amazing young lady.’

Donations like Charlie’s really do make a huge difference to the experience of teenagers at King’s. If you’d like to help fund services like the Play and Youth Team’s there are many ways to do it.

>>Find out more about how you can get involved

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