Arts and Craft Bags
Our biggest project to date is our Isolation Arts and Craft Bags.
Fletcher spent an awful lot of time in isolation in hospital, and when we founded his charity, we knew that we wanted to work with Paediatric Oncology Wards. We particularly wanted to support the provision of play teams, who were a vital part of the care Fletcher received.
Leanne met with the play team on Ward 31, Leeds Children Hospital (where Fletcher was looked after) and together they devised the idea of producing Arts and Craft bags to give to children when they were in isolation. Isolated children cannot leave their room and cannot have too many visitors (if any) so they get very bored.
The bags are full of Arts and Craft items, as well as a craft kit and a book for the child and a notebook and a pen for the parents. The bags have a budget of £10 each, they are designed for 4 different age ranges and they are packed with appropriate items, according to each age’s development stage. The idea is to provide Art Therapy to the child to alleviate boredom and to be used a distraction tool whilst the child is undergoing treatment.
The project was launched on Wards 31 (Paediatric Oncology Ward) and Ward 33 (Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit) in Leeds Children Hospital in September 2017 and then launched into Ward 4 (Paediatric Oncology Ward) and Ward 3 (Paediatric Bone Marrow Transplant Unit) in the Great North Children’s Hospital in Newcastle in January 2018. We have recently expanded the project into Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital as well.
To date, Fletcher’s Fund has donated 750 bags to the three units. The hope is to expand this project into other Paediatric Oncology Units until we are working in all 18 units across England and Wales.
We looked at ways we can support the teenage units, specifically teenagers in isolation. We were keen to carry through our art and crafts theme rather than looking at electronic means of boredom busting and distraction. There are already fantastic charities that support teenagers with game consoles and similar devices.
So we developed a range of bags, that are half art therapy and half self care. We have included some toiletries and self care items as a way of reminding the young person that their self worth is still as important as it was before they became a cancer patient. We wanted to remind them, in a small way, that their sense of self matters, and that they deserve to feel good.
We include a plain bandana and a range of fabric pens or paint, for them to personalise their bandana and take ownership of their hair loss, should they want to.
The arts and craft equipment is geared for their age range, and includes adult colouring book and puzzle book, a fiddle toy, pack of cards as well as the usual arty delights. We wanted to include these extras so the young person could be occupied and relax.
To date we have donated 100 bags to Leeds Children’s Hospital, ward 33 and Great North Children’s Hospital, Ward 4.
In spring 2019, we donated a small number of specialist sensory and heuristic bags to Leeds Children Hospital for babies undergoing bone marrow transplants. Infection control is even more important with these bags and so we had bags made specifically out of oil cloth, so they could be cleaned inside and out. The contents were all of a sensory or heuristic nature, including wooden spoons, lolly pop sticks, bobbins, different materials, bubbles, scented dough, light up items etc. Items were included for all of the five senses.
We are waiting for feedback from the staff on the ward and the families that receive the bags to determine how to continue the project, and how to expand it into the other units.