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Our Distraction Projects were developed as a result of demand from children and medical professionals witnessing the therapeutic impact they have upon children suffering with a horrible, life threatening disease. The children we help are in pain, having unpleasant tests and, frequently, bored as they wait for procedures. They don’t always understand why they are in pain. They are confused, distressed and frightened. To address this, we set up a Storytelling project that is now supported by BBC Children in Need and is delivered in cities across the country (Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and London).
We liaise with families to find out what type of things they enjoy most. If they enjoy the book, we offer it to them to keep. The stories we read are short stories in case the children are not there the next time the session is on – this way they don’t miss out on anything. Our offer to children, young people and their families is unique by providing vital services which contribute positively to their mental health and wellbeing as they go through one of the most traumatic experiences of their entire lives. Being able to leave their child (which is a rare thing) with the Storytellers to make calls to update family as to treatment, to have a shower or to cry for the first time since diagnosis without the child witnessing it. Alternatively, simply seeing their child enjoying themselves and laughing, rather than worrying about treatment and pain – our Storytellers are often the only people who come into the child’s room who do not do something clinical to them.