Case studies > Charities in the Spootlight

Theodora's Children Charity

Theodora's Children's Charity

A stay in hospital for children can be incredibly difficult and frightening. They may not fully understand the reason they are undergoing treatments and procedures, away from friends, family, school and loved ones. This is often accompanied with feelings of isolation, boredom, fear and even guilt, when seeing their parents and family worrying about them. 

At the Theodora Children’s Charity, we believe that all children deserve laughter. The heart of our mission is to improve the well-being of sick and disabled children in hospitals, hospices and specialist care centres. We do this by providing ‘Giggle Doctor’s’, who are specially trained to bring joy and laughter to poorly children at a time when they need it most. 

Each Giggle Doctor undertakes two years of intensive training including modules on child development, infection control, the impact of illness on families and how to adapt artistic skills to the hospital environment. They are trained in ‘intensive interaction’ and participate in numerous artistic workshops to arm them with the skills to entertain children in the unique hospital environment. For example, they learn ‘quiet mime’ so that they can interact with children in isolation units.

When they visit, the Giggle Doctors involve all children and their families in the experience, as long as they wish to be involved. Everything is centred around the child and their needs. Sometimes they will blow bubbles, make balloon animals and at other times they will sing a funny song or just speak to a child one-on-one. No interaction is the same but each visit is eagerly awaited by the children and their families, as well as the hospital staff.

Each year 25 Giggle Doctors visit 20 hospitals, 3 hospices and 2 specialist care centres. Although a small charity, they have a big reach, giving much needed joy and laughter to over 33,000 children last year alone.

My daughter arrived on the ward today very teary eyed and nervous, with her little head full of memories of needles, pain and illness. However, we arrived at the same time as the Giggle Doctors! Within a minute they had completely captured her attention and put her totally at ease. She completely forgot where she was and thoroughly enjoyed her time with them both, as did I! Thank you so much for everything you did for Ava-Grace today, you made a huge difference in a little girl’s world and made the hospital a much brighter place to be.closing speech marks

Hayley, A Parent

Our biggest success to date has been the growth of our programme to reach 33,000 children this year. This is the highest number of magical Giggle Doctor visits that we’ve had in one year and we are so proud to be giving giggles to even more sick and disabled children at a time when they need it most.

As a small charity, the challenge is always to grow our supporter base and get the word out. We don’t have the same resources as larger charities and large marketing campaigns are not something we can afford to spend money on.

Utilising what is out there and low budget, like social media, our bi-annual newsletters and Mailchimp, means that we can get the word out and update our supporters about the impact of their support. Your trustees can also be an incredible resource when it comes to getting the word out, don’t be afraid to ask them! They might be part of clubs, like Livery or Rotary, where they can do talks about the charity or send letters.

Resources available from organisations such as Small Charities Coalition are so important. Our staff have attended events, most recently the workshops held during Small Charities Week, and it enables them to learn new skills and network with people who understand the challenges (and rewards!) of working in a small charity.

Our next steps are to reach even more poorly children! We are embarking on a period of sustainable growth from 2017 and our goal is to reach 43,500 children a year by 2019.

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