A thank you and an update from our team

Over the last nine months, the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has taken hold on countries around the world. Our hearts go out to all of the families who have been affected by this terrible virus.

The word ‘unprecedented’ has been used a lot in 2020, and we at SicKids are certainly feeling it! As we head into Autumn, and the prospect of ongoing disruption through 2021 and beyond, we wanted to update you on the impact of the pandemic on our charity and projects.

UK projects

Last winter we agreed to co-fund the installation of two of our fabulous Sensory Spaces in Emergency Departments in hospitals in the North West of England. We were in the process of sorting out the delivery and installation arrangements when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. You’ll be aware of the colossal impact of the virus on our NHS, which has included the need for Emergency Departments to be rapidly re-designed. Visiting hospitals is now subject to significant restrictions and the need for Emergency Departments to provide COVID-19 safe facilities has had to be prioritised over the installation of new equipment (such as in a SicKids Sensory Space). There are enhanced infection control measures to think about in relation to Sensory Spaces in Emergency Departments and it is going to take us some time to work through these with the organisations we’ve agreed to partner with.

While we’ve had to delay the launch of these new facilities, all is not lost! The funding is ring fenced and as soon as we’re able to press ahead, we’ll be ensuring the sensory equipment we have agreed to supply gets to the children and young people who need it as quickly as we can.

Cambodia projects

Earlier this year, due to travel restrictions, it was necessary to postpone one of Andrew’s regular visits to support outreach work in Cambodia. Regrettably, it’s also now necessary for us to delay a trip that we planned for November. Our intention was to fund our seventh grant recipient, a health care professional, to travel to Cambodia to gain valuable professional and personal development, while providing care to disadvantaged children and young people. We don’t expect to see an easing of travel restrictions in the near future; nor do we believe it would be appropriate to offer funds to a key worker at a time when there’s so much demand on our NHS.

We also agreed a donation of £1000 to a fabulous organisation working with disabled children in the north of Cambodia. This will be our fifth Sensory Space in Cambodia. While Cambodia’s stringent COVID-19 related entry requirements make it even more difficult than normal to get equipment into the country, we’ve agreed that we’ll work with the organisation as quickly as the current circumstances allow.

Our team

It’s also worth noting that three of our four Trustees – Andrew, Dianne and Jenny – are employed by the NHS, while Den is a senior leader within a hospitality and tourism business – one of many industries that have been decimated by the pandemic. It’s fair to say that we’ve had considerably less time this year to focus on our voluntary charity work!

Finally, we believe it’s important that we reassure you – our amazing supporters – that SicKids is stable. We remain dedicated to protect the wellbeing of children and young people in the North West of England and Cambodia, and our funds are all protected. As soon as it’s safe and practical to do so, we’ll begin making progress with our brilliant projects again.

A heartfelt thanks to you for your continued support. We really appreciate it! More than ever before, as the pandemic develops, and we begin to come to terms with a new normal, there will be a need for renewed focuses on the provision of health care services around the world, and we’ll be here to play our part.

Thank you,
Andrew, Jenny, Dianne and Den

You can donate to SicKids via a credit or debit card or bank transfer, and you can even earn ‘free’ donations when you shop online at your favourite retailers. Find out more here.

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Calling for children’s voices to be heard in pandemic response

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt life for people across the world, the UK Government recently ended their daily Coronavirus briefings, which were televised during the first three months of ‘lockdown’.

During this period, members of the public were invited to submit questions, which were answered by cabinet members and their advisers on live TV. We were astonished to find that the question-submission rules specifically prohibited questions from children, blatantly ignoring their rights. An attempt by someone under the age of 18 to submit a question resulted in an error message: “sorry you cannot submit a question. You cannot ask a question in the coronavirus (COVID-19) press conference because you’re not old enough”. This stance completely devalues the expertise that children have to bring and silences their voices.

Although the clinical course of COVID-19 appears to be much milder in children compared with adults, the other consequences of the pandemic are arguably equally, if not more, damaging to children. It is therefore essential the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the lives of children and young people is understood. Family members have tragically died. Children have missed out on in-school education. Social contact between children living in different homes has been decimated. Concerns have arisen about higher levels of abuse.

That any adult could pose questions (to be responded to, at least to a degree), but questions from someone on the day before their 18th birthday were not even considered, is ludicrous and indefensible.

In an article published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, SicKids chair, Professor Andrew Rowland, and Director of Nursing, Dianne Cook, called for children’s voices to be unlocked and heard by the UK Government. Access the article here.

Andrew said:

“If not because it is their right to be heard; if not because it is the right thing to do; then because the future of society depends on engaged, experienced and enthusiastic children becoming engaged, experienced and enthusiastic adults, it is time for children to have their own COVID-19 questions answered by the UK government. That requires a change in policy so that the prohibition of questions from anyone under the age of 18 years is urgently removed.”

Dianne said:

“We call upon child health professionals to add to our demand for change to further promote children’s rights during this pandemic now the inequity of the ruling that children cannot be heard has been laid bare. Not allowing children to participate, express their opinions, and be heard on matters that affect them is wrong and is a breach of their human rights. ”

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Tigers brave wintry weather to thrash opposition and support SicKids

Our wonderful friends at Sedgley Park Rugby Club (SPRUFC), also known as the Sedgley Tigers, from Whitefield in Bury, Manchester, held their third SicKids charity match last week. Sporting their colourful SicKids strip, the Tigers were victorious over their Otley opponents, winning 47-19.

The match was followed by a charity lunch, which raised an amazing £1,000 for us. These funds will help us support the health and wellbeing of children and young people, both in the local regions and in Cambodia. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

The Tigers and their Otley opponents braved cold, wet weather to support us

SicKids Trustees Dianne Cook and Jenny Brown cheered the Tigers towards victory

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Andrew’s new report celebrates 30th anniversary of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Today sees the publication of our founder’s latest report, five years to the day since his groundbreaking Living on a Railway Line was released. Professor Andrew Rowland’s Life on the Tracks follows up on the achievements towards better protecting children and young people from harm, since Living on a Railway Line was published.

Thirty years after the introduction of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, there are still countries where the rights of children are not as developed as they should be in modern society, and where children do not receive the protection that they need, they are entitled to, and they deserve. Despite our many achievements, there is still much to be done, as outlined in Life on the Tracks.

Read more about Life on the Tracks on Andrew’s blog.

Life on the tracks has ISBN: 978-1-912337-32-3 and is freely available from: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/52712/

A series of photographs is available here.

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Thanks to Sedgeley Park Rugby Club

For the second time, Sedgley Park Rugby Club (SPRUFC), also known as the Sedgley Tigers, from Whitefield in Bury, Manchester, held a charity match in support of SicKids. The game was a league game vs Hull Ionians. Despite the Tigers leading for the majority of the match, the Hull team gained a lead in the final minutes to win 35-29.

Our Trustees Dianne Cook and Jenny Brown were at the match, cheering the Tigers along. The match was followed by a charity lunch, with the proceeds going to SicKids. The event raised an amazing £1,600. Thank you to everyone who contributed!

Jenny said: “We’re so grateful to Sedgley Tigers and their supporters for their generosity and kindness. To add to the excitement, the match was thrilling. The funds will help us support the health and wellbeing of children in both the UK and Cambodia.”

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We’ve opened our sixth Sensory Space, in partnership with Transform Healthcare Cambodia

We’ve partnered with Transform Healthcare Cambodia (THC) to open the sixth SicKids Sensory Space today.

The new Sensory Space in the north of Cambodia will enhance care for children visiting Battambang Referral Hospital, where our Sensory Space has been built by THC, thanks to funding from SicKids, to our unique specification.

THC is a UK based charity providing healthcare education, training and clinical expertise by UK healthcare professionals volunteering their own time and money to support Cambodian colleagues.

Sensory facilities are proven to support the development of the senses – like touch, hearing and sight – through special lighting, music, tactile objects and a calming environment. They’re a key part of child development, especially for children with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, Development Delay, Learning Disabilities and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The SicKids Sensory Space concept takes all the life-enhancing equipment, toys and principles from traditional sensory rooms, and enables them to be re-packaged for use in physical spaces where you wouldn’t usually find this amazing kind of kit.

Developmental delay is prevalent among children and young people in Cambodia, but unlike some other countries in the world, there is very little access to specialist care. The new SicKids Sensory Space is the first-of-its-kind in northern Cambodia, and will greatly support the wellbeing of the many children and young people in and around Battambang, the country’s third most populous city.

The first SicKids Sensory Space was opened in September 2017 in the Children’s Emergency Department at North Manchester General Hospital in the North West of England, by Her Excellency Dr Rathchavy Soeung, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Cambodia. Dr Soeung was keen to learn more about how children in Cambodia would benefit from similar facilities.

Since then, we’ve funded, designed, built and opened new Sensory Spaces at M’Lop Tapang Health Centre, M’Lop Tapang Baby Care Programme and at Phnom Kiev, all in the Sihanouk Province in southern Cambodia, and the PANDA unit at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, in the UK.

The template for the SicKids Sensory Space was co-designed with children and young people and their families, ensuring it met the needs of patients needing these life-changing facilities. We’re delighted to introduce the concept to the north of Cambodia, playing a small but significant role in protecting the country’s future, one child at a time.

We don’t want to stop now, and every penny helps. Unlike many charities, we have no overheads, so we can guarantee that every penny we receive will go directly towards protecting children and young people. To find out more and to donate, click here.

More on our YouTube channel

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Our biggest mission yet begins in Cambodia

The SicKids team has arrived in Cambodia for a busy week of clinics and teaching, supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

Joining our Chairperson, Professor Andrew Rowland, and Trustee Den Carter, are two new SicKids grant recipients, Diana Manchester, a Speech and Language therapist, and Lesley Lord, a children’s Physiotherapist. They’re both practitioners at Fairfield General Hospital, Bury.

Diana and Lesley applied for SicKids grants to travel to Cambodia as a career development opportunity, and to share new skills to local health and social care workers in Sihanoukville.

Diana is an expert at helping children to communicate in ways that might not be by using words (like those with autism) and also helping to develop language skills.

Lesley will do comprehensive assessments of children who are physically disabled and help to put strategies in place to improve movement, joints and posture.

Drs Andrew and Bratati are joined in the M’Lop Tapang health centre by Lesley and Diana, who will be spending the rest of this week running their own physiotherapy and speech and language clinics (Consent for photo obtained by patient’s parent, featured)

Meanwhile, we’re also thrilled that Dr Bratati Bose-Haider, who traveled to Sihanoukville with a SicKids grant last year, has returned to the region with the team, this time as a volunteer. She will join Andrew for a week of specialist clinics. Child developmental delay is prevalent in areas of poverty, such as this region of Southern Cambodia.

Once again, our base for the week is M’Lop Tapang, a non-governmental organisation that provides health services and education both at their main campus and in satellite centres and mobile outreach facilities across the region.

Later this week we’ll also open our fourth Cambodian SicKids Sensory Space, this time in the north of Cambodia – watch this space!

Donate here to help us protect the future, one child at a time.

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Introducing our new Director of Operations

Our new Trustee, Jenny Brown

We’re thrilled to welcome Jenny Brown to our Board of Trustees.

Jenny joins Andrew, Dianne and Den as part of the charity’s leadership team. We’re all volunteers, and personally invest time and money into SicKids, which means – as, unlike many bigger, SicKids has no overheads – we guarantee that every penny we receive from donations goes directly towards supporting the health and wellbeing of children and young people in the northwest of England and in Cambodia.

Jenny is a Managing Director of Women and Children’s Services in a large acute hospital in the northwest of England. She has worked as a healthcare administrator in the NHS since 1991 and has undertaken a variety of administrative and operational management roles. After working for over 17 years in a world leading cancer hospital, in 2008 she began working in one of the largest acute hospital Trusts in England and along the way was awarded a PGDip in Health Services Management from The Manchester Business School.

Jenny has worked across several areas of acute healthcare services including oncology, critical care, emergency and acute medicine, paediatrics, neonates and maternity services. Having worked across a variety of health services that children and young people (CYP) access, Jenny is aware of how often the needs CYP and their carers are not always recognised or provided, and is looking forward to working with SicKids supporters to make the difference.

When Jenny’s able to get away from the both hospital and the housework, she enjoys watching live music, hill walking and running… slowly!

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Our fifth SicKids Sensory Space is now open in Salford

We’re delighted to have held the grand opening of the new SicKids Sensory Space at Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust’s PANDA Unit. Councillor Ronnie Wilson, the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, performed the opening ceremony on Monday 1 October, assisted by a special guest, Amelia Candland, aged 5.

The hospital’s PANDA Unit provides dedicated emergency and short stay care for children aged under 16 years of age.

Sensory facilities are proven to support the development of the senses – like touch, hearing and sight – through special lighting, music, tactile objects and a calming environment. While many hospitals and health centres in the UK have similar facilities in their children’s wards, there are very few with 21st Century equipment within their emergency and urgent care settings.

The sensory space is the second we’ve opened in Greater Manchester, and the fifth overall, built thanks to the generosity of our supporters, to the unique standards and design process we pioneered last year when we opened the first SicKids Sensory Space at North Manchester General Hospital. Our unique design process incorporates the co-creation of facilities by local children and their families, who have been involved with creative input and ideas to make the facility as welcoming, attractive and effective as possible. Our first Sensory Space was recognised for providing “outstanding facilities” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England.

In the last ten months we’ve also opened three state-of-the-art Sensory Spaces in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, offering life-changing facilities to hundreds of children.

Our photographs feature Salford resident, Amelia Candland, aged 5, along with the Ceremonial Mayor and Mayoress of Salford, Rachel Baird from the Panda Unit, and Dianne Cook and Andrew Rowland from SicKids.
Dianne Cook, Director of Nursing at SicKids said:
It’s amazing that children, young people, and their families have co-designed this facility. Having a state-of-the-art sensory space in the children’s emergency department will really help the hospital to deliver better care to children and young people who attend the department with a learning or physical disability. It will also make the environment much more welcoming for children who are frightened about coming to hospital.
Rachel Baird, Panda Unit Manager at Salford Royal, said:
We are thrilled to have this fantastic facility, which will provide a safe and calming haven for children who may have additional needs, such as autism, but also for those who are in distressing and frightening situations.
This wonderful environment means we can continue to provide important treatment in a clinical space that just so happens to look and feel a bit different for our patients.
Councillor Ronnie Wilson, the Ceremonial Mayor of Salford, said:
I was delighted to officially open the SicKids Sensory Space.
As a Councillor and now Ceremonial Mayor of the City of Salford I have always been proud of Salford Royal Hospital’s reputation and the dedication of its staff in the huge variety of roles and positions necessary for good team work. It has always been proactive in its approach to healthcare from cradle to grave giving hope and confidence to all.
As a parent and Grandparent, I have been no stranger to Accident and Emergency over the years. I know first-hand how important it is for young ones to have a warm, friendly, safe and engaging environment. This then occupies their minds and settles their fears and worries and is a place they are happy to be in.
I will not wish you luck in this new venture but every success as I am sure it will be a great success.
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Our second and third Sensory Spaces in Cambodia are now open

Thanks to the generosity of The Toy Trust, we’re thrilled to announce the opening of two new SicKids Sensory Spaces in Sihanoukville, Cambodia.

This brings the total number of SicKids Sensory Spaces up to four, following last year’s successful opening of our first facility, at North Manchester General Hospital, and the milestone first-of-its-kind space in Cambodia.

Our two new Sensory Spaces are kitted out with top quality sensory toys and equipment, purchased by SicKids thanks to a grant from The Toy Trust, an awesome charity that exists to raise money predominantly from the toy industry, its suppliers and friends. It awards grants to other charities helping disadvantaged and disabled children.


Our new Phnom Kiev Sensory Space provides sensory support inside a specialist baby and child care unit in a particularly poor urban area. Despite being in the middle of the city, Phnom Kiev (Blue Mountain) is particularly hard to get to by road. Our equipment needed to be carried in a relay by staff and volunteers from the local community.


And we’ve opened a second Sensory Space at M’Lop Tapang’s main centre. This facility is specially built for babies and children under the age of five with developmental delay and/or malnutrition.

Before, I did not even know what a Sensory Space was. Now that we have one I understand how the room can help children with problems to calm down. They are able to focus more and concentrate more when they are in the room.

Ms. Chin Sophea, Special Needs Program Coordinator (M’Lop Tapang)

The Sensory Space has been such a great addition to our services. For the small children we work with that have suffered from severe neglect, the space allows them to explore in a safe environment and provide the sensory stimulation that that they have been lacking and helps with their development and healing.

Ms. Ngov Chanravy, Medical Program Manager (M’Lop Tapang)

We’re now working on our fifth, sixth and seventh SicKids Sensory Spaces, opening both in the UK and Cambodia in the coming months. Watch this space!

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