Over 12,000 children are admitted to hospital every day in the UK and it has never been a scarier time for them. With unfamiliar wards, health professionals in additional PPE, only being able to have one parent with them, and no visits from their brothers or sisters during the pandemic, it can be very worrying and lonely.

That is why play and distraction services in hospitals are now more vital than ever. Having access to toys and entertainment, when recovering or waiting for treatment, or using play as a distraction for procedures can help to alleviate pain, aid recovery and bring joy back into children’s lives. At the children’s charity Starlight, thanks to our supporters, we provide hospitals with boxes, filled with toys, games and puzzles to be used on wards.

This year, Starlight’s fundraising income has fallen due to many cancelled events, which is why we have started our Time to Play campaign. Our goal is to raise £300,000 before the end of the year to help 30,000 children get access to play in hospital and limit the negative effects of illness on their childhood.

It’s easy to support and our website has fun ideas of how to take part, including our Stream for Starlight fundraiser for computer gamers. Or if you are able to, please considering making a simple one-off donation. However big or small, it will help Starlight to continue to be there to support children and their families this Christmas.

I’m hoping your readers will join together and help support Starlight, to bring back joy into the lives of the 98,000 seriously ill children living in the UK’s lives this Christmas.

Please visit www.starlight.org.uk/time to help us.

Cathy Gilman,

CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, Hammersmith