Suffolk Artlink sends in the clown doctors to East Anglian hospitals as Children in Need day approaches

Suffolk Artlink's Clown Doctors at the EACH (East Anglian Children's Hospice).
Picture: Warren Page

Suffolk Artlink's Clown Doctors at the EACH (East Anglian Children's Hospice). Picture: Warren Page. - Credit: Archant

Medical doctors are a must when it comes to treating us for serious illness but they're not always a bundle of laughs. And laughter is an important medicine too. As Friday's Children in Need fundraising day approaches, there's no better time to bring on the Clown Doctors...

Children interact with Suffolk Artlink's Clown Doctors.
Picture: Warren Page

Children interact with Suffolk Artlink's Clown Doctors. Picture: Warren Page - Credit: Archant

Thanks to funding from Children in Need you could find yourself face to face with a doctor with a difference in children's wards in hospitals and hospices across East Anglia.

Dressed in traditional doctors' white coats, Suffolk Artlink's team of Clown Doctors can be identified by their jolly red noses and colourful clowning regalia. Instead of stethoscopes, Drs Dizzy, Guitarrr, Mischief and Fidget might be carrying musical instruments and are more likely to be teaching plate spinning than taking temperatures.

'Our Clown Doctors bring fun, laughter and distraction to children, young people and their families in hospitals and hospices across Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex,' says Suffolk Artlink co-director Alex Casey.

'Our team of Clown Doctors visit young people on the wards and engage them in clowning, storytelling, music, magic, circus skills and improvisation. They focus on supporting and empowering young patients during what can be a challenging time, tailoring activities thoughtfully and sensitively with the child or young person at the heart of each interaction.'

Hospital staff recognise this special approach to improving health and wellbeing as invaluable.

'One mother cried when she saw her daughter's face light up when the Clown Doctors arrived,' one worker at Ipswich Hospital says. 'She remarked that she had never seen her daughter laugh so much. It was quite a tearjerker.'

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Another, from Norfolk and Norwich Hospital added: 'Clown Round is a wonderful addition to the support we can offer patients. They bring joy to children and families who are suffering, distressed or just plain bored. One lad in particular stands out. Recently he has become paralysed from the chest down. So not only do the family need cheering up, but both parents have said that the positivity the Clown Doctors bring has helped with his ongoing rehabilitation.'

Halesworth-based Suffolk Artlink's project, Clown Round, has been running since 2008 and the Clown Doctors currently make regular visits to James Paget, Ipswich, Colchester and Norfolk and Norwich hospitals and to EACH hospices in Suffolk and Norfolk.

? Suffolk Artlink is a participatory arts charity with a reputation for developing and delivering inclusive arts programmes in communities that bring change to people's lives. They work with people who face barriers to taking part in the arts, including young people in challenging circumstances, older people, adults with learning disabilities and family carers. Their arts activities are led by experienced arts practitioners and encompass a rich variety of art forms.

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