Over the last few years the Beasties have taken us to some absolutely amazing places, where we have met some absolutely wonderful people, doing some absolutely incredible things.
We feel privileged to have had the introduction to a number of great projects, organisations and charities such as the infamous Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) where we met Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Head of Psychological Services at GOSH, Mandy Bryon.
Following a presentation to her and a few other members of the prestigious GOSH staff including the Chief of Mental Health and the headteacher from the Great Ormond Street school, Bryon kindly said:
“I am very impressed with Book of Beasties, I have not come across something so engaging for young children that enables ease of discussion about feelings in an acceptable and positive way. I think it has great potential, I am looking forward to using it.”
Most recently our travels saw us visit Ty Hafan Children’s Hospice and Charity, which majestically sits overlooking the prehistoric coast of Cardiff, South Wales…
Ty Hafan is one of the UK's leading paediatric palliative care charities, helping children and families throughout Wales.
They offer care and support to life limited children, young people and their families, providing them with relevant therapies, treatments and making their potential last days together as comfortable as possible.
The Hospice has only been open since 1999 but has supported more than 800 children in that time. To do this they need to raise £4.2m every single year, which allows them to continue to offer their services to families in need, for free!
Unsurprisingly they have had some big names step up to help them hit this target, with the like of Good Omens writer, Neil Gaiman, BBC, Great British Bake Off contestant, Jon Jenkins and physicist Paul Davies.
During our visit we were given a tour around the wonderful facility and what it has to offer its visitors and residents.
From fully inclusive playgrounds and sensory rooms to the breathtaking views that can be seen from the Hospice grounds, and quietly enjoyed whilst surrounded by the memories of the young people who have all been a part of this organisation’s inspirational history.
Following the Book of Beasties workshop, in which we met a number of the staff who work with the children at Ty Hafan in various capacities, one of whom was Anna Bowyer, a play therapist and hands down one of the nicest people we have ever met.
She kindly spent the morning with us and even answered a few of our questions. Which were as follows…
Tell us a bit about you?
“I’m a BAPT Play Therapist employed as the Sibling Support Practitioner at the hospice, which means that although the title says otherwise I work with both the siblings and the children with a diagnosis to address mental health and wellbeing concerns."
How important is it for the children in your care to keep a positive attitude?
“I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is important to maintain a positive attitude, as being in their position is unimaginably hard and if they feel down it is important to be congruent with themselves.
“However, I think Book of Beasties is a resilience tool and these kids need to have higher levels of resilience than most kids, as often their home lives are less stable than their peers.”
How does play therapy help with this?
"In the hospice we offer three types of specialised play:
“Therapeutic play practitioners for day to day play that can be done anywhere by anyone for anyone, with the aim of achieving enhanced
"Healthcare Play Specialist for play specific to medical interventions, including distraction during medical procedures and preparation from operations etc.
“Play Therapist MSc certified and registered course. For cognitive children only to enable them to process complex and entrenched emotional and mental health issues and behaviours. Bound by confidentiality and ethical guidelines similar as it is a form of psychotherapy.
“Each of these types of play help boost the childrens resilience toolkits in their own way, but all three use connection/relationship as the primary way to achieve this.”
What are the main benefits of play for all children?
“At its most basic level play allows for, emotional release/catharsis, physical release of endorphins, complex communication that is independent of language and gives the opportunity for the to experience being equally as knowledgeable as the adult.
“Book of Beasties will give our practitioners new ways of engaging with children, both in a one-on-one setting and a group setting. It will enable conversation to open up being children within the same diagnosis groups and siblings with similar experiences and educate them on new coping strategies.”
If you would like to book a workshop for your school you can enquire and book here.