(L-R) Cheque presentation of �5,000: Caroline Thorpe Play Specialist Fran Greenaway and Barnstaple Tesco Extra Store Manager Dan Fowler and Tesco Community Champion Kate Constable with Caroline Thorpe Staff and in front Over and Above Fundraiser Julie Whitton - Credit: Over & Above

Children's ward awarded £5k for portable multisensory equipment

Joseph Bulmer

Staff and young people at the Caroline Thorpe children’s ward have been celebrating after receiving a £5,000 grant from Tesco.

The donation came thanks to the Over and Above charity, whose volunteers applied for the Tesco money to support North Devon District Hospital.

Tesco has made a total of £300,000 available to 60 charities and community projects that provide help for young people, including school breakfast clubs, food banks and charities supporting young people to manage mental health.

Funding for the Caroline Thorpe children’s ward will buy multi-sensory therapy equipment to help ease any anxieties and stress that some children feel when they go into North Devon District Hospital.

The equipment will include a bubble tube that changes colour, fibre optics and lights, and a projector and music system that can be moved from room to room.

Fran Greenaway, a play specialist on the ward, said: “Some children are very anxious when they come into the hospital for treatment.

“This sensory equipment will help ease their stress when they come into an unfamiliar area and be used to offer a distraction from any pain that some experience, creating a positive and relaxing atmosphere.

“The sensory equipment has a wide range of uses, but in particular it will help the children to relax, stimulate and rehabilitate, helping them feel less distressed.

“Because the sensory equipment is portable, we can move it easily from the Caroline Thorpe children’s ward to the school classroom, the day room and to other areas across the hospital that the children visit such as x-ray, anaesthetics, A&E, out-patients and day surgery.

“We can also use the equipment to support young adults transitioning from the children’s ward to an adult ward, when their anxiety is often at its highest, and if needed we can also lend it to our dementia ward if they have a patient who is feeling anxious.”

Tesco’s donation scheme ran in partnership with Heart and Smooth radio stations, with the aim of making a difference to young people across the country.

Julie Whitton, fundraiser at Over and Above, which is Northern Devon’s NHS charity, said “We cannot thank Tesco enough.

“I know our children’s ward staff, our hospital play specialists, paediatricians, nurses and occupational nurses can’t wait to create a unique sensory space for the children.”

Dan Fowler, Store Manager at the Barnstaple Tesco Extra, added: “Our North Devon Tesco stores are very supportive of our local NHS and the hospital charity Over and Above, and we are delighted that Tesco has been able to support North Devon District Hospital’s children ward with this fabulous sensory equipment.”

Funding for the Caroline Thorpe children’s ward was part of a campaign that ran in addition to Tesco Community Grants, the in-store scheme where customers vote with blue tokens for community projects and groups, which has been helping local people since 2016.