Bedside Buddies bring joy to young patients in Leeds hospital

(L-R) Lead Bedside Buddy Chloe Manley, LGI's  Neomi Jacobs and Casey Smith.

(L-R) Lead Bedside Buddy Chloe Manley, LGI's Neomi Jacobs and Casey Smith.

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Kind-hearted students are bringing smiles to the faces of poorly children thanks to a new scheme to keep them occupied in hospital.

Leeds Bedside Buddies sees Leeds University students visit young patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital when their parents are unable to be there.

The students play games, do crafts, have a chat or – for young babies, just give them a cuddle.

It was inspired by a similar scheme in London and has been a great success so far.

Chloe Manley, who brought the project to Leeds, said: “It brightens up their day a little bit. A lot of the time the children are a bit bored and it’s a tough job for their parents to entertain them all the time. The play specialists at the hospital are great but they are limited with their time.

“It’s nice to give the patients some interaction.”

Chloe, a final year medical student, arranged for volunteers to go through necessary checks and screening.

Over 250 applied to take part, with 25 chosen to come into paediatric wards an evening a week to work with patients from tiny babies to teenagers. They play, chat or read bedtime stories, while fundraising has provided the Buddies with craft materials.

Lisa Beaumont, play specialist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, said the students covered times when she and her colleagues weren’t working.

“We do have a lot of children who might have times here without their parents, due to work commitments or other children at home.

“This is a win-win situation. It’s a real positive experience of working with the university to give something back.”