A charity that entertains seriously ill children in hospitals has begun working with Croydon University Hospital to provide uplifting and distracting fun within the wards.

The entertainers, who range from magicians, face-painters, musicians and therapy dogs, will be working within the paediatric unit, oncology clinic and inpatient and outpatient’s wards.

A spokesperson for Croydon University Hospital Trust said: "The charity aims to spread joy and laughter at the most difficult times, providing opportunities for connection and distraction from treatment and illness.

“We will be joining the Spread a Smile family alongside the 25 other NHS hospitals and two hospices nationwide.”

The Spread a Smile team will spend time with patients, as well as running holiday themed virtual events and entertainment during times like Easter and Christmas.

Virtual visits alongside face-to-face sessions will allow the team to see as many patients as possible and lift the spirits of children and their families.

Families of long-term patients will also be able to book one-on-one sessions with Spread a Smile’s wonderful entertainers.

In a statement, Croydon University Hospital said: "The collaboration will add to the work already accomplished by our dedicated charity, Croydon Health Charity, which continually raises funds to enhance the patient experience for Croydon’s sick children and young people.

“Recently, the charity funded two children’s playgrounds for unwell children receiving care in our Rainbow Children’s Unit, as well as play resources, a teenage chill-out area and a therapeutic Zen Garden.

“Children using our services will be invited to join weekly virtual group hospital sessions with entertainers, take part in themed activity days when celebrating events like Easter and Christmas, giving children and their families many opportunities to join in with other activities, including family days out.”

May Chu, Senior Healthcare Play Specialist at Croydon University Hospital, said: "Spread a Smile never fails to bring happiness and joy to our patients and staff.

“We always look forward to showing them around.

“The time and effort they take for each patient is really appreciated.”

Lucy Jackson, Spread a Smile CEO, added: “We are delighted to be providing monthly in-person entertainer visits.

“We know that our visits help patients cope better with the hospital environment and allow them to feel less isolated.

“Our support to the young oncology patients is all about making their experience in hospital a more positive one and distracting them from challenging treatments and procedures. We look forward to more in-person visits with our team of entertainers in the future.”